Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
September 27, 2019 
In this issue: Millions of people around the world marched last week in support of ambitious climate action, but the U.N. Climate Action Summit did not deliver the level of ambition we need. Extreme heat, devastating fires from Indonesia to the Amazon to the Arctic, and the rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet are all signs that we must get serious about cutting greenhouse gas pollution now.
Technological innovation is essential. One emerging suite of technologies, known as carbon dioxide removal, can suck CO2 right out of the sky. On Tuesday I moderated a Climate Week panel on the topic with leaders in the space including Ernest Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and founder and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative. Three innovative companies in the space – Carbon 180, Opus 12, and Carbon Engineering – were on the panel and shared fascinating technologies. Dr. Moniz and I had just published an op-ed examining opportunities across the carbon removal landscape, but you can also watch the full panel discussion here.
Read the op-ed
Before jumping into the rest of this week’s stories, I want to mention a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Both fish and the oceans that sustain them are in serious trouble, the report finds, but there is also evidence that well-managed fisheries can thrive in a warming world. If you take care of the fish, you’re taking care of a world where people and nature can prosper together. I explore this in an op-ed with Lukas Walton of the Walton Family Foundation.
Read the op-ed
Can Facebook, Google and Microsoft inspire data center innovation at Climate Week?

Data centers are collectively one of the largest consumers of electricity on the planet, which makes them prime opportunities for companies looking to increase energy efficiency to deliver on any Climate Week commitments. Facebook and Microsoft have bold plans, and Google’s AI-powered recommendation system, designed to improve the energy efficiency of its data centers, is already delivering consistent energy savings of around 30 percent. My colleague Tom Murray has the details.
Read more

The aviation industry and carbon offsets
“There’s a good possibility a pot of gold will await companies that cut or remove aviation carbon emissions,” EDF’s Nat Keohane observes. If aviation were a country, it would be one of the world’s top 10 polluters. This makes carbon offsets — credits that help pay for environmental projects that keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — an important part of the solution. A new approach has the potential to unlock a flood of demand for carbon reduction strategies like lighter airframe materials and hybrid electric aircraft, potentially generating billions of dollars for investment in new tech.
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How I innovate: Rod Fujita on manufactured seafood
Photo: Isabel MogstadAround the world, three billion people rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein, supplied by either fishermen catching it or aquaculturists raising it. Now a third possibility is emerging: artificially produced seafood, such as ‘tuna’ made by growing tuna cells in a lab. EDF’s Rod Fujita takes a deep dive into the topic, asking thought provoking questions while considering the promise and peril of manufactured seafood.  
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Hello from the year 2050
Lastly, Bill McKibben penned a note from a future world where we’ve avoided the worst impacts of climate change. It’s an innovation thought experiment. Looking back from the year 2050, Bill imagines “the engineers had done their job, taking sun and wind from quirky backyard DIY projects to cutting-edge technology. Batteries had plummeted down the same cost curve as renewable energy, so the fact that the sun went down at night no longer mattered quite so much — you could store its rays to use later.”
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