Tracking the relationship between the oil supermajors and climate change

March 29, 2019 by  
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The top five gas companies say that they’re investing in clean energy — but how true is that claim?

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Tracking the relationship between the oil supermajors and climate change

Coal prices continue to rise, becoming more costly than solar and wind alternatives

March 27, 2019 by  
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Coal prices are on the rise in the United States. The vast majority of coal production now costs more than wind and solar energy. Unless the price of coal production drops quickly, experts believe the fossil fuel will be replaced in the near future. “Even without major policy shift, we will continue to see coal retire pretty rapidly,” said Mike O’Boyle, who authored a new study for Energy Innovation on the rising costs of coal. “Our analysis shows that we can move a lot faster to replace coal with wind and solar .” The new study examined financial data obtained from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) to determine how much it costs to produce coal in the United States. Related: Finland plans to complete its coal ban one year early According to The Guardian , the researchers discovered that over two-thirds of coal produced in the United States is more costly than solar and wind alternatives. This includes the cost of building solar panels and wind turbines and maintaining them. If the cost of coal continues to rise, the fuel will no longer be a viable option for energy over the next five to six years. Americans across the country will be able to save money by replacing their coal energy with wind or solar power. The scientists leading the study already knew that coal prices have gone up, but they did not expect it to be so widespread. There are several reasons why coal prices have skyrocketed in recent years. The two biggest causes are maintenance bills and the cost of retrofitting factories to comply with new pollution laws. While coal prices are on the rise, wind and solar energies have actually decreased in cost as technology improves. Coupled with an increase in demand for natural gas, renewable energy is killing the coal industry. Renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar power, now make up about 17 percent of electrical production in the United States. Although coal is clearly on its way out, the Trump administration has been advocating for it, which has only slowed its demise. Financial institutions have also kept coal alive by handing out around $1.9 trillion dollars in loans over the past four years. But if coal prices continue their current trend, the industry is doomed to be replaced by more affordable, cleaner energy alternatives. Via The Guardian Image via Lucas Faria / U.S. Department of Energy

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Coal prices continue to rise, becoming more costly than solar and wind alternatives

9 ways to introduce nature into your dull work space

March 27, 2019 by  
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Your home, office or home office can be your sanctuary even when deadlines loom. Mitigate the stress of your work surroundings by bringing the intrinsic calm of nature into your office space. From the selection of natural elements to green design,  there are many ways to connect with nature even when you’re trapped between four walls. Here’s some inspiration to help transform your work space into a lively zen zone. Set a theme It’s easier to pull together a complete look with a theme in mind. Are you thinking Japanese garden , have an affinity for hot air balloons, need a forest feel or love the beach? When planning, think about the colors, sights and sounds associated with that activity or space. Choose scents, colors, textures and green designs that represent your favorite natural places. Related: A tiny, 96-square-foot rustic pavilion brings the outdoors in Music For an all-encompassing natural environment , set up a station on your favorite listening app and enjoy tropical birds, ocean waves, wind or simple meditative sounds as you work. Paint and wallpaper If you have the ability to design your own space, start with a wall color that screams nature. From seafoam to forest green right through greys, browns and blues, there are endless options for your wall color. For a bolder look, you could have someone paint a mural or use a premade wall wrap with a forest or ocean print. Wallpaper is another option for all or part of your space, especially if you don’t have any windows where you can actually see the world during your work day. Wall and room decor Your eyes can play tricks on you, and that is not always a bad thing. Surrounding yourself in outdoor decor can visually transport you from the monotonous task at hand to a sandy beach with an umbrella drink until you are able to make it there in person. Again, follow your theme if you wish, but always select pieces that bring you joy. For some, that might be a framed photo of a bike race and for another it might be the profile a person standing on the summit of a mountain. Choose wall decor with your outdoor happy place in mind. Then, accentuate that theme around the room with seashells, pinecones, wood carvings, glass floats, rocks and a snuggly theme-printed blanket. Plants Plants obviously grow in nature, therefore making them the most obvious way to bring the outdoor world inside and a touch of green to your day. Depending on the size of your work space, you could have a single plant or an entire wall of them. For a desk in a cubicle, think about plants that will thrive without direct sunlight. If you are blessed with a window to the outdoors, take advantage of the filtered or focused light. Add plants to bookcases and file cabinets to surround yourself in greenery. Many plants are forgiving enough to survive less-than-ideal growing conditions. Put a spider plant up high so it can drape down the sides. For your desk, incorporate succulents, cactus or bamboo. Even fresh flowers, rotated out frequently, will bring a smile when you enter your space. Remember to stay away from wildflowers and strong scents if you share a space with others who might be allergic. Related: 10 easy eco-friendly home decor tips Open the window In addition to artificial scents, bring in the real thing every chance you get. Open the windows regularly and swing open the door— if you have one. Combine sounds and smells with natural wood or seashell wind chimes. Set fragrant flowers near the window to encourage the pleasant scent to waft through the space. Scents In addition to the visual aspect of your office design, remember to feed the other senses too. Part of the joy of nature is the scents that surround you while you paddleboard or meditate. The good news is that you can bring those scents into the workplace to bring a little calm to your day. Candles or incense (again consider the allergies of others) can remind you of that Caribbean vacation or afternoon in the salty beach air. Musky or woodsy aromas take you right to the forest. If candles are too strong of a scent, try bringing in natural woods. Think of the smell when you open a cedar chest or lay fresh bark dust and you’ll see what we mean here— maybe some driftwood from a recent trip or pinecones you’ve collected at some point. Water feature Another way to feed the need for the outdoor sensory experience is through the sounds of moving water. Even a small desktop fountain can help muffle the sounds from the neighboring cubicle and help maintain focus. For a larger space, you can bring in a freestanding wall water feature or other fountain. With so many varieties available you can create the sound you want through material selection and size. The further the water falls, the louder the sound and remember that wood mutes the sound more than rock and other materials. Other natural elements If you have the opportunity to design your space from the ground up, consider each material carefully. For example, go with a natural wood flooring option in either a hardwood or laminate material. Select soft, natural window coverings that allow light into the room. Even desk accessories can bring a natural element when you select bamboo instead of metal or plastic. Just because you are saddled up to a desk doesn’t mean you have to lock the outdoors out. Instead, envision where you want to be and surround yourself with those green elements. Remember to consider all of the senses when you brainstorm ideas and make your workspace a retreat that inspires. Images via Shutterstock

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Finland plans to complete its coal ban one year early

March 12, 2019 by  
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Finland is following through with its coal ban initiative and making it a top priority over the next 10 years. The country promised to eliminate its reliance on coal by 2030, and Finnish Parliament just pushed through a motion to complete the ban a year earlier than the previous goal. One year may not seem like much, but moving the ban up means  Finland  will be completely coal-free in the next decade. The move also means that the country will have to increase its phasing out program by around 10 percent to meet the new goal. This might seem like a lot of pressure, but other companies have successfully switched to renewable energy faster than expected. Related: Renewable energy could overtake fossil fuels in Britain by next year According to TreeHugger , LEGO reached its goal of 100 percent renewable energy three years before its deadline, while Norway reduced its carbon dioxide emissions three years ahead of schedule. Sweden also changed to renewables about 12 years before the original goal, and both India and China have met their eco-friendly goals ahead of time. Coal currently comprises about 8 percent of Finland’s annual consumption. Even still, the country will have to move quickly if it wants to eliminate coal entirely. This includes pursuing long-term programs that will provide clean energy to residents while being cost-effective for businesses. Fortunately, Finland has already invested in these types of programs, and lawmakers are confident that the country will reach the newly proposed deadline. Finland’s coal ban initiative is a clear indication that the world is decreasing its reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Hopefully, other countries will follow Finland’s lead and move forward with their own coal-free programs in the near future. Many countries have voted in coal bans similar to Finland’s, but with climate change already having an impact around the world, the faster we implement coal bans, the better. Via TreeHugger and CleanTechnica Image via Ninara

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Finland plans to complete its coal ban one year early

How China’s big overseas initiative threatens global climate progress

February 4, 2019 by  
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China’s new infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative, could transform economies — but its focus on coal-fired power plants is reckless.

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How China’s big overseas initiative threatens global climate progress

Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline

January 15, 2019 by  
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After a solid decline for the past three years, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States rose in 2018. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), power generation, natural gas and oil consumption resulted in an emissions increase of 3.4 percent, marking the second largest annual gain since 1996. The only year that emissions increased at a more significant rate was 2010, when emissions went up 3.6 percent after a huge recession-driven decline the year before. Even though a record number of coal-fired power plants closed last year, natural gas replaced the majority of the lost generation rather than instead renewables — and also fed the demand for electricity growth. The result of using natural gas over renewables meant a 1.9 percent increase in power sector emissions. However, the biggest source of emissions for the third year in a row was the transportation sector due to the growing demand for diesel and jet fuel that offset a noticeable decline in gasoline consumption. Related: University of Waterloo has created a CO2 powder which could help fight climate change Because of unusual cold weather in the beginning of 2018, the building and industrial sectors also showed significant emissions gains. But, there has also been very little progress in these sectors when it comes to decarbonization strategies. In the United States, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels peaked back in 2007 at approximately 6 billion tons, but thanks to the great recession and the switch in power generation from coal to natural gas, wind and solar, emissions fell by 12.1 percent (an average of 1.6 percent per year) between 2007 and 2015. Yet in the last couple of years the pace of emissions decline has slowed down. Not to mention, the lack of a proper climate change policy will leave the U.S. at risk of putting the Paris Agreement reduction goals (26-28 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025) out of reach. + Rhodium Group Image via cwizner

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Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline

California’s "Skip the Slip" bill pushes for digital receipts

January 15, 2019 by  
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A legislator in the California Assembly has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require retailers to make digital receipts the default instead of paper. California Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) has introduced AB 161 , nicknamed “Skip the Slip.” If it becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the United States. According to Green America , each year up to 10 million trees in the U.S. are used to make the paper for receipts, and the process takes 21 billion gallons of water. The receipts also produce a ton of waste — nearly 686 million pounds. If the state of California decides to skip the paper receipts, it will save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of one million cars on the road. Related: 86% of teens in study have traces of BPA in their bodies In recent years, paper receipts have gotten longer and longer, thanks to the addition of coupons and member rewards programs. The length is not the only problem. According to the Ecology Center, approximately 93 percent of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS to help make them legible. Green America said, “When we touch receipts, the chemical coating is absorbed into our bodies through our hands in mere seconds.” There are documented connections between BPA and developmental and neurological problems. Researchers at the New York State Department of Health said that BPA also impacts fetal development, and it is linked to reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes and thyroid conditions. Beth Porter, Green America’s climate and recycling director, said that this new legislation would prevent millions of trees from being logged for paper receipts, and it will make California a leader on the issue. Some innovative companies are already doing their part to lessen the environmental impact and reduce the health risks that come with paper receipts. Businesses like Best Buy, Starbucks and Whole Foods Market are already offering digital receipts, and card readers for smartphones are also offering paperless transactions. + AB 161 Via Treehugger and  Green America Image via Shutterstock

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California’s "Skip the Slip" bill pushes for digital receipts

Weaning ASEAN from coal reveals climate risks and rewards

December 13, 2018 by  
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Can the region reconcile rapid economic growth with decarbonization?

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Weaning ASEAN from coal reveals climate risks and rewards

Coal is not competitive with cheaper alternatives, and the industry’s true costs are even higher

November 8, 2018 by  
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Power plant emissions kill tens of thousands of Americans each year, scientists estimate.

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Coal is not competitive with cheaper alternatives, and the industry’s true costs are even higher

What’s in store for Indonesia’s coal market?

September 20, 2018 by  
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As the energy landscape shifts, so does the ground underneath the resource-rich island nation.

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What’s in store for Indonesia’s coal market?

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