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The emissions abyss (and the climate action the world can take now)

Sun, 2015-02-15 13:03

By Tasneem Essop, head of low carbon frameworks for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative

While all eyes are focusing on the negotiations for a new climate agreement that will form the basis of the climate regime after 2020, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our actions on climate in the current period up to 2020.

The issue of addressing pre-2020 ambition was placed on the agenda at COP 17 in Durban. But after three years of discussions, sharing ideas and listening to experts, we are yet to see any real concrete actions that can address the low level of ambition in this period.

Today, we’re launching a report, which is a compilation of views from WWF climate specialists around the world on how some key countries could help close the ‘gigatonne gap’ in emissions over the next five years.

The gap we’re witnessing, which is more of an abyss, is caused by low levels of climate commitments from governments in the current period.

At the moment the pre-2020 period does not seem to be on the political radar in most countries, despite the fact that the IPCC science says emissions must peak within this decade to keep average global warming below 2°C to limit dangerous climate change.

With current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario.

For us, science and equity have to be at the heart of any climate agreement. In other words actions need to be based on scientific facts and requirements, but also carried out in a fair and people-focused way.

We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate at a national level.
But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The proposals for closing the emissions gap go a long way in addressing economic and developmental challenges in many countries.

The arguments that action on climate will slow down growth or affect objectives to address poverty no longer hold water. There is enough evidence showing that climate action is good for jobs, health poverty eradication and economic growth. Governments can use this period up to 2020 to begin the just transition to a zero-carbon future.

Those countries that have the responsibility and capacity to do more should lead this transition as well as support others that can do much more if there is financial, technology and capacity building collaboration and support.

We need to see commitments at national level, as well as multilateral commitments – and crucially they need to be turned into concrete actions. Citizens and businesses around the world are ready to do their bit.

Now governments must act.

Climate action is urgent and the planet and its people cannot wait any longer.

We’ve asked 10 WWF colleagues from various countries to analyse and sum up what concrete things their governments could and should be doing now.

From scrapping coal-fi red power stations and increasing renewables to improving energy efficiency, strengthening emissions targets and addressing deforestation, you will see that there are plenty of ways governments around the world can limit their pre-2020 emissions – and urgently close the gigatonne gap.

Read the report here.

Tweet this and help us share the message!

What can countries like South Africa, Mexico and India do right now to cut their emissions? @climatewwf explains: http://bit.ly/17eYMsQ

Our planet can’t wait for #climateaction that starts in 2020. What countries can do NOW (via @climatewwf): http://bit.ly/17eYMsQ


Dot Earth Blog: Can ‘Battery Geniuses’ Transform Cars and the Grid?

Fri, 2015-02-13 16:12
Can batteries spark a clean-energy revolution? A new book says, maybe.






Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis

Thu, 2015-02-12 13:34
Climate change and local waste and mismanagement have led to an alarmingly rapid depletion of Pakistan’s water supply, the minister for water and energy said.

By Degrees: What to Call a Doubter of Climate Change?

Thu, 2015-02-12 11:44
For those opposing the science surrounding the issue, are they “climate change deniers” or merely “skeptics”? And what about “warmistas” vs. “lukewarmers”?






China to challenge the World at Paris Climate Conference

Wed, 2015-02-11 12:30

In the last few years China, the biggest emitter of green house gases, has been revolutionising its energy sector in a way that deserves respect from the international community. At the Paris Climate Conference it is likely to impress the parties by the resolution, effectiveness and speed of its climate policy. It might even offer the paradigm for emerging countries that the EU has not been able to do.

This would represent a sharp turn-around of its position at the ineffective climate conferences organised by the UN during the last 20 years when China considered climate change and policy as the responsibility of industrial countries like USA and Europe.

Its new approach can be attributed to three main factors:

  • the rising political, economic, ecological and human costs of its almost complete dependence on fossil fuels, estimated by the World Bank at $ 300 billion annually;
  • the desire to loosen its dependency on the production and import of coal, oil and gas;
  • the ambition to maintain its leading position as the major export nation of renewableand nuclear technologies and, in the future, also of clean cars.

China is therefore likely to announce ambitious targets for Paris, both for the medium-term (2020-30) and long-term (2050), accompanied by measures for implementation.

In order to replace its excessive dependence from coal it will continue to expand its capacity of non-fossil energy, from hydro-power to wind, solar, biomass and nuclear.

To that end, it will introduce binding climate targets for the country and each province, ban all coal-fired installations in heavily polluted cities like Beijing, close thousands of wasteful power plants and industrial installations, introduce nation-wide emission trading as of 2016, building on EU experience while making it more effective through establishing higher and variable emission prices.

To curb emissions from the rapidly growing car park, China is on the point of introducing emission standards analogous to those applied by EU and USA. For 2020 it envisages to set fleet emissions at 117 g/km ( 5 litre/100 km). compared to 95 g/km by the EU.

Thanks to this programme, slower economic growth and a progressive departure from energy-intensive industries China appears well-set towards a decoupling of its economic development from coal consumption and C02 emissions. In 2014 its coal production has for the first time registered a small decline! It is therefore likely to achieve its target of de-carbonising 25 per cent of its energy supply by 2025.

Last not least China is once again trying to enhance its overall energy efficiency. 2015 its energy intensity, the amount of energy consumed per GDP unit, should be 16 per cent lower than in 2010.

In launching this broad programme China will shame major polluter countries like Australia, Japan, Russia, Canada and South Africa. Even more important, it should be able to “export” its policy to many emerging countries, something that neither EU nor USA have so far succeeded.

Thus the Paris Conference may against all odds produce more positive results than expected after the lacklustre outcome of the preceding meeting in Lima.

Brussels 12.02.2015 Eberhard Rhein

 

Panel Urges Research on Geoengineering as a Tool Against Climate Change

Tue, 2015-02-10 14:35
The National Academy of Sciences panel said that with proper governance, experiments of climate intervention technologies should pose no significant risk.






Economic Scene: A Biofuel Debate: Will Cutting Trees Cut Carbon?

Tue, 2015-02-10 06:00
Governments across the world are incorporating bioenergy into transportation fuels, hoping to limit dependence on gasoline. But not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea.






Oil, gas firms face 'tough balancing act'

Mon, 2015-02-09 22:41
The energy sector faces a tough balancing act in 2015. It was affected by the plunge in oil prices during the second half of last year, which followed prolonged high output levels amid weakening global demand.

Gasoline, diesel prices rise in China amid global pickup

Mon, 2015-02-09 20:41
Chinese retail oil prices are rising amid a pickup in the global crude market, increasing costs for the logistics and transportation sectors.

Where are the bunkers on the road to Paris?

Mon, 2015-02-09 14:31

This blogpost by Bill Hemmings and Andrew Murphy of T&E and Mark Lutes of Climate Action Network International was first published in Eco

In the final years of negotiations for the new climate agreement, it’s still not clear if it will include the fastest growing emissions sources — international aviation and shipping, also known as bunker fuels.

CO2 emissions from international shipping and aviation were about 950 megatonnes (MT) and 705MT respectively in 2012; combined they account for as much emissions as Germany, the sixth largest emitting country. When indirect effects are taken into account, the impact could already be approaching 10% of global climate forcing. In the almost two decades since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) started discussing greenhouse gases, little concrete action has materialised and, scarily, these emissions are on course to double or even treble by 2030. If emissions from these sectors are not addressed effectively by 2050, bunker emissions could swell to account for a quarter of all emissions. Such high emissions from the international transport sector would make it all but impossible to limit aggregate global warming to less than 2ºC as it would place an impossible emission reduction burden on other sectors.

IMO and ICAO discussions have seen limited progress.

Carbon neutral growth from 2020 is the most ambitious goal that the aviation sector has proposed, allowing emissions to grow to 2020 and then offsetting growth beyond that. This is far short of what is required for a 2ºC pathway, and there is little assurance that even these goals would be implemented.

International shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050. The IMO suspended consideration of market-based measures in 2011, and the question of setting a global cap on shipping emissions is not on the IMO agenda. Efficiency regulations agreed for new ships will likely not have a significant impact for several decades, and the shipping industry is now fighting any new measures.

At COP 21, the UNFCCC should mandate the setting of robust and meaningful reduction targets, as well as the adoption of mitigation measures that will ensure these sectors begin to play a fair and equal role in addressing dangerous climate change. Eco welcomes the introduction of text in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) yesterday which demands the setting of targets for emissions from these sectors consistent with staying below 2ºC.

Mobility matters

Mon, 2015-02-09 09:49

That the title of this post has a certain truth in it is undisputable. Flexibility has always been a high good, not only because of our daily commute and work related trips, but also for all of our private movements. The ability to participate online in an event, even in our daily work (i.e. telecommuting), saves us a lot of travelling, but in spite of this, the necessity to travel in person will always be there.

 

Are we (stuck in) the traffic?

There are a few major modes of transport available for our everyday choice to accomplish a trip between A and B. However, one thing is common whether people drive a car, use public transportation, make their way by bicycle or simply walk: A certain dissatisfaction by people using those modes is always noticeable. You might recall such situations when you got stuck in the traffic jam with your car or an unabashed biker nearly hit you, the pedestrian, while both of you used the shared (walk – cycle) pathway. Many of those dissatisfactions are justified by circumstances and some are even justified by scientific evidence. The author of this blog post takes a closer look on the space which is given to different modes of transport in three international cities.

What can ‘sustainability’ bring?

Sustainable mobility is one of the important pillars in Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme in 2014-2020. Other funds like EUREKA clusters, Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) are also available to boost sustainable transport all over Europe. But some of you might have actually wondered what the practical value of past and present sustainable mobility projects is and if it really changed conditions for us as the recipients!

The sector of cycling certainly takes only a small portion within the entire sustainable mobility range. Yet, it is a very popular element when it comes to changing conditions and making (urban) passenger transport more sustainable. Many projects have been implemented and efforts have been taken in Europe and all around the world by local authorities, private institutions and voluntary associations to improve cycling conditions and engage people in cycling. Below you will find two examples among a multitude of past and present projects in the sector:

  • The EU project Catch MR which was undertaken back in 2012 has led to significant improvements regarding the cycling infrastructure in and around the city of Budapest.
  • Active sustainable mobility policies from the city of Koprivnica under the EU CIVITAS initiative has yield great support of the local society for cycling and walking.

Designed for all of us

Now it’s our turn to respond to such kinds of projects and share those endeavours. I am sure that if we look around in our village, town or city we will find (at least sections of) suitable cycling paths and/or infrastructure. Why not considering such sections for a bicycle ride and trying to integrate them into one of our trips? Cycling is not only beneficial for a more pleasant and liveable environment but it brings about very attractive health benefits as well.

 

American energy exports: Crudely put

Thu, 2015-02-05 10:53
UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Capitalism’s unlikely heroes Fly Title:  American energy exports Rubric:  Exports of hydrocarbons from America are already booming. Lifting the ban on crude-oil exports should be next Location:  SWEENY, TEXAS Main image:  20150207_WBD001_0.jpg NAZI U-boats had a deadly hunting season in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942-43, prompting American military planners to put safety first when working out how to ship fuel for the liberation of Europe. Seven decades later, the Sweeny refinery in Texas is still safely (and oddly) inland, out of range of German guns—and playing a part in the rebirth of America as an exporter of hydrocarbons. At Sweeny and the terminal it serves, Freeport, Philips 66—America’s sixth-biggest listed firm—is spending a combined $3 billion on new facilities to export liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and on an installation to process natural gas liquids (NGLs). These two products of ...

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