By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR
ClimateWeek NYC (#CWNYC) is about to start. One of our favorite weeks of the year; a whirlwind of more than 50 events that discuss how to shape a smarter, better and more prosperous world – and the role technology plays to reduce climate change. Starting with the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013, New York City will become a global stage for representatives from business, politics and NGOs to call for a Clean Revolution.
New Yorkers experienced the hard reality of climate change when Hurricane Sandy hit the city – among other Northeastern coastal areas – last year. As part of the city’s sustainability planning, Mayor Bloomberg created the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) to address how to create a more resilient New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with a long-term focus on preparing for and protecting against the impacts of climate change. The city is also building out the clean tech industry sector to help address climate change challenge while creating jobs. Opened in 2009, The New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE) helps clean technology and renewable energy companies in New York City grow.
Climate change solutions are needed rather sooner than later.
A PwC study concluded that global carbon emissions from energy use in a “business as usual” scenario would more than double by 2050 – whereas what is required to reduce the risks of adverse climate change to acceptable levels in fact is a reduction in global carbon emissions, to only around half of current levels by that date.
This also has an impact on our water supply. According to a study by the Interaction Council of former leaders from 2012, about 3,800 cubic km (910 cubic miles) of fresh water is taken from rivers and lakes every year. With about 1 billion more mouths to feed worldwide by 2025, global agriculture alone will require another 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of water per year. This means, by 2025, the world needs to find the equivalent of the flow of 20 Nile rivers to grow enough food to feed a rising population and help avoid conflicts over water scarcity. The greatest growth in demand for water will be in China, the United States and India due to population growth, increasing irrigation and economic growth. By 2030, the demand for water in India and China, the most populous nations on earth, will exceed their current supplies.
Technology innovation can help to preserve and recycle resources, such as energy and water.
Let’s take a look at biogas and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants are an opportunity to create biogas, a renewable fuel, which can be used in place of natural gas in boilers and engines to produce heat and electricity in combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic, biodegradable materials – in anaerobic digesters at wastewater plants, landfills, lagoons, and natural areas such as swamps and bogs. Since the Clean Water Act was issued in 1972, there are now more than 16,000 publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants in operation in the United States, according to the Water Environment Federation (WEF). 16,000 opportunities to create biogas while recycling wastewater.
Sponsored by WEF, the site Biogasdata org, presents comprehensive data based on surveys among wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the United States. The site surveyed approximately 1,200 U.S. wastewater treatment plants WWTPs that are currently operating anaerobic digesters. Based on the site’s report, the generation of biogas by WWTPs is underdeveloped. Only about 270 WWTPs generate electricity from biogas. Of the U.S. WWPTs using biogas, only 74 deliver electricity to the grid. Nearly two-thirds of the 3,200 major WWTPs in the U. S. do not send solids to anaerobic digestion and produce biogas. According to the data, one-third of the treatment facilities that produce biogas do not put it to use for energy.
Literally, a wasted opportunity. Biogas is just one of many ways to find solutions for climate change.
To take part in the discussion, attend ClimateWeek NYC program. Meet you there.