Addressing climate change with better food systems

27 JAN 2022

Addressing climate change with better food systems

By Eugene Willemsen, CEO Africa, Middle East and South Asia, PepsiCo

It comes as no surprise that climate change directly affects the future of security. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) clearly outlines the role that the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather-related disasters, such as droughts, cyclones, and wildfires, play in multiplying threats for the low-income demographic, particularly the undernourished. Combined with the global pandemic and ongoing regional conflict, climate change has devastating effects on food production and availability. Amongst the most significant of its effects, asides from reducing crop yields, is the havoc it wreaks on quality and nutritional value, stability of food systems, water availability, livelihoods and access to food.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a global temperature rise of 1.38 to 5.55 degrees Celscius is forecasted in the next century. And as temperatures increase, yields for the world’s most essential crops, which provide over 66% of the world’s calories, will take a nosedive. A NASA studypredicts a projected decline of maize yields to 24% as early as 2030 under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Currently, one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the rising temperatures, come from the global food system. So, if we want sustainable food security for our children and generations to come, it’s high time we come together to find far reaching solutions and take large-scale action.

At PepsiCo, our business relies on a stable and healthy climate to grow nutritious ingredients that go into our food. Therefore, we cannot afford to sit idle waiting for climate change solutions – we need to act. We are doing our part through pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) – PepsiCo’s end-to-end transformation with sustainability at the center of how we create shared value. 

The resurgence of sustainable agricultural practices has shown that the ability to transform global agriculture while making a positive impact on our climate ambitions to reach net zero is within reach. As a result, one of our key pep+ pillars – Positive Agriculture – is grounded in advancing regenerative agriculture across our entire footprint, approximately seven million acres. We estimate this effort will eliminate at least three million tons of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade, and help improve the livelihoods of those in our global agricultural supply chain. 

An example of this work in action that’s especially close to my heart is She Feeds the World (SFtW), a program we developed together with the PepsiCo Foundation and CARE to teach, equip, train and advocate for sustainable agriculture, women’s empowerment and gender equality in agriculture across the world. SFtW helps women gain access to land rights, financing, and markets; acquire quality inputs and equipment; implement sustainable agriculture practices; and supports women in growing more with less so they can feed their families themselves and grow their incomes. The program supports food security and economic opportunity in the long-term and helps communities respond to systemic shocks like COVID-19. It is anchored in PepsiCo’s pep+ goal to spread regenerative practices across all our land, support women small-scale producers, and strengthen farming communities. As of 2020, the program has provided more than 700,000 women small-scale producers and their families in Egypt, Peru, and Uganda, with the tools and training they need to foster sustainable, long-term growth. 

The farmer is the center point for regenerative agriculture, and the voices of farmers must be at every table when developing policy, regulations, and financial incentives. We are doing this because we know that regenerative agriculture can protect farmers from catastrophic climate change effects – and therefore sustain their livelihoods for long-term food security and also reducing environmental impact. 

But we also know that embracing regenerative practices comes with a cost for farmers. It usually takes farmers about two to four years of using regenerative agriculture practices before they start to see a benefit to their profit and loss sheet. So, we need to help them bridge the gap.One thing we have tried is cost-sharing up to $10 per acre. This gives farmers the resources they need to implement cover crops that increase soil health and resilience to climate change. We’ve had farmers in this program tell us that their fields are green, while their neighbours’ are brown, or that they now grow the best soybeans they’ve ever had. Not only has this put more money in the pockets of farmers, but it has also demonstrated a 38% reduction in greenhouse gasses.

We are very proud of pep+ and believe it is the future of our business. However, no sector can do this alone; addressing climate change requires a systems approach. Action is absolutely vital, now more than ever. Infact, we have vowed to increase scrutiny over our business’ climate policies and have offered learnings in decarbonization through our participation at the UN Climate Change Conference  (COP26). By working together—private sector, governments, development agencies, farmers, consumers — we can unlock climate solutions at the scale that is needed, drive systemic changes in energy and food systems, and have a sustainable meaningful impact on people’s lives. 

 

27 JAN 2022

The UAE’s Net Zero Advantage

Authored by:
H.E. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation 

Global energy leaders, policy makers, business, innovators and industry are set to converge in Abu Dhabi for the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) this week to discuss strategies and solutions that support a global transition to clean energy. 

In what has widely become known as the ‘decade of action’ for climate change, pressure on governments and business has been mounting, and over the course of 2021, we reached a significant tipping point in global attitudes towards climate change. Now more than ever before, citizens are demanding that government and business leaders deliver meaningful action on climate change. Action being the key word. 

Impatience, particularly among youth, is growing as they become increasingly frustrated at targets being set for the distant future, often decades ahead, when tangible solutions are needed today. This is further compounded by indecision on the best way forward, and few recognizing that collaboration, not competition, is key to winning this race against the climate clock.

While many countries continue to debate the best way forward, focused more on political preferences than data-driven decisions, the UAE is decisively leading the way towards a more sustainable future. In particular, its proactive and evidence-based approach to energy, adopted more than a decade ago, means the nation is quietly carving out a role for itself as a global clean energy leader.

This position would have been unthinkable just a decade ago, when an oil rich nation such as ours enacted an energy policy that selected renewables and peaceful nuclear energy as the paths to diversification, security of supply and sustainability. Yet, as the first country in the region to sign the Paris Agreement in 2016 and more recently to release its national Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the UAE has consistently chosen to prioritize a holistic, realistic and data driven approach to its energy sector. 

This has given us a distinct advantage as we urgently work together to avoid the worst extremes of a climate disaster and navigate our way towards a cleaner energy future. We are already reaping the benefits of our clean energy investments – with thousands of megawatts of zero-carbon electricity being generated across the country every day, accelerating us towards our Net Zero goals. 

At the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), we are proud to contribute to the UAE’s clean energy vision with an abundant supply of clean electricity, generated 24/7 at our Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. Set to produce 25% of the UAE’s power needs, the Barakah Plant will also prevent the release of 21 million tons of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to the removal of 3.2 million cars off our roads. This proven ability to produce abundant, 24/7 clean electricity underpins the UAE’s growing intermittent renewables power supply today, and for the next 60 years.  

Clean electricity is also a powerhouse for economic opportunity and competitive advantage. With the launch of its clean energy certification mechanism in September 2021, Abu Dhabi became the first market worldwide to recognize the role of nuclear as a form of clean energy – granting UAE companies new access to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) certification through the purchase of clean energy certificates. By doing so, these organizations are committing to a more sustainable future, while also improving their ESG reporting abilities, earning a competitive advantage with regional and global peers and opening up priority access to ESG-conscious markets around the world.  

This clean electricity is not only rapidly decarbonizing the power sector, but also enabling hard-to-decarbonize companies access to clean electricity to power their operations. The announcement from ADNOC and the Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), outlining how the organization will power itself with clean electricity, is a perfect example of how the clean energy we currently have available as a nation is contributing to a better, more sustainable future. 

This is only one of many aspects where we are starting to see the competitive advantages of delivering abundant, reliable and commercially competitive clean electricity. In recent years, the UAE has transformed itself into a clean energy hub, where world leading solar plants and zero emission nuclear energy have increased the contribution of clean energy sources in the power generation mix. 

This inclusive approach to the clean energy transition is why the UAE continues to invest in and deliver important platforms like WFES, and COP28 in 2023, offering opportunities to share our lessons with the world, and partner with other nations to drive further innovative climate solutions. This unprecedented challenge requires unprecedented collaboration – between nations, within and across industries and amongst clean technology providers. Events such as WFES are essential to this. 

Ultimately, as we swiftly accelerate towards Net Zero—setting new and more ambitious goals and making clean electricity even more relevant in decarbonizing our economy—we call on our fellow governments, alongside businesses, industry, and organizations, to do the same. Together, we can collectively drive the transition and bring about the long-lasting change we need today.

 

26 JAN 2022

ADSW welcomes the world as Middle East takes center stage in climate debate

By Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi
CEO, Masdar

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the climate platform hosted by Masdar, opens next week for its 14th edition. ADSW will be the first in a series of global events placing the Arab world at the center of the climate conversation over the next few years. 

The dialogue at ADSW, which includes the IRENA General Assembly, the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Sustainability Prize, among other program elements, will be a continuation of the discussion from COP26 in November, and will lay the groundwork for COP27 in Egypt later this year and COP28 in the UAE in 2023.

This year, therefore, ADSW reaffirms the UAE’s leadership role at a defining time for the planet’s future. After all, as a nation at high risk from increased temperatures, rising sea levels and reduced rainfall, the UAE has for many years been acutely aware that climate change is a reality and a challenge that we must tackle alongside the global community. The ADSW platforms built by Masdar over the years such as the aforementioned Zayed Sustainability Prize, WiSER and Youth 4 Sustainability, are raising awareness of the need for a more sustainable world and for concerted response by all nations that is inclusive of all demographics.

As a global community, limiting the increase in global temperatures to just 1.5°C  is our number one priority, and the pathway to Net Zero – identified as the most important measure needed to achieve this – will be a dominant conversation at ADSW. “Net Zero” is the state in which greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere each year are near zero levels, slowing down climate change and potentially reversing its course over time.

Reaching that target at a national level, never mind globally, is no easy feat. The UAE has long been a pioneer and regional model for climate action, taking steps to lead the way . We were the first Gulf country to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement, setting out targets for nations to begin the process, and the first Arab country to set voluntary clean energy targets – and overachieve them. Last November, the UAE became the first Arab nation to launch a “Net Zero by 2050” strategic initiative, putting the country resolutely on the path to a low carbon future. 

At Masdar, we are proud of our role since our founding in 2006 as a major contributor to the UAE’s climate change mitigation and Net Zero efforts. We have been addressing the challenge from multiple fronts – allocating capital to impactful projects, leveraging new technologies at scale, building awareness for behavioral change, and supporting policy-makers around the world. Our projects in the UAE are directly helping achieve the UAE Energy Strategy targets which aim to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050.  Overseas, too, we are helping some 40 nations achieve their own clean energy goals, with our projects and investments reaching a gross value of more than US$20 billion.

Now, in 2022, and with the spotlight on the Arab world, Masdar is primed to further leverage its position as a global leader in clean energy. Under an investment deal announced in December, Abu Dhabi’s energy heavyweights ,ADNOC and TAQA, will join the emirate’s sovereign investment company, Mubadala, as partners  in our Clean Energy business.  By summer, when we expect our new shareholders to be formally on board, Masdar will be Abu Dhabi’s clean energy powerhouse, with a portfolio of 23 GW of clean energy capacity and ambitions to reach at least 50GW by 2030.

Further, with the support of ADNOC and TAQA, Masdar will consolidate Abu Dhabi’s efforts in exploring green hydrogen as a fuel of the future – another major topic of this year’s ADSW. The promise of hydrogen is huge: according to study by Dii Desert Energy, Roland Berger and Masdar, GCC countries alone could generate as much as US$200 billion in revenue   from hydrogen by 2050, with the creation of between 400,000 and 900,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.

The UAE has significant natural advantages in the development of green hydrogen, with excellent solar resources allowing for competitive solar power . The nation’s clean hydrogen initiatives are also facilitated by its strong existing infrastructure, export facilities and central location between key export markets. Masdar, with its know-how, is well positioned to deliver on this promise.

Last year, this led to the signing of agreements with the UK’s bp and France’s ENGIE to develop up to 4GW of green hydrogen projects, while we also partnered with Siemens Energy and other stakeholders to build a green hydrogen demonstrator in Masdar City that will establish the commercial viability of sustainable fuel.

Masdar’s successes in clean energy and sustainable urban development in Masdar City are an important element in the UAE’s overall climate mission and will be fully on display at ADSW. Broad adoption of renewables is a vital component of climate mitigation efforts, and it is critical that this comes with equitable and sustainable economic development. In emerging markets, notably, Masdar acts as a catalyst, working hand-in-hand with developing nations looking to advance their clean energy roadmaps. ADSW is also putting the financing of Net Zero goals in the developing world at the top of the global agenda. 

While the journey has just begun, we already have much to be proud of in showcasing the Arab world’s commitment to overcoming the challenges posed by climate change at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2022. 

26 JAN 2022

The geopolitics of the energy transition – changing tectonics

Fundamental changes are taking place in the global energy system that will have significant geopolitical implications. These changes will affect almost all countries and will have wide-ranging consequences on economies and society. The geopolitical balance will shift and the dynamics of relationships between countries will also be transformed. Major oil-exporting countries will have to review their economic models and what it means for stability. On the other hand, many countries with large renewable potentials – whether high solar or wind power – still belong to the classic developing countries. How can the risk of geopolitical upheaval be prevented? 

Let us start at the beginning. What do we mean by energy transition? At its most basic level, the new energy transition is a shift from hydrocarbons to electricity. To put it simply: our world order has been based on oil. That is gradually changing. The importance of electrons in the overall energy supply chain will continuously increase. The use of electricity is already surging. It provides about 20 percent of energy today, and will have to rise to 50 percent by 2050, if countries are to meet their climate commitments according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Electrification will be a decisive answer for net-zero.

The socio-economic impacts 

The pace and scale of the transition has already shot past the most optimistic projections. Another reason for the fast-track transition is that the energy sector holds the key to averting the effects of climate change. We have reached a tipping point and the conversation around clean energy is higher on the agenda than ever. Currently, 14 members of the G20 had announced net zero targets by mid-century, covering 61 percent of global greenhouse emissions, according to Climate Transparency Report, 2021. How fairly and how fast the energy revolution happens is the biggest challenge of our time. 

Properly designed and implemented, energy transition will ease progress towards all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, not just the goal that relates to universal, affordable and clean energy. It will enhance energy independence for most countries and thus the number of energy-related conflicts is likely to fall. It will also promote prosperity and job creation; improve food and water security; and enhance sustainability and equity.

For example, the US and EU’s plans for green recovery will give a boost to several clean energy technologies. Same for China which is investing heavily in renewable energy technologies and cross-border interconnectors. 

As countries prepare for their target of net-zero emissions by 2050, some regions such as the Middle East, are planning to trade more green fuels, such as hydrogen or green Ammonia. This gives rise to a whole new constellation of markets and bilateral trade relationships. We could see a new class of energy exporters that may emerge. 

At the same time, the energy transition will generate new challenges. A rapid shift away from fossil fuels could create a financial shock. Workers and communities that depend on fossil fuels maybe hit adversely. That is why we need to develop technologies to enhance a smooth transition. 

Countries leading the energy transition race

In the new energy world, technology will be an important differentiating factor. There will be three ways for countries to exert influence in the new system. One is by exporting electricity or green fuels. Another is by controlling the raw materials used for clean energy technologies, such as lithium and cobalt. The third is by gaining an edge in technologies such as electric vehicle batteries. With renewable resources so readily available. 

How to transport this energy and ensure it reaches people in an efficient and affordable way is a big piece of the puzzle. Hence, trading power will also be on the rise with an increase in cross-border electricity interconnection projects. 

For example, our engineers helped construct Nemo Link, the first high-voltage (HV) interconnector between Belgium and the UK, which can supply up to 1,000 megawatts of clean electricity. It is also one of the several HV transmission links connecting Britain’s electricity grid to the national grids of neighboring countries. In the middle of this transformation lie power grids, the true enabler of energy transition. 

Opportunity for transformational change

To ensure the success of a global net-zero approach, we need also to understand some aspects: 
1) Regions might take longer on the fossil fuel transition because of the specifics of their development or their energy landscape. 
2) Legacy energy infrastructure will need attention and adequate investment. 
3) We need also to tackle socio-economic aspects, so we do not end up having winners and losers.

For regions such as the Middle East, which is blessed with natural resources, but also has abundant renewable resources, the transition could be an economic gift. We see many countries working to leapfrog technologies based on fossil fuels with ambitious economic diversification plans. 

We are actively supporting the countries of the region through piloting new projects to accelerate the energy transition. A few examples include our partnership with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Expo 2020 to construct the region’s first solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility. The project also sets an example in public-private partnerships. We also joined forces Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, Etihad Airways, German Lufthansa, Marubeni Corporation and Khalifa University to produce aviation eFuel. This is in addition to other agreements recently signed in both Egypt and Oman to develop their hydrogen economies. 

Despite difficulties, the energy transition will ultimately move the world in the right direction by addressing climate change, combating pollution, promoting prosperity, as well as sustainable development. But it requires new frameworks, cross-sector partnerships between public and private sectors, and stronger international cooperation to underwrite our common journey. 

Written by,
Dr. Christian Bruch, President and CEO, Siemens Energy