For years now, powerful images showing starving polar bears in the arctic and whales washed up on shore with stomachs full of plastic have made the world sit up and take notice. Footage of deadly wildfires – from California to Portugal to Australia - and devastating tornadoes raging across the southern United States are all demonstrating that things need to change, and fast. The United Nations
warned this year that we must act within the next decade if we are to prevent climate change, and the consequences it will bring, from becoming irreversible.
According to a recent CNN report
, the major contributors to climate change are electricity and heat production (30.6%), transportation (14.8%), manufacturing and construction (13.3%), and agriculture (11.1%).
Innovators around the world are making huge strides to develop solutions to tackle one of the world’s most pressing issues from every angle. Many of these are not only revolutionary but accessible and implementable.
Electric vehicles are one way to put a break on harmful carbon emissions. WM Motors
- making mass market, 100% electric vehicles - began in 2015 and has since built a team of over 3,000. Ex-Volvo executive Freemen Shen is one of the industry experts behind the company, which has so far raised over $1bn in funding. Aiming to manufacture affordable, electric vehicles for all, the Chinese company has a self-owned and operated manufacturing facility in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, equipped with mass customisation capability, and an additional manufacturing facility under construction in Huanggang, Hubei Province.
With clear evidence
that cattle farming is responsible for a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions (around 15%
), water usage (25%) and land destruction,
More and more people have been turning to vegetarianism and veganism. As a result, there has been a huge rise in demand for plant-based burger and meat alternatives in recent years. California start-up Impossible Foods
, founded in 2011, has secured backing from huge names including Bill Gates, Serena Williams and Jay-Z for its totally plant-based burgers. Its founder, Patrick O. Brown, is a former Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and professor of biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and is bringing plant-based ‘meat’ to the world.
Australian water technology start-up, AquaSpy
, founded by ag-tech pioneer, Peter Moller, has developed a soil-monitoring system that measures moisture, temperature, and electrical conductivity. It has been seen to improve crop yields by as much as 40%, with hourly alerts sent via mobile technology. Now with 600,000 acres managed and 5,500 multi-sensor probes in operation measuring moisture, EC and temperature at every four inches for a total of 48 inches, the company has shown that not only can farmers minimise damage to the planet but also increase yields using ways to work around nature. All of the processing intelligence gathered is centralised in the micro-processor located in a communications tower.
The growing need to reduce waste has led one Indian entrepreneur to create a range of edible cutlery
. It is believed that 40 billion plastic utensils are disposed of each year in the US alone and in India, 120 billion. Bakey’s range is not only edible, but nutritious too. Made mostly of millet, which requires 60% less water than rice to grow, it relieves pressure on India’s precious water reserves. The cutlery, manufactured in Hyderabad, is durable enough to withstand hot or cold water. Creator Narayana Peesapaty attracted over 10,000 backers on fundraising platforms Kickstarter and Ketto, which saw him overwhelmed and even unable to keep up with demand. The cutlery is a more sustainable alternative to plastic and has a shelf life of three years.
Every minute, the equivalent of one full garbage truck of plastic rubbish is dumped into the sea; the equivalent of 1,440 trucks every 24 hours and in total, eight billion kilos per year. A shocking 80% of those plastics come directly from land. The Great Bubble Barrier
is a bubble screen which works by pumping air through a tube with holes located on the bottom of the waterway. This upward flow of the bubble barrier brings waste to the surface of the water. When placed diagonally, the natural current is used to guide the plastic on the riverside, which makes it accessible for collection and accessible removal. Its three female founders - Francis Zoet, Saskia Studer and Anne Marieke Eveleens - all of whom are experienced sailors, won half a million euros last year when they won The Green Challenge
, one of the world’s largest competitions for sustainability entrepreneurs.
The fight against climate change will take place on a number of fronts; but innovators are offering solutions to tackle the problem from every angle. The success of some start-ups in attracting investors can be an inspiration for others to move forward with their ideas.