Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump

March 28, 2018 by  
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Financing for extreme fossil fuels  like tar sands  swelled in 2017 under Trump, according to a new report.  Banking on Climate Change 2018  tracks 36 of the largest banks in the world to discover they poured $115 billion into these polluting projects, up 11 percent from 2016, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Coal mining and power, Arctic and ultra-deepwater oil, and liquefied natural gas export are among the extreme fossil fuels covered by the report, endorsed by more than 50 groups — but the tar sands sector leaped ahead of the pack, overtaking coal to become the most heavily backed extreme energy sector. From 2016 to 2017, financing increased by 111 percent, and banks poured almost $47 billion into tar sands. Related: Here’s every bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how to switch Organizations including RAN, BankTrack , Oil Change International , Honor The Earth , Indigenous Environmental Network , and Sierra Club , graded banks worldwide on their financing, and found JPMorgan Chase was the number one Wall Street funder of these polluting fuels. That institution, along with the Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank, passed what RAN described as coal-heavy Chinese banks to be extreme fossil fuels’ biggest bankers in 2017. According to RAN’s statement, “JPMorgan Chase increased funding to coal mining by a shocking 21 times and quadrupled its financing of tar sands oil.” Multiple European banks pledged to reduce financing for fossil fuels like shale or oil sands, according to The Independent , but the report revealed banks in North America, especially in Canada, increased funding. “Every single dollar that these banks provide for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a dollar going to increase the climate crisis ,” Oil Change International executive director Stephen Kretzmann said in a statement. “The World Bank, which understands the deep threat that climate change poses to poverty alleviation, has gotten the message and is ending its financing of upstream oil and gas projects. Meanwhile, it seems some commercial banks appear intent on going in the opposite direction. It’s time banks like Chase and TD and US Bank took the World Bank’s lead and stop funding fossils. Until they do, these banks will be complicit in our climate catastrophe.” Find out how your bank stacks up in the Banking on Climate Change 2018 report on RAN’s website. + Banking on Climate Change 2018 + Rainforest Action Network Via The Independent Images via Depositphotos and Backbone Campaign on Flickr

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Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump

Abundant solar threatens fossil fuel companies in Texas to the tune of $1.4 billion

January 19, 2018 by  
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In Texas, demand for power peaks in the summer, which also happens to be when solar power is at its most productive. With the state slated to add up to 15 gigawatts of solar in the next few years, it spells big trouble for companies peddling fossil fuels – a $1.4 billion problem. Hear that tapping sound? It’s another nail being hammered in the coffin for fossil fuels . The state’s solar boom could wipe out $2.76 per megawatt hour (wholesale) during the summer from fossil fuels, according to Bloomberg . Since gas and coal power generators rely on high summer prices to counteract the winter dip in demand, solar’s proliferation is a double-whammy threat to the industry. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Texas isn’t the only state to face this “problem.” California’s fossil fuel prices regularly dip into the negative during summer hours. The good news for fossil fuels is that this shift won’t happen right away. Texas will likely only have 1.8 gigawatts of solar power within the next two years. Via Bloomberg Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Abundant solar threatens fossil fuel companies in Texas to the tune of $1.4 billion

California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

January 4, 2018 by  
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California could ban all new fossil fuel cars from 2040 under a bill introduced this week by Assemblymember Phil Ting , a Democrat of San Francisco. If it passes, the Clean Cars 2040 act would require all new cars sold in the state to be zero emissions vehicles. Ting said in a statement , “We’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change .” AB 1745, or the Clean Cars 2040 Act, would require every passenger vehicle sold in California to be zero emissions after January 1, 2040. Ting said fossil fuel vehicles are responsible for almost 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, so “achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet.” NextGen America president Tom Steyer said polluting cars are California’s biggest source of carbon emissions . The bill would not apply to commercial vehicles greater than 10,000 pounds, just passenger cars. It also wouldn’t apply to cars owned by people in other states moving to California. Related: Scotland to phase out new gas and diesel cars by 2032 California hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent under 1990 levels by 2030. Governor Jerry Brown aims to have 1.5 million zero emission cars on the streets by 2025, and there are almost 300,000 EVs registered in CA already. But the state still has a ways to go: the San Francisco Chronicle said in 2016 that while 2.1 million new cars were sold, only 1.9 percent of those were zero emissions. The bill already has support from some environmental groups. Earthjustice staff attorney Adrian Martinez said in Ting’s statement, “Reducing fossil fuels emissions should be California’s highest priority. With this legislation, California will be taking combustion polluting vehicles off the road…helping us to finally address air pollution and better equipping us to combat climate change. I urge our state’s leaders to pass this important legislation.” Via Assemblymember Phil Ting , the San Francisco Chronicle , and Engadget Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

January 4, 2018 by  
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With its extreme weather and unraveling public policy, 2017 provided the world with a glimpse of its climate-chaotic future if changes are not made immediately. Ferocious wildfires burned across California, back-to-back major hurricanes devastated coastal and even inland areas, and the Arctic continued to melt. All the while, Washington DC took action to halt the marginal but meaningful progress made under the Obama Administration by withdrawing from the Paris agreement and stacking the Environmental Protection Agency with those who would serve the interests of industry first. In what is yet another warning sign in a long line of alarm bells ringing, 2017 served as a reminder that the disruptive power of climate change is real and that our failure to act will cost us dearly, today and tomorrow. Although global emissions had remained flat for three years prior, 2017 marked a return to form, with greenhouse gas emissions rising by two percent. While the United States , despite its change in leadership, maintained a slight decline in emissions, this was more than offset by increases in China and India. This continued rise means that in order to meet the emissions goals to avoid catastrophic climate change, substantial cuts will need to be made quickly over the next few decades. Meanwhile, the worst-case climate-change scenarios predicted by scientists seem to be increasingly likely, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature . Related: Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier If the numbers aren’t convincing, the visceral experience of 2017 should make clear the dangers of climate change. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated the United States and the Caribbean, leaving much of Puerto Rico still without power and over $200 billion in damages during what was the costliest hurricane season in history. On the other side of North America, wildfires raged in what was also the costliest wildfire season on record. While climate change doesn’t cause wildfires or hurricanes, it creates the conditions that facilitate extreme weather. Meanwhile, the Arctic continues to melt as scientists declare that the region is no longer reliably frozen due to a downward spiral of warming temperatures. The world is not doomed to this climate catastrophe. However, time is rapidly running out. Via MIT Technology Review Images via Depositphotos (1)

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2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

December 26, 2017 by  
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Steve Berman is perhaps best known for winning a $206 billion settlement from tobacco companies in the 1990s, although he’s also taken on big companies like Enron and Volkswagen. Now he’s setting his sights on fossil fuel companies. Vice spoke to Berman about a lawsuit demanding five of the most powerful oil companies in the world pay for causing climate change . Berman, the managing partner of Hagens Berman , is one of the attorneys representing San Francisco and Oakland in two lawsuits filed against BP, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman. Related: UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers The case suggests Big Oil borrowed moves from Big Tobacco, which researched cancer even as tobacco companies denied cigarettes were harmful. Berman has evidence that Exxon , for example, knew burning oil leads to global warming in the 1950’s – and oil companies worked to protect Arctic pipelines and offshore oil rigs from the impacts of climate change even as they denied the science. Vice pointed out no one has yet won a similar lawsuit. A Chevron spokesperson told Vice, “Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities.” Berman failed to win a lawsuit like this one in 2012, when he attempted to hold fossil fuel companies including Exxon responsible for the sea level rise threatening Kivalina, Alaska. A federal court dismissed the case; United States District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong wrote, “There is no realistic possibility of tracing any particular alleged effect of global warming to any particular emissions by any specific person, entity, group at any particular point in time.” Leaps in climate science since then could help Berman in this new lawsuit. Researchers have calculated nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gases emitted during the past 150 years can be connected back to 90 companies; BP, Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Shell are in the top ten, according to Vice. Berman told the publication, “We have better science . We think causation will be easier to prove.” Via Vice and Hagens Berman Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

Canadas newest funicular makes one of North Americas largest urban parklands more accessible

December 26, 2017 by  
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Edmonton wants you to see it from a new point of view—literally. The Canadian city recently launched a $24 million funicular that links the valley floor to a 20-meter cantilevered lookout with sweeping views of the North Saskatchewan River. Clad in the eco-friendly timber material Kebony, the cable-mechanized incline elevator designed by Canadian firm Dialog Architects taps into an old yet charming transit method in hopes of boosting tourism and access to the Edmonton River Valley, one of North America’s largest areas of urban parkland. Estimated to be approximately 21 times larger than New York City’s Central Park , Edmonton River Valley is a linear park system connecting 22 major parks with over 150 kilometers of trails. The new publicly funded river valley funicular and lookout —formally known as the 100 Street Funicular and Frederick G. Todd Lookout—offers a new way for citizens and tourists to access the green space from the downtown core. The funicular can transport mobility aids, bikes, and strollers, and is complemented by a staircase. There is no charge to use the funicular, which can hold up to 20 people at a time. Related: New Edmonton Freezeway communal ice trail opens in Canada “The project is an entrance to the river valley for everyone, regardless of age and ability, and a focal point that will bring people together in the heart of Edmonton,” said Dialog Architects. “It allows Edmontonians to become tourists in their own backyard. The City of Edmonton has long sought to improve connectivity for the public between urban areas and the North Saskatchewan River valley, and this project is a major step towards greater connectivity throughout the city.” Kebony wood, used for decking, cladding, and seating accents, was chosen for its resistance to rot and ability to last six times longer than pressure-treated wood. + Dialog Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Brock Kryton

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Canadas newest funicular makes one of North Americas largest urban parklands more accessible

Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

December 26, 2017 by  
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Local architects Fon Studio breathed new life into a Beijing hutong , converting the historic residence into a chic neighborhood library claimed to be the nation’s first magazine library. Located next to a picturesque man-made canal, the Spring Whispers Book Club is an adaptive reuse project that preserves parts of the original structure while injecting an undeniably contemporary vibe. Nestled within Dongcheng District, Spring Whispers Book Club is set within a historic Beijing neighborhood full of winding alleys and hutongs, many of which have been converted for new commercial purposes. Spring Whispers Book Club’s original hutong structure was once a traditional three-room house that had fallen into disrepair. Fon Studio constructed a teak and steel framework based on traditional building techniques to reinforce the hutong’s decayed timber-and-brick shell. Clean lines and the use of timber, gray terrazzo, and glass gave the hutong’s facade a modern refresh. Related: ARCHSTUDIO inserts a modern teahouse into an ancient Chinese structure To provide a pleasant reading environment, the architects inserted a floor-to-ceiling window that fills the heart of the library with natural light and frames canal views. Operable timber shutters also let light into the other parts of the library . White steel framing in the interior guide the eye to the bookshelves lined with magazines. Light-colored timber used for the new internal structures and furnishings provides a beautiful contrast to the older dark-colored wood. The interior comprises a variety of seating areas and a bar. + Fon Studio Via ArchDaily Images via Fon Studio

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Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels

November 24, 2017 by  
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A Swedish power plant northwest of Stockholm hopes to go fossil fuel free by 2020 – and they’re turning to recycled wood and trash for alternatives, including discarded apparel from retail chain H&M . This year they’ve already burned around 15 tons of H&M clothes. A power plant owned and operated by Malarenergi AB in the town of Vasteras, Sweden is working to transition away from oil and coal, and are turning to a fuel source you might not expect: discarded garments. Head of fuel supplies Jens Neren told Bloomberg, “For us it’s a burnable material. Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Sweden boasts a nearly emission-free power system, according to Bloomberg , due to wind, nuclear, and hydro plants. But some local municipalities do use oil and coal for heating on winter days. The country hopes to move away from fossil fuel units by converting old plants to burn trash and biofuels instead. Where do the H&M clothes come in? Malarenergi has a deal with nearby town Eskilstuna to burn their garbage, and some of that comes from a central warehouse of H&M’s. The clothing company’s head of communications Johanna Dahl told Bloomberg, “H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use. However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed.” The Vasteras plant, which supplies power for around 150,000 households, has burned around 400,000 tons of garbage this year. Bloomberg reported earlier this week, the last coal ship docked in the area to drop off supplies to last until 2020 for the plant’s last two fossil fuel generators, which date back to the 1960s. In 2020, the plant will add a wood-fired boiler to help trash- and biofuel-burning units meet demand. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos and Per Nyström, Scheiwiller Svensson Arkitektkontor AB/Malarenergi AB

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This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels

New smart grid solution heals itself amid central grid outages

November 1, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy may offer emissions-free electricity , but it isn’t always easy for electrical grids to integrate that energy. Dutch company Alfen is launching their answer to the dilemma. The Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP) allows a central grid to be divided into smaller cells that can operate independently, if necessary, and even self-heal . CSGriP provides energy from sources like biogas , solar power , or wind power for local consumers. It includes “a 0.5 megawatt energy storage system and complex algorithm used for local energy management.” Should the central grid go out, local cells would take over to restore power for local customers. According to Alfen, “Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells, and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid” to reduce the duration of central grid outages. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How a smart electric grid could reduce emissions by 58 percent in the US Alfen energy storage specialist Evert Raaijen said in a statement, “Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids.” In developed countries, the point of the platform is to decentralize the grid and make it more ready for renewables. But the platform could also be deployed in developing countries that still need to be electrified, allowing them to avoid constructing central grids obtaining power from large fossil fuel -burning plants in favor of these local cells with storage systems for renewable sources. Alfen has worked in countries from the United Kingdom to the Czech Republic to Nigeria, on projects for electric vehicle charging , transformer substations, energy storage, smart grids, and grid automation. They are currently field testing CSGriP at the Application Center for Renewable Resources in Lelystad, the Netherlands . + Alfen Via Alfen Images via Alfen on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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New smart grid solution heals itself amid central grid outages

This pop-up prefab cocoon can immerse you in the heart of nature

November 1, 2017 by  
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Immersing yourself in nature without leaving the comfort of the hotel room may sound too good to be true, but that’s exactly what French architect and civil engineer Christophe Benichou sets out to achieve in LUMISHELL . Created in the shape of a cocoon, this prefabricated curved dwelling blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor space with LUMICENEs, a patented reversible window concept. The LUMISHELL is designed for placement in a variety of exotic environments—even in Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat that experiences below freezing temperatures. Clad in a protective aluminum skin, the 40-square-meter LUMISHELL comprises all the needs for a comfortable, long-term stay including a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. The bedroom and living room are located at opposite ends of the curved dwelling and wrapped by LUMICENE , a curved glass sliding door that opens up to transform the room into an outdoor space. Curtains attached to the LUMICENE rails allow for privacy and protection from solar gain, while the shape of the structure is optimized for natural cross ventilation. Related: Cover installs its first prefab dwelling “for the masses” in L.A. “Both rooms provide unique panoramic views and can be occasionally transformed into outdoor spaces to enhance the feeling of being transplanted in the middle of vast scapes,” wrote the architect. “Various mirrors also create reflections that diffuse the landscape in the heart of the dwelling.” The self-supporting and prefabricated LUMISHELL can be assembled on site in as little as four days—not including hookups—and does not require foundations. The LUMISHELL is currently available for pre-orders and is expected to ship out for first installations in 2018. + LUMISHELL

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This pop-up prefab cocoon can immerse you in the heart of nature

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