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Exploring the Fourth Wave of Environmental Innovation
Header banner - Innovation and the Environment by EDF
September 13, 2019 
In this issue: I hope you found time for rest and relaxation in the waning days of summer. In August we saw press coverage of methane emissions ramp up as the Trump administration tried to roll back standards for controlling this powerful greenhouse gas. It can’t be said often enough: Reducing methane emissions is the quickest, most cost-effective way to slow the rate of near-term global warming. So this additional media coverage is important.
 
One of the better articles is a major Wall Street Journal story that shined a welcome spotlight on methane leaks in the oil and gas sector. A vast array of technology, from drones in the sky to handheld infrared sensors, are making invisible leaks visible and actionable. For this industry, reductions also prevent lost revenues, making better methane management good for the environment and the bottom line.
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I’m also excited to share another highlight from the past weeks, the best article I've read on electric vehicles in some time. It’s a definitive analysis, insightful, well-reported…a must read from Fortune. “Who wins and loses globally in the auto industry’s pivot to an electric-car future will depend largely on who triumphs in China.”
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Speaking of auto innovation, before diving into the rest of today’s stories I wanted to share free access to my latest opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. Car companies and clean-air advocates don’t always agree. This time we do. The voluntary pollution-reduction principles that Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen negotiated with California are as close to a win-win as you’ll find in public policy, and would spur the deployment of advanced clean-car technology.
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Extreme weather is driving the energy storage boom

As extreme weather events increase in frequency and intensity, a growing number of homes and businesses are looking to energy storage, i.e., batteries to keep the lights on in the event of an outage. Deployment of “behind the meter” storage solutions are up 138% in the past year, and analysts expect energy storage investments to soar by $620 billion globally over the next two decades. Additional grid resilience and reduced emissions, compared with conventional gas generators, are among the selling points.
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4 new developments prove electric trucks, buses are gaining momentum
The Teslas, Volts, Bolts and Leafs get a lot of the electric vehicle attention, but EV trucks and buses are the next big thing in how we transport people and freight. Federal commitment, demonstrated through dollars and legislation, and a forthcoming version of Ford’s flagship F-150 truck, are among four new developments that show the market for EV trucks and buses is on the cusp of significant expansion.
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Why Belize is a world leader in protecting the ocean
Belize is doing amazing work to rebuild fish populations while supporting local communities. A unique program that gives fishermen the rights to fish managed areas if they obtain licenses and report their catch is one reason the nation has experienced an estimated 60% fall in illegal fishing. This decline has been to the benefit of Belize’s seafood export business. “The program is just part of a groundbreaking approach to ocean protection that has won the tiny country in Central America a reputation as a world leader.”
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Wood skyscrapers could help save forests, reduce wildfire risk
Cross-laminated timber is made by gluing planks in perpendicular layers, creating thick panels that are as strong as steel or concrete. What’s more, buildings made with it account for less than half the carbon emissions of structures using steel and concrete. Add in the fact that cross-laminated timber can be created from small diameter trees and underbrush removed as part of forest fire prevention, and you’ve got a surprising opportunity. Cross-laminated timber beams and panels are also surprisingly resistant to the fires that gave wood a bad rap as a building material for tall urban structures. Exposing these products to flames creates a layer of “char” that insulates the structurally stable interior for up to three hours; building codes require two hours. 
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One other item of note: EDF’s Daniel Hill is hosting a panel on micromobility at VERGE 19 in Oakland next month, joined by the Chief Sustainability Officers from Lyft and Bird. If you’ll be in the Bay Area and are interested in attending, you can save 10% with code V19EDF.

I look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead. 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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