The Carbon Emissions Race
Updated: Sep 6
By Macy Myers: In 2023, it’s no secret that the world’s population is growing exponentially. We reached 8 billion people as of November 2022! This triggers a deeply important conversation that is on everyone’s mind: As the world’s population grows so does the need to address climate issues and sustainable development goals to protect future generations.
Photo By Chris LeBoutillier
Communities everywhere are experiencing the dramatic and harmful effects of climate change, and the consequences are significant. (We have talked about these implications before!) But it begs the question-- To prevent future catastrophes, who or what will work to solve the most critical climate issues such as controlling carbon emissions? The WET Center, among other leading organizations, is at the heart of the great race to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions through research, advanced programming, technologies, education, and other opportunities leading to a final destination: Destination Decarbonization.
Counteracting Carbon in 3, 2, 1 … 🚲
The main factor contributing to climate change is the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) into the earth's atmosphere. The increase in GHG emissions in the atmosphere acts like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.¹ The four main GHG emissions that are affecting the Earth are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons.² To significantly reduce the impacts of climate change, most countries, including the United States (U.S.), have goals to reach “net zero” by 2050. Net zero means that all GHG emissions produced are counterbalanced by an equal amount of emissions that are eliminated.³ Currently, carbon dioxide emission is the most important gas to focus efforts on due to its high emission rates and the variety of different ways that it is being produced.
Decarbonization is the effort to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions into the atmosphere as a way to significantly reduce the detrimental impacts of climate change. The WET Center is pioneering a Destination Decarbonization Challenge, with the goal of tackling carbon emissions locally with the help of undergraduate students. Ideas or solutions the students will develop in groups of two to four can encompass: Capturing carbon dioxide and using it for something beneficial rather than releasing it into the atmosphere; and/or eliminating or minimizing the production of GHG such as replacing burning fossil fuels with other renewable energy sources, electrification, and increasing energy efficiency. You can learn more about the competition here.
Eyes On The Prize: How Are #NETZeroHero’s Staying on Track?
It’s not just students who are helping eliminate carbon emissions. Other net zero heroes like France are working to reduce GHG by at least 45 percent by 2030. In the Netherlands, the Dutch government hopes to buy out and close 3,000 farms and is on track to meet its climate goals. In the U.S., the presidential administration plans to convert all federal vehicles to electric by 2035. In addition, the first of the U.S. Postal Service’s 34,000 zero-emission mail trucks will go into service in 2023. The agency is planning to purchase 85,000 mail trucks, of which about 40 percent will run on electricity. (They took the race to lower carbon emissions quite literally, and we are so glad to see it.) In agriculture, conversations are being held about combating greenhouse gas emissions in food production, noting the U.S. has about seven years to halve food emissions. Finally, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA is investing $285 million in critical infrastructure to lower energy costs, expand access to clean energy for people across rural America, and combat climate change. We can taste the finish line.
How are other #NetZeroHero’s Teaming Up or Catapulting Other Carbon Emissions Initiatives?
One article suggests that banks are considering climate change in their lending decisions going forward. Research shows that funding to combat climate change lies in electric vehicle incentives, investments in battery production, green hydrogen incentives, renewable energy projects, and rewarding people to use less energy at home.
Various champions for net zero emission goals have come around with technologies that support the goals to reduce carbon emissions, especially in agriculture. The top 10 new products at the World Ag Expo center around automation, adaptability, environmentally sustainable alternatives, and overall efficiency. CarbonLock™ Technology, a nature-based soil amendment removes atmospheric carbon dioxide, permanently and verifiably, through enhanced rock weathering on agricultural soils. T4 Electric Power Tractor still offers power, performance, and precision which serves in versatile ways. Hyundai Home for EVs incorporates solar panels, energy storage, and EV charging. The list of technologies is only growing and various companies (these folks we have had the absolute pleasure of collaborating with through our Valley Ventures accelerator program!) like Climformatics, Nurture Growth Biofertilizer, BovControl, and Nitricity continue to race against climate change.
Okay so the tech is there, but what about agriculture and other applied sciences? In agriculture alone, many methods have been utilized to reduce carbon emissions. One method that helps combat soil erosion and serves as a bank to store carbon is no til or soil conservation. Notable are the crops grown on this soil. Wheat demand will rise as the population grows - an estimated 60 percent more by 2050. So scientists are working to find wheat varieties that can grow in places where it currently can't be grown - as well as crops that can withstand a changing environment - to keep feeding the world while being highly compatible with climate needs.
Across the globe, Australia is combating GHG emissions by feeding cattle red algae (Asparagopsis) which doesn’t alter their nutrition, yet limits their methane production by up to 80 percent as seen in the Netflix docuseries Down To Earth. Curb Your Carbon, a docuseries on CBC investigates how people can reduce their carbon emissions. These popular video-streaming efforts address ways for big corporations to implement more sustainable practices in multiple tiers of their businesses, as well as small solutions that everyday people can do to make a difference. It feels good to do good if we have anything to say about it.
Finish Line or Bottom Line?
The impacts of climate change are catastrophic. The demand for decarbonization is ever-present. Combined efforts of organizations, technologies, government incentives, and you (yes, you) can help in counteracting carbon emissions in 2023 and beyond. We have a good feeling it’s only up from here.
Funding & Other Opportunities
Deadline: March 1, 2023
Deadline: Through March 5
Deadline: March 6, 2023
Deadline: Until December 2023
Check out the California State Grants Portal for more funding opportunities!
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