desalination of seawater

Desalination of seawater, converting salt water into fresh water is important in water-scarce countries. For that process, certain charged particles – known as ions – have to be removed from the water. However, some ions are difficult to remove from water due to their chemical properties. Recent research by scientists from Israel and the Netherlands is helping to improve this ion-removal process.

The researchers were able to predict the behaviour of boron ions during water processing and thus simplify their removal. The study is available on-line at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Many harmful or valuable ions in seawater, brackish water or freshwater are amphoteric: their properties vary with the pH. “It is difficult to remove these particles from the water with standard membrane technologies,” says Jouke Dykstra, Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University & Research. “You then have to add certain chemicals to control the pH. But we want to avoid that as much as possible: there is a strong trend to use fewer chemicals.”

Desalination of seawater

As an example of this ion removal process, Dykstra refers to the desalination of seawater. This is happening worldwide at locations with a shortage of fresh water. For example, many countries around the Mediterranean use desalinated seawater for irrigation. “But seawater also contains boron, which is toxic in high concentrations and it inhibits plant growth. Obviously, this is a problem for irrigation, and that is why we are looking for new ways to remove boron and other ions from sea water.” Desalination is becoming increasingly important due to drought in many regions. Dykstra: “New technologies are needed to continue to meet the demand for fresh water, not only in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but also in the Netherlands.”

Wageningen researchers are working on this challenge together with colleagues from Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology, and from Wetsus – the European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology in Leeuwarden. Together they have developed a new theoretical model of the behaviour of boron during a process known as capacitive deionisation. This is an emerging, membraneless technique for water treatment and desalination using microporous, flow-through electrodes When an electric current is applied, ions are adsorbed to the electrodes and hence removed from the water. Dykstra: “We are the first in science to develop a theoretical model that enables us to predict this behaviour and use it to our advantage.”

Entirely new design

The Israeli and Dutch researchers discovered that such systems require a completely new design. For example, they demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally that the water has to flow from the positive to the negative electrode, and not the other way around, as is now customary. “Our research has shown that a good theoretical model is essential to effectively control such complex chemical processes,” concludes Dykstra. “This approach offers many interesting possibilities. You could also use this model for other challenges in waste water treatment, including removing arsenic or small organic molecules, such as drug residues or herbicides.”

PNAS summarizes the process: Water treatment is required for a sustainable potable water supply and can be leveraged to harvest valuable elements. Crucial to these processes is the removal of charge pH-dependent species from polluted water, such as boron, ammonia, and phosphate. These species can be challenging for conventional technologies. Currently, boron removal requires several reverse-osmosis stages, combined with dosing a caustic agent. Capacitive deionization (CDI) promises to enable effective removal of such species without chemical additives but requires a deep understanding of the coupled interplay of pH dynamics, ion electrosorption, and transport phenomena. Here, we provide a detailed theory tackling this topic and show both theoretically and experimentally highly counterintuitive design rules governing pH-dependent ion removal by CDI.

Photo by Lance Cheung on Foter

Citychangers in Paris
Citychangers is a global knowledge hub to help you make cities sustainable. It invites mayors, experts, entrepreneurs, and passionate changemakers to enjoy curated content free of charge. With a the goal to speed up the process and give this rapidly growing community an additional home and created by Urban Future.

Urban Future is known for high-impact events, gathering thousands of changemakers from across the globe to share their experience in making cities sustainable. Feeling
frustrated that this exchange of knowledge was limited to one single annual conference, the team decided to create a home base where this global community of
more than 30,000 CityChangers and 300+ organizations share their experiences 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We want to provide a global stage to share the experiences of those who are at the forefront of transforming cities.” Gerald Babel-Sutter, CEO of Urban Future. CityChangers.org is an online resource hub, designed for those who want to drive sustainable change in cities. It provides inspiration, advice on how to start a transformation process, learnings on what you’re getting into, and details on how to avoid the mistakes already made by others. It is also a global network where you can connect with those who have already done what you are planning.

Solving an existential crisis

“We as humans are in an existential crisis. Climate change, pollution, overpopulation, destruction of ecosystems – you name it. We are risking nothing less than our existence. But while we keep hearing bad news every day, there are so many people in thousands of cities that do amazing things to master a turnaround,” says Gerald Babel- Sutter, CEO of Urban Future. “I believe these experiences are critical to increasing the speed of transformation.”

The purpose of CityChangers.org is to speed up urban transformation by sharing what works, and what doesn’t, in driving change. People interested in urban change will find and share know-how on making it happen in fields such as mobility, real estate, construction, waste, decarbonization, and climate action, with many more to come in the following months.

Now live

At the website you can find some live examples of what Citychangers do:

Join host Mikael Colville-Andersen on his travels around the world to meet some of the most passionate CityChangers right where the magic is happening: on the bike, in front of city hall, or on public transport. From the streets of Milan to the cable cars of Medellín, get inspired by a grassroot activist, a district mayor, a former chief city planner, and a chief resilience officer.

Jim Walker from WALK21 and Mário Alves from the International Federation of Pedestrians are here to clear the air on pedestrian safety and give some insight into why and how to make cities pedestrian-friendly.

Whether you live close to the equator or high up in the North: the climate is always contributing to whether people decide to take the car or the bicycle. The unwillingness to cycle when it is too hot or too cold is a mindset that many experts are trying to get rid of. But what is it like to cycle in Singapore with an average temperature of over 28 degrees? And what can we learn from Oulu, Finland, with up to minus 30 degrees in Winter?

Coproduction

The content has been developed with many of the most passionate urban shapers and organizations, those who are leading and pioneering transformation in cities around the world. An editorial team has gathered data for more than a year, conducted around 100 or more interviews with inspiring CityChangers, and worked through thousands of pages of project reports, books, and transcripts.

“Hundreds of actors in Europe create know-how on urban sustainability”, says Gerald. “The problem is that the content gets lost in piles of reports, in closed hubs, or is too
overwhelming,” he continues. “Our editorial team has distilled relevant, actionable information in a way that not only speaks to experts, but also has a focus on the ‘how
to implement’ factor.”

Covid medicine is coming soon

Since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic all attention has been focused on vaccines to contain the disease. That is a first step towards control. But eventually, we need to have a cure. COVID medicine is coming.

Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, we still need drugs to treat COVID. Even people who have been double vaccinated stand a small chance of being infected and ending up moderately or even severely ill. There are drugs, but they have to be given in hospital. That may change soon, if we are to believe the signs that COVID medicine is on the way.

One promising drug that could improve things is molnupiravir, an antiviral that’s moving into the final stages of testing in humans. Researchers are hoping it can be used both to treat and prevent COVID. Importantly, it can be taken as a pill – meaning people wouldn’t need to be hospitalised to receive it.

This drug reduces the ability of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, to replicate. It works by mimicking one of the building blocks of the virus’s genetic material. When the virus reproduces, it builds a new copy of its RNA, and the drug ends up being incorporated into it.

When the virus then reproduces, the molnupiravir causes mutations to accumulate in the virus’s RNA, which increase every time it replicates. Eventually, this causes an “error catastrophe”, where excessive mutations stop the virus from being able to reproduce altogether, and it dies off.

How well does COVID medicine work?

So far, a small trial has looked at the effects of molnupiravir in 202 COVID patients (not in hospital) who had started having symptoms. Participants were randomly allocated to receive molnupiravir or a placebo, with different doses of the antiviral being tested.

The trial’s results have been published as a preprint, meaning they are yet to be formally reviewed by other scientists. Still, the trial showed that after three days of treatment, infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus was found significantly less often in participants taking 800mg of molnupiravir (2%) compared to those taking a placebo (17%).

By day five, the virus was not detected in any participants receiving 400mg or 800mg of molnupiravir, but was still found in 11% of those taking a placebo. The trial, therefore, suggests that molnupiravir can reduce and eliminate infectious SARS-CoV-2 in patients with mild COVID. Indeed, it’s the fact that molnupiravir speeds up the clearance of the virus that suggests it could be useful not just for treating COVID but also lessening the chance of it spreading.

But to know just how useful it will be, we need to see what happens in further trials. Molnupiravir is currently also being assessed in newly hospitalised patients, with this study aiming to find out if early molnupiravir treatment can reduce the time it takes for patients with severe COVID to clear the virus. No results have been disclosed so far.

A larger trial, with 1,850 participants, is now looking to see if molnupiravir is better than a placebo at preventing serious disease and death in non-hospitalised adults with COVID. And a phase 3 trial (the final stage of human testing) is now recruiting participants – across 17 different countries – to see whether early molnupiravir treatment of COVID-positive people prevents others living in the same household from getting infected. Previous research has already shown molnupiravir can stop SARS-CoV-2 spreading in this manner among ferrets.

If it performs well in these trials, molnupiravir’s impact could be huge. Given the severity of illness that can be caused by SARS-CoV-2, an effective antiviral would be a valuable weapon to have in the clinical armoury – particularly if molnupiravir continues to be as fast acting as it has so far in testing. Patients suffering from COVID can become very sick very quickly.

The fact that it is taken orally is also potentially very helpful, as this would make it easy to use in the early stages of infection, as it could be self-administered outside of hospital. Also, molnupiravir can be produced in large quantities and doesn’t require cold transportation. Vaccines and physical measures to control the spread of the virus would still be the primary tactics for managing COVID, but this drug could complement both.

Pfizer and Ritonavir

Two others include a candidate from Pfizer, known as PF-07321332. Pfizer has dosed the first subject in Phase II/III clinical trial of its experimental oral antiviral drug in non-hospitalised patients who have symptoms but are at low risk of progression to severe disease.

A protease inhibitor, PF-07321332 is meant to hinder the activity of the main protease enzyme that the SARS-CoV-2 virus requires for replication. When given in combination with a low dose of ritonavir, the antiviral’s metabolism or breakdown is expected to slow down, allowing it to stay longer in the body at higher concentrations.

This long-term action inside the body could facilitate a continuous fight against the virus, Pfizer said. Previously, ritonavir was administered along with other antivirals for a similar slowing of metabolism.

The latest double-blind Phase II/III trial will randomise nearly 1,140 subjects to receive either oral PF07321332 plus ritonavir or placebo every 12 hours over five days.

The trial is expected to complete next year.

Roche and Atea

A third candidate is AT-527, an antiviral produced by Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals.  AT-527 is an oral direct-acting antiviral agent developed from Atea’s nucleotide prodrug platform. The antiviral drug blocks viral RNA polymerase, which is needed for viral replication. The asset is being investigated in multiple trials against COVID-19. It is being studied in hospitalized settings and outpatient settings and for the treatment of long-haul COVID-19.

starch from co2

Creating starch from co2 is not a new process. Plants do it all the time. But Chinese researches now discovered a way to do it much more efficiently in a lab. That would potentially save up to 90% of farm land, water, fertiliser and pesticides, they claim.

Chinese scientists recently reported a new technology for artificial starch synthesis from carbon dioxide (CO2). The results were published in Science on September 24.

The new route makes it possible to shift the mode of starch production from traditional agricultural planting to industrial manufacturing, and opens up a new technical route for synthesizing complex molecules from CO2, reports Eurekalert.

Starch is the major component of grain as well as an important industrial raw material. At present, it is mainly produced by crops such as maize by fixing CO2 through photosynthesis. This process involves about 60 biochemical reactions as well as complex physiological regulation. The theoretical energy conversion efficiency of this process is only about 2%.

A sustainable production of starch and use of CO2 are urgently needed to solve the food crisis and climate change. Designing new ways to replace plant photosynthesis for converting CO2 to starch can contribute to achieve that.

To address this issue, scientists at the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology (TIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) designed a chemoenzymatic system as well as an artificial starch anabolic route consisting of only 11 core reactions to convert CO2 into starch.

The abstract of the research says: “Starches, a storage form of carbohydrates, are a major source of calories in the human diet and a primary feedstock for bioindustry. We report a chemical-biochemical hybrid pathway for starch synthesis from carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen in a cell-free system. The artificial starch anabolic pathway (ASAP), consisting of 11 core reactions, was drafted by computational pathway design, established through modular assembly and substitution, and optimized by protein engineering of three bottleneck-associated enzymes. In a chemoenzymatic system with spatial and temporal segregation, ASAP, driven by hydrogen, converts CO2 to starch at a rate of 22 nanomoles of CO2 per minute per milligram of total catalyst, an ~8.5-fold higher rate than starch synthesis in maize. This approach opens the way toward future chemo-biohybrid starch synthesis from CO2.”

Starch from co2 can be 8.5 times more efficient

The artificial route can produce starch from CO2 with an efficiency 8.5-fold higher than starch biosynthesis in maize, suggesting a big step towards going beyond nature. It provides a new scientific basis for creating biological systems with unprecedented functions.

The research is a first step towards industrial manufacturing of starch from CO2. From the moment the total cost of the process will become comparable with agricultural planting, this technology is expected to save more than 90% of cultivated land and freshwater resources.

In addition, it would help to prevent the negative environmental impact of pesticides and fertilizers, improve human food security and facilitate a carbon-neutral bioeconomy.

 

damage of climate change

A study by an international team of scientists found that the economic damage of climate change could be six times higher by the end of this century than previously estimated.

Projections like this help governments around the world calculate the relative costs and benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, prior analysis has shown that the models used may ignore important risks and therefore underestimate the costs.

Currently, most models focus on short-term damage, assuming that climate change has no lasting effect on economic growth, despite growing evidence to the contrary. Extreme events like droughts, fires, heatwaves and storms are likely to cause long-term economic harm because of their impact on health, savings and labour productivity.

The study authors first updated one of the three climate-economy models used to set the price of carbon for national policy decisions, then used it to explore the impact of year-to-year climate variations and the rates of economic recovery after climate events.

The study, that was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that by 2100, global GDP could be 37% lower than it would be without the impacts of warming, when taking the effects of climate change on economic growth into account. Without accounting for lasting damages – excluded from most estimates – GDP would be around 6% lower, meaning the impacts on growth may increase the economic costs of climate change by a factor of six.

Up to 51% of global GDP

Yet, there is still considerable uncertainty about how much climate damages continue to affect long-term growth and how far societies can adapt to reduce these damages; depending on how much growth is affected, the economic costs of warming this century could be up to 51% of global GDP.

“Climate change makes detrimental events like the recent heatwave in North America and the floods in Europe much more likely. If we stop assuming that economies recover from such events within months, the costs of warming look much higher than usually stated. We still need a better understanding of how climate alters economic growth, but even in the presence of small long-term effects, cutting emissions becomes much more urgent.”

The researchers also updated the model to take advances in climate science over the past decade into account, as well as the effect of climate change on the variability of annual average temperatures – both of which increased the projected cost of climate change.

The authors calculated the effect of these changes on the ‘social cost of carbon’ (SCCO2), a crucial indicator of the level of urgency for taking climate action that calculates the economic cost of greenhouse gas emissions to society. Expressed in US dollars per tonne of carbon dioxide, estimates currently vary greatly between $10 to $1,000. However, when taking more robust climate science and updated models into account, this new study suggests that the economic damage could in fact be over $3,000 per tonne of CO2.

“Burning CO2 has a cost to society, even if it is not directly to our wallets. Each person’s emissions could quite well result in a cost to humanity of over $1,300 per year, rising to over $15,000 once the impacts of climate change on economic growth are included,” Dr Brierley said.

Much higher than policy makers assume

While the findings show large uncertainties, the central values were found to be much higher than policymakers currently assume; the US government, for example, currently uses a social cost of carbon of around $51 per tonne to judge the costs and benefits of projects linked with greenhouse gas emissions, whilst the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which covers power, manufacturing and aviation, recently exceeded €61 for the first time.

Study co-author Paul Waidelich (ETH Zürich) said: “The findings confirm that it is cheaper to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than it is to deal with climate change impacts, and the economic damages from continued warming would greatly outweigh most costs that could be involved in preventing emissions now. The risk of costs of damage of climate change being even higher than previously assumed reaffirms the urgency for fast and strong mitigation. It shows that choosing to not reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an extremely risky economic strategy.”

Source: UCL

 

lappeenranta green city

Four green cities, Lahti and Lappeenranta, Finland, Grenoble, France and Växjö, Sweden, all Green Capital or Green Leaf winners, showcase their achievements during the European Week of Regions and Cities. To highlight the theme Green Transition they will present their cases during a special webinar.  The aim of the event is to show how forerunner green cities enhance the speed of their green transition by utilizing the European Recovery funding opportunities and European-wide networking possibilities.

Green Capital and Green Leaf cities are recognised for their commitment to ambitious goals and environmental standards. All the Green Cities has set the common objectives of the recovery: decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, productivity growth and raising the employment rate. At the workshop you will get to know the best practises of recovery and sustainability work of the cities of Lahti and Lappeenranta, Finland, Grenoble, France and Växjö, Sweden. Each presentation will have different angle to boost the recovery. Moderator of the webinar is Regional Director Europe Wolfgang Teubner from ICLEI.

City of Lahti develops carbon neutral construction

City of Lahti in Finland is the European Green Capital 2021. We have already abandoned the use of coal and will become a carbon-neutral city by 2025 as the first major city in Finland. Lahti is known as an agile research and development area for environmental technology, where the environmental monitoring, circular economy, land use and construction sectors cooperate seamlessly and efficiently. This enables the development and testing of interdisciplinary innovations on a practical scale. In Lahti, we are creating a product development, research and piloting platform for innovations in carbon-neutral and energy-efficient construction – covering the entire life cycle of buildings, from zoning to the utilisation of demolition materials.

The Carbon Neutral Construction Development Centre was established in Lahti in autumn 2020. City of Lahti is seeking solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of construction in both new and old buildings. The Centre focuses on global megatrends: renewable energy production, minimisation of energy use, recycling of demolition materials and use of organic materials in buildings as carbon sinks. It involves the City of Lahti and the city-owned construction companies, as well as the educational institutions and several companies in the area. During the presentation, director Juhani Pirinen will tell about some practical examples of the projects that the Carbon Neutral Construction Development Centre is working with.

Green cities play a key role economic recovery of Europe’s mountain region

Grenoble, European Green Capital 2022, is a city of 160.000 inhabitants in a densely populated valley in the French alpine mountain range. Back in 2005, we adopted France’s first climate action plan and are now seeking to turn Covid into an opportunity to accelerate the transitions with our neighbours in the valley and the mountains. Since 2014, for example, the city has been circularising the supply chain for the 11.000 meals it prepares daily for schools and care homes: local farms now provide organic, seasonal food, at least once per week vegetarian, with a 100% vegetarian option. As the next step, we would like to replace today’s plastics containers with cellulose-based ones made from local wood, suited for composting.

Whilst Grenoble acknowledges the need for electric vehicles, it believes that in the long term hydrogen, and already today natural gas from methanisation of waste, are good alternatives notably for public transport and logistics. Mountain regions are badly suited to being equipped with an EV infrastructure and EU-funded pilots have shown that green hydrogen produced with solar power could be a viable alternative. In the short term, Grenoble promotes bio-methane for public transport and heavy vehicles.

Mountains are often considered leisure playgrounds for skiing or alpinism. Since 15 years, Grenoble is working with its citizens for a wider scope that includes conservation, food, mountain culture, local value chains and responsible outdoor activities. Our tools are France’s biggest alpine movie festival, excursions for pupils from disadvantaged families, teaching children alternatives to downhill skiing, putting local products into the Christmas market etc. These actions also feed into the EU strategy for the Alpine Regions.

Climate City Contract leeds a way to climate neutrality

Växjö is a municipality of 95,000 inhabitants in the southern part of Sweden. It is a growing city surrounded by forests and lakes. Since early 1970’s Växjö has been on a path to steadily improve the environmental work, which is a unanimous focus among the political parties. Back in 1996, Växjö decided to become a fossil fuel free city, to be achieved in 2030. CO2 emissions are now at a level of approximately 1.4 tonnes per capita. This is a result of a strategic work, not at least with the energy production which is now totally from renewable energy sources. The commitment to reducing environmental impact made Växjö being the winner of the European Green Leaf Award in 2018.

In 2020, Växjö signed a Climate City Contract with a number of national authorities. This contract states that Växjö will speed up the transition to climate neutrality by 2030, as well as the authorities paving the way with necessary policy changes and support. The contract also acknowledges the importance of local and regional cooperation in order to be successful. This is no news to Växjö, who has a history of involving citizens, companies and the university in the climate work.

During our event, Deputy Lord Mayor Cheryl Jones Fur will talk about the Climate City Contract and how we will use it at local level to be successful.

Lappeenranta is working hard to green the electrification

Lappeenranta, the Climate Capital of Finland, has been chosen as one of the Greenest European Cities. European Green Leaf Award 2021 winner is full of high energy, out-of-the-box thinking and international expertise. Lappeenranta will be carbon neutral city by 2030.

We pioneer in renewable energy and clean environments with passionate problem-solving at our forte. In our university and tourist center, located in logistically important region in South-East Finland only 2 hours from Helsinki, near the border between the EU and Russia, we dare and do. The Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT, the innovative operating environment, skilled workforce and good networks in a city of around 73,000 residents make it easier to start up and expand international business operations.

Electrification will change the world, it’s industry and the way of economics. The world is looking for a new emission-free and reliable energy system. We are going to turn emissions into opportunities.

During the webinar, MP and member of the Lappeenranta City Council Hanna Holopainen will tell how local companies are set to reveal the most innovative solutions, how we are going to save the planet – and at the same time create growth in global business.  We can transform air and water into fuels, chemicals, materials and even into food.

With the know-how of local university Lappeenranta has become a center for energy and environment research, innovation and business. There are 3000 jobs related to cleantech and sustainable business in the region. City has made with the national government an innovation agreement to speed up the business on green electrification.  By combining renewable energy, water and carbon dioxide, we can produce fuels without emissions.

Webinar

The City of Lappeenranta (Finland), together with the cities of Lahti (Finland), Grenoble (France) and Växjö (Sweden), organises the How green cities lead the way to European recovery? -webinar on 13th October as part of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021.

Webinar is held on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM (CET)

Please register here.

hydrogen transport
Storing energy as hydrogen is seen by many as a critical part of the energy transition and the road to net-zero emissions. That goes for hard-to-electrify transport applications as well as a wide range of industrial and domestic heating, cooking and other applications.

A new study and Well-to-Tank (WTT) model by Element Energy, commissioned by Zemo Partnership, identifies a range of pathways for the production, distribution and dispensing of low carbon hydrogen to transport end-users. It shows the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from each potential pathway, as well as the infrastructure requirements related to each choice.

32 pathways

The research looks at a combination of six production configurations, three distribution pathways, and two dispensing options – a total of 32 potential pathway combinations.

The work identifies the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each hydrogen supply chain pathway, based on technologies available today, as well as those expected to be commercialised in the medium-term such as offshore electrolysis, gas reformation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and waste gasification with CCS.

It shows that fundamental choices exist in terms of the production of ‘green’ hydrogen using electrolysis powered by renewable electricity or ‘blue’ hydrogen, primarily produced by reforming fossil natural gas combined with CCS. It also looked at the implications of using biomethane in place of fossil gas and hydrogen derived entirely from biogenic waste.

The study also considers the energy use together with emissions arising along the full production, distribution and dispensing pathway, including unavoidable – or fugitive – emissions likely to arise during the process. It shows that there is a wide variation in the emissions associated with each of the alternative pathways, depending on the carbon footprint of the energy and feedstocks used.

Carbon negative possible

The work suggests that renewables-based electrolysis is expected to represent one of the lowest emissions pathways in the medium-term. Natural gas reformation using emerging autothermal (ATR) technology with CCS could also significantly reduce emissions compared to current industrial steam methane reforming (SMR) process for so called ‘grey’ hydrogen.  There are even potential pathways to generate carbon-negative hydrogen when biomethane is used, or through the gasification of waste, allied with CCS.

Whilst the study showed GHG emissions can be almost eliminated, improvements in the efficiency of the process of electrolysis are expected to contribute to a modest reduction in the energy intensity of this pathway in the medium-term.  There are opportunities to co-locate hydrogen production with renewable energy, using surplus or currently curtailed energy at times of high production/low demand.

The study provides a detailed model allowing new pathways to be assessed and gives an overview of the quality of the data used in the analysis, identifying areas where further work and monitoring is needed.

The study Executive Summary is available here and the full report here.

sustainable travel sweden

66.4% of consumers globally want to have a positive impact on the environment through their daily actions in 2021, according to a new report ‘Top Countries for Sustainable Tourism’, released by global market research company Euromonitor International.

According to the report, Scandinavia is leading by example in its engagement and progress towards sustainable travel, with Sweden ranked first, followed by Finland, Austria, Estonia, and Norway. These findings extracted from the new Sustainable Travel Index, developed by Euromonitor International, assess 99 country destinations through the lens of environmental, social and economic sustainability, country risk as well as sustainable tourism demand, transport and lodging.

“Sweden is a pioneer in lifecycle assessment research which is critical to understand the full impact of consumer behaviour and consumption patterns,” analyses Caroline Bremner, head of travel at Euromonitor International. The country is highly engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals and preserves the Arctic ice and permafrost to help stop climate change, aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

Other countries also show good progress in sustainable transport and lodging. Just outside the top 20 – featuring other European countries for the most part, such as Germany and France – we find New Zealand, Bolivia and Canada.

“There is globally a clear change in mindset and resistance in returning to a volume-driven travel and tourism model. Instead, stakeholders are rallying together to ‘build back better’ through value creation from sustainable tourism. As momentum grows in the run up to COP26, consumers, travel brands, destination marketing organisations and governments continue to align to avert the climate emergency,” concludes Bremner.

Euromonitor International is the world’s leading provider for global business intelligence, market analysis and consumer insights. From local to global and tactical to strategic, our research solutions support decisions on how, where and when to grow your business. Find the right report, database or custom solution to validate priorities, redirect assumptions and uncover new opportunities. With offices around the world, analysts in over 100 countries, the latest data science techniques and market research on every key trend and driver, we help you make sense of global markets.

Fotocredits: Martin Edström, Visit Sweden

IPCC report 6

The climate is changing in every region and across the whole climate system. That is the inevitable conclusion of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report.

Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.

While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize, according to the IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis. The report was approved on Friday (August 6) by 195 member governments of the IPCC, through a virtual approval session that was held over two weeks starting on July 26.

The Working Group I report is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022.

“This report reflects extraordinary efforts under exceptional circumstances,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “The innovations in this report, and advances in climate science that it reflects, provide an invaluable input into climate negotiations and decision-making.”

Faster warming

The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach. The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”

Every region facing increasing changes

Many characteristics of climate change directly depend on the level of global warming, but what people experience is often very different to the global average. For example, warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic.

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai. The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions.

For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows. But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans.

For example:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century. For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities. For the first time, the Sixth Assessment Report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in the climate – heat, cold, rain, drought, snow, wind, coastal flooding and more – into what they mean for society and ecosystems.

This regional information can be explored in detail in the newly developed Interactive Atlas interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch as well as regional fact sheets, the technical summary, and underlying report. Human influence on the past and future climate “It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” said Masson-Delmotte. Yet the new report also reflects major advances in the science of attribution – understanding the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events such as extreme heat waves and heavy rainfall events.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate. “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said Zhai.

solarboat

An electric boat that runs virtually endlessly on solar power –  that’s the dream that’s been driving David and Alex Borton for the last 17 years. Since 2004, the father-and-son team has been working to fulfil their vision, building several custom, patented, solar-electric boats under the brand name of Solar Sal.

This summer, the two of them completed what they believe to be the first-ever solar-electric boat voyage from Bellingham, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska.

They departed on Tuesday, 25 May, in their 27-ft wooden hull solar boat Wayward Sun and made landfall at Ketchikan, Alaska, 13 June, then continued up the coast at a more leisurely pace to Glacier Bay and Juneau, concluding the voyage on 8 July.

The electric boat is powered 100 per cent by solar energy with no fossil-fuel combustion engine at all on board. “People always ask us if we have any gas or diesel back up,” said Alex Borton, “but the sun rises every day. If our batteries get too low, we just wait.”

Wayward Sun, built by Devlin Boat in Olympia, WA, is propelled by a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 electric pod drive with six Torqeedo Power 24-3500 lithium batteries.  There is a separate 12-volt system for lights, electronics and other DC-powered systems and an inverter for occasional AC loads, like making waffles. The batteries are charged from a 1700-Watt array of solar cells on the boat’s rooftop.

Better than expected

“The solar-electric system has more than exceeded our expectations,” said Alex Borton. “During the 45-day passage from Bellingham to Glacier Bay to Juneau, we were underway for 38 days. We averaged 32 nautical miles per day at an average speed of 3.7 knots. While some days we stopped early or left late because of weather, there were only two full days we didn’t travel at all due to high winds or dense fog.

“Even on a completely overcast day this time of year, we can travel at 2-3 knots during daylight hours without drawing on our batteries at all,” Borton said. “With direct sunlight, we can do 5 knots or more all day without any battery use. Most of the trip was overcast and it rained a lot. Some days we travelled slowly because we had to; other days we travelled slowly and charged the batteries while underway.”

No limits

“Most electric boats on the market today are limited by their battery capacity, which means they have to return to shore power to charge,” explained Borton. “Until recently, solar panels and batteries were just not capable of severing the tie to shore power, so it was only functional for extending range or for partial charging. But now, thanks to advances in solar cells and Torqeedo’s efficient electric drives and high-capacity batteries, it’s possible to produce a solar boat with reasonable speeds and accommodation that can continuously cruise without ever charging from the shore. If I had more time I would keep going for another 1000 miles.”

They navigated from Bellingham to Ketchikan using the inside passage, anchoring at night since they were not permitted to go ashore in British Columbia due to Canadian Covid-19 travel restrictions. “That was no problem for us,” said Borton. “We had lots of food, a cosy cuddy for sleeping below deck. And, of course, our solar boat doesn’t need refuelling.”

“This is an important validation of state-of-the-art solar-electric boat propulsion technology, and we have enjoyed following their daily progress on their blog,” said Mary Jo Reinhart, director of OEM and retail sales, Torqeedo, Inc.

You can see the progress reports with photos and video clips from Wayward Sun’s epic voyage at squarespace.com