Sustainability Climate Change

Just in time for COP26, 7 cool innovations that can help save the planet

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Story at a glance:

  • The future of environmentally-friendly tools is here.
  • Entrenuapers and activist groups are using technology to remove plastic from the waterways, use exercise to recharge smart phones, and create cheaper and efficient solar panels.
  • Politicians meet this week for the COP26 climate conference.

 

The climate change conversation is heating up this week as world leaders met today for the start of the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

The conference this year comes as the effects of climate change — severe droughts, fires, and weather events, for instance – are being felt around the world and leaders face global pressure to commit to climate solutions. 

A study earlier this year found that the G-7 nations have broken their own climate commitments, and the only country meeting its goals under the Paris Agreement is the smallest country within mainland Africa, Gambia.

While global politicians continue to negotiate a viable strategy, seven entrepreneurs and activist groups are doing more than talking, The New York Post reported.


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  1. Nonprofit group The Ocean Cleanup‘s mission is to remove most of the plastic in the ocean by 2040. Boyan Slat founded the group as a teenager, after doing research on ocean plastics including the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating landfill of plastic items between California and Hawaii twice the size of Texas. Ocean Cleanup uses a U-shaped barrier with a net pulled by two boats. 
  2. Angelique Ahlstrom co-founded Flash Forest, a Canadian startup that uses drones to plant seeds in deforested areas either caused by man or wildfires. The company told CNN that it hopes to plant 1 billion trees by 2028.
  3. The company Climeworks created Orca, a storage plant that captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it underground, where it is turned into stone and can be used for a variety of projects. In an interview with WIRED, the founder Jan Wurzbacher explained at a press event that the world had emitted so much CO2 that reducing future emissions is not good enough.
  4. In Amsterdam, the city uses bubbles to push out plastic and debris onto the surface of its canals. The Great Bubble Barrier prevents plastic from reaching the ocean, which is important because the ocean breaks down more prominent pieces of plastic into smaller, impossible to retrieve pieces.
  5. Eat Just is creating laboratory-made meat like chicken nuggets without the slaughter. The meat industry leaves a big carbon footprint, with cows releasing between 70 and 120 kg of Methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide, per year. CNBC reported that the San Francisco startup produces chicken nuggets using cells extracted from chicken and mung beans to recreate eggs.
  6. Ever wished your exercise bike could recharge your phone? United Kingdom-based company Energym has released a RE:GEN exercise bike that does just that. It is not powerful enough to provide electricity to people’s homes, but this Peloton-like device is a battery charger for all home appliances. 
  7. David Berney Needleman, CEO of Leap Photovoltaics, is turning silicon into solar cells. Instead of using silicon wafers to construct solar cells for a solar panel like most modern companies do, leap photovoltaics refines the silicon into cells, skipping the wasteful wafering progress.

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