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).


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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