The climate technologies we need to change the world are available now, but we need to adopt many of these tools globally to stop climate change. What would it take to mitigate climate change this decade and lower emissions closer to zero? The head of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development announced that many developing countries risk missing out on the green tech revolution unless the international community and all governments take action now to make sure climate change and global emissions are addressed all over the world. Here is what it would take to stop climate change in the next 10 years.
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Follow the green to green the planet
It’s the economy that feeds humans on this planet, so the economy is where solutions need to be focused to make green tech viable for the entire world. Good news: global leaders believe we are at the tipping point where clean technologies are outpacing old dirty coal-powered energy, and it is doable to mitigate climate change and keep it at current levels if a number of climate technologies are adopted ASAP.
Related: The best and worst US states for climate change
“We are at the beginning of a technological revolution based on green technologies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. “This new wave of technological change will have a formidable impact on the global economy.”
How does climate change impact the economy? Normally, we’re quoting natural disaster tolls and economic impact of drought, war and other climate-related upheaval on GDP. This time, it’s different, because clean technologies are now ramping up into viable industries. The 17 frontier technologies covered in UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2023 allegedly have the potential to create market revenues of over $9.5 trillion by 2030. For context, that’s three times the size of India’s current economy.
With a huge potential market, why not go green all at once?
With economic potential like this, what’s the hold up? Well, most climate technologies are energy infrastructure, and that requires investment as well as permitting and building time. The best way to deal with climate change now is to decide what mix of clean technologies could shift our global economy and societies to a sustainable lifestyle as quickly as possible, while doing it in an affordable way that everyone can contribute, private citizens and governmental bodies each doing their part.
Then the planning and permitting needs to be expedited and favor technologies that can deploy rapidly or on a flexible basis with room for future growth. For example, instead of running solar farms through the usual permitting process, governments could green light fast-track those projects that can be rapidly installed for a faster energy revolution.
“Developing countries must capture more of the value being created in this technological revolution to grow their economies,” Ms. Grynspan said. “Missing this technological wave because of insufficient policy attention or lack of targeted investment in building capacities would have long-lasting negative implications.”
Top climate technologies we need ASAP
Adopting the following technologies globally as quickly as possible will help push the world onto a much healthier future path:
- 1. solar power for the grid
- 2. wind power for the grid
- 3. smart grids
- 4. EVs and clean public transit (electric trains, mixed transportation, etc.)
- 5. last-mile logistics and drone delivery
- 6. clean construction
- 7. green architecture and urban planning
- 8. public education on clean technologies
- 9. software for grid management and emissions tracking
- 10. carbon capture and pollution cleanup tech
This is big business, which is the key tipping point to the success of the green energy revolution. While green tech exports from developing nations rose from $57 billion to $75 billion from 2018 to 2021, their share of the global market dropped from 48% to 33% as larger companies raked in the profits of innovative technologies they could deploy faster with more resources. During the same time period, green exports from developed countries jumped from $60 billion to $156 billion.
With these resources, we should expect larger countries with more resources to take the lead in helping ensure the clean energy future is accessible across borders. In a relatively wealthy country like the U.S., it is not hard to imagine a future with carbon capture filters on factories that run on mostly sustainable energy, EVs dominating roadways and charging at home at night in a garage powered by solar. The sustainable energy revolution is here. But the U.N. is correct: it is going to take international cooperation to make a difference quickly, and we need to fight climate change as quickly as humanly possible.
In fact, humans can’t do it alone. We need technology. But that doesn’t always look the same on a government scale as it does for you and me as individuals.
How to fight climate change as an individual
Say you’re not in charge of solar permits for your municipality, but you want to know how you can fight climate change as an individual. Your action plan might look something like this:
- – get an app (such as Toohla) to calculate how to reduce your carbon footprint based on diet and lifestyle
- – educate yourself about sustainable living, from how we eat to how we choose our housing
- – sign up for your utility’s clean power program
- – buy carbon offsets to compensate for any extra emissions (such as air travel)
- – investigate local discounts and tax rebates for installing solar panels or a smart thermostat or smart home system
- – volunteer with local pollution cleanup and waterway health monitoring organizations
- – learn how to manage your own home and property when it comes to water usage, energy usage, etc.
- – make your next vehicle electric or a hybrid or an e-bike
- – slowly replace appliances and personal tech with more sustainable new versions (a heat pump instead of a furnace)
Sustainable technology is a broad subject, so just do what you can to find the areas where your lifestyle creates extra waste, and then do what you can to reduce that wasteful consumption. Then figure out if you can offset the emissions you can’t avoid.
We get the future we all deserve
It’s quite unnerving to think that you could make all the difference you can in your personal lifestyle to fight climate change, while a factory halfway across the world is still breaking climate and pollution laws and contributing to accelerating climate destruction. Well, the bad news is also the good news. We have finally reached a tipping point as a society where it’s better for all of us to work together and solve the climate crisis, because we are all impacted by it, and quite severely. Expect to see more international cooperation build over the coming years as governments realize they will need to work together to achieve their goals.
But that’s doable, right? Instead of importing oil, countries in Europe can import electricity from North African solar farms until their own wind farms are more established. Richer countries can help those smaller ones already affected or displaced by climate change-related sea level rise and natural disasters, so that smaller countries can also remain stable and contribute to the solutions we all need.
Could we be on the cusp of individuals living net-zero or even net negative with sustainable technologies? If governments and work across borders to incentivize and support citizens in shifting to sustainable technologies, the U.N. says it should be achievable to make significant progress against climate change this decade.
Here’s how we create a clean energy future for the globe
UNCTAD calls on governments in developing countries to remember that countries often retain advantages economically if they are early to deploy new clean technologies. They also recommended that governments in developing countries align environmental, science, technology, innovation and industrial policies, and to prioritize investment in green sectors and provide incentives to shift consumer demand towards greener goods.
The report also calls for an international program to guarantee purchases or tradable sustainable items, to coordinate sustainable technology research at the multinational level and increase investment in regional tech and innovation centers.
Via United Nations
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