A Net Zero Climate Change Plan for Cities

Global warming is the single biggest threat we face as citizens, as public officials and as businesses – beyond even Covid-19. Indeed, Coronavirus is a symptom of climate change. So, if we want to tackle the real problem, our phased lockdown exit plans will need to include plans to tackle climate change.

At DSP we thought it would be timely to publish our net zero climate change framework for towns and cities. It is designed to be high level – a simple ten step plan and a list of methods and initiatives you might want to take into consideration as you develop a region-specific approach. It is intended to inform local leaders and their citizens while stimulating debate. It has been forged from the work we have done with municipal leaders, business managers and environmental experts in developing more holistic approaches to greener, healthier, environmentally sound cities and towns.

City leaders will need to set a clear net zero target and time frame up front. Most will be focused on achieving net zero emissions by a certain date before 2050. You will need to outline your definition of emissions so as, for example, to include or not, all greenhouse gasses including Methane, Halogens and Nitrous oxide at a minimum and not just Carbon dioxide. Further, over time, you will most likely want to stretch the target as ultimately you should be aiming for a fuller drawdown of greenhouse gases so as to get ourselves back to pre-industrial levels of warming and greenhouse gases and not a less ambitious net zeroing of 1 degree or 1.5 degrees warming above pre-industrial levels.

Cities should structure their net zero climate change plans into a distinct category of projects and actions. Larger cities may want to appoint a leader for each category and separate project teams to address each. Category leaders should report to whoever is leading the project overall in the city organisation and ideally the city leader. Measurement is vital so be clear about how you will measure the likely business case/impact for each category and initiative and set six monthly rolling targets for each prior to adoption.

10 Point Net Zero Climate Change Framework for Cities (with project categories):

1. An action plan for the people. The only way a city will be able to pull off aggressive targets such as net zero emissions by 2030 will be to get as many of their citizens as possible to change their behaviors. DSP has developed a universal 10 point climate change action plan for individuals and households which is comprehensive and practical.

2. An action plan for businesses. Alongside an action plan for your citizens you should also adopt and market an action plan for businesses. Getting businesses, small medium and large, to buy into a straight forward, universal net zero climate change plan for their business could make a big difference.

3. Energy: strategies should include approaches and targets for wind turbines, microgrids, geothermal, solar farms, rooftop solar, wave and tidal, biomass, micro wind, in-stream hydro, waste to energy and energy storage.

4. Food: to include a plant-rich diet, reduced food waste, green/clean cooking stoves and cookware, nutrient management, composting, conservation agriculture and irrigation.

5. Women and girls: women have a key role to play in the environmental movement as more often than not they influence household decisions, purchases and practices. They are generally more responsible for gardens and small holdings and they spend considerable time educating children and informing their values. They are also ultimately responsible for family planning. Educating women and girls in net zero strategies and environmental approaches should prove highly worthwhile.

6. Buildings and infrastructure: the following components are essential to your plans – net zero buildings, walkable cities, bike infrastructure, green roofs, LED lighting, heat pumps, smart glass, smart thermostats, district heating, landfill methane, insulation, retrofitting, water distribution and building automation.

7. Land use: make sure to include forest protection, new forests and tree planting, coastal wetlands, bamboo, peatlands, perennial biomass, local community land management, rewilding and afforestation. Develop community learning initiatives e.g. wildlife gardening techniques and centres of excellence like a rewilding town centre park.

8. Transport: transport is a key opportunity for any climate conscious city plan. Take a look at mass transit, high-speed rail, shipping and boats, electric vehicles, ridesharing, electric bikes, cars, aeroplanes, trucks, remote working and learning and trains. Think through natural capital approaches that could, for instance, combine incentives for good practices as well as taxes or charges for the most polluting behaviours. Education and supportive, positive economic policies are the key.

9. Materials: this is an area often overlooked but, done right, can make a significant difference to effective net zero strategies. For proven eco materials strategies look carefully at household recycling, industrial recycling, alternative eco-friendly cement, refrigeration, recycled paper, bioplastic and water saving in homes.

10. New eco innovations: there are a number of new innovations and trends that, as they mature, could make a significant difference to achieving and enhancing climate friendly action plans in the medium term. We believe the following deserve your attention: artificial foods, the ‘artificial leaf’ project, autonomous vehicles, living buildings, direct air capture, smart highways and roads, hyperloop, smart grids and building with wood.

At DSP we help organisations and individuals to become more climate friendly and adopt healthier living approaches. We offer a cost effective online app, DSP Online, to help you better understand how to become environmentally conscious with simple actionable techniques gleaned from the day to day approaches and learnings at DSP’s center of excellence in the UK southwest. Sign up to DSP Online today – CLICK HERE.

10 Steps to Make Your Business Climate Friendly & Achieve Net Zero

As companies reopen with new Covid-19 regulations, nearly all will be making some fundamental changes to how they do business given the new landscape and changing consumer sentiment. Things are going to be quite different. Further, all businesses have a requirement to achieve Net Zero – i.e. your overall business activities need to be carbon neutral.

Employees and customers not only require higher standards of public hygiene but they will also be turning to businesses that are environmentally conscious. Being an environmentally responsible business, with environmentally sound practices, products and services will become the new norm. Try and get ahead of it.

We have created a simple action plan to help businesses adopt some simple steps to getting climate ready and to achieve NetZero.

Here are our 10 Steps to Make Your Business Climate Friendly:

  1. Switch to renewable energy in your office, factories, vehicle fleets and tools. There are a growing number of green energy suppliers so finding the right one for your needs is quite easy. Also, electric vehicles and tools are becoming much more pervasive.
  2. Hire on-site employees who live within a cycle commute – the rest could work from home. Help keep pollution down and fully embrace the new ways of working. Now that you have had a few months to put in place successful home working routines and processes during the Coronavirus lockdown it’s time to lock those benefits in.
  3. Minimise waste and recycle everything you can. The Zero Waste movement is starting to pick up some steam – try and adopt what is practical in an office setting. Become a single use plastics free business.
  4. Lease an eco-office, warehouse or factory with a zero carbon footprint. At a minimum make sure your office is as well insulated as possible for the winter and allows as much sunlight, for natural warming, during the late spring and summer. That way you will use less energy heating your offices.
  5. Train employees in DSP’s 10 steps to Help Solve the Climate Change Crisis.
  6. Rewild your green areas. Plant trees, shrubs and wild grasses – the combination of the three provides the basic habitats for wildlife and insects. Place benches in nature to support employee wellbeing.
  7. Train your company leaders in the methods and approaches to developing environmentally conscious behaviours, practises and products. 
  8. Source eco materials and local supplies wherever possible from environmentally conscious suppliers. 
  9. Organise team meetings and away days at eco-friendly hotels and venues. Try to set up outdoor meeting spaces and actively support outdoor meetings when employees, suppliers or customers are at your offices.
  10. Measure the improvements and accomplishments you are achieving on the road to becoming fully climate friendly on a 6 monthly basis and communicate your progress to employees and customers.

Building an environmentally conscious organisation is an exciting process and one which will prove highly satisfying for you and your organisation. Done right, it will also add considerable value to your products or services as well as your brand. Include all your stakeholders in the journey – it could prove quite empowering and motivational.

At DSP we help organisations and individuals to become more climate friendly and adopt healthier living approaches. We offer a cost effective online app, DSP Online, to help you better understand how to become environmentally conscious with simple actionable techniques gleaned from the day to day approaches and learnings at DSP’s center of excellence in the UK southwest. Sign up to DSP Online today – CLICK HERE.

Climate Change and Coronavirus

The problem with Climate Change is Coronavirus and the problem with Coronavirus is Climate Change. Go figure. And I promise I’m not trying to confuse you – we get enough of that from our elected compadres (see previous post) so no desire here to continue to screw the pooch/muddy the (polluted) waters/sound like a politician.

The sad reality is that our continuous erosion of vital environmental ecosystems by endless deforestation, expansion of industrial scale agriculture and the forced inhabitation of what probably should be protected forests, coastal areas and wetlands has contributed big time to climate change which in turn has kicked us back up the ass by contributing big time to Covid-19 which has given me the chance to prove that I too can talk smarty pant environmental mumbo like the best of them.

You see poorer farmers in less developed countries have generally been shoved off their small holdings by big agriculture which has forced them to move to cheaper, wilder environmentally sound foresty kinda places where one of the few ways they can make cash (other than flashing their you know what’s on Zoom) is by hunting down some pretty weird creatures to pay for the way too many bills they accumulated thanks to big agro taking the rug from under their paddy field.

This eco migration led one of them to a place where some poor little bat (don’t blame him) gave a big ol’ Corona bug to some cute little armadillo looking thing called a pangolin (don’t blame her) who was then caught by said impoverished ex-smallholder and sold to some not so cute live animal market in you know where. Anyhoo, this sorry, infected pangolin was tout suite bought up by some equally cute little kid who wanted it as a live action stuffed toy or maybe it was bought by some super hungry person who just wanted to eat it. And they’d need to be super hungry cos have you seen the scaly little thing? (NOT the kid) And not exactly top of Michel Roux’s menu. The rest as they say is Corona history. So the next time you’re out trash talking scaly little wild animals think how much this dudes done to change the course of history versus what maybe any of us have done – obviously other than God or Elvis or the guy who invented the Big Mac.

But the reality is that this poor little pangolin who probably sits in some even poorer dudes belly by now, if not she sits right at the top of the U.S.’s most wanted list along with the guy who invented ISIS, may just be the first step in nature’s combined boot back up the ass to us for having decimated nature’s ability to absorb all the gargantuan amounts of CO2 and other noxious gases we pump out while simultaneously destroying nature’s habitats to the point where we’ve killed enough animals to take us straight to the next ice age and back. And all this while we nuke plant life and insects who by the friggin way need each other but apparently nothing like as much as we need them cos without insects and plants we stop the flow of another (non Corona) invisible thingy called oxygen which means we just stop breathing.

So, we may survive this Corona blast from a rewilded past but that won’t matter while we keep raping the planet cos there’s a lot more bat’s and pangolins out there and we seem to have pissed nature off to the point that the next boot back us might just lead to a reverse big bang sucking us into some nano-sized black hole to hell and (no going) back.

The other problem with Coronavirus (sorry) is that right at the point that the airwaves were finally starting to focus on climate change they’ve gotten all bunged up with the Corona meaning that there is a risk Coronavirus might just stick it to climate change as well as all of us. Stay with me. You see Coronavirus doesn’t just attack our bodies and health systems but it also reenforces our politicians innate inability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time (see Brexit) while attacking our economic arteries to the point where no one’s gonna have any money left to fix the climate thingy that gave us Tesla, Virgin Galactic and this damned pandemic in the first place.

And while all this eco tripping doomsday soothsaying just makes me want to go to the pub, Corona/climate change/one little bat and one very cute little pangolin put paid to that too. Christ.

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