Offshore Wind Opportunity, Larry Fink’s Blind Spot, and Discussion of the Sustainability of the Olympics and Other Mega-Events
This week current climate, which every Saturday brings you a balanced view of the news of sustainable development. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every week.
China has overtaken the UK as world leader in offshore wind power after adding nearly 17 gigawatts of capacity in 2021 alone, bringing its total capacity to 26 GW, almost half of the global total of 54 GW. It’s a sign of the world’s most populous country’s growing energy needs, which Beijing currently supplies largely via fossil fuels, including coal, contributing to China’s ranking as the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Such a rapid rate of growth in renewables offers hope for a less coal-dependent energy future.
Other stories I highlight this week a discussion of scientific opposition to solar geoengineering, an offshore wind farm in the United States that could be a catalyst for other such projects, and a critique of the open letter of the week latest from BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to the CEO on the role of stakeholder capitalism in the fight against climate change.
In Climate Talks, I spoke to Martin Müller, associate professor. Geography and Sustainability Institute of the University of Lausanne, on whether events such as the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing can ever be considered sustainable.
To get Current Climate delivered to your inbox every Saturday, sign up here.
Solar geoengineering: Why Bill Gates wants it, but these experts want to stop it
The Earth is warming rapidly due to human-made emissions. Some scientists believe that re-engineering the atmosphere to deflect the sun’s heat more could help. Others warn that such a move would be both dangerous and unethical.
The US Department of the Interior has agreed New York’s first offshore wind farm: a project of Ørsted Offshore North America and Eversource Energy. The two companies are entering the construction phase of South Fork Wind now that they have received the appropriate permits – an agreement which will begin operations in 2023 and which could be a harbinger of things to come.
Bentleythe Volkswagen-owned British luxury carmaker known for its powerful 12-cylinder engines, will invest £2.5 billion ($3.4 billion) to switch to an all-electric product range by 2030, the first electric vehicle expected by 2025.
National Weather Service Bay Area branch described last weekend fire activity in California as “stubborn” and “surreal”, suggesting that “long-term drought acts like a chronic disease where even recent rains and cold winter [weather] does not help prevent fires from developing.
You may know that forsaken oil and gas wells Continue release methanebut some sources that leak this potent greenhouse gas can be found much closer to home – inside the house, in fact, as Stanford University researchers have observed that gas stoves also release unburned methane into the air.
Larry Fink, stakeholder capitalism and climate action
by Larry Fink The latest annual open letter to CEOs has drawn backlash from both sides of the political spectrum: conservatives find it confusing and liberals insincere. The main criticism to his position, however, is that stakeholders might differ on the type and pace of climate action. Reconciling these conflicts is necessary for climate progress.
Coverage of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics has so far covered topics such as spyware, human rights abuses and also sustainability. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says “carbon neutrality” – ensuring that for every amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, an equal amount is taken out – is a Beijing 2022 goal. the Olympic cauldron in the Chinese capital, I discussed this with human geographer Martin Müller, who has studied the sustainability of mega-events, and the Olympics in particular, in a recent article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
The use of fake snow at the Beijing Olympics raises fears that these Olympics are “the most unsustainable” of all time. Is it too early to make this assessment?
It is too early to understand the impact, and to make such comparisons we need truly comparative historical data. There are many conflicting claims regarding the sustainability of the Olympic Games. Organizers say each iteration of the Olympics is the greenest ever. And then there are critics who say it’s the most unsustainable ever. So how do we compare the sustainability of the Olympic Games? This was the origin of our study.
In the case of Beijing, it might be difficult to [assess that] even in the future, because one issue that we are struggling with, in these Games in particular, is that of transparency. For the Olympics [that took place in 1992], it was difficult to find data, but we did. For Beijing 2022, it is even more difficult.
What has the IOC done to monitor the Games’ sustainability efforts?
They had an ambitious effort that started in earnest with Vancouver 2010 [that included] measure many indicators at different times before and after the event. They only did it in Vancouver and London. In Sochi it was only half done, then they stopped with Rio. It was basically a good effort [but] they stopped it for a variety of reasons, one being that it really was an overambitious and too large data collection effort. Since, [the process has] has been replaced with whatever the host wants to report, but this is by no means an independent report.
In almost every other aspect of the Games, there are very strict guidelines: what accommodation should look like, what catering should look like, what the Olympic Village should look like, etc. And they have nothing for what is arguably the most important aspect of the Olympics.
The model you developed in your study indicates that the sustainability of the Olympics has declined over the past decade compared to those of 20 or 30 years ago, which seems counter-intuitive, given the take increased awareness of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the impact. of climate change. What are the factors driving this trend?
Despite promises and even resolutions from the International Olympic Committee to limit or reduce the size of the games, they were unable to do so. Many more people come to the Olympic and Paralympic Games than 30 years ago, the venues have gotten bigger, and also they have not been able to reduce the number of new buildings in use – this are some of the major drivers behind it. Many of the interventions that have taken place are often small, very targeted interventions that sell well as a show, but there are few very fundamental interventions that have taken place for the Olympics. They don’t redesign the model itself.
Behind the International Olympic Committee, there are the international federations, the sports federations which decide the rules for each sport. They can also request or specify the appearance criteria for sites or equipment, and this also causes sites to increase in size and construction, as often they will not accept the compromises that come with existing sites. , which may not be top notch in all aspects. Plus, ticketing revenue goes directly to the organizing committee, and you also get more money from sponsors if you’re exposed to more people. These are some of the issues that make it difficult to make meaningful change.
It seems like mega-events have to ditch the “mega” to be sustainable. But what about companies whose income depends partially or entirely on the organization of medium or large-scale events, what should they keep in mind when thinking about the sustainability of what they foresee?
If by dropping mega you mean downsizing I think that’s unavoidable if there’s an honest claim to sustainability because essentially big infrastructure and flying around the world aren’t compatible – at least for the moment – with long-term durability.
The trend should be towards smaller events that are more relevant to the communities hosting them. To travel [is the component that] has the most impact and, in a way, it is the most difficult to approach. If you have an event that requires [to be reached via] air travel, then you’re in the compensation game, and of course, compensation is problematic for many reasons. Digitization could be one avenue, but we’ve also seen the limitations of that during the current pandemic, as events simply have components that are very difficult to digitize.
There is no silver bullet here that I could suggest. It’s about seriously looking at many of the things we take for granted. And that in itself also creates, economically speaking, winners and losers. There are vested interests and events continue as they are because some people make a lot of money out of them.
Martin Müller’s responses have been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.
on the horizon
Light linethe only private passenger rail company in the United States, could begin construction of its high-speed train from Las Vegas by early 2023, as US regulators begin to consider an extension that will take it would connect to a suburb of Los Angeles.