Category: Business

REVISITED: The Hidden Carbon Footprint Behind Cryptocurrency

by Suraj Gangaram

With the astronomical rise of cryptocurrency, we would like to revisit one of our earliest articles: The Hidden Carbon Footprint behind Cryptocurrency.

Due to the market meltdown in early March, the price of a cryptocurrency referred to as Bitcoin dropped by $1000 within less than a day. As a result of Bitcoin’s extensive power consumption and carbon footprint, people adhering to the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria have sparked debate over the practicality of it in today’s day and age. The presence of the coronavirus situation especially begs the question:

How are cryptocurrencies in general going to move forward?

Believe it or not, Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency which operates independently of a central bank, has a giant carbon footprint associated with producing it. The digital currency offers relative anonymity, does not charge sales tax and is free from bank and government interferences. Transactions are digitally stored as “blocks” in a chain as opposed to a traditional centralized location as in banks; the “winner” is given the right to add another block of data to the chain, and is rewarded with a new Bitcoin. Bitcoin, currently sitting at a value of around $7000, is infamous for its energy consumption, demanding a plethora of tailor-made computers to carry out its arduous mining process which requires complex mathematical computing. As part of an attempt to save on their expenditures, mining companies have relocated their computers, known as ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), to warehouses with access to cheap electricity. Currently, over 50% of all mining occurs in China’s Sichuan province, which has a superabundant capacity for hydropower. Seemingly just another financial trading tool, it consumes as much electricity as the country Chile, with nearly 19 million inhabitants. Researchers calculated that the Bitcoin network consumed 31.3 Terawatt-hours (1 TWh = 3.6*10^15 J) of electricity and 17.3 megatons (17.3 million tons of TNT) of CO2 in 2018 alone.

Companies are cognizant of the impact of crypto-currency production on climate change as it works its way into becoming the currency of the future. A Canadian company, Upstream Data, has invented a method of diminishing the amount of methane vented into the atmosphere from oil wells through utilizing the fuels as a generator for mining computers. Steve Barbour, the company’s founder, has described the venture as one of “a low capital…for an oil company.” Looking to set the path forward for ESG-minded individuals, mining companies are looking to reconfigure the processes of producing crypto-currency, before climate change demands them to do so.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/bitcoin-price-latest-cryptocurrency-coronavirus-a9386957.html

Jeff Bezos Made the Largest Charitable Donation of 2020, All Towards Climate Change

by Arun

Jeff Bezos is largely known as the leader of Amazon who revolutionized the way we go about shopping and for spurning the wave of e-commerce. Yet little know that Bezos also leads several philanthropic efforts, one being his startup Blue Origin, dedicated to “making access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles.” Most recently, Bezos revealed perhaps his most ambitious initiative, claiming the title as one of the largest contributors towards funding the fight against the climate crisis. He has led a $10 billion dollar climate fund to which he will distribute to 16 organizations. The significance of this investment is that the $10 billion Bezos is committing is 10 times as much combined as all philanthropic foundations dedicated towards efforts to combat climate change in 2018.

So far, Bezos has paid out $790 million to 16 different groups, with the number growing as Bezos continues to seek organizations to support monetarily.

On the heels of Elon Musk now becoming the richest man in the world, a trend of technological companies and leaders shifting towards fighting climate change has a strong showing. Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya supported this idea, stating in October 2019 that “the world’s first trillionaire will be made in climate change.” More recently, Palihapitiya supplemented his comment in congratulations of Musk, stating that “the world’s richest person should be somebody who’s fighting climate change.” Other tech billionaires have joined the effort, including Bill Gates, who has recently unveiled a plan revealing how US Leadership could effectively fight climate, noted in a plan that involves a $25 billion boost in spending, creating over 370,000 new jobs in the process as well.

With more joining in the fight against climate change – from current to former technology CEOS and influential members in the financial community – the future of support looks strong as many seek to fight out any way in which they can contribute. 

Image link: https://wallpapercave.com/jeff-bezos-wallpapers

Online Shopping: Bad for the Environment?

by Arun

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping as a means to buy goods has been on the rise. E-commerce sales have exploded as a result, with companies like Amazon, JD.com, Alibaba, Etsy, Shopify, and related companies reaping the benefit of the “modern” consumer spending means and habits.

This peaks on November 11th each year, as China, the world’s biggest consumer market, has the black friday equivalent overseas, called “Singles’ Day.” E-commerce giants have experienced huge sales on that day, with over $76 billion dollars in total sales with over 583,000 sales made in one single second (aljazeera.com). Yet, a consideration that is almost never thought of is the carbon footprint that comes as a result of online shopping. Online shopping has received praise over the years as being green, eco-friendly, and convenient, though recent findings may prove otherwise.

As a result of all the order, 675 million packages had to be delivered, with over 9.4 million tons of packaging, with that number expected to increase to about 41 million tons by the year 2025. A study by Greenpeace estimates that on Singles’ day, the resulting purchases generated about 52,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping in 2017. To put that into perspective with the trend of online shopping, this figure is expected to 5x by the year 2025. This brings about the concern that online shopping perhaps makes it too easy to buy products at the click of a few buttons.

China’s President Xi Jinping has recognized this issue and has been pushing these larger corporations to support more environmentally-friendly options. Some larger corporations have tried to adapt to new regulations by implementing zipper boxes and sorts of tape, though it is harder for smaller businesses as these adaptations are often more expensive than simple, common packaging.

As online shopping and package-use will inevitably increase in the future, it brings about the need for stricter regulations and more societal support for these issues. With the impact of consumer spending and the related carbon footprint set to increase over the next decade, it warrants immediate action from all ends of society to make a difference.

Image Link: https://www.monsterinsights.com/50-breathtaking-online-shopping-statistics-you-never-knew/

Bill Gates’s Plan for US Leadership to Combat Climate Change

by Arun

Bill Gates, famously known for his prominence as a big tech CEO as the co-founder of Microsoft has not seen his influence diminish since he left Microsoft’s day-to-day operations in 2008. He now dedicates his time to philanthropy, improving developing countries, and humanitarian efforts – most recently, with climate change. Gates unveiled a plan of how US Leadership could effectively fight climate, noted in a plan that involves a $25 billion boost in spending, creating over 370,000 new jobs in the process as well.

Another key note in his plan is the outline for the creation of a network of “National Institutes of Energy Innovation.” Gates writes that there should be separate institutions that focus on separate facets of the environment like carbon capture, energy storage, and renewable technology. Additionally, Gates adds that the innovation taken by these institutes, which will be located around the country, should also be prepared to be commercialized in order to see any real impact.

Gates’s involvement in fighting climate change follows the now increasing trend of technology CEOs and major corporations joining to promote environmental awareness. Jeff Bezos has been another big name in this regard, as he has led a $10 billion dollar climate fund to which he will distribute to 16 organizations. The $10 billion Bezos is committing is 10 times as much as all philanthropic foundations dedicated towards efforts to combat climate change in 2018. In suit, Microsoft said in January that it would spend $1 billion over four years “on technologies that remove planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

With industry leaders and major corporations backed by significant amounts of money, the fight towards mitigating climate change seems all the more stronger. As big money joins the effort, it brings up the importance of how all people – for-profit corporations and individuals alike – have a responsibility to participate in the fight for a better environment.

Image: https://pixelz.cc/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/bill-gates-microsoft-portrait-uhd-4k-wallpaper.jpg

Next-Gen Gaming Could Have Serious Environmental Impacts

by Arun

In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been ordered to shelter in their homes, causing them to seek other forms of entertainment. For many, this entertainment has come in the form of video games. However, with the increase in business from gaming companies comes some dangerous environmental implications in the form of e-waste. Moreover, with the release of futuristic Next-Gen hardware (highlighted by the release of Sony’s Playstation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X) that promise an unparalleled gaming experience with updated hardware, comes an even more magnified risk of environmental consequences.

Though gaming companies have made significant moves to reduce e-waste by offering free recycling and reducing their carbon footprint through manufacturing in environmentally-friendly manners, there seems to be an unrealized effect as a result of a sharp increase in gaming. According to WIRED, US gaming platforms “represent 34 terawatt-hours in energy usage, associated with carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to over 5 million cars.” Additionally, with the development of gaming ecosystems, specifically in the lines of the product vision of Microsoft, gaming hardware purchases seem to be on the rise – and could be increasingly common in US households.

The hardware that comes with these new Next-Gen consoles come with a large consumer upgrade market. With the large volume, the consoles – which consist of chips, circuit boards, and plastic – will have a large impact on the e-waste that will eventually end up in a landfill. The chips in the next-gen consoles will be smaller but will require much more energy. Additionally, with standard shipping and chemical treatments, the energy used by the consoles will be tremendous, ultimately leading to a large carbon footprint.

Though these consoles appear to have negative implications for the environment, it seems that the companies behind the product are committed to environmental sustainability. Both Microsoft and Sony have set goals to be carbon neutral and carbon negative, respectively, in the near future. This is in hopes of advancements of technology that will enable such outcomes, though there doesn’t seem to be a current solution to the problem.

Ultimately, the production and usage of next-gen consoles for the average consumer will not have a great bearing on the environment. However, like anything, these additions add up. Though as consumers, we are at the mercy of manufacturers, only time will tell whether manufacturers will be able to become carbon neutral and eliminate their impact on the environment in a way that benefits our planet and the consumer.

Image: https://www.tomsguide.com/face-off/ps5-vs-xbox-series-x

Amazon Mogul Jeff Bezos Silently Creates New Company to Fight Climate Change

by Daanyal Raja

Jeff Bezos, the current CEO of Amazon and its original founder, recently created a new company to implement his $10 billion pledge to fight climate change and global warming. The Amazon founder started Fellowship Ventures LLC, a limited liability company that applied for a trademark, with Bezos’ signature, for the “Bezos Earth Fund” in July.

Fellowship Ventures LLC is the largest and most significant philanthropic act by Bezos, who is currently the world’s richest man. However, ever since Bezos announced the pledge in mid-February, few details have been released to journalists and the public. In this case, details are extremely important, as they would answer questions ranging from over how much time Bezos will give the money to how it will be used. 

Furthermore, if Bezos does use Fellowship Ventures LLC to fulfill his pledge, transparency would be greatly limited since LLCs aren’t required to file tax documents that are available to the public. The LLC could also end up owning the “Bezos Earth Fund” name and have the donations go through a more transparent and structured method, such as a traditional philanthropic foundation.

Either way, Bezos and his team aren’t giving us any details for now. The Amazon founder did say he would begin making grants to climate change organizations and groups this summer, but we have yet to see anything. When Recode approached Amazon, the technology giant declined to comment on the Fellowship Ventures LLC. Moreover, the trademark for Fellowship Ventures was filed in Jamaica first, a tactic that is sometimes used by companies to prevent others from gaining information about their plans, according to trademark experts.

Billionaires, especially people like Jeff Bezos, who is worth almost $200 billion, have the potential to rid the world of many problems ranging from homelessness, world hunger, and climate change. Once people like Bezos donate and strive to make a progressive change that benefits us all, our planet will become a much better place. The actions of a few wealthy individuals have the ability to change the world for all of us, the least we can do is encourage them to do the right thing.

Africa’s $20 Billion Gas Investment Backed By 7 Countries

by Anshul Dash

The country of Mozambique has recently declared a project to extract, liquefy, and export gas. The project is worth $20 billion and has been backed up by seven countries: The US, Japan, The UK, Italy, The Netherlands, South Africa, and Vietnam. In addition to these countries, The African Development Bank and 19 other commercial lenders are also contributing to the project.

The project has been seen as a significant achievement from oil tycoons such as Total, a French oil major that acquired a 26.5% stake in the project last year. However, climate analysts view the project differently, stating that increased production and export of fossil fuels conflict with international climate goals. Governments are reportedly planning to extract 47% more gas by 2040 than what is being collected now. Total and other investors are planning to develop two gas fields in the Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique. They are also planning to build a plant capable of liquifying 13.1 million tons a year for export.

Residents in the area hoped jobs and investment would come along with the gas discovery. Instead, they are now facing an Islamic insurgency. This insurgency has resulted in 600 deaths since 2017, with gas workers being primary targets. Families have been evicted from their homes and land without compensation while watching well-paid jobs go to people of higher status. However, Total denies that there was any forced eviction and states that the Islamic insurgency is not related to gas development. 

A lot of attention has come from the support of the UK. The UK’s decision to back up the project has led many to realize that it is contradicting the government’s mission to be the host of the UN Climate Summit, Cop26, in November 2021. According to the business secretary and Cop26 president Alok Sharma, “[Their] aim is to ramp up ambition towards a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy.” At last month’s London Climate Action Week, Sharma requested all countries to make deeper emissions cuts by 2030 and aim for net-zero emissions. Sharma clarified his request by saying “we must… make sure that climate risk is factored into every single investment decision taken around the world.”

Joe Biden’s 2 Trillion Dollar Clean Energy Plan for the Future

by Saarang Kashyap

On Tuesday, July 14, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden proposed a $2 trillion clean energy and climate change package, a plan that would overhaul transportation, electricity, and heavy industry. Some of the action items include making the entire electricity sector 100 percent carbon-free by 2035, retrofitting four million buildings over four years, building 500,000 EV recharging stations, and funding for researching a variety of carbon capture and storage as well as advanced nuclear power technologies.

As stated in OilPrice, “The package is significantly more aggressive than the one Biden proposed earlier this year during the primary, which called for $1.7 trillion over ten years, with a goal of reaching net-zero emission by 2050.” Moreover, there is a lot of focus on environmental justice, with the introduction of an additional plan in recognition of the shift in the political landscape in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

Biden mentions that his ambitious plan will require millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy. These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities. He also affirmed that these jobs are filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers — including women and people of colorby requiring federally funded projects to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements and employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs.

There has been some opposition to this plan, mainly in the form of President Trump, who The Hill reports “mocked presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s climate plan Wednesday during a speech unveiling an environmental regulation rollback. Trump’s comments came in an Atlanta speech announcing a rollback to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), weakening a bedrock environmental law in order to speed permitting for pipelines, oil and gas drilling, highways, and other infrastructure.” As election day comes faster than ever, many will have the chance to vote in favor of or against Joe Biden’s plan. Only time will tell if his ambitious idea will be implemented.

Sydney Successfully Shifts to 100% Renewable Energy

by Nakul

Australia’s largest city, Sydney, has officially shifted to 100% renewable energy, the city announced on July 1st. 

How Did Such a Large City Implement Such a Massive Energy Plan?

Upon first glance, it may seem extremely confusing how a large city could shift to such an eco-friendly energy plan so efficiently. It is important to note, however, that Sydney has always taken steps to address the dangerous effects of climate change in the energy sector. In 2007, it went carbon neutral, and in 2011, it became the first Australian city to be certified as such. Additionally, in 2016, it announced a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. In accordance with these green initiatives, in October of 2019, the city announced an estimated $60 million deal with several Australian renewable energy companies, which it would invest in and buy energy from.. Currently, the city plans to generate its energy from 3 renewable sources: 2 large solar farms and 1 large wind farm. Bob Hayward, a representative of Shoalhaven Solar Farm, one of the companies part of the deal, explained: “Shoalhaven Solar Farm could not have become operational without the City’s investment. By partnering with this project, we’re creating local jobs and helping the renewables sector grow”. This is indeed true: amid this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, millions of jobs have been lost, and by investing in local companies and energy farms, Sydney is undoubtedly providing hundreds of jobs to the community. In fact, a recent report by CleanTechnica revealed that in Australia itself, renewable energy companies would indirectly produce 3 times as many jobs as fossil fuel companies.

Sydney Mayor Clover Moore was naturally proud of the achievement. She stated, “We are in the middle of a climate emergency. If we are to reduce emissions and grow the green power sector, all levels of government must urgently transition to renewable energy. Cities are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions.”

While Sydney is the first Australian city (and one of the world’s first cities) to completely move to renewable energy sources, it is not far fetched to think that many other cities will do the same in the future.

Major Food Companies Nestle and PepsiCo Continue to Heavily Contribute to Plastic Pollution

by Nakul, Sudhit

Recently, many reports have come out describing the ways in which global food and drink companies like PepsiCo, Nestle and Coca-Cola have contributed to climate change. They were found dumping and burning half a million tonnes of plastic in countries like China, India, Mexico, and Nigeria every year. This occurs at a very high rate as these countries lack adequate frameworks to handle such amounts of waste. 

According to The Burning Question report, the waste relates to about 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the same as about 2 million cars in the UK. Furthermore, another report done by TearFund, concluded that between half and one million people die every year in developing countries due to waste related diseases.

Naturally, these major companies that heavily contributed to plastic pollution faced heavy backlash from the general public. Expert Richard Gower of Tearfund (which published The Burning Question report) stated that governments around the world ought to “press companies to pull hard on all levers to stop plastic pollution — reducing their plastic footprint and investing in schemes to collect and recycle their plastic.” Gower also urged the public to apply “similar pressure” on violating companies by demanding immediate change. Several other non-profit organizations also protested the unjust actions of companies such as Nestle and PepsiCo through unique, effective methods – for example, Canadian non-profit organization Youth Climate Strike Canada held an online strike this past Saturday, where it raised awareness of this pollution issue mainly through social media platforms and likewise successfully encouraged others to raise awareness.

Overall, the flippant, environmentally dismissive actions performed by these several big-name companies is definitely alarming. The fact that these organizations have continually polluted the Earth without restriction is definitely a major issue that heavily contributes to the current climate crisis. By conducting investigative research such as Tearfund to inform the public of the hazards posed by such massive pollution along with raising awareness of the many issues regarding climate change, we, as citizens, can take important steps towards gradually mitigating the current climate crisis.