173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

April 13, 2018 by  
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Shipping was the sole industry excluded from the 2015 Paris Agreement , even though the sector’s annual carbon emissions are higher than those of Germany  — and countries now plan to address that. 173 nations just agreed to a historic, mandatory deal to slash shipping industry emissions . Related: World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway One week of negotiations at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in London yielded this landmark deal. Envoys of 173 countries agreed to reduce emissions at least 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States objected. Shipping vessels tend to burn fuel oil, which is cheap but also one of the dirtiest fossil fuels . According to Bloomberg , the industry didn’t factor into the Paris agreement because each participating country presented its own plans to curb emissions, excluding the seas. University College London Energy Institute reader Tristan Smith told Bloomberg, “It is likely this target will tighten further, but even with the lowest level of ambition, the shipping industry will require rapid technological changes.” BREAKING: Commitment to decarbonise shipping is welcome – governments can no longer shirk decisions on how to cut ship GHG emissions https://t.co/7Bh4pWIO04 pic.twitter.com/mEp3t36zSM — Transport & Environment (@transenv) April 13, 2018 “Making new ships emit less CO2 is the most obvious way to decarbonize the sector because ships have long lifetimes, usually around 25 to 30 years,” shipping officer Faig Abbasov of European NGO Transport & Environment told Bloomberg. “If you don’t build ships more efficiently, those ships will still be sailing around in the middle of the century.” As with the Paris Agreement , some people are saying this new deal doesn’t go far enough. A statement from the Clean Shipping Coalition (of which Transport & Environment is a member) said the target set “falls short of the 70 to 100 percent cut by 2050 that is needed to align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.” Transport & Environment shipping director Bill Hemmings said, “The IMO should and could have gone a lot further but for the dogmatic opposition of some countries led by Brazil, Panama, Saudi Arabia. Scant attention was paid to US opposition.” + Clean Shipping Coalition Statement Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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173 countries agree to slash shipping industry emissions in historic deal

New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

April 13, 2018 by  
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Tesla is getting all the attention when it comes to solar roofs , but some competitors out there are innovating in ways that even Elon Musk hasn’t thought of. 3 in 1 Roof , for instance, offers insulation, extreme wind protection and solar power, all in one. The solar roof system comes in a huge range of finishes, has a lighter load than traditional slate tiles, and is the first to claim zero heat transference into the attic – so it reduces your heating and cooling costs while providing you with clean, green energy. All at about half of the price of a Tesla solar roof. The Ft. Lauderdale-based company calculates that its offering will be about $11 less than Tesla’s solar roof per square foot. It’s also lighter than traditional slate roofing at just 110 pounds per 10 square feet, which means that architects can engineer homes with structures designed to support lighter loads. The roofs are designed to eliminate condensation between the attic deck and insulation, preventing mold and rot. The roofs are also hurricane resistant, standing up to winds at 200 mph. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Because of the highly UV-resistant surface and durable foam insulation, 3 in 1 Roofs should last 300% longer than traditional products and can save you up to 38% on your HVAC costs. If you want to nab one, the company is accepting $500 deposits and guarantees it will be ready for installation in 2019 – or you get your deposit, plus $500 back. You can also get a free car station charger if you are one of the first 1,000 to place an order. + 3 in 1 Roof

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New 3 in 1 Roof solar tiles power your house for half the price of a Tesla roof

EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as a necessary lifting of burdensome regulations on automakers and to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos  and the White House

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EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

March 28, 2018 by  
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Xie Zhenhua, China ‘s top climate official, has reported that the country has met its 2020 carbon intensity target three years earlier than expected. China’s carbon intensity, as measured by the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of economic growth, has decreased by 46 percent since 2005. Such changes in China’s energy economy bode well for a global community that is struggling to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement . If China, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels, can continue its progress towards a carbon-free economy, the nation of nearly 1.5 billion may be well-positioned to support other countries in their efforts to stop catastrophic climate change. In 2009, China set its goal of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent of its 2005 carbon levels. This initial concession towards a less carbon -intense economy helped to set the stage for the successful negotiations of the Paris Agreement. At the time, China also made a commitment to set up a national cap-and-trade system by which emissions would be reduced through market forces. Thus far, it has been unable to establish a functional emissions market. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough The cap-and-trade system has also been hindered by technical difficulties and a lack of reliable emissions data. The current scheme, which launched in late 2017, involves only the power sector. As the country attempts to develop its cap-and-trade regime, it also must confront challenges created by a major bureaucratic change that transferred the responsibility for climate change from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. “It is questionable whether in the short term [the new ministry] can be elevated in status and power to the extent that it will be able quickly to assume the influential role that the NDRC occupied in the area of climate change ,” Peter Corne, a managing partner at the Shanghai legal firm Dorsey & Whitney, told Reuters . Nonetheless, China is making progress and that is good news for all of us. Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early

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

Helsinki unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035

March 21, 2018 by  
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Finland’s capital city has unveiled a new plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, accelerating the goal by 15 years. The plan, called Carbon Neutral Helsinki 2035 , outlines 143 specific actions that will result in reduced energy consumption and a greater share of renewable energy sources . In a press release, city officials said, “Helsinki’s definition of carbon neutrality is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated within the city borders by 80% and to offset the rest.” The Nordic city currently has a population of 640,000, according to the press release. Although they expect that to grow to 780,000, officials are convinced they can reach their carbon neutral target by taking specific actions to improve energy efficiency, increase renewable uptake, capture and reuse waste energy and improve public transportation . Most of Helsinki’s current greenhouse gas emissions stem from heating. The action plan, co-written with input from various civic organizations, stakeholders and researchers, proposes to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by one-fifth by upgrading infrastructure, enforcing stricter standards, and incorporating both heat recovery and geothermal heating technology . Solar power, despite the city’s northern latitude (slightly further north than Russia’s St Petersburg), is expected to produce sufficient power to cover one-sixth of the city’s overall electricity consumption. Related: Detox your troubles away in this new public sauna built with natural materials By introducing more sustainable transportation, including electric vehicles, the city could cut related greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 69 percent — according to the plan. Esa Nikunen, Director General of Helsinki Environment Services says, “Helsinki can achieve its goal in transportation, which is much stricter than the national goal, owing to the increasing density in our urban structure . Helsinki has excellent opportunities to promote public transportation, walking, and cycling”. Although these long-term goals will take time to implement, the city has already cut their CO2 emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels, or by 1,000 kilotons per year (kt/a). By 2035, their target is to generate only 700 kt/a, which they will offset. With such progressive, proactive plans in place, it is perhaps little wonder that Finland was recently rated the happiest country on Earth . + Helsinki’s Climate Action Images via DepositPhotos Helsinki 1 , Helsinki 2

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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

Here’s what could happen if America went 100% vegan

November 14, 2017 by  
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What if America threw out its hot dogs and hamburgers in favor of vegan fare? You might say that would never happen, but two scientists – from Virginia Tech and the United States Department of Agriculture – decided to explore how such a choice would impact the country’s greenhouse gas emissions . Their study discovered that annual agricultural emissions would fall from 623 million tons to 446 million tons. Eating vegan wouldn’t solve all of America’s greenhouse gas problems. But it would definitely make an impact. Animals currently comprise 49 percent of the US’ agricultural emissions. In a vegan America, agricultural emissions could drop by 28 percent. But total US emissions would only fall by 2.6 percent, according to the study . Related: 10 vegan sources of protein you can grow at home The study authors also noted a plant-only system wouldn’t meet the American population’s dietary needs for calcium, a few fatty acids, and vitamins A and B. Lead author Robin White of Virginia Tech told Science Magazine , “With carefully balanced rations, you can meet all of your nutrient requirements with a vegetarian diet. But the types of foods that seem to do that, we don’t currently produce in sufficient quantities to make it a sustainable diet for the entire population.” The study did find that without animals, total food production could increase by 23 percent – mostly in grains, according to Gizmodo . Not every expert agrees with the study’s assumptions. Nutritionist Joan Sabate of Loma Linda University told Science Magazine, “[We] could yield a better nutrient profile if we do restructure the land use.” Agricultural researcher Mario Herrero of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization said America going vegan could impact other countries as well – if the United States ceased importing so much meat , greenhouse gas emissions of other countries could fall too. Even if going vegan doesn’t solve all of the US’ climate change woes, it is clear a diet with less meat and more plants could help the planet. Project Drawdown – a coalition of scientists, entrepreneurs, and advocates – ranked a plant-rich diet as the number four solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published the study online yesterday. + PNAS Via Science Magazine and Gizmodo Images via Tim Wright on Unsplash , Brooke Cagle on Unsplash , and Alexandra Andersson on Unsplash

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Here’s what could happen if America went 100% vegan

Greening the Earth could fight climate change as efficiently as cutting fossil fuels

October 18, 2017 by  
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Planting trees, revitalizing soil, and other natural environmental actions could prove as effective in fighting climate change as ceasing all oil use across the planet, according to new study published by an international team of scientists in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” said the team in a statement. Protection of carbon-storing peatlands , sustainable land management, reforestation, and other natural solutions could account for 37 percent of all emissions reductions required under the Paris Agreement by 2030. Perhaps most astoundingly, a complete re-greening of the planet would have as much of a positive impact on climate change mitigation as completely stopping the global burning of oil for fuel. The estimates of the potential benefits from natural climate change solutions are about 30 percent higher than that predicted by a 2014 UN panel of climate scientists. In the recently released study, scientists conclude that more sustainable management of natural resources and the environment could result in 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of China’s yearly emissions, by 2030. Trees are particularly important to this system, as they act as carbon banks while they are alive. After they die, trees decompose and this carbon is slowly released back into the atmosphere. More trees and more resilient forests means more potential carbon storage, among other health benefits. Related: Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees Although the current plans from governments across the globe are insufficient to avert a 2 degree Celsius global temperature rise, the new study offers hope for alternative solutions. “Fortunately, this research shows we have a huge opportunity to reshape our food and land use systems ,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Unfortunately, the planet is rapidly running out of time before catastrophic climate change upends the world as we know it. “If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature ,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. You heard it here: get out there and start planting trees. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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Greening the Earth could fight climate change as efficiently as cutting fossil fuels

Fixing Earth’s ozone layer has other surprising benefits, new study shows

August 16, 2017 by  
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Dozens of nations signed an agreement nearly 30 years ago to stop the expansion of a massive hole in Earth’s ozone layer. Today, thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the hole in the ozone layer has shrunk as countries reduced, then eliminated, the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). A new study from  Geophysical Research Letters  now shows that the agreement not only achieved its stated aim, but has also been one of the most effective tools for fighting climate change in the United States. The recent study confirms what scientists and policymakers have been observing as the Montreal Protocol was enacted, though it focuses primarily on the United States. “This is something that’s been talked about for a while, this dual benefit of the Montreal Protocol limiting damage to the ozone layer, also curtailing climate change,” said Rachel Cleetus, climate policy manager and lead economist with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s because all these ozone depleting substances are also very potent global warming gases.” The regulations enacted to fulfill the Montreal Protocol resulted in greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to approximately half of all other climate regulations between 2008 and 2014. Related: Antarctic ozone layer shows “first fingerprints of healing” The near-total removal of CFCs and steep decline in HCFCs in the United States was made possible by the Clean Air Act , a law that was used by the Obama Administration , as approved by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Though CFCs and HCFCs have been replaced by hydroflourocarabons (HFCs), which still contribute to climate change but do not burn a hole in the ozone layer, the signatories to the Montreal Protocol have amended the agreement to reduce HFCs as well in a move that was praised by US Secretary of State John Kerry as the “single most important step” in combating climate change. As the Trump Administration refuses to fulfill its duties under the Clean Air Act to protect public health, the success of the Montreal Protocol is a hopeful reminder of what can be done if dedicated parties work together and take action. Via Gizmodo Lead image via Depositphotos , others via  NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center   and  Rémi Vincent/Flickr

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Fixing Earth’s ozone layer has other surprising benefits, new study shows

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