Week 24, 2021
Welcome to this week’s edition of AppropriateFuture, a weekly review of the convergence of technology, sustainability, innovation, and public policy.
🛢️ Continued discussion about the impact of May 26th’s strategic changes for ExxonMobil and Shell, and Big Oil in general:
🦖 Many predict change will be slow in coming because ambitious corporate or industry goals far outstrip current capacity [▶️ Camila Domonoske at NPR, and ▶️ Bunged Up: How The Green Boom Could Get Stuck in The Economist].
🌎 As investment floods the market, renewables and carbon offsets in Latin America may be in position to benefit [▶️ Lisa Viscidi in Foreign Policy]
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden [▶️ Askhat Rathi in Bloomberg Green]:
“We need to work together, with society, governments and our customers to achieve real, meaningful change in the worldwide energy system. And this change must address the demand for carbon-based energy, not just its supply.”
🖱️ My bet for the biggest news of the week: Lina Khan leading the FTC (with bipartisan support), along with bills introduced in The House on anti-trust and Big Tech. Already under scrutiny in the EU, the concerns about Big Tech stretch far beyond the limits of the economics of pricing and competition, but to the weaponization of disinformation and the bounds of discourse in public vs. private/for-profit control. [▶️ David McCabe and Cecilia Kang in the NYT]
📈 We’ve waited a very long time for computers and the internet to start impacting the economy in the form of productivity metrics. Is it finally here? Productivity growth is now trending up. [▶️ Erik Brynjolfsson and Georgios Petropoulos in MIT Technology Review]
🐇 Could higher wages force faster productivity growth? Noah Smith explains in his newsletter [subscribe]:
To many, businesses replacing human workers with robots in order to avoid paying higher wages will sound like a very negative thing. But in fact, there’s a theory that this is how economies grow — that high wages spur technological progress that pushes up productivity, which then justifies even higher wages, creating a virtuous cycle. In fact, some people think this is how developed nations got rich in the first place.
🏗️ New York passes a low-carbon concrete bill. Concrete is responsible for at least 7% of carbon emissions worldwide and remains a barrier to climate-friendly buildings. The Office of General Services will identify incentives for the procurement and usage of low embodied carbon concrete by contractors in New York. [▶️ Harun Asad, Environmental Leader] 🚧 There are many companies are building businesses around carbon capture in concrete [▶️ Jennifer Hahn in dezeen]
🌴 The Los Angeles Business Council endorsed a plan for the L.A. Department of Water and Power to shift to 100% carbon-free energy by 2035 [▶️ Street Insider]
⚛️ The Department of Energy announces seed funding totaling $54M to over 200 small businesses developing prototype solutions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 [▶️ Energy.gov].
🇦🇺 Similarly, in the Buying Bread from A Man In Brussels department: Australian Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage Development Fund announces winners [▶️ Amanda Jasi in The Chemical Engineer].
🛫 Hydrogen powered planes, and super sonic jets with sustainable fuel — how “the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make” is attempting to adapt as an industry [▶️ Anmar Frangoul in MSNBC]
♻️ “Petrosynthesis” What is synthetic petroleum? [▶️ Rob Cockerill in Gasworld]
And Finally, The Good Links: A Most Fluffy Bunny