#EnergySector; #carbondioxideemissions; #CoalEra; #CleanEnergy
United Nations, Nov 29 (Canadian-Media): Access to electricity has transformed the world, helping countries to develop their economies, and lifting millions out of poverty. However, this success has come at a great cost: the energy sector, heavily reliant on fossil fuels, is responsible for some 40 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions – one of the so-called greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the Earth – and almost two-thirds of these emissions come from coal.
But, despite the United Nations calling urgently for an end to fossil fuels, hundreds of new coal-fired power stations are still being built, and hundreds more are in the pipeline. Is the world ready for a new era of clean, cheap and accessible energy for all?
Kick the coal habit, and put a price on carbon, urges UN chief
The UN is ramping up pressure on countries to end their reliance on coal, with Secretary-General António Guterres unambiguously spelling out the Organization’s position in his recent declarations.
The UN chief has called for taxes to be placed on carbon emissions, an end to the trillions of dollars’ worth of estimated subsidies for fossil fuels, and for the construction of coal-fired power stations to be halted by 2020, if we are to stand a chance of ending the climate crisis.
Many countries, particularly developed economies, are starting to heed the UN’s message. However, Southeast Asia, one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, appears to be stuck on fossil fuels as the answer to its energy needs: In November, Mr. Guterres told a meeting of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) group in Thailand that coal “remains a major threat in relation to climate change”, adding that countries in Southeast Asia are some of the most.
Asian development still fueled by coal
According to studies by the International Energy Agency, the region is expected to become a key driver of world energy trends over the next 20 years. Millions of people in Southeast Asia have gained access to electricity since 2000, and the region is on the way to achieving universal access by 2030.
The UN-backed Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), has compiled data showing that the region has the third highest number of coal power plants in the pipeline after China and India. Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines have the largest coal plant pipeline of all South East Asian countries, with Malaysia and Thailand not far behind.
The wealthier Asian countries are also bankrolling coal beyond their borders: State-owned financial agencies in China, Japan, and South Korea are now, respectively, the largest sources of funding for coal plants in other countries: research from SEforALL shows that China was the largest international source international source of finance for coal, committing more than $1.7 billion in 2015/2016.
Coal is losing power
Nevertheless, the world, as a whole, is slowly moving in the right direction, and the number of plants currently being planned is falling. The amount of permits of new coal plants has dropped to record lows, and over a thousand have been cancelled, a reflection of a tougher economic climate for coal plant developers, and the growing consensus for the need to limit global warming, and protect human health.
In November 2019, four years after the Paris Agreement, a key UN climate conference at which countries committed to step up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures and boost climate action financing, the UN Secretary-General convened a Climate Action Summit in New York, where many nations announced beefed-up measures to combat the climate crisis, including putting limits on the amount of electricity produced from coal-based sources.
The UK, for example, is expected to completely phase out coal in the next few years, Germany – one of the world’s biggest users of coal – has agreed to stop by 2038, and eight other European Union countries have announced that they will put an end to coal use by 2030. Chile has pledged to close all of its coal-fired power stations by 2040, and South Korea will close 10 plants by 2022.
A “Powering Past Coal Alliance”, made up of 32 countries, 25 regional, provincial and municipal level governments, and 34 business members, announced new members, including Germany and Slovakia, at the conference, committed to speeding up the transition from coal-based to clean energy, and to lead global efforts to curtail coal use.
In addition, more and more countries, and businesses, acknowledge that the use of renewable energy is not only the right thing to do for the planet, it also makes economic sense.
Technology already exists to enable the world to transition away from coal, and other fossil fuels; and also to connect the 840 million people who still don’t have access to electricity to clean, renewable energy sources. And it’s affordable.
SEforALL research shows that renewables are now the cheapest form of new electricity generation across two thirds of the world — cheaper than both new coal and new natural gas power – and, by 2030, wind and solar will undercut coal and gas almost everywhere.
Disconnect between words and actions
However, even with the decline in coal use, and growth in the use of renewables, the transition to clean energy is not taking place quickly enough, and there is still a big gap between countries’ climate commitments, and their planned production of fossil fuels, as demonstrated by the 2019 Production Gap report, the first of its kind, from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and research partners.
The gap is largest when it comes to coal: countries are currently planning to produce 150% more coal in 2030, than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2°C, and almost three times more than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Governments’ continued support for coal, oil and gas extraction is a big part of the problem. We’re in a deep hole, and we need to stop digging. Måns Nilsson, Executive-Director, Stockholm Environment Institute
“Despite more than two decades of climate policy making, fossil fuel production levels are higher than ever,” Måns Nilsson, head of the Stockholm Environment Institute, one of the organizations that produced the study, said in a press release. “This report shows that governments’ continued support for coal, oil and gas extraction is a big part of the problem. We’re in a deep hole, and we need to stop digging.”
In 2020, the UN launches a Decade of Action, to kickstart efforts to achieve the goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When it comes to energy, the goal is to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all: the challenge for the UN, and the world, is to rapidly speed up the move towards renewables, and kick the coal habit once and for all.
UN emissions report: World on course for more than 3 degree spike, even if climate commitments are met
#MoreThan3DegreeSpikeinWorld; #UNEnvironmentProgramme; #Destructiveclimateimpacts
UN, Nov 26 (Canadian-Media): Even if countries meet commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world is heading for a 3.2 degrees Celsius global temperature rise over pre-industrial levels, leading to even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts, warns a report from the UN Environment Programme, released on Tuesday.
The annual Emissions Gap Report, which compares where greenhouse gas emissions are heading, versus where they need to be, shows that emissions need to fall by 7.6 per cent each year over the next decade, if the world is to get back on track towards the goal of limiting temperature rises to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
If the world warms by more than 1.5 degrees, we will see more frequent, and intense, climate impacts – as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has demonstrated in several hard-hitting reports – such as the heatwaves and storms witnessed in recent years.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions”, said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.
In December 2020, countries are expected to significantly step up their climate commitments at the UN Climate Conference - COP26 - due to be held in Glasgow.
However, the urgency of the situation means, said Ms. Anderson, that they cannot wait another year: “they – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now”.
“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated”, she added. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”
Developed countries, the biggest emitters, must take the lead The UNEP report calls on all countries to reduce their emissions, and substantially increase their “Nationally Determined Contributions” (the commitments made under the Paris Agreement) in 2020, and put into place the policies to implement them.
The lead, however, must be taken by the world’s most developed economies (the G20), which contribute some 78 per cent of all emissions: currently, only five of these countries have committed to a long-term zero emissions target.
The solutions exist The study points out that it is possible to reach the 1.5 degree goal by 2030; the technology exists, and there is increased understanding of the additional benefits of climate action, in terms of health and the economy. Many governments, cities, businesses and investors are engaged in ambitious initiatives to lower emissions.
Developing countries, which suffer disproportionately from climate change, can learn from successful efforts in developed countries, says UNEP, and they can even leapfrog them, adopting cleaner technologies at a faster rate.
The UNEP chief said that despite the figures, it was possible to avert disaster: "Because of climate procrastination which we have essentially had during these (past) 10 years, we are looking at a 7.6 per cent reduction every year" in emissions. "Is that possible? Absolutely. Will it take political will? Yes. Will we need to have the private sector lean in? Yes. But the science tells us that we can do this.”
#California; #IceFreeArctic; #GlobalCarbonEmissions; # journalNatureClimateChange
California (U.S.), Nov 25 (Canadian-Media): According to the latest research predictions at the University of California's Center for Climate Science, the Arctic could be "functionally ice-free" by September 2044, and no later than 2067, assuming no changes to global carbon emissions, according to research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, media reports said.
September is when the effect of summer's heat shows up in the ice pack making the Arctic sea ice pack is at its thinnest.
Ice free means there would be fewer than one million square kilometres of Arctic sea ice -- mostly representing thick, multi-year ice close to coastal areas of Greenland and in the Arctic archipelago, compared with the current minimum six million square kilometres of Arctic sea ice.
With declining sea ice, Arctic's ability to absorb 90 percent of incoming solar energy (heat) which would mean it would quicken global warming.
On the other hand sea ice which absorbs just 20 percent of that energy and reflects away the rest of heat energy which helps regulate climate. It's absence encourages warming.
#Europe; #Europe'sLeadingAirline; #easyJet; #net-zeroCarbonFlights; # OffsetCarbon EmissionsFromFuel
Europe, Nov 19 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made today by easyJet, Europe’s leading airline, that it will become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its whole network. media reports said.
easyJet added that to achieve this goal, the airline will will continue to support innovative technology, including the development of hybrid and electric planes, working with others across the industry to reinvent and de-carbonise aviation over the long-term by undertaking carbon offsetting through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and VCS.
“Climate change is an issue for all of us. At easyJet we are tackling this challenge head on by choosing to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights starting today...I am therefore delighted that we have also announced today a new electric plane partnership with Airbus...Aviation will have to reinvent itself as quickly as it can," Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s CEO, said.
As part of this goal, easyJet and Airbus have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and will cooperate to define the requirements needed for the large-scale introduction of next generation sustainable aircraft.
easyJet also aims to stimulate innovation in carbon reduction by supporting the development of technologies to enable hybrid electric and electric planes and carbon capture technologies.
easyJet also plans to encourage both governments and industry to focus in this area, most notably on airspace efficiency improvements to reduce emissions, for example through tax incentives.
All of this will build on easyJet’s existing carbon reduction programmes, which include: transitioning our fleet to increasingly more modern, fuel efficient planes; flying them in order to avoid noise and an unnecessary use of fuel; and maximising passenger loads as much as possible.
easyJet is also taking measures to rapidly reduce waste and single-use plastic usage at the company and within its supply chain.
#Israel, #Jerusalem; #energyEfficiency, #ReduceGreenhouseGasEmissions
Jerusalem, Nov. 18 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made the Ministries of Economy, Energy and Environmental Protection on Monday that Strategic plans have been launched by Israel for streamlining energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in factories and municipalities, media reports said.
62 million new shekels (about 17.9 million U.S. dollars) will be distributed to 108 industrial plants and local authorities across Israel, as part of the plan, to replace of old and inefficient technologies in energy consumption, with new and cost-effective systems which will include indoor and outdoor lighting systems, air conditioning, heat pumps, compressed air systems, streamlining various manufacturing processes, and more.
Annual savings of about 175 million kWh, estimated at 24 million U.S. dollars a year are estimated by these projects.
"The plan will significantly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, helping meet the national target of reducing electricity consumption by 17 percent by 2030," Israel's Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz said.
Yuval Steinitz (right)/Twitter
"The plan is good news for the local authorities and the environment. Alongside its environmental importance, the money saved can be directed to additional plans," Israeli Minister of Economy Eli Cohen added.
Israel's Minister of the Environment Protection Zeev Elkin said that "the program is an example of the close link of environment, economy and society and is part of a series of government actions to promote the economy's compliance with national targets."
Ottawa, Nov 18 (Canadian-Media): November's historically early snowfall in southern Ontario and power outages in the Prairies, has set a trend throughout the winter with forecasts of a long, cold and messy winter across much of Canada according to the seasonal forecast released Monday by the Weather Network, media reports said.
"The upcoming winter across the country looks to be more frozen than thawed, and we've already seen an early entrance of winter weather this fall," chief meteorologist Chris Scott said. "The signs that we're seeing this year do suggest...that it's going to be fairly long for many Canadians."
Scott said that British Columbia would experience slightly above normal temperatures with precipitation just below normal and Alberta would show above-normal precipitation in the south, with especially frigid temperatures throughout the province.
Scott predicted Saskatchewan and Manitoba to experience deep freeze trend especially the case in the southern parts of the Prairies and From southern Ontario to southern Quebec would have colder than usual winter with much more precipitation than normal. where as Quebec and Ontario would be stormy throughout with a mix of precipitation with potential for icy conditions. He added that all the provinces east of Manitoba will likely face a prolonged winter season and Atlantic Canada will witness a stormy season but not bitterly cold.
"It's going to be a real mess depending on where you are."
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island would get lots of snow, Nova Scotia will have a mix of snow, ice and rain, in Newfoundland and Labrador snowfall will be average while Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will likely experience average winter conditions.
"In years past we've seen the climate change signal where we get warmer-than-normal winters, and that's something we're going to see for years and decades to come," Scott said.
But this year is an exception, he said, especially because near the North Pole, colder trend near Nunavut as opposed to near Russia and Scandinavia.
But in Yukon, the winter will likely be warmer than normal, Scott added.
Spring could show up early in 2020 for Yukon and British Columbia, while the rest of the country would be challenged with harsh and prolonged season.
#UN; #ClimateCrisis; #FoodandAgricultureOrganisation(FAO); #People'sDemocraticRepublic
Rome, Nov 15 (Canadian-Media): To help ensure the most-consumed foods don’t disappear in the face of the climate crisis, farmers must cultivate crops able to resist environmental shocks and other stresses, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) highlighted in a new set of conservation guidelines published on Thursday.
Villagers grow rain-fed rice in Beung Kiat Ngong wetlands, Lao People's Democratic Republic. (File): Image credit: © FAO/Xavier Bouan
The Voluntary Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Farmers Varieties, spotlights the need for food systems to be sustainable, but the lack of variety and increasing uniformity of crops may render them unsuitable for the changing conditions under which they grow.
“It is worrisome that humans rely on only three crops - maize, wheat and rice - for 51 per cent of all plant-based food”, Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department at FAO, Bukar Tijani, said in the publication’s foreword, highlighting that plants account for more than 80 per cent of the human diet.
FAO documented the decline in agrobiodiversity 20 years ago, noting the “genetic erosion” in crops reported by almost all countries, and highlighting that diversity within species is at least as important as diversity between species.
“The more diverse a crop production system is, including within and among species, the more unlikely that it would be affected uniformly by biotic and abiotic stresses”, Mr. Tijani added.
Farmer’s traditional varieties and so-called landraces (species that are locally-adapted to their environment) are more resilient than those with little genetic diversity, and yet, food producers are increasingly abandoning cultivation of traditionally-diverse varieties, for uniform types with higher yields.
The erosion of crop diversity “poses a particularly severe threat to global food security and nutrition, potentially undermining our efforts to attain the goal of eradication hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”
Systematic approach to farming
FAO’s new recommendations identify actions for sustainable crop growth: from documenting existing plant genetic resources for agriculture, to mapping their actual and potential uses; promoting their retention, and providing farmers and local communities with information and support in relation to crop conservation and sustainable use, bearing in mind different countries and contexts.
The importance of a systematic approach to these on-farm activities has been recognized by international organizations and instruments, the agency said in a press statement. The framework is the first of its kind to outline such an approach.
The food management tool was launched at a side event of the Eighth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome. It will act as a compliment to the agency’s guidelines on conservation and sustainable use of wild food plants, launched last year.
#Nepal; #NepalFunding; #ClimateChange; #GreenClimateFund
Nepal, Nov 15 (Canadian-Media): More than $39 million in funding was approved on Wednesday for a project that will build resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change, benefitting nearly one million Nepalis, according to the Board of the UN-backed Green Climate Fund (GCF)
Rural woman farmer Chandra Kala Thapa works in the fields near Chatiune Village, Nepal. (File): Image credit: UN Women/Narendra Shrestha
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working with the Government in developing this first-ever national bid to go before the Fund.
Co-funding the initiative, Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) is adding another $8 million for a total of more than $47 million, which will see the project to fruition over the course of seven years.
Communities in the Churia hills region – the southernmost range of the Himalayan foothills, running east-west through Nepal – will be targeted as it provides vital ecosystem functions to the heavily-populated plains downstream where the most fertile agricultural land is located.
Building rural resilience
“This major GCF contribution to FAO’s work in partnership with the Government of Nepal at all levels of federalization, namely, central, provincial and municipal, will benefit more than 200,000 households in the Churia hills”, said Somsak Pipoppinyo, FAO Representative to Nepal, noting that it would help rural families to “become more resilient to the changing environment in which they find themselves”.
Decades of unsustainable use of natural resources have resulted in forest degradation, floods and soil erosion. And the negative effects on downstream communities have been exacerbated by increased droughts and extreme weather events precipitated by the climate crisis.
It is predicted those impacts will intensify in coming years, further threatening food security and livelihoods.
“It will also help them adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate and extreme weather events in the years to come,” added Mr. Pipoppinyo.
Kailash Pokharel of Nepal’s Ministry of Finance underscored the region as “a national priority critical to Nepal’s food security and climate change policy” and pledged to ensure that the project “brings transformational change to grassroots communities” and enhances climate resilience.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Designed to directly contribute to Nepal’s nationally determined contribution towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), much of the project’s work will focus on developing infrastructure to move away from unsound and environmentally damaging natural resource management practices.
And its long-term sustainability will rely on building both individual and institutional capacity at all levels.
“The project will work with both government and communities to coordinate actions,” said Ben Vickers, FAO’s lead technical officer. “We anticipate these actions will deliver average annual emission reductions of nearly half-a-million tonnes of CO2 each year.”
United Nations, Nov 12 (Canadian-Media): As Australia’s “catastrophic” and deadly wildfire emergency continues, UN weather experts on Tuesday echoed Government warnings for people to remain vigilant in the face of the fast-moving threat and tinderbox conditions.
Firefighters in Queensland, Australia, tackle a blaze which is threatening local communities: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
In Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) noted that dozens of fires are raging, effecting around six million in eastern New South Wales state, and southeast Queensland, amid reports that three people lost their lives in the fires at the weekend.
“Apart from the immediate physical threat…when authorities issue a message of catastrophic fire danger, the message there is basically, “Get out, get away,’” Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told journalists.
No rain forecast
Citing Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology description of the situation as “evolving and dangerous”, Ms. Nullis said that conditions were likely to remain dry, with little to no rain forecast.
“The fires are due to a combination of factors including low soil moisture, heat and importantly, wind direction and wind speed,” she explained.
New South Wales has declared a state of emergency as parts of the state - including the Greater Sydney area and Queensland - face a "catastrophic" fire danger, which is the highest level of warning.
Although bush and grassfires are common in Australia, the emergency is linked to increasingly warm temperatures over the course of the last century.
Climate change ‘is contributing’“According to the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia, it’s been the second warmest January to October on record for Australia as a whole, and these are records going back 110 years,” Ms. Nullis said, adding that the number of days falling into the category of “fire weather days” has increased.
“The most extreme 10 per cent of fire weather days - which is how they measure the fire index - has increased in recent decades across many regions…There has been an associated increase in the length of the fire weather season and climate change including increasing temperatures, is contributing to these changes.”
According to WMO, many at-risk communities face winds of 60 to 80 kilometres per hour (37 to 50 miles per hour) and temperatures in the mid to high 30s Celsius (around 95 Fahrenheit).
Although a cool weather front that is forecast may ease fire dangers, “a combination of dry and gusty winds and a shift in wind direction will mean people in the impacted areas will need to remain vigilant”, Ms. Nullis insisted.
Between 1967 and 2013, major Australian bushfires resulted in over 8,000 injuries and 433 deaths, close to 50 per cent of all fatalities from major Australian natural disasters, excluding heatwaves, Australian Government figures show.
Over the same period, bushfires cost approximately $3.2 billion.
#Montreal; #ConcoridaUniversity; #ClimateChange; #SustainableInvestment
Monreal, Nov 9 (Canadian-Media): Concordia University in Montreal took a major step in its fight against climate change, in announcing its plan to stop investing assets in the coal, oil and gas sector by 2025, media reports said.
The Concordia University Foundation, the the first university foundation in Quebec, also said it plans to put its entire $243 million endowment into sustainable investments -- conform to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment -- within five years.
"We believe that being socially and environmentally responsible in our investments is the surest way to be Concordia’s best possible fund management partner," Howard Davidson, chair of the board of the foundation, said in the Concordia blog post.
"Investing in sustainability is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The foundation has already been working in that direction and this is a last push toward 100 per cent sustainable investments."
"Promoting sustainability and fighting climate change are priorities for the Concordia community," Graham Carr, the school's interim president, said in the post on the school's website.
"Our researchers, students, faculty and staff are all engaged around this issue and want to be part of the solution. The foundation’s commitments are crucial next steps in our sustainability journey."