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Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: SST.2010.1.1-3. | Award Amount: 4.90M | Year: 2011

As pointed out in the White paper for European transport the aim of the European rail operators is to increase the market share of goods traffic from 8 % in 2001 to 15 % in 2020. The nightly time slots will play an important in this. Railway vibration annoyance and sleep disturbance in residential areas is a potential show stopper for this increase. Therefore the aim of Cargovibes is to develop and assess measures to ensure acceptable levels of vibration for residents living in the vicinity of freight railway lines in order to facilitate the extension of freight traffic on rail. Existing evaluation criteria in use are deemed too strict and not based on relevant surveys. There are no uniform assessment methods available and knowledge about mitigation measures is fractured and hardly common. In this proposal the right criteria will be established, given the characteristics of freight traffic. Existing mitigation measures for conventional railway are not directly applicable to freight trains which generate a different soil vibration pattern than conventional railways in terms of vibration amplitudes and frequency contents. Viable efficient new mitigation measures for freight rail traffic will be designed and validated. In operational terms the project aims at developing a) criteria for the evaluation of the adverse effects. These criteria will be formulated as extensions of current guidelines. b) a protocol for the assessment of the effect of mitigation measures. c) three new mitigation measures: a measure for the rolling stock, one for the track and one in the propagation path. These measures will be pilot tested and validated in service. d) catalogue of mitigation measures, for use of railway community. To ensure that the project will generate products that can readily put to use, a Board of End Users will be put into place which will judge intermediate results and guide the developments in the course of the project.

News Article | December 7, 2015
Site: http://cleantechnica.com

The twenty first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) begins its second week today, and the negotiations are foundering. The sticking points that emerged in the wake of the past few months’ discussions in the lead up to the ‘climate talks that must not fail’ have become entrenched. The developing countries, largely represented by Brazil and China, and the ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ (the LMDCs), marshalled by Bolivia, are insisting that the nationally determined contributions to reducing emissions should not be included in the final agreement to come out of Paris. And they appear to have recruited the US to their cause. The anticipated agreement, previously and somewhat optimistically referred to as the Like Minded Developing Countries is in serious jeopardy of delivering no binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a terrible outcome. Not the least because it could no longer tie countries to any quantifiable emissions reductions targets. This means that the major global economies will continue to spew out toxic emissions from fossil fuels, coal-fired power stations, forest logging, agriculture and the like. Why has this happened? Firstly, some (but certainly not all) developing countries are continuing to demand that the the developed countries, whom they consider to be historically responsible for the mess the planet is in, pay reparations for their past polluting misdeeds through the so-called ‘loss and damage’ mechanism (Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage). Countries threatened by rising sea levels are having to rapidly adapt to climate change, and need money to raise sea walls, build coastal defences, and relocate vulnerable communities, etc. Secondly, the US delegation, which back home faces a hostile Senate comprised of radical climate change deniers, cannot agree to legally binding targets, and therefore cannot have a measurable cap on emissions in the final agreement (which the INDCs imply). This has the knock-on effect that there may not even be agreement as to whether the global climate policy community will commit to keeping ‘dangerous’ climate change within 2 degrees centigrade – let alone the 1.5 degrees many climate affected countries are pushing for. This intransigence is being largely played out through opposition to the market mechanisms currently in place to mitigate (prevent) man-made global warming. The developed countries want to see a price on carbon, so they can create an international emissions trading scheme, to encourage countries to ‘decarbonise’ their economies. This would stimulate investment in renewable energy, and enable countries that cannot meet their emissions reduction targets to purchase ‘carbon offsets’ from countries that can. A whole series of mechanisms have been constructed over the past two decades to enable this to happen, not the least of which is the Clean Development Mechanism, whose fate now hangs in the balance. The CDM has enabled developing countries to benefit from investment in emissions reductions projects, paid for by developed countries. To date, more than seven thousand projects have offset almost one and a half billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. This has occurred largely in China and India, who now have ‘ecologically modern’ economies, and can scarcely even be considered developing countries any more (even if the poor and ultra poor remain). In a desperate bid to keep the CDM alive, it is even being suggested that the credits previously generated under the mechanism be re-offered to the private sector, at a fixed price (currently it is suggested that this be a little over 2 Euros). Now even REDD+, the poster-child of recent negotiations, which aims to provide payments to developing countries from developed countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is being caught up this debate. REDD+ is a logical mechanism to generate offsets from avoided deforestation. But offsets need to be tied to the CDM’s certified emissions reduction scheme (popularly known as carbon credits) – and the verification and accounting requirements these entail (otherwise how can the credits have credibility?). Bolivia is leading the ‘anti-market’ charge, but in many ways it is a front for countries with large forests, who want to continue logging, and get paid not to do so at the same time – without any oversight. India and China, who have previously benefitted so much from market-mechanisms are now part of this strategic play. If the INDCs are no longer included in the final agreement, there is no global driver for carbon markets, and the lack of confidence in offsets will continue, threatening the CDM’s longer-term viability. All eyes are now on the CDM’s ‘poor relation’ Joint Implementation, which allows (developed) countries with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to transfer or acquire emissions reductions and use them to meet their targets. But the JI is less robust than CDM, and with a much weaker track record. Will it be the victor, or next victim in this play? How then will countries mitigate their emissions? The tragedy of this conflict is that the good will of many small players, from developed and developing countries alike, is being rapidly starved of oxygen. The sense of frustration is palpable. Latin America, as several sources have indicated over recent days, is not a bloc. Many countries with forests want to modernise their economies in favour of the environment, and wish to benefit from emissions trading. Civil society organisations in countries such as Bolivia are equally exasperated by the neo-Marxist rhetoric, but have no voice. Meanwhile the texts and anti-texts, the secret position papers, and rumours of last-minute French (or other) interventions proliferate. Oh, and the climate sceptics have arrived in force. With so many wannabe captains, can the Titanic be turned around in time? And what of the unwitting passengers (aka the public, whom the negotiators are supposed to represent) who just want to arrive in safety? About the Author: Dr. Timothy Cadman is a Research Fellow at Griffith University Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Coffs Harbour Area, Australia, and research fellow in the international Earth Systems Governance Project. He specializes in the governance of sustainable development, natural resource management, climate change and forestry, and responsible investment. Cadman‘s books include The Governance of Climate Change and  Quality and legitimacy of global governance: case lessons from forestry. Reprinted with permission.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article
Site: http://www.nature.com/nature/current_issue/

Over the past decade, scientists and policymakers have joined efforts to create a science-based framework under the auspices of the United Nations to protect our remaining tropical forests. These carbon-rich ecosystems help to moderate the climate and serve as a treasure trove of biodiversity and a resource for local and indigenous peoples. Governments across the tropics have begun to incorporate forest conservation into their climate and development plans. Now it is time to do the same with coastal wetlands. Some 2.4–4.6% of the world’s carbon emissions are captured and sequestered by living organisms in the oceans, and the UN estimates that at least half of that sequestration takes place in ‘blue-carbon’ wetlands. Often occupied by seagrass and mangroves, these saltwater ecosystems promote healthy fisheries and sequester carbon in their soils. Mangroves also stave off erosion and serve as the first line of defence against powerful storms as well as saltwater intrusion into local groundwater resources. The world has lost more than one-third of its mangroves over the past several decades, and more succumb each year to shrimp farms, rice paddies and palm plantations, as well as to tourism and real-estate development. There’s money to be made, but it’s the environment that pays. Nascent efforts are under way to halt this degradation, and a few pioneering projects have already shown success. Senegal is home to the world’s largest mangrove restoration project, which began in 2008. Villagers have planted around 79 million mangrove trees across more than 7,900 hectares. The project has been registered and certified under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and is benefiting from the sale of carbon credits. In 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme launched the Blue Carbon Initiative, which seeks to reverse current trends and increase the area of coastal wetlands under effective management by 2025. The global climate agreement signed in Paris last December opens the door to advance such efforts, for example by enabling carbon trading and a programme similar to the CDM that allows countries and companies to pay to reduce emissions or build carbon stocks in projects such as the one in Senegal. It will be up to governments to incorporate coastal management into their climate plans, and to begin creating what some have called the ‘blue-green economy’. The available evidence justifies the pursuit of these efforts. Mangrove ecosystems alone could store as much as 20 billion tonnes of carbon — equivalent to more than 2 years of global carbon emissions — in their soils, much of which would be released into the atmosphere if the trees were destroyed. A 2012 study suggested that mangrove conservation could be effective at a cost of just US$4–10 per tonne of carbon dioxide, which is within the current range of prices on the European carbon trading system (J. Siikamäki et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 14369–14374; 2012). In some cases, mangrove protection and restoration could even benefit from the existing forest-carbon-trading framework, which enables developed countries to invest in efforts to reduce deforestation in the developing world. But more science is needed, both to document the extent and causes of the problem and to provide the data that will be needed if countries are to incorporate coastal wetlands into their carbon inventories and climate planning. We know too little about what happens to the carbon locked up in plants and soils when they are converted for other uses. Just as occurred with remedying tropical deforestation, science and policy can move forward in parallel. As countries establish coastal management policies, they will help to drive the development of both science and policies. One opportunity is in the Dominican Republic, which has devised a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions by conserving and restoring mangrove forests. That project is registered with the UN, and it incorporates scientific objectives, including quantification of the carbon sequestration and storage capacity of these ecosystems. This will inform the policy framework and provide the scientific basis for any economic returns that the initiative may reap years and decades into the future. Meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement — to contain global warming over the course of the twenty-first century — will require urgent action on all fronts. Countries must work to reduce industrial carbon emissions, but ensuring that natural ecosystems continue to function is equally vital — and relatively simple. The planet that humanity calls home already knows how to sequester carbon. Let’s make our forests and coastal wetlands work for us.

News Article | December 15, 2015
Site: http://cleantechnica.com

Green growth will come, just not the way we might think. Despite the enthusiasm around the recent Paris agreements, climate policy is at an impasse. It seems as though binding targets for all countries to limit warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees are not politically negotiable – at least as long as a low-carbon economy is mistakenly still viewed as a sacrifice rather than as an economic opportunity. And even when recognised as an opportunity, there are numerous challenges around managing an energy transition. 2014 was the hottest year on record according to NASA. 2015 will almost definitely be even hotter. First, irreversible and reinforcing global warming effects are already in force. We have consumed more than half of our global greenhouse gas budget, but emissions continue to rise — now above the critical 400 ppm mark. There is no change in the trend. The time window for a possible solution is small and closing fast. Whether we achieve our climate goals will depend mainly on our energy choices. Developed countries can remodel their energy infrastructures from the relative comfort of stable or even falling energy demand. Developing countries, on the other hand, have to find solutions for rapid energy demand growth and widespread undersupply. Their priority is the provision of cheap, secure, reliable, and quickly available energy. Slowly, concerns around air and water pollution through burning of fossil fuels are becoming an additional decision factor. Today, green solutions – especially energy efficiency, wind power, and solar power – can already compete economically with fossil fuels. We must make the most of this historic coincidence and catalyse green growth. The instruments used so far to entice developing countries to develop low-carbon economies were not successful. Well-meaning tools, such as pilot projects, CDM projects, or technology transfer have barely moved the needle. With respect to the mindshare of politicians, institutes, and organizations, projects on the energy transition (a climate topic, green growth) have often been crowded out by projects on energy access (a development topic). China, the US, and the European Union together cause more than half of global emissions. The still poor but rapidly developing countries of Asia and Africa contribute around 12%. Per capita, the difference becomes much starker: their emissions are not even one-tenth of US values. Half of the population of our planet (more than 3 billion people) lives in developing countries. The citizens of these countries want the same standard of living as Europeans or Americans have. A cap on their development for global climate concerns is impossible to justify in international climate discussions. Development needs better jobs, which means industrialization. It also implies more consumption. Despite possible efficiency gains, that will lead to much higher energy needs. So far, these were met by burning fossil fuels and thus went hand-in-hand with rising greenhouse gas emissions. The two goals of development and fighting climate change are still widely considered to be at odds. The country most successful at reducing poverty over the past decades is also the country now contributing the most to global emissions: China. At the same time, in a cruel irony of history, it is the poorest countries that stand to suffer the most from climate change. They are most vulnerable and least responsible. However, over the past few years, the global energy economy has changed fundamentally. Now, for the first time, we really have a chance to decouple development from rising emissions, because renewables no longer come at a premium. As a result, some countries in the developing world are already betting on green growth. A global energy transition – driven by economics, not climate concerns – is at hand. The energy transition in the developing world is a game-changing development. It will have an impact on many aspects of our lives, around the globe: It is the opportunity of a lifetime for the developing world, for the global business community, and for the climate. Here is why: Many developing countries are now at a point where China was 30 years ago: they are ready to build up the energy system on which their future prosperity depends. The difference is: their choices are now much better and clearer. A look at China shows the downsides of a coal-heavy strategy: severe pollution and enormous water usage. At the same time, the costs of wind and solar have fallen to about 5–10% of what they were in 1990. As a result, developing countries now have the option of building their future energy infrastructure around solar, other renewables, storage, and smart grids, rather than coal. It will be an option that costs less, is much cleaner, saves water, provides a maximum of energy security, and allows these countries to move to the forefront of key future technologies. Moreover, renewables have enough potential to satisfy a vastly increased power demand from within the country itself, offering maximum energy security. It is also a great opportunity for those who have spent the last decades waiting for grid power (mostly in villages) or face highly unreliable grid power (in many cities and industrial hubs). Solar, especially, and storage now put the power into the hands of consumers through distributed, end-user solutions. In future, if the government won’t fix it, consumers will do it themselves. For global businesses and investors, renewables in fast-growing developing countries represent perhaps the largest energy opportunity anywhere. There is a readiness to work with global capital and know-how. Many developing countries are comparatively accessible markets.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | December 18, 2015
Site: http://www.theenergycollective.com/rss/all

From the moment Laurent Fabius nervously banged his gavel on Saturday 12th December, the newswires, bloggers and analysts have been writing about the success of COP21 and the ambitious nature of the Paris Agreement. Without doubt, more will be written in the weeks and months ahead. But the deal was done and many parts made it possible. In the end it is the detail and implementation that will count. One critical aspect of implementation received a major boost from a short but very specific piece of text within the Paris Agreement; Article 6 might just be the additional catalyst that is needed for the eventual emergence of a global carbon emissions market and therefore the all-important price on carbon. The Paris Agreement was never going to be the policy instrument that would directly usher in a global price on carbon; carbon pricing is a national or regional policy concern. But the Agreement could offer the platform on which various national carbon pricing policies could interact through linkage, bringing some homogeneity and price alignment between otherwise disparate and independently designed systems. The case for this was initially put forward through collaboration between the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts. A number of papers coming from the school underpinned a Straw-Man Proposal for the Paris Agreement, authored by IETA in mid-2014 and eventually published at the end of that year. The straw-man didn’t mention carbon pricing or emissions trading, it simply proposed a provision for transfer of obligation between respective INDCs, in combination with rigorous accounting to support said transfer. . . . . . may transfer portions of its defined national contribution to one or more other Parties . . . . . In addition, the straw-man proposed a broader mechanism for project activity and REDD+. The IETA team worked hard during 2015 building the case for such inclusions in the Paris Agreement. A number of governments, business groups and environmental NGOs came to similar conclusions; Paris needed to underpin carbon market development. After all, fossil fuel use and carbon emissions are so integrated into the global economy that only the power of the global market could possibly address the problem that has been created. Roll on twelve months and the Paris Agreement now includes Article 6, which provides the opportunity for INDC transfer between Parties and a sustainable development mechanism to operate more widely and hopefully at greater scale than the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. In the case of the transfer, Article 6 says; . . . . . approaches that involve the use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes towards nationally determined contributions . . . . . While not exactly the same as the original IETA idea, it does the same job. Of course, like every other part of the Paris Agreement, this is just the beginning of the task ahead. The CDM within the Kyoto Protocol was similarly defined back in 1997, but it was not until COP7 in Marrakech in 2001 that a fully operational system came into being. Even then, the CDM still required further revisions over the ensuing years. Exactly how the transfer between INDCs materializes in a UNFCCC context is not clear today, although such a transfer is a prerequisite for cross border linking, such as between California and Quebec or what might eventually become multiple US States and multiple Canadian Provinces. The good news for now is that the provision is there and its use can be explored and developed over the coming year before the COP convenes again in Marrakech in 2016. The eventual goal remains the globally linked market.

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