Tackling climate change may be an uphill battle, but progress is being made. Here are some highlights from August.
From a rise in domestic renewable energy use in the UK to using oyster shells to cool buildings, August saw a number of news stories that show how sectors and nations are coming together to counter the effects of climate change on our planet.
Here are 12 that will inspire civil engineers to achieve their goals of building a more sustainable planet.
Researchers have found that the carcasses of adult flies could be used to make bioplastics such as polycarbonates or polyurethanes, which are usually made from petrochemicals.
Cement company Hanson has laid out plans to pipe 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year out to sea as part of a carbon capture scheme.
The company was chosen by the UK government to progress industrial decarbonisation as part of the HyNet project.
US lab takes another step towards fusion energy – The Washington Post
Scientists at a lab in California have achieved another nuclear fusion reaction that produces more energy than that required for it to take place.
This reaction provided a higher yield than the first one the research team generated in December 2022.
Cool Roof France has found a use for oyster shell waste by replacing traditional calcium in white paint, which the company uses to cool buildings.
With the company’s three-layer approach, the white paint can reflect up to 90% of the sun’s rays from the building, reducing temperatures by 6-7°C on average.
Governments and business should treat wastewater as a circular economy opportunity, urges a new UN report.
The report argues that with the right policies, wastewater could provide energy, reduce water insecurity and offset the need for synthetic fertilisers.
Reusing wastewater would also reduce pollution and the release of greenhouse gases.
US government invests in ‘giant carbon-sucking vacuums’ - The Washington Post
The US Energy Department has provided $1.2 billion in funding to progress the development of machinery that would capture greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere and bury them underground.
Effectively a massive vacuum, these machines are being tested at two separate projects in Texas and Louisiana.
Sixteen young activists have won a climate court case against the state of Montana for violating their right to a ‘clean and healthful environment’, as per the state constitution.
The state’s process for approving fossil fuel permits on projects, like new power plants, was ruled to be unconstitutional since it doesn’t assess climate impacts on the environment.
Most traditional incandescent light bulbs have been banned in the US, in accordance with the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which was reinstated by President Joe Biden in 2022.
The Energy Department claims this will save “about $3 billion a year on utility bills and cut carbon emissions by 22 million metric tons over the next 30 years.”
Climate change impacts children’s rights to life, survival and development, a UN Child’s Rights Committee report has said.
The report issued guidance for governments on how to tackle the problem, including switching to renewable energy, monitoring air quality, regulating food safety, among others.
Signs of progress
UK homes have installed a record number of renewables this year, reported MCS, the domestic renewable energy accreditation body.
Industry figures have shown that 17,000 households fitted solar panels every month this year, and a record 3,000 homes introduced heat pumps each month.
Installation of battery technologies also reached an all-time high.
Community comes together to ensure Manhattan wetlands withstand climate change – Inside Climate News
The New York Restoration Project (NYRP) has brought new life to a wetland in Manhattan by using nature-based solutions and community engagement.
The NYRP implemented a living shoreline, which helps to protect the wetland from climate change, namely storm erosion and sea level rise, while providing a home for biodiversity.
India’s greenhouse gas emissions rate fell by a third (33%) in the last 14 years due to a rise in green energy and forest coverage, sources revealed.
This is the fastest the emissions rate has ever dropped in the country. It means India is well on track to achieve the 45% reduction by 2030 target set by the UN, which is based on 2005 levels.