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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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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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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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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Why Silicon Valley is taking a big interest in trees

February 24, 2020 by  
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Forest data startups such as Pachama and Silviaterra can help the biggest players in tech tackle their emissions.

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Real Estate Industry Reducing Carbon Emissions

November 6, 2019 by  
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Commercial buildings account for 39 percent of global carbon emissions. … The post Real Estate Industry Reducing Carbon Emissions appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: The Old Junkyard

November 6, 2019 by  
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When I was young, my sister and I always passed … The post Maven Moment: The Old Junkyard appeared first on Earth911.com.

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