The Clean Tech News
From food to tech, coronavirus to spur urban planning rethink

COVID-19 could prompt new approach to urban design in Asia-Pacific region, home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities

The coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the planet will force city authorities and planners to more seriously consider factors such as population density, technology, food security and inadequate housing, urban experts said.

As of Wednesday morning the outbreak, termed COVID-19, had infected about 200,000 people worldwide and killed roughly 8,000, according to a global tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

In response, countries have tightened border controls, imposed travel bans, locked down cities and stepped up surveillance using technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

“It is likely that COVID-19 will prompt a rethink of urban design and planning in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Tony Matthews, a senior lecturer in urban and environmental planning at Australia’s Griffith University.

“There will probably be consideration of desirable population density levels, a greater utilisation of apps and smart data to track health trends, and many cities will probably start to think about their food security more closely,” he said.

Countries including China, South Korea and Singapore are using robots, drones and big data to track the outbreak, disinfect hospitals and deliver supplies.

Such technologies may become a fixture in cities to flag potential problems for quicker response, said Matthews.

Authorities are also likely to more closely monitor vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever that are shifting due to climate change, and impose limits on the types and numbers of live animals in traditional markets, he said.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic diseases – meaning they are passed from animals to humans – and the rapid pace of deforestation and urbanisation are major factors in the spread of these diseases in Asia, health experts say.

Authorities in China said they would tighten supervision of traditional markets in the cities.


This would not be the first time that an epidemic has led to changes in city planning, research shows.

The cholera outbreaks of the 1830s led to better sanitation in London and elsewhere, while the tuberculosis epidemic in New York in the early 20th century paved the way for improved public transit systems and housing regulations.

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, which hit cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, led Singapore to upgrade its medical infrastructure and create systems to map the disease.

“Historically, epidemics have acted as catalysts in transforming how diseases are handled, especially in urban areas,” said Annie Wilkinson, a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, a UK-based think tank.

“Community engagement is key to effective epidemic control, be it delivering trusted messages, carrying out surveillance, or limiting movement,” she said.

In Singapore, which has among the fastest ageing populations in the world, engaging with older people was key as the coronavirus has a higher mortality rate among seniors.

Singapore’s ministry of health worked with community partners to ensure that essential services such as home-based care and transportation continued to reach seniors, a spokeswoman for the ministry said.

More than 500 volunteers aim to visit about 27,000 seniors to keep them updated on the outbreak and address concerns, she said. Other service providers delivered meals and offered counselling.

Such decentralisation of services may become more common in cities, said Creighton Connolly, a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln in England.

“Decentralisation of services and reducing density are ways to combat disease spread, though this is contrary to sustainable transport and climate-change related goals,” he said.

“Also, very dense cities like Hong Kong and Singapore have contained the virus better than largely rural areas like Lombardy and Veneto in Italy. Ultimately, governance dimensions are more important than planning or design approaches,” he said.


More than two-thirds of the global population is forecast to live in urban areas by 2050 – up from 56% today, according to the United Nations.

With cities battling worsening climate-change effects, planners also have to balance competing demands for land.

China hurriedly built 16 makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic, to handle the load.

In Hong Kong, some public housing blocks were requisitioned for quarantine facilities, while in Italy authorities in Genoa are converting a ferry to a hospital boat.

“Planners may consider leaving small parcels of strategic urban land available, in case temporary medical facilities or housing need to be set up,” said Matthews.

Alongside, authorities will also need to consider the issue of food security amidst lockdowns and closed borders, he said.

“Food security is a huge issue because cities don’t tend to produce their food,” he said.

Singapore, which imports more than 90% of its food, is encouraging more local production, for example.

Some cities may create stockpiles, while others may try to produce more food locally through urban farming or through intensive growing facilities using hydroponics, Matthews said.

“But the bottom line is most cities rely on global supply lines for food and are therefore vulnerable to disruptions.”

Perhaps more importantly, planners will have to consider the impact of widening wealth inequality, with millions of homeless people and those living in slums at greater risk of contracting disease, said Wilkinson.

“Achieving longer-term changes in urban planning will depend on improving the way we see, understand and address health and living conditions in informal settlements,” she said.

“For many people living on the margins, crisis is already the norm and change is overdue.”

Bhutan: The Only Carbon Negative Country in the World

By removing more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits, Bhutan is the only carbon negative country on Earth, annually absorbing over six million tons of carbon dioxide and only producing around 1.6 million tons.
The new government of Bhutan, constituted in 2008, made sustainability its main priority. Nedup Tshering, Member Secretary of leading sustainability charity Clean Bhutan Organisation, said: “Bhutan’s carbon negative status is due to the government’s strict sustainability policies.”

“Bhutan has shown other countries that it is possible to incorporate sustainability in development initiatives.”

Matt Finch, Analyst at UK-based Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, presses the importance of a top-down, governmental approach to carbon neutrality, suggesting, “leadership is all about deciding what to do and doing it, and the leadership of Bhutan have decided they’re going to remain carbon negative … and they’re sticking to their guns.”

As a developing South Asian country situated in the Himalayas, landlocked between India and China, it is a prime example of how sustainable techniques aid developing countries.

The Bhutan government uses the Gross National Happiness Index rather than Gross Domestic Product Index to measure economic growth. This model enables the Bhutan government to effectively balance economic growth with environmental sustainability.

In Bhutan, the distinctive culture and green environment is not compromised for economic growth. Environmental protection is written into Bhutan’s constitution, which states that indefinitely a minimum of 60% of Bhutan’s land will remain forested.

Notably, the banning of logging made the final push allowing Bhutan to become carbon negative. With 72% of Bhutan is covered in trees, Bhutan has become a carbon sink primarily due to forestation. The significance of such a huge forested landmass, meaning that even though Bhutan’s CO2 emissions could double by 2040, Bhutan can remain carbon negative if minimum 60% forest cover is maintained.

In order to maintain the success of their carbon negativity, every year, the government of Bhutan re-evaluates hunting and poaching in the country to conserve parks. The government also sets aside a budget to help communities living near parks or heavily forested areas to manage natural resources.

Moreover, the country’s significant production of hydroelectricity helps to cancel out millions of tons of carbon dioxide. The hydroelectricity generated by Bhutan’s free-flowing rivers is utilised throughout Bhutan over fossil fuels. Rural farmers are provided with free hydroelectricity to reduce their dependence on wood stoves for cooking and boiling water. Producing substantial amounts of hydroelectricity from its rivers, this renewable energy is also exported to India.

In 2020, Bhutan is on track with the objective of exporting enough electricity to offset 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. According to Clean Bhutan, the Bhutan government has set the initiative to reach zero net greenhouse gas admission and to produce zero waste. Part of this initiative includes expanding its renewable energy usage and production by developing other sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind and biogas power.

Finally, car brand Nissan has partnered with Bhutan and offers electric cars to citizens, as the Bhutan government intends to eventually change all vehicles to electric.

Setting an example for the rest of the Earth, CleanTech News admires Bhutan’s pursuit of sustainability integrated throughout the nation.

Cycling to a Lower-Carbon Future

As cars stay on the drive during the quarantine, bicycle use has risen.
A staggering percentage of the overall emissions in the UK comes from vehicles. Yet due to the quarantine, fewer people are travelling by car and those that are, are only moving locally. As a result, emissions from across Europe have fallen by over 45%.

At the beginning of quarantine, Britons were encouraged to spend an hour a day exercising and owing to the warm weather, cycling became a popular choice. On a single day in April, 39,889 trips were taken on the public Santander Cycles.

In 2010, the Santander Cycle scheme was introduced and now runs in London, Swansea and Milton Keynes. Also known as “Boris Bikes”, the programme was popularised by the then-Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which he called “A howling success”, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman.

It allows people to rent a bicycle, from any of the self-serving bike stands around their city, for a set amount of time, before returning it to an available bicycle stand, for the next user.

On the 12th May, Boris Johnson, now the UK Prime Minister, released an update for the public on life under lockdown, which approved unlimited time for outdoor and socially distanced exercise.

Cycle paths have been crowded, as friends catch up, social-distance and exercise at the same time.

Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government was doing more to make cycling safer and more accessible, for commuters who cycle every day and for those simply wishing to exercise.

In February, the Government approved £5bn, for expanding cycling infrastructure across the UK over the next five years. In addition to this, the Department for Transport (DfT) plans to offer more children places in cycling proficiency lessons, which will ensure that the next generation of cyclist commuters get an early start.

The Prime Minister’s update also included the advice that those who could return to work, should do so: “Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t.”

However, commuters were warned to continue self-isolating as they travel to and from work, which risks transporting COVID-19 from family members to colleagues: “Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport.”

This could mean the use of single-occupant cars could rise, along with carbon emissions, or, cyclists will continue to rule the streets and carbon emissions will remain in a nosedive.

Yet, in February, Boris Johnson, encouraged other countries to join the UK and work towards reaching net zero carbon emissions, by 2050.

It is hoped that as the UK emerges from quarantine and formerly locked-in employees can return to work, the cycling trend will continue to grow for those who commute and carbon emissions will remain lower than they were previously.

Denmark Blazing the Trail with “Energy Islands”

In the week following Denmark’s announcement that Parliament has passed a new Climate Act, enshrining in law a 70% emission reduction target by 2030, Parliament has also concluded a landmark agreement to create “Energy Islands”.
The Climate Act
A report by the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities noted that a new Climate Act has passed through the Danish Parliament, with 8 out of the 10 parties supporting the proposal. By creating a new framework for Danish climate policy, the Scandinavian country is set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% compared to 1990 by 2030, beating the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

With the new Race to Zero campaign set to encourage countries to meet their targets, which has proved challenging in the past, Denmark is taking the lead in the progress towards a cleaner future.

The legislation will establish an impressive mechanism that integrates a 5-year cycle designed to ensure early action and establish ambitious reduction targets. These legally binding targets, enshrined in the countries law, are facilitating Denmark’s leadership towards emissions reduction.

Leading by example
Alongside this new framework, Denmark is pursuing its annual Climate Action Plan, which requires emission reduction within all sectors from agriculture to transportation. The government’s upcoming 2020 Climate Action Plan will additionally be setting an indicative milestone target for 2025.

“It is our aspiration to lead the way by example and hopefully inspire others around the world to follow. The Act is also a testament to the crucial role of the public at large in the momentous transformation to a sustainable society. Even though the law was passed today with a huge political majority, we really couldn’t have done this without the broad and passionate support among ordinary Danes, and of course civil society that helped set things in motion,” says the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen.

Energy Islands
Yesterday, the latest development in Denmark’s mission towards net zero came as the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities published another report that detailed the coalition of 171 of 179 members of the Danish Parliament “concluding a landmark climate agreement”.

The agreement will, most importantly, quadruple their offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 through creating ‘energy islands’ which will act as hubs connecting windfarms. These new energy islands are set to meet the energy demand of 7.7m European households.

Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Mr. Dan Jørgensen said:

“By creating the world’s first two energy islands and by investing in sustainable fuels, we are making a crucial contribution to the international fight against climate change. I hope that this agreement will show other nations that climate action and economic recovery goes hand-in-hand. I am thrilled that we have concluded this agreement and would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the parties behind it.”

In addition, this new agreement will improve investments in the development of carbon capture technology and sustainable e-fuels. It also sets out to transform the heating sector through lowering taxes on renewables, in addition to providing funding for EV charging stations and includes plans to decarbonise the industrial sector through energy efficiency measures and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Minister for Finance, Mr. Nicolai Wammen stated:

“By concluding this agreement, Denmark has proved itself to be a global leader in the green energy transition. Moreover, it paves the way for a green economic recovery by funding some of the greatest infrastructure investments on record. By creating the world’s first energy islands, we are now entering a new era of renewable energy production.

Concurrently we will invest in sustainable fuels, a sustainable heating sector and help decarbonize the industrial sector. I am extremely proud that we have managed to conclude a broad-based agreement that not only moves Denmark closer to reaching our national climate goal, but also creates numerous jobs in the years to come.”

Jamaica becomes first Caribbean nation to submit robust climate plan ahead of COP26

Jamaica has become the first Caribbean nation to commit to a tougher climate action plan under the Paris Agreement, adding targets for forestry and tightening restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from energy.
With the threat of COVID-19 still dominating the vast majority of global policy discussions, Jamaica has become the 11th nation to bring climate emergency back onto its national agenda.

Marking five years since the 2015 Paris Agreement, Jamaica submitted an updated plan to address climate change on the 1st of July. Known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC), these new goals are moving towards an economy-wide target by placing increased emphasis on land use change and forestry emissions, while committing to larger emission reductions in the energy sector.

Jamaica’s new NDC is more ambitious than its previous one,” the Jamaican government stated in a submission to the United Nations, referring to increases in both sector reach, and stricter energy sector emissions.

Although, unlike its predecessor, this new NDC did not project Jamaica’s total emissions in 2030, the plan promised to reduce emissions in land use change and forestry by 25.4% below “business as usual” (BAU) levels and by a further 28.5% with international support.

According to the IISD, new baselines mean the estimated BAU in 2030 in terms of emissions are 8.2 MtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), far below the 14.5MtCO2e estimated in Jamaica’s first NDC.

Creating community projects
Alongside emissions targets, the NDC also proposed community-based projects aiming to encourage climate resilience. These included agricultural projects focusing on supporting the precarious fisheries sector, and integrated watershed management to preserve biodiversity and prevent ecosystem loss.

Accomplished through a variety of sustainable agriculture policies, initial estimates suggest that the project could yield substantial emission reductions of more than 550,000 tCO2e during its four-year duration.

Meanwhile, through banning single use plastics bags and straws, and an integrated waste management PPP(public-private partnership), Jamaica’s emissions from waste are also hoped to decrease substantially.

Acknowledging the risks facing the island nation due to climate change, the plan also emphasised future sea level rise, increased hurricane intensity, and drought as key areas of address, bringing crucial attention to the vulnerabilities of developing islands states.

Plans met with praise
Praised by Alok Sharma, President of the Cop26 talks and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in a recent tweet, international attitude towards Jamaica’s commitment has been overwhelmingly positive.

[It is] fantastic to see Jamaica’s NDC showing greater climate ambition and scope during these difficult times. We ask all countries to publish their own ambitious NDCs as soon as possible.”

Sharma said
However, Jamaica’s efforts alone are not enough. The World Resources Institute think-tank estimates that the 11 NDCs submitted who have submitted NDCs so far account for just 2.9% of global emissions.

Despite playing host to COP26 next year, the UK itself is amongst those who have yet to update their NDP, potentially at risk for missing the UN’s 2020 deadline to do so.

However, according to Climate Change News, a spokesperson has said the government was committed to bringing forward a plan “well ahead of Cop26”.

Europe is taking the lead on a greener, cleaner future

With the EU’s New Green Deal, the ECB ‘exploring every avenue’ in the fight against climate change, Macrons €15bn pledge to tackle the climate crisis, and a €175bn green revolution for Scotland, Europe is taking the climate crisis seriously.

Following several blows to the climate and cleantech community, namely and most obviously the year-long postponement of COP26, the community is bouncing back and Europe is taking the lead. Set to have been held in Glasgow in November 2020, COP26 aims to encourage geopolitical solutions to challenging climate change.

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, battling the climate crisis appears to have a new global urgency. This has coincided with the realisation of the social and economic benefits that come with the implementation of cleantech and a focus on sustainability.

Within the past few weeks, a number of key developments across Europe have cemented the reality of a cleaner future.

  1. EU Green Deal
    Introduced in late 2019 by the European Commission, the European Green Deal “resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges”. Pressing its importance, the European Commission described the climate crisis as “this generation’s defining task”.

“Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent,” the Deal aims to transform the EU into “a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy”. They will achieve this by having no net GHG emissions by 2050, decoupling economic growth from resource use, and by leaving no person or place behind.

By proposing a European Climate Law back in March, the EU is admirably attempting to convert political commitment to the climate into a legal obligation and incentive for investment.

Throughout 2020, the Commission has been introducing investment plans, industrial strategies, and an action plan for the circular economy. Most recently, in early July, the Commission introduced EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen. This development aims to set the precedent for a decarbonised, efficient and connected energy sector.

  1. European Central Bank fighting climate change
    Last week, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), announced a new €2.8tn asset purchase scheme with the intention to pursue green objectives. By also promising to re-evaluate operations to integrate changes to aid the fight against climate change, Europe appears to be setting the precedent for achieving a cleaner future.

An interview with Lagarde by the Financial Times implied the deployment of the asset purchase scheme alongside green policy objectives. Already a member of the Network for Greening the Financial System(NGFS), such developments would make the ECB the first central bank to integrate green objectives into its program.

Lagarde said, “I want to explore every avenue available in order to combat climate change”.

“Through our strategy review, we will determine where and how the issue of climate change and the fight against climate change can actually have an impact on our policies,” she went on to suggest.

  1. Macron’s pledge to tackle the climate crisis
    Good news came for the cleantech community at the end of last month as French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced the €15bn pledge to tackle climate change.

The measures come following a ‘green wave’ in local elections. These new measures are planned to make serious changes over the next two years; one of which being a referendum on whether to introduce “ecocide”, or the criminalisation of harming the environment.

Macron diplomatically accepted all but 3 recommendations out of the 149 put forwards by the French Citizen’s Commission for the Climate. Part of a new democratic experiment, the Commission was asked to define the government’s environmental policy, with the overarching intention to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 – ahead of the Paris Accord’s goals.

  1. Building back better across the UK
    Alongside UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s commitment to green recovery post-COVID through “build[ing] back and build[ing] back greener,” it appears that Europe has got a fever for taking serious steps in sustainable and clean development.

Not only this, but the potential for a £175bn green revolution across Scotland will facilitate economic recovery. This green revolution will create 100,000 jobs and pay for itself, according to think tank Common Weal.

Across Europe, huge leaps are being made to seriously halt climate change despite the postponement of COP26. With the reduction of GHG emissions and overtaking the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, Europe really is taking climate change seriously and striving for a cleaner future.

Sydney is now powered by 100% renewable energy

Australia is set to meet emission goals 6 years ahead of schedule
At COP21 in 2015 more than 700 city leaders from all over the world gathered, pledging their commitment towards a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 under the Paris Agreement.

According to the C40 Group, 70% of the world’s global emissions are a product of cities. By 2017, 102 cities have reported at least 70% of their energy generation from renewable sources.

Fast forward to today, Sydney recently entered the growing list of cities that now run on 100% renewable energy. This transition to green energy was made possible via a green power agreement with Australia-based energy retailer, Flow Power.

Sydney has been actively involved in combating climate change, announcing plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% since 2016. With the latest power purchase agreement with Flow Power, emission goals are projected to be met 6 years ahead of schedule.

It will also generate job opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities – a welcomed decision in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

How does the energy deal operate?
Sydney is now powered by 100% renewable energy – CleanTech News
Source: Flow Power’s energy deal
As part of the deal, the equivalent of the city’s electricity consumption will be purchased by Flow Power and added to the national grid for the next 10 years, ensuring price certainty amidst volatile energy market conditions.

An estimated 75% of the power generation in Sydney will be generated by wind, with the remaining portion accounted for by solar power. The sources of power mainly originating from 3 locations within New South Wales – the Bomen Solar Farm, Shoalhaven Solar Farm, and Sapphire Wind Farm.

Boasting a power capacity of 270 MW and power generated by 75 wind turbines, the Sapphire Wind Farm situated near Inverell is the largest in New South Wales, allowing it to provide Sydney with three-quarters of its energy needs.

It is also particularly worth noting that, in a move to facilitate the growth of New South Wales’ renewable sector, the Shoalhaven Solar Farm has been developed in collaboration with Repower Shoalhaven – a non-profit community enterprise which utilises the farm to power houses, and reduces energy bills for locals within the region.

The entirety of Sydney’s operations – including public amenities and buildings such as streetlights, sports facilities, and even the iconic Sydney Town Hall – will now be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, sourced from the 3 local solar and wind farms.

A Carbon Neutral future for Australia
Certified carbon neutral in 2011, the city of Sydney had since been the forefront of sustainability and green energy in Australia. The city’s sustainability efforts were also recognised by environmental non-profit, CDP in 2019, which includes emission reduction initiatives and climate policies targeting extreme climate events.

As more individuals and establishments generate solar power for themselves via rooftop panels, Australia will soon transit into a mutual energy ecosystem that involves the simultaneous buying and selling of electricity by users. In fact, households in Sydney have already begun selling excess solar power back to the national grid.

With sustainability efforts bolstered by Sydney’s inclusion of regional community-based schemes, building a sustainable and decarbonised future while generating employment and supporting regional investment will now be possible for the nation with many following suit in the immediate future.

Disaster averted: Biden’s climate policy promises to return the US to the Paris Agreement

Adopting a “Build Back Better” agenda, which includes a new infrastructure and clean energy plan, Presidential candidate and previous Vice President, Joe Biden, is planning for “a clean energy revolution and environmental justice”.
With the reality of Joe Biden becoming the next President of the US edging closer, the US is on track to prioritise the climate battle. This comes after the release of Biden’s double-digit lead in approval polls.

Home to Silicon Valley, the tech hub of the globe, addressing the climate emergency, integrating clean energy and taking sustainable action should be at the top of any US politician’s to-do list.

But with a modern economy dependent on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels still dominating the growing renewable energy market, the solution is not simple. As recently as 2018, fossil fuels fed around 80% of the nation’s energy demand – down only 4% in a decade.

Current position
On 4 November 2019, the US was put at odds with the rest of the world. As the second-largest emitter of GHG globally, the Trump Administration informed the United Nations of their withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Himself sceptical of the climate crisis’ existence, Trump’s federal government took steps back on the US’ federal climate policy. Trump also expressed intentions to revive the coal industry and weaken the Clean Power Plan through the EPA.

Although there is hope. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2019 Green New Deal resolution proposes what the US needs to do to battle the impending climate crisis. The deal also outlines what needs to be done to protect the people.

Necessitating immediate change, there is a cost. With a fossil fuel dependent economy, this rapid change will affect employment and will cause economy uncertainty initially. Making adequate modifications in the US to support the changes necessary to fight the climate crisis requires a total overhaul of the economic system. Yet, despite short-term challenges, the long-term benefits are non-negotiable.

A hope for cleantech
Although different from AOC’s Green New Deal, Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda represents his own version of the deal. It similarly reframes climate action as a stimulus for jobs, infrastructure and clean energy.

Last Tuesday, in a campaign speech, Biden radically and ambitiously revealed his plans for a $2tn investment in climate action over his four-year term. He intends to directly take the legislation to Capitol Hill for direct action.

Combining post-COVID recovery, and social equality with his investment plans, Biden also proposed new performance standards including a clean electricity standard.

Biden’s climate policy
According to Biden’s campaign site: “As president, Biden will lead the world to address the climate emergency and lead through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050”.

The site additionally outlines “The Biden Plan” for a clean energy revolution and environmental justice as such:

Ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050 – immediately sign executive orders to set the US on track and enact multiple legislations in his first year.
Build a stronger, more resilient nation – rebuilding the nations with infrastructure investments and secure buildings, water, transportation and energy infrastructures that can endure the impacts of climate change.
Rally the rest of the world to meet the threat of climate change – stand with allies, stand up to adversaries and level with world leaders, whilst additionally recommitting the US to the Paris Agreement.
Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of colour and low-income communities – provide support to vulnerable communities, with an inclusive community-driven process.
Fulfil our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth.
With the 2020 election looming, hope for a cleaner future additionally looms with the prospect of Joe Biden’s election.

A note from CleanTech News: although we praise Joe Biden’s climate policy, this is not an endorsement of his political candidacy.

Plastic free in paradise: Costa Rica has a plan

Costa Rica is set to become the first country to shed its reliance on plastic and move towards sustainable solutions.
Home to majestic Scarlet Macaws, multiple active volcanos and 100% Arabica coffee, Costa Rica is planning to kick plastic out for good.

The Costa Rican government is to ban single-use plastics, such as straws, bags, cups and of course, plastic bottles, in an attempt to protect marine wildlife.

A long, green journey
But Costa Rica was not always so green; in the 1940s deforestation was a serious business. It destroyed up to two-thirds of the wild by the 1980s. Logs were sold and parts of the vacant land was used for agriculture.

By 1996, The National Forestry Fund had highlighted how useful the natural forests of Costa Rica were in capturing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. As well as the forests protecting unique species of animals and flora, the fund demonstrated how they needed to be protected.

Log cutting wound down and landowners were offered financial rewards to protect their land and encourage reforestation.

Planet-friendly decisions have had a positive effect on tourism. Over a million tourists visit Costa Rica each year and according to the Embassy, “80% of all visitors to the country come to do eco-tourism related activities”.

The country has taken the initiative seriously and from 2015, 98.53% of the electricity used in Costa Rica came from renewable energy – solar, wind and hydropower.

Costa Rica is in good company. Neighbouring Nicaragua refused to sign the Paris climate change agreement until 2017, claiming that the stipulations of the document did not go far enough in preventing a climate catastrophe.

Sustainable startups
Besides the action taken by the Costa Rican government, businesses are also working to do their bit to bring down carbon dioxide levels.

Green Cloud
The Green Cloud platform works to help sectors reach carbon neutrality.

It prioritises the Paris Climate Change Agreement as the pedestal for all companies to reach. The company also seeks to help others make the necessary changes in their business to meet this global goal.

Green cloud has a global approach to decarbonisation, with clients not just in Costa Rica, but across 16 countries – and it’s growing.


Materiales Ambientales, Ecologicos
Sustainable building materials mill, Materiales Ambientales Ecologicos (M.A.E), works to “be a leader in finding sustainable solutions in a competitive market”.

The startup promotes the use of bamboo as a building material, due to its “abundant, light weight [and] strong” properties.

Costa Rica has the widest range of bamboo in Central America, with different lengths and widths, giving the plant a lot of possibilities Bamboo is a grass which can be harvested every 3-5 years in Costa Rica.

Through policy and innovative start-ups, Costa Rica hopes to show the world that a plastic-free world is possible.