We can do better – innovating with “less”
by China Water Risk 17 January, 2020
We can do better – innovating with “less”: 2020 is off to a fiery start. Besides geopolitics, wildfires still burn in Australia with the affected area now comparable to England’s land area. Could the devastating impact been reduced with better preparation? The tragedy here is Australia knew – back in 2008, a government report said climate change will cause the fire season to start earlier and be more intense after 2020. With little progress at COP25, we start the year by taking a look at how we can do better in 2020.
An injection of youth please, says Civic Exchange’s Lawrence Iu who was in Madrid last year. Although the youth did engage at COP25, existing social structures still hinder their capacity to lead change thus opportunities to address youth priorities are missed.
Looking ahead, innovating with less water and less waste is a good place to start. Fashion, a topical dirty, thirsty and wasteful climate villain is a clear contender for doing better. However, despite touting a circular makeover, the sector has delivered dismal recycling figures. But fear not, consumers are fighting back. In Hong Kong, we are excited to see 130 companies, clubs & schools engaged in the biggest ever ‘Get Redressed’ campaign. We speak to Lauren Boucher from Redress about their successes so far and the challenges ahead.
Green buildings are also all the rage but with ‘scalebusting’ they can be greener! Just like scale collects in your kettle, it also builds up in water systems. Hear from Jonathan Gur of Ion Enterprises on how to eliminate these waste minerals, save energy and water plus cut OPEX by 20%. Surely, this should be a no-brainer.
Food and agriculture is another area where big gains can be made with less water and less waste. With temperatures rising fast, the future of farming is set to be redefined. China is not immune with fertile regions hit hardest but South Asia Fast Track’s Sourajit Aiyer thinks China is prepared. He believes there are lessons here and that other countries should take note.
BTW China has moved to ban fishing and pollution from shipping in the Yangtze River (its rice bowl) and is working on a special plan for the Yellow River (its wheat belt).
What about something more “out there” like making milk without the cow? Milk not only requires lots of water (one glass of milk uses more than 1 bathtub of water) but dairy cows are also bad for climate because of methane released. Enter TurtleTree Labs, a Singapore-based start-up, which if successful could see us drinking lab-made milk by 2030. Green Queen’s Sally Ho explores the likelihood of ‘cowless’ milk and ponders if it’s the beginning of the end for big dairy. The impact could be huge as the 10 biggest dairy companies emit as much carbon as half of France.
Clearly, food companies will be impacted. So where are they on managing growing risks? Who is leading and who is lagging? Jacob London from Ceres expands on their report’s key findings. Unfortunately, the more thirsty meat industry underperforms. But beware – investors are now asking more questions.
Speaking of investors, we are happy to see two of the largest funds do better. BlackRock (world’s largest investor) and Ping An (China biggest insurer) have recently joined Climate Action 100+.
Climate risks are real and impacts are already felt. There are clear financial implications and China’s Central Bank moves to study such impacts on the financial sector. Elsewhere, it is good to see Larry Fink steering BlackRock to avoid investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk.” Yet the world’s largest fossil fuel producers still don’t have credible plans for achieving net zero carbon emissions despite claiming they support the Paris Agreement. In Hong Kong, listco’s score an “F” in ESG.
This means the base case is still at 3-5°C. We need to shift this especially since a latest study shows Greenland ice disappearing 7x faster than in the 1990s. We can start by innovating with “less”. We are late in doing better. But better late than never.