Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future

September 18, 2018 by  
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Cities around the world are pledging to reduce waste over the next 12 years in an effort to curb global warming and eventually become zero-waste cities. During the Global Climate Action Summit, the C40 announced a new initiative that encourages cities to eliminate waste production and end the practice of waste burning. So far, 23 cities have agreed to become zero-waste and will work toward that goal by “reducing the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and incineration by at least 50 percent … and increase the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to at least 70 percent by 2030,” according to C40 . Each city has agreed to cut down on waste that ends up in landfills by at least half over the next decade. The cities — which include San Francisco, Catalonia, Auckland, Dubai, Copenhagen, London , Montreal, New York City , Milan, Rotterdam, Sydney, Paris , Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Washington D.C. and Vancouver — also pledged to reduce waste generation by 15 percent and encourage alternative waste management practices by 2030. Related: 19 mayors, thousands of buildings, zero carbon emissions by 2030 Reducing the amount of waste disposal and incineration is an important step in fighting global warming. Scientists believe that the new initiative could cut global carbon emissions by around 20 percent as cities begin to recycle and compost waste instead of dumping it into landfills or burning it. The 23 cities who signed the zero-waste declarations hope that they will lead by example and encourage other municipalities to do the same. The EPA says that incinerators and landfills significantly increase the amount of greenhouse gases around the globe. These practices also encourage companies to acquire new resources and materials, leading to an endless cycle of waste disposal. In addition to cutting down on waste, increasing recycling and reusing materials also contributes to a better economy. Instead of wasting old materials, recycling and reusing keeps the items in the system for longer periods. This reduces the need to purchase new materials and manage waste. + C40 Image via Patrick Tomasso

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Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future

We love electric scooters but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment?

September 18, 2018 by  
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The debut of electric scooter programs in cities such as Austin, Washington D.C. and San Diego has been making headlines with promises of cleaner air , but is this really the case? Between LimeBike, Waybots, Spin and Bird, which has been newly introduced to the Los Angeles area, there is a plethora of companies jumping on the trend of promoting eco-friendly scooters to city planners and residents. With public transportation methods significantly improving in environmental efficiency — and the majority of distances traveled by scooter being walkable distances — the carbon footprint might not be as small as scooter-share programs are claiming. “Today, 40 percent of car trips are less than two miles long,” said Travis VanderZanden , founder and chief executive of Bird. “Our goal is to replace as many of those trips as possible, so we can get cars off the road and curb traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.” The scooters are the latest trend to enter the app-based mobility market, which has passengers whimsically racing through city streets at a $1 rental price, plus 15 cents for every minute after. Related: Paris launches electric scooter sharing program with Coup and Gogoro While Bird is assuming that half of its scooter rides are replacing mile-long car trips, Phil Lasley, who has been studying traffic, bicycle and pedestrian issues for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute said , “We honestly don’t know yet.” According to his evaluations, it is possible that the scooters are replacing short drives but with quantities still uncertain. He said there are many other aspects to consider. “Are these trips taking away from other bicycle trips? Are they taking away from transit? Are they taking away from walking?” Lasley asked. For instance, a mile-long trip to the office means that the 15-mph vehicle would charge for a minimum of 4 minutes plus extra for time in traffic. This exceeds the average public transportation fares for cities such as Austin and L.A., where the average full-fare ticket only costs $1.25 to $1.50 and can get you a lot farther. City bike-share programs are available at comparable rates to those of public transportation, as seen with L.A.’s new bicycle advertising campaign . The green transit platform is promoting the city’s carbon-free single rides at the same cost as a bus or metro ticket, while daily users of a monthly plan are seeing fractions of a dollar for their commute cycles. It goes without saying that owners of bikes, non-motorized scooters and skateboards are at a monetary and ecological advantage in comparison to those using electric scooters. Related: Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding From an economic standpoint, Bird and LimeBike rides might be behind compared to alternatives such as buses, trains and bikes. But according to a Bird press release on its Austin launch, “Riders were able to prevent 445,334 pounds of carbon emissions.” LimeBike similarly claimed an estimated 8,500-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Austin in just two weeks. “With the launch of Lime-S, we are expanding the range of affordable, space-efficient and environmentally friendly mobility options available to D.C. residents,” said Jason Starr, a LimeBike executive for the company’s Washington D.C. division, back in March. With competing green vehicles focusing on both affordability and environmental friendliness, many people are looking to “space-efficien[cy]” to account for the hype of electric scooters. The space efficiency feature makes electric scooters fun to ride and easy to park anywhere, but it also means that chargers are driving long distances to pick up the scooters one by one. Each morning, electric scooters are dropped off en-mass at various hubs throughout the city. From there, riders can take the vehicles and drop them off wherever they wish within the city. Scooters now litter random sidewalks, storefronts and restaurant walkways — rarely in a collective group. At night they are “captured” (in the case of Birds) by the company’s chargers, who are individual citizens signed up to make money by collecting, powering and redistributing the scooters to the hubs each morning. Each scooter has a price tag on it, with those more difficult to collect scoring the charger a higher paycheck. The higher valuations on the remote scooters means that chargers are likely to drive farther to and from the stranded scooters, consuming more gas and emitting more carbon dioxide in the process. Similarly, morning commuters who wake up to find an empty dropping pad might eagerly run back to their reliable, personal vehicles instead of public transportation, because they are in a time-crunch. Whether these factors are being taken into account by the companies in their statistics is unclear. Related: Lyft is making all their rides carbon neutral Their popularity is as much their undoing as it is their achievement according to Haje Jan Kamps, portfolio director at venture capital firm Bolt. The entrepreneur recently published a piece on TechCrunch about the business models e-scooter companies would need to adopt in order to succeed. “They are currently in a massive scaling mode and so the only concern they have, really, is to get as many scooters on the roads as possible and as many rides as possible for each individual scooter,” Hamps said. “There is a real risk that some of the things like reusability or recyclability might be first on the chopping block.” The scooters are estimated to have a two-year life span , meaning they could end up in landfills at the end of their short life-cycle. This is something that Lasley agreed with. “It appears that these services are being heavily used,” he said, adding that the more popular they become, the more waste they will create. While we want to love the fun idea of electric scooters , it is clear that some things need to be improved. For these new companies, a learning and improvement process is to be expected. We are eager to see where these companies are headed in terms of creating a more eco-friendly product. Via Austin Monitor , The Washington Post ( 1 , 2 ) and  Chester Energy and Policy Images via Elvert Barnes ( 1 , 2 ), Luis Tamayo and Tim Evanson

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We love electric scooters but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment?

France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

September 17, 2018 by  
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France plans to launch a major endeavor to triple the amount of cyclists on its streets within the next seven years. The action will include building better bike lanes, providing financial incentives for commuters to switch to bicycle transportation and cracking down on bike theft. The plan was announced by the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a speech in Nantes, where he revealed that cycling accounts for only 3 percent of transportation in the country. Despite hosting the acclaimed Tour de France competition, France has fallen far behind other EU nations in bicycle transportation. In the Netherlands, cycling accounts for almost a third of all transportation, backed by a strong cycling culture as well as organized routes and laws that make Dutch riders feel safe on the roads. “Fifty million euros per year will not turn France into the Netherlands, but it is a start,” said Olivier Schneider, head of the French Bike Users Federation (FUB). Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly France’s total fund for cycling infrastructure over the next seven years amounts to 350 million euros ($410 million). “We plan to triple the share of cycling to 9 percent by 2024, when we host the Olympics,” Philippe said. “The discontinuity on the bike lane maps creates insecurity and discourages people from cycling.” Currently, bike lanes in French cities only run short distances and are not safely connected to one another at major intersections or heavy traffic zones. In addition to addressing these incomplete routes, the government will restructure one-way streets to include two-way bike routes, saving commuters inconvenience and time. Converters to cycling will be rewarded yearly with 200 euro ($233) tax-free stipends from the French government, and many private companies are looking to double that amount, providing their own 400 ($467) euro tax-free rewards each year for commuters. Companies are also being mandated by the government to allocate proper bicycle parking facilities for their employees, a feature that train hubs around the country will also boast. To deter bike thieves from suspending the country’s progress, new bikes will be subject to a mandatory identification engraving system, which will make it easier for burglars to be apprehended and fined. The French government will also introduce cycling lessons in all secondary schools by 2022 to ensure that future generations embrace the cycling culture and respect for a clean environment. Via Reuters Image via Veroyama

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19 mayors, thousands of buildings, zero carbon emissions by 2030

August 27, 2018 by  
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A coalition formed by 19 mayors of major U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. has proposed a plan to ensure that all new buildings be net-zero by 2030. The mayors are part of a group of cities, known as  the C40 , dedicated to climate action. The cities’ initiative is part of a larger plan to make both old and new buildings net-zero by 2050. Related: This revolutionary sustainable community in Atlanta is still thriving 15 years after its founding Net-zero buildings are extremely efficient and powered exclusively by renewable energy sources, often found on-site. Making new buildings net-zero would therefore have a massive impact on cities’ greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings account for over half of greenhouse gas emissions within large cities; for some older cities, such as London and Paris, buildings can account for almost 70 percent. The C40 mayors are committed to lowering these figures. “Ensuring Portland’s old and new buildings achieve net zero carbon use is an essential challenge I am ready to take on,” announced Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, one of the cities that signed the pledge. “Portland has been a longtime global leader in environmental initiatives and I look forward to continuing to advocate and fight for ambitious environmental strategies.” Related: SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe The cities will join forces with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the organization that set the 2030 benchmark, to achieve their emissions goals. The mayors will meet again as part of the Global Climate Action Summit  in San Francisco. California has taken a strong stand for climate action, with the goal of making all new buildings net-zero by 2020, a decade earlier than the date in the C40 pledge. Many of the cities in the C40 group have pledged to create fossil-fuel-free streets and use zero-emission buses. This latest pledge to make new buildings net-zero is yet another step in the right direction. + WorldGBC Via Curbed

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Brazil meets a major emissions goal two years ahead of schedule

August 13, 2018 by  
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Brazil has just announced that it has cut 2017 greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation to levels far below its 2020 goal. The country originally aimed to reduce emissions from this source by 564 million tons in the Amazon and by 170 million tons in the Cerrado savanna by 2020, in keeping with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord . However, this past Thursday, Brazil’s Environment Ministry reported that CO2 emissions from deforestation in these areas have already been reduced by 780 million tons, in a major win for Brazil and, of course, the Earth. Related: 73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever Brazil has even higher goals for emissions reduction under the 2015 Paris Agreement . According to Thiago Mendes, the Environment Ministry’s secretary of climate change, “The policy message is that we can and should remain in the Paris Agreement (because) it is possible to effectively implement the commitments that have been made.” The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, and Brazil’s Cerrado is the biggest savanna in South America. As such, both absorb high amounts of CO2, making their preservation  paramount in the battle against climate change. Thankfully, Brazil is already exceeding expectations in this battle, and one can only hope it continues to do so as it strives to meet its Paris Agreement goals. Via Reuters

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

June 12, 2018 by  
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The price of solar energy could further fall this year, experts say. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis published by PV Magazine predicted a 34 percent drop in the price of multicrystalline solar modules in China, an event expected to influence prices around the world. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said a price drop could open up “further space for more ambition to tackle climate change , which is crucial to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement .” The 2018 solar panel price decline could be about the same as the drop in module prices in 2016, and would be exceeded only by 2011’s 40 percent drop in prices, PV Magazine said. BNEF’s benchmark monocrystalline module price was $0.37 per watt for 2017’s fourth quarter, and could be just $0.24 per watt by 2018’s close. BNEF experts predict module prices will drop another 10 to 15 percent next year. Related: The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017 The price decline is a result of withdrawn support for China’s photovoltaic market. Since China is the biggest solar market in the world, the price fall could emanate. PV Magazine cited a BNEF note saying, “Oversupply is universal.” The note predicted a market panic initially, and developers could halt installation in the third quarter and wait for cheaper module prices and release of new quotas. India and developing countries around the world could benefit from the panel price decline, according to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC praised the International Solar Alliance (ISA), started by India and France in 2015 to focus on investment in large-scale solar power in developing countries. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said earlier this year, “Our globally agreed goals in the Paris Agreement and the Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without your [ISA’s] effort to scale up solar power generation and support countries with great solar potential … This is our moment to deliver on the promise of a better future agreed in Paris.” + Bloomberg New Energy Finance Via PV Magazine and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

June 11, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. In this episode: How American businesses, from WWF to Ceres to Microsoft to Ingersoll Rand, are still proving their commitments to the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.

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‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

Sustainability governance is integrated governance

June 11, 2018 by  
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Nowhere is this integration more important than on corporate boards. Here are four ideas for solving the puzzle.

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Sustainability governance is integrated governance

What Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means for the transportation industry

June 11, 2018 by  
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Shared transit options are revving up, but challenges from users and cities remain.

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This zero-emissions flying water car lets you ditch traffic and sail to work

May 4, 2018 by  
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Have you ever been stuck in traffic, wishing you had a faster way to get to your destination? Then check this out: The Bubble is a flying water car that can get you out of rush hour and onto a river, sea or lake for your commute. The water taxi, made by French company SeaBubbles , is silent, emits zero emissions and glides through the water without creating waves. The company tested its latest prototype on a lake in Geneva last month and is currently conducting a five-week trial in Paris. ? SeaBubbles wants to change transportation by lowering emissions and making trips quicker. According to the company, ditching roads and taking a water route could cut your commute in half in some cities. For instance, the company estimates that going from the Dubai Marina to downtown Dubai would take 43 minutes by car, but just 26 minutes in the Bubble. The company completed testing in Geneva this month, and The Bubble should be ready for pre-orders starting next month. The company hopes to launch in 50 cities within the next five years. Related: Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer SeaBubbles first made waves last year when they announced plans to hit the water of Paris by mid-2018. Now, the company has revealed details about their new line, which includes a docking system and an app that will show users whether a Bubble taxi would save them time and allow them to order a ride. The dock is designed to further reduce transportation emissions by capturing solar, wind and water energy to charge up Bubbles between rides. If the thought of riding around on the waves makes you green around the gills, fear not. The vehicle rises out of the water once it reaches 7.5 mph, which eliminates sudden movements and that uncomfortable bobbing feeling that often leads to motion sickness. The Bubble can fit five people including the driver, although it will have autonomous capabilities. + SeaBubbles Via Autoblog

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