A month ago, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its guidance on what the world can do to limit the root causes of dangerous climate change.
Whilst it said “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would stave off climate change’s worst impacts, the UN body also highlighted the need for new technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
The idea that new tech alone could solve the climate crisis was described by some as wishful thinking, but as we continue to witness specific climate-technology breakthroughs that advance clean and scalable energy solutions, what can tech’s role be in solving the crisis? What tools and solutions can it provide?
Tech’s evolution and role
It wasn’t until 1957 that scientists issued their first warnings about climate change. Over the past three decades, however, an extensive range of technologies has been made available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – ranging from renewable energy solutions to carbon capture and storage.
This ranges from apps that help us calculate, track, and reduce our personal carbon footprint (Earth Hero) to having the choice of more than 40 per cent of car models in the UK available as plug-ins.
But the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference made it clear: the adoption and scalability of tech solutions is key.
New tools and solutions
Drone technology is already playing its part in fighting against climate change (from documenting climate change to monitoring tree degradation and illegal logging).
To fight against mass deforestation, UK-based start-up BioCarbon Engineering is using drones to spray 100,000 tree seeds per day throughout ravaged forests. The company claims this automated technology could potentially plant one billion trees per year when scaled up.
In the agriculture sector, UK-based company LettUs Grow provides aeroponic farming technology and farm management software to help design the farms of the future, while Small Robot Company uses robotics and artificial intelligence to maximise crop yields to make food production sustainable.
As we continue to deploy other new technologies, what tech solutions appear to be the most promising?
With global emissions still on the rise, eyes are turning to tech, in particular solar geoengineering – also called solar radiation management. This includes developing solutions to reduce heat-trapping clouds or releasing aerosols into the stratosphere to lower global warming.
Satellites-based systems combined with machine learning could also provide a solution, with satellites tracking carbon dioxide emissions from plants, factories and vehicles and spot methane leaks, which experts say would be able to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by as much as 50 per cent.
Other innovations include the development of wind turbines remote sensing technologies – existing sodar (sonic detection and ranging) and lidar (laser light plus radar) – which could open whole new areas for potential development in the future.
As the tech sector’s drive to develop and scale these solutions is accelerating, get in touch with our experts to discuss how we can help you amplify your company’s competitive edge.