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Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
October 28, 2020 
According to the latest State of Global Air report air pollution is the fourth leading risk factor for early death worldwide, accounting for a staggering 6.67 million deaths in 2019. Further danger from wildfires and COVID-19 underscores the importance of knowing air pollution levels in air we breathe. As one story below notes, philanthropies are increasing their investments in climate change technology (which can have co-benefits for conventional pollution), but much more is needed. In our top story, my colleague Sabah Usmani writes, “implementing successful pollution reduction strategies and policies requires a lot more pollution data.”
 
The good news: Rapid advancements in sensor technology are enabling the collection of actionable data at unprecedented rates. And we’ve got a roadmap to connect entrepreneurs to public funding for air pollution monitoring across five global regions.
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LISTEN: Using AI to battle wildfires in California via WSJ Tech News Briefing
Why it matters: During a record year for wildfires, artificial intelligence can help better apply stretched firefighting resources. For example, data about moisture content of the ground combined with how fast and far a fire is moving can aid in prioritizing evacuation areas.
 
A look at two long-duration renewable energy storage options via Utility Dive
Why it matters: Longer-term storage of renewable energy is a missing piece of the clean energy transition. Compressed air and liquid air energy storage are two intriguing possibilities. In these scenarios, air is compressed or liquefied during times of surplus renewable energy (say, an extended run of sunny days). Later, when that energy is needed, the air is used to power a turbine and generate electricity.
 
Philanthropies flow funds to climate technologies via the Washington Post  
Why it matters: Startups addressing climate change need capital but can’t always promise immediate profits. The Washington Post reports that in 2019, less than 2% of $730 billion in global philanthropic giving was spent fighting climate change. Some savvy investors are helping tech startups cross the “Valley of Death” between their idea and the marketplace. “Our goal is to flip philanthropists from being afraid to go first, to being afraid to miss out,” notes Sarah Kearney of Prime Coalition, a nonprofit that focuses on funding technologies with major potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
 
COVID-19 and renewable energy via World Economic Forum
Why it matters: Falling energy demand during COVID-19 saw renewables’ share of electricity generation increase at record levels. The World Economic Forum reports that a mixture of past policies, regulations, incentives and innovations are powering the increase in renewable energy during the crisis. The outlook for energy efficiency, however, may be less positive. Amy Harder with Axios has that story.
 

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I look forward to sharing more news from the frontiers of environmental innovation. Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at innovation@edf.org.

Fred
 

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join the Fourth Wave of environmental innovation conversation on Medium.

 


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