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Climate Pay helps fund world leading global research on improving Sustainability and reducing Climate Change
Cutting through the noise
On a sunny train journey into London, I overheard young professionals debating solutions to climate change. One argued that unless 50% of all carbon emissions were reduced in the next 10 years it would be the end of mankind. The other with the diametrically opposed view that the planet could be saved by people making small incremental changes
Out of curiosity I decided to find out who was right – and discovered I couldn’t!
The more I researched, the more contradictory information I found. The truth became more obscure, one academic negated another, and solutions were constantly undermined. In an era of misinformation, I discovered there does not seem to be a single authoritative body providing accessible information and common-sense solutions and that fact troubled me.
Amongst all the noise, one voice was providing clear and actionable solutions -Wolfson College, Cambridge’s Sustainability and Conservation Research Hub. They shared my vision of advocating and championing efficiency and collaboration towards the goal of sustainability. Using my experience in technology and psychology I helped create a fintech product that would raise funds in aid of Wolfson’s Research Hub on Sustainability & Conservation and would also amplify their work. Find out more here:
Our Mission Statement
“To inform, educate and research sustainable solutions to critical environmental issues. We support the provision of common-sense solutions for companies and individuals that engender behavioural change in efficiently using the limited resources of the one planet that we share; we seek to work with the growing movement of people who wish to use business for good. We aim to be a social movement that challenges the conventional logic of value exchange with education and solutions for sustainable systems that produce greater economic and social impact.”
The Earth’s surface is always emitting heat called infrared radiation. Usually, this heat escapes into space but some gases have a special effect on infrared radiation, they absorb it and stop it escaping. These gasses are called greenhouse gasses of which Carbon Dioxide is one. In the right amounts Carbon Dioxide is an important part of our atmosphere, as are the other greenhouse gasses, helping regulate the earth’s temperature. If we didn’t have any greenhouse gasses than the average temperature on earth would be -18 Celsius.
Nasa reports that levels of CO2 have increased by 47% since the industrial revolution as a direct result of burning fossil fuels, formed when plants and other organisms were laid down in decomposing layers under sediment and rock millions of years ago. And when we burn that fossil carbon it emits much greater amounts of Carbon Dioxide than any natural processes.
All the extra CO2 humans are producing is being absorbed by the oceans. These excess levels of CO2 have changed the pH levels of our oceans from alkaline to acidic. Phytoplankton are tiny single-cell organisms that make up 90% of the ocean’s biomass. These tiny organisms live in surface waters and photosynthesise in the oceans. Phytoplankton are made of calcium and for them to build their shells they need be in an alkaline environment. Phytoplankton are so important as the air we breathe contains 50% of oxygen that comes from phytoplankton. But we are changing the climate at such a rapid speed that we are not allowing evolution to catch-up.
Human activity has increased greenhouse gas emissions to dangerously high levels and altered the planet’s natural ability to regulate itself, causing an increase in global temperature. There has been a dramatic rise in temperature by 1°C in the last 100 years which has been driven by greenhouse gas emissions and in particular Carbon Dioxide.
What is it?
Sustainability is the idea that goods and services should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment. It is also the process in which we aim to reduce waste whether that be plastic, energy, or food.
Some key human activities which are escalating climate change are agriculture and farming through mass deforestation; increased use of fossil fuels which is leading to catastrophic amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and our industrial processes are producing waste that is throwing the earth’s natural processes and ecosystems off balance.
Agriculture generates roughly 19 – 29% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions and it is also one of the biggest causes of deforestation accounting for 70%. Changing the Earth’s ecosystem so dramatically means we are not only eliminating natural carbon sinks (ways in which CO2 is absorbed naturally) but we are also pushing animals out of their natural habitats and forcing animals that naturally wouldn’t mix closer together. It is exactly this type of behaviour that increases zoonotic diseases that create pandemics. Currently the forest homes over three quarters of land-based life. Now to make matters worse… it is thought that about one third of the global food produced through this process is either lost or wasted. We must do better!
Humans are also increasing climate change through industrial processes. Global industry generates more than 30% of climate change impacts. There are also political sensibilities involved where countries such as India and China’s industrialisation are heavily reliant on coal power.
Sustainability is recognising that agriculture, industry, and product consumption are all necessary and will not stop – but processes need to become efficient to reduce waste and we need to do things in a way that do not cause irreversible damage to our world.
Climate Change and Health
The pandemic does not stand in isolation, it was not a one-off freak event. Such outbreaks are becoming more common and are a direct consequence of climate change. Health and the climate are inextricably linked and our failure to take preventative measures against climate change has seen increases in flooding, drought extreme weather and pandemics. Climate change breeds the perfect conditions for increased pandemics and infectious diseases. In our lifetime, we have witnessed Sars, Mers, Ebola, Bird flu and Zika virus – these outbreaks are four times more frequent than in the last half century.
Increase in mortality associated with air pollution during the Pandemic
of all deaths worldwide are directly linked to air pollution
increase in deaths of vulnerable and the elderly in the UK due to heat related deaths
people in UK facing serious health problems or death from extreme weather caused by climate change
Climate Pay has a remit to fund research in these areas of Interest.
Plastic and Packaging
Decarbonising Tea Production
Tea is the most consumed drink on the planet after water. More than 60 countries grow tea plants commercially and each year these countries produce over 5 million metric tons of tea leaves. According to the FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) drinking a cup of tea emits the same carbon footprint as driving half a mile in a car. That is because no one has created a de-carbonisation plan for the multiple tea factories around the globe that addresses the special requirements needed by each individual factory.
The experts at Wolfson College, Cambridge created a targeted and focused plan that tackled the urgent change required. They combined their existing research from other sectors and adapted it to utilise and empower local staff. This is a brilliant example of how people and planet focused strategies can be aligned. The local staff are the experts on the ground and understand all the logistical, operational, and cultural requirements of tea production as well being able to deal with all the special tea making challenges involved.
One of the more interesting challenges for the team was related to language and cultural translations as energy savings had to equate to a currency that resonated with the agricultural paradigm. They were able to demonstrate this value exchange through using farming models and livestock equivalents.
Some of the key actions the team made were they to look at practices around how the boiler was used. By detailing the current use, they were able to use data to make the waste visible and then implemented detailed practices around the way the boiler could be used more efficiently. Other areas of waste reduction and energy optimisation looked at how firewood was stored and how the factory could match the energy use more precisely to factory demands.
In the first year of implementing the waste reduction strategies the local team found over a 10% reduction in energy waste. This is more than twice the rate of change needed to stay on the 1.5C pathway. It also indicated that future reductions could continue to be made.
From Our Founder
Making the right choices
“On average we make 35,000 decisions every day. If we focus on a fraction of that and take 250 choices and times that by 8 billion. That’s 2 trillion human choices a day. Let’s make them good and informed choices – choices that are going to change the world.”
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