As the world moves towards a carbon neutral future, many different areas from industry to manufacturing are working to reduce their emissions. But scientists are beginning to look at a different area – houses – to work out if it’s possible to reduce emissions from Europe’s homes to zero by retrofitting on a mass scale. And the early signs are promising.
Europeans can slash their fuel bills and have a significant impact on curbing global greenhouse gas emissions by buying more energy efficient cars, homes or even fridges – but many do not because of higher initial cost of green products, mistrust in EU energy ratings, and lack of awareness of long-term savings, researchers say.
From a chemical-free spray that turns sand into lush green land, to a caterer who serves planet-friendly dishes, and from technology that makes stronger concrete with less cement, to insect farms that produce fish food and fertilisers, there is no shortage of ideas to reduce emissions. But which ones work best?
Providing access to energy – vital for a decent standard of living and ending poverty – can be done in a way that is sustainable for people surviving on low incomes and for the planet, researchers have found.
Young scientists have the ambition, disruptive thinking and sense of urgency to drive clean energy forward at the radical pace that is needed, says Luciana Miu, a PhD student in chemical engineering who is focusing on energy efficiency at Imperial College London, UK.
Governments at the COP24 climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, which ends on 14 December, should tackle fossil-fuel reliance by building a global energy grid that connects renewable energy from all around the world - and the best place to start is with a giant wind farm in Greenland, says Professor Damien Ernst, an energy scientist from the University of Liège, Belgium.
An ‘internet of electricity’, zero-carbon cities and turning European soils into carbon sinks are among a slew of ambitious ideas to decarbonise our society and slash greenhouse gas emissions proposed by environmental experts in a report published on 28 November.
At first glance, it almost sounds crazy. Can we really take carbon dioxide emissions from an industrial plant and store them underground? To find out, research is currently taking place to test if such an idea is not only viable but safe, and prove that to the public.
Sandwiching an oxygen-rich layer of silicon between a solar cell and its metal contact has allowed researchers in Europe to break performance records for the efficiency with which silicon solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. But the challenge now is how to make these so-called passivating contacts suitable for mass production.
Trees, roof-top parks and vertical gardens can make urban areas better places to live.
Free flowing rivers have almost entirely vanished across Europe.
R&I missions will mean rethinking the economy - Prof. Mazzucato.