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China, US launch new partnership programs to tackle environmental issues

Tue, 2015-06-23 23:47
China and the United States on Tuesday announced six new partnership programs to tackle challenges in environmental protection, clean energy, and climate change.

COP 21 should take Lessons from the International Energy Agency

Tue, 2015-06-23 04:28

Doing business as usual will be a recipe for failure at the decisive climate meeting in Paris next December. 20 previous world climate conferences have shown this; and the two-week Bonn preparatory meeting of environment ministers in in May has offered very little hope for an outcome that will prevent an unsustainable temperature rise in the course of the century.

To avoid such a failure COP 21 has to adopt a radically new format.

Prime ministers will need to be present throughout the conference and take concrete energy policy commitments to be implemented within a given time frame. Halting a further increase of emissions after 2020 must be the top priority.

The “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) are a first step in that direction. They create new transparency and – differentiated – commitments for individual countries. But those presented so far to the UN fall far short from containing global temperature within the two-centigrade increase considered as sustainable by Humanity.

The International Energy Agency, that groups the biggest per capita green house gas emitters, has presented a succinct road map for what governments should do concretely in order to tackle their emissions. This is the first time ever this happens before a COP meeting; the COP 21 should agree on this road-map before getting lost in its usual agenda points:

  • Gradual phasing out of fossil-fuel consumer subsidies by 2030.

Presently 13 per cent of global energy-related emissions benefit from such subsidies at a level of $ 113/ton of C02. Several countries     in the Middle East, South-East Asia and Latin America will have to correct their policies.

  • Progressive closure of the least efficient coal-fired power plants.

This is above all an issue for USA, India and some South-East Asian countries.

  • Boost investments in renewable powerBy 2030, the capacity of new renewable power plants should exceed that of new fossil-fuel plants. To that end, investments should grow from $ 270 billion in 2014 to $ 400 billion in 2030. The prospects for more renewable energy generation will be optimal in USA, Europe, India and South-East Asia.
  • Increase energy efficiency in buildings, industry and transport.

Raising energy efficiency must be the top priority for all countries. This is done most easily by the introduction     of technical standards for fuel consumption of cars and trucks, insulation of buildings, etc. USA and EU have         best demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach. All other major emitter countries should therefore follow their example.

  • Reduction of methane emissions, especially from the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, Russia and Latin America. Methane emissions need to be tackled as a matter of urgency because of their big climate impact.

If all major energy consumer countries followed these basic recommendations, energy-related emissions would start declining by 2030. The use of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, would accelerate its phasing out; and China would see its emission growth decouple from its economic development by 2020.

The Paris conference will only be successful in substance if the main parties agree to improve their INDCs and the underlying energy policies to keep the world on a “two centigrade track”. This should therefore be the overriding priority for the French host and the Conference Chair.

Brussels 20.06. 2015 Eberhard Rhein

Obama Climate Policy deserves high Score

Tue, 2015-06-23 04:27

In the last eight years US energy and climate policy has made impressive strides towards sustainability. This is due essentially to President Obama who has invested more in climate policy than any other US President, overcoming the ideological opposition from public opinion and Congress through recourse to executive orders.

Over decades US fossil energy consumption and green house emissions have kept soaring. With some 17 tons per capita emissions they were among the highest on earth, comparable to those of Gulf countries, Canada and Australia.

In 2014 US emissions have, for the first time ever, registered a decline. The government projects a decline of at least 27 per cent until 2030 compared to 2005. This would still leave per capita emissions at unacceptably high levels, about 50 per cent higher than those of the EU (seven tons).

The US policy is essentially based on raising energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency plays a crucial role, usually in conjunction with Transport and Energy Departments.

“Technical standards” are the name of their magical formula. For their definitionthey explore the optimum of energy and minimum of emissions (e.g. CO2 ) that can be “squeezed” out of a ton of coal, oil or gas, first with available and then with innovative technologies. On that basis they elaborate standards for cars, high duty vehicles, power plants and air planes, in close collaboration with the stakeholders from industry and trade unions. To facilitate their acceptance, the introduction takes place in phases stretching over several years.

This technique is similar to what the EU is also doing, in particular for cars. But while the EU operate in abstract terms of CO2 emissions (e.g. fleet average of 125 g per km)the US establishes consumption levels (gallons per 100 miles).

The US approach directly shows consumers the economic advantages stemming from the policy measures. The EPA keeps “selling” them.

An example are the latest efficiency and emission standards for medium and high duty vehicles,for which will be introduced progressively from 2016 to the mid-twenties. The extra costs of the vehicles will be recouped within only two years and yield an high profitability for vehicle owners.

The US has put priority on sectors consuming most fossil energy.

Road transport has been the first target, first cars and light weight vehicles, followed by that medium and heavy duty vehicles account for almost 23 per cent of US domestic green house gases.

Fossil-fuel power generation, in particular coal power plants, have been tackled in parallel. Fossil-fuel power plants account for almost one third of domestic green house gas emissions, the single most important consumer of fossil fuels.

Air transport, which accounts for 3 per cent of total US green house power emissions, will be the next target to be addressed domestically and internationally, in the context of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, with the hope of establishing standards before 2020. That would be a great performance considering the continuous increase of global air traffic.

The US approach is at least as pragmatic and cost-effective as the EU method of progressively reducing emissions from power plants, steel, glass, pulp/paper, copper, aluminium and other energy-intensive industries.

In addition, the US promotes biofuels, solar and wind, through a combination of tax credits, subsidies and feed-in tariffs. Though it has not not established mandatory federal targets, 11 per cent of national energy have been generated in 2013 by renewable sources, essentially hydro, wind and solar.

In conclusion, since 2008 the US has become one of the vanguards of global energy and climate policy. But it has a very long way to go bring US emissions down to acceptable level. It considers innovation and technology as the key to phasing out green house gas emissions by the end of the century and has properly adopted a strategic long-term approach.

Brussels 22.06   2015 Eberhard Rhein

Risk of Extreme Weather From Climate Change to Rise Over Next Century, Report Says

Mon, 2015-06-22 20:03
More people will be exposed to floods, droughts, heat waves and other effects of climate change in the coming decades, according to a British medical journal.

Religion and politics: The Republicans have a pope problem

Mon, 2015-06-22 14:11
IT WAS bad enough when Pope Francis began banging on&nbsp;about inequality. Worse still when he&nbsp;changed the church’s tone&nbsp;when it comes to addressing gay people (“Who am I to judge?”). Now the pope has issued a&nbsp;papal encyclical&nbsp;affirming the science of climate change and calling on leaders to phase out&nbsp;fossil fuels from the global economy.&nbsp;This puts the GOP’s presidential candidates in an awkward position. At least five of them—including frontrunners Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio—are practicing Catholics. Messrs Bush and Rubio have both questioned or denied the science of climate change and rejected policies to regulate the burning of fossil fuels. And they are both from Miami, a place seen as especially vulnerable to economic damage from climate change.&nbsp;For some years Republicans have been accustomed to recruiting the pope as a figure of moral authority for their social agendas, especially in their arguments against abortion and gay marriage. As governor of Florida, Mr Bush regularly&nbsp;cited church teachings, and enacted a law to introduce anti-abortion “Choose Life” license plates. But he has seemed rather less eager for the pope’s guidance on the environment. &nbsp;“I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Mr Bush insisted on Tuesday. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Few Echo Pope’s Environment Plea in Sunday Sermons

Sun, 2015-06-21 20:52
Around the world, few priests used their pulpits on Sunday to pass on the pope’s message on climate change, pollution and global inequality.

For Faithful, Social Justice Goals Demand Action on Environment

Sat, 2015-06-20 13:18
Many faith traditions are awakening to the burden that climate change is placing on poor people, and finding justification for caring for the environment in their scripture.

Boeing Reveals Research and Development Studies, Technology Innovations at Paris Air Show

Fri, 2015-06-19 02:44
More spacious, modern interiors New technologies that drive additional fuel efficiencies Advanced materials that save weight

Boeing outlined at Le Bourget in France a variety of leading-edge technologies with the potential to make the flying experience more comfortable and exciting, as well as making airplanes more economical and efficient. Boeing presented an overview of its research and development efforts at the Paris Air Show.

“We really feel that we’ve taken our airplane designs to the next level,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of Product Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “For nearly 100 years, Boeing has delivered market-leading innovations to airlines around the world. Our latest technological advancements reinforce our commitment to innovation leadership.”

Sinnett described innovations in operational efficiency, connectivity, advanced materials, cabin experience and advanced technologies that demonstrate Boeing’s market-leading focus on future technology. Boeing’s focus on innovation also extends to its production systems and the services it provides to airline customers.

Some of the advances being developed include:
  • Secure, connected airplane that enables analytics-driven operations
  • Integrated sound and light inside the cabin that allow airlines to reinforce their branding and uniquely present valuable information to passengers
  • Advances in natural laminar flow that greatly improve fuel efficiency
  • Stronger, lightweight and more durable materials beyond carbon composites that reduce airplane weight
  • New, sustainable fuels that reduce emissions, such as green diesel for aviation
  • Alternative propulsion systems that integrate advanced concepts and improve the aerodynamics of future designs
  • Advanced, automated manufacturing techniques utilizing the latest technology
  • Technologies making airplane navigation easier and flight routing more direct
  • Entirely paperless flight deck

Proposed Rule for Big Trucks Aims at Cutting Fuel Emissions

Thu, 2015-06-18 21:57
The rule is the latest in a series of pollution constraints that President Obama has put forth as he seeks to make tackling climate change a cornerstone of his legacy.

Papal Encyclical Heartens Proponents of Fossil-Fuel Divestment

Thu, 2015-06-18 12:49
By addressing the threat of climate change so forcefully, Pope Francis is likely to add momentum to the movement by big institutions to sell holdings tied to fossil fuels.

Dot Earth Blog: Exploring the Pope’s Moral Push for Climate and Energy Progress – A Holthaus-Revkin Chat

Wed, 2015-06-17 22:45
A blogging meteorologist and a 30-year veteran of climate reporting share views on Pope Francis’s impact on climate diplomacy and energy ethics.

Pope’s Views on Climate Change Add Pressure to Catholic Candidates

Tue, 2015-06-16 21:19
A Florida archbishop will press the pope’s climate change message in the hope that it will resonate in particular with Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

Dot Earth Blog: Beware Casting Pope Francis as a Caped Climate Crusader

Tue, 2015-06-16 12:21
Efforts to cast Pope Francis’s climate push as a superhero’s mission could lead to disappointment.

The pope and climate change: Treading lightly, in many directions

Tue, 2015-06-16 07:36
RELIGIOUS organisations tend to operate slowly and ponderously, while environmental politics, and sometimes the environment itself, move more rapidly. The Vatican had intended to release Pope Francis's long-planned encyclical on climate change in a carefully choreographed event on the morning of June 18th, but a version of it, apparently pretty close to the final one, was leaked to the world by L'Espresso, an Italian magazine, four days early.&nbsp;The document's release is still a dramatic event. By throwing his personal authority behind the global effort to mitigate climate change, the pope has made a significant intervention in world affairs. From the secular world's perspective, this is probably the most important step he has made during his two-year papacy.Pope Francis has offered what many were waiting for: an unequivocal statement that climate change is happening, is man-made, and must be tackled by humanity's combined efforts. He writes: "There is a very consistent scientific consensus which indicates that we are in the presence of a disturbing warming-up of the [global] climatic system. In the last few decades, this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in sea-levels; and it is difficult not to to posit some relationship with the increase [in the frequency of] extreme meteorological events..." In an apparent small sop to climate-change sceptics, he ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Fracking for shale: Tentative steps

Mon, 2015-06-15 15:25
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Fracking for shale Rubric:&nbsp; Inspired by the boom in America, Britain finally makes plans to drill Byline:&nbsp; E.H. Main image:&nbsp; 20150620_brp501.jpg DAVID CAMERON has long looked admiringly at America’s booming shale-gas industry. Last year Britain’s prime minister asserted that his government would “go all out for shale”. Yet despite that boast, and the lifting of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in 2012, the country has yet to start drilling again. So some are heartened by the fact that on June 15th Lancashire County Council recommended a test site in the county. Advocates argue that this is the essential first step in Britain’s energy revolution. But anyone hoping for an American-style shale bonanza would be wise to lower their expectations. Part of the reason for the delay in fracking is down to geography. Though exact figures are unknown, there is an estimated&nbsp;1,300&nbsp;trillion cubic feet of gas in the north of England, ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>