Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 100 Cities in the USA

An integrated approach for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from 100 U.S. metropolitan areas (12 page pdf, Samuel A Markolf, H Scott Matthews, Inês L Azevedo and Chris Hendrickson, Environmental Research Letters, Jan. 25, 2017)

Today we review an approach to estimate the emissions for a large number of cities in the USA which has advantages over the traditional bottom-up approach as well as likely being more accurate because it includes production as well as consumption of carbon emissions and fuels. Emissions from individual cities ranged from 5 metric tons per person in Tucson to 65 meteric tons per person in New Orleans. In gross terms, the average emission for the 100 cities examined was 27 million metric tons per year.

Per capita responsibility for current atmosphe...

Per capita responsibility for current atmospheric CO 2 level, including land-use change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How Would Vancouver Transition to a Driverless City?

Turning Transportation Challenges and Opportunities Presented to the City of Vancouver by Autonomous Vehicles (93 page pdf, Cail Smith, Greenest City Scholars Report, Aug. 31, 2016)

Also discussed here: Vancouver Prepares For a Driverless Future That Includes Extra Space for Walking, Cycling, and Transit (Mobility, Jan. 17, 2017)

And here: Transportation 2040 Plan: A transportation vision for the City of Vancouver (City of Vancouver)

And here: Transportation 2040 (99 page pdf, Plan as adopted by Vancouver City Council, Oct.31, 2012)

Today we review plans and reports aimed at the future of Vancouver in 2040 which may include a transition to driverless or autonomous vehicles (AV) as well as meeting the target of having 2/3 of all trips made on foot, by bike or transit. With a 90% AV share, freeway congestion would be reduced by 60% from present levels and 30% of city traffic would be reduced by no need to search for parking. Garages could be converted to guest houses and garage lanes to useful parks or gardens. Shifting to AVs would save the average Canadian household $2,700 per year (4% of income) by decreasing insurance, fuel and parking costs, as well as saving the City of Vancouver $15 M/yr on maintaining and monitoring parking spots, while also reducing revenue from parking tickets by $53M/yr (also 4% of net revenue).

driverless-vancouver

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How Are Weather Extremes Linked to Climate Change?

Extreme event attribution: the climate versus weather blame game (Rebecca Lindsey, NOAA Climate, Dec. 15, 2016)

Today we review a paper that describes the statistical process of attributing short term weather extreme events to the longer term changes underway as a result of climate change, whether that is due to natural or man-made burning of carbon fuels. It is important to understand the meaning of return periods. While the probability of a 100 year flood in a given year is 1%, the probability of the same flood over a period of 50 years is 40%. The blaming of an event on climate change depends on how good the observations of past events are, how well climate models can simulate the specific event and how well the physical processes are known and their association with climate change. Extended heat or cold events are more attributable than short term convective storms where the cross links are not as well understood.

extreme-events

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Are Regional (not Global) Interventions Needed to Reduce Impacts and Mitigate Climate Change?

The Rationale for Accelerating Regionally Focused Climate Intervention Research (17 page pdf, Michael C. MacCracken, Earth’s Future, Nov. 14, 2016)

Today we review a proposal to focus on particular regions where effort to reduce climate impacts would be more effective and likely have fewer unintended negative consequences than efforts aimed at the globe as a whole. Included in the potential approaches are modifying arctic warming by injecting sulfate aerosols directly into the Arctic atmosphere, moderate the intensity of tropical cyclones by brightening cloud albedoes, slowing the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets by blocking ice streams, and compensate for the reduced cooling from SO2 emissions in Asia by brightening the Pacific Ocean.

Two people on the shore of the Pacific Ocean

Two people on the shore of the Pacific Ocean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How Can Transportation in the USA Become Carbon Free by 2050?

50 Steps Toward Carbon-Free Transportation – Rethinking U.S. Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming (92 page pdf, Farontier Group, Oct. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: Report: Global Warming Solutions (Environment America Research & Policy Center, Oct. 24, 2016)

Today we review a report that recommends 50 steps aimed at state and federal program  and policies that could make the USA’s transportation system carbon free by 2050. The steps include making carbon reduction strategies a key priority by exploiting the growth of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and the sharing of cars and bicycles, adding more effective public transit, employing smart pricing policies and phasing out carbon intensive vehicles and fuels.

co2-emissions-by-country

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What Happens to Coastal Cities Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise?

Adapting to rates versus amounts of climate change: a case of adaptation to sea-level rise ( 9 page pdf, Soheil Shayegh, Juan Moreno-Cruz and Ken Caldeira, Environmental Research Letters, Oct. 4, 2016)

Today we review the most immediate aspect of climate change- its impact in terms of sea level rise and how best to adapt to this financially, given that many coastal cities are threatened including London, New York, and Tokyo. The authors consider four scenarios given the current rate of rise of 44 cm/100 years which is expected to increase by almost a factor of ten to 344 cm/100 years as Antarctic ice continues to melt over the next 1,000 years for a 60 m rise in sea level. The scenarios include: taking no action, creating a buffer zone, adapting to change in rise and building dikes to withstand increased sea levels. The optimum distance from the sea for safety increases from 310 m to 481 m as the rate of rise of sea level doubles. Insurance based on static risk need to be revised to  a more flexible approach based on rate of rise.

aea-level-riase-and-adaptation

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How Can Cities Reduce Methane Emissions?

Mitigation of methane emissions in cities: how new measurements and partnerships can contribute to emissions reduction strategies (39 page pdf, Francesca M. Hopkins, James R. Ehleringer, Susan E. Bush, Riley M. Duren, Charles E.Miller, Chun-Ta Lai, Ying-Kuang Hsu, Valerie Carranza, James T. Randerson, Earth’s Future, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review research into methane emissions from cities which along with other greenhouse gases contributes to climate warming. Cities themselves account for 70% of GHG emissions globally.  Unlike CO2 however, methane emissions are more easily managed at the city level whether they come from transportation and the increased shift to natural gas as a fuel for city vehicles or, secondarily, from landfills where methane is emitted from decomposing organic materials or, thirdly, from leaks in the systems delivering natural gas to users. One of the major problems is the lack of accurate inventories of methane emissions which in some cities results in an underestimate of 50%. Some efforts being made in the transportation sector to reduce CO2 emissions include shifts to the use of propane or natural gas but these may have unintended consequences in terms of their contribution as a radiatively active gas to the greenhouse effect. Landfill emissions may be reduced by simply reducing the amount of waste generated though pricing of garbage or encouraging home composting.

methane-emissions

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The Future of the World and Cities in It

Urban futures: anticipating a world of cities (6 page pdf, Geci Karuri-Sebina, Karel-Herman Haegeman and Apiwat Ratanawaraha, Foresight, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review an introduction to a series of papers on cities from a foresight point of view. It begins with a prediction that the city has evolved from the city-state in Ancient Greece to city-worlds in the next 100 years. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, compared to 54% today. While cities can improve economic prosperity, reducing poverty and becoming more inclusive socially, there are also downside risks of unemployment and poverty, as well as tensions based on religion, race and values – in addition to the major health threats that resulting congestion and emissions from downtown traffic where city government has not taken steps to alleviate. While cities are good at generating problems they also have a problem solving capability. The paper ends on an optimistic note: “In a world that increasingly appears ungovernable, cities – not states – are the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built”- something that those who try to come to grips with climate change and urban air pollution need to acknowledge and take count of in reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the challenge.

Indoor and Built Environment

Indoor and Built Environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Must Cities Shrink to be Sustainable, even with Increased Urbanization?

Sustainability for Shrinking Cities (9 page pdf, Dustin L. Herrmann, William D. Shuster, Audrey L. Mayer and Ahjond S. Garmestani, Sustainability, Editorial, Sep. 7, 2016)

 

Today we review an overview (and editorial) focused on sustainability for cities in the face of increasing urbanization worldwide and to the recent trend toward shrinking cities because of economic depression and the hollowing out of city centres as a result. Many large growing, economically-healthy cities tend to replace urban greenspace and urban parkland with high income residential or commercial developments with significant negative impacts on a healthy environment. Shrinking economically poor cities on the other hand are faced with vacant downtown lots some of which steer toward sustainable cities through improved water filtration, dampening of urban flash floods and carbon sequestration. For many coastal cities, sea level rise and threats to human health from more frequent hot spells as a result of climate warming are other issues on cities to adapt sustainably with more thoughtful urban planning.

shrinking-city

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Can the Paris Agreement on Climate Change Work?

The Paris Agreement and the New Logic of International Climate Politics (28 page pdf, Robert Falkner, International Affairs, Aug.31, 2016)

Today we review an analysis of the international negotiations from the top-down 1996 Kyoto Accord that today applies only to 15% of global carbon emissions, to the 2009 Copenhagen Accord that failed to reach consensus on a global emission reduction goal but managed to provide an umbrella for all participating countries for future negotiations. To the bottom-up Paris Agreement in 2015, signed by 195 nations, combines domestic politics with international commitments through a “naming and shaming” approach, voluntary national commitments,  rachet-up reviews every five years and, perhaps most importantly, definition of a long term goal to reach “net-zero” emissions or “emission neutrality” between 2050 and 2100. As these voluntary commitments would result in a global warming of 2.7 C above pre-industrial levels, further reductions beyond the pledges are needed. The author cautions that “the Paris Agreement cannot be expected to ‘fix’ the climate problem; it can only provide a supportive framework within which states and other actors can achieve the required emissions cuts.”

Carbon emissions from various global regions d...

Carbon emissions from various global regions during the period 1800–2000 AD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Do Biofuels Produce Less Carbon Emissions than Petroleum Fuels?

Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and use (John M. DeCiccoDanielle Yuqiao Liu,   Joonghyeok HeoRashmi KrishnanAngelika KurthenLouise Wang, Climatic Change, Aug. 25, 2016)

Also discussed here: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions (ScienceDaily, Aug.25, 2016)

And here: Controversial study claims biofuels aren’t carbon neutral, says it’s much worse than gasoline (ZNE Science, Aug. 26, 2016)

Today we review research into the belief assumed by government policy to justify agricultural subsidies that  biofuels (mostly from corn and soy beans) which currently amounts to 14.6 B gallons/year (or 6% of emissions) offset carbon emissions using petroleum products. This belief is based on the supposition that emissions from biofuels balance carbon emissions by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis from the new crops. Results indicate that this additional carbon uptake is only 37% of the emissions from biofuels.  The conclusion reached is that the rising use of biofuels (which has tripled over the last 10 years) has resulted in net increase rather than a net decrease in carbon emissions.

biofuel_chart

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How Does a Low Carbon Future for Canada compare with Europe, the USA and Australia?

What low carbon futures might look like… (Ralph Torrie, Aug. 27, 2016)
Also discussed here: Low Carbon Energy Futures: A Review of National Scenarios (55 page pdf, Ralph D. Torrie, Tyler Bryant, Dale Marshall, Mitchell Beer, Blake Anderson, Ryan Kadowaki, and Johanne Whitmore, Technical Report, Trottier Energy Futures Project, Jan. 2013)

Today we review a report that compares low carbon future scenarios from 8 countries: 3 carbon resource rich (USA, Canada, Australia) and 5 European countries (Sweden Germany, France, Finland, UK). The common goal of the scenario was to lower carbon emissions by 80% from 1990 levels. Each country has its own approaches to the challenge from differing start points and so the scenarios differ as well although some similarities were noted including: decarbnization of the electricity supply, increased efficiency of fuels, a large supply of biofuels and electricity‘s share of the total energy  consumption grows over time.  Sweden has by far the lowest energy intensity because almost all of its electricity comes from nuclear, hydro and biomass- so that future reductions in carbon emissions comes from increased energy efficiency. Canada like Sweden  also generates energy from non-carbon sources but has larger inputs ofnon-renewable energy sources (natural gas, coal, oil) in its energy pie and so has further to go to reach 80% less carbon emissions. Over 50% reductions in carbon emissions in Canada and the USA is in transportation where the growth of electric vehicles is key.

energy-scenario

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What is Needed to Limit Global Climate Warming to 1.5C Using a Scenario Approach?

A Better Life with a Healthy Planet – Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions, A New Lens Scenarios Supplement (96 page pdf, Shell, May 2016)

Today we review a supplement to the Shell scenarios published in 2013 that examined steps toward a net zero energy future. The Shell scenario team became famous for their contributions to determining post-apartheid options for South Africa after 1990. It is a scoping document, starting with an estimate of the energy needs of the world in 2100 “for a better life”, based on a 50% population increase and a lowering of energy demand per person from as much as 300 gigajoules in USA/Canada to 100 GJ per person, as a world average – which amounts to a doubling of the global energy needs.

To accomplish this by 2050 and meet the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 C, would require net zero emissions by that year and that, in turn, would require some form of negative carbon reduction, using technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which would mean lowering its current high cost to around $30 per tonne by 2030- equivalent to wind power costs. Carbon pricing is seen as an absolute necessity to bring solar energy up to 40% of energy needs by 2060. It also requires 80% of passenger cars converted to electricity by 2030 and, in terms of land use, reducing drastically the amount of agricultural land used for feeding animals from the current 80%. For developing countries, investment in infrastructure and adapting to a solar society would allow them to leap-frog to net zero emissions as well.

energy-future

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What is the Future for the Summer Olympics with Global Warming?

The last Summer Olympics? Climate change, health, and work outdoors (Kirk. R. Smith, The Lancet, Aug. 13, 2016)

Also discussed here: When Will It Get Too Hot to Hold the Summer Olympics? (Linda Poon, MSN, Aug. 15, 2016)

And here: By 2085, most cities could be too hot for the Summer Olympics (Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2016)

And here: Are the Winter Olympics at Risk because of Global Climate Warming? (Pollution Free Cities, Mar.5, 2014)

Today we review a new report about the feasibility of holding the summer Olympic games when the temperatures and humidity get to levels unsafe for vigorous activities. Just as lack of cold and snow will make the choice of sites for Winter Olympics difficult, so it is with high levels of heat and moisture in the air with the Summer Olympics  The authors predict that with the course climate warming is on now that, in 50-60 years (2085), there will only be 8 cities out of  543 cities outside western Europe that would be “low risk” or acceptable. This same threat applies more generally to anyone attempting to work or exercise physically outdoors during the summer heat.

olympics

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How Does Geoengineering fit with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change?

Implications of the Paris Agreement for Carbon Dioxide Removal and Solar Geoengineering (10 page pdf, Joshua B. Horton, David W. Keith, and Matthias Honegger, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Jul. 2016)

The Paris Agreement did not explicitly mention geoengineering as a solution, in addition to efforts to reduce carbon emissions, to the challenges involved in reaching the ultimate goal of end to global warming and a stable radiation equilibrium,. Geoengineering may be broken down into two approaches: carbon dioxide removal (CDR)  (as shown, for example, by carbon capture and sequestration) and solar radiation management (SRM) (as shown, for example, by the introduction of aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect incoming solar radiation). The authors of the paper reviewed here flag several indirect references to CDR in the Paris agreement as well as suggesting the inevitability of SRM, if there is any chance of meeting the very challenging objective of limiting warming to 1.5 C or less. They noted that CDR comes with a high short term cost while SRM does not but could limit warming to 1.5 C- although SRM comes with much more uncertainty when it comes to side effects and governance issues.

Schematic showing both terrestrial and geologi...

Schematic showing both terrestrial and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant. Rendering by LeJean Hardin and Jamie Payne. Source: http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/v33_2_00/research.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Pathways for Carbon Free Energy for the World

100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World (62 page pdf, Mark Z. Jacobson, Mark A. Delucchi, Zack A.F. Bauer, Savannah C. Goodman, William E. Chapman, Mary A. Cameron, Alphabetical: Cedric Bozonnat, Liat Chobadi, Jenny R. Erwin, Simone N. Fobi, Owen K. Goldstrom, Sophie H. Harrison, Ted M. Kwasnik, Jonathan Lo, Jingyi Liu, Chun J. Yi, Sean B. Morris, Kevin R. Moy, Patrick L. O’Neill, Stephanie Redfern, Robin Schucker, Mike A. Sontag, Jingfan Wang, Eric Weiner, Alex S. Yachanin, Stanford University, Apr. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: Clean Energy Could Fuel Most Countries by 2050, Study Shows (Zahra Hirji, InsideClimate News, Niv. 27, 2015)

Today we review a draft report prepared for the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris that provides an analysis of the ways that renewable energy source could be applied in 139 countries to replace the carbon sources currently used. Currently, only 3.8% of the power capacity is installed to reach 100% clean energy worldwide. In Canada, as an example, a power load of 412.1 gigawatts  is required by 2050 under a business as usual scenario . Under a clean energy scenario, however, the country would need only 240.2 gigawatts of power. Most of the energy would come from onshore and offshore wind (58%), utility-scale and rooftop solar (21%), hydropower (16.5 %) and a mix of other sources, including geothermal (2%) and wave energy. The avoided health costs would be $107.6B per year which represents 4% of GDP or 9,598 air pollution deaths avoided every year. The estimated total electricity, health and climate cost savings of this transition would amount to about $8,887 per Canadian per year (in 2013 dollars).

clean-canada-2050

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A Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Technique that Might Actually Work

Rapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (4 page pdf, Juerg M. Matter, Martin Stute, Sandra Ó. Snæbjörnsdottir, Eric H. Oelkers, Sigurdur R. Gislason, Edda S. Aradottir, Bergur Sigfusson, Ingvi Gunnarsson, Holmfridur Sigurdardottir, Einar Gunnlaugsson, Gudni Axelsson, Helgi A. Alfredsson, Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Kiflom Mesfin, Diana Fernandez de la Reguera Taya, Jennifer Hall, Knud Dideriksen, Wallace S. Broecker, Science, Jun.10, 2016)

Also discussed here: Climate change mitigation: Turning carbon dioxide into rock (Science Daily, Jun. 9, 2016)

Today we review research conducted in Iceland into a technique that converts atmospheric CO2 into a carbonate solid for storage underground rather than the better known CCS approach which attempts to store CO2 underground in its gaseous state, with all of the risks of it leaking back into the atmosphere later. Preliminary testing and drilling near Reykjavik indicate that up to 5,000 tonnes of CO2/year can be stored this way. The feasibility for this to significantly address global emissions will be tested when this technique is scaled up to much larger rates.

co2 injection site

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Ontario’s Climate Action Plan from 2016 to 2020

Ontario’s Five Year Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020 (Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Jun. 8, 2016)

Also discussed here: Five things you need to know about how Ontario’s climate change action plan will affect your life (Financial Post, Jun. 8, 2016)

And here: Ontario’s climate change action plan: what it needs to succeed  (Mike Crawley, CBC News, Jun. 8, 2016)

ontario emissions 2013

Today we review Ontario’s first climate action plan with targets for the period 2016-2020. The planned GHG reductions fall within a plan to reduce overall emissions by 15% by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 with most of the reductions coming from three sectors with 85% of current (2013) emissions: transportation (35%), industry (28%) and buildings (19%). Although Ontario is approaching carbon pricing in a different way (Cap and Trade) than British Columbia did 8 years ago using a revenue-neutral carbon tax,  a similar approach is to require all municipalities to produce a climate mitigation and adaptation plan. The BC approach is expected to reduce B.C.’s emissions in 2020 by up to three million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, roughly the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions created by 787,000 cars per year. Revenue from carbon tax itself $500M/year,  was returned to taxpayers who pay less than any other provincial taxpayers in Canada.  In addition, the serious way that Ontario is approaching the need for electric vehicles through incentives for new e-cars and for many new charging stations gives some assurance that both the carbon pollutants and toxic air emissions from today’s cars and trucks will be reduced.

  1. Under Transportation:
  • incentives for e-vehicles ($140-160M)
  • more charging stations ($80M)
  1. Under Buildings
  • Incentives for heat pumps and geothermal ($500-600M)
  • Free energy audits ($200-250M)
  1. Municipal Land Use Planning
  • greenhouse gas pollution reduction challenge fund or program.($250-300M)
  • make climate change mitigation and adaptation mandatory in municipal official plans.”
  1. R&D
  • Create a Global Centre for Low Carbon Mobility ($100-140M)

Other actions are planned for agriculture, industry and in collaboration with the federal government..

 

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What Must Farmers do to Meet Emission Targets?

Reducing emissions from agriculture to meet the 2°C target (19 page pdf, E. Wollenberg, M. Richards, P. Smith, P. Havlík, M. Obersteiner, F.N. Tubiello, M. Herold, P. Gerber, S. Carter, A. Reisinger, D. van Vuuren, A. Dickie, H. Neufeldt, B.O. Sander, R. Wassmann, R. Sommer, J.E. Amonette, A. Falcucci, M. Herrero, C. Opio, R. Roman-Cuesta, E. Stehfest, H. Westhoek, I. Ortiz-Monasterio, T. Sapkota, M.C. Rufino, P.K. Thornton, L. Verchot, P.C. West, J.-F. Soussana, T. Baedeker, M. Sadler, S. Vermeulen, B.M. Campbell, Global Change Biology, May 17, 2016)

Also discussed here: New study sets climate target for agriculture (IIASA  News, May 17, 2016)

Today we review an assessment of approaches voluntarily proposed by 119 nations as Nationally Determined Contributions for COP21 in Paris to mitigate non CO2 emissions from the agricultural sector.  Currently available approaches would deliver as little as 21% of the mitigation required to meet the 2 Deg C goal by 2030. The authors call for a range of innovative methods including carbon pricing, sequestering soil carbon and shifting dietary patterns and breeding cattle to produce less methane. Although agriculture is rural, some cities such as Ottawa, Canada contain more farmland (40% of rural area or 300,000 acres) and so must face up to the challenges in reducing greenhouse gases in this sector, as well as in transportation and the heating and cooling of buildings- and make this part of  urban climate action plans.

cattle emissions

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How do Special Interests Hold Back Progress on Climate Change?

Dislocated interests and climate change (5 page pdf, Steven J Davis and Noah Diffenbaugh, Environmental Research Letters, May 31, 2016)

Today we review a very pertinent analysis of costs and benefits as applied to climate impacts and national (and corporate) interests and how the concentration of short term, local benefits is separated in time and space with longer term impacts. As a concluding sentence in the article reads: “the most problematic dislocations of interests are where benefits are concentrated in time, space, and parties”. Often too, the profits from fossil fuels accrue to corporations in developed countries while the impacts fall mainly on developing countries and governments. Attempts to recover these costs get bogged down in a lack of international mechanisms to deal with them either through the World Trade Organization, World Bank or the International Framework on Climate Change and climate agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 or the Paris Agreement of 2015 – all of which point to the need for a greater definition and recognition of these special needs in addressing climate change.

special interests and cl ch

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What Links Urban Metabolic Energy Flows and Urban Ecosystems – a literature review.

Eight energy and material flow characteristics of urban ecosystems (12 page pdf, Xuemei Bai, Ambio, Apr. 22, 2016)

Today we examine a review of current literature about two apparently conflicting urban concepts: one that is concerned with the material energy flows, the other with the ecology of wildlife and plants in a city environment. As cities become more complex and larger these concepts become more important in themselves, as well as between each other with intercity distributions and the regulation of processes across large urban areas and estimating the capacity of a city when to comes to the flow of materials, such as waste Approaching cities in this way also allows for a better defined environmental footprint, as demonstrated in one example in Barcelona, where a park designed for carbon sequestration was found after analysis to be one twelve the size needed to produce the desired absorption of carbon emissions from the city. The concluding words are worth noting: “A better understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic material and energy flows and ecosystem processes can help reduce unintended consequences of narrowly focused policy and management decisions.”

urban metabolism

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What is the Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing?

Fracking Communities (22 page pdf, Colin Jerolmack and Nina Berman, Climate Change and the Future of Cities: Mitigation, Adaptation, and Social Change on an Urban Planet, Public Culture, Duke University Press, May 2, 2016)

Also discussed here: Fracking Hits Milestone as Natural Gas Use Rises in U.S. (Bobby Magill, Climate Central, May 6, 2016)
Today we review an article that chronicles the impact fracking has and is having on rural communities and the natural forests and parks that lie among them. Although fracking natural gas (and closing coal plants) has been credited with the 12% reduction in CO2 in the USA from 2007 to 2012, the process involves over 1,000 truckloads of water for just one well and 1,020 shale wells have been approved in Pennsylvania alone. More than 15 million Americans in 11 states live within a mile of a fracked well. New York is the only state where municipal bans are legal. As methane is 20 times more radiatively active in the atmosphere than CO2, leaks of more than 3% from a well eliminate the greenhouse gas benefit that methane enjoys over emissions from coal.

fracking traffic

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How Could the USA Become Carbon Neutral by 2050?

100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States (Abstract, Mark Z. JacobsonMark A. Delucchi, Guillaume BazouinZack A. F. BauerChrista C. Heavey,   Emma Fisher, Sean B. MorrisDiniana J.Y.Piekutowski, Taylor A. Vencill and Tim W.Yeskoo, Energy and Environmental Science, May 27, 2015

Also discussed here:   Here’s what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy (David Roberts, Vox Energy and Environment, May 3, 2016)

Today we review a report that details how the USA could reach 100% renewable energy sources by 2050 and what cost and benefits would be needed to accomplish that. 80-85% of existing carbon energy sources would be replaced by 2030 and the rest by 2050 with 49% wind power, 45% solar power and the remainder hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal and wave power. Benefits include $7.1 trillion per year in avoided climate impact losses due to US emissions and $600 billion per year in avoided health costs. The approach includes more emphasis on public transit and safer walking and cycling, mandating battery electric vehicles for short and medium distance driving, an expansion in the number and distribution of electric charging sites as well as a time of use that favours night time charging, and electrification of freight rail.

jacobson-us-renewables-2015

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Limits to Growth – a critique after 40 years

Limits Revisited – A review of the limits to growth debate (24 page pdf, Tim Jackson and Robin Webster, Apr., 2016)

Today we review a report card on the 1972 Club of Rome report that looked ahead in 12 scenarios for the century ahead to examine the links between and among population, the economy, consumption of resources and pollution of the land, water and air. The indication that oil production would peak in 2015 if no corrective action were taken is strikingly accurate, given the shift now taking place in renewable energy production. On the other hand the report did not take into account the following ecological processes in regulating the environment: climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, interference with global nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, ozone depletion, global freshwater use, land system change, atmospheric aerosol loading and chemical pollution. Of these, four have deteriorated into an uncertain future: biodiversity loss, damage to phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, climate change and land use.

 

Although there are hopeful signs that economic growth may be decoupling from the environment with respect to reduced carbon emissions though technological innovations, the social burden continues to get worse with more than 3 billion people trying to live on less than $2 per day, as underlined by the encyclical by Pope Francis. An uncontrolled collapse is still possible, not from consuming all remaining natural resources but because of the degraded quality of those resources. As the report concludes: “an early policy response matters”.

graph limits

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Do Wind Turbines Really Impact the Health of Nearby Residents?

Wind turbines and idiopathic symptoms: The confounding effect of concurrent environmental exposures (Abstract, Victoria Blanes-Vidal,  Joel Schwartz, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Apr. 18, 2016)

Today we review research conducted in Denmark, the world’s leader in the use of wind turbines to generate electricity with over 39% of its power generated this way in 2014 and over 5,000 wind turbines located on or offshore. The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between direct and indirect impacts on health of residents living near the turbines (mean distance to the closest turbine to a house was 2 km). Results indicate no significant relationship with turbine proximity and direct health effects, except for a significant indirect association with wind noise and annoyance, which is one of several “confounding” factors that may be caused other noise sources (such as nearby traffic or indoor odours resulting from less ventilation and fresh air with the windows closed to keep out the noise).

English: Taken by Neutronic

English: Taken by Neutronic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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How Much do Computers Contribute to Climate Warming?

The dirty parts of the computing world (Nathan Ensmenger, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Apr. 11, 2016)

Today we review as assessment of the degree to which computers and computer networks contribute to or pollute with energy use, water consumption, mining and e-waste. In all four categories computer technology plays a significant role with 2 of global electricity use, and 25 tons of e-waste from Western countries alone. A typical desktop computer uses 30% more energy than the standard refrigerator. The computational output from Bitcoin is 256 times the combined capacity of the world’s 500 top supercomputers. In many countries, energy is produced from fuels such as coal and natural gas which produce carbon emissions. Clearly computers should be part of the accounting of the world’s energy, waste and water tallies.

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Modelling the Best Way to Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

2 °C and SDGs: united they stand, divided they fall? (16 page pdf, Christoph von Stechow, Jan C Minx, Keywan Riahi, Jessica Jewell, David L McCollum, Max W Callaghan, Christoph Bertram, Gunnar Luderer and Giovanni Baiocchi, Environmental Research Letters, Mar. 16, 2016)

Also discussed here: Short-sighted climate policy jeopardizes other UN sustainable development goals (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis News, Mar. 16, 2016)

Today we review the results from 7 “integrated” models which were used to assess 20 scenarios for each decade out to 2050 while considering the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and the agreement to limit global climate warming to 2 deg C, set out in the recent COP 21 conference in Paris. Some carbon emission reduction strategies have emphasized economic impacts alone, failing to take into account wider social and environmental implications.

Application of carbon pricing to transportation, for example, has a greater potential for lowering emissions in the near term because of the short turn-around needed for technological improvements (e.g. electric vehicles) and the quick responsiveness of users to fuel price changes. On the other hand, a major increase in energy prices can have major impacts on the poor in developing countries, unless their concerns are accommodated in some way.

Another significant finding from this research is the impact of delaying the reduction of energy while waiting for potential non carbon energy technologies to become cost effective and widely used, such as BioEnergy(BE), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). The modelling indicates that delaying climate mitigation in the short term, to give time for these technologies to emerge, leads to more risk and costs in the long term if the 2 deg goal is to be met.

Carbon_flow

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The Anthropocene and the Future

The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere (20 page pdf, MarkWilliams, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N.Waters, Matt Edgeworth, Carys Bennett, Anthony D.Barnosky, Erle C. Ellis, Michael A. Ellis, Alejandro Cearreta, Peter K. Haff, Juliana A. Ivar do Sul, Reinhold Leinfelder, John R. McNeill, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes, Andrew Revkin, Daniel deB Richter,Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, James P. Syvitski, Davor Vidas, Michael Wagreich, Scott L.Wing, Alexander P.Wolfe, and An Zhisheng, AGU Publications – Earth’s Future, Mar. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: Human impact forms ‘striking new pattern’ in Earth’s global energy flow (ScienceDaily, Mar. 23, 2016)

Today we review a geophysical history of the earth from the days when carbon and biological life were not present, through the evolution of the biosphere over 4 Billion years and photosynthesis to the advent of animal and plant life some 460 million years ago, modern humans 195, 000 years ago to the farming of land 10,000 years ago and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This history not only puts the significance of global climate change into context but it also shows the ways that man has literally changed the world.

anthrocene future

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What does the 2 Deg C Carbon Budget Look Like?

Differences between carbon budget estimates unraveled (Abstract, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Pierre Friedlingstein, Nathan P. Gillett, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Keywan Riahi, Myles Allen & Reto Knutti, Nature Climate Perspective, Feb. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: A lower limit for future climate emissions (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Feb. 24, 2016)

And here: A second look at the two-degree target (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Dec. 7, 2015)

Today we review research at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis near Vienna which examines the conditions necessary to keep global warming within the 2 deg C target accepted by the United Nations Conference COP21 at Paris in the fall of 2015. The limit to the amount of carbon which can be burned (or the available carbon budget) in the future after 2015 has been estimated at varying amounts from 590 to 1240 billion tonnes, a difference of almost a billion tonnes. Differences arise because of assumptions made in various scenarios as well as the contributions by other greenhouse gases than CO2. The possibility of overestimating the budget by up to a billion tonnes is a major concern in terms of the urgency to reduce carbon emissions in action plans for the immediate future.

2degworld

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Can We Reduce Carbon Emissions Enough to Meet Targets or Do We need Technology to Extract It Directly?

The suddenly urgent quest to remove carbon dioxide from the air (Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, Feb.26, 2016)

Also discussed here: Four ways to suck carbon out of thin air (Tim Meko, The Washington Post, Feb. 27, 2016)

Today we review an article that looks at the pros and cons of directly removing carbon from the air, in addition to the various plans to reduce emissions, which will be needed if the world is going to meet the goals (but not action plans) agreed to at the recent COP21 climate conference in Paris. Four approaches are described: Direct air capture, Bioenergy combined with carbon capture and storage, Afforestation and Enhanced weathering.  While each can extract some carbon, the question remains if that is enough to meet the challenge which, in simple terms, means comparing the CO2 emissions of 17 tons/year/person (in the USA) with the extraction of a ton/day promised by technology. No question that something is needed in addition to the very modest targets that many countries are planning to reduce emissions at source. No surprise either that pricing carbon use is seen as essential.

direct air capture

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How Much can e-LRTs Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

The Role of Rail Transit Systems in Reducing Energy and Carbon Dioxide Emissions: The Case of The City of Rio de Janeiro (16 page pdf, Carlos Eduardo Sanches de Andrade  and Márcio de Almeida D’Agosto, Sustainability, Feb. 5, 2016)

Today we review a paper that uses a model to estimate the GHG emissions avoided by shifting urban transportation mode from passenger car to electric rail transit as a test case for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a city of 6.5M, projected over the period from 2016 to 2040. The amount of GHG emissions avoided were 55,449 tonnes per year for the city or 44.53 grams per passenger kilometer. Although cars in Brazil use more ethanol in their fuel than elsewhere and this is accounted for here, many of the assumptions made to model the shift could be applied to other cities.

Light Rail Transit train on the Dudley B. Menz...

Light Rail Transit train on the Dudley B. Menzies Bridge in Edmonton, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What is the Social Cost of Carbon Pollution?

How do we define climate pollution’s cost to society? (Elizabeth Shogren, DC Dispatch Jan. 27, 2016)

Also discussed here: Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China’s Huai River Policy (53 page pdg, , Yuyu Chen, Avraham Ebenstein, Michael Greenstone and Hongbin Li, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Jun.20, 2013)

And here: Americans Are Living Longer, Thanks to the Clean Air Act (Melissa C. Lott, Scientific American, Jan. 31, 2016
Today we review a paper by an Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon (United States Government) which estimated the economic benefit of carbon pollution reductions, taking into account future discount rates and, using a model, the atmospheric impact of a metric ton of carbon, and how it affects earth temperatures in terms of a range of impacts such stresses to agriculture and increased need for air conditioning etc. Estimated costs to 2050 range from $11 (at a predicted 5% average rate) to $221(at 3% rate) per metric ton of CO2. The opposite side of this issue is the cost of imposing a government policy which results in damages to the public.

 

One example of air pollution policy yielding benefits is the Clean Air Act in the USA which has produced 336 million life-years since 1970. Another example from Northern China (with a 500M population, greater than the entire USA) where an earlier policy (which was reversed in 2007) to burn coal to support industry resulted in health impacts and a loss of 2.5 million life years of life expectancy for the region- or 5.5 years per person. The need to consider this direct cost and benefit, as well as the incentive value of carbon pricing to encourage renewable energy use, is obvious.

social cost poll

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How Much Coal, Gas and Coal Must be Kept Unused to limit Global Warming to 2 deg C?

The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C (Abstract, Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature. Jan.8, 2016)

Also discussed here: Keep It in the Ground (36 page pdf, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, 350.org, Jan. 2016)

And here: Meeting two degree climate target means 80 per cent of world’s coal is “unburnable”, study says (Carbon Brief, Jan. 7, 2015)

Today we review a report commissioned by several environmental activist groups that examines the extent to which the remaining coal, gas and oil reserves would threaten the UN’s target to keep warming from greenhouse gases to below 2 deg C. The major threats come from the USA from fracking and oil, Australia from coal and from Canada with tar sands as well as from Russia, the Mid-East and China. Globally 1/3 of the oil reserves, ½ of the gas reserves and 80% of the coal reserves must remain unused between now and 2050 in order to reach the goal.

keep in the gorund

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How Big is the Global Stranded Carbon Assets Problem?

The tragedy of the horizon (John Lorinc, Corporate Knights, Jan. 19, 2016)

Also discussed here: The $2 trillion stranded assets danger zone: How fossil fuel firms risk destroying investor returns (32 page pdf, Carbon Tracker, Nov. 2015)

Today we review a speech by the former Governor of the Ban of Canada (currently Governor for the Bank of England) given just before the Climate Conference in Paris and a report by Carbon Tracker which defined what oil, gas and coal resources must be left in the ground if the atmospheric CO2 has to be kept below 450 ppm which is equivalent to keeping the rise of global temperatures to less than 2 deg C. The best estimates are that between a fifth to one third of existing carbon reserves must be kept in the ground with most attention to coal then oil then natural gas. The Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) “solution” (which is hyped by politicians, especially in Canada, adverse to restricting oil production) is not seen as having a significant role until 2050 or later- when action between now and 2050 is the critical period to reduce CO2 emissions, confirmed by the conclusions and agreement at Paris. Put in banking terms, the total value of stranded assets could be over $100 trillion. The other reality is that when the market discovers that there is no future for carbon fuels beyond the short term, the prices and intrinsic value of equities in these markets will be “re-priced”- which is what gets the attention of people like Carney.

stranded carbon history

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Reduce Carbon Gas Emissions using Diesel Vehicles or Eliminate Particulates – a choice between Mitigating Climate Change or Health Impacts

Beyond a One-Time Scandal: Europe’s Ongoing Diesel Pollution Problem (4 page pdf, Charles W. Schmidt, Environ Health Perspect, Jan. 2, 2016)
Today we review a recent assessment of the role of diesel vehicles in causing PM2.5 and NO2 and greater mortality as a result while also being the technology of choice, particularly in Europe with over 50% of vehicles with it, to reduce C02 emissions and mitigate climate change. The comparison with the US and Canada is striking where less than 3% of vehicles are diesel and CO2 emissions have soared from gasoline powered vehicles and less attention to emission reduction than in the EU. Clearly an optimum choice or balance needs to be made that looks at both the immediate health impacts of diesel and the equally important need to reduce carbon emissions.

diesel pm eu

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Is Geoengineering A Practical Way of Combating Global Warming?

Blocking the Sun Is No Plan B for Global Warming (David Biello, Scientific American , Dec. 9, 2016)

Today we review an assessment of attempting to reduce global warming by directly reducing incoming sunlight for the entire globe by artificial means, known as geoengineering. In view of the failure of many countries to take action to mitigate climate change, the challenge to reduce carbon emissions has gone to the point where many feel that taking direct action through geoengineering is the only solution. The author warns though that doing this may produce inadvertent disasterous results as well as giving relief to the very modest efforts currently being made to reduce CO2 emissions.

solargraphic

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Can Nuclear Power Meet the Challenges of Global CO2 Mitigation?

Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data (10 page pdf, Staffan A. Qvist, Barry W. Brook, PLoS One(Public Library of Science) , May 13, 2015)
Also discussed here: The World Really Could Go Nuclear Nothing but fear and capital stand in the way of a nuclear-powered future (David Biello, Scientific American, Sep. 14, 2015

Today we review an article that concludes that all carbon fuelled power plants worldwide can be replaced in a little over 30 years with modern nuclear power plants. All that is required is public acceptance, government will and investment in the technology, making use of the experience gained over the last 50 years, as demonstrated prominently by France and more recently by Sweden. The most vocal arguments from the lay pubic against nuclear power focus on the high costs but these are expected to drop significantly as Type 4 reactors are brought onstream which can recycle spent nuclear fuel and uranium and use this as a resource. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects nuclear power to expand worldwide by 2030 as more reactors are built in Asia and the Middle East.

nuclear option

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What are the Public Health Considerations when Mitigating Climate Change in Cities?

Building-related health impacts in European and Chinese cities: a scalable assessment method (13 page pdf, Jouni T. Tuomisto, Marjo Niittynen, Erkki Pärjälä, Arja Asikainen, Laura Perez, Stephan Trüeb, Matti Jantunen, Nino Künzli and Clive E. Sabel , Environmental Health, Dec. 14, 2015)
Today we review an assessment of the impact of various climate mitigation changes on health, an aspect not often considered in trying to achieve the main objective of reduced carbon emissions by reducing energy requirements for buildings for example.. In the European cities examined the health benefits were minimal (but positive) largely because the existing power sources were already clean. Care needs to be taken when reducing heating needs by adding insulation which may cause a worsening of indoor air quality. The advantages of having such a model are clear as more cities undertake mitigation by redesigning buildings.

building and health

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Finding New Urban Geothermal Energy Heating Sources from Satellites

Linking Surface Urban Heat Islands with Groundwater Temperatures (Abstract, Susanne A. Benz, Peter Bayer, Frank M. Goettsche, Folke S. Olesen, and Philipp Blum, Environ. Sci. Technol., Nov. 23, 2015)
Also discussed here: Satellites find sustainable energy in cities (Science Daily, Dec. 18, 2015)
Today we review research that bridges the well studied, (above ground) urban heat island with the urban ground water using satellite-derived temperatures and urban characteristics, such as population density and the number of cellars found in many older cities. This approach tested in Germany, found a spatial correlation of up to 80 % between the above and below ground heat islands and offers the potential of maximizing the potential for using warmer ground water in cities as an energy source for different cities over a large area. This in turn would help to ease the use of carbon fuels otherwise needed to warm urban buildings in winter.

satellites geothermal cities

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Getting Inertia and Effectiveness into Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

UNFCCC before and after Paris – what’s necessary for an effective climate regime?

(22 page pdf, Lukas Hermwille, Wolfgang Obergassel, Hermann E. Ott, Christiane Beuermann, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review a paper that examines the history, goals and structure of the UN Framework for Global Climate Change (UNFGCCC) and its failure to date of limiting GHG emissions. Part of the reason for this failure was its narrow focus on GHG emissions and for the Kyoto Protocol, unlike most environmental agreements, limiting participation to a short list of major emitting, developed countries with no role for developing countries. What is called for is a climate team approach to which those countries with ambitious goals are allowed to lead and with carbon trading attracting others to join the team. Also of note is the need for non emission goals such as progress on poverty and social conditions to count as credits for developing countries.

UNFGCC diagram

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How will the Paris Agreement Limit Future Rises in Global Temperature?

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? ( 2 page pdf, Allen A. Fawcett, Gokul C. Iyer, Leon E. Clarke, James A. Edmonds, Nathan E. Hultman, Haewon C. McJeon, Joeri Rogelj, Reed Schuler, Jameel Alsalam, Ghassem R. Asrar, Jared Creason, Minji Jeong, James McFarland, Anupriya Mundra, Wenjing Shi, Science Express Policy Forum, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of various scenarios for CO2 emission reduction, based on the voluntary pledges made by 190 countries attending the Paris conference COP 21. On the assumption that these pledges are implemented, beginning in 2020 and ending in 2030, the longer term implications to limit further warming depend on either a continuation of the level of decarbonization pledged (“Paris continued” which is around 2% per year)or an increase in the reductions (“Paris increased” which is around 5% per year). The probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C is only 8% under Paris continued while limiting it to 4 deg C is 75%. Under Paris increased, the probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C increases to 30%. Under any scenario, the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero before 2100 is required to avoid 2 deg C warming.

cop21 and temp rise

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How Does Urbanization Affect Urban Air Quality in China?

Estimating the Impact of Urbanization on Air Quality in China Using Spatial Regression Models (23 page pdf, Chuanglin Fang, Haimeng Liu, Guangdong Li , Dongqi Sun and Zhuang Miao, Sustainability, Nov. 20, 2015)
Today we review research into the main characteristics of close to 300 Chinese cities that affect the degree of urban air pollution. Results indicate a close relationship between population density and private cars per unit of developed urban land and that this and the proportion of secondary industry has the greatest effect on the pollution of most cities, especially in the North (in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong). The authors recommend that China strictly control the scale of their mega cities and actively develop small and medium sized cities to offset these trends.

English: Population density in the People's Re...

English: Population density in the People’s Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Can Canadian Cities Do to Mitigate Climate Change?

Low carbon futures in Canada – the role of urban climate change mitigation (22 page pdf, Ralph Torrie, Torrie Smith Associates, Sept. 2015)

Today we review a report by an authorities on carbon emissions and a Canadian, Ralph Torrie. Although Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world, over 80 % of Canadians are clustered into urban areas which make up 42% of the national GHG emissions. Community emissions from urban areas such as private transportation and residential heating are 40-50 times greater than those directly emitted from corporate operations such as public transit, waste processing and energy. While urban populations have increased over the last 25 years, urban GHG emissions have decreased by 20%. Future municipal reductions centre on energy efficiency in areas such as traffic and road lights and vehicle fleets while community reductions centre on lower emissions from improved building insolation and the use of geothermal energy and more efficient private transportation from improvements such as electric vehicles.

urban pop

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Six Principles to Implement Carbon Pricing Quickly, Fairly and Cost-Effectively

The FASTER Principles for Successful Carbon Pricing: An approach based on initial experience (49 page pdf, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group (WBG), Sep. 20, 2015)
Also discussed here: New Principles to Move on a Low Carbon Path, amid Growing Momentum for Carbon Pricing (Press Release, World Bank, Sep. 20, 2015)

Today we review proposals from the World Bank and OECD to implement carbon pricing around the world based on experiences from 40 nations and 23 cities. Wider adoption by other countries has the potential to both reduce carbon emissions and to raise significant revenue that could accelerate emission reductions and climate adaptation: up to $400 B by 2030 and $2.2 trillion by 2050.

FASTER

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What is the Cost of Inaction on Climate Change?

Climate Change in the U.S. – Benefits of Global Action (96 page pdf, Environmental Protection Agency, Sep. 7, 2015)

Also discussed here: Can we put a value on the benefits of climate action? (Mark Dwortzan, World Economic Forum, Sep 7 2015)

Today we review an assessment of the benefits of taking action on climate change and the costs of inaction on cutting carbon emissions to limit climate warming to less than 2 C that would be realized by the end of the century in the Unites States. Impacts are many and widespread and vary in nature and cost across the various regions of the USA. Mitigation would prevent 57,000 premature deaths by 2100 with an economic benefit of $930 B. In the Great Lakes region, 520 bridges are vulnerable compared to 53 with mitigation. In the Southwest, the number of droughts and heat waves is expected to quadruple by2100 while under mitigation no increase is seen. In the Rocky Mountains, nearly 2 million more acres of forests will burn by 2100 compared to 1.5 million less with mitigation, compared to today.

benefits heat waves USA

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Using Congestion Pricing to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Research on Urban Road Congestion Pricing Strategy Considering Carbon Dioxide Emissions (20 page pdf, Yitian Wang, Zixuan Peng, Keming Wang, Xiaolin Song, Baozhen Yao, and Tao Feng, Sustainability, Aug. 6, 2015)

Today we review research into models of congestion pricing to reduce both traffic congestion and the emissions that are produced by stop and go traffic- something that is not usually considered when planning congestion pricing because of the difficulty in measuring actual road emissions. The fact that road emissions make up 80% of transportation GHG emissions makes this assessment very important when emission reduction, especially in cities, is the goal. Results indicate that achieving both objectives is feasible with emissions falling by 19%, and modal car use falling from 70% to 56% with increased use of public transit.

congestion pricing and ghgs

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How Should Countries Take Responsibility for Climate Change for Both Past and Future GHG Emissions?

Allocating a 2°C cumulative carbon budget to countries (10 page pdf, Renaud Gignac and H Damon Matthews, Environ. Res. Lett., Jun. 19, 2015)

Today we review a very timely analysis and proposition concerning the equitable sharing of the carbon debt that needs to be paid off in order for the world to meet the objective of limiting climate warming to 2 deg C or 450 ppme by 2050 which is the objective of the climate conference to be held in Paris in December 2015. The authors estimated past CO2 emissions from the nations of the world, noting the top ten emitters were United States, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Indonesia and Canada (where the roles of USA and Russia stand out). The turning to the carbon debt as a result of future emissions projected with climate modeling from now to 2050 (where the current peak emissions from the USA and China stand out). Commitments stated by some countries in advance of the conference fall well short of the combined carbon debt but the approach presents the benefit of an objective sharing of responsibility for reaching the target. Further refinement is needed to move beyond CO2 emissions to include other greenhouse gases.

resp for cl ch

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“Avoid, Shift, Improve” – Decarbonizing Quebec’s Transportation Sector

Energy policy 2016-2025 – Decarbonization of Road Transport (73 page pdf, Gouvernement du Québec Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, 2015)
Today we review a background paper prepared by the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, outlining plans to reduce the emission of carbon emissions by the transportation sector in that province, 76% of which comes from road transport. Recognizing that 99% of the province’s energy is produced from renewable energy sources, principally hydro, the main emphasis of the Avoid, Shift, and Improve plan, is on reducing travel in privately owned vehicles, shifting to use of a 95% electrified public transit and improving engine efficiency and increase the use of non carbon biofuels, propane and natural gas. Encouragement to convert to hybrid or totally electric vehicles (18% or 1.2 million by 2020 from under 6,000 today), and make more use of shared cars with an eye toward driverless or autonomous cars in the future that make fewer demands on the road infrastructure.

transit quebec

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What does the Pope have to Say about Climate Change?

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home (184 page pdf, Vatican, Jun. 18, 2015)

Also discussed here: Eight things we learned from the Pope’s climate change encyclical (The Guardian, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: Civil Society Reactions: Papal Encyclical for Climate Action (Climate Action Network, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: The Pope’s Memo on Climate Change Is a Mind-Blower (Wired, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: What Does the Pope’s Climate Encyclical Mean? (Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: Can Pope Francis’s ‘street cred’ shift the climate change debate? (Erin Obourn, CBC, Jun. 20, 2015)

 

Today we review the “Encyclical Letter” which sets the stage for nations to gather at Paris in December 2015 to meet the challenges of climate change and prescribe global solutions that reduce impacts. The Pope’s comprehensive and (surprisingly) well informed statement recognizes that oil and gas consumption by technology is the main cause of anthropogenic climate change and that impacts unfairly hit the developing world which has had little if no role in causing them but now have difficulty in dealing with them. The need to go beyond technological solutions is underlined as well as the need to communicate both social and environmental concerns in addition to economic challenges which many see as the main or only worry.

Vulnerable_Countries_500

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What is a Fair and Ethical Reduction of Carbon Emissions for Nations to Meet their Climate Change Responsibilities?

Do US GHG Emissions Commitments Pass Ethical Scrutiny? (Ethics and Climate, Jun. 16, 2015)
Now that the Pope’s encyclical has made ethics a major consideration for addressing climate change, the question is asked what level of reduction of carbon emissions is fair and ethical in order to keep the earth’s atmosphere below the accepted 2 degrees of warming? As 5% of the world’s population, the USA’s share of the required 270 gigatons carbon reduction would be 13.5 Gtc compared to the current emission rate of 1.44 Gtc/year and this, in turn, would point to a 95% reduction by 2050, not the 80% pledged by the USA in 2014. And this does not include the ethical issues of responsibility for the fate of developing countries which did not play a significant role by their carbon emissions in getting to the state of the world we are now in. Other developed countries with high emission rates need to consider their fair share as well, in the days and months leading up to the agreement on emission rates expected at the UN’s climate conference in Paris in December 2015.

Carbon emissions from various global regions d...

Carbon emissions from various global regions during the period 1800–2000 AD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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