3 forms of technology at the front line of climate change
August 14, 2023
With recent heat waves reaching record breaking levels and the current wildfires across southern Europe, climate change continues to be a global priority. Measures across the globe are being adopted in order to mitigate climate change at governmental and business levels. But as climate change continues to persist, efforts against it must continuously adapt and evolve to match its pace.
Technology, being ubiquitous, can help as worldwide economies and governments grapple with the task. Here are three forms of technology that are helping in the fight against climate change.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and the circular economy
Every year approximately 2.12 billion tons of waste gets dumped globally. Waste plays a part in climate change because generating new products produces emissions while decomposing organic waste produces planet-warming methane.
A circular economy tackles this by extending the lifecycle of products as much as possible through recycling, reusing, refurbishing, and repairing of materials, thereby limiting waste.
The rise of AI and its global adoption by businesses can lend a hand. In a world of consumption, AI capabilities are helping to reform the materials circulated in economies through sorting, automated assessment, and automated disassembly.
Additionally, at the beginning of a product’s cycle, AI techniques are being used to design materials for products that will last longer and reduce resource use. AI can generate and suggest new material designs suited for the circular economy.
For example, the ‘Accelerated Metallurgy’ project by the European Space Agency used AI to generate a quicker way of testing and producing metal alloys. These are appropriate for the circular economy because they have increased performance and a prolonged product life. They are specifically designed to be reused and recycled and are also manufactured using methods with minimal waste.
Smart city technology
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social affairs reported that by 2050 approximately two out of three people are likely to be residing in cities or other urban centres. According to a recent study, cities are not only responsible for the majority of the world’s economic activity, but also 70 per cent of CO2 emissions, which is why it is vital they take a responsibility for climate change mitigation.
Smart cities use information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance operational efficiency as well as provide improved quality of government services and citizen welfare. A smart city is also prominent in helping to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the transport sector as transportation is a significant contributor to CO2 emissions, being responsible for more than a third of emissions from end-use sectors.
The Internet of Things (IoT) plays an important part too. IoT helps in providing better traffic management solutions which can result in lower congestion and a reduced number of cars on the road.
Singapore is among those leading the way in adopting smart city technology, particularly in its Smart Mobility 2030 plan and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The project aims to improve Singapore’s transportation networks through a range of technologies such as data collection, dynamic processing of Big Data and analytics, transport information delivery and data standardisation and security. This plan also promotes public transport to limit carbon emissions and increase green mobility.
Green hydrogen technology
Hydrogen is one of the earth’s most important resources as it is used to generate electricity, provide heat in homes and businesses as well as power vehicles, but it is not exactly known for its clean contribution. The IEA reported that the demand for hydrogen has tripled since 1975 and that producing it generates approximately 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Green hydrogen is notable for its decarbonisation and is a product of the electrolysis of water where it generates hydrogen and oxygen. Electrolysis uses electricity created by renewables and other technologies. Green hydrogen is hydrogen that has been acquired without releasing pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. It is not only a form of clean energy, but also renewable as it can be converted into electricity as well as synthetic gas. It can be used to replace the use of fossil fuels, thereby providing an alternative to the emission of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere.
Countries are already investing in the adoption of green hydrogen including the United States, China, Russia and France. By 2030, Finland is expected to produce 10 per cent of the EU’s green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is therefore a leading player in energy transition for governments to reach carbon neutrality and battle climate change.
The climate crisis is an ongoing battle, and one we must all continue to fight. Climate technologies are proving crucial to adaptation and mitigation on the front line of climate change.