Climate Change Digest good news question of the month: What European country announced a technology breakthrough in producing reduced-carbon iron? Read on to find the answer in this month’s Climate Change News Digest prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance.
NOAA reported that in May the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the highest levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at 419 parts per million. CO2 levels have now surpassed a staggering 50% higher level than in pre-industrial times. The drop in emissions last year due to the pandemic and a near worldwide shutdown of travel and industry was short lived having fallen only about 6%. It is sober testimony to how difficult it will be to slow GHG emissions with a growing population and roaring economy based on the ethos of perpetual consumption and growth. Humans put about 50 billion metric tons of CO2 into the air each year that will last in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. There is little time left to meet 2030 GHG emission goals, and now may be the time to panic if that is what it takes to incite action.
This new series of posts by Klaus Brettschneider and Richard McFall, contributing members of the PLM Green Global Alliance (PGGA), will explore how Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) can be used to slow climate change by reducing human-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide and methane are the two most damaging GHG which are commonly reported on as CO2 equivalents, or CO2e, and are measured in billions of tons or gigatons. Carbon continues to build in the atmosphere due to human activities on the ground where it has now surpassed 410 ppm, nearly double that prior to the start of the industrial age. Since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, a consensus is urgently building among climate scientists, elected officials, and NGOs like the International Energy Agency that the global economy must attain net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. This starts with a very challenging reduction of 50% by 2030, less than ten years away.
We begin our series by outlining the different roles and use cases that PLM can have in minimizing the carbon footprint – or “decarbonizing” – products, businesses, industries, and even entire economies. But first a brief level set on what PLM is and is not.
Climate change good news question of the month: What country’s federal court was the latest to rule that their government has a responsibility to protect young people from harm and injury due to the climate crisis? Read on to find the answer in this month’s Climate Change News Digest prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance.
Decarbonizing the economy seems overwhelming, but the KPMG white paper “The Decarbonization Journey” is a valuable resource for companies seeking to assess how to get started in the near term and developing their own long-term strategies.
The contributing author Michael Hayes, KPMG’s Global Climate Change and Decarbonization Leader, writes: “Creating a low-carbon economy over the next 30 years is going to be one of the greatest challenges ever faced by the human race – we will not succeed unless there is a total and complete focus on decarbonization across all economic sectors.”
Learn what the five pillars to net zero are by reading this report available for downloading from KPMG HERE.
The authors C. Vila, J.V. Abellán-Nebota, J.C. Albiñanaa, and G. Hernández write in the abstract “Sustainable development has been, is and will be one of the worldwide main issues. Many initiatives have been launched to drive global conscientiousness to the problem of the impact of manufactured products. In order to become a “green company”, eco-brands and recycling are well understood but many initiatives are in silos and the unintended wasteful impact to other activities in the company is not always noticed. The key of sustainability also covers all the in-between activities and it depends on a real commitment of society, research and manufacturing firms. The factory of the future must have a Green Product Lifecycle Management strategy sharing responsibilities within the whole supply chain that must be achieved through committed people. The present work describes an approach to green product lifecycle involving mainstay phases: design, manufacturing and service, including usability and renewal. The contribution suggests a framework for sustainable product development that takes the whole product lifecycle into account.”
The paper examines the mission, vision, and objectives that a green or sustainable PLM strategy should have. From this approach a framework model is developed for use in the assessment and implementation of green strategies. This includes discussion of the knowledge, architecture, methodologies, tools, and processes needed over the product lifecycle stages of design, manufacturing, and service.
Download and read the paper from Science Direct HERE.
The authors write in their introduction that “The number of countries announcing pledges to achieve net-zero emissions over the coming decades continues to grow. But the pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.”
“This special report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth. It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. The report also examines key uncertainties, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.”
International members of the PLM Green Global Alliance (PGGA) met recently to discuss the timely new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” by Bill Gates. The panel discussion was moderated by Jos Voskuil with participants Klaus Brettschneider, Lionel Grealou, Patrick Hillberg, Ilan Madjar, and Richard McFall.
Mr. Gates, who admits he is an imperfect messenger, wrote what many of us often feel: “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a problem as big as climate change. But you’re not powerless. And you don’t have to be a politician or a philanthropist to make a difference. You have influence as a citizen, a consumer, and an employee or employer.” He closed his book with the comment that he hoped it sparked conversations.
We at PGGA believe this call to action is especially relevant for professionals in our industry who use, develop, support, teach, market, research, or write about Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) enabling strategies and supporting technologies that can contribute to a sustainable lower-carbon circular economy.
Listen to what panelists thought about the decarbonization challenges and technologies that Mr. Gates proposes as priorities, including both pro and con comments from the perspectives of representatives from five different nationalities. The recording may be accessed on YouTube HERE.
The Climate Voice initiative provides a wealth of resources for employees, students, and business leaders to help their institutions “go all in” as leaders in climate and sustainability policies. “This is an extraordinary moment of opportunity for climate policy — with rising levels of public concern powering major new policy initiatives at the federal, state and local levels. On Earth Day (April 22), President Biden pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030. We need strong leadership in the United States, and in every other country, to make progress at the speed and scale required to help keep warming below 1.5°C — the goal set by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
“It’s time for companies to use their influence and lobby for bold climate policies — everywhere they operate and at every level of government. The first step is for business leaders to shift their mindsets about climate from a position of narrow self-interest toward a strategic approach that views climate both as an existential business threat and an enormous opportunity to help build the future.” Read more at https://climatevoice.org/resources/policyguide/.
The latest Climate Change News Digest offers PLM Green Global Alliance followers a compendium of news and research about climate change from around the world during April 2021. With the recent virtual Climate Summit a remarkable sense of urgency continues to build from world leaders, businesses, industry associations, financial institutions, and NGOs that this is the decade we must reverse GHG emissions. The PLM Green Alliance is excited to be a small part of this big transition to decarbonize industries through the use of PLM-enabling strategies and digital transformation technologies that our profession has pioneered.
At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, CO2 levels have for the first time exceeded 420 parts per million. When carbon was first measured in the atmosphere in the 1950s it was 100 ppm lower, at 315. It is now higher than any time in the last 800,000 years based on glacial ice core samples. The world is now more than halfway to a doubling of carbon by the year 2060. Climate scientists warn at this rate the resulting temperature changes would be 4-8 degrees Fahrenheit higher, which could be double that agreed to in the Paris Climate Accords.
In this comprehensive New York Times article on “The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence and Proof” the authors write “The science of climate change is more solid and widely agreed upon than you might think. But the scope of the topic, as well as rampant disinformation, can make it hard to separate fact from fiction. Here, we’ve done our best to present you with not only the most accurate scientific information, but also an explanation of how we know it.”
The authors go on to answer the 12 top FAQ’s that both climate change scientists hear from believers and skeptics. These questions include how do we know that climate change is real and not part of the Earth’s natural cycle, as well as how bad the effects of climate change will be if we do nothing.
In this important paper “The Next Generation of Climate Innovation” from Boston Consulting Group the authors begin with “Global momentum is building to achieve net zero in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—and to do so more quickly than previously envisioned. Getting there will require unprecedented levels of innovation. While a fast-rising number of companies and governments are committing themselves to ambitious net-zero goals, most focus the strategy exclusively on emissions and expect the necessary technologies and solutions to become available as needed.”
They continue with “Annual global emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents now amount to about 51 gigatons. Some estimates, such as the P4 pathway defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), show that today’s technologies have the potential to reduce global emissions by about two-thirds. More innovation-driven projections—such as IPCC’s low-energy demand pathway, P1—do not bank on any new technologies but instead assume radical business model and policy innovation. It is clear that reaching climate change goals requires new technologies and novel business models and markets. Fortunately, there’s momentum building for a new generation of innovative solutions.”
Mr. Gates, who admits he is an imperfect messenger, writes “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a problem as big as climate change. But you’re not powerless. And you don’t have to be a politician or a philanthropist to make a difference. You have influence as a citizen, a consumer, and an employee or employer.”
And we add that is especially so for professionals who use, develop, support, market, write about, or follow Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) enabling technologies and thus who can make a difference with their everyday work.
This latest Climate Change News Digest offers busy PLM Green Global Alliance followers in one source a compendium of news, research, and announcements about climate change from around the world. While some climate news may be equally distressing and motivating, there is increasingly more good news from recent months. A remarkable consensus and urgency is emerging from political leaders, industry associations, tech leaders, financial institutions, businesses, and communities – and not just climate scientists – that this is THE decade to reverse trends, invest, and innovate. We within the PLM Green Alliance are excited and motivated be a small part of this growing movement to help decarbonize our industries using PLM-enabling strategies and digital transformation technologies.
The featured image and quote this month is from young European climate activist Greta Thunberg who motivated this much older industry veteran, Richard McFall, to take action within my own profession by starting the PLM Green Global Alliance with European co-founder Jos Voskuil.
From a recent World Economic Forum article “The circular economy can help save the planet if we start innovating now – Transitioning to a holistic circular economic model is critical to reducing environmental degradation and prioritizing biodiversity and nature, while also delivering on future competitiveness. In a circular economy, waste is designed out, and products are instead looped back into the production system at end of use. Consequently, growth is decoupled from the consumption of scarce resources, and materials are kept within productive use for as long as possible.”
“The circular economy presents a unique market opportunity upwards of $4.5 trillion by 2030. Accelerating this transition relies on the uptake of innovative new business models and disruptive technological innovation. Alongside prioritization of new business models, which now account for roughly 30% of M&A investment according to Accenture analysis, adopting new digital, physical and biological technologies can drive new opportunities and deliver on organizations’ triple bottom line.”
From a World Circular Economy Forum + Climate press release: “The circular economy is crucial to achieving the Paris climate goals – If we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the world needs to transition to a circular economy.
A circular economy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 20 per cent and should thus be an integral part of the agreements made in the Paris Climate Agreement. The World Circular Economy Forum + Climate is the online conference to draw attention to the importance of a circular economy in reaching the climate goals.”
One of the most surprising findings from the paper was how a few industries like iron, steel and cement making are responsible for so much of the industrial sector’s GHG emissions. The paper, first printed in the journal Applied Energy, is available for downloading directly at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261920303603.
Members of the new European Green Digital Coalition (EGDC) are committing to establish science-based targets for reducing GHG by 2030 and to become climate neutral or net-zero no later than 2040. Announced by the European Commission: “The CEOs of 26 European companies have signed a Declaration to support the Green and Digital Transformation of the EU. They have formed a European Green Digital Coalition, committing on behalf of their companies to take action in the following areas:
To invest in the development and deployment of greener digital technologies & services that are more energy and material efficient,
Develop methods and tools to measure the net impact of green digital technologies on the environment and climate by joining forces with NGOs and relevant expert organisations, and
Co-create with representatives of others sectors recommendations and guidelines for green digital transformation of these sectors that benefits environment, society and economy.
The European Green Digital Coalition will help not only the tech sector to become more sustainable, circular and a zero polluter, but also to support sustainability goals of other priority sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, and construction while contributing to an innovative, inclusive and resilient society. Its members will work closely with the European Commission and others to deliver on their commitments and will report regularly on progress made. In 2022, the first available results and progress reports will be presented. 45 SMEs and startups support the European Green Digital Coalition and many will take the sustainability commitments to join in the near future.”
“Climate Action 100+, the world’s largest investor engagement initiative on climate change, has released its first-ever benchmark evaluating the corporate ambition and action of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters and other companies with significant opportunity to drive the net zero transition.
The Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark offers the first detailed, comparative assessments of individual focus company performance against the initiative’s three high-level commitment goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving governance, and strengthening climate-related financial disclosures.”
This Our World In Data article on Climate Change and Flying reports that global aviation, before the pandemic, was responsible for only 2.5% of CO2 emissions.
At first appearance that seems like a small number that may not justify all the investments in new technologies, or in reduction of travel, to have much of an impact in arresting climate change. But the challenge with decarbonizing the global economy is that most sources of GHG by industry are in the single digits!
So we have to make progress in each and every sector; no small change is too small as they will all add up.
From the World Economic Forum post on “Scientists are developing a digital twin of the Earth to fight climate change” the author Simone Ulmer writes “To become climate neutral by 2050, the European Union launched two ambitious programmes: “Green Deal” and “Digital Strategy”. As a key component of their successful implementation, climate scientists and computer scientists launched the “Destination Earth” initiative, which will start in mid-2021 and is expected to run for up to ten years. During this period, a highly accurate digital model of the Earth is to be created, a digital twin of the Earth, to map climate development and extreme events as accurately as possible in space and time.” Read the complete article HERE.