domenica 18 marzo 2018

written by Noemi Muratore

Photo credit: Sumitomo Forestry

Skyscrapers are often pictured in common imagination as huge buildings standing amidst others with their shiny glass windows and concrete walls. However, this stereotyped New York style vision is slowly but surely changing thanks to the advancement of technology and a renewed sensitivity to environmental issues. A Japanese company, Sumitomo Forestry, inspired by the rich forests that cover the rolling Japanese hills, is currently undergoing an ambitious project that will design the world's tallest wooden building – over 350 meters tall- set in Tokyo. The company  set the goal to make use of wood as their primary construction material: over 9 out of 10 parts will be made of wood, while the remaining will go to steel and other traditional construction materials.

Japan leading the innovation path 

Almost 70 floors full of fashion shops, offices, hotels and 8000 private homes, with trees and foliage on balconies at every level to give a better idea of what green architecture really means. These architects believe that trees and nature are a crucial driver to reach happiness.  That's why they are projecting environmentally-friendly, timber-utilizing cities that could look more like forests rather than like a mass of high-rise buildings.  Due to its critical exposure to earthquakes, Japanese architects and engineers have struggled over the years to find a way to build solid yet flexible constructions. To avoid catastrophes, the new wooden skyscraper will incorporate a structural system composed of braced tubes made of columns, beams and a diagonal steel vibration-control braces at the center of a 350m (1,150ft) wood and steel column, to prevent deformation of the building due to lateral forces such as earthquakes or wind. Although representing an important step towards the diffusion of technologically advanced and ecological buildings, this project is still far from easy to realize and incredibly expensive. With its 185,000 cubic meters of timber, the costs are expected to swell by up to around 600 billion Japanese yen ($ 5.6 billion). Twice the amount of a conventional high-rise building constructed with current technology.

Ambitious projects around the world 

The Japanese wooden skyscraper is just one of a handful of ambitious ideas that have popped up in the past couple of years. Designers have proposed a scheme for an equally tall wooden skyscraper in London called Oakwood Tower. In Stockholm, a company is planning to build a 436-foot to use as a residence, it will be the tallest in the city. And Zaha Hadid's firm recently won the commission to construct an undulating, all-timber soccer stadium in England. At the moment there are few timer towers in the world and the tallest one is an 18 floors dormitory for students at the University of British Colombia.

Reasons for switching to timber

Up until the late 19th century, timber was still the dominant building material. After a series of brutal city fires across major American cities, architects started considering the flammability of wood as an important disadvantaged and therefore began with the exploration of new materials like steel and concrete. The latest innovation is based on a cross-laminated timber, a kind of super-strong plywood, made by gluing together different levels of wood to form a layered composite that is as strong as steel, if not even more. This new material, paired with precision digital manufacturing processes like CNC milling, allows architects to build with timber at unimaginable heights just a century ago. Moreover, timber has nothing to do with polluting materials: it is both light and strong, which means it's well suited for tall towers that must hold their own weight. At the same time, it's not as stiff as steel and concrete, which limits the distance it can span while still retaining its strength. Timber is also very sensitive to moisture so fire is no longer a big.  Wood is one of the most innovative building materials coming straight from mother nature. Its production generates no waste products and it binds CO2, while concrete and steel buildings leave behind a carbon footprint and are thought to be responsible for about 8% and 5% of global emissions respectively. Wood has low weight but is a very strong load-bearing structure compared to its lightness. Wood is also more fire resistant than both steel and concrete. This is due to 15% of wood mass being water, which will evaporate before the wood actually burns. To conclude it makes easier to control the temperature inside a closed space and can be exposed without being covered with plaster or other costly materials.

Research has still a long way to go before the multiple implications and uses of wood can be explored, but of one thing we can be sure: in 20 or less years our cities’ skyline might look much different- and a lot greener!


domenica 11 marzo 2018

Written by Camilla Mariani 

Sustainable architecture is architecture that tries to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings through efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, development space and the ecosystem at large; sustainable architecture uses a particular approach made of consciousness in the design of the built environment.
In order to understand how it really works, we have to consider the “three pillars” of this phenomenon: first of all, it involves a sustainable energy system; the use of sustainable materials that enrich every kind of buildings and last, but not least, a cautious way to manage the waste.
Surfing the net, an article has captured my attention. The writer, Charles Newman, reports the best six practices for sustainable architecture.

1. Regulate temperature with Earth and sun.

Surprisingly, the strategic use of thermal mass can allow a livable space to remain at 22 Celsius degrees year-round with no mechanical heating or cooling.

2. Harvest rainwater.

Rainwater catchment is a common way for reducing carbon footprint, but with a little effort of filtering it can become water for washing, cooking and drinking.

3. Generate power from renewables.

The author suggests a shift from a centralized distribution system of electrical power to a decentralized system of local energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro.

4. Harvest gray water for growing food.

Many cutting-edge, modern buildings use filtered gray water (water already used for cleaning or cooking) to flush toilets. Such filtering systems remove several nutrients that could be useful for planting systems.

5. Treat sewage locally.

In the past, humans used to move waste underground to a single point and it is usually either dumped in the sea or passed through facilities. By managing the sewage locally, the black water may represent a resource to irrigate landscapes or crops.

6. Build with recycling materials.

Using materials that would otherwise go directly to a landfill is both responsible and cost effective when the project is well structured and organized.

Despite all these tips, we have to consider the reality. In everyone’s imagination, when we think about our dream house, the first thoughts are linked to beauty, modernity, advanced technology and design.
Rather than environmentally friendly.

Today’s architecture, however, takes care of everything.
The famous French designer and architect Philippe Starck has teamed-up with Slovenian prefab firm Riko for the realization of the Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes3. Even if this project dates back to some years ago, I think it could be a good example that combines the aesthetic beauty and a particular attention towards the environment.
As well as being available in multiple shapes and sizes, PATH houses can sport an all glass outer shell, a combination of wood and glass shell or fully wooden shell. Optional sustainable tech provides a roof-based solar array, roof-based wind turbine and a rainwater collection and filtration system.
This project seems to be very “green”.  
As the French designer declares “Actions are needed, not products”. In his thoughts, the project has to improve life of the greatest number of people, to stimulate new solutions and habits, to promote a renewed and conscious commitment toward the world around us.

It’s interesting to analyze the sustainable architecture also from a commercial point of view. Tammy Davis, in 2016, writes on Business People that “Commercial building design trends evolve toward minimizing environmental impact”.

The commercial building design and realization has changed day by day: buzzwords such as environmental impact, energy efficiency and green architecture enter the conversation with an increasingly attention, and clients with commercial building projects want to incorporate some form of sustainability into their design. The most important thing that the writer underlines, is the fact that architects and engineers no longer considering “building green” as an alternative methodology; they integrate environmentally friendly concepts, practices and design into every project they undertake.

While the interpretation of what it means to be green can be very widely, there is a fixed point about client’s budget for the project: Local Firms Design Collaborative and MSKTD & Associates agree that the first step in any project is to asses a client’s needs, particularly with respect to budget constraints. Although upfront costs are typically higher for many building materials and systems with higher efficiencies, reduced energy usage can recoup these cost over time. In general, a three-to-five years payback period offers enough incentives to clients to undertake the project.

Green building incorporates a broad view of a project, from the creation of the materials used in it to the disposal of waste from them. It also takes into account the way the structure willbe used and how people will access it. Bike paths and racks, for example, can reduce the need for automobile access and its corresponding emissions”.  This statement perfectly sums up the meaning of “sustainable architecture”, as well as anticipating the future trends in the green building sector, which is increasingly dynamic and ever-changing.

domenica 3 dicembre 2017

Scritto da Sofia Di Cesare

Si è conclusa la 23esima “Conferenza annuale delle Parti” (COP) nell’ambito della “Convenzione quadro delle Nazioni Unite sui cambiamenti climatici” (UNFCCC), tenutasi a Bonn dal 6 al 17 novembre. Durante la Conferenza si è discusso dell’implementazione di misure e strategie per contrastare gli effetti del cambiamento climatico. Si è trattato di dibattito più “tecnico” rispetto alla COP21, che con gli accordi di Parigi del 2015 aveva delineato le principali linee  di condotta. Senza giri di parole il cambiamento climatico viene definito dalSegretario Generale dell’ONU Guterresla “minaccia distintiva del nostro tempo”. Ciononostantegli attuali impegni nonpermetterebbero che una riduzione delle emissioni ad un terzo di quanto previsto a Parigi.

Presidenza alle isole Fiji: una scelta di valore simbolico

La novità di quest’anno risiede nel fatto che per la prima volta per una piccola nazione insulare in via di sviluppo, le isole Fiji, sia stata scelta a presiedere la conferenza. Il gesto, dal valore altamente simbolico, tiene conto del fatto che proprio queste piccole isole del Pacifico sono tra i Paesi a soffrire maggiormente cambiamenti climatici, a causa dell’innalzamento dei mari,di inondazioni e di tifoni. Infatti nel 2016 la stagione dei cicloni ha arrecato violenti danni alle Fiji, Isole Salomone, Vanuatu, Haiti, Tuvalu, Filippine e altri Paesi.

Un tocco “Pacifico”

Le Fiji hanno apportato il loro contributo, stabilendo che i negoziati dovevano procedere secondo lo spirito della Talanoa, termine figiano per un dibattito inclusivo e trasparente, che costruisca fiducia ed empatia. Il “Dialogo della Talanoa” aveva come scopo quello di rivedere le promesse avanzate dai singoli governi nazionali per quanto riguarda i tagli alle emissioni di carbone fossile.

Occhi puntati sugli Stati Uniti

L’annuncio della partecipazione da parte della Siriaagli accordi di Parigi ha lasciato gli Stati Uniti gli unicii grandi esclusi, anche sela rinuncia di Trump entrerà in vigore solo nel 2020, col padiglione americano unico assente. Un padiglione non ufficiale, America’s Pledge, ha riunito comunque aziende, enti, università, 15 governatori e 300 sindaci contrari alle politiche del Presidente. Contro Trump sono stati il governatore della California e l’ex sindaco di New York Micheal Bloomberg, supportati da multinazionali come Microsoft, Google e Walmart.

La sostenibilità della COP

Gli organizzatori hanno dato il buon esempio con una conferenza sostenibile, dai trasporti al catering, dalla gestione dei rifiuti all’impiego di energie pulite: una conferenza ad impatto ambientale minimo, obiettivo raggiunto, visto il conseguimento del certificato dell’Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

Esiti e considerazioni finali

A Bonn sono state definite nuove strategie e piani d’azione. Alcune delle maggiori novità scaturite sono state:
  1. Powering Past Coal Alliance, che riunisce 25 paesi (tra cui l’Italia) per facilitare la transizione ad una produzione industriale ed economica “carbon-free”.
  2. Piattaforma delle Comunità Locali e Popolazioni Indigene, a garantire decisioni governative nel rispetto dei diritti dei nativi.
  3. Gender Action Plan, per l’inclusione delle donne nel processo decisionale delle azioni.
  4. Ocean Pathway Partnership, per includere gli oceani nei anzitutto da programmi climatici nazionali.

L’atteggiamento sembra cambiato da parte di molti, specie Cina ed India. Prima di un definitivo giudizio, meglio dare tempo ai governi di mantenere gli impegni presi.

martedì 28 novembre 2017

Written by Martin Geyer

The EXPO 2017 -“Future Energy” has been called many names: From a setting for amazing tech breakthroughs to a death star, barely capable of changing Kazakhstan’s dependency on natural resources. Puzzled yet curious by the controversial press coverage, I decided to book a flight to a city that is widely ignored by western media and that I (honestly) barely knew anything about. The followings are my personal impressions of the exhibition and its importance for the shift towards a more sustainable future.

Directly upon the arrival in Astana’s newly built airport you could feel the EXPO spirit. Huge posters above the luggage belt were there to welcome you and give you a hint on what you’re about to experience. The following (hybrid) taxi ride through the streets of this planned city felt strangely natural. Although most of the city was built in the 21st century (making it younger than me), Astana somehow managed to develop a distinctive look and feel by blending European and Asian architecture in a way that works surprisingly well together and makes the city feel a lot more natural than expected.

Arriving at the EXPO area, I was once again amazed by the architecture that just perfectly fitted the theme of the exposition while offering space for a total 115 participating countries and 22 International Organizations, a lot compared to past specialized exhibitions. So let me give you an insight into some of the pavilions.

The past, the present…

Bad things first. Sadly, some countries including the Netherland, Greece and the UKs got lost in presenting a lot of information about past inventions leaving very limited space for new ideas.  
Spain, Turkey and several Arab states did a better job by focusing on current projects, mostly in the field of wind and solar energy. Spain impressively demonstrated its comprehensive knowledge in renewable energy production (allowing the country to have an 70% carbon free energy mix), while states like Algeria, the UAE or Saudi Arabia were showing their potential in the use of sustainable energy while pointing out several projects that are already under construction. Germany besides some electric car and smart home concepts presented the installation of the first Kazakh wind park, build with German engineering assistance. Having by far the most extravagant pavilion, Austria took a memorable approach by stating that the most valuable energy sources we have are our own bodies. As a demonstration, most of the pavilion’s screens were powered by bicycle generators - and while walking home to Vienna might not be the most serious suggestion, taking your bike to work, trivial as it seems, certainly makes a difference.



… and the future

Italy stood out by combining the presentation of past ideas with the empowerment of new ones. In the entrance of the pavilion, you could see short movies featuring Italians of all ages presenting their view on what could lead us to a more sustainable future. Latvia, having one of the most technologically advanced pavilions, went on with presenting its vision of the Riga Freeport implemented in in a globalized infrastructure. It was the first time I got in contact with Chinas “One belt one road” strategy which I was reoccurring in several pavilions. 
Further promising ideas came from Hungary by presenting a newly constructed geothermal energy system that is far more efficient than current models and Switzerland by displaying the Solar Impulse, a plane purely powered by solar energy.

Kazakhstan’s ideas

While the Asian superpowers Russia, China and India did not leave out the opportunity to show their visions for connecting the Asian continent, they were all upstaged by the host country. Stretching its exhibition over three separate buildings Kazakhstan showed a lot of promising concepts.
From urban agriculture and horticulture by exhibiting plants that grow inside the expo buildings and presenting a new office tower in Astana that grows food for its canteen right above it in indoor greenhouses over a smart power grid that shifts energy from different sources to the different consumers while showing high flexibility under all circumstances, visualized by a massive illuminated cube to the Kazakh ambitions for Eurasian railway projects which could help cutting carbon emissions of goods coming to Europe by a factor of 20 compared to trucks or planes while being more than 5 times faster than container ships.
With most of the Kazakh exhibition being in the unique sphere in the middle of the EXPO area there could have been no better place to show these concepts. Making use of impressive 360° projections the exhibition perfectly blended into the post-modern architecture. 


My conclusion

So what’s the takeaway of the 2017 EXPO? Well, certainly a lot of countries showed the ambition of shifting their energy production away from fossil resources towards more sustainable sources. Moreover, a lot of knowledge was exchanged, and some promising concepts presented. However, it remains questionable whether countries whose economy is substantially dependent on the export of natural resources (including Kazakhstan itself) are all interested in accelerating this shift. Also, BMW proudly showing yet another concept car while simultaneously announcing to discontinue their existing electric car series leaves a bitter taste.

At the same time, rather unobtrusively Kazakhstan underlined its ambitions to become the main transshipment place on future railway links between Europe and Eastern Asia. This emphasize was also to be observed by many other Asian countries (including Russia and China) and while the economic consequences are unclear, it is certainly a plus for our planet. 

Now, is the EXPO really marking a milestone for future energy production? Hard to say at this point, but it marks an important step in achieving this goal and surely a turning point for Kazakhstan that will eventually benefit the whole planet.

sabato 25 novembre 2017

Scritto da Camilla Mariani

Essere circondati da alberi, fiori che rinascono con l’arrivo della bella stagione e l’ecosistema che funziona come sa fare da secoli ci sembra una cosa scontata, a cui, nella gran parte delle nostre giornate, non prestiamo alcuna attenzione.
Tutto ci sembra routinario, come se mai potesse cambiare. È proprio questa consapevolezza che ci frega perché i dati sono tutt’altro che rassicuranti: gli insetti, e in particolar modo gli impollinatori, hanno bisogno del nostro aiuto.
La perdita nella popolazione di insetti ha degli effetti davvero devastanti e pericolosi per il nostro Pianeta: questi piccoli esseri volanti (che, diciamocela tutta, qualche volta reputiamo davvero fastidiosi) non solo assolvono il compito dell’impollinazione ma si occupano anche di numerosi cicli nutritivi e costituiscono una risorsa di cibo per uccelli, mammiferi e anfibi.

Ad esempio, l’80% di piante selvatiche dipendono dall’impollinazione degli insetti e circa il 60% degli uccelli ha questi insetti come base del proprio nutrimento. Tra le 100 specie vegetali che forniscono il 90 per cento del cibo utilizzato dalla nostra specie, quasi i tre quarti dipendono dalle api per l’impollinazione.  Altre hanno bisogno di coleotteri, mosche, farfalle, uccelli e pipistrelli. È un sistema reciprocamente vantaggioso: i fiori della maggior parte delle piante coltivate devono essere fecondati con polline di un’altra pianta della stessa specie per poter produrre semi o frutti; le api e gli altri animali impollinatori, come “ricompensa” si alimentano con il nettare ( 
Inoltre, non volendo sottovalutare la questione economica, i servizi all’ecosistema forniti dagli impollinatori sono stimati, negli Stati Uniti, per un valore di circa 57 miliardi di dollari annui.  Appare quindi chiaro quanto sia di primaria importanza preservare l’abbondanza di insetti e impollinatori.

I dati correnti, tuttavia, ci suggeriscono un percorso di declino degli insetti in termini di diversità e numerosità: secondo una ricerca condotta di recente da numerosi professori ed esperti dell’Università olandese di Radboud, pubblicata sulla rivista scientifica Plos One, la popolazione europea di farfalle è diminuita, dal 1990 al 2011, del 50%; lo stesso fenomeno è stato registrato per api e falene.
“Si tratta di una scoperta sconcertante e decisamente allarmante per il futuro del nostro ecosistema. A preoccupare è anche il fatto che non si è ancora stabilito quale sia la causa principale dell’accaduto e questo elemento rende difficile adottare delle efficaci contromisure nel breve periodo” afferma Hans de Kroon, uno degli scienziati che ha condotto la ricerca.

I cambiamenti climatici, la perdita di habitat naturali e il deterioramento dell’ecosistema sembrano essere (non a caso) i maggiori colpevoli di questo fenomeno. Sostanzialmente, giorno dopo giorno, stiamo distruggendo il mondo di questi esseri viventi. All’interno di questo scenario, però, è necessario puntare il dito contro un altro colpevole di questo drammatico declino: i pesticidi.
Secondo la definizione di Legambiente, “I pesticidi, o antiparassitari, sono sostanze chimiche impiegate in agricoltura nell’eliminazione degli organismi parassiti (animali o vegetali) che danneggiano le piante coltivate e compromettono la produttività del terreno e la qualità del raccolto”.  Il nostro Paese è (secondo un rapporto dell’Istituto Superiore per la Ricerca Ambientale del febbraio 2015) il maggior consumatore di pesticidi, tra quelli dell’Europa occidentale, per unità di superficie coltivata, con valori doppi rispetto a quelli di Francia e Germania.

Analizzando i dati, in sostanza, è necessario un intervento quanto più tempestivo possibile. La rivoluzione più importante che tutti potremmo fare sarebbe quella di un forte cambiamento di pensiero: non delegare sempre decisioni e azioni concrete ad associazioni ambientaliste o Istituzioni, ma agire, nel proprio quotidiano, in maniera consapevole. Credo ancora fortemente (forse in maniera un po’ utopistica) che il contributo della singola persona possa fare la differenza; che tutti siamo responsabili di ciò che facciamo e delle relative conseguenze sull’ambiente. Il tema lascia spazio a numerose riflessioni e i dati raccolti nel corso del tempo sono tantissimi; tra i report più interessanti che ho avuto modo di leggere, ce n’è uno, con numerosi spunti per soluzioni “pollinator-friendly” da adottare nei Campus universitari, intitolato “The pollinator toolkit”.
Invito tutti i lettori- soprattutto gli studenti universitari- a dargli uno sguardo!

giovedì 27 luglio 2017

Scritto da Camilla Mariani

Ad oggi è impossibile non aver letto alcuna notizia sull’uomo che sa anticipare il futuro: stiamo parlando di Elon Musk, l’imprenditore più visionario, rivoluzionario e influente del momento. Il noto imprenditore di origini sudafricane è conosciuto al pubblico per essere stato cofondatore del sistema di pagamento Paypal, acquisito nel 2015 da Ebay. Elon Musk sta rivoluzionando contemporaneamente tre settori a dir poco strategici: quello automobilistico, con Tesla Motors, quello dell’astronautica con SpaceX e quello delle energie rinnovabili con SolarCity. 

Sin da piccolo, Elon Musk ha sempre desiderato conquistare lo spazio tanto da pensare di poter portare l’uomo su Marte. Come ha dichiarato al Congresso internazionale di astronautica tenutosi in Messico, “quello che voglio veramente è fare in modo che Marte diventi possibile, una meta da raggiungere nel corso delle nostre vite”. Ed è esattamente da questo sogno nel cassetto che è nata l’idea di SpaceX e del primo razzo spaziale “riciclabile”. 

Falcon9 vertical at Cape Canaveral
Fonte: (2017)

Il Falcon9 si distingue per essere riutilizzabile; la carica innovativa di questa invenzione risiede nel fatto che il razzo è in grado di utilizzare lo stesso motore per più lanci, oltre a poter tornare alla base terrestre senza pilota. L’imprenditore dichiara che “se è possibile capire come riutilizzare in modo efficace i razzi, come accade per gli aerei, il costo per andare sullo spazio si ridurrà di centinaia di volte. Un veicolo completamente riutilizzabile non è mai stato fatto prima”. Tra i progetti di Elon Musk la conquista dello spazio è quello più sorprendente: il suo obiettivo è, infatti, un vero e proprio ampliamento dei confini dell’uomo. 

Questo genio contemporaneo, oltre ad aver lanciato la “SpaceX Mania”, è stato lungimirante nell’anticipare un cambiamento di paradigma nell’ambito della mobilità: in futuro, questa, non sarà più collegata ad un oggetto hardware ma si traslerà nell’ambito software-piattaforma, così da considerare il veicolo come qualcosa di cui saremo utilizzatori finali. È proprio da questa sfida che nasce l’idea di Tesla Motors, azienda automobilistica produttrice di veicoli elettrici. 

L’ultima novità in casa Tesla è la “Model3”: prenotata in 375.000 unità ancora prima di sapere quali sarebbero state le specifiche tecniche e il design, questa berlina elettrica a zero emissioni presenta un’autonomia di almeno 345 chilometri e, appena lanciata negli Stati Uniti, ha un prezzo di circa 35.000 dollari. Insomma, è impossibile negare la supercredibilità di cui gode Elon Musk, vista anche la diffusa affermazione delle sue auto. Le novità non finiranno sicuramente qui; “non ci fermeremo finché ogni auto sulla strada non sarà elettrica” ha dichiarato Elon Musk. 

Model S
Fonte: (2017)

La caratteristica più sorprendente di quest’uomo è quella di saper cambiare e determinare il corso della storia umana, dandogli un’accelerazione. Egli, infatti, partendo da principi elementari sta dimostrando di saper prevedere un futuro ambizioso, senza farsi influenzare da come operano le altre aziende, implementando ripetutamente le proprie idee, innovandole e stravolgendole. 

E non è finita qui. Il magnate americano è stato da sempre attirato dal mondo delle energie rinnovabili ed è stato il promotore di Gigafactory, un sito di grandi dimensioni per la produzione di batterie al litio per le auto e per i sistemi di accumulo Tesla. Tale interesse per le rinnovabili si è esteso oltre il campo delle auto elettriche tanto che nel 2016 nasce SolarCity, la prima fabbrica per la produzione di pannelli fotovoltaici a marchio Tesla. 

Non c’è da stupirsi se un imprenditore di questo calibro continuerà a segnare e determinare il corso della storia e la chiave del suo successo risiede proprio nei suoi principi: “Credo che questo sia il miglior consiglio: pensa sempre a come si potrebbero fare le cose meglio e metti in discussione te stesso” (Elon Musk). 

Written by Valeria Procoli

In June the Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a working paper explaining how leveraging on innovation can accelerate the energy transition. According to the study, the shift is already taking place but it is not fast enough to turn the global energy system from fossil-based to zero-carbon by 2050. 

To enable the decarbonization of the energy system by 2050, technology improvements are not sufficient: innovation on policy, regulation, energy markets and business models plays a central role to meet and sustain the Paris Agreement Goals. In this prospective, government’s contribution is key. Indeed, public entities are able to create the right conditions to nurture innovation and, despite the huge investments needed, to help a transition that is economically feasible. In fact, the positive externalities generated will be able to overcome the costs: the reduced bad consequences  will be between 2 and 6 times greater than the incremental costs of decarbonization. 

To keep the world’s temperature growth below 2°C by 2030, energy efficiency, electrification and renewable energy technologies are decisive. In the best case scenario, the energy-related C02 emissions would fall to 25,5 Gt in 2030 thus achieving the 2°C goal. The further step will be reaching a level of 10 Gt CO2 emissions by 2050; in this case half of the reduction would come from renewable energy technologies. 

There is no doubt that innovation is the driver of all this: it does allow to make the renewable energies costs competitive when compared to fossil fuels, whose prices are distorted by subsidies and do not reflect  drawbacks on health and global climate. Therefore, renewable energies represent a “win-win-win” solution: not only they are able to fight climate change but also they promote wealth and social inclusion. However, to make them a real and successful solution, the governments’ intervention is fundamental: long term-policies to facilitate and stimulate the adoption of clean energies are key to reach the critical mass needed. 

Focusing on technology, among the 110 low-carbon options available, four of them (wind power, solar PV, electric vehicles for passenger transport and saving the carbon stored during plastics production in the chemical industry) represent 1/3 of the potential abatement by 2050. However, each sector has different abatement costs and innovation requirements. While in the power sector the transition is already cost-effective and in transport it is about to, the industrial and buildings sectors are much more challenging. Furthermore, the study shows that freight transportation and aviation innovations are slower due to the lack of policy incentives and long-term perspectives. Once more, this aspect shows the crucial role of governments in stimulating innovation where it’s most required.
Finally, as highlighted by the working paper, if the energy system decarbonization goal is to be reached by 2050, we need further investments and financial resources. But then it’s always essential to look at all  enabling conditions, with policies, markets, business models and regulations included. It should be firmly clear that to focus only on the technological part will never be enough. 

Read the full working paper here: