How Will Europe Meet its 2030 Renewable Energy Goal?

Implementing the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Frame-work – a closer look at renewables and opportunities for an Energy Union  (14 page pdf, Anne Held, Mario Ragwitz; Gustav Resch, Lukas Liebmann, Fabio Genoese, Intelligent Energy – Europe, ALTENER, Dec.8, 2014)

Today we review a discussion paper that examines the changes facing the EU in achieving a 27% increase in the share of renewable energies while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % before 2030, only 15 years away. Among the factors considered are the declining need for energy efficiencies or at least for financial renumeration as technology improves and matures, the need for states within the EU to consider implementing joint or regional plans to take advantage of and lessen negative impacts of border states.

EU renew energy

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How Has Germany Improved Its Air Quality?

Clean Air – Made in Germany (50 page pdf, Federal Environment Agency of Germany, Nov. 2014)

Today we review measures undertaken by the national and municipal governments of Germany over the last decade or two to reduce air pollution particularly in its cities and particularly from transportation although initiatives are also in place to deal with wood combustion and ammonia from emissions from agriculture. Specific measures include Low Emission Zones and application of road pricing, restrictions for parking and lower speed limits of 30 kph on major roads. The result is that air quality in German cities today are as high as in rural areas 20 years ago. Future challenges include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet EU targets and reducing NO2 and PM emissions from diesel powered vehicles.

low emission zones berlin

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What are the Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy?

The Net Benefits of Low and No-Carbon Electricity Technologies (38 page pdf, Charles R. Frank, Jr., Global Economy and Development Working Paper 73, Brookings Institute, May 2014)

Today we review a research paper that examined the costs and benefits of various non-carbon energy sources, as opposed to oil and gas alternatives, under a number of carbon tax scenarios. Several factors are clear: the benefit of a stable base power or capacity as seen in either natural gas or nuclear outweigh the much lower carbon emissions from solar and wind- to the point that with a $100 per ton carbon tax, nuclear is the favoured option over wind and solar at #4 and #5. If the carbon tax is lower, solar and wind benefits are much much lower than from the other fuel sources. The case for a higher carbon tax is clear if any hope of reducing carbon emissions is to be satisfied.

cost of renewable energy

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Dynamic Road Pricing for Vancouver?

Innovative B.C. starts the road-pricing revolution (Andrew Coyne, The Regina Leader-Post Dec. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here: The shocking truth about B.C.’s carbon tax: It works (Ross Beaty, Richard Lipsey and Stewart Elgie, the Globe and Mail, Jul. 09 2014)

Today we review news that Vancouver area Mayors have decided to ask their voters to agree by referendum to two new “taxes” – a sales tax and a comprehensive road-pricing plan – that would be a first for any Canadian city, collect revenue from other than municipal property tax and virtually eliminate traffic congestion. One downside is that implementation would only come in 5 to 8 years – would the next elected civic administrations be up to the challenge? As jurisdictional children, the municipalities would also need to get provincial approval. There is reason to expect a positive response as B.C. is also the first province to have implemented a successful carbon tax on consumer goods 6 years ago, reaffirmed in a recent provincial election, and given citizens the lowest personal income taxes in Canada.

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401

English: Traffic congestion along Highway 401 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Are the Life Cycle Pollution Impacts from Electric Cars?

Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States (6 page pdf, Christopher W. Tessum, Jason D. Hill, and Julian D. Marshall, Proceedings f the Ntional Academy of the United States of America (PNAS), Dec. 15, 2014)
Also discussed here: Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives (ScienceDaily, Dec. 15, 2014)
Today we review a paper that compares the amount of pollution (as PM2.5 and ozone) produced in generating power for electric powered vehicles compared with the use of conventional gasoline. Results indicate that the use of biofuels (such as ethanol from corn) increases health impacts from pollution by 80% while using renewable sources such as natural gas, wind, water or solar reduces the impact by 50% (noting that natural gas is a pollutant in terms of climate change). This study underlines the lack of benefits from biofuels in terms of pollution and health.

eletric car power pollution

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Is it Time for Carbon Taxes at the State/Provincial/City Sub-national Level?

Economic and Emissions Impacts of a Clean Air Tax or Fee in Oregon (SB306)  (169 page pdf, Legislative Revenue Office, State of Oregon, Dec. 2014)

Also discussed here: Time to talk carbon tax: Conversation kicks off with Medford rally, report from PSU (Wendy Culverwell, Portland Business Journal, Dec. 5, 2014)

And here: Carbon Tax and Shift: How to make it work for Oregon’s Economy.  (36 page pdf, Liu, Jenny H. and Renfro, Jeff, Northwest Economic Research Center Report, Mar. 1, 2013)

And here: Lima Call for Climate Action Puts World on Track to Paris 2015 (Press Release, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 14, 2014)

And here: NAZCA- The Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action (Cooperative And Individual Actions On Climate Change In Partnership With Countries , United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 2014)

On the eve of the UN’s last Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima which aimed to lay out a path to achieve the major reductions in carbon emissions needed by 2050, we review the plans and analyses of a state in the northwest USA. Oregon is considering a levy that would reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2030 at $100/ton tax. Detailed economic impacts include the gain in revenue of over $2B at a carbon tax of only $60/ton. Potential negative impacts such as reduced tourism income or a loss of competitiveness with neighboring states were found to be small or insignificant. This is precisely the kind of effort needed by sub-national entities to be able to make long and short term commitments which would reduce the severity of climate change impacts.

oregon carbon tax

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Modelling Emissions from Stop-and-Start Traffic Congestion

A congestion sensitive approach to modelling road networks for air quality management (Abstract, James O’Brien; Anil Namdeo; Margaret Bell; Paul Goodman, Int. J. of Environment and Pollution, Dec. 2014)
Also discussed here: Stop-start driving in city centres creates higher pollution levels (Phys Org, Dec. 12, 2014)

And here: New regional traffic model to combat urban road congestion (Phys Org, Jan. 9, 2014)

And here:  Verkeersvoorspellingen met modellen: een voorspelling over modellen (in Dutch language) (3 page pdf, Victor L. Knoop and Serge P. Hoogendoorn, Nationaal verkeerskundecongres, 6 Nov. 2013)

Today we review research into improved modelling of emissions from congested traffic which takes into account instantaneous starts and stops instead of assuming a constant speed of vehicles. The results indicate that previous mobile transportation pollution models may underestimate emissions by as much as 60%.and this has large potential consequences for environmental impact assessments of large transportation projects, as well as for regulating or reducing emissions from currently congested cities.

traffic model

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