🌱 The Grumpy Optimists #87
ChatIPCC: how scientists are using AI to make climate data easier to understand
Happy Monday. 👋
Welcome back to another week of The Grumpy Optimists and your positive climate update.
This week we’re looking at the UK’s new proposals for net zero, how a group of climate scientists are using AI to make climate science easier to understand and how to make heat pumps more desirable. Enjoy your week and if you’re in the UK, enjoy the glorious weather.
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👀 Articles to read
💬 Hey ChatClimate, how do we limit temperatures below 1.5°C? A new research project called ChatClimate, built on OpenAI’s GTP-4 is creating ‘chatIPCC’, a conversational AI for climate data. The researchers plan to make climate science conversational, accelerating climate research with the hope to make it easier to understand complex climate science. For those of you who haven’t used ChatGPT yet, where have you been? Even my parents are using it for recipes and work. The opportunity to use AI is quickly becoming an incredible tool that can have major benefits for tackling climate change, vastly outweighing any increase in energy usage from servers. You can follow the updates on the researchers’ website here.
⚖️ In-depth review of the UK’s climate commitments. The brilliant Carbon Brief has put together an in-depth review of the UK’s recent ‘green day’ documents, a total of 44 with over 2,840 pages. The key outcome is that the government will still fall short of its carbon goals for 2033-37. There’s a lot to take in, but the review breaks down the commitments into different industries and is well worth a look. A piece of good news to take out of it? The UK government is launching a call for evidence on how companies can report their scope 3 emissions, which typically account for between 80-99% of a company’s total footprint.
🤔 Climate impact in numbers. As I scrolled LinkedIn this weekend looking for the best climate stories to bring to you, I came across a great post by Olga Khroustaleva of Google, who shared an important message about the Willow oil project and our ability to scale direct air capture.
For context, 1,000 tons, the amount that a direct air capture (DAC) plant can absorb in a year is just 0.001 megatons. 70,000,000,000 tons is the amount of new oil and gas projects that are set to be approved between 2022 and 2025. That will take the DAC plant 70,000,000 years to sequester. DAC has a role, but it’s pretty clear that the only way to limit warming is to stop producing emissions in the first place. Not optimistic, but important.
⛽ How fuel duty freezes in the UK have increased emissions by up to 7%. New research by Carbon Brief has found that cuts and freezes to fuel duty have resulted in an additional 21m tonnes of emissions, 24% higher than they would have been without the freezes.
💭 Why it matters. This is a great example of how relatively small areas of government policy can affect how we respond to climate change. In the UK we have essentially been prioritising private vehicles over public transport. It’s also important to recognise that cutting or freezing fuel duty is an easy win at the polls, people notice if their petrol prices go up faster than most things… (to finish).
🚆 Public transport could give the UK economy a £50bn annual boost. A new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that investment in public transport could help unlock a £50bn yearly boost to the economy by investing an additional £18bn. The report emphasises the opportunity for a shift away from cars to cut emissions and create a transport infrastructure people can rely on, that pays fair wages and creates over 100,000 jobs. Wouldn’t that be nice?
🚜 The power of regenerative farming. New research has suggested that regenerative agriculture not only helps improve soil health but leads to higher nutrient levels in food.
🔥 Do heat pumps need a rebrand? Heat pumps are one the best tools we have to reduce our reliance on natural gas for heating, they’re incredibly efficient, becoming easier to install and coming down in price, but not everybody knows about them or has thought about getting one installed, so how do we create greater adoption? This article by Bloomberg Green proposes making we need to give heat pumps a rebrand, emphasising the cost savings and environmental benefits. I often feel that climate action needs an ad agency to help it grow, now we’re getting to the point where this is a reality.
🍏 Apple to invest $200m in carbon removal. Apple is set to double their investment in carbon removal, as well as making efforts to be carbon neutral by 2030. This comes as Frontier, an advanced carbon removal market has crossed $1bn in permanent removal.
📹 Videos to watch
This week was written in between weekend client work, seed planting and building carrot trays and was written to Fred Again’s tiny desk concert. A garden update will be coming in a few weeks, don’t worry.
The Grumpy Optimists 💚