Snippets for 21 July 2022




Thanks for reading our latest issue of Snippets.


We kick off our newsletter with an article examining how the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked to human activities and why it is critical politicians and lawmakers commit to real and meaningful changes at the impending 15th UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in December. We also discuss the challenges posed by the 1991 energy charter treaty to the 52 signatory countries (mostly EU states along with UK and Japan), as they try to transition away from fossil fuels. And investing in renewable technologies, as opposed to staying with fossil fuels makes incredible climate and fiscal sense.

In a recent edition of Snippets, one of the articles discussed environmental rewilding projects that are now being implemented in the UK. This week's edition sees us envisioning ‘urban rewilding’. It starts by recapturing our streets, even though the thought of a car-free city might be bewildering to most of us, as automobiles are seen as an integral part of our life. Yet, these sets of articles show us how weaning us off our love of the automobile is possible and how the human psyche adapts to changes with time. It also explores how organisations like Amazon have embraced the change needed in their transportation networks by using a team of e-cargo bikes and on-foot delivery staff.


Our last set of articles is a bit of a mixed bag. It starts with the report “The Untapped Climate Opportunity in Alternative Protein” by Boston Consulting Group. According to this study, the plant-based meat industry represents one of the most effective means of driving down greenhouse gas emissions. We then move on to quality carbon offsets and how organisations can educate themselves when purchasing them. The last article talks about the book “Extinction: Our fragile relationship with life on Earth” by Marc Schlossman. It highlights some positive stories of successful conservation projects featured in the book.


We hope you enjoy reading the articles.

We open this week with an article written by Patrick Vallance. He is the chief scientific adviser for the UK government and is urging ambitious commitments to address the twin challenges of carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. With the 15th UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in December, CBD Cop15 provides the next critical opportunity for governments to commit to real ambitious change. This time, countries must come to the table prepared to make and support ambitious and actual commitments. Show us the money. Read more....

And if getting countries prepared to make and support ambitious commitments for CBD Cop15 isn’t hard enough, then try adding in the shackles that the energy charter treaty poses. This obscure 1991 treaty has 52 signatory countries, mostly EU states including the UK and Japan. It protects energy companies against policies that interfere with fossil fuel extraction. An example, the German company RWE is suing the Netherlands for €1.4 billion because it plans to phase out coal. Read more....


The good news is that it has never been more affordable to exit fossil fuels than now. For example, the price of solar electricity has dropped 89 percent since 2010, and silicon solar panels have increased in efficiency from 15 percent to more than 26 percent over the last 40 years. Onshore wind energy costs have fallen 70 percent in the last decade. The price of Lithium-ion batteries has declined by 97 percent over the last three decades, while their energy density has nearly tripled in ten years. Read more....


We see huge benefits when cars are removed from city centres and urban areas. Low carbon emissions, less air pollution, fewer traffic-related incidents, and a more pleasant place to live in. In London, a decision had to be made to curb illegal levels of air pollution impacting up to 2 million residents. Adopting a sensible program to reduce or eliminate car usage in a central urban area seems to work. These areas become more about the people than the cars traveling through. Read more....


Continuing the theme of banning cars from cities, our next article looks at how streets have been optimized for traffic. But ‘urban rewilding’ could return them to the complex social system they once were. What was once a place for people to interact and play became the domain of the car and now that may be changing back in favour of people. Imagine, instead of cars a communal vegetable garden, a shared barbecue, a play area for children, wildflowers to attract insects, and a more liveable space! Read more....

How are goods and services delivered to our door in a city with limited vehicle access? E-Cargo bikes and on-foot delivery staff could be part of the last-mile delivery and service solution. They are set to replace van deliveries in London. This is on top of window cleaners, milk and beer deliverers, plumbers, and DJs all getting on their bikes as the result of government incentives, new infrastructure and promises to reduce the carbon footprint of businesses. If a city like London can do it…. Read more....

A recent report has found that plant-based meat alternatives are the best climate investment. Every dollar invested in improving the production of meat and dairy alternatives has resulted in three to eleven times the GHG reductions, compared with spending on green cement, green buildings, and zero emissions cars. Since 2019, investments in plant-based proteins have consequently increased five-fold. Moving to these alternative proteins must be done in conjunction with other solutions, such as reductions in food waste, moving to more plant-rich diets, and better farming of meat proteins. Read more....

Carbon offsets need to be credible to be worth anything. Those earned by reducing or avoiding emissions in everyday operations, or through carbon removal projects such as nature or technology-based sequestration and land restoration projects, are most credible. It is important to be aware of and avoid low-quality carbon–offset projects when purchasing carbon offsets. The article details the questions you could ask to ensure the credibility of any offsets you are looking to purchase. Read more....


The final article we look at today gives us hope. It discusses a book that details several projects that are underway around the world to rescue some species from the brink of extinction. It also includes our very own kakapo from NZ. Success in many of these projects is still not guaranteed, but the efforts that are taken to alleviate the problems seem to be working. Read more....










This week we have a couple of innovation articles we hope you find interesting:






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