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Sustainability is a vast and complex topic. Equipping new sustainable leaders with know-how as well as connecting you with experts and peers will help to drive the sustainability journey of the business community.

 

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CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Climate Facts
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Our World in Data

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60 mins

Highlights: According to the IPCC, almost all of the warming since 1850 can be attributed to human emissions. “Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. ... Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.“ In fact, in some regions, warming was much greater than the global average. Do you know that land areas change temperature, both warming and cooling much more than oceanic areas? In this article you will see that global average temperatures over land have increased around twice as much as the ocean. Since the Northern Hemisphere has more land mass, this also means that the change in average temperature north of the equator has been higher than the south. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 continue to rise - As there is ‘lag’ between atmospheric concentrations and final temperature rise – so even when we manage to stabilise atmospheric concentrations, temperatures will continue to rise slowly for years to decades. Therefore, it’s not only the level of change CO2 in the atmosphere that matters, but also the rate at which this has changed. In this article, you can see that for the first time in over 800,000 years, concentrations did not only rise above 300ppm but are now well over 400ppm. The article's writers argue that global emissions have not yet peaked. To stabilise (or even reduce) concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, the world - we - needs to reach net-zero emissions. This requires large and fast reductions in emissions. In addition to recapping the science of emissions, the article also looks at greenhouse gas emission and warming scenarios as well as the sources of emissions.

WHAT ARE THE CARBON OPPORTUNITY COSTS OF OUR FOOD?

Food Related
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Our World in Data

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60 mins

Highlights: If you are interested in the economic concept of opportunity, you might find this article from Our World in Data an interesting read. Author Hannah Ritchie helps us look at food-related carbon emissions not only in absolute terms, but also in the context of the opportunity cost of agricultural lands, i.e. if we were not using the lands to grow animals or food, but for the forests and the wild grasslands which would allow wildlife to flourish and store our CO2. She discusses how much carbon different diets (vegan, flexitarian, lancet for example) could save and store. Not surprisingly, when we consider the opportunity cost of the land used to grow the animals, the difference between meat and dairy products as well as vegetables or plant-based products is significantly higher through the lens of the opportunity cost. “Producing one kilogram of beef can have total carbon costs at least ten times higher than protein-rich alternatives such as tofu or tempeh. In extreme cases, where beef and lamb are produced at low intensities – such as in Brazil – the opportunity costs of agricultural land are huge. Total carbon costs can be as much as 100 times higher than the alternatives.” In theory, everyone becoming a vegan will deliver the largest carbon savings, but that is understandably not possible. Many people also reject the idea of changing their diets because they love eating meat. The article shows that in fact even just cutting out beef and dairy can deliver a significant reduction. It offers some useful data points to have an informed conversation with those refusing to change, especially if they have made their decision based on a misunderstanding. It is important for more people to understand that we don’t have to become a 100% vegan in order to help to reduce food-related emissions.

EXAMPLE: A CARBON- NEUTRAL DUTCH EGG FARM

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Financial Times

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60 mins

The short clip is a very interesting visit to a Dutch carbon-neutral egg farm. It shows some creative ideas the farm owner has adopted to achieve the carbon neutral ambition. More encouragingly, these measures also improve the overall profitability of the farm.

Sector by sector: 
where do global greenhouse gas emissions come from?

Climate Facts
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Our World in Data

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60 mins

Highlights: This takes you to one of the most famous and well used charts in the climate crisis discussion. The author, Dr Hannah Ritchie, uses the chart to show the breakdown of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. This was the latest breakdown of global emissions by sector, published by Climate Watch and the World Resources Institute. At a macro level, this also helps us prioritise decarbonisation efforts and investments.

CAN WE AVOID CARBON- RELATED FOOD SHOCKS?

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Financial Times

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60 mins

Highlights: The clip here gives a helpful overview of the Global Report on Food Crises published by the Global Network Against Food Crises and Food Security Information Network. Camilla Hodgson of the Financial Times reports that the Global Report on Food Crises by the UN says climate-related shocks such as extreme weather events will become more common and severe and could further upend food supply chains. The crisis was made worse by the Russia-Ukraine war, which sent both wheat and fertiliser prices to their highest levels in years. Hodgson also highlights the report’s conclusions that weather-related extreme events are contributing to food crises, affecting supply chain stability, driving up prices of critical items such as food, and hindering international development. The 2-minute clip also gives specific examples on how extreme weather events drove up prices of food items. Other factors such as energy shortages also add pressure the crisis, for example making it harder or more expensive to store the food for longer at the right temperature.