The year was 1894, and London had been dealing with the "Great Manure Crisis" for years, and the Times had predicted that every street would be buried under nine feet of manure. Urban planners needed help with what to do about the situation.
New technologies in the form of motorized vehicles started to make a difference. Introduced on a massive scale, they allowed for easier transportation of goods and people throughout the city and reduced waste accumulation in public areas.
Still uncertain about how this new technology would affect their society, urban planners decided to give it a chance and began introducing motorized vehicles into the city streets little by little until, eventually, enough cars were running around that the Great Manure Crisis finally came to an end in 1912.
Little did anyone know then that this invention would continue to shape our world for centuries more to come — from Charles Lindbergh's first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 up until Lufthansa's non-stop passenger flight eleven years later which marked another milestone for humanity's advancements in technology and transportation capabilities.
Fast forward nearly one hundred years later, and here we are again facing another crisis: The "Great GHG Crisis"!
Greenhouse-Gas (GHG) emissions leading towards global warming — arguably even more significant than before due to its far-reaching consequences on our planet's climate system if not addressed soon enough! Scientists have warned us many times, but no concrete solutions have been found so far…
Could history repeat itself once more?
In 2021, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,347 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased by 7% relative to the previous year.
With 27%, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. And with 25%, electricity production generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the most critical aspects of discussing GHG emissions is ensuring everyone involved has a clear and shared understanding of terms and topics. The difference between «carbon neutral» and «100% renewable» energy is essential to recognize. Achieving a net zero or carbon neutral footprint means balancing the amount of carbon released into the environment with an equivalent amount sequestered, offset, or bought through carbon credits. This approach still allows for the continued use of some fossil fuels in conjunction with attempts to reduce their harmful effects through tree-planting and other conservation efforts. Going 100% renewable energy changes the equation; it means permanently switching from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels and investing only in clean, sustainable sources that never run out.
Costa Rica is showing the world what it takes to be sustainable regarding electricity production. With an impressive 98.53% generated from renewable sources, it is paving the way for other countries to follow in its footsteps. It is certainly not an easy endeavor; the small size of Costa Rica and the low intensity of its manufacturing makes electricity requirements much lower than in many other countries, yet they still need to manage to bring their GHG emissions down to zero. Nevertheless, the country's example proves that sustainability is possible.
The next challenge remains with transportation, representing 27% of GHG emissions, and together with electricity production representing over 50% of GHG.
From fields of manure to the worldwide efforts to combat climate change, history has shown us that believing in a crisis is not always necessary for action to be taken. The reality is that regardless of whether you believe in climate change, businesses will do their part by using the available solutions. Today, with short-term profits as a motivator, enterprises are more than willing to take the necessary steps for sustainability. Bertrand Piccard's foundation, for example, has already compiled a list of over 1,000 verified solutions that are both beneficial for the environment and provide economic benefits for businesses. Thus, regardless of what one believes about climate change, it is clear that we can work towards environmental protection and desirable positive financial outcomes by utilizing current technology and ideas.
Creating solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide is a critical step. Still, unless those solutions are known and can be utilized by the businesses that need them, they are pointless. I propose the following three steps:1.) To combat this issue, it is crucial first to identify the symptoms of the challenge; in this case, businesses need tools to measure their GHG emissions throughout supply chains.
2.) Not only that, but they must have reliable ways to report and verify these measurements.
3.) Once we understand the problem, the task of prescribing solutions comes. Yet, solution availability could be more optimal - they're scattered across different platforms - so businesses can easily find and compare the best options for them. To tackle this, we need an accessible cross-industry Marketplace (such as an App Store) where businesses can easily access reliable solutions.
These three steps could help reduce emissions by providing an improved user experience while connecting solution providers with users on a large scale.