American Univesity of Beirut

Finding the sweet spot for climate action and engagement by Mark S. McCaffrey

​Mark S. McCaffrey, Senior Fellow, Centre for Sustainable Development Studies, National University for Public Serv​ice, Hungary, delivered the lecture: Finding the sweet spot for climate action and engagement (July 24) at FAFS. He presented a research by himself and his colleagues conducted at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Future Earth and Project Drawdown to examine the optimal scale for deploying a wide range of climate actions.

Their preliminary conclusion is that there is a "sweet spot" for implementing many strategies to reduce greenhouse gases and sequester carbon in soil and plants at between 10,000 and 100,000 people.

The implications of this research suggest that top-down national efforts, while important for setting supporting policies, can be most effective by deploying and localizing efforts at a more community-scale, where the local and global converge. A related and potentially complementary intervention to build capacity and community at this more decentralized scale is the concept of the "Hive" – a physical space, which could be an existing structure or potentially a cluster of modified shipping containers – that can serve as a community hub, learning center and demonstration site for sustainable technologies and practice. Each Hive, powered by solar and potentially other renewable energy sources, can provide basic services and information that are customized and localized for the specific needs of the community, whether offering as charging station for lamps and electric bicycles, clean fresh water, medical services, education and workforce development opportunities, internet access and, during disasters, relief and refuge.

The concept of the Hive is not new, drawing from existing models such as the New Arks developed in the 1970s by the New Alchemy Institute in the United States, many of the Solar Decathalon designs developed by university students over recent decades, and the Intelligent Water Aid Technology system developed in Hungary.

Lebanon would be an ideal test-bed for Hives, potentially adding value and further enhancing initiatives related to food security, permaculture and refugee relief that AUB-FAFS and other institutions are currently involved with.

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