Sustainability and Innovation Strategies to Combat Climate Change, with Michael Lenox, Professor Darden School of Business


Andrew Fanara
Director, CarbonCo
More about Andrew Fanara
Highlights from this article

We're generating emissions in various forms and we're generating far more than the earth can naturally absorb. And so that's creating this kind of net outflow of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually we reach a point where the carbon concentrations get to a point carbon dioxide concentrations where it's gonna be very hard to kind of limit that to degree. So what we talk about is by 2050, you need to get to net zero emissions and to be clear, you know, that's across the entire global economy.

I don't see how we solve this problem without innovating new technologies that will replace the old. So a lot of our central framing is around this idea of disruptive technology.

I think what we've seen over the last 30 years, let's say in the business community is this has moved from what was kind of in the periphery of the organization, maybe in legal compliance, environmental health, and safety to the boardroom.

So first we have transportation. A lot of people think about obviously automobiles, electrification of automobiles would be obviously the new technology that would allow us to start to decarbonizing that that of course is very dependent on the electrical generation sector decarbonizing surprising to many people. That's only about a quarter of all global emissions actually come from energy and electrical generation. So that one is going to need some combination again of renewables plus potentially other sources of zero carbon emitting sources

I think people think less about industrials. So everything that we manufacturer and build and mine there's potential for admissions. And in particular, three sectors we highlight in the book are steel, cement and petrochemicals. You know, these are things that are kind of the backbone of our modern society of industrialized world. They have thousands of abuses and, and various products and services and they each have their own particular greenhouse gas emissions that they create in the production again of steel and cement and petrochemicals.

Agriculture is probably the one I'm most concerned about. We have a glow growing world population. We need to grow food output, and we need to do it with a smaller footprint than we do today. Two things in particular with agriculture. The use of nitrogen based fertilizers actually releases nitrogen oxide, which contributes is actually a significant greenhouse gas. And then the one that, you know, people joke about, but livestock and belching and the manure intrinsic fermentation. And so those are not insignificant sources of greenhouse gases and in particular, it's hard to imagine what the solution might be that would be viable and scalable.

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