“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.


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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 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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Why (most) Politicians Do Not Act on Climate Change?

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate [Kindle Edition] (120 pages, Andrew Hoffman, Mar. 11, 2015)

Also discussed here: Social sciences are best hope for ending debates over climate change (Andy Hoffman, The Conversation, Apr. 2, 2015)

Today we review an enlightened book by Professor Andy Hoffman which looks beyond the scientific evidence for climate change as a basis for policy to the socio-economic and cultural interests that must be satisfied before substantive action meet with public approval – even though, parenthetically, it appears that the public is far ahead of their political masters on the solutions which mainly revolve around a form of carbon tax (or carbon “dividend” as the new terminology dubs it). Hoffman contrasts the way scientists think and propose solutions to the way that social scientists deal with similar challenges. He also recognizes debates where extremes are debated that affect a few instead of main issues affecting the majority with exaggerated positions taken to defend each side- which is true not only of the climate debate (top – down imposed tax vs. freedom from government control) but also the abortion debate (life vs. choice), neither of which involve the factual or scientific sides of the arguments. Addressing climate change requires significant change to the physical infrastructure and institutions and lifestyles that support carbon fuels. Unless these interests are addressed, little progress on policy is possible.

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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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