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Weekly Highlights | From the African ‘green treasure’ to sustainability in the workplace

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By illuminem

· 6 min read

1. We Are Wasting Time on These Climate Debates. The Next Steps are Clear.

By The New York Times

  • There is no time to waste debating on distant future decisions and future uncertainties. Instead, focus should be on credible commitments to public policy, private investment and innovation
  • Debating on the desired share of wind or solar energy in 2050, or the amount of carbon removal needed is only delaying action. Renewables are cheaper than ever, and carbon removal should be used in hand with emission reductions
  • Current technologies are more than enough to start acting, and that doesn’t mean no new tech will be developed. Let’s focus on what matters: deploying clean tech, coherent climate policy and creating a just transition

2. I’m Tired of Being Sustainable

By The Cut

  • In 2017, Lauren Singer posted a YouTube video in which she showed every piece of trash she had used over the past 4 years, and it all fit into a single 16-ounce Mason jar, meaning that she was living zero-waste
  • So what can a single person do when warned that we have eight years left to reverse climate change? Eat very little meat; vote for elected officials who commit to saving the environment; shop secondhand as much as possible; donate in support of local grassroots movements
  • Though, we are more and more willing to take actions on a personal level and receive nothing in return, but the same is not true for the ones that are causing the most harm

3. Look to West Africa for the Future of Green Architecture

By Bloomberg Green

  • Diébédo Francis Kéré, in March, became the first African architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the design field’s top honor
  • Kéré’s work is focused on promoting stability and sustainability in some of the world’s most vulnerable and threatened places. He’s turned his studio in Berlin into a laboratory for research on materials that can both withstand and deescalate climate change
  • With his Germany-based nonprofit association, Kéré Foundation e. V., he has designed and built schools, hospitals and public buildings in countries with limited resources that are facing extreme weather

4. The profession of sustainability is doing just fine

By GreenBiz

  • Today, 76% of respondents from large companies reported an increase in headcount, an 18-point jump since 2019 -  "a strong indicator of sustainability’s importance within the largest companies," according to the latest "State of the Profession" report just published by GreenBiz Group
  • Three-fourths of respondents reported that their budgets had also increased, a 24-point jump from 2019, a year that itself had seen a 15-point increase over 2017
  • The average total compensation (base salary plus additional compensation such as bonus, exercised options, etc.) for sustainability managers is $146,900, while for directors, it’s $227,158 and for vice presidents a whopping $404,972

5. The Big Business Of Energy For The EV Industry


  • As automakers make bold long-term commitments to electrify their fleets, there may not be enough lithium-ion batteries to go around in the short-term. While China dominates the battery manufacturing supply chain, and Europe is working to catch up, the U.S. still lags far behind
  • Analysts estimate that the size of the EV battery industry will grow to around $70 billion by 2025, and there’s a number of innovative battery start-ups trying to grab a piece of the pie. One of these companies, Cuberg, is making lithium-metal batteries, which it says will be twice as energy dense as standard lithium-ion
  • Elon Musk announced that Tesla was getting into the energy business in 2015, and now it’s betting that it will become increasingly important for the company. In 2020, it surpassed 3 gigawatt hours of energy storage deployments in a single year, largely due to the popularity of Megapack, its utility-scale battery product

6. How can 'sponge cities' use nature to tackle climate-fuelled floods?

By Eco Business 

  • The term “sponge cities” is used to describe urban areas with abundant natural areas such as trees, lakes and parks or other good design intended to absorb rain and prevent flooding
  • Natural ways to absorb urban water are about 50% more affordable than man-made solutions, and are 28% more effective, according to earlier research by global design firm Arup and the World Economic Forum
  • New Zealand’s Auckland came out top with a 35% sponge rating - largely thanks to many golf courses, green parks and good-sized residential gardens, followed by Nairobi at 34%, while New York, Mumbai and Singapore tied third with 30%

7. Companies embrace employee sustainability education to tackle climate emergency

By Fortune

  • More and more companies, such as Deloitte, are making it mandatory for their employees to follow a course on climate science, embedding such programs in their cultures. They also support educational activities outside the workplace
  • Data is clear: companies that prioritize climate goals are more successful. Climate know-how is increasingly important at all levels, and companies start to tie compensation with ambitious climate goals
  • There is also a strong business case for such initiatives: for ex. many companies report $ millions in energy savings, and have higher employee retention. Almost all leading unis are also creating sustainability programs

8. Clean energy spending in governments’ economic recovery packages has surged by 50% since the end of October, reaching unprecedented levels


  • IEA Sustainable Recovery Tracker’s latest update shows government spending commitments have jumped to USD 710 billion – 40% above the levels after the 2008 global financial crisis
  • “Countries where clean energy is at the heart of recovery plans are keeping alive the possibility of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, but challenging financial and economic conditions have undermined public resources in much of the rest of the world,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director
  • Advanced economies account the bulk of this effort, with over USD 370 billion intended to be spent prior to the end of 2023, while in emerging and developing economies, a USD 52 billion for sustainable recovery spending is planned by the end of 2023

9. Will Africa become the new green hydrogen “El Dorado”?

By IHS Markit

  • African hydrogen production has the potential to play a major role in the lower carbon energy supply diversification strategy of European Union countries, having few characteristics supportive of green hydrogen projects, namely a large land mass sunlight for green power production
  • Scatec, The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE), and Egypt Basic Industries Corp (EBIC) Fertiglobe's subsidiary entered into agreement in October 2021 to develop a 50-100MW green hydrogen facility through electrolysis
  • Namibia signed to develop its first large-scale green hydrogen project, which is set to ultimately produce 300,000 metric tons per year of green hydrogen, along with 2GW of renewable electricity by 2026 at an estimated cost of $4.4 billion

10. UN climate report: Carbon removal is now “essential”

By MIT Tech Review

  • Carbon dioxide removal is essential to achieve net zero [greenhouse-gas emissions],” Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, vice-chair of the IPCC Working Group III that produced the nearly 3,000-page report, said during a conference call on Monday
  • Preventing 1.5°C of global warming with only minimal levels of carbon dioxide removal would require cutting global GHGs emissions to about 31 billion tons per year by 2030, meaning nearly slashing emissions in half in eight years
  • The IPCC report’s models lean heavily on Bioenergy with carbon capture and sotrage (BECCS), which is a hybrid of nature-based and technology-based approaches, with some of the benefits of each
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