There is both urgency and building momentum for climate action.
Foundational Qs and As on Ted Talks
These one-minute clips on TED Talks answer five key questions about climate change. “In the scope of Countdown, TED’s initiative to accelerate solutions to climate change, the TED team collaborated with scientists and the creative studio Giant Ant to prepare five short animations explaining concepts and answering important questions related to the climate. They are narrated by Kristen Bell.” https://bit.ly/3ubNGjI (Learn more about Countdown at countdown.ted.com.)
Why is the world warming up?
What is net zero?
Where does all the carbon we release go?
Why is 1.5 degrees such a big deal?
Why act now?
It is such a big and multi-faceted challenge. Where do the solutions lie for accelerating the most impactful ways to tackle climate change with the scale and speed that scientists tell us is needed to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees? Let’s focus here on the energy-climate change connection, part of both the problem and the solution.
Innovating to Zero!
This TED Talk by Bill Gates continues to be as relevant and informative today as it was when presented in 2010. We find it helpful in framing the energy-climate change connection, its implications for the global community (in particular the world’s poorest two billion citizens who are central to the Gates Foundation mission and mandate, and intertwined with any approach to solving climate change), and, for offering hope about available solutions for making traction on what can feel sometimes like such an overwhelming and seemingly intractable problem. Many call it humanity’s biggest threat of all times….
But, back to the part about ‘hope’ and solutions…
In this 27-minute talk called ‘Innovating to Zero!’, Gates explains the importance of clean energy, the scope, scale and essential nature of the net zero challenge, and outlines promising innovations – CCS, nuclear, wind, solar PVI and Solar Thermal—that can contribute significantly as available solutions for the world’s nations, businesses and citizens to meet the net zero challenge and begin tackling climate change with the pace, urgency and impact needed to succeed. https://bit.ly/3bacBeE
“Electrify as Much Human Activity as Possible“
Fast forward from 2010 to 2021. The case for urgent climate action is ever heightened and ever more present. Fortunately, as we have written about in past blogs, there are important signs of momentum building and commitment to action growing among global leaders. (See, for example, our September 2020 blog on Climate Action Momentum is Building at: https://bit.ly/2NCizwQ)
This month, Bill Gates has published a timely book on solving climate change, titled, “HOW TO AVOID A CLIMATE DISASTER: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need”.
It is addressed primarily at actions that government (policy makers) can/should/must take, although there is a chapter that speaks to actions that consumers/citizens may consider taking (more on this later). As reviewer, Bob Ward, for the Guardian writes, Gates “…presents a complelling explanation of how the world can stop global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions effectively to zero.” https://bit.ly/3auCFCc
New York Times’ reviewer, Bill McGibben, while critical of a perceived absence of political activism in the book, concurs with Ward’s assessment above, writing that “Gates correctly understands the basic challenge is to ‘get to zero’ as soon as we can. ‘Humans need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,’ he writes, which is as useful a sentence as the English language admits. And he understands that the key to doing this is to electrify as much human activity as possible: from powering our computers to turning the wheels of our cars and buses to producing steel.” (https://nyti.ms/2Nfobx6)
Both reviewers, while generally favourable toward the book, also offer helpful insight via their critique, further adding to our understanding of what’s required to solve the complex challenge of climate change. Our take away insight from the New York Times’ reviewer’s critique is that it is important not to lose focus on, and to hold global leaders accountable for, urgency and accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while enroute to the Paris Accord’s 2050 longer-term target. The Gates book points to credible, evidence-based solutions, but perhaps as these reviewers analyze, does not shine enough light on what needs to be done, and can be done, in the next decade.
As McGibbens puts it, “…One wishes Gates had talked, for instance, with Stanford’s Mark Jacobson, whose team has calculated how almost every country on earth could go to 80 percent renewable energy by 2030…. the key work will be done (or not) over the next decade, and it will be done by sun and wind.”
Still, the Gates book is one that is now high on our reading list—in our view it is helpful, and hopeful, to be able to learn more about climate change as a solvable problem, along with a seven step strategy that is offered for doing so.
Now, however, we will read with a more discerning eye thanks to these two insightful reviews. We encourage readers to check out the full reviews at:
https://bit.ly/3auCFCc (Bob Ward,The Guardian, February 2021)
https://nyti.ms/2Nfobx6 (Bill McKibben, New York Times, February 15, 2021)
For Canadian perspectives, here are links to a CBC piece on the book, published on February 14, 2021 at: https://bit.ly/37rfHtw and a review, by Jeff Rowe, published in The Toronto Star on February 17, 2021: https://bit.ly/37p9SwS.
For readers interested immediately in a quick preview of the seven action strategy, here is a link to an opinion piece by Bill Gates himself, published in the Globe and Mail on February 13, 2021 https://tgam.ca/2ZnFoa2.
Finally, fyi, Gates is promoting his book with a virtual book tour, which includes a Toronto event on March 10 https://bit.ly/3avu6Hm
For Consumers and Citizens
On his website, Gatesnotes.com, Bill Gates posts an excerpt from the chapter in his new book, in answer to a question he is often asked – “What can I do to help?”
He prefaces the piece with, “…The good news is that there are things everyone can do. Although the most impactful steps we can take to avoid a climate disaster must happen at the governmental level, you have power to effect change as a citizen, a consumer, and an employee or employer.” Interestingly, he says this when encouraging citizens to use our voices– “It may sound old-fashioned, but letters and phone calls to your elected officials can have a real impact.”
To read more, including five actions to consider taking, as a consumer: https://gatesnot.es/3bhUymK
Loop and Loblaws Ontario Pilot
Ontario consumers have an exciting new opportunity to send a signal to the marketplace that they (we) expect and support retailers in doing more to make reusable packaging an increasing part of the (new) way of doing business. Read more in this CBC article about the Loop and Loblaws pilot test of whether “Canadian consumers are ready to change their habits” and join up with transformations in reusable packaging already underway in the U.K. and France.
Buying ice cream is about to get a whole new ‘cool factor’!
Catherine is entreating her fellow Ontarians–let’s show we are ready to move beyond green veggies, to rally behind this pilot of new “green ways” to consume!! https://bit.ly/3awRSmh (Sorry for the bad puns)