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Can sheep help fight climate change? and other stories from October 2023

01 November 2023

While much more progress is needed, innovation and research give hope for a more sustainable and resilient planet.

Can sheep help fight climate change? and other stories from October 2023
Sheep graze on grass on solar farms. Image credit: Shutterstock

From quitting companies that pollute to sharing grazing fields with solar panels, climate action reported in October was diverse and intriguing.

Read the stories below for some inspiration on how civil engineers can fulfil their goal of creating a more sustainable world where people and the planet can thrive.

Cutting pollution

Farmers graze away at greenhouse gas emissions through agrivoltaics – Texas Tribune

Agrivoltaics, or the practice of using land for agriculture and solar panel farms, has been growing in Texas, USA.

Whether it’s sheep grazing grass and preventing it from shading solar panels, or crops planted beneath, it’s a way to keep farming while producing clean energy.

English town goes mining for green energy source – EuroNews.Green

The town of Gateshead in north-east England has discovered that the abandoned and flooded coal mine tunnels can help heat homes in the area.

The water in the flooded tunnels is warmed naturally. It’s then brought to the surface where it gets put into heat pumps and extractors, which warm it further, to then be distributed through heat networks.

How can changes in public behaviour help meet net zero?

The ICE and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) have launched a green paper consultation to investigate how public behaviour change can help us reach net zero targets.

Have your say

US researchers find way to sponge up carbon dioxide from the air – Los Angeles Daily News

A research team from California State University and Ames National Research has created a tablespoon-sized sponge-like ‘nanomaterial’ that can absorb carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide that is captured can then be buried underground or used as fuel, leaving the sponge ready to go again.

Stockholm plans petrol and diesel car ban to help citizens ‘breathe without getting sick’ - EuroNews.Green

Starting 31 December 2024, Stockholm’s city centre will introduce a ban on diesel and petrol cars to help reduce emissions and improve air quality.

Writing on social media, traffic councillor Lars Strömgren said: ““In Stockholm, everyone should be able to breathe the air without getting sick.”

The plan is to introduce more spaces for walking and cycling. The ban excludes emergency vehicles and those with disabled permits.

Can’t stop, won’t stop switching to renewables, International Energy Agency report finds – BBC

A report from the International Energy Agency has predicted that renewables will source half of the world’s electricity by 2030.

"The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it's unstoppable,” said Faith Birol, International Energy Agency executive director.

However, the report noted that emissions are still too high and investment in fossil fuels must be cut in half to meet climate objectives.

Recycling could help slash construction industry’s carbon footprint, report finds – Bloomberg

Recycling and reusing construction materials could keep 77 million tonnes of waste in the supply chain over the next decade, a report has found. That’s about 13 times the weight of an elephant.

The report, released by construction firm Mace Group, looked at how embracing the circular economy could reduce energy-related carbon emissions from construction in seven cities: London, New York, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome.

Building resilience

Communal loans programme helps Antigua and Barbuda homes become climate resilient – UNEP

Antigua and Barbuda’s Department of Environment has worked with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to roll out a programme of ‘revolving loans’ to help hurricane-proof homes.

These low-interest loans can be used to strengthen roofs, install solar panels and hurricane shutters, buy rainwater storage tanks and more. Once paid off, the funds can then be used to proof another home.

Shropshire imitates beavers with dam good flood protection – BBC

Shropshire Council have installed hundreds of leaky dams along a river to help prevent flooding, inspired by research done into dams created by beavers.

The dams, built by volunteers from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, held millions of litres of water during Storm Dennis in February 2020.

Church of England sets eyes on net zero by 2030 target – Edie

The Church of England has allocated £30 million towards energy efficiency in its cathedrals, churches, houses and schools.

Changing behaviour

Workers willing to quit their jobs over climate change, surveys find – BBC

Surveys across the UK and the US have shown that workers are willing to quit their roles over lack of climate action.

A Supercritical survey of 2,000 office workers found that 35% would leave their jobs, with the figure rising to 53% for Gen Z employees (those born between 1996-2010).

Another survey of 4,000 workers in the US and the UK found half were willing to quit over a mismatch in ethics.

  • Ana Bottle, digital content editor at ICE