Are there Limits to the Burning of Carbon Fuels?

The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C (Abstract, Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature, Jan. 7, 2015)
Also discussed here: The Limits to Fossil Fuel Use? (Wil Burns, Teaching Climate Law, Feb. 6, 2015)
Today we review research into the implications of using fossil fuel reserves if the emissions from their use are to stay below the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that limit warming to 2 degrees C or less. The conclusions include the need to keep 82% of coal reserves in the ground, to cease production of bitumen in the Canadian oil sands by 2040 and to to keep 80% of unconventional natural gas reserves unburned by 2050 – even if carbon capture and sequestration is widely deployed, should it be found to be effective.
The “Limits to Growth” on which the Club of Rome was founded now has application to the burning of fossil fuels.

Limits for carbons

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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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When are You Too Old to Drive?

Is the U.S. Ready for Seniors Who Want to Stop Driving? (Angie Schmitt,Streetsblog, Oct. 27, 2014)

Also discussed here: When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation (Harriet Edleson, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2014)

And here: What About The Elderly? (Andrew Price, Strong Towns, Oct. 17, 2013)

And here: Driving Life Expectancy of Persons Aged 70 Years and Older in the United States (6 page pdf, Daniel J. Foley, Harley K. Heimovitz, Jack M. Guralnik and Dwight B. Brock, American Journal of Public Health, Aug. 2002)

Today we review several articles that look at the older generation (getting bigger) and how much they drive (a little less) and how big a challenge it is for them to get around (bigger). One downside is that older drivers are three times more likely to die in a car accident because of their reduced ability to drive, offset by the number who chose not to drive anymore. Some prefer to live in communities where one can walk to get what one needs, even though walking for some is as challenging as driving. Are city planners taking into account the growth of the older population and their differing needs for transportation? As one commentator noted “We cannot ignore the problem, because we will all be elderly one day.”

driving ages

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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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How is Ontario Meeting its Plans to Reduce Carbon Emissions?

Ontario’s Climate Change Update 2014 (42 page pdf, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Oct. 2014)
Also discussed here: Ontario Targets for Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Jennifer Kalnins Temple, Envirolaw, Oct. 3, 2014)
Today we review a report from Canada’s largest province on how it is meeting climate plan commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2012 and how it intends to reduce these further by 80% by 2050. Unlike the federal government and the City of Ottawa which chose the easier reference year of 2005, the province assesses its progress relative to emissions in 1990, the reference year set by the United Nations in its Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol to 2012 which is to be updated at the Paris climate conference in 2015. To date Ontario has reduced its emissions by 6% which, in absolute terms, is the greatest reduction of any province in Canada and just ahead of Quebec. The gains came from improvements on electrical generation from a switch from coal. For the future, the biggest emitting sectors are industry and transportation.
ghg emissions for provinces
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World-wide Causes of Death from Climate Change to the Mid 21st century

Quantitative risk assessment of the effects of climate change on selected causes of death, 2030s and 2050s (128 page pdf, Editors: Simon Hales, Sari Kovats, Simon Lloyd, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, World Health Organization, Sep. 21, 2014)

Also discussed here: Quantitative risk assessment of the effects of climate change on selected causes of death, 2030s and 2050s (Press Release, WHO, Sep. 21, 2014)

Today we review an updated estimate of the impact of climate change on health by the World Health Organization. Not including deaths from extreme events, the WHO estimates that an additional 241,000 deaths per year by 2030 (rising to 250,000 /yr to 2050) will be caused by climate change impacts that include under-nutrition of children, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress for the elderly. The greatest impacts geographically are in southeast Asia and India with significant impacts also in central and southeast Africa and southeast USA. Because of sea level rise brought about by climate warming and sea ice melt, coastal floods caused by cyclones. While reductions in emissions and mitigation may reduce some of the impacts, deaths from heat exposure and stress are expected to continue to rise above 100,000/yr by 2050.

world map excessive deaths

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