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EU parliament declares climate emergency

The European parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency” as it urged all EU countries to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Intended to demonstrate Europe’s green credentials days before a crucial UN climate conference in Madrid, the vote also ratchets up pressure on the incoming president of the European commission, who declared this week that the EU would lead the fight against “the existential threat” of the climate crisis.

The vote came as scientists warned that the world may have already crossed a series of climate tipping points, resulting in “a state of planetary emergency”.

The decision passed with a comfortable majority, with 429 votes in favour, 225 votes against and 19 abstentions – MEPs across the political spectrum warned against making symbolic gestures.

Pascal Canfin, the French liberal MEP who drafted the climate emergency resolution, said: “The fact that Europes the first continent to declare climate and environmental emergency, just before COP25, when the new commission takes office, and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement, is a strong message sent to citizens and the rest of the world.”

French insurance giant phase-out coal

Just like their banking colleagues at BNP Paribas, AXA is also to phase out coal from business activities by 2030 in OECD states and by 2040 around the world, the insurance giant announced yesterday.

 

AXA is a French multinational insurance firm  that engages in global insuranceinvestment management, and other financial services, and their new climate strategy is launched as a 'new global benchmark for best practice'

The AXA Group operates primarily in Western Europe, North America, the Asia Pacific region, and the Middle East, with a presence also in Africa. 

In a move hailed by climate campaigners as setting "a new global benchmark for best practice", AXA said it will encourage coal companies to produce a coal phase-out plan by 2021 and use its position as a shareholder to accelerate the shutdown of existing coal plants. 

It also promised to stop selling insurance contracts - bar those covering employee benefits - to clients developing new coal projects larger than 300MW.

The moves are all part of AXA's plan to align its business with a 1.5C warming trajectory, the stretch target in the Paris Agreement.

AXA said its current investments have 3.1C of 'warming potential', well above its target of 1.5C by 2050 which would put it in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement.

As such it yesterday promised to double its green investments to €24bn by 2023 in an effort to accelerate the decarbonisation of its portfolio.

"Today we are launching a new phase in our climate strategy to accelerate our contribution to the transition towards a low-carbon and resilient economy, notably by focusing our sustainable finance efforts towards the energy transition of major industries," said CEO Thomas Buberl. "We are convinced that it is an absolute priority if we want to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement."

French bank will end all coal investments worldwide by 2040

French banking giant to end coal financing in Europe by 2030 and sets new renewable energy investment target of €18bn by 2021

 

BNP Paribas has pledged to cease all financing related to the European thermal coal sector by 2030, before then halting all coal investment globally by 2040.

BNP Paribas claims that the new commitments will help it meet its goal of reducing the CO2 intensity of its global electricity mix by 85% between 2014 and 2040, thereby complying with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The French banking group has also announced a new financing target of €18bn by 2021 in order to increase its support for the development of renewable energies.

Amid concerns over the climate emergency, BNP Paribas said that it intends to encourage the transition of electricity producers to a production model with the lowest possible emissions of CO2

BNP Paribas director and CEO Jean Laurent Bonnafé said: “Like all players in the economy and society whose objective is to contribute to the necessary transition to a lower carbon economic model, BNP Paribas has a role to play. As a bank, we have the opportunity, and the will, to participate in the acceleration of the energy transition by supporting our customers in this necessary transformation".

Addressing the weakness of blockchain

BLOCKCHAIN is touted as the next step in the digital revolution, a technology that will change every industry from music to waste. There are many versions of public blockchains in existence, but the majority of them share a basic premise: they offer a secure, decentralised infrastructure to maintain a "single version of the truth", recording all changes made on the blockchain database since its formation.

 

A lot of banks and fintechs started experimenting with blockchain in 2015, trying to capitalise on the speed and transparency it offers. But four years later, the idea that blockchain will remove banks as intermediaries in our payments system still seems a long way off. That's because there are five basic challenges that the technology has to overcome if it is to be accepted as part of the financial system.

1. STANDARDS

Different blockchains organise information in a plethora of ways. This means feeding information from one to another is not always easy.

There is no agreed universal layout of the transaction data structure. In a financial payment, a block will hold the person or company's name, account information, payment, location address and any other relevant factors. But crypto currencies all do this differently, so it would be difficult to move from one currency to another. They need to create standards for the information they contain and how it is systematically laid out.

2. LIABILITY

There is no liability for the platforms when things go wrong at the moment. For instance, in 2017, Canadian digital currency exchange QuadrigaCX announced that a computer error had led to losses of ether worth US$14 million. Surely, liability will need to be cleared up before the public can trust blockchains with their money. For this, we need more regulation in the space of crypto and blockchain in general.

3. SCALABILITY

Blockchain is still at a very small scale compared to everyday electronic payments. Bitcoin's blockchain does 2,000 transactions every 10 minutes, whereas Visa handles more than 65,000 transaction messages every second; Swift, the global messaging system used by banks and financial institutions to transfer payments, deals with 24 million messages a day.

The "block size debate" over how many transactions each block of a blockchain should handle has raged since the early days of bitcoin in 2009. This must be resolved for blockchain platforms to grow big enough to become part of the world's financial plumbing.

4. GOVERNANCE

Blockchain's strength is it has no central authority, but this is also its weakness. Who makes the decisions about how the technology works or when it needs updating?

Public blockchains operate more like communities. There is no systematic way to decide on updates or improvements. Sometimes this can result in a split.

Blockchains haven't figured out how to effectively govern yet. Often, simple majority voting mechanisms are used to make decisions, which means issues are vulnerable to lobbyists or active contributors seizing control.

5. TRANSPARENCY AND IDENTITY

Blockchain payments mean all users can see all the transactions, making them easy to audit and trace. Users are pseudo-anonymous, in that they are not obliged to identify themselves in any way, but they can still be traced through their alphanumeric address and use of tokens on the network. This transparency is part of the blockchain's strength. It means other users can see the amount of bitcoins going from one address to another, but no name is linked to that address. This can be regarded as both a strength and a weakness, and has to be adressed.

 

Eventually, blockchain's lack of an identification framework will be problematic for many users and investors, as it is a fundamental premise on which the financial system is built.

But when these issues are addressed, it is almost inevitable that blockchains become the new foundation of our financial system.

 

Power One stores energy in both water and hydrogen

There is a great demand for energy storage today. Solar energy can only be collected during the daytime and therefore some of the energy generated during the daytime must be stored for night use. There are several efficient ways to store energy today, and different storage models have different advantages and disadvantages, but the most cost-effective way of storing energy today is through water.

 

Batteries are the most common principle of energy storage today. Lithium has a certain environmental impact, mainly in the manufacturing process. Therefore, there is not much that goes for that metal to provide the world with green energy storage.

Hydrogen is a very clean alternative that only needs items. solar energy and water to be manufactured. It is more expensive per stored kilowatt than Kinetic storage and battery storage. However, one of the benefits of hydrogen is that it is transportable to the place where it is needed. Ex. mining companies, factories, schools, etc. The infrastructure that is now being built is a so-called. Return system with tubes containing hydrogen.

Kinetic storage is a pure alternative compared to fossil fuels as an energy carrier. so pumped water is today the most cost-effective energy storage. What stops it is that it does not fit everywhere but the need exists for all green forms of energy storage.

Storage of pumped water is quite simple. The basic structure consists of an upper and a lower pond. From the upper pond, the water passes through a pipeline connected to a turbine generator, just as in all conventional hydroelectric power stations. The difference is that the turbine in a pumped storage facility can be transformed into a pump during the day to pump water back to the upper pond - for night use.

For pumped water storage of energy, there is a total storage potential of about 22 million GWh worldwide. These astonishing figures come from a report recently released by Professor Andrew Blakers and other researchers with the Australian National University's RE100 Group.

"Pumped water already accounts for 97% of electricity storage worldwide due to the low cost", says ANU, "and the proportion of wind and solar cells in the electricity grid is increasing significantly".

The huge storage potential is about a hundred times greater than what is needed to support a 100% global renewable electricity system, "says ANU. An approximate guide to the 100% renewable electricity storage requirements, based on analysis for Australia, is 1 GW of power per million people with 20 hours of storage, which equals 20 GWh per million people.

The concept has been developed by the Australian University and is based on small-scale PWS with a pair of reservoirs, separated by a height difference between 300 and 700 m, and connected by a pipe with a pump / turbine. Water circulates between the upper and lower containers in a closed loop to store and generate power. The stations can have a storage time of 4 to 20 hours and such a network of small-scale PWS provides sufficient storage capacity to stabilize the supply and ensure a stable supply from 100% renewable energy sources.

These smaller versions of PWS are mao. an inexpensive, reliable and sustainable alternative for energy storage. The only thing required is water and altitude difference. The method is thus dependent on the natural terrain, and works in naturally hilly regions.

Some energy companies have taken note of this and have developed these small PWS into a sustainable alternative for storage in areas with natural conditions. For example, the Swedish energy company Power One, which specialises in the electrification of Africa and its huge growth market in energy / stored energy. Now Power One is developing a combined integrated storage in both PWS and hydrogen for its projects in East Africa (Pilot area). In this way, cost-effectiveness will almost double, while Power-One can deliver energy both day and night to its customers.

Using the combination enables Power One to reach larger areas and markets for stored energy.

Welcome to join us on an exciting journey in green energy where there is enormous potential to do good for the planet, while at the same time accelerating development in developing countries. Within this segment, there is money to be made while contributing to a more viable environment.

Power One AB is an energy company that is at the forefront of global development. Right now, there is an issue in which the public has the opportunity to invest in the company.

During Q32020, management expects the company to be listed. www.poweroneburundi.com

 

Young Republicans think their party is on the wrong side of the climate debate

Establishment Republicans will probably never authorize sweeping action on climate change. The Fox News crowd is twice as likely as other Republicans to say climate change isn’t caused by humans.

 

But that’s not true for young Republicans (as well as most of the GOP under the age of 38). Pew Research Center recently polled to gauge their opinion on climate change, and the results show a generational divide in the GOP getting wider with every generation.

Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, from protecting water or air quality to reducing the effects of climate change. And most believe the United States should focus on developing alternative sources of energy over expansion of fossil fuel sources, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

While only 31% of boomers (1946-64) say the federal government does too little to reduce the effects of climate change, 52% of millennials (born after 1980) say the same thing. Overall, two-thirds of US adults (67%) agree the US government does too little. And don’t expect change anytime soon. The average age of the Congress is among the highest in American history: 57.8 years old for House members, and 61.8 for senators.

While it’s unlikely enough GOP incumbents (or older conservative voters) will change their mind on climate to break a congressional stalemate, movement is unlikely to depend on convincing opponents of climate policy.

As German physicist Max Planck once said about progress in science, it advances one funeral (or retirement) at a time. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it,” he wrote in his 1968 autobiography. When it comes the politics of climate change, the axiom may apply to Congress as well.

Africa is showing the world how to get clean

When going to Africa travelers have to to pack very carefully. Several countries in Africa have already banned plastic bags, and if bringing plastic bags to those countries they will be confiscated at the airport. Rwanda made plastic bags illegal many years ago and others have followed suit. Now Tanzania has announced the implementation of the second phase of its plastic bag ban, and visitors are advised to avoid packing or carrying any plastic bags as they’ travel to Tanzania.

The first phase of the country’s anti-plastic initiative began in 2017 to “protect the youth and environment,” with an initial ban on the manufacture of plastic bags and in-country distribution. Phase two extends to tourists. “The government does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant as we enforce the ban,” said a statement from vice president Samia Suluhu’s office. “However, the government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban.”

There are exceptions to the new rule for medical, industrial, construction, agricultural, and waste management packaging, as well as for the small “ziploc” bags used to carry toiletries (as long as these leave the country when the visitors do). Still, Tanzania aims to be plastic bag free, and it’s just one of 34 African nations fighting against single-use plastics with such bans.

Kenya’s efforts, initiated in 2017, have led to a “visibly cleaner” country, Parker writes: “Bags that once hung like windblown shrouds from tree branches are fewer in number, as are clumps of bags that clogged drainage systems and created breeding pools for malaria-bearing mosquitoes.”

In Kenya, the penalties for ignoring the ban are the world’s most punitive. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and users found with plastic bags face up to $38,000 in fines or four years in prison. The ban has faced resistance, and enforcement is also a problem—it’s spotty, which means that plastic bags are still circulating despite the potential penalties. Still, in a country that once used about 100 million plastic bags a year, according to UN estimates, the reduction efforts are notable and seem to be effective.

Rwanda is aiming to be the world’s first plastic-free country, and its prohibitions appear to be working. The UN named the country’s capital, Kigali, the African continent’s cleanest city, thanks in part to a 2008 ban on non-biodegradable plastic.

In fact, the African continent is leading the world in plastic bag regulations. Notably, 31 of these bans have been passed in sub-Saharan Africa, the globe’s poorest region, as Laura Parker reported for National Geographic in April.

Several private companies are also catching up and supports these efforts. In Burundi there is no ban of plastic bags in place until next year, but even before that youth organisations and private companies have joined forces to clean the shores of Tanganyika Lake from plastic waste.

Gustave Niyongere, a young Burundian electrician, is engaged in the youth organisation cleaning the shores of Tanganyika from plastic waste. He is also an employee of Power One Burundi, a company building renewable energy. To solve the problem he engaged his company to help and today his youth organisation and the company he works at has joined forces in the cleaning efforts of Lake Tanganyika. This is an example among many. In Rwanda it has even become mandatory for companies to not only earn money, but to engage in the environmental struggle too.

This month, a UN environmental study concluded that plastic bag bans are working and are especially effective in African nations where waste is often burned. Indeed, about 40% of the world’s waste is burned, which causes toxic pollution. Burning plastics releases poisonous gases that threaten the health of vegetation, humans, and animals. “Burning of plastic waste increase the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema and cause rashes, nausea or headaches and damages the nervous system,” the study notes.

Reducing plastic bag use then has two effects: It minimizes the creation of waste, much of which drifts and ends up in the world’s oceans, harming marine life, and it reduces the air pollution caused by burning single-use plastics.

Pumped Water Storage - the emerging cost efficient method of energy storage

There is a huge demand for energy storage today. Solar energy can only be collected in daytime and therefore part of the the energy generated in daytime has to be stored for night use. There are several effective ways to store energy today, and different storage models have different advantages and disadvantages.

 

Batteries are the most prevalent today, but lithium has serious disadvantages for the environment.

Hydrogen is very clean, and only needs water, but is till more expensive per stored kilowatt than kinetic storage.

Kinetic storage is also clean and can be used with both material weight, or with water. The use of material weight is still under development, so pumped water is today the most cost effective storage of energy.

 

Pumped Water Storage is quite simple. The basic construction consists of an upper and a lower dam. From the upper dam the water goes through a pipeline connected to a  turbine generator, just like any normal hydroelectric power plant. The difference is that the turbine in a pumped storage facility can be reversed into a pump in daytime for pumping water back up to the upper dam - for night use.

There are about 530,000 potentially feasible pumped hydro energy storage sites worldwide, with a total storage potential of about 22 million GWh.

These astonishing numbers come from a report recently released by Professor Andrew Blakers and other researchers with Australian National University’s RE100 Group.

Pumped hydro already constitutes 97% of electricity storage worldwide because of its low cost, ANU says, and the proportion of wind and solar photovoltaics in the electrical grid is extending considerably. This means “additional long-distance high voltage transmission, demand management and local storage is required for stability.”

The massive storage potential of about 22 million GWh “is about one hundred times greater than required to support a 100% global renewable electricity system,” ANU says. An approximate guide to storage requirements for 100% renewable electricity, based on analysis for Australia, is 1 GW of power per million people with 20 hours of storage, which amounts to 20 GWh per million people.

The identified sites are outside national parks and are mostly closed-loop (not river-based). Each identified site comprises an upper and lower reservoir pair plus a hypothetical tunnel route between the reservoirs, and includes data such as latitude, longitude, altitude, head, slope, water volume, water area, rock volume, dam wall length, water/rock ratio, energy storage potential and approximate relative cost. Brownfield sites (existing reservoirs, old mining sites) will be included in a future analysis.

Most of the indicated sites are for quite large storage facilities, but there are also smaller versions of Pumped Water Storage (PWS):

1) Small riverside PWS systems:

Small PWS are quite common alongside major rivers, but are limited in capacity, firstly by the head available and land available for the upper reservoir.

2) Off-river pumped water storage

A concept, developed by the Australian national university and based on small scale PWS is pairs of reservoirs, typically 10 ha each, are separated by an altitude difference of between 300 and 700 m, in hilly terrain or ex-mines and away from rivers, and joined by a pipe with a pump/turbine. Water circulates between the upper and lower reservoirs in a closed loop to store and generate power.

Very little water is apparently required relative to conventional fossil fuel power stations. Estimated stations could be in size from 50 to 500 W and with a storage time of 4 to 20 h.
Problems with initial filling and compensation for evaporation and leakage. Such a network of small scale PWS is claimed to be able to provide sufficient storage capacity to allow operation from 100% renewable energy sources.

These smaller versions of PWS are a quite cheap, reliable and alternative for storage in hilly regions. Some energy developers have picked up on these small PWS. There are several combinaqtions of storage possible today, and can be modelled relating to the specific environment. One example of a company working with this  is energy company Power One, which is specialised in electrification of previously non electrified areas in Africa. They have now developed a combined storage system of both PWS and hydrogen to be integrated in its projects in East Africa. Through this system Powerr One can double its storage cost efficiency, at the same time as the company can provide both night time electricity and hydrogen for transports to its customers. In other areas the combination can be different, depending on natural preconditions.

In the comprehensive global atlas presented by Australian National University’s RE100 Group, pumped hydro energy storage sites provided by users can browse to any part of the world and zoom in to obtain detailed synthetic images. Users can explore thousands of sites in specific locales, sorted by size and capital cost. Clicking on a reservoir or tunnel route produces pop-ups containing detailed information.

African Hydrogen - The time is now

Establishing hydrogen economies and societies in Africa will provide tremendous social, economic and environmental benefits - all at the same time as it will grow to become perhaps the most profitable investment available today.

 

That’s the message from the African Hydrogen Partnership (AHP), a to be multi-stakeholder association that has recently unveiled an ambitious vision to transform Africa from a vast and largely underdeveloped continent, to a region at the forefront of clean technologies with a thriving hydrogen value chain.

The plans would see renewable hydrogen produced and consumed locally in Africa, meaning the continent would be able to reduce the import of fossil-based fuels and chemicals drastically. This would reduce dependency on the US dollar and help improve trade balances.

AHP proposes that the savings from this, and from reducing pollution, as well as socio-economic benefits, could be used to fund new hydrogen programmes.

Next to those savings, new financial instruments such as Green African Hydrogen Bond could be developed for providing efficient access to capital markets to raise funding for green hydrogen projects.

The first hydrogen economies would begin with the construction of large-scale power to gas (P2G) renewable energy facilities or hubs along important trans-African highways. These would also be built in ports, where hydrogen stations would provide fuel for long haul heavy goods vehicles, buses and trains, all powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The same P2G stations would also provide green hydrogen for industrial processes and green chemicals, such as ammonia (for fertiliser), green methanol (polymers), steel manufacturing (reducing agent), glass production (protective gas) and electronics (protective & carrier gas).

These trans-African hydrogen routes would connect major mining centres that use heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles (such as forklifts, tugs and bulldozers).

The routes would also connect harbours, trade centres, metropolitan areas overland and near-shore islands with hydrogen-powered ferries.

In metropolitan areas where there’s severe pollution, lightweight and convertible hydrogen fuel cell business vehicles could provide sufficient reliable energy to run a small business during the day and to supply electricity to the owner’s home at night. These vehicles would make clean transport and power available and affordable for everyone.

In AHP’s vision for a hydrogen economy, the consumer transports green energy from large scale, independent renewable energy production facilities and from local mini-grids to wherever they need to consume the energy.

This is a new, revolutionary concept for Africa put forward by AHP’s co-founders Vincent Oldenbroek and Siegfried Huegemann that would remove Africa’s current dependency on the electricity grid for energy.

“Hydrogen technology has accomplished tremendous achievements over the last four years. Costs have come down, products have been scaled up and at the same time all the developments like renewable electricity have become really cheap. These developments together made us decide the timing is right and 2019 was the year to start this,” explains Oldenbroek to gasworld.

“However, with climate change happening all over the world, for example the extreme warm winters in Europe, you could say maybe we are already too late. With all these environmental challenges we are facing, there’s no better time than today,” adds Huegemann.

Battery Vs. Hydrogen: There’s Room For Both Technologies

Last week Anheuser-Busch brewery made its first zero-emissions delivery of beer, and both hydrogen-powered and battery-powered trucks were involved to demonstrate how the two technologies can work together. The beverage company used a hydrogen-electric truck to pick up a load of beer from its distillery and deliver it to local wholesaler partner. The wholesaler partner in turn used a battery-electric powered truck to make the delivery to customers, marking the first zero-emissions delivery.

There is a something of a mild war between Tesla and the rest of the world when it comes to the debate on the future of vehicle propulsion technology. Although there are multiple power sources available on the market today–including natural gas, diesel, hydrogen, and petroleum gasoline–some automotive industry leaders feel that there should only be one: battery-electric.

Most large and intermediate-sized automotive manufacturers disagree with this narrow position, and are exploring multiple alternative-fuel systems, including fuel-cell technology.

Hydrogen is more efficient for powering large vehicles, such as full-size SUVs and trucks, for long distances while carrying heavy payloads. Batteries are large, heavy, and expensive, and quickly reach a point of diminishing returns as vehicle size and weight increases, which is why many transportation giants are placing heavy bets on hydrogen technology and start-ups.

Last year Anheuser-Busch placed an order for up to 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks from the Phoenix, Arizona-based Nikola Motor Company to make good on its plan to reduce its carbon emissions across their supply chain by 25% by 2025. These trucks can travel between 500 and 1,200 miles before a 20-minute refueling is required. But even when all of the 800 long-haul hydrogen-powered trucks are on the road, the new fleet will reduce the brewer’s logistics-related carbon footprint by only 18%.

Additional reductions will be found in part by working with battery-electric vehicle manufacturers. The beer producer will be deploying 21 electric battery-electric trucks powered by a 958.5 kW solar array in efforts to reduce emissions generated by its distribution centers in southern California.

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