There’s even a fierce battle brewing in Florida between the Koch brothers and a free market Tea Party group pushing for solar power—a clear sign that, as with gay marriage, there is no longer just one single monolithic conservative position. Continue reading
Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 2 Apr 15 @dpcarrington GMG becomes largest fund yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies in a move chair Neil Berkett calls a ‘hard-nosed business decision’ justified on ethical and financial grounds. The Guardian Media Group (GMG) is to sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund of over £800m, making it the largest yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies.
The decision was justified on both financial and ethical grounds, said Neil Berkett, GMG chair: “It is a hard-nosed business decision, but it is influenced by the values of our organisation. It is a holistic decision taking into account all of those things.”
Berkett said fossil fuel assets had performed relatively poorly in recent years and were threatened by future climate change action, while an ethical fund already held by GMG had been a “stellar” performer and renewable energy was growing strongly. “This means we can adopt socially responsible investment criteria without putting at risk the core purpose of GMG’s investment funds: to generate long-term returns that guarantee the financial future and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity,” he said.
A series of analyses have shown that current reserves of coal, oil and gas are several times greater than can be burned whilst limiting climate change to the internationally agreed limit of 2C. The fast-growing, UN-backed divestment campaign argues that the business models of fossil fuel companies, which continue to spend billions on searching for new reserves, are endangering the climate. The campaign also argues many fossil fuel assets could become worthless if the world’s governments act to curb global warming, a risk taken seriously by the World Bank and the Bank of England.
The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign is asking the world’s two biggest charitable funds – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust– to divest their endowments from all fossil fuels. Over 180 groups around the world have already taken this step, including Syracuse University, which on Tuesday committed to divesting its $1.18bn (£799m) endowment. Previously, the largest fund to divest from all fossil fuels was the Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($860m (£582m)), a fortune that originated from the company that became ExxonMobil. Others, including the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, held by Norway, have divested from coal companies……..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/01/guardian-media-group-to-divest-its-800m-fund-from-fossil-fuels
the abrupt fluctuations offer a glimpse at the duration of the effects of climate change driven by human activity pumping more planet-warming gases into Earth’s atmosphere, Moffitt said.
“What this shows us is that there are major biomes on this planet that are on the table, that are on the chopping block for a future of abrupt climate warming and unchecked greenhouse gas emissions,” Moffitt said. “We as a society and civilization have to come to terms with the things that we are going to sacrifice if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas footprint.
Oceans might take thousands of years to recover from climate change, study suggests, SMH, April 2, 2015 Geoffrey Mohan Naturally occurring climate change lowered oxygen levels in the deep ocean, decimating a broad spectrum of seafloor life that took some 1,000 years to recover, according to a study that offers a potential window into the effects of modern warming.
Earth’s recovery from the last glacial period, in fact, was slower and more brutal than previously thought, according to the study, published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers deciphered that plotline from a 30-foot core of sea sediments drilled from the Santa Barbara Basin off the coast of California containing more than 5,000 fossils spanning nearly 13,000 years.
“The recovery does not happen on a century scale; it’s a commitment to a millennial-scale recovery,” said Sarah Moffitt, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory and lead author of the study. “If we see dramatic oxygen loss in the deep sea in my lifetime, we will not see a recovery of that for many hundreds of years, if not thousands or more.”………
beginning around 13,500 years ago, the seafloor community began a slow recovery with the rise of grazers that fed on bacterial mats. Recovery eventually was driven by a fluctuation back toward glaciation during the Younger Dryas period, a cooling sometimes called the Big Freeze.
“The biological community takes 1,000 years to truly recover to the same ecological level of functioning,” Moffitt said. “And the community progresses through really interesting and bizarre states before it recovers the kind of biodiversity that was seen prior to the warming.”……..
The climate changes chronicled in the study arose from natural cycles involving Earth’s orbit of the sun, and the oxygen declines that ensued were more extreme than those that have occurred in modern times, the study noted.
Still, the abrupt fluctuations offer a glimpse at the duration of the effects of climate change driven by human activity pumping more planet-warming gases into Earth’s atmosphere, Moffitt said.
“What this shows us is that there are major biomes on this planet that are on the table, that are on the chopping block for a future of abrupt climate warming and unchecked greenhouse gas emissions,” Moffitt said. “We as a society and civilization have to come to terms with the things that we are going to sacrifice if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas footprint.” http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/oceans-might-take-thousands-of-years-to-recover-from-climate-change-study-suggests-20150401-1md7qk.html
Why Now Is the Right Time for a Carbon Tax http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/04/02/why-now-is-the-right-time-for-a-carbon-tax/ MARGARET WALLS: The current downturn in the oil and gas business, like the ups and downs of the cycles that came before it, is fundamentally a result of demand and supply. Weak economic activity in Europe, China and elsewhere has led to reduced demand at the same time that increased exploration and development, particularly from U.S. unconventional sources, has increased supply.
The low prices are creating winners and losers in the U.S., but the biggest loser may be the environment. As consumption of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products rises in response to lower prices (and it will, mark my words), emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will rise, too, exacerbating the already dire projections for global climate change. The time couldn’t be better for implementing a carbon tax.
The timing is right for two important reasons. For one thing, low oil prices will dampen the blow. A tax of $25 a ton of CO2 would raise gasoline prices by about 25 cents a gallon, keeping pump prices still far below where they were a year ago. For another, a carbon tax might help to avert some capital investment decisions that would lock in higher emissions. Many observers are worried that low oil prices may lead households to increase purchases of SUVs and other gas guzzlers, cause manufacturers to back off from conversions of oil-fired boilers, and dampen plans for a variety of renewable-energy investments. A carbon tax would provide the right consumption and investment incentives.
As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers put it in advocating for a carbon tax, “that which is not paid for is overused.” We pay a price for energy but that price reflects only its private costs and benefits and not the externalities associated with its use, the most serious of which is climate change. The call for a carbon tax is now coming from many quarters.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz has made an impassioned plea for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, an option many economists have supported for years. Coupling a carbon tax with reduced income or payroll taxes can improve the environment and the tax code. A lump sum per household annual “climate dividend” is another option.
Congress is gridlocked but a revenue-neutral carbon tax should have appeal to both political parties. And with oil prices at a five-year low, no time could be better.
Read the latest Energy Report.
For Every New Coal Plant Being Built, Two Are Being Cancelled, Clean Technica, March 21st, 2015 Originally published on The Carbon Brief. By Sophie Yeo
The global coal boom has started to slow, a new report says, as more plans for new power plants are now being shelved than completed.
The number of cancelled coal projects across the world has outstripped those completed at a rate of two to one since 2010, according to Sierra Club and CoalSwarm – two campaign groups that have tracked the progress of 3,900 intended plants since 1 January 2010.
The findings update a 2012 report by the World Resources Institute, which estimated that 1,199 new coal-fired power plants, with a total capacity of 1,401 gigawatts, were in the pipeline for construction.
New figures suggest that, by 2014, this had shrunk by 23% to a proposed 1,083 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity. The report puts this down to citizen opposition, competition from renewables, new policy initiatives and political scandals putting a freeze on the highly polluting projects………
The current rate of coal project cancellations is already causing a headache for investors in the industry, Ted Nace, one of the report’s authors, tells Carbon Brief:
“The clearest example right now is in coal mining stocks like Peabody, Arch, and Alpha Natural Resources. Arch’s stock, for example, hit $75 per share in 2008 and now sells for 88 cents per share. An individual or an institutional investor that invested $75,000 in Arch stock in 2008 would have lost over $74,000 in the past seven years.”
The decline in the European and US coal fired capacity growth has been taking place for over a decade, but mining companies had hoped that exports to China and other Pacific Rim nations would help to make up the difference.
This has not happened. China’s coal consumption fell by 2.9% in 2014, while the use of existing coal plants dropped to 54% – a 35-year low.
Meanwhile, new renewable energy capacity exceeded new coal capacity in China for the first time in 2013, and then again in 2014 – although coal remains the dominant source of Chinese electricity.
The rate at which projects are being shelved in India has also had an impact on connected projects overseas, explains Nace:
“With capacity growth stalling in India, numerous overseas mega-projects such as mines, railroads, and terminals designed to increase imports of coal to India are now on turning into white elephants.”……..
The rate at which coal plants are being cancelled is an improvement upon previous estimates on the future growth of the industry.
But with international efforts targeted towards keeping global warming to below two degrees, the news that there is still 1,083 gigawatts of coal capacity in the pipeline is little cause for celebration. http://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/21/for-every-new-coal-plant-being-built-two-are-being-cancelled/
There is a compelling need to listen to the voices of our youth who will inherit the challenges and catastrophes we fail to address and pre-empt. We believe we must be reconciled to Creation and to one another and that there is an urgency to this call. We believe the issue of climate change is a moral issue at its heart……….
We will develop and distribute educational resources for everyone (adults, youth and children) on climate change, climate justice, and the ethical and practical principles of sustainable living in global and local contexts……..
We encourage Anglicans everywhere to:……….
Implement energy conservation measures in church buildings and moving to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible…….
We call upon political, economic, social and religious leaders in our various constituencies to address the climate change crisis as the most urgent moral issue of our day. We urge them to:
· Work with all possible commitment and speed toward fair, ambitious, accountable and binding climate change agreements at national and international levels.
· Develop policies that genuinely assist environmental and climate refugees and promote mechanisms of intergovernmental co-operation that ensure their human rights, safety and resettlement………
Amy Kalafa MBA in Sustainability Candidate Bard College
Stephanie Milbergs Assistant director Bard MBA in Sustainability Rochelle J. March
Rochelle J. March Friday, March 13, 2015 Mark Z. Jacobson is director of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program, as well as a professor of civil and environmental engineering. He is also a senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and of the Precourt Institute for Energy.
The main goal of Jacobson’s research is to better understand physical, chemical and dynamic processes in the atmosphere in order to solve atmospheric problems, such as global warming and urban air pollution, with improved scientific insight and more accurate predictive tools.
Jacobson also evaluates the atmospheric and health effects of proposed energy and transportation solutions to global warming and air pollution, maps renewable energy resources and studies optimal methods of integrating renewable electricity into the grid.
This Q&A is an edited excerpt from a Sustainable Business Fridays conversation Jan. 30 by the Bard MBA in Sustainability program, based in New York City. This twice-monthly dial-in conversation features sustainability leaders from across the globe…….
You just came out with a study, however, that states nuclear power results in 25 times more carbon emissions than wind. Can you explain these findings for us?
Jacobson: Sure, it’s rather straightforward. A life-cycle analysis of a wind turbine shows most of carbon outputs during its construction, practically zero when it’s in operation, and then, if you use today’s methods, during decommission a turbine outputs some carbon.
When you do the calculation, however, you find that wind power emissions are between 5 to 10 grams of carbon per kWh of electricity generated over the lifetime of the turbine. Using that as a baseline, you see over the lifetime of nuclear power, the carbon output is 70 grams per carbon per kWh.
This is from one, building of the nuclear power plant and then two, refining uranium, which is very energy-intensive. There is also timing involved: It takes on average in the U.S. 10 to 19 years for a nuclear power plant to get up and running, while a wind farm can be built on average in two to five years.
If we compare nuclear and wind from now, in two to five years you’ll have a wind farm up and start creating energy that’s clean, while with nuclear you have to wait 10 to 19 years to get that energy. If you add in these extra emissions, called opportunity cost emissions, you end up getting nine to 25 times more carbon in air pollution per kWh from nuclear than wind.
That is still better than coal or natural gas (60 to 120 times more), but other problems with nuclear power is of course 1.5 percent of plants have melted down, and the problems related to weapons proliferation with nuclear, radioactive waste, mining damage, etc. Not even mentioning the cost, which is very high and currently subsidized in the U.S. It’s not a viable option; it’s really the nuclear industry trying to push it to get more business.
Europe has promised a 40% emissions cut by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – and the report says this will bring real benefits, including 70,000 full-time jobs, the prevention of around 6,000 pollution-related deaths, and a €33bn cut in fossil fuel imports.
31 March is the deadline for developed countries to submit their climate pledges for the conference (so called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDCs), but few have yet done so and nations such as Canada and Japan are expected to miss the bell.
“This report adds to the growing body of evidence that greater climate ambition means better health,” said Anne Stauffer, the deputy director of the Health and Environment Alliance.
“The massive health benefits expected from mitigation action not only include premature deaths avoided but also reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity. This should be welcome news for European decision-makers.”
In other parts of the world, the effects of increased climate ambition would be even more dramatic, according to the New Climate Institute’s (NCI) analysis which uses data from the International Energy Agency.
Comparable figures in the US for a 2C pathway would see 650,000 new jobs created and 27,000 deaths avoided………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/31/limiting-climate-change-economic-benefits-study-finds
Mushahid Ullah Khan calls for tapping massive clean energy potential, Business Recorder, Sunday, 29 March 2015 SLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan has said that renewable energy, which is clean and environment-friendly, is future of Pakistan.
“Pakistan is abundantly replete with the renewable energy sources, which can help the country cope with deepening energy crises and pave the way for achieving sustainable development goals,” the minister underlined.
In a press statement issued here on Sunday in the context of the Earth Hour event observed across the world including Pakistan, he explained that renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides,waves and geothermal heat.
Highlighting the importance of marking the Earth Hour, the minister Mushahid Ullah Khan said that the global Earth Hour event, in fact, calls for the global climate action by investing in renewable energy technologies to free the world including Pakistan of reliance on fossil fuels for energy generation, which are unclean, unreliable and not environment-friendly………
“Above all, harnessing the sun’s power is deemed to be an attractive alternative. For, it is a renewable resource, which leads no pollution. In contrast to conventional fuels, its use requires no need for refining, transporting and conveying fuels and power over long distances,” the minister said.http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/politics-a-policy/235421-mushahid-ullah-khan-calls-for-tapping-massive-clean-energy-potential.html
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church supports the efforts of scientists to study the causes and effects of climate change and insists governments and businesses must get serious about specific commitments for protecting the environment.But Pope Francis, like his predecessors, does not pretend to have a technical solution to the problem. However, he does feel a responsibility to remind Christians of their religious obligation to safeguard creation, beginning with human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God.
Clearing his calendar for a week in late March, Pope Francis rolled up his sleeves to put the final touches on an encyclical letter about the environment; building on what he and his predecessors have said, the document — planned for publication early in the summer — is expected to present ecology as the ultimate pro-life, pro-poor, pro-family issue.
For Pope Francis, like Pope Benedict XVI, safeguarding creation is not simply about protecting plants and animals, or just about ensuring the air, water and land will support human life for generations to come. Those things are part of the task……….
Japan Uses Climate Cash for Coal Plants, Chem Info Karl Ritter & Aijaz Rahi, Associated Press (AP) 27 Mar 15 — Despite mounting protests Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power.
Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment. …….
Environmental activists are demanding that at the very least, climate finance should exclude coal and other fossil fuels that scientists blame for warming the planet. “Japan’s support for new coal-fired power plants not only destroys the climate — it also displaces communities, is likely to cause untold local environmental damage, and primarily benefits Japanese companies instead of recipient countries,” said Brandon Wu of ActionAid. “This is unacceptable on its own, and the fact that it is being done in the name of ‘climate finance’ makes a farce of the entire concept,” he said.
….Climate finance is money promised by rich countries in U.N. climate talks to help poor countries limit their carbon emissions. Japan announced at a U.N. climate conference in Peru in December that it has provided $16 billion in climate finance since 2013. Yet the U.N. has no rules defining climate finance, meaning governments decide for themselves what projects to include in their accounting.Climate activists are now urging the recently created Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to become a key channel of climate finance, to explicitly ban funding for fossil fuel projects. The issue is likely to be discussed at the GCF’s board meeting this week in South Korea. The Matarbari plant is financed with a Japanese development loan agreed with the government of Bangladesh last June……..http://www.chem.info/news/2015/03/japan-uses-climate-cash-coal-plants
Full text of climate change statement signed by 26 European mayors. Declaration entitled: ‘In response to the challenge of global climate change, a European commitment and local solutions’
If climate change is global, solutions are first and foremost local. Because large cities are at the crossroads of these two levels, they are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
This is why, we, the European capitals and metropolises that represent more than 60 million inhabitants and have significant investment capacity (€2tn GDP), have decided to join forces and strengthen the instruments that will lead us toward the energy and environmental transition……
FRENCH LAW TO REQUIRE GREEN ROOFS OR SOLAR PANELS ON NEW COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS, ecosalon, by Sara Novak on March 24, 2015 France just passed a new law that will require all new buildings in commercial zones to be covered with green roofs or solar panels.
Environmental groups hope to reduce the energy costs of commercial buildings while creating an urban jungle in the world’s most beloved city of progress…..The law will change the face of the urban landscape in France by promoting more urban greenery.
While solar panels have an obvious purpose, the benefits of green roofsare less well known. Not only do they beautify buildings and create space for community gardens, they have a number of other environmental benefits.
In the summer, green roofs retain 70 to 90 percent of precipitation and in the winter they retain 25 to 40 percent of precipitation. This reduces runoff and decreases the stress on sewer systems. The daily dew and evaporation cycle along with the light absorbed by vegetation, help to cool buildings down. Green roofs also reduce smog by slowing the distribution of dust and particulate matter……..
The combination of solar panels and green roofs create dual environmental tools. Both help reduce the power demands on the national grid, especially when temperatures peak in the summer time.
Green roofs are popular in Germany, Australia, and parts of Canada. Since 2009, Toronto has had a similar mandatory law for green roofs on commercial buildings. But they’re also gaining traction in the U.S. New York City leads the pack in green roofs and it’s home to the largest roof top garden in the country. James Farley Post Office is topped with a greening system that saves the massive post office $30,000 per year in energy costs. Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Portland are all home to a number of green roofs.http://ecosalon.com/french-law-to-require-green-roofs-or-solar-panels-on-new-commercial-buildings/
…federal agencies over the next decade to cut their emissions by an average of 40 percent compared with their levels when he won office in 2008, and to increase their use of electricity from renewable sources by 30 percent.This move is wholly within the president’s power as the nation’s chief executive and will have a significant impact on the market for energy efficiency and renewable energy goods and services. The federal government is the nation’s largest organization. It employs more people and buys more goods and services than anyone else. It is also a powerful role model for the private sector. As Ms. Davis observes:
…because the federal government is the largest user of energy in the United States economy — encompassing 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles and $445 billion in annual spending on goods and services — it has the potential to influence private companies to step up their emissions-cutting targets.When coupled with EPA’s slow and steady progress to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, this change in government’s own operations begins to resemble a meaningful federal climate policy………http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/the-emergence-and-importa_b_6922614.html?utm_hp_ref=green
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