1. ‘Scale Out, Not Up’: Rethink Your Circular Strategy
Catherine Weetman, a circular economy expert, emphasizes the importance of shifting from traditional profit-driven models to circular strategies in a recent interview. She highlights the struggle of established companies to adopt circular principles, advocating for creating value beyond mere sales by focusing on environmental and ethical considerations. Weetman suggests targeting non-customers, offering products that are affordable, accessible, and socially responsible. Her approach encourages starting small and scaling out to build resilient, adaptable, and local business models, citing successful examples like Circular Computing and Caterpillar. This strategy aligns with her belief in prioritizing multi-dimensional value creation for a sustainable future.
2. Mind the Gaps: How the UN Climate Plan Fails to Follow the Science
The U.N. climate conference in Dubai outlined a plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but scientists argue that these targets are not scientifically grounded and insufficient to prevent severe climate impacts. Key concerns include the lack of clear definitions for measuring global temperature increases and the achievement of net-zero emissions. Studies highlight discrepancies in calculating global temperatures, with potential delays in recognizing threshold exceedance, leading to costly corrective actions. The methodology for assessing net-zero emissions is also criticized, particularly regarding forest carbon offsets, which are seen as open to manipulation and potentially undermining genuine emission reduction efforts. These issues raise doubts about the commitment of governments to science-based climate policies and the effectiveness of current strategies in addressing climate change.
3. 24 Predictions for 2024
The “24 Predictions for 2024” article forecasts significant developments in climate action and environmental challenges for 2024. Key predictions include the activation of the American Climate Corps to combat climate change, the ongoing struggle of climate change as a focal issue in U.S. elections, the establishment of a U.N. climate reparations fund, a trend of ‘greenhushing’ among corporations to avoid greenwashing lawsuits, and potential delays in a U.N. treaty to end plastic pollution. Additionally, the article touches on an increase in household electrification and efficiency rebates, a growing movement towards public power in various communities, and Puerto Rico’s leadership in residential solar energy adoption. There are also expectations of improved access to electric vehicles (EVs) for lower-income drivers, continued growth and controversy in carbon-capture technology, and expanding union efforts for EV worker protections. Environmental justice issues like the EPA’s use of civil rights law and the scope of “forever chemical” pollution are also highlighted, alongside the possible legal liability of polluting countries to vulnerable ones. The article also discusses the burgeoning mining for critical minerals, debates over “climate-smart” agriculture, more renewable energy on public lands, the peak of El Niño with associated climate impacts, Pacific Islanders’ migration challenges due to climate change, insurers withdrawing from disaster-prone states, the slow progress of workplace heat standards, and the impact of “heatflation” on food prices.
4. EU Parliament Adopts New Greenwashing Law for Product Labeling
The European Parliament has approved a new law targeting greenwashing in product labeling and advertising. This directive mandates clear, verifiable environmental claims on products, prohibiting vague terms like “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” or “biodegradable” without proper certification. Additionally, it disallows claims of carbon neutrality based solely on emissions offsetting programs, challenging companies to reduce their own emissions rather than relying on carbon credits. The law also focuses on product longevity, requiring clear information about product durability and guarantees, and banning misleading claims about a product’s lifespan or repairability. This move aligns with broader international efforts to provide consumers with accurate information about sustainable goods and to establish legal standards for sustainability claims. Biljana Borzan, a member of the EU Parliament, emphasized the law’s role in promoting a shift away from disposable culture, enhancing marketing transparency, and enabling consumers to make informed choices about durable, repairable, and sustainable products.
Source: Environment + Energy Leader
5. What was Agreed on Climate Change at COP28 in Dubai?
At COP28 in Dubai, world leaders reached a new climate change agreement, acknowledging the need to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems. This conference, the 28th annual United Nations climate meeting, was held in the UAE, a major oil-producing nation, which caused controversy due to its oil industry’s role. While the agreement set global targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030, it did not impose immediate action deadlines. COP28 was crucial in addressing the 1.5°C temperature rise limit set in the Paris Agreement, but its success will depend on real-world actions in the coming years.
6. How Climate Technology Is Being Ramped Up
Source: UN Climate Change
7. Capgemini and AWS Offer Generative AI for Sustainability
Capgemini and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have partnered to integrate Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) into business operations, focusing on sustainability. This collaboration aims to optimize investments and tailor AI solutions to specific industry needs, enhancing environmental impacts and supporting the transition to a sustainable digital economy. Particularly notable is the impact on the aerospace industry, where this partnership will optimize lifecycle management and promote circular economy practices. The initiative underscores the growing recognition of economic growth as integral to sustainability efforts.
8. Groundbreaking Discovery Enables Cost-effective and Eco-friendly Green Hydrogen Production
A joint research team led by Professor Jungki Ryu from UNIST and Professor Dong-Hwa Seo from KAIST has made a significant breakthrough in green hydrogen production. They developed a new bifunctional water electrolysis catalyst using ruthenium, silicon, and tungsten (RuSiW), which is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than traditional platinum or iridium catalysts. This new catalyst shows exceptional durability and efficiency, even in corrosive environments, and emits fewer greenhouse gases. Its development marks a major step toward cost-effective, eco-friendly green hydrogen production, supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral society.
9. Survey: Interest in Second Hand Shopping and Repairs on the Rise, But Barriers Remain
A survey across the UK, US, and Germany indicates a rising consumer interest in sustainable shopping, particularly in second-hand fashion and electronics, driven by financial benefits. However, a gap persists between awareness and practice, with many still purchasing new items due to cost, convenience, and quality concerns. The trend is more pronounced among younger consumers under 35. Technical feasibility and cost are major barriers in electronics, while quality and resale value concerns deter second-hand fashion shopping. This highlights an opportunity for brands to educate on sustainable practices. The report coincides with the launch of new circularity metrics in the fashion industry at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
10. Report: Businesses Aren’t Doing Enough to Address Green Skills Shortages
A report reveals a critical shortage of green skills in businesses, threatening the transition to a low-carbon economy. Despite recognizing the importance of green skills, only 55% of business leaders surveyed across nine countries, including the US and Britain, are actively implementing training programs. This skills gap could slow down progress in key sectors like renewable energy and technology. The report suggests government support through grants or tax incentives to encourage investment in green skills development. While the transition poses challenges, it is also expected to create significant job opportunities in the clean energy sector.