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The war against carbon starts now

Carbon War Room

Readers are always asking what can been done to cut carbon beyond pushing for the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill. I’m launching a new series aimed at the kind of serious action people can push for at a local and state level — and even at a national and global level — without waiting for politicians. After all, the biggest, most money-saving strategies to cut carbon are already profitable (see “McKinsey must-read: U.S. can meet entire 2020 emissions target with efficiency and cogeneration while lowering the nation’s energy bill $700 billion!“)

The impetus for this new series is my interview today (below) of Jigar Shah, the uber-innovative clean energy financing guru who founded Sun Edison and now heads the new nonprofit, the Carbon War Room. The objective of CWR, founded by entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, is to “ensure a prosperous future for all on the planet by developing a post-carbon economy.” The operational approach is to “bring together successful entrepreneurs in collaboration with the most respected institutions, scientists, national security experts, and business leaders to implement the change required to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

The Carbon War Room has “identified 25 battles across 7 theaters that are material to winning the war against climate change. Each battle accounts for over 1 billion tons (or more than 2%) of global anthropogenic CO2e emissions annually.” The figure above represents CWR’s “Theaters and Battles,” with filled in green circles representing an “Op in Progress” and the dotted circles a developing Op. For instance, one area CWR has already start on is shipping, a too-neglected sector that has huge emissions and but only medium-sized market barriers, which they are addressing with Operation Rock The Boat“:

CWR Shipping

The CWR notes that

Currently available technologies can substantially reduce CO2e. Efficiency gains could translate into an annual CO2e reduction of upwards of 250 million tons annually consumption by 2020.

Here is Shah talking about CWR and the barriers and opportunities in shipping:

You may have wondered, why don’t they put sails on big shipping vessels? Well, Skysails have shown “average fuel savings of up to 30%, according to company data from seatrials,” and they are one of the innovative technologies that the CWR is working to accelerate into the market.

Skysails Are One Technology

The technologies and strategies we need to make the necessary emissions reductions by 2020 to stay below 450 ppm are at hand. Yes, national and global climate action that sets a shrinking cap and a rising price on carbon dioxide are crucial. But so many strategies are cost-effective today, and they require barrier-busting at every level.

Double kudos to the Carbon War Room for understanding the serious nature of the problem and pursuing an innovative approach to addressing it.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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