In the April issue of our free to download magazine, Ethical Corporation focuses on the drive to make access to low-carbon cooling a priority in the fight against climate change and to deliver the SDGs. We also look at another vastly overlooked weapon in the climate change arsenal: energy efficiency
Is white the new green? It’s a question we are asking this month in the magazine as we focus on climate resiliency in cities, and the drive to increase access to low-carbon cooling technologies in an over-heating world.
As Diana Rojas reports, the technique of painting buildings with white reflective paint is being used in cities across the world as a passive, low-cost technology to reduce interior temperatures by several degrees. It is one of the technologies being promoted by the Cool Coalition, a global network headed up the UN Environment that is leading a push this year to make access to low-carbon cooling a priority in the fight against climate change.
Until now, the climate impact of heating has garnered more attention than cooling as the industrialised countries in the global north are the bigger emitters. But in the global south – where temperatures are getting hotter, the population growing and moving to urban heat islands, and more people are able to afford room air conditioning – emissions from cooling are set to nearly double by 2050, posing risks for delivering on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals alike.
With far less than 1% of development aid going to help countries implement cooling strategies, cities in the global south are having to innovate. In another article Rojas profiles how the city of Ahmedabad, in India, has implemented a pioneering heat action plan.
She also profiles some of the US cities that are leading the way on climate resilience: Washington, DC; Park City, Utah; and the Ohio cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.
Meanwhile, Belo Horizonte in Brazil and Hermosillo, Mexico, are featured as some of the greenest Latin American cities.
The focus then shifts to the UK, where local authorities that are home to 85% of the UK population have declared a climate emergency, the highest proportion in the world. Mike Scott reports on how cities like Greater Manchester, Oxford, Bristol and Leicester are rising to the dual challenges of mitigating their own impact and adapting to climate hazards like flooding and heatwaves.
Our second briefing this month focuses on another neglected area in the climate agenda, and one where cities also have huge power to act: energy efficiency.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that improvements in energy efficiency can deliver more than 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to meet global climate goals, yet demand reduction is not even in the same ballpark as renewable energy, improving at a derisory 1-2% a year.
Mike Scott reports on how companies like H&M, Johnson Controls and Mahindra Heavy Engines are working to double their energy productivity within 25 years as members of EP100, a scheme run by the Climate Group and the US-based Alliance to Save Energy.
Catherine Early talks to experts, including from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, about how the UK’s commitment to reach net-zero by 2040 could be undermined by its failure to adequately address energy efficiency in buildings, while Mike Scott takes a look at an award-winning scheme called Energiesprong that takes a whole-house approach to retrofitting.
And I interview Benoit Lebot, former head of the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, which has been disbanded since December, about his frustrated efforts to elevate demand reduction on the global climate agenda.
Of course, the Covid-19 crisis has erupted since this issue was commissioned, hitting a pause button on the global agenda for action on climate change and the SDGs, including the postponement of the COP26 climate negotiations until next year some time.
Instead of our planned briefing on the rise of climate and social activism, we are devoting our May issue to looking at how Covid-19 will reshape sustainability, with a mix of independent reporting from our expert journalists and commentary from some of the leading thinkers in our community.
You can download the magazine here. I hope you find the latest issue stimulating reading during the Covid-19 lockdown. And keep well.
Cool Coalition Paris Agreement SDGs Cool Roofs Ahmedabad climate resilience IEA energy efficiency Climate Group Alliance to SAve Energy Benoit Lebot IPEEC