Snippets for 25 February 2021

Welcome to this week's edition of Snippets.

We start with yet more nails in the coffin for the coal industry, then move on to a serious question facing the hydroelectric industry and the role it should play in decarbonisation.

We then look at natural carbon sequestration solutions and how they should play apart in COVID recovery plans worldwide, one of them being the restoration of peat wetlands here in NZ. Speaking of natural carbon sequestration projects, we have an interesting look at the Great Green Wall of Africa, on learning from past mistakes.

Next, we move on to “elephants in the room” in the form of resource limitations and what to do about the aviation industry.

We finish up with an article about food fortification to combat malnourishment, and an interesting recycling story from Africa.

2020 was as bad for coal as it was for health around the world, and things seem unlikely now to improve for coal (but hopefully not health!). Not good news for investors, but much better news for the world. This article discusses how four major Asian countries have cancelled huge coal power projects after banks put regulations in place, and investors are making choices based on climate realities. Renewables are the more popular choice for investors these days. Read more.....

With renewables being the preferred energy these days, should old hydropower dams be “retired”? While removing them could address rising disaster risks and operating costs, the decision is by no means straightforward. They are the lifeblood of many communities who live downstream, and would be difficult to easily replace with other renewables. But the costs of repairing are usually more than removing. The economics of what to do needs to be considered on a case by case basis. Read more.....

We cant just expect changing energy sources to get the world to the lower emissions levels we need. Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) should also play a part in global climate recovery. These are projects that not only have a carbon benefit, but a natural regenerative effect on the environment. A new consultation paper from McKinsey and the World Economic Forum explores the role that NCS can play in helping to address climate change and the destruction of nature. There are many difficulties, but some possible solutions are discussed here. Read more.....

Although carbon offsetting is currently done with forests, new data from Forest and Bird shows that New Zealand’s peat wetlands are more effective than tropical forests at absorbing carbon. Forest and Bird are now calling on the government to develop a national wetland restoration plan. Read more.....

Speaking of restoration, Africa has an ambitious restoration project called the Great Green Wall. This project aims to transform the lives of some 100 million people by planting a mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasses along a corridor stretching some 8000 kilometres across Africa, by 2030. The project looks to sustain livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and combat desertification and climate change. Read more.....

While mining is generally associated with its negative environmental impacts, it is a necessary evil if we are to transition to low emissions technology. However, global metal exploration is in decline at a time when demand for solar panels, wind farms and electric vehicles are at an all time high and expected to increase. We must find a solution soon! Read more.....

Since Covid became part of our lives, the aviation industry has been experiencing the impacts first-hand. With people no longer able to travel at the levels prior to Covid and in particular international air travel, the industry has had it’s hand out for billions in aid. Now is the ideal time to look at changing this industry for the better. Perhaps use the handouts to retrain staff and or look at more environmental friendly ways to travel. We should not go back to the way it was! Read more.....

We take a look at food fortification, and in this case Rice. Fortification can be a powerful tool to improve health and power economies. With nearly 400 million people in Asia suffering from undernourishment, fortifying staple foods such as rice with micronutrients is an excellent way to way to improve public health. The fortification process must not alter the familiar look, taste, and texture of the foods. The benefits are wide ranging and can power a nation forward for the betterment of all. Read more.....

We end with a look at a process developed in Kenya that can recycle plastic into bricks that are stronger than concrete. Nzambi Matee opened a factory where workers take plastic waste, mix it with sand and heat it up, the results are bricks being five to seven times stronger than concrete. They are just of the paving type so far but we don’t doubt the range will expand to include bricks for the construction industry and more. While it seems like someone’s rubbish, it’s actually someone else’s bricks. Read more.....

For our innovation section this week, we have a few interesting articles:

- Scientists devise method to combat climate change using common NZ rock

- Australia’s first solar panel recycling facility to be established in Adelaide

- The living bricks that generate energy in the home

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