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?
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.
An estimated 5.25 trillion particles of plastic float in Earth’s oceans, threatening not only the health of marine ecosystems and animals, but that of humans in the water we drink and the food we eat. However, research into the extent of the dangers posed by microplastics is still just in its infancy.
Europe’s position on privacy, regulation and competition could be a key way to attract entrepreneurs who share those values but there is still some work to do in encouraging ambition, according to Nicklas Bergman, a Swedish entrepreneur and technology investor. Over the past two years, he and other entrepreneurs have advised the European Commission on the design of the European Innovation Council (EIC), an initiative to support companies, researchers and entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business or scale up their projects internationally. The second phase of the pilot was launched on 18 March 2019.
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.
The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a virtual one-stop shop for researchers to share, access and reuse data, was officially unveiled at the University of Vienna, Austria, on 23 November, giving scientists, open data advocates, research institutions and policymakers a first glimpse of the portal.
Scientists have created a solar atlas of Egypt, revealing where the sun’s rays shine most brilliantly and where dust storms obstruct its light. And in Niger, forecasters are guiding pastoralists towards grazing areas and water sources – and away from conflict with sedentary farmers.
Socially focused innovators across Europe have called on the European Union to put innovation at the heart of its strategy to achieve a ‘social triple A rating’– an ambition set out by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014 to give greater prominence to the bloc’s social priorities.
Athens, Greece has been named the 2018 European Capital of Innovation for the innovative ways in which it has overcome social and economic challenges and turned them into new opportunities. The €1 million iCapital first prize was announced at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on 6 November, with five other European cities receiving runner-up prizes of €100,000.'Athens has shown a new dimension to what we mean by innovation. It is not only for the powerful, well-resourced and prosperous cities, it is for everyone,' said Athens' mayor Georgios Kaminis, when the award was announced.Last year's iCapital winner was Paris, France.
To avoid climate breakdown, eliminating fossil fuels is the easy part, according to Professor Johan Rockström, co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. He says that safeguarding biological resources such as water, soil and biodiversity will be the ultimate test of whether global warming targets can be reached.
The red planet may be our best bet for finding out whether we’re alone in the universe.
Reducing crew numbers onboard ships could overcome labour shortages and increase shipping levels.
Metagenomics can help us spot emerging diseases such as coronavirus, says virologist Marion Koopmans.