Dual tracking – Making money & saving the planet
by China Water Risk 20 January, 2021
Dual tracking – Making money & saving the planet – The calls to build back better are getting louder and there’s even hope that the US will re-join the Paris Agreement (fingers crossed). But where are we on business unusual and making money differently? So we kickstart 2021 with new ways of making money that can benefit the planet as well – after all “dual tracking” is all the rage.
Let’s start with snacks – these are always being considered a guilty pleasure but it is changing fast. Sally Ho from Green Queen shows how startups to big food companies are dishing out climate positive food – snacks that are actually good for the planet – from carbon capture and neutral or even negative to regenerative agriculture-based. Snacks are finally going guilt-free, at least for the planet.
Another guilty party is the cement industry which accounts for ~5.6% of global CO2 emissions – if it was a country, it would be the 4th largest emitter of CO2. But it too is up for a makeover as it now has the potential to become carbon negative! Energy Innovation’s Jeffrey Rissman shares various technologies on reducing production emissions and how capturing 80% of cement’s process emissions by 2050 is already sufficient to achieve carbon neutrality.
Who would have thought this was possible? It just shows what we can do if we put our heads together!
On to coastal threats in Asia Pacific; given that we could lose urban real estate equivalent to 22 or 59 Singapores to locked-in sea level rise depending on a climate pathway of 1.5ºC or 4ºC, we are definitely in need of out-of-the-box thinking on adaptation.
According to the UN’s Adaptation Gap Report 2020, “huge gaps remain in adaptation finance for developing countries”. Basically, there is still a long way to go before projects are at the stage of providing real protection against climate threats – sigh.
With COVID-19 constraining the public purse, it’s a relief to see that WWF’s bankable natural solutions on agriculture in Viet Nam is trying to close the funding gap. Their Thomas Gomersall and Jean-Marc Champagne share how the unique integrated rice & shrimp model will compensate for subsidence and raise farmer income. If successful, it can be replicated in other APAC river deltas.
Today, there is a rising trend of companies/start-ups going down the dual track route – make money and take care of people and the planet, but beware, not all those who say they are green are actually green. Some are just piggy-backing on environmental or social issues to look woke and sell more goods.
Eco-Business’s Robin Hicks calls out 8 of these greenwashing companies – from calling motor fuel & natural gas as green energy to shifting responsibility for climate change to individual consumers. So don’t get suckered in – find out who these ‘fake greens’ are.
Measuring businesses’ impacts on the environment is one way of filtering out ‘fake greens’ and tech can help achieve this. But it’s not just about less water, less pollution, less plastic and less waste – how can we encourage companies to do good and track that? Can we dream up a regenerative economy?
Cue Handprint, which has been set up just to do that. Its co-founder Dr. Simon J.D. Schillebeeckx explains how its platform empowers companies to integrate positive impacts into every business transaction. It’s easy to use and its monitoring system aims to help restore threatened ecosystems one micro purchase at a time.
There is no doubt, the private sector is stepping into the space to finance ‘dual track’ solutions, but governments still have an important role to play as countries also need to transition from development-as-usual to development-unusual. Nowhere is this more urgent on the water front than India which needs to resolve water scarcity to protect socio-economic growth.
Over 50% of its population will live in urban centres by 2030 and these cities are expected to generate US$5trn towards national GDP by 2024. The fact that they still do not have 24/7 water is worrying, shares Kubernein Initiative’s Priyanka Bhide. She dives into the impact of urban water security on India’s future and provides four ways forward to reduce water stress in 6 major Indian cities.
Indeed, companies, brands, inventors, start-ups and governments all have a role to play. But they need to act fast as there’s good and bad news on the climate and water fronts.
The bad news first … scientists now say that sea level rise by 2100 could exceed IPCC projections for strong-warming futures (>4ºC). 3m of sea level rise is plausible by 2100 (and that’s without daily tides of around 2m). This is bad news indeed as we are not prepared, but there is a glimmer of hope as scientists now agree that the climate will stabilise within 1-2 decades after the world achieves net-zero emissions.
So the good news is that we can do something about it – decarbonising like crazy + sucking out GHGs from the atmosphere + stepping up adaptation to protect vulnerable areas will become the norm. Dual tracking businesses to make money AND save the planet are only set to grow and they can help fast track these, so more of these innovations please!
Building back better is not an option, it’s an imperative. With COVID-19 resurging to yet another peak across continents, 2021 looks like it will offer up more time to hunker down and dream of regeneration to emerge with new ways of making money for a water and climate secure future.
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