Let’s save the world together!

Hello!

Jay here. I am a second year Management and Entrepreneurship student at Lancaster University, and I am delighted to be selected as one of the ten students being sent off to Chennai for the Annual General Meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.


There are many reasons as to why I applied to attend this prestigious event. Traveling around the world has always been at the top of my bucket list, and when I got to visit one of the most beautiful islands, Maldives, I got to know that it might sink in about thirty years because of rising sea levels. From then on, I want and have tried to contribute as much as possible to the development of our society through sustainable development.

My first encounter in the sustainable development field was when I took part in a business challenge (PIN Squared) hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The outline of the challenge was to develop sustainability in Kuwait (where I am from), either by developing the economy, or by raising environmental awareness, or even by working on a healthier society. As a team, we came up with the idea of installing highly efficient, mobile solar panel batteries in the homes in Kuwait (a very UV-rich country), and shipping them to countries with a poorer UV index, restraining from the use of energy by sources that are destroying our planet.

Taking an active role at the WBCSD in Chennai will not only help me to gain a better understanding of the issues our world currently faces but will give me a hand to network with like-minded individuals and corporate executives, making it easier for me to bring my sustainability ideas to life. Furthermore, I hope to gain ideas and be a part of how to raise awareness in our society about the current environmental issues we face.

Do check out my winning essay below, and you will hear from all of us during and after our once in a lifetime opportunity. Looking forward…

In Action2020 nine priority areas are outlined to address environmental and social issues; a growing set of business solutions has been developed to combat these. Pick one business solution and critically evaluate how this solution contributes to addressing climate change.

Introduction

Our climate is changing drastically because of global warming. Global warming is occurring because of the excessive release of mainly carbon dioxide. The increase in carbon dioxide is causing an increase in the heat trapped by the ozone layer, which is thereby increasing global temperatures, destroying our planet (WBCSD, 2016).

In order to lessen the harmful effects of climate change and ensure a rise in temperature of no more than 2 degree Celsius, we have aimed to cap carbon dioxide emissions at one trillion tonnes by 2040 (WBCSD, 2016). As we have already emitted 540 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (WBCSD, 2016), we have to do something immediately to ensure that we meet our sustainability target.

The process and advantages of using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Currently, energy-focused mitigation approaches are helping to increase the use of clean energy and making energy use more efficient; however, the emissions from current and future fossil fuel bases are not being addressed (WBCSD, 2016). Carbon sequestration can be defined as the capture and secure storage of carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere (Herzog and Golomb, 2015), further increasing the heat trapped by the ozone layer and the negative effects of climate change. Therefore, CCS is a very viable option to prevent further climate change.

There are several sources for capturing carbon, like industrial processes which produce concentrated streams of carbon dioxide; however the source with the most potential are fossil-fueled power production plants. As the carbon dioxide is captured from these sources, it is compressed to a liquid like state, transported through pipelines and stored into deep geologic formations at nearly eight hundred meters deep (Herzog, 2015).

The potential benefits of CCS are outstanding. For example, The International Energy Agency, has estimated that by 2050, if CCS were not used to prevent climate change, the cost of prevention would be 70% higher. Furthermore, the carbon capture and storage association has also estimated that by 2050, CCS could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 9 to 16 billion tonnes worldwide and also research conducted at MIT, suggests, that by 2050, CCS can reduce human generated carbon dioxide by 80% of the human generated carbon dioxide value in 1990.

The disadvantages of Carbon Capture and Storage

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development states that there is an annual 3% growth of total carbon dioxide emissions and that today; the cumulative amount of carbon emissions is 570 billion tonnes. As stated above by the International Energy Agency, CCS is expected to reduce only 9-16 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2050, which is nearly the same amount of the expected annual increase in carbon emissions today (0.03 x 570 billion tonnes= 17.1 billion tonnes). This raises the doubt and makes many of us wonder about the actual cost effectiveness and the long time required for the CCS initiative to actually make a significant difference in climate change.

The European Environment Agency’s Executive Director, Professor Jacqueline Mcglade, states that CCS may have an overall positive effect on air pollution; however, emissions of some pollutants, which damage our climate, may increase. For example, Professor Jacqueline states that the emission of particulate matter (a complex mixture of airborne particles that differ in size, origin and chemical composition), which plays a role in the greenhouse effect because of its ability to form clouds, may increase. These kinds of air pollutants may increase as fossil-fueled power plants that have a CCS technology installed do require 15-25% more energy/fuel than conventional plants. It is the existence and transport of the additional fuel required that causes direct and indirect emissions of a variety of harmful pollutants.

Another disadvantage of CCS is that there is a chance for the stored carbon dioxide to leak (Engelen, 2009). Although there is only a 1% chance for this to happen, Greenpeace objects that if it does, in the next 100 years, 63% of the stored carbon dioxide would release, damaging our environment at a faster rate.

The contribution of CCS in addressing climate change is very uncertain as of now. After looking at the Green House Gas Technology participant numbers (see below), we can see that the interest in CCS has waned in the past few years.

Untitled
(Fig.1) Howard Herzog/MIT Energy Initiative

 One of the main issues with CCS is the lack of experience and understanding in the field (WBCSD, 2016). Many support the notion that the technology is not proven or does not work (WBCSD, 2016), which creates a very negative picture of the initiative, leading to waning interests year by year. Another major drawback of the initiative is that it requires a very complex policy structure (WBCSD, 2016) and is very expensive; therefore, many government bodies around the world are not willing to pursue the initiative. Washington Times Journalist, Amanda Debard, in her article wrote that the United States is spending a lot of money (3.4 billion U.S Dollars) on CCS, an initiative which is not yet proven to work efficiently and which probably will not even make a difference in the time frame it promises to.

Conclusion

CCS is definitely a great initiative to solve the problem of climate change as it reduces the main green house gas (CO2) that is destroying our planet. The main issue however, is that as the technology is fairly new and expensive, the funding has already begun to shrink (Herzog, 2015). The lack of funding will definitely lead to a lack of plants with CCS technologies, leading to the initiative not meeting its target as already seen by many people. The only way to promote the initiative is to improve its method. For example, just recently an article written by Damian Carrington, published on The Guardian, mentions a new finding in Iceland, June 2016, where carbon dioxide was turned into stone for storage. This method proves to be cheaper and more efficient than storing the carbon dioxide as gas. Furthermore, to enable the initiative, partnerships need to be formed to increase the synergy between CCS focused organizations (WBCSD, 2016). There is also a need to find key political figures, high-profile individuals with the power to back the CCS initiative (WBCSD, 2016) and lastly, change the negative image that many people have about the initiative by trying harder to prove its major benefits despite its lack of experience and uncertainty.

 References

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