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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