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#14 - What (not) to expect from COP27

#14 - What (not) to expect from COP27

πŸ’‘ One idea: What (not) to expect from COP27

πŸ“ˆ One data figure: Biodiversity loss could cost $2.7 trillion a year by 2030

✨ One success: Kubagen, the future of hydrogen storage

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πŸ’‘ What (not) to expect from COP27

Dubbed the "Implementation COP", COP27 has begun last week in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt (November 2022). After the somewhat disappointing COP26 in Glasgow last year, let us not have too high expectations this year, as politicians still struggle to make significant progress on the climate front. Here are the main issues hampering the achievement of efficient climate policies.

First and foremost, we are far off track! Countries were supposed to show up at Sharm-el-Sheikh with new climate commitments (aka updated NDCs) but they have not followed up on their Glasgow announcements. Was it only marketing then? Only 24 countries communicated new or updated climate targets, and only 1 among major CO2 emitters: Australia. European countries have been busy dealing with the Russian war in Ukraine, and the rest of the world with its implications on energy security and fossil fuel prices.

Only last month (October 2022) the UNFCCC NDC Synthesis Report sounded the alarm again. Even if all countries deliver their existing climate pledges, the world will head for 2.4oC of warming by 2100, far ahead of the safe limit of 1.5oC. Unfortunately, commitments are purely useless if implementation paths are not credible. Global leaders are discussing the Paris Agreement Global Stocktake - the process to assess the world’s collective progress - but there is no reason to expect major change after COP27.

I'll leave it to you to interpret this one

Interesting fact, this COP is held in Africa. It is a great opportunity to restore trust between governments from the Global North and the Global South. Africa is barely involved in the historical accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions but is paradoxically one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change. Following a year of record devastation from climate disasters, leaders of developing economies demand climate justice. But the $100bn budget in climate finance promised by developed countries was not met. Additionally, the US and the EU remain reluctant to implement the loss and damage facility requested by the South to help them cover the surging costs of climate hazards they are not responsible for.

It is not all gloom and doom, the US, Australia and Brazil are three major polluters - they together represent 16% of global emissions - that recently experience significant shifts in their climate policies. I strongly believe that politicians mainly act in response to public pressure and are rarely truly innovative. No eye-catching commitments are excepted at COP27, but businesses and non-state actors are moving faster than their governments. Most achievements may well happen outside of the official negotiation rooms.

πŸ“ˆ Biodiversity loss could cost $2.7 trillion a year by 2030

Another inconvenient truth widely overlooked: biodiversity loss has massive implications for business. A recent report published by The World Bank (2021) emphasises how "economies rely on nature for services that are largely underpriced". It is available here: The Economic Case for Nature.

Ecosystem services such as food provisioning, carbon sequestration, and water and air filtration are worth more than $150 trillion annually β€” about twice the world’s GDP β€” according to academic research and BCG analysis. As of 2022, nature degradation caused by human activities already results in a loss of $5 trillion per year, in the form of lost natural services.

Change in 2030 real GDP under the partial ecosystem collapse scenario (The World Bank)

According to The World Bank, if countries continue to destroy biodiversity, the global economy could lose as much as $2.7 trillion a year by 2030. Then, countries would probably be unable to adapt to a shock to ecosystem services and the global economy would decrease by 2.3% a year. Emerging economies would suffer even more because they are more reliant on services provided by nature: food and raw materials extraction. South Asia's economy would fall by 6.5% annually and it would be even worst for Sub-Saharan Africa whose gross domestic product would shrink by 9.7% per year!

✨ Kubagen, the future of hydrogen storage

Hydrogen has been labelled "energy of the future" for decades, but still faces the same old problems. Storing and moving energy are essential to modern life. Any technology has to fulfil basic requirements:

  • safe and reliable storage without loss
  • easy to transport and use
  • affordable price

Fossil fuels are convenient but they cause climate change. Electric batteries are getting cheaper but they run out too rapidly and re-charging takes too long. Hydrogen energy seems promising but is not yet a convenient, safe and economically-viable way of storing, transporting and releasing power.

Filling the tank with hydrogen, as easy as it gets

Keep reading, Kubagen is here to solve the problem! Their new technology intends to offer groundbreaking hydrogen-storing materials. Using novel base-metal compounds that are cheap and easy to produce, they promise to store hydrogen at moderate pressure and at room temperature.

"Kubagen’s materials promise fuel-cell system performance of 10 to 15 times the energy storage of a standard Lithium-based battery at one-tenth the cost," says David Antonelli, founder and CEO.

Kubagen will explore all areas of hydrogen fuel cell application: small-scale portable devices, home power systems, individual vehicles, large-scale transportation and grid storage. If interested, here is a podcast featuring David Antonelli (27 minutes).

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