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CO2 emissions fall in 18 countries with strong policies

In a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers say that countries that are turning to renewable energy sources and moving away from fossil fuels are making progress in reducing CO2 emissions.

 

The study looked at emissions from between 2005 and 2015. Globally, CO2 was on the rise — about 2.2 per cent annually — but in 18 countries, their emissions saw a decline. These 18 account for 28 per cent of global emissions.

"We went in these 18 countries and looked at what policies they had in place … and we found that, in the countries where there's more policy in place, the decreases in emissions were larger," said Corinne Le Quéré, a Canadian professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. "That suggests that the policies do work."

But another contributing factor, they found, was that these countries were also using less energy overall. They might have more efficient heating systems, or more electric cars on the roads, for example.

While it may seem like common sense — better policies beget positive outcomes — there are other factors, such as economic growth (or decline) that influences emissions and energy output. For example, the researchers did find that the financial crisis of 2008–2009 showed up in the data, with a decrease in emissions.

What the researchers found most encouraging about their study is that, for the two countries that were the control group, if you removed their economic growth, policies encouraging energy efficiency were linked to cuts in emissions.

"Really, what this study shows it's not a mystery. We have the technology: you put the effort in place, you develop the policies, you fund them, and then you get emission decreases," Le Quéré said.

"One of the messages that comes out of our analysis is that policy matters, and the efforts of policies," she said. "You need to have a lot of big policies in place and policies at the national level; policies that are well-funded, that are regulated." 

And though China, the world's biggest CO2 emitter, didn't make the list of Climatologist Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State University in Pennsylvania and director of the university's Earth System Science Center has hope.

"There is still an available path to stabilizing greenhouse warming below 2 C, a common threshold for defining dangerous human interference with the global climate," he said.

He notes that these 18 countries are already ahead of the game when it comes to a renewable, energy-driven economy. 

"There is a clear path toward averting catastrophic climate change," he said. "We just have to follow it."

Read the report

Renewable energy in Africa can lead the way

The IEA, or International Energy Agency, predicts that solar energy will play a big role in supporting the continent’s growing population and industrialisation over the next 20 years. Africa should be leading the way into the future using renewable energy sources to power production, says an IEA report predicting a solar boom in countries across the continent, which could give hundreds of millions of homes electricity for the first time.

Africa’s population is expected to grow to more than 2 billion people by 2040, a rise of 800 million from today or the population equivalent of the US and Europe combined, says the report. People are expected to turn to cities and towns at a rate never seen before, where the demand for new houses and infrastructure will ignite an energy-hungry industrial revolution.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said Africa had a “unique opportunity” to leapfrog the fossil fuel dependency of other industrialised regions.

“I am optimistic about Africa’s energy future – it will surprise pessimists,” Birol said. “I have great expectations for the energy industry in the years to come, both in terms of bringing energy access to Africa’s people but also driving economic growth.”

He urged Africa’s leaders to take advantage of the natural resources available through solar power generation, and the mining of raw minerals needed to make electric and hydrogen batteries, which are in high demand across the world.

Birol said: “Africa’s total contribution to cumulative global emissions from energy over the last 100 years is only 2%, which is half the emissions of Germany today. If everyone in Africa had access to energy this 2% will rise to just 3% – it’s still nothing. It’s peanuts compared to other countries in the world which are using fossil fuels such as coal for energy.

“But while Africa does not contribute to climate change the continent is on the frontline of its potential effects, including droughts. Africa is perhaps the most innocent continent in terms of its contributions to climate change, but they will be the victims.”

 

Read the report

GREEN STEEL: Liberty Steel will be carbon neutral by 2030

Under the name of Liberty Steel, mining, metals, and energy giant GFG Alliance is to re-organise its steel businesses to become "the world's first carbon neutral steel company" by 2030. Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman at the family owned multinational, announced the move at the World Steel Dynamics' European Conference in Milan.

 

Sanjeev Gupta confirmed in an interview that the reorganisation was designed to ensure the new business is ready for a potential IPO in the future - an approach he intends to replicate for all the conglomerate's businesses.

 

"Whether it's the steel, aluminium or energy companies... all the companies will be made ready in terms of governance, reporting and transparency, so they'll be ready in every way to go for a listing as and when they want to," he said.

 

The new company organisation will be incorporated by the end of this year and is expected to employ 30,000 people in 10 countries.

 

Over the past few years the company has established renewable energy projects, invested in electric arc furnaces to produce recycled steel, and explored the use of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies in the steel manufacturing process. The accompanying commitment to ensure the business is 'carbon neutral' within a decade is central to the new strategy.

 

Steel from recycled scrap using fossil fuel based energy already generates less than a third of the CO2 emissions compared with primary steel making and that savings can be further maximised through the use of renewable power. However, Gupta argue it is critical the steel industry now pursues full carbon neutrality.

 

"We are creating a new force in steel with the size, scale and agility to forge a path towards a sustainable future for our steel businesses and the communities in which we operate," he said confident that carbon neutral steel was possible. "Technically it's already been proven, you can make steel with hydrogen, the only question is the economic viability," he said.

 

He added that there is a moral obligation for the steel industry to tackles its emissions.

 

"As a responsible business, the legacy we pass on to future generations is every bit as important as our bottom line," he say. "Liberty Steel aims not just to produce top quality steel but to be an agent of change in the industry. In doing so, we can open the door to the re-industrialisation of the developed world by reviving and restoring often neglected industry."

 

The move was welcomed by Fautine Delasalle, director of the Energy Transitions Commission.

"I am delighted to see pioneering companies like Liberty Group turn vision into practice as there is high demand for zero carbon steel products today."" Delasalle said.

The making of renewable energy plants use less minerals

A global report from Australia’s Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, have warned of skyrocketing demand for metals such as copper, lithium and cobalt used in the making of renewable energy plants, like solar and wind, but the report finds fossil fuel generation still using far more of these mineral resources globally.

 

The report finds that metals so far represent only a small share – less than 3 per cent – of the current mineral footprint of the global renewable electricity sector, but they are nonetheless essential for the production of renewable power equipment and infrastructures. Most of the material footprint of renewable technologies is made up of non-metallic minerals – such as aggregates, gravel, calcite, clays, shale and gypsum – and raw fossil fuels extracted for infrastructure construction.

 

“Although renewable electricity technologies generate much lower CO2 emissions than fossil fuel power plants, their large-scale deployment has raised concerns about higher mineral requirements and related environmental and social impacts,” the report notes.

 

Iron is by far the most-used metal for renewable power, accounting for almost 85 per cent (120 Mt) of the sector’s cumulative metal footprint over 2013-18, of which two-thirds was used for steel in hydro and wind power plants together. Aluminium (5%) and copper (4%) are the second and third most mobilised metals, mainly for PV panel manufacturing.

The remaining fraction of the metal footprint includes metals with relatively lower production levels – some mined as principal substances including nickel, zinc, lead, tin and titanium; others recovered as by- or co-products of the former, like germanium, gallium, indium, hafnium, tellurium, bismuth and others.

This footprint will “increase substantially” as the renewable electricity sector continues to grow over the outlook period, driven primarily by growth in solar PV and wind capacities, and will need to be monitored in terms of sustainability. While the geological availability of mineral resources is not expected to impede deployment of renewable technologies in the near future, the report says, tensions in supply chains and price volatility may occur over the longer term, depending on “substitution opportunities, the evolution of demand for competing applications (e.g. batteries, electronics and electric appliances), geopolitical events, and environmental, social and trade regulations among other factors.”

The Business Roundtable: The purpose of a corporation is to protect the environment

CEOs from 181 of the world’s largest companies, all belonging to the lobbying group The Business Roundtable (BRT), have now declared that the purpose of a corporation is not just to serve shareholders.  (their official position since 1997), but “to create value for all our stakeholders.” This is a giant broadening of the declaration and the purpose of a corporation now also includes to "protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses."

 

Shareholder primacy has been the core operating principle of public companies for about 50 years. The neo-liberal economist Milton Friedman once famously declared that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” These ideas have been promoted for decades by a very well-funded and wildly successful effor to make the free-market, shareholder-primacy, neoliberal philosophy the dominant global economic model.

 

"Multiple think tanks funded by the Kochs and others have made this case daily. They also have worked to undermine climate science, which is very much related to maintaining the power status quo. The death of David Koch, the same week CEO’s pushed back on narrow, shareholder-only thinking, is symbolic", writes Andrew Winston, Harward Business Review.

 

According to Harvard Business Review modern business leaders are feeling pressure to rethink the role of business in society for a number of reasons:

1.Social norms are changing and expectations from employees, customers, and even investors are rising fast.

2.A growing realization that a focus on one key stakeholder or metric is as flawed as using your cholesterol level as the only measure of your health.

3.Investors now focus more on their purpose and how they contribute to society.

 

The core reason to this change of attitudes is, of course, Climate change, but growing inequality, water and resource scarcity, soil degradation and loss of biodiversity also play key roles.

 

"These issues require systemic efforts, cooperation, and pricing of those “externalities” (like pollution and carbon emissions). The current shareholder-obsessed system is not fit for this purpose. Individual profit-maximizing businesses will not be incentivized to tackle shared global challenges", Andrew Winston, Harward Business Review.

The first fund for investment in circular economy

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has launched its first circular economy fund as part of a new partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation designed to drive investment in the circular economy. The launch marks one of the first moves by a major investor to specifically target the expanding circular economy sector, which works to bolster resource efficiency and introduce new business models that enable circular resource flows.

 

BlackRock said its BGF Circular Economy Fund aims to drive investment in companies contributing to or benefiting from circular economy activities, excluding investments in the coal sector and oil and gas producers. It will include 'adopters', companies which are, for example, designing reusable or repairable products; 'enablers' such as resale platforms; and 'beneficiaries', such as firms which see more demand for their goods as a result of the shift away from single-use products.

Corporate interest in the circular economy is growing as the twin demands for climate action and reductions in plastic waste force firms to consider new businesses models based on reusable products. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is one of the world's most influential organisations working within this space, bringing together a host of blue chip corporates and environmental campaigners. 

 

The new fund is the latest in a series of moves by BlackRock designed to increase its exposure to green sectors and pressure companies to demonstrate a "purpose" beyond maximising profits. 

 

Rachel Lord, head of EMEA at BlackRock, said companies are becoming more aware of their role in driving circular economy business models.

"To be well-positioned for the future, businesses are acknowledging that their long-term value is increasingly linked to their principles, practices and impact on society," she said. "Our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation allows us to potentially benefit from their knowledge and expertise to help create a thriving economy."

First cryogenic energy storage to be built in the U.K.

Energy storage company Highview Power has announced its intention to build a cryogenic energy storage facility in the north of England, a first for the U.K. A decommissioned power plant will be converted for the cryostorage, according to Highview Power. After completion, the installation will have a 50 MW/250 MWh capacity without using water, toxic materials, and with no emissions. The energy to be stored, which is roughly as much as 25,000 households use in a day, will be  all from renewable sources.

 

So how does it work?

What the storage will do is to use electricity sourced from renewable sources to compress huge volumes of air and store them in tanks. It’s a ‘cryo’ battery because there is a point, if you compress air enough, where it turns into a (very very cold) liquid; that’s the form it will be stored in. When energy is needed in the grid, the compressed air will be allowed to warm up, decompress, and escape the tanks — all while powering a turbine.

Highview Power said that they pitched the concept to the U.K. government, which is looking for ways to meaningfully reduce the country’s carbon emissions. They further note that the compressed air approach is much cleaner than conventional batteries. The cryobattery doesn’t involve the use of any toxic chemicals, it doesn’t need rare or advanced materials to be built (which means less environmental damage since you don’t need to produce and extract them), and doesn’t produce any emissions. Additionally, it can hold energy for up to several weeks at a time, which is longer than in traditional batteries.

 

Energy storage installations around the world will multiply exponentially, reaching 1,095GW/2,850GWh by 2040. Over the next two decades, $662 billion of investment will be needed for stationary energy storage, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF)

 

“Long-duration, giga-scale energy storage is the necessary foundation to enable baseload renewable energy and will be key to a 100% carbon free future.”, says Highview Power CEO, Javier Cavada

Big investors are shifting towards low-carbon industries

A survey from clean energy investors Octopus finds that nearly half of investors have reconsidered their portfolios in the wake of increased climate change activism in the past year. Demand for these assets had risen by more than one third since October last year, when Octopus first surveyed investors.

The global survey of institutions representing $5.9tr in assets under management asked 100 pension funds, insurance companies, private banks, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and foundations across the UK, EMEA, Asia, and the US about how quickly they were divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewables.

The survey shows that investors plan to divest 16 per cent of their portfolios from fossil fuels over the next decade, representing assets worth $920bn. They will also increase investments in renewable energy infrastructure to five per cent over the next 12 months, which will more than double to 11 per cent by 2029, or $643bn, the survey found.

Respondents expressed optimism about their ability to slow global warming, with 71 per cent stating that they believe investment strategies could make a material difference.

They identified a number of barriers to greater investment in renewable energy infrastructure though. Almost half cited energy price uncertainties as a key blocker, followed by a lack of renewable energy investment skills within their own organisation and liquidity issues.

Investors see the need to shift their portfolios away from high carbon industries. They both spot the opportunity heralded by clean energy, and the threat of stranded assets could pose to their activities. But protestors are getting impatient, so finance will become a focus for climate activists in the months to come.

Wise investors should jump before they are pushed.

Global investors choose sustainable farming, clean energy and green cities in Africa

The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a group of more than 60 major investors, banks, foundations, and governments, has announced the launch of six inter-related climate finance initiatives aimed at raising billions of dollars to support clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and low carbon cities in developing countries. The Lab has mobilised nearly $2bn for climate action and sustainable development since its creation in 2014

The six new financial instruments target four key focus areas relating to climate mitigation and adaptation, marine and coastal restoration for carbon sequestration, sustainable smallholder farming in Africa, renewable energy access in Rwanda, and low carbon cooling and air pollution projects in cities.

The new instruments endorsed by the Lab show great potential to open up new markets and opportunities for effective and ambitious action on climate change.

Supported projects include the Restoration Insurance Service Company, a social enterprise that invests in mangrove restoration and conservation in areas with high-value coastal assets, and the Blockchain Climate Risk Crop Insurance platform to boost climate resilience of crops and farmers in West and Central Africa.

Others such as Cooling as a Service, which aims to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from cooling use in cities through a pay-per-service model for more efficient air conditioning, and Solar Securitization for Rwanda, a tradable security designed to help solar developers increase access to expansion capital, have also been announced.

URBAN FARMING FOR SUSTAINABLE QUALITY

 

 

As we now have arrived to a point of "no return" when it comes to concider the enviromental factors it is high time to get very open minded.
There might be a lot to learn from different alternative solutions and methods that has been developed through the years. A practise like permaculture, mainly a way to grow food, could acctually contribute a lot when it comes to true sustainability. It is possible to make it a profitable business.
Just imagine sitting in a garden or a greenhouse in your area, enjoying a locally produced, nutrient dinner surrounded by plants. Maybe you can buy some nice vegetables or products to bring home, or say hello to your dear neighbour who runs the business. 
The method is based on getting knowledge about the prerequisites every specific soil has and over time build the soil to become as nutritious as it possibly can, so that the harvest gets healthy and nutritious without using pesticides.

 

One can start to vision that our future cities will be so clean from emissions that there can be vegetable and fruit growing areas in several places, organized by entreprenours, neighbourhoods or community initiatives. Permaculture ought to be the ultimate base to grow healthy food full of nutrients. Particularly when it today is well known how conventional farming with monocultures depletes the soil and drain it from minerals and nutrients. The charm of permaculture is that the nessesity for huge monocultural agriculture decreases when we can spread out to smaller units to support a limited areas with most of what is needed. The multicultur that defines permaculture is therefore perfect for this purpose. Just think alley cropping, local honey or try edible flowers. All kinds of vegetation is also important for the cooling effect in the urban environment.

 

 

It may sound like a hippie dream, but there are many qualities a business with permaculture could provide with. Economically it is more than possible to make it profitable. The bonus is that all vegetation cleans the air and the greenery lowers the temperature. The preservation of biodiversity is another part of which urban cultivation can contribute. The business can also offer inspiring social meeting places and outdoor environments for recreation and recovery. And of course offers education, another income source. 
Permaculture has no general principle and each garden should be treated individually. A careful look at every plot or space to understand the amount of wind, light, and water it receives is the way to start. Working with nature forms the backbone of permaculture.
It started with the creation of food forests in which vegetables and trees grow together. In the forest, everything that was built or planted had three distinct purposes. For instance, cultivation of corn stalk can be beneficial in three ways- it can produce corn, it can feed cattle and it can also help climbing beans to grow. Being a low-impact model, permaculture involves no digging and one can grow one thing after other in an area with no turning of the soil. Weeds can be knocked down and killed by using a layer of natural-fiber carpets, newspapers or cardboard. Apply mulch or compost over the top to provide nutrition and aid growth. Of course no pesticides are used unless it is necessary, but it is not banned like in the biodynamic farming.

 

 


For some reason good ideas are contagious, they can travel through the air between different continents and cultures. Today when internet is available it is easy to acess knowledge about permaculture and we shall not get surprised if permaculture becomes established as very succesful business when it comes to urban farming. There are a lot of competence in teaching the method available. In parts of the world where the climate is beneficial for growing food it is easy to get profit. In colder, it still works well during less cold seasons and there will be solutions to find if we start looking. At the same time this would contribute with beauty from all the green which connects us with our origin in a natural way.

Today some fine dining restaurants in Paris grows their own vegetables in roof gardens with organic growth methods for maximum taste and quality. They show whats possible!
The possibilitys and potential when it comes to how this kind of business could develope and contribute can not even be counted. Everything from educational units cooperating with the farming centers to teach our young generation how to grow food outdoors and in greenhouses, to develope in moore advanced pathways. Bees are ofcourse a natural part of the symphony and will as always when we keep crops free from pesticides do their excellent job to encrease our harvests. Processing the harvests into great products and offer menus from locally grown crops will be luxury. Production of meat will most likely descend therefore the quality can increase and the animals can get better lifes and live healthier all in a sustainable ways.
But can you see the chickens down your alley yet? 

 

 

Permaculture is more than just the latest buzzword; it offers positive solutions for many of the environmental and social challenges confronting us. It offers a win-win concept for both climate and humans. And nowhere are those remedies more needed and desired than in our cities. There are a lot of good reads available to get inspired and the pot is on the stove, ready to get simmering. Toby Hemenway has a lot of knowledge to share in his book "The permaculture city" .
"The Permaculture City" provides a new way of thinking about urban living, with practical examples for creating abundant food, energy security, close-knit communities, local and meaningful livelihoods, and sustainable policies in our cities and towns. The same nature-based approach that works so beautifully for growing food―connecting the pieces of the landscape together in harmonious ways―applies perfectly to many of our other needs. Toby Hemenway, one of the leading practitioners and teachers of permaculture design, illuminates a new way forward through examples of edge-pushing innovations, along with a deeply holistic conceptual framework for our cities, towns, and suburbs.


The constructive possibilities waiting for us to cocreate a sustainable future is right here. Permaculture is absolutely one great gallant to make our world a better place.
It could be wonderful to spend time in metropoles when it´s thriving of lively greenery and beauty in the future.

 

SOURCE: Sprinkle Daily

 

 

 

 

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