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The Overview of Climate Solutions
Buildings, Industry and Workforce
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Hey there 👋
After we released our Climate Solution Map featuring 220 solution pathways 2 weeks ago, we've received an overwhelming number of requests to dive deeper.
First, thank you for your support and valuable feedback - looking forward to more with this series.
Missed the full map? Check it out here:
In this series we want to do exactly that: dive deeper.
We are sharing our current solution maps for 12 areas, from Industry to Transportation.
For each map, I also wrote a short overview, aiming for approximately 200 words to keep it brief.
Today we start with Industry, the Built Environment and the Workforce.
Let’s dive in 🌊
First up: Industry. Since 2000, GHG emissions from the industrial sector, including the production of goods like cement and steel and infrastructure construction, have surged faster than any other area we are tracking. While energy efficiency improvements have historically reduced emission intensity, increased demand for industrial products is now negating these gains. Alarmingly, global steel production's carbon intensity is worsening, largely due to China's blast furnace-based production. The carbon intensity of cement, another high emitter, is far from meeting the 1.5°C-aligned 2030 goals. A swift rollout of low-carbon steel, cement plants, and alternative cement solutions is essential.
Marginal changes won't achieve decarbonization; what's needed is a significant boost in efficiency, widespread electrification of industrial processes, and zero-carbon tech for emissions-heavy industries.
Hydrogen is one of the big solutions in Industry, replacing fossil fuels in a lot of ways, but we need a lot of progress and innovation across Production, Transportation, Storage and Enduse.
Examining the mineral & material side, it's imperative that we source the essential minerals for this new industry through better methods—embracing automation and modernizing by electrifying our equipment.
As batteries are pivotal for electrification, the metals they require should be derived from more sustainable and efficient mining practices.
The transition to energy-efficient and electrified buildings is progressing at a sluggish pace. Main GHG emissions from buildings arise from energy usage in various functions like heating, cooling, and lighting. Despite a decline in the energy intensity of building operations in the 2000s and early 2010s, recent progress is inadequate to meet the 1.5°C-aligned 2030 goals. Demand for electricity is surging, erasing previous efficiency gains. Hotter summers increase the demand for cooling, further escalating energy consumption. Colder winters need heat pumps, an acquisition most households can only chose to do every decade or more.
Additionally, the yearly 2% growth in building floor area is amplifying CO2 emissions, despite efforts to improve carbon intensity. A significant issue is that most new constructions aren't zero-carbon buildings that utilize high energy efficiency, electric amenities, or on-site renewables. For a sustainable transition, not only should new buildings be designed to this standard, but existing ones must also be retrofitted accordingly. Presently, the rate of deep retrofitting is below 1% annually. The IEA emphasizes that this rate must soar to 2.5-3.5% yearly by the decade's end.
So, in summary: Current residential buildings must improve energy efficiency seven times faster, and commercial ones five times faster, within this decade.
The urgency of addressing the climate crisis demands unprecedented scaling in the workforce. While the software industry took 40 years to reach 25M employees, the climate sector needs to mobilize a workforce of 250M within 7-10 years, a feat unparalleled in any industry's history. We need to build the climate workforce an order of magnitude faster than any industry in history has built a workforce.
Imagine the multitude of sectors urgently needing professionals for climate-centric roles:
In Technology, specialists in engineering, design, and programming are paramount. Operations will demand experts to manage facilities, streamline supply chains, and optimize logistics. The Revenue sector requires strategists to drive sales, shape product launches, and craft pricing models for scalability. Finance looks for adept handlers of company assets and those who can predict future product economics. Lastly, in Policy and Regulatory, there's a pressing need for individuals who can adeptly navigate governmental regulations and align with policy-driven corporate goals.
There's a clear lack of workers in all mentioned sectors. To address this, we must focus on three actions: Recruit, Train, and Engage.
The best climate workforce already resides within a company. Every individual can contribute to steering their company towards achieving a Net Zero status. This initiative can be grassroots, driven by self-organization, or directed from leadership, focused on engagement.
To sum up, the urgency of the climate crisis requires us to rethink and restructure multiple sectors, from industrial practices to building designs to workforce training. The time for incremental changes is over; what we need is transformative action and rethinking entire sectors.
Thankfully we have solutions - not only mapped out - but in various phases of scaling. We need to double down on them and accelerate them.
PS: If you are working on a solution mentioned above, or think we missed one - don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]