Race to Net Zero
Your weekly CogX briefing on green tech and the future of energy
The week's developments in green tech & energy policy, explained | 28.10.23
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From the loss of mountain glaciers to the depletion of food supplies, UN researchers caution that humanity is nearing "risk tipping points" on climate if no actions are taken. Meanwhile, a formidable coalition of companies with collective annual revenue exceeding $1 trillion — including big names like Volvo, BT Group, and Unilever — has issued an open letter urging governments to phase out fossil fuels by 2040.
A new study shows how solar power is rapidly becoming the dominant global electricity source and may have already reached an "irreversible tipping point". Plus, a new report suggests that shifting just half of annual fossil fuel heating subsidies could help Europe transition to 100% renewable heating by 2040.
We cover these stories and more in today’s edition — from a space-based solar power system to solving Europe's renewable heating problem.
P.S. After an incredible CogX Festival 2023, we're gearing up for another year of cutting-edge innovation, game-changing breakthroughs, and endless inspiration. Don't miss out – grab your super early bird tickets now and secure your spot at CogX Festival 2024 today!
CogX Must Reads
UN report highlights imminent "tipping points" for humanity
A new UN report warns that humanity is nearing "risk tipping points," including the loss of home insurance in flood-prone areas and groundwater depletion critical for food supplies. UN researchers say that transformative change — including altered values, policies, and global collaboration — is needed to address these imminent challenges. (UN)
Business coalition calls for fossil fuel phase-out by 2040
A coalition of companies representing over £1 trillion in annual revenue — including big names like Volvo, BT Group, and Unilever — has sent an open letter calling for a phased reduction of fossil fuels. The letter urges global governments to accelerate their clean energy transitions, shift fossil fuel subsidies — and support Global South countries to transition. (SG Voice)
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Global forest loss surges
Despite COP26 pledges to combat logging, global forest loss is on the rise. According to data from the Forest Declaration Assessment, over 4.1 million hectares of old-growth tropical forest were lost in 2022, leaving the planet 21% off track to end deforestation by 2030. (Reuters)
Solar power on track to dominate global energy production
Solar power is swiftly becoming the primary global electricity source and might have already crossed an "irreversible tipping point," according to a recent study. Projections indicate that solar will dominate global power production by 2050, even without additional policy incentives. (Anthropocene)
Stat of the week
By 2030, the EU has committed to achieving a minimum of
net greenhouse gas emission reductions, in comparison to 1990 levels. (EC)
Caltech's space solar innovation
Researchers at Caltech are developing a space-based solar power system capable of wirelessly transmitting power from space to Earth. Their groundbreaking strategy involves a formation of ultra-thin, kite-shaped solar arrays in space, beaming solar energy to Earth. If successful, this technology could provide continuous solar power generation — even on cloudy days. (Bloomberg)
Startup transforms solar panel waste into profit
We Recycle Solar, an Arizona startup, smashes and recycles up to 7,500 solar panels daily. As solar panels multiply worldwide, there is little thought about what happens to them when they're no longer needed. According to the company, over 90% of all solar panels end up in landfills, making the market for recycled solar panel materials a multi-billion dollar opportunity. (Bloomberg)
Coal down, renewables up:
In the past decade, coal generation has plunged over 95% from 2011 levels. During this time, renewable generation soared by 74% — hitting a record high of 135.0 TWh in 2022.
Heat pumps: a green path to 100% renewable heating
Shifting as little as half of the funds spent on fossil fuel subsidies to heat pumps could help achieve 100% renewable heating in the EU by 2040, a new report suggests. This transition would require a £18.3 billion investment over 15 years — but would allow middle to lower-income households to gain access to greener, more affordable heating. (EEB)
IEA lowers gas consumption projections as reliance on Russian gas dwindles
The International Energy Agency has lowered gas consumption projections for the fourth consecutive year, with Europe reducing demand due to a drop in Russian pipeline flows. With gas demand anticipated to peak by 2030, Russia's market share is set to diminish in the future amidst a surplus of natural gas. (IEA)
In case you missed it
Watch senior researcher Dr. Hannah Ritchie discuss how technology and innovation can help us become the first generation to lead the way in creating a sustainable future — and break free from the belief that environmental disaster is inevitable:
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