The world is currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that is potentially distracting us from the next one that is looming around the corner. The COP26 Climate Change Awareness and Technology Solutions Closing Event gathered insights on climate change from scientific, technological, entrepreneurial, and political angles. It took place on April 22nd the Earth Day and was organized by Hello Tomorrow Turkey with the support of British Council Turkey.
If you missed it, you can catch up the reply here or read on to get a quick recap!
During this event, some of the world’s leading research institutes such as the London School of Economics, Columbia University or Imperial College, presented their insights and expertise, warmly welcomed by Sir Dominick Chilcott, UK’s Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey and Timur Topalgökçeli, Head of Hello Tomorrow Turkey.
The British Council in Turkey initiated the “UK Alumni Climate Change Grant”, whereby they would select projects that will help to raise young people’s awareness of climate change and environmental issues in Turkey. Here at Hello Tomorrow Turkey, we were one of the grantees of the program! As part of our mission, we:
- Organized online seminars, reaching thousands of students across all regions of Turkey (from Istanbul to Diyarbakir, Izmir to Samsun, Çanakkale to Ankara, Adana to Trabzon)
- Launched a social media campaign, with resources to help people take action on climate change
- Gathered leading innovators, and researchers on climate technology, policy and finance both nationally and internationally.
- Prepared a report analysing climate change from three different perspectives:scientifically, politically and financially, using both national & international sources.
What about climate change, its cause and effects?
The climate urgency is real. And it is not just real, it is also man-made. Since industrialization, we have seen an exponential rise in CO2 emissions. In this scenario, everybody plays their role. When we’re talking about our climate changing, it does not matter whether a ton of CO2 is emitted from Turkey, from the US, from China or from Argentina. CO2 emissions do not have passports. And the effects of it are already at our door. So far, we have recorded a temperature increase of around 1°C since pre-industrial times, (the 18th century.) There is a pretty clear acceleration over the last 40 years, since the 1980s. This has been shown by climate science to be mainly driven by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the past couple of years, the impact of climate change has become increasingly clear to many people all over the world. In Turkey, we can think of last year’s dried-up reservoirs, reaching points where some of the major cities looked as though they might be about to run out of water. We can remember extreme weather events appearing on our news on a regular basis. In fact, Turkey experienced 984 extreme weather events last year, which is the most ever recorded.
Current Climate plans are not sufficient. What makes climate change so hard to address?
- Time disconnection: Climate change pollution is not immediately followed by clear impact, making it harder to track and tackle.
- Strong inertia: what we emit into the atmosphere today, will keep having consequences on the climate system 30,40,50 years from now. We are now experiencing the consequences of emissions from decades ago.
- Non-linear tipping points: For some phenomena, you don’t experience any change as you gradually increase temperature, but then once you cross a certain threshold you have an irreversible impact and a potentially catastrophic effect on our planet.
- Weak Climate finance: We need to almost triple our annual climate finance expenditures to be aligned with the Paris Agreement target. According to the estimates, we need at least a lower bound of $1.6 trillion, which is the GDP of South Korea, and an upper bound of $3.8 trillion, which is approximately the GDP of Germany every single year. Right now, we stand at $622 billion, more or less!
What are the current technology solutions against climate change?
At the closing event, deep tech entrepreneurs from Canada and Turkey presented their technology and company. The last Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge Grand Winner, Agora Energy Technologies develops a ground-breaking battery technology package that directly utilizes the industrially captured CO2 and generates electricity. By doing this it enables an efficient integration of clean energy at grid and micro-grid levels. The founder of Agora, Dr. Christina Gyenge told the background story of her startup.
“When we started in 2016, we had two aspects in mind: electricity generation, and how exactly we can contribute to decarbonizing the grid, and the industrial emissions. In particular, what would be the most valuable product that can result from the CO2 conversion. We had in mind to create a carbon negative technology, because unlike what we think today, direct air capture is not the only way that you can create such a technology. So, after many iterations over the years, what we ended up with was combining a technology that assists in decarbonization, and at the same time contributes to mitigating industrial emissions. And this is when we found our company in 2017.”
The two startups from Turkey, Episome Biotechnologies and Faradai, also presented their technologies. Faradai Platform is a top-notch Energy & Sustainability Intelligence solution for enterprises that offers an AI and cloud-based PaaS data analytics solution for commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and renewable energy plants. Şahin Çağlayan mentioned the vision of Faradai as:
“Faradai empowers the connected and intelligent energy. Exponential technologies like IoT and artificial intelligence are disrupting energy consumption to generation and there is that is where we play.”
Episome is a biotechnology company that was founded as a research & development laboratory. It focuses on industrial enzyme technologies to create more efficient & sustainable products and industrial processes. They have many solutions regarding sustainability, one of them is converting paper sludge to biogas, a clean renewable energy source and producing organic fertilizers as by-products with their patented enzyme solution. Elif Afacan from Episome shared that:
“We start with identifying the problem. The problem was the solid waste of paper industries having unsustainable and non-eco-friendly disposal methods. These methods are landfilling and incineration. While landfilling can cause soil and water pollution, incineration causes air pollution because of the fossil fuel use. After a long R&D study, we found a solution to turn their waste into value as a renewable energy. This year we signed a contract with an energy company in the Netherlands. In this project, production of biogas is not only replaced with fossil fuel, it also reduces CO2 emissions coming from disposal of paper sludge. Bio-LNG is the most recommended and promising renewable energy source for transportation.”
A warm thank you to all the speakers at the event!
Sir Dominick Chilcott – Career diplomat who joined the Foreign Commonwealth’s Development Office in 1982. He served among others as high commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He was Deputy Ambassador to the US. He was for a brief period of time the Ambassador of Iran and also to Ireland. He is now serving as the UK’s Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey.
Aurélien Saussay – Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics where he is currently the Deputy Head of the Policy Design and Evaluation Program. His research focuses on the economic consequences of the transition to a lower carbon economy with a focus on the distributional impacts of decarbonization policies.
Dr. Oytun Babacan – Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute, the Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College. His research focuses on the integration of energy storage, electric vehicles and renewable energy generation into city infrastructures and mini grids.
Dr. Melissa C. Lott – Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University in New York where she leads the Power Sector and Renewables Research Initiative.
Dr. Christina C. Gyenge – Chemical engineer with international work experience at the confluence of science and engineering and has a track record of pioneering scientific discoveries in multiple fields. In 2017, Christina co-founded the Agora Energy Technologies.
Gaetan Hinojosa – Environmental Economist, and Head of Climate Finance Advisory at South Pole.
Dr. Değer Saygın – Director of the Shura Energy Transition Center. The center is contributing to the decarbonization of the energy sector via an innovative transition platform.
Elif Afacan – Business Development Specialist at Episome Biotechnologies
Şahin Çağlayan – He founded Faradai (REENGEN) with a vision of being the leader of the data analytics solution for the energy and utilities industry.
Nilgün Pala – Organizes eco-events to involve the local community and raise awareness of plastic pollution predominantly caused by single used plastics.
Dr. Umut Kuruüzüm – Economic Anthropologist and Assistant Professor of Cultural Economics at the Department of Economics at İstanbul Technical University.