Sustainability Notebook

Patrick Sisson

May 17, 2021

From a car-to-cycle trade-in scheme to solar-powered pavement, news from the frontiers of climate action

An era of climate awareness, battery technology, and renewable power means that the ways we walk, drive, and fly are set to radically shift. Like Surf Air’s hybrid electric engine, the technology needed to transition away from fossil fuels exists, it just takes passion and perseverance to perfect and popularize it. Here are some of the more striking recent examples of positive environmental change.

A mighty wind: the Biden administration has designated a huge swath of ocean between Long Island and New Jersey for offshore wind turbines, creating a huge potential bed of renewable energy creation estimated to also generate more than 6,000 permanent jobs.

UPS ordered a small fleet of short-range electric aircraft to help deliver packages. Burlington, Vermont-based Beta will build the electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing vehicles.

Plastic need not be forever. A new program from direct-to-consumer personal care company by Humankind allows you to offset your plastic usage for just $8 a day.

A new French law will ban certain short domestic flights if they can be taken by a train, a move to cut rapidly rising emissions from fossil fuel-powered aircraft.

Going green is not anti-growth. Since 2005, studies have shown 32 countries have decoupled emissions from GDP, meaning they’ve seen their economy improve and even flourish as they’ve reduced the use of fossil fuels.

No offense to Tesla owners, but an even greener method of personal transportation involves converting old internal combustion cars to fully electric. Lunaz offers sustainable drivers a new level of style with conversions of classic rides like Jaguars and Range Rovers.

Massachusetts just set the bar for statewide environmental policy. The Bay State’s new climate bill adds new offshore wind, requires net-zero building codes, sets targets for electric vehicle adoption and electric storage, and codifies environmental justice in law.

Global warming is bringing about dangerous global cooling, in the form of increased usage of energy intensive air conditioning units. That’s why it’s so important that two teams just won the Global Cooling Prize, an international competition to design AC units that cut the environmental impact by fivefold.

France also believes the best way to get a car off the road is to replace it with a bike. The country’s new clunkers-for-cyclists program offers a $3,000 incentive to trade in an old car for a new electric bike and drastically cut transportation emission.

In Singapore, urban farming isn’t a fad. The dense city-state, which traditionally depends on food exports, has launched a crash program to produce 30% of its own food on rooftop gardens and indoor farms by 2030.

In the search for more renewable power, Barcelona looked downward. The city is piloting a solar pavement installation that could help expand locally produced clean energy capacity.

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