Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021

December 15, 2020 by  
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President-elect Joe Biden is making it clear that he won’t be fooling around regarding climate change. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office and to hold a global climate summit within the first 100 days. Last week, 75 countries met in a virtual Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UN, France and the U.K. The U.S, still led by outgoing President Donald Trump, was conspicuously absent. Other major nations that weren’t participating included Russia, Brazil and Indonesia. Related: US formally exits Paris climate agreement Biden does not want the U.S. to be left out of these crucial goings-on and is itching to get busy on climate change. “We’ll elevate the incredible work cities, states and businesses have been doing to help reduce emissions and build a cleaner future,” Biden said in a statement. “We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power.” He repeated the pledge of aiming for net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 and emphasized that this would boost the economy. “We’ll do all of this knowing that we have before us an enormous economic opportunity to create jobs and prosperity at home and export clean American-made products around the world.” To be successful, the world needs all oil-dependent countries to sign up for the net-zero emissions plan. The Paris Agreement is centered around countries having nationally determined contributions (NDCs), detailed plans about how they will severely curtail fossil fuel use and reduce emissions. The current NDCs were submitted in 2015 but need to be rewritten. As it stands, current NDCs will result in more than 3 degrees Celsius of warming, way overshooting the goal. The world will be watching for the Biden’s plan. “We look forward to a very active US leadership in climate action from now on as US leadership is absolutely essential,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres. “The US is the largest economy in the world, it’s absolutely essential for our goals to be reached.” Via The Guardian Image via Gage Skidmore

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Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021

Court issues largest fine for wildlife crime ever for a demolished bat habitat

December 15, 2020 by  
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U.K.-based construction company Bellway housebuilders has been fined 600,000 pounds (about $800,000) for demolishing a bat roost in South London. This is the largest fine issued to any party for a wildlife crime in history, according to local police. The company carried out the demolitions in 2018. When faced with the charges, the representatives admitted to destroying the home and breeding site of bats in Artillery Place Greenwich. The location is a well-documented bat roosting and breeding site. Before the demolition, soprano pipistrelle bats had been documented at the same location in 2017. In the U.K., all species of bats are protected by the law. Anyone found tampering with the mammals or their habitats is subject to prosecution. According to the Metropolitan Police, Bellway has now been forced to pay the fine plus other charges. The court required the company to pay an additional 30,000 pounds (about $40,000), and Bellway agreed to donate 20,000 pounds (about $27,000) to the Bat Conservation Trust. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights “With the expert assistance of colleagues from specialist units within the Met, the officers constructed evidence to prove that the company had indeed committed an offense by carrying out work at a site where bats were known to inhabit,” said Metropolitan Police Inspector David Hawton. “Bellway Homes has admitted responsibility for this and I hope it reinforces the message that this legislation is there for a reason and should be adhered to.” The case was decided at Woolwich crown court in early December, when the company pleaded guilty to the destruction of a bat habitat. Due to compelling evidence, Bellway had no other option but to accept the charges and pay the fines imposed. Evidenced revealed during the hearing showed that Bellway was notified in its planning phase about the need to find mitigating measures for the protected species as well as to secure a protected species license. Still, the company defied warnings and went forward with the project. Via The Guardian Image via Rodrigo Curi

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Court issues largest fine for wildlife crime ever for a demolished bat habitat

Can Shell help pilot a new era of sustainable aviation?

December 14, 2020 by  
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Can Shell help pilot a new era of sustainable aviation? Joel Makower Mon, 12/14/2020 – 02:11 One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies is betting that the future of flying is carbon-neutral. That may seem an audacious notion from a company whose business model for well over a century has centered around bringing fossil fuels to market — and is banking on petroleum being a key, albeit declining, fuel for decades to come. And it may seem unlikely that an industry as carbon-intensive as aviation — a hard-to-abate sector, in the argot of the climate policy crowd — might somehow emerge with its green credentials flying high in a climate-constrained world. But we’re collectively traversing uncharted territory during unprecedented times, creating unparalleled opportunities to transform some of our most unsustainable systems. Over the past year, I’ve been working with Royal Dutch Shell’s aviation division — a relatively small slice of the $344 billion (2019 revenue) energy behemoth — to develop a series of video interviews focusing on what it will take to make aviation sustainable. (I was paid by Shell for this work but not to write this article, which has not been reviewed by the company.) Along the way, I’ve spoken with airline consultants, fuel producers, carbon offset experts and industry critics, as well as with Shell executives, to understand the technologies and market drivers that could, over time, enable aviation to align with other industries in meeting the terms of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. While I’m not yet convinced aviation can become truly sustainable, I’m encouraged that there is at least a flight path pointed toward that destination. It’s been a fascinating journey. And while I’m not yet convinced aviation can become truly sustainable, I’m encouraged that there is at least a flight path pointed toward that destination. In some respects, this couldn’t have been a worse time for these conversations. Although it certainly wasn’t planned, the interviews I conducted during 2020 largely coincided with the aviation sector’s worst downturn in history . The global industry has been losing tens of millions of dollars a day and has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs. Passenger volumes took a nosedive, down precipitously from 2019 levels. The global market for business travel is projected to decline 54 percent during 2020, according to data by ResearchAndMarkets.com, which predicts a robust recovery for the industry — by 2027. Leisure travel was down even more . Only the air cargo business is up. And yet the conversation about sustainable aviation continues to maintain altitude. Some of that is driven by CORSIA, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, a 2016 agreement governing international flights, developed by the 191-nation International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body. CORSIA applies only to international flights, which account for the majority of aviation’s carbon footprint and around 1.3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to ICAO. The goal was to have carbon-neutral growth beginning next year — that is, to decouple greenhouse gas emissions from increases in air travel. Thanks to the pandemic, ICAO changed the baseline of CORSIA to include only 2019’s emissions, as opposed to the original plan to use an average of the sector’s emissions during 2019 and 2020, which would have set the emissions cap much lower due to the 2020 downturn. Fuels rush in CORSIA has helped catalyze a new generation of biofuels and carbon offsets, the two primary tools for reducing the aviation industry’s contribution to climate change. Shell, which has been in both the biofuels and offsets business for years, saw an opening. Its aviation division — which has provided fuel and lubricants for airports and airlines almost since the dawn of commercial aviation, and today serves about 900 airports in 60 countries — began a concerted effort to seize the moment. The push to become a sustainable aviation solutions supplier also aligned with the company’s ambition, announced to investors in April , to become a net-zero-emissions energy business by 2050. Shell is just one of several oil companies eyeing new business opportunities in sustainable aviation, particularly at a time of flat or declining outlooks for petroleum-based fuels. In addition to Shell, oil majors including BP, Chevron, Eni, Neste, Phillips and Total are vying for a piece of the action in sustainable aviation, often in partnership with smaller renewable fuel producers, including Aemetis, Fulcrum BioEnergy, SkyNRG, Sundrop Fuels, Velocys and World Energy. “We have been focusing with the industry to make sure we are ready when our customers need us and we can go back and fly again,” Anna Mascolo, president of global aviation at Shell, told me. “At the same time, what is also becoming very clear is that society, individuals and companies also feel an obligation to make sure that we look at long-term targets and ambitions like sustainability.”   Part of Shell’s quest is to become a leading purveyor of sustainable aviation fuel — SAF, for short — that is slowly but surely making its way into the airplane-fueling pipeline. SAF can be made from a variety of materials and byproducts, from agricultural waste and specially grown crops to used oils, inedible fats and everyday household trash. SAF is what’s called a drop-in fuel, meaning it can substitute one-to-one for traditional, kerosene-based jet fuel, known as Jet A, though current technologies limit the percentage of SAF to no more than about 50 percent on a given flight. That’s a largely theoretical limit. Because of SAF’s higher price and limited availability, most planes currently flying with SAF operate with a blend of less than 1 percent SAF — barely enough to justify bragging rights. Most SAF is deployed in Europe and in California, where policy initiatives provide incentives for SAF and other low-carbon fuels. Supply, meet demand Even with incentives, SAF can be a tough sell. “Historically, what CEOs and aviation companies have done is send demand signals through their willingness to enter into offtake contracts with potential producers,” explained Bryan Sherbacow , chief commercial officer at World Energy, which produces SAF at a facility about 15 miles east of Los Angeles International Airport. “The issue,” he said, “is that the price sensitivity within those contracts is such that they’re saying, ‘If you can produce it at a price that’s comparable to my current opportunity, then we’ll buy as much as you can produce.’ So, while the demand is there, if we can’t drop the price to be competitive with existing fuels today, that demand diminishes.” The “price sensitivity” Sherbacow speaks of is no small thing. A gallon of SAF can cost up to five times that of Jet A, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics , and it’s unlikely that market forces alone can bring that down to the point where the demand for SAF could justify dramatically scaling up production. Given that fuel is an airline’s second-biggest expense after labor, SAF’s price premium is pretty much a show-stopper, at least without incentives. Incentives notwithstanding, getting the price down will take the engagement of Big Oil, Sherbacow told me — “an incumbent industry that has entrenched relationships, entrenched cost structures, entrenched incentives.” World Energy has become a key partner of Shell Aviation. Earlier this year, the two companies signed a multiyear agreement to develop a scalable supply of SAF. It’s one of several partnerships in which both companies have participated. In November, for example, Shell, World Energy and Amsterdam-based SkyNRG announced they would partner with aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce to test the potential for using 100 percent SAF in future engines. There is no shortage of collaborations seeking to jumpstart markets for SAF. There is no shortage of such collaborations seeking to jumpstart markets for SAF. For example, there’s the well-pedigreed Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition , with the goal “to align on a transition to sustainable aviation fuels.” It is led by the World Economic Forum, Rocky Mountain Institute and the Energy Transitions Commission, along with industry players Airbus, Boeing, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol, London’s Heathrow Airport, Shell, SkyNRG and SpiceJet. There’s also the Jet Zero Council , a UK government initiative led by Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Shell “to fast-track zero-emission flight.” “Collaboration is really going to be key,” Mascolo said. That applies to more than passenger airlines. Another significant Shell partnership is with Amazon. In July, the logistics and retail giant announced plans to buy 6 million gallons of SAF from Shell over 12 months. The fuel will be produced by World Energy and made from agricultural waste fats and oils, such as used cooking oil and inedible fats from beef processing. “As our operation continues to expand and continues to become more visible — whether that’s with trucks on the road, vans on the road or with aircraft — our carbon footprint is becoming more visible,” Raoul Sreenivasan, director of planning and performance at Amazon Air, explained during a panel at the VERGE 20 conference in October. “And our research does tell us that for customers, specifically in the U.S. and in Europe, this is a top-of-mind issue.” Amazon’s two biggest U.S. competitors, UPS and Fedex, are similarly ramping up SAF for their cargo planes. Amazon’s SAF purchase is likely a drop in the bucket of its overall aviation fuel spend — the company doesn’t disclose its annual fuel consumption — but these types of demand signals are critical in creating long-term markets for SAF. Going neutral, naturally Fuel is only part of the sustainable aviation equation, especially in the short to mid term. “The technologies and the fuels are not available in quantity today to enable the airlines to get immediately on the trajectory of transforming to net-zero,” explained Annie Petsonk , international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, who focuses on aviation issues. “So, you need offsets as a bridge to help them to get to that trajectory. But the offsets have to meet rigorous quality standards. Otherwise, they won’t actually be helping the planet.” The technologies and the fuels are not available in quantity today to enable the airlines to get immediately on the trajectory of transforming to net-zero. The demand for high-quality carbon offsets has been growing steadily in recent years, thanks in part to the spate of net-zero commitments put forth by companies, industries, cities and nations. And that’s just for voluntary offsets. There’s a much larger compliance market, where utilities and other regulated entities buy and “retire” offsets to meet certain mandatory caps. The most active compliance program is the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, the source of offsets for Kyoto Protocol signatory nations, as well as buyers in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. Nearly 20 years ago, in 2001, Shell set out to become a player here, too, establishing a network of offset trading desks around the world. “My day starts in the New Zealand market,” Bill McGrath, general manager of global environmental products at Shell, explained to me recently from his base in London. He oversees the company’s offset trading operations, which are housed in London, Shanghai, Singapore and San Diego. Traders follow the sun, making deals during the business day in Australia, Korea, China, Europe, South Africa and, finally, the Americas. One of the main drivers for all this activity is Shell’s own global operations, many of which sit within jurisdictions that are part of emissions trading schemes. To meet its obligations in those places, Shell needs access to tens of millions of tons of offsets annually. “We have refineries that are emitting five or six million tons of carbon dioxide per annum, and we have to manage the allowance system around that and trade with other entities to ensure that we can comply with the requirements of those systems,” David Hone , Shell’s chief climate change adviser, explained. “It’s quite a big business.” The central focus of Shell’s offsets are what’s known as nature-based solutions — afforestation, reforestation and various other ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using natural processes, Hone said. “We are channeling something like $300 million of investment into our own forestry projects and turning that into units that we can provide to the aviation industry to offset their emissions.” Offset prices are all over the map, from $3 per ton to $40 or more, with the price often, but not always, synonymous with quality. And while there are organizations setting de facto global standards for offset quality, they are not yet universal. Both price and quality issues have hindered the market uptake of offsets, though that’s changing. As the market for voluntary offsets ramps up, McGrath believes price and quality will become more predictable. “One of the things that spurs developers is getting clarity about what the forward price and forward volume of demand is. When that arises, investment flows. So, one of the things that may emerge by 2025 is far greater clarity about the volume and price that offsetting commands on the buy side, so that the supply side can respond.” Carbon offsets aren’t universally loved, and the markets can be complicated and unnecessarily opaque . And they may not be needed to make aviation sustainable as much as some people think. Last week, United Airlines committed to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 — without using offsets. (The company also announced that it holds more than half of all “publicly announced future purchase commitments to using SAF.”) Still, offset markets will become an increasing fact of life for more and more industries and companies that set their sights on net-zero emissions. That’s especially true for those seeking to offset aviation emissions — from fuel providers to airlines to the flying public. Just the ticket Which brings us to another important piece to the sustainable aviation puzzle: passengers. It wasn’t lost on pretty much everyone I interviewed that the flying public will need to begin doing its part to help make aviation sustainable. “Our research indicates that consumers would prefer to fly on airlines that are actually investing in high-quality offsets, and that are delivering real climate and social and health benefits in local communities,” EDF’s Petsonk said. “They’re willing to pay more for that air ticket if they’re convinced that the airline is serious about making the investment.” Airlines for years have offered ticket buyers the ability to offset the emissions from their flight, with minimal customer uptake — single-digit percentages, by most estimates. And in an era when some airlines nickel and dime passengers for just about everything, it’s understandable that chipping in for offsets won’t likely be high on most flyers’ list — at least, not voluntarily. There’s a role here for travel aggregators — the Orbitzes and Expedias and Kayaks of the world — which can help make offsetting a flight an opt-out exercise instead of opt-in. Also, travel influencers — people with an online presence who encourage their followers to travel to particular places or on particular airlines. “The Instagrammers, the people who have large followings in the leisure travel community, they can be enormously influential as they become more aware of the need to protect the beautiful places that they’re encouraging people to travel to and to protect the climate in order to save those beautiful places,” Petonk said. The Instagrammers can be enormously influential as they become more aware of the need to protect the beautiful places that they’re encouraging people to travel to. Of course, there’s also a significant role for corporate travel buyers. “Companies are starting to ask airlines, ‘How are you going to help me reduce my Scope 3 travel-related carbon emissions?’,” said Angela Foster-Rice, senior vice president at Everland , which markets and sells forestry-based offsets, and who previously spent 16 years in environmental and sustainability roles at United Airlines. While at United, Foster-Rice spoke to a number of key corporate customers. “That was a few years ago, and we were already seeing demands by customers: ‘I see that you’re engaging in great, long-term innovations to decarbonize, but what can you do for me today? How can I compare airlines? How can you help me have a lower footprint?’ There’s a growing demand and interest — particularly by business customers, but also with general consumers — around airlines needing to reduce their footprint in order to help passengers reduce their footprint.” Technology, policy, finance If aviation offsets don’t get sufficient uptake voluntarily, perhaps they will be forced on flyers. One recent proponent of such measures is John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport: Passengers should pay higher flight taxes if their plane uses traditional fuel instead of SAF, he said . Levying a passenger fee is just one of many measures that could provide favorable tailwinds for sustainable aviation initiatives. “The biggest piece that we need is policy,” Foster-Rice said. “Because the technology exists. There’s a real demand by airlines to have SAF, but the costs are just too high. And in order to address that, this is still a very fledgling industry. And the only way to really get there is to have the right policies in place.” Annie Petonk agrees: “What we think is needed is a joint effort involving governments, the airlines and their largest customers to develop innovative financial instruments and government support to bridge the gap between conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel, provided that that sustainable aviation fuel meets very rigorous quality standards.” That sentiment was another through line among nearly all of the interviews I conducted. Bryan Sherbacow: “We’ve had significant interest, and we have access to capital. The issue is that to deploy that capital, investors want to have security into the future of consistent policy that’s going to support our activity and the return on their investment. Today, we don’t have that. It’s uneven with regard to what types of fuels are being incentivized. It’s also uneven as to whether they’re going to be able to rely upon that policy on a consistent basis into the future sufficient enough for investors to feel comfortable.” Even with policy incentives, an arguably tougher challenge in transitioning aviation toward carbon neutrality is lining up the various parts of the aviation ecosystem — including both the fueling and the offset value chains — within the industry’s complex web of interests. Anna Mascolo feels that Shell has a key role to play in this regard beyond merely selling sustainable aviation fuels and offsets. “I think the role that we can play is actually a really good role. It’s not an easy one, and it’s one where we will have to maybe step out a little bit of our comfort zone. We need to look at the whole ecosystem. We need to look at airlines. We need to look at producers. We need to look at logistics providers. We need to look at manufacturers. We need to look at airports. We need to look at government regulators. Everybody needs to play a role, because the challenge is too big to be tackled by one single company on its own.” I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote While I’m not yet convinced aviation can become truly sustainable, I’m encouraged that there is at least a flight path pointed toward that destination. There is no shortage of collaborations seeking to jumpstart markets for SAF. The technologies and the fuels are not available in quantity today to enable the airlines to get immediately on the trajectory of transforming to net-zero. The Instagrammers can be enormously influential as they become more aware of the need to protect the beautiful places that they’re encouraging people to travel to. Topics Transportation & Mobility Energy & Climate Aviation Biofuels Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Can Shell help pilot a new era of sustainable aviation?

Smelly but smart: ships to use ammonia as "zero-carbon" fuel

November 10, 2020 by  
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While the world rushes against time to curb carbon emissions from cars, trains and airplanes, another area of transport raises concerns. Today, almost  90% of all goods traded globally are transported by water . As massive fuel guzzlers compared to other transportation methods, ships exacerbate the emissions problem. To deal with the issue of carbon pollution by ships, several companies and organizations are exploring ammonia as a possible solution.  In 2008, the International Maritime Organization(IMO) set a target of halving its emissions by 2050. To accomplish this, IMO intends to use ammonia as a fossil fuel alternative. Ammonia makes a great alternative since it does not contain carbon; the pungent-smelling gas can burn within an engine and power it without emitting carbon dioxide. Due to ammonia’s ability to provide clean energy, several companies are now testing the gas as an alternative fuel. A German company, Man Energy Solutions, has announced plans to install an ammonia-ready engine on a ship. According to the company, the first model will be dual, allowing the ship to run on traditional gas with an ammonia option. Meanwhile, Eidesvik, a Norway-based company, plans to invest in ammonia-powered ships. By 2023, the company will install ammonia-powered cells on all its ships. Similar to batteries, these cells will generate energy to power the ship’s motor. Though ammonia is less energy-rich than many other marine fuels, it proves more energy-dense than hydrogen . Hydrogen, another zero-emission gas, has been used to power cars, trains and planes. While cheaper to produce than ammonia, hydrogen presents handling difficulties due to its -253 degrees Celcius storage temperature. “Ammonia sits very nicely in the middle,” Dr. Tristan Smith of University College London said. “It’s not too expensive to store and not too expensive to produce.”  If the shipping industry adopts ammonia as a fuel source, there is still more work required to keep it clean. Ammonia produces nitrogen oxides, which can be toxic. Fortunately, there is a technology that can purify the oxides before they are released.  + BBC Image via Pexels

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Smelly but smart: ships to use ammonia as "zero-carbon" fuel

To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success

September 28, 2020 by  
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To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success Peter Boyd Mon, 09/28/2020 – 01:30 Reaching the 2015 Paris Agreement goals requires bold action from all sectors and levels of our society. But any chief sustainability officer will fall short of their responsibility if they simply cite net-zero as a strategic goal. High ambition on its own may sound good. But without describing the emissions their organization is responsible for and the end-state they consider successful, an ambitious claim may be disingenuous. At the other extreme, a cautious, crystal-clear set of climate goals is too incremental in this time of emergency. So how to combine the necessary level of ambition with appropriate clarity to inspire potent action? We suggest leaders spell out an organizational definition of net-zero to enable the Paris Agreement’s aim of net-zero global emissions by mid-century. How should a software company or a city mayor think about its duty to reduce emissions and remove them from the atmosphere? The concept of “net-zero carbon emissions” may feel clear enough at a global scale: Carbon output at a level in balance with natural and engineered means of absorption. However, at the scale of countries, cities, institutions and companies, defining net-zero emissions is tricky. Why focus on the responsibilities of organizations and communities? After all, it is the world that needs to achieve net-zero emissions. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that sense, no single organization’s emissions matter much. But if entities think their emissions do not matter, we are all in trouble. To reach and then surpass net-zero emissions globally, most entities need to be on a reduction and removal path that pulls down the trajectory of global emissions. It is a bit like voting: A single vote almost never sways an election; but the duty and mass activity of voting are vital to the health of a democracy. In this sense, each of our emissions is, in fact, important.  If climate actions were as easy to count as votes, this would be easy. Here we argue for a consistent definition of “net-zero” that enables organizations, companies, cities and countries to set transparent targets and track their progress. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that spirit, we suggest four measurable criteria that, when applied together, elevate an undertaking of net-zero (lower case indicating general use of the term) to be worthy of capitalizing to “Net-Zero.” In this refreshed, robust definition, a strategy for “Net-Zero” greenhouse gas emissions can earn its capital letters if it is: Fully-scoped , Science-based , Paris Agreement-compliant and Cumulative. Each descriptive term imparts an important dimension of clarity, while reinforcing the ambition. Net-Zero can be a powerful goal at the sub-global level if entities embrace a concept that is: Fully-scoped: The goal articulates the entity’s scope of responsibility. This should include all greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1 (owned and controlled sources); Scope 2 (indirect and purchased sources); and Scope 3 ( value chain emissions — both upstream and downstream) that the entity has the ability to influence. Science-based: It incorporates an absolute target for the entity’s own emissions reductions — assuming bold, appropriate responsibility for emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement and at least proportional to its contribution to climate change. Paris Agreement-compliant: The entity specifies if and to what extent carbon credits and external investments in carbon reduction and removal factor into its strategy. Any offsetting investments should be linked to the global carbon budget as defined in the Paris Agreement. Cumulative: The target acknowledges the entity’s historical emissions of greenhouse gases, not just their current level. By analogy, if a customer ate at their favorite restaurant for years without paying, then started paying as they went, the establishment would reasonably expect the customer to settle their old tab at some point. Cumulative responsibility puts rational boundaries around a historical debt. Our hope is that ambitious, clear targets help entities not only achieve “Net-Zero” emissions but progress beyond that marker to a restorative role in society — ideally well before 2050. Together, it is possible to achieve “Net-Zero” emissions across the globe. To do that, it is crucial to rally around one definition of success. This definition should include bold and clear concepts of scope; assume proportional responsibility of definite, ambitious reductions trajectories; include only Paris Agreement-compliant carbon credits or investments; and assume historic responsibility When clearly defined, “Net-Zero” will be an increasingly powerful conceptual tool to focus the world’s response on the climate crisis. For our full paper, visit this link . To share your views and inform future work, please complete our survey and feel free to share with others: bit.ly/DefineNetZero . Pull Quote If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. Contributors Casey R. Pickett Topics Corporate Strategy Net-Zero Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

September 25, 2020 by  
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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat Jim Giles Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:30 Editor’s note: Last week’s Foodstuff discussion on the impact of regenerative grazing on emissions from meat production prompted a flurry of comments from the GreenBiz community. This essay advances the dialogue. Let’s get back to the beef brouhaha I wrote about last week. I’d argued that regenerative grazing could cut emissions from beef production , helping reduce the outsized contribution cattle make to food’s carbon footprint. This suggestion produced more responses than anything I’ve written in the roughly six months since the Food Weekly newsletter launched. The future of meat is a critical issue, so I thought I’d summarize some of the reaction. First up, a shocking revelation: There’s no truth in advertising. I’d written about a new beef company called Wholesome Meats, which claims to sell the “only beef that heals the planet.” Hundreds of ranchers actually already are using regenerative methods, pointed out Peter Byck of Arizona State University, who is leading a major study into the impact of these methods. This week, in fact, some of the biggest names in food announced a major regenerative initiative: Walmart, McDonald’s, Cargill and the World Wildlife Fund said they will invest $6 million in scaling up sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres of grassland across the Northern Great Plains . Two members of that team also are moving to cut emissions from conventional beef production. We tend to blame cows’ methane-filled burps for these gases, but around a quarter of livestock emissions come from fertilizer used to grow animal feed . When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Farmers growing corn and other grains can cut those emissions by planting cover crops and using more diverse crop rotations — two techniques that McDonald’s and Cargill will roll out on 100,000 acres in Nebraska as part of an $8.5 million project. These and other emissions-reduction projects are part of Cargill’s goal to cut emissions from every pound of beef in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds great, right? You can imagine a future in which some beef, probably priced at a premium, comes with a carbon-negative label. Perhaps most beef isn’t so climate-friendly, but thanks to regenerative agriculture and other emissions-lowering methods, the burgers and steaks we love — on average, Americans eat the equivalent of more than four quarter-pounders every week — no longer account for such an egregious share of emissions. Well, yes and no. That future is plausible and would be a more sustainable one, but pursuing it may rule out a game-changing alternative. In the United States, around two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion acres of land used for agriculture is devoted to animal grazing . Two-thirds. That’s an extraordinary amount of land. And that doesn’t include the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed those animals. When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. The alternative here is to eat less meat and then, on the land that frees up, restore native ecosystems, such as forests, which draw down carbon. This week, Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, pointed me to a recent paper in Nature Sustainability that quantified the impact of such a shift . The potential is staggering: Switching to a low-meat, low-dairy diet and restoring land could remove more than 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. That’s around a decade of global fossil-fuel emissions. In some regions, regenerative grazing techniques, which mimic an ancient symbiosis between animals and land, might be part of that restorative process. So maybe the trade-off isn’t as stark as it seems. But demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon, where the trade-off is indeed clear: We’re destroying the lungs of the planet to sustain our beef habit. Once you factor in land use, eating less animal protein and restoring ecosystems looks to be an essential part of the challenge of feeding a growing global population while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of our food systems. That doesn’t mean everyone goes vegan, but it does mean we should cut back on meat and dairy. Pull Quote When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

We Earthlings: Global Social Cost of CO2 Emissions

August 25, 2020 by  
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The “social cost of carbon” represents how much it will … The post We Earthlings: Global Social Cost of CO2 Emissions appeared first on Earth 911.

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We Earthlings: Global Social Cost of CO2 Emissions

The states winning the carbon emissions fight may surprise you

August 7, 2020 by  
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For decades, many states have worked to reduce CO2 emissions . Although the federal government has failed to enact official plans, some individual states prioritize policies to cut emissions. Washington state’s ambitious carbon control policies are so popular that some of them have been adopted by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Despite this, some pro-green energy states such as Washington fall behind in statistics on reduced emissions. A new report from the  World Resources Institute  reveals that over 41 states significantly cut their carbon emissions between 2005 and 2017. While some states known for progressive policies, such as Washington and California, rank among the 41, they don’t lead in emission reduction statistics.  According to the report, Maryland leads with a 38% reduction in carbon emissions. Following closely behind, New Hampshire and Maine reduced carbon emissions by 37% and 33% respectively. The Northeast as a whole also performed well, leading to a 24% reduction. In contrast, many western states saw only slightly reduced carbon emissions. According to Devashree Saha, Senior Associate at the World Resources Institute and co-author of the study, several factors contributed to the northern region’s performance. The region’s initial reliance on coal -generated power, which led to higher pollution rates than western states, represents one such factor. Consequently, a shift from coal-generated power to natural gas significantly reduced carbon pollution in northern states. Saha further clarifies that many western states already emitted less carbon and thus have a lower carbon intensity (a measure of carbon emitted per dollar of economic growth) than northern states. Though the report shows northern states making progress, they must still work harder to meet the carbon intensity level of states such as California . The report also emphasizes the need for a consolidated framework to manage carbon emissions . Without widespread initiatives, efforts made by individual states to control emissions may not affect national rates accordingly. As Saha said, “It is high time that the federal government starts taking action.” + World Resources Institute Via Grist Images via Pixabay and World Resources Institute

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The states winning the carbon emissions fight may surprise you

Applying rock dust to farms could boost carbon sequestration

July 10, 2020 by  
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A report in the journal Nature has revealed that enhanced rock weathering (ERW) could help slow climate change by sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This process involves spreading rock dust on farmland to help absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. When rocks, such as basalt and other silicates, are crushed and added to the soil, they dissolve and react with carbon dioxide, forming carbonates and lock carbon dioxide. Although this is the first time that scientists are proposing this approach in dealing with carbon dioxide, it is not a new concept. Normally, farmers use limestone dust on the soil to reduce acidification. The use of limestone in agriculture helps enhance yield. If the proposed enhanced rock weathering technique is adopted, farmers could incorporate other types of rock dust on their land. Related: Eos Bioreactor uses AI and algae to combat climate change According to the study, this approach could help capture up to 2 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. This is equal to the combined emissions of Germany and Japan. Interestingly, this technique is much cheaper than conventional methods of carbon capturing. The scientists behind the study say that the cost of capturing a ton of CO2 could be as low as $55 in countries such as India, China, Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. For the U.S., Canada and Europe, the cost of capturing one metric ton of CO2 with ERW would be about $160. The scientists propose using basalt as the optimal rock for ERW. Given that basalt is already produced in most mines as a byproduct, adding it to farmland soils can easily be instituted. Further, the countries that contribute the highest amounts of carbon dioxide are the best candidates for the ERW technique. Countries such as China, India and the U.S. have large farmlands that can be used to capture excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Given that carbon emissions are a big problem for the entire world, this technique might just be the light at the end of the tunnel. The enhanced rock weathering technique is affordable and practical, making it a win-win. + Nature Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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UK residents enjoying record low emissions

May 28, 2020 by  
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By now, almost everybody has heard about record low CO2 emissions brought on by  coronavirus  lockdowns. But new data shows not only that the U.K.’s emissions are the lowest they’ve been since the 1920s, but there’s reason to hope they might not shoot back up to pre-pandemic rates as soon as life returns to quasi-normal. A recent paper published in the scientific journal  Nature Climate Change examined six sectors known for their climate change contributions: electricity  and heat; surface transport; industry; home use; aviation; and public buildings and commerce. They found that surface transport was notably down, partially accounting for why the U.K. cut emissions by 31% during lockdown, compared to a global average of 17%.  “A lot of emissions in the UK come from surface transport – around 30% on average of the country’s total  emissions ,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, the paper’s lead author. “It makes up a bigger contribution to total emissions than the average worldwide.” Since the U.K. reached full lockdown, Quéré said, people were forced to stay home and not to drive to work. Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, reminds us that our problems are far from over. “A 31% emissions drop in April is dramatic, but in the long run it won’t mean anything unless some reductions are made permanent,” Childs told HuffPost UK. “This lockdown moment is a chance to reset our carbon-guzzling economy and rebuild in a way that leaves pollution in the past, to stop climate-wrecking emissions spiking right back up to where they were before, or even higher.” Fortunately, British drivers appreciate the cleaner air and plan to permanently alter their driving style, according to a survey. In the Automobile Association’s poll of 20,000 motorists, half plan to walk more post- pandemic , and 40% aim to drive less. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they planned to work from home more, 25% intend to fly less and 20% to cycle more. The U.K. government plans to spend £250 million on improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. “We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air,” said Edmund King, Automobile Association president. “ Walking  and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air.” + Nature Climate Change Via HuffPost and BBC

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UK residents enjoying record low emissions

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