Climate change has a leader vacuum

Climate change has a leader vacuum

Two children holding climate protest signs


The United States has 4% of the world’s population but is responsible for 13% of global CO2 emissions. China is responsible for nearly three times that, at 33%. Together, the two powerhouse nations account for nearly half of all global CO2 emissions.

America can compete with China if they invest, but unless we change how we’ve been acting we will fall too far behind and our economy will take a hit. There are several ways in which America can pave the way to a cleaner planet.

Electric cars

China is already surging ahead in the race for the most efficient EV power. China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., the world’s largest battery manufacturer, unveiled its latest product in July — a sodium-ion battery.

In August, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would drive the development, standardization, and commercialization of this type of power pack, providing a cheaper, faster-charging, and safer alternative. Many non-sodium-ion batteries currently on the market have many hazardous issues, including frequently catching fire.

Here comes the sun

Man holding a solar panel


In 2008, U.S. solar power capacity was a mere .34 gigawatts. Today it has grown to an estimated 97.2 gigawatts, enough to power the equivalent of 18 million American homes. Unfortunately, today just 3% of U.S. electricity comes from solar energy in solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). Photovoltaic panels on just 22,000 square miles of the nation’s total land area – about the size of Lake Michigan – could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States.

Solar panels can be installed on rooftops with essentially no land-use impacts, and it is projected that by 2030 more than one in seven U.S. homes will have a rooftop solar PV system.

A concrete example of innovation

The planet uses four gigatons of cement a year. Unbeknownst to most, the limestone must be heated to over 2700 degrees in a chemical reaction that releases vast quantities of CO2.

One Los Angeles company has figured out a way to cut these emissions by a third by inventing a cement that can be made at lower temperatures. The concrete then manages to lock the pollutants inside, reducing carbon by 70 percent.

This technology would also save three trillion liters of water.

More than $100 million in venture capital funding has gone to cement start-ups in the past year. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and venture capitalist John Doerr are all pumping money into the industry. Breakthrough Energy has recently invested in three cement start-ups: Solidia, CarbonCure, and Ecocem.

This article was produced and distributed in partnership with Climate Power.

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