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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Air Pollution from Cruise Ships in Port and at Sea

Hoping for a fresh sea breeze aboard a cruise ship? Better hold your nose! (Karin Jäger, DW Environment, Jan. 26, 2017)

Also discussed here: NABU Cruise Rankings 2016 : Cruise ships fall short in environmental protection (MARES, Sep. 1, 2016)

And here: This stinks! – Clean up cruise ships! NABU’s campaign for a cleaner cruise industry (10 page pdf, NABU Background Cruise Ships, 2015))

And here: NABU measures air pollution in ports (NABU)

And here: Scrubbers – An economic and ecological assessment (45 page pdf, Eelco den Boer, Maarten ‘t Hoen, DELFT for Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), Mar. 13,  2015)

And here: The 0.1% sulphur in fuel requirement as from 1 January 2015 in SECAs (30 page pdf, European Maritime Safety Agency, Dec. 13, 2010)

Today we review examples of pollution from cruise ships both in port and now with previously never measured pollution, at sea. One ship emits as much air pollution over the same distance travelled as 5 million cars. 38% of the NO2 and 19% of particulates in the major German cruise ship port, Hamburg, comes from maritime traffic. Only 80 ships out of 55,000 worldwide have scrubbers installed to reduce the back soot emitted. Most of the 14,000 ships sailing in European SECAs < Sulphur Emission Control Areas>  every year switched to low sulphur fuels instead of installing scrubbers. The UN, through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), has the mandate to regulate the maritime environment internationally through its International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (so-called MARPOL protocol).

cuise-ship-pollution

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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 Does the Environment Affect Perceived Wait Times at Transit Stops?

Transit Stop Environments and Waiting Time Perception Impacts of Trees, Traffic Exposure, and Polluted Air (Abstract, Marina Lagune-ReutlerRelated information, Andrew GuthrieRelated information, Yingling FanRelated information, and David Levinson, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Jan. 9, 2017)

Also discussed here: Transit Riders’ Perception of Waiting Time and Stops, Surrounding Environments (17 page MS Word, Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, David Levinson, Draft submitted to Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, July 2015)

Today we review research based on over 800 responses from users of public transit in  Minneapolis, MN. The key factor studied was the wait times –both real and perceived- and how this varied with the type of environment found at bus and transit stops. Results indicate that  polluted air and the presence of heavy traffic near the stops tended to increase the length of perceived wait time when this was over 5 minutes while the presence of trees and light traffic shortened the perceived wait time. Conclusions and recommendations to encourage more transit use include locating transit lines away from traffic and heavily polluted areas and planting trees and foliage near the stops. Canadians and those in cold climates would be heartened by the finding that more or less snow has little effect on transit users who, if anything were more likely to happy they were not driving a private car.

transit-and-aq

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Do Trees in Cities Help or Harm Our Health?

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Dec.1, 2016)

Also discussed here: Trees could make urban pollution even worse (quartz, Dec.6, 2016)

And here: Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center (Nature, Scientific Reports, Jul. 9, 2015)

Today we review a guide about urban air pollution that looks into the role that street trees play with respect to reducing air pollution. The overall conclusion was that trees are unlikely to reduce air pollution and could add to it, especially if the trees reduce ventilation of air currents. This is true also of the more recent use of green walls. It is also acknowledged [in a Toronto study]that urban trees can improve health – as much as a $10,000 raise or feeling 7 years younger. Pine trees are singled out as a particular contributer to urban pollution through their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which combine with the NO2 in car emissions to produce low level ozone, one of a handful of pollutants harmful to health.

tree-area-toronto

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How Do Air Pollution Alerts Affect Public Health Use?

Effects of an air pollution personal alert system on health service usage in a high-risk general population: a quasi-experimental study using linked data (7 page pdf, R A Lyons, S E Rodgers, S Thomas, R Bailey, H Brunt, D Thayer, J Bidmead, B A Evans, P Harold, M Hooper, H Snooks, J Epidemiol Community Health,  May 23, 2016)

Today we review an analysis of the reaction of an “intervention”  group of patients with air pollution- related illnesses (cardio-respiratory and COPD) to alerts produced by the UK’s airAware alert system over a two year period, as measured by visits to hospital emergency departments, compared to a control group which were not similarly afflicted. Results indicate a doubling of emergency admissions and four times the number of respiratory conditions for the intervention group compared to the control group. The authors conclude that some health interventions or alerts beyond a certain distribution level are harmful in terms of health service utilisation.

air-alerts

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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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Measuring Exposure to Urban Air Pollution Where People Work rather than Where they Live.

The Impact of Mobile-Device-Based Mobility Patterns on Quantifying Population Exposure to Air Pollution (11 page pdf, Marguerite Nyhan, Sebastian Grauwin, Rex Britter, Bruce Misstear, Aonghus McNabola, Francine Laden, Steven R. H. Barrett, and Carlo Ratti, Environmental Science and Trechnology, Aug. 12, 2016)

Also discussed here: Air pollution threat hidden as research ‘presumes people are at home’: study (The Guardian, Aug. 24, 2016)

And here: Urban air pollution is worse than we think—but better data might solve the problem (Barbara Eldredge, CURBED, Aug. 30, 2016)

Today we review research into a study in New York City that compared the exposure to urban air pollution during an active day at the place of work and travelling to that rather than as earlier exposure studies have done only at the place of residence. The results indicate, first of all, that the highest concentration of PM2.5 is not surprisingly in central Brooklyn and Queens and in the southern half of Manhattan Island. Pollution levels at places of work compared to those at residences was 10 μg/m3 higher which suggests that a higher congestion charge be applied to vehicles which enter the high emission zones (which is the basis for the [present congestion charge zone in London, UK) .Future applications of this research when self driving cars are the norm might involve automatically controlling their movement to avoid adding to the pollution levels in some packets of the city.

air-pollution-smart-city-mit-study-nyhan-3

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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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Which Countries Have the the Most and Least Sustainable Cities?

A Global Perspective on the Sustainable Performance of Urbanization (16 page pdf, Liyin Shen, Chenyang Shuai, Liudan Jiao, Yongtao Tan and Xiangnan Song, Sustainability, Aug. 11, 2016)

Today we review a comparison of 111 countries, according to how well they perform in urban sustainability, made up of indices of environmental, economic and social sustainability. The best overall performers are developed countries in Western Europe, the worst in Africa and Asia. It is notable that although Sweden is not the top performer in any one of the three indices, it is the best overall, signaling how well that country balances the three aspects.

urban-sust

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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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Are Plug-In Hybrids the Best Option until Electric Cars Become More Common?

Going the Extra Mile – Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (6 page pdf, Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth, ACCESS, University of California, May 2016)

Today we review some testing of energy management strategies to find the optimum use of the battery in a plug-in hybrid while minimizing the use of carbon fuel. This is in the context of the fact that electric cars are less than 1% of all cars in many parts of the USA and Canada and that in some regions of those countries (for example, California, Ontario, Quebec) electric power is produced from carbon free energy sources. Results indicate that if electric energy use is restricted to when the battery level is between 20 and 80% charged (such as in stop and go traffic or going downhill) then the fuel use is minimized.  Overall gasoline consumption can be reduced by between 9 and 14% over what a normal hybrid electric car would achieve which in turn is twice as efficient as car that uses only gasoline. This is true if the power used to charge the battery some from renewable energy (hydro or nuclear).

plug in hybrid diagram

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How Does Early Action to Cut Carbon Emissions Reduce Impacts from Climate Change?

Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5 _C and 2 _C (25 page pdf,Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Tabea K. Lissner, Erich M. Fischer, Jan Wohland, Mahé Perrette, Antonius Golly, Joeri Rogelj, Katelin Childers, Jacob Schewe, Katja Frieler, Matthias Mengel, William Hare, and Michiel Schaeffer, Earth System Dynamics, Apr. 21, 2016)

Also discussed here: 1.5°C vs 2°C: Why half a degree matters (Newsletter, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Apr. 21, 2016)

Today we review research using scenarios with global climate models that show the difference in impacts from limiting global warming to 1.5 deg C or to 2.0 deg C by taking action to reduce carbon emissions and how quickly this is done. Many authoritative sources from COP 21 in Paris indicated that unless cuts of the order of 50% are taken within a decade (2025) that the 1.5 deg goal will be breached and unless the cuts reach 100% by 2050 that the 2 deg goal is probably unachievable. The paper examines the consequences of taking action too slowly or to a less than acceptable degree.

The impacts affect the length of heat waves (lasting 2 months more for 1.5C or 3 months for 2C), water availability, sea level rise, coral reefs and reduced crop yields. Perhaps the largest impact, sea level rise, has the largest implications because the processes involved in melting ice sheets are so large and slow moving. Once the Greenland ice sheet begins to breakdown, sea level rises of 5-7 m are inevitable over centuries with warming over 2C and will accelerate beyond 2100, while early action to limit warming to 1.5C would limit the sea level rise to 40 cm. Clearly policy makers at both the international and national/subnational levels need to step up to the challenge and soon.

2 deg climate impacts

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What are the Best Incentives to Buy an Electric Car?

Incentives for promoting Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) adoption in Norway (12 page pdf, Kristin Ystmark Bjerkan, Tom E. Nørbech, Marianne Elvsaas Nordtømme, Transportation Research Part d 43, ScienceDirect, Jan. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: What are the most effective ways of promoting electric cars?  (Science for Environment Policy, European Commission, Apr. 22, 2016)

Today we review research on which incentives are the most effective in selling battery electric (BEV) cars based on a survey of Norwegians. The survey analysis considered low and high income levels, the differing impacts of reduced (or subsidized) cost at purchase to ongoing costs and benefits such as exemption from tolls. The typical Norwegian owner of an e-car is male, aged 36-55, high income, university education and living in the capital (Oslo). The single biggest factor was the initial purchase price (with discounts), followed by (exemptions from) congestion or road pricing, followed by free access to bus lanes. This supports the tactics used by governments in countries, such as Canada, in offering significant discounts for new e-car purchases and less emphasis on using exemptions from road tolls (even though road pricing is much less used and there are far fewer electric cars on the road in this country compared to Norway).

ecar incentives

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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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Can Extreme Weather Events be Attributed to Climate Change?

Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (163 page pdf, Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution; Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Mar. 17, 2016)

Also discussed here: Global Warming Is Happening FAST, but Is It Causing Extreme Weather Events?(Astrid Caldas, Union of Concerned Scientists, Mar. 11, 2016)

Today we review a major effort to answer the question: how does climate change affect extreme weather events? This was investigated using two well known approaches: the long term statistics of meteorological parameters and through simulations using physical climate models. Although much more research is needed, several conclusions were made including a main one that some types of extreme weather events (such as extreme cold and heat events)  are more easily understood and attributable to climate change than others (such as wildfires and severe convective storms and tornadoes) . This, in turn, is linked to the ability of models to simulate and physically represent large scale temperature events covering continents more effectively than those on an urban or smaller scale that involve fine scale precipitation patterns. Another major finding was that it is impossible to absolutely link climate change alone to a single extreme event because of the role that natural variability almost always plays.

Attribution-capability-by-type-event

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What are Countries Doing to Protect Human Health and Ecosystems?

Global Metrics for the Environment, 2016 REPORT, Environmental Performance Index (12 page pdf,  Yale University, Jan. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: U.S. Could Do Much More To Protect The Environment, Report Finds (Huffington Post, Jan. 27, 2016)

And here:Environmental Performance Index- Air Quality (Yale University, Jan. 24, 2016)

Today we review the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, prepared by Yale University which ranks the performance of countries in two areas: protection of human health and protection of Ecosystems. While improvements were seen in most categories, air quality is becoming worse mainly as a result of increased concentrations of fine particulate matter, especially in urban areas. While only 2% of global deaths (1.24 million) are caused by unsafe drinking water (and that is due to 80% of waste water not being treated), poor air quality caused 10% of global deaths (5.52 deaths). Overall, Finland tops the list in all categories with policy commitments made to achieve carbon neutral status by 2050. Other Scandinavian countries are near the top while North American countries such as Canada (ranked overall at #16) or the USA (ranked 26) are not achieving as much. This also applies to air quality where Canada at #26 and USA at #36.

env perf index 2016

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What has Europe Done to Reduce Air Pollution and Related Premature Deaths?

The impact of European legislative and technology measures to reduce air pollutants on air quality, human health and climate (11 page pdf, S T Turnock, E W Butt, T B Richardson, G W Mann, C L Reddington1, P M Forster, J Haywood, M Crippa, G Janssens-Maenhout, C E Johnson, Environ. Res. Lett., Feb 12, 2016)

Today we review a paper that estimates, using two simulation models,  how many premature deaths were prevented with and without the technology and regulatory changes over the period from 1970 to 2010. Results indicate that the adoption of  the PM2.5 concentration to 15 μgm−3 prevented 80,000 deaths and economic benefits of $232 each year. Mitigation measures reduced the premature deaths by 3 to 4 premature deaths annually per 10 000 people in central and eastern Europe ..and 5 to 6 premature deaths annually per 10 000 people in south eastern Europe (Romania and Bulgaria).

premature deaths in EU

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How do Carbon Emissions from Electric Vehicles Compare to Conventional Ones on a Life Cycle Basis?

Consequential life cycle air emissions externalities for plug-in electric vehicles in the PJM interconnection (13 page pdf, Allison Weis, Paulina Jaramillo and Jeremy Michalek, Environ. Res. Lett., Feb 9, 2016)

Today we review an assessment of the life cycle emissions their costs from hybrid, plug-in hybrid vehicles compared to conventional ones, driven in states where the majority of the electric power generated is from coal or natural gas. Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that plug-in hybrid emissions are more damaging than hybrid and conventional vehicles under current conditions. The same analysis was done in a future power regulated scenario where renewable energy sources partly replace the carbon burning sources (e.g. 3 to 20% more wind power). Here, the hybrid and plug-in vehicles have higher SO2 and other pollutant emissions and lower PM 2.5 emissions while NO2 and greenhouse gas emissions can be higher or lower than conventional, depending on the individual case. In summary, as applied to Canada, it appears that electric cars make sense in regions where the power sources are largely renewable (e.g. Ontario, Quebec and BC where almost all electric power is nuclear or hydro) but do make sense in regions were power is generated from carbon fuels (such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes).

e car emissions

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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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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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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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Priorities Needed to Achieve a Low Carbon World

World Energy Trilemma – Priority actions on climate change and how to balance the trilemma (57 page pdf, World Energy Council, 2015)

Also discussed here: Paris, give us carbon pricing, but give us market mechanisms too! (Joan MacNaughton, World Energy Trilemma, World Energy Council, Sep. 23, 2015)
Today we review a report and recommendations from the World Energy Council, aimed at the COP21 climate conference to take place in Paris in December 2015. Among the important factors that need to be considered in setting a global goal to remain below 2 C warming target is the need to recognize different energy dependencies in various countries and sub-regions, the need to have carbon pricing in place, in order to allow the successful implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) without which achievement of the goal is impossible and the major role for the private sector, especially in controlling emissions from the supply chain. For example, the differences between the carbon pricing strategies of fossil fuel provinces in Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland) and low carbon energy producing provinces (British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) and the mix of carbon tax and cap and trade approaches show how local situations lead to different low carbon solutions.

world energy council

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How do Stranded Assets Interfere with Carbon Taxes to Achieve a Low Carbon Economy?

Assessing carbon lock-in (8 page pdf, Peter Erickson, Sivan Kartha, Michael Lazarus and Kevin Tempest, Environ. Res. Lett., Aug. 25, 2015)

Today we review the results of economic modeling which examined how high carbon emitters and their infrastructure and supporting networks tend to discourage attempts to transform society to a low carbon economy in time to avoid exceeding the 450 ppm/2 deg C warming that is the global target. Results show that coal fired power plants are the biggest obstacle world-wide and their lifetimes lasting decades also discourage early conversion to low catrbon. . The model also predicts what level of carbon price would make continued investment in these old technologies uneconomic. Coal power plants require a carbon tax above $30 US/tonne. Other stranded assets include gas power plants and combustion engine cars and their economic carbon tax trigger point is higher than for coal.

overcommitted emissions

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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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The Main Question for Urban Planners to Resolve- Sprawl or Densification?

Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (32 page pdf, Greg Clark, Emily Moir, Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)
Also discussed here: Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates (Catherine Anderson , Urban Land Institute, Jun. 23, 2015)

A compact city tends to be more environmentally sustainable and has generally cleaner air than one that is spread out with emphasis on making it easier for people to drive to the centre of town with emphasis on roads wherever it allows them to drive more quickly. Today we review a research paper that examines the meaning(s) of urban density, explores the many myths about sprawl and intensification and suggests better designed and more sustainable cities for the future. Cities are categorized in terms of the density of their urban core, inner city and suburbs as Low-High-Low (typical of Europe), Low-Low-Low (typical of sprawled cities in USA/Canada/Australia), Low-Low-High (Toronto, Oslo), Medium-High- High (developing world cities). High density cities enjoy a number of advantages over low density ones, including walkability, natural habitats and economic waste disposal but fears of lower livability, traffic congestion and noise/pollution in high density cities need to be mitigated. Oslo and Toronto are seen as large cities where the balance is more nearly found.

Although an important factor, there is a compl...

Although an important factor, there is a complex relationship between urban densities and car use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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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Getting Germany to Carbon Neutral by 2050 – a Scenario

Germany 2050 – a greenhouse gas-neutral Country (32 page pdf, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Oct. 2013)

Also discussed here: Germany 2050 – A Greenhouse Gas-Neutral Country (Das Umweltbundesamt Für Mensch und Umwelt)
Today we review a report from the German Environmental Agency (UBA) which describes a scenario for to reduce carbon emissions for that country by 90% before 2050 without any significant change in consumption or an increase in biofuels and dependence on nuclear energy – notable conditions that many other national carbon reduction plans depend on. The prime approach is a switch to renewable energy accompanied by generation of hydrogen from renewable, as a fuel for transportation and industry. Large scale increases of photovoltaic energy generation from solar panels and of wind power from turbines along the sea coasts is envisaged.

2050 germany renewables

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How is Europe Dealing with Air Pollution from Agriculture?

Clean Air from our Farms (4 page pdf, European Environmental Bureau Position Paper, Apr. 28, 2015)

Also discussed here : Infographic: How agricultural emissions affect our health (European Environmental Bureau, Apr. 28, 2015)

Today we review a note from the European Environmental Bureau which focuses on emissions and pollutants from agriculture which makes up 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of the methane from the EU, and impacts both the air(acid rain), soil and human health. A National Emissions Ceilings Directive, issued in 2013, set new targets for ammonia, PM2.5 and methane among other pollutants, with a focus on livestock and manure management as well as croplands and the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

eeb_ag_infographic_hr-01

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How has Climate Change Affected the Frequency of Extreme Weather Events?

Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes (Abstract, E. M. Fischer &R. Knutti, Nature Climate Change, Apr. 27, 2015)
Also discussed here: Human activity responsible for three out of four heat extremes, study finds (Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Apr. 27, 2015)
Today we review climate modeling research that examines the how the frequency of extreme weather events over the long term has and is being changed by the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Results indicate that in addition to an average global warming of 0.85 C over the last 100 years that the probability of the temperature at a location exceeding a given threshold has tripled so that a daily maximum above 35C, say, that once occurred once in 3 years now occurs every year. When the global temperature has increased by 2C which is the present aim for international policy makers under existing climate change protocols, the probability of a hot day will increase 5 times compared to present day frequencies. Likewise the additional moisture that warmer air can carry has increased and this leads to heavier and more frequent rain storms and floods, especially in the tropics. While the link between climate warming and more frequent extreme events has been known in general terms for a long time, this is the first time that a quantitative number has been put on that- which has major impacts on insurance as well as on policy dealing with climate change.

chances of climate chnage

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Finding Post 2020 Targets for GHG Emission Reductions

Comparing Countries’ Emissions Targets – A Practical Guide (20 page pdf, Australian Government Climate Change Authority, March 2015)

Also discussed here: Comparing countries’ emissions targets (Australian Government Climate Change Authority, March 2015)
And here:  Australia’s future emissions reduction targets (43 page pdf, Australian Government Climate Change Authority, April 2015)
Today we review a guide from the Australian government that compares GHG reduction targets from other countries or regions with similar economies (such as the USA and the EU), using four criteria: Capacity, Adequacy, Responsibility and Effort and differences in base year. Australia, (like Canada) has one of the highest per capita emission rates in the world (at 25-27 tonsCO2e/year) as well as a strong economy, governance institutions and advanced technology. It’s unconditional emissions target implies a 32% reduction/capita from 2005 levels by 2025 which is higher relatively than the US or EU. Another significant factor is the cost to make reductions and the capacity of a country’s economy to bear that wither in absolute or relative terms. However, costs are difficult to estimate and may be influenced by actions of other countries as well as the technology used. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for participating countries will be announced in advance of the Paris conference in December 2015.

australia post 2020 ghg targets

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What are the Provinces Doing to Decarbonize Canada’s Energy Systems?

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canadian Energy Strategy -How Energy East and the oil sands affect climate and energy objectives (15 page pdf, Erin Flanagan, The Pembina Institute, Apr. 14, 2015)

Today we review a report from the Pembina Institute which examined the roles provinces play and could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet national goals, a Canadian Energy Strategy – the main item discussed at a meeting Canadian premiers in Quebec City. While three provinces (Ontario, Quebec and BC) have made modest reductions of 19, 9 and 3% from 2005, Alberta now produces more than Quebec and Ontario combined with a failed cap and trade system that applies to less than 50% of its emissions at a price ($1.80 per tonne) that has little impact on decisions made by industry to reduce carbon fuel use. The plans for the Alberta oil sands and proposals to expand pipeline capacity to the east coast (by 1.1 mbpd) contribute to concerns to keep 2/3’s of the earth’s carbon reserves in the ground if the objective of limiting climate warming to less than 2 degrees C- which means that the oil  sands production bust be limited by 3.3 mbpd. Restoration of a committee to advise the federal government on a Canada Energy Strategy is recommended, similar to the long standing one that was eliminated by the present government (the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy or NTREE)

 

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How Does Public Policy Encourage Sprawl?

Analysis of Public Policies That Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Urban Sprawl (89 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Mar. 2015)
Also discussed here: Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year (Robert Steuteville, Better Cities & Towns, Mar. 20, 2015)
Today we review a report on the costs produced by sprawl which is usually associated with low gas prices which leads to an addiction to cars and long commutes and all of the negative environmental impacts that follow. The report while acknowledging this also points to urban planning policies that encourage sprawl including underpricing of public infrastructure in the suburbs, underpricing of motor vehicle travel which leads to demands for more roadway supply (as shown below) and policy that favours mobility over accessibility and automobile travel over other less environmentally harmful modes. The other side of the coin is toward more compact urban areas which in turn favours walking and cycling and less road building and maintenance costs among others.

sprawl and demand for space

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Where are Europe’s Air Pollution Hotspots and How are they being Cleaned Up?

Modelling street level PM10 concentrations across Europe: source apportionment and possible futures (15 page pdf, Kiesewetter, G., Borken-Kleefeld, J., Schöpp, W., Heyes, C., Thunis, P., Bessagnet, B., Terrenoire, E., Fagerli, H., Nyiri, A., and Amann, M., Atmos. Chem. Phys., Feb. 13, 2015)

Also discussed here: Clearing up Europe’s air pollution hotspots (News, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Feb 19, 2015)
Today we review modeling sources of ambient air pollution across Europe down to the street canyon scale (using the GAINS, model developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) as measured by 1850 monitoring stations (including 300 traffic stations) and then applying various policy scenarios. Results indicate the while most areas show improvement over the next two decades, some continue to remain below EU air quality limits, specifically, southern Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, northern Italy, and Bulgaria. Adherence to these limits require more than vehicle emission controls such as introduction of low emission zones, improved road materials and road dust removal and eliminating studded tires and controlling emissions from home heating fuels such as wood burning.

europe hot spots

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A Check List for Managing Urban Air Quality

Growing Public Health Concerns from Poor Urban Air Quality: Strategies for Sustainable Urban Living (9 page pdf, Bhaskar Kura, Suruchi Verma, Elena Ajdari, Amrita Iyer, Computational Water, Energy, and Environmental Engineering, Apr. 2013)

Today we review a paper that zeroes in on the issue of urban air pollution and its health impacts, identifying which pollutants cause the greatest harm and what to do about that in terms of identifying and controlling pollution sources. Given that a million premature deaths and another million pre-native deaths are linked to urban air pollution, along with 2-5% GDP costs for developed and developing countries respectively, much more attention is needed at the municipal level now.

urban aq manageemnt

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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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UK calls for Action to Reduce Air Pollution and Its Health Impacts

Action on Air Quality – HC 212 – Sixth Report of Session 2014–15 (51 page pdf, Environmental Audit Committee, House of Commons, UK, Nov. 26, 2014)

Also discussed here: Air pollution ‘causing deadly public health crisis’ (James Gallagher, Health editor, BBC News, Dec. 7, 2014)

Today we review a report from a Committee of the British House of Commons calling for action both in the short and long term (2030) to improve air quality – its 3rd report on this issue in the last 5 years. In 92% of the Air Quality Management Areas, road transport is the main cause of that pollution, so that recommendations call for more efficient vehicles and fewer diesel powered ones and more Low Emission Zones. The Committee recognizes the powerful lobbies (such as automobile associations and oil/gas industry) against progress – as it is, if not more so in Canada and the USA – but pleads that the UK government should not wait to be ordered by the EU parliament to act.

UK deaths due air pollution

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The Future of the World’s Urban Economy and Carbon Emissions

Cities and the New Climate Economy: The Transformative Role of Global Urban Growth (68 page pdf, Graham Floater and Philipp Rode, New Climate Economy Cities Paper 01. LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science, Jul. 2014)

Today we review a report on the future likely for the globe’s urban areas in terms of growth, their increasing share of the world economy, population and greenhouse gas emissions. A “Three C” model is proposed that shows the advantages of cities adopting compact urban growth, connected infrastructure and coordinated governance that already has shown itself in cities such as Stockholm which has seen a 41% economic increase while reducing carbon emissions by 35% over the last 7 years.

stockholm emissions

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Who is Liable for Damages from Climate Change Impacts?

Payback Time? What the Internationalization of Climate Litigation Could Mean for Canadian Oil and Gas Companies

(64 page pdf, Andrew Gage and Michael Byers, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Oct. 9, 2014)

Also discussed here: Climate change may create legal liability for Canadian energy firms – New report from B.C. think-tanks says elements are in place to allow for civil action (CBC News, Oct. 9, 2014)

And here: Policy Time Line

Today we review a report from a Canadian policy think-tank which examines the potential for legal action against a handful of Canadian oil and gas producers, because of their contribution to harmful impacts from global climate change, expected to reach $5B/year by 2020. The potential liability of each Canadian company is between $37.8 million and$90.8 million in 2010, rising to over $700M by 2030. Just as it took about 30 years to collect from tobacco companies for harmful impacts to health from the time a warning was given by the Surgeon General of the USA in the late 1960s, so the clock is ticking for those responsible for damages from climate change- and the clock began ticking in 1988 at the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere, the first major international forum bringing scientists and politicians together in an effort to combat global warming, where 300 international scientists and policy makers from 46 countries issued a warning on climate change whose consequences “could be second only to a global nuclear war”.

Since then, two major factors have changed in terms of environmental liability: much more accurate estimates of financial damages and of emissions have been documented, and the law profession itself has matured and broadened to include the environment as an active and growing area of jurisprudence. In addition, as the report points out, even if the existing body of law does not explicitly identify GHG emissions as a culpable area, courts have been willing to change the law and liability in light of new information, as seen in the tobacco cases. Whether that liability starts and ends with oil and gas producers or extends to those responsible for reducing damages from climate change and the emissions that cause them- such as large municipalities which control traffic and vehicle emissions, public infrastructure and protection of private property from environmental damages, for example, remains to be seen. And then there is the growing awareness of the impacts of climate change which combines with air pollution to increase health costs.

cdn oil and gas liable

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How Cities Can Get to the Three Zeros (Congestion, Pollution and Accidents)

Implementing Transport Policies and Programmes toward Realizing “Bali Vision Three Zeros – Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution, and Zero Accidents towards Next Generation Transport Systems in Asia  (58 page pdf, Todd Litman, Eighth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (Est) Forum in Asia, United Nations Centre For Regional Development, Nov. 19, 2014)

Today we review a background overview paper prepared by one of the world’s leading advocates for sustainable transportation, Todd Litman, at a United Nations conference aimed at developing best practices in Asia where major shifts to urbanization are taking place. His paper includes many tips and statistics such as better traffic congestion indicators and space requirements for various modes, the advantages of transportation demand management strategies, especially when different ones are combined.

sust transp goals

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What is China Doing about Urban Air Pollution?

China’s clean air challenge: The health impacts of transport emissions (Su Song, The City Fix, Nov. 20, 2014)

Also discussed here: In Step to Lower Carbon Emissions, China Will Place a Limit on Coal Use in 2020 (Edward Wong, New York Times, Nov. 20, 2014)

Today we review plans by the Chinese government to both monitor and reduce the extremely high levels of air pollution found in its largest cities, a large portion of which is due to vehicle emissions. Plans have been approved to achieve particulate emissions by as much as 25% by 2017 by monitoring emissions and using technology to regulate them and by managing transport demand using congestion pricing and other economic tools. Equally impressive plans are in place to cap carbon emissions from coal by 2020. Credit must be given to governments that recognize the impact of unrestricted deterioration of urban air quality on health and then proceed to establish short and longer term targets to improve this. When will Canadian and American governments (and City Councils) do likewise for their cities or do we wait until conditions get as bad as in China?

China-transport-air-pollution-car-ownership-income-growth

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How Liable are UN Member States for Inaction on Climate Change?

The Liability of European States for Climate Change (11 page pdf, R. H. J. Cox, Journal of Planning & Environment Law, Jun. 9. 2014)

Also discussed here: Revolution Justified (328 pgs, Roger H.J.Cox, Amazon paperback, Nov. 14, 2012)

Today we review a scholarly article that examines the background behind a legal proceeding raised in November 2013 against the Netherlands for not taking action to avert dangerous climate change which was agreed on through international agreements to reduce GHG emissions by at least 25% from 1990 levels by 2020. The current Dutch reduction target is 16% by 2020. The suit makes use of the findings of the IPCC which are recognized by 195 member states which because of the worldwide process used to produce them carry “exceptional evidentiary weight in legal proceedings”.

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by country for the year 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A Plan to Reduce CO2 Emissions from USA by 40% by 2035

Green Growth – A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities (417 page pdf, Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progress, Sep. 2014)

Also discussed here: The Need for Jobs, and the Ecological Limits to Growth (Jeffrey M Doyle, Oct. 17, 2014)

Today we review a realistic short term plan for the USA that would comply with the IFCC objective to reduce world-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels before 2035. It is based on making reductions in consumption of coal, oil, natural gas by 30-60% while assuming that the cost of renewable energy (hydro, wind, geothermal) will continue to decrease to the same levels as for carbon fuels by 2017. A carbon tax that would discourage carbon fuel use can produce public revenues of $ 200 B/year while avoiding economic impacts of $150 B/year if a 3 degree increase in earth temperature cannot be averted.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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