Climate Next: How sustainability champions around the world use cloud-powered tech to fight climate change
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in our planet.” In celebration of this year’s theme, we want to highlight the important sustainability work featured in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) documentary series, Climate Next, which explores the ways organizations and communities in four distinct regions are investing in cloud-powered solutions to fight climate change.
Zanzibar: Protecting critical ecosystems with open data and student ingenuity
Mangroves are an essential part of the ecosystem in the semiautonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, Tanzania. They protect the earth from coastal erosion; act as a nursery for fish that live in their upper roots; filter pollutants; reduce the height of wind and swell waves by up to 66% which protects coastal communities from flooding; and play a major role in mitigating the climate crisis in the region. Mangroves can absorb three to four times the amount of carbon dioxide by area than upland terrestrial forests. But mangroves are increasingly threatened by climate change and the human-driven impact of deforestation.
Local sustainability champions in Zanzibar are coming together to use open Earth observation (EO) data, hosted in the AWS Cloud, to create actionable strategies for protecting mangroves and promoting their importance. Students and educators at the State University of Zanzibar, as well as local conservation nonprofits like the Zanzibar Volunteers for Environmental Conservation (ZAVECO), are working with Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa), a satellite data provider that uses AWS to provide analysis-ready EO data of the African continent at no cost to policymakers, researchers, students, and more. DE Africa aims to improve the lives of people across Africa by making EO data readily actionable for decision makers to support environmental conservation and sustainable development.
The City of Santa Fe: Innovating recycling solutions with machine learning
Landfills can have a significant impact on the communities in which they’re located. While landfills are typically designed to minimize the impact on nearby air and water resources, waste is now full of all kinds of toxic ingredients. The breakdown of these ingredients, and of waste in general, as they decompose in landfills, produces methane, the strongest greenhouse gas, which is 30-80 times more potent in the atmosphere than carbon. A 40% global methane reduction by 2030 would result in avoiding .3 degrees Celsius of global warming.
The City of Sante Fe, New Mexico partnered with Rubicon, an AWS Technology Partner, to optimize its entire waste, recycling, and environmental services operations. Rubicon uses the AWS Cloud to power its sustainable technology suite of services, including smart devices that can be taken in and out of waste and recycling trucks, as well as an app that can be operated on any smartphone through which drivers and supervisors can communicate back and forth.
London: Using the cloud to transform the renewable energy grid
Approximately 85% of UK households still use fossil-fuel based natural gas, according to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industry in the UK Government. But we know now that these release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating the climate crisis. How can we meet our current energy demands while also transitioning to a more sustainable energy future?
Octopus Energy is a group of companies based in London that use smart technology to support an all-renewable energy grid powered by solar, wind, hydro, and energy storage. Octopus developed the Powerloop Project, which integrates a customer’s electronic vehicle (EV) battery into their household power grid, and lets customers draw energy from their parked car’s battery to support increased energy usage while they’re home. The connected Powerloop app lets users control how much charge they want back in their car by the time they intend to use it next, and the Powerloop grid automatically shifts power between the EV battery’s storage and the household’s power usage, balancing the grid so consumers save money and reduce their carbon emissions.
Los Angeles: Visualizing tree disparity data to create greener and more equitable communities
“The tree is the powerhouse of the city. They’re one of the most cost effective, nature-based solutions that we can be enacting,” says Rachel O’Leary, executive director of City Plants LA in Episode 4 of Climate Next. Trees do a lot for an urban environment: they provide biodiversity for birds and insects; they make our air cleaner and cooler; they help reduce cooling energy costs in buildings by up to 30%; and they can also make people calmer by lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels. Trees also offer significant protection against the threat of heat-related illnesses: surfaces shaded by trees can be 20–45°F (11–25°C) cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded surfaces.
But there’s a disparity in tree cover within cities. On average, low-income communities have 15% less tree cover and are 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) hotter than high-income communities. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global conservation organization, uses AWS to support their shade disparity initiatives.
The full Climate Next series is also available to stream now on Amazon Prime.
Organizations and people around the world are using the cloud to power next generation sustainability solutions to create a cleaner, greener, and more equitable world. Learn more about how AWS enables sustainability solutions and discover more examples of AWS customers advancing sustainability initiatives around the world.
Read more stories about sustainability on the AWS Public Sector Blog.
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