David Strittmatter

Changing your behavior won’t solve the climate crisis — why & what actually solves it

Many people among us, probably also you, are motivated. Motivated to contribute something to the climate: eat less meat 🥦, don’t get on the plane ✈️ as often, buy fewer clothes 👕.

While these efforts are praiseworthy, we need to face a sobering truth: our individual actions, no matter how well-intentioned, will not and cannot prevent the climate crisis.

Why?

The substantial proportion of emissions is out of the direct control of us individuals. The carbon footprints of various sectors — from 💊 medicine production, buildings and construction 🏗️, to housing 🏠 — can NOT be significantly impacted by individual consumption decisions.

For instance, medicine manufacturing involves a lot of carbon both 🧪 materially and ⚡ energetically.

🧪 Materially means that there is carbon in it. The majority of medicines are nothing but complex carbon molecules. Aspirin, Penicillin, Paracetamol — you have certainly heard of them. For example, Aspirin is based on salicylic acid and acetic acid. And acetic acid, in turn, is made from methanol, which is obtained — today — from coal or gas.

⚡ Energetically means that heat and electricity are needed to convert the carbon molecules into more complex carbon molecules — i.e. methanol to acetic acid and acetic acid to Aspirin. Today, most of this comes from fossil sources, i.e. also coal and gas.

🏗️ Buildings & construction: Fortunately, we all have a roof over our heads. Cement the basic material of concrete produces about one tonne of CO2 per tonne of cement. This means that every building produced an incredible amount of CO2 emissions.

🏠 Housing: Not only do we want a roof over our heads, we also don’t want to freeze in winter. The energy, the heat, that we need for this is also very CO2-intensive as it is mainly coal and gas.

And then there are so many other things that are indispensable to us: Furniture 🪑, electronic items 💻, cleaning products 🧽, toothbrushes 🪥, syringes 💉, clothes 👗. Not only the production, but also the transport 🚛 is very CO2-intensive.

The majority of you will have a smartphones and use laptops to get work done. These goods do not come from Germany and certainly not from regional origins, but were transported halfway around the globe by ships 🚢.

As you can see, the whole thing is not simple. To live today means to produce CO2 emissions, because everything today produces CO2 emissions.

Fortunately, there is a way out: climate technologies. Only with climate technologies will we succeed in stopping climate change.

I will talk to you about one climate technology in the following. This climate technology was developed by my startup ICODOS, co-founder Francisco and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

For this, let’s focus on shipping for a moment: Shipping causes about 3% of global CO2 emissions without climate technology — specifically, without green, alternative, CO2-neutral fuels, nothing will change.

The shipping industry has now realized this. Leading shipping companies such as Maersk billions to operate their fleets in a climate-neutral way. But there is a lack of green fuels.

The problem is green fuels, in this case green methanol, are still far too expensive and hardly available. Green methanol is three times as expensive as conventional fuels, i.e. marine diesel, and virtually unavailable. The shipping company Maersk alone will more green methanol than as the entire world produces today. And by 2030, demand will have >34x.

And this is where ICODOS comes in. We have developed a new process. A patented climate technology that will make it possible on the one hand to produce green methanol at the cost of normal conventional fuels and on the other hand to harness various raw material sources to ensure rapid scale-up und thus availability.

ICODOS climate technology will make green methanol cost-effective and available to make not only shipping but also chemistry and pharmacy carbon-neutral.

And this is how we as a society will solve the climate crisis — by developing and scaling climate technologies.

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