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News Article | December 24, 2016
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

Temperatures at the North Pole could be up to 20 degrees higher than average this Christmas Eve, in what scientists say is a record-breaking heatwave. Climate scientists say these unseasonably warm weather patterns in the Arctic region are directly linked to man-made climate change. Temperatures throughout November and December were 5C higher than average. It follows a summer during which Arctic sea ice reached the second-lowest extent ever recorded by satellites. Dr Friederike Otto, a senior researcher at Oxford's Environmental Change Institute told BBC News that in pre-industrial times "a heatwave like this would have been extremely rare - we would expect it to occur about every 1,000 years". Dr Otto added that scientists are "very confident" that the weather patterns were linked to anthropogenic climate change. "We have used several different climate modelling approaches and observations," she told BBC News. "And in all our methods, we find the same thing; we cannot model a heatwave like this without the anthropogenic signal." Temperatures are forecast to peak on Christmas Eve around the North Pole - at near-freezing. The warm air from the North Atlantic is forecast to flow all the way to the North Pole via Spitsbergen, giving rise to clouds that prevent heat from escaping. And, as Dr Otto explained to BBC News, the reduction in sea ice is contributing to this "feedback loop". "If the globe is warming, then the sea ice and ice on land [shrinks] then the darker water and land is exposed," she said. "Then the sunlight is absorbed rather than reflected as it would be by the ice." Forecasting models show that there is about a 2% chance of a heatwave event occurring every year. "But if temperatures continue to increase further as they are now," said Dr Otto, "we would expect a heatwave like this to occur every other year and that will be a huge stress on the ecosystem." Dr Thorsten Markus, chief of NASA's Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, said the heatwave was "very, very unusual". "The eerie thing is that we saw something quite similar (temperatures at the North Pole of about 0C in December) almost exactly a year ago," he told BBC News. The freeze and thaw conditions are already making it difficult for reindeer to find food - as the moss they feed on is covered by hard ice, rather than soft, penetrable snow. Asked if the conditions on Christmas Eve were likely to affect Santa's all-important journey, Dr Markus said he was confident that his sled would cope with the conditions. He added: "Santa is most likely overdressed though. Maybe in the future we'll see him in a light jacket or plastic mac."


News Article | September 25, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Disturbing news came out of a meeting in Oxford, England, last week. Over 200 researchers, policy makers, businesspeople, and members of civil society met to reexamine Earth’s deadline for human sustainability. They found it likely to be sooner than we previously thought. To review recent history a bit: at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last December, representatives of 195 nations agreed to try to limit world temperature rise to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the 21st century. Recently, many experts have concluded that even with most nationally determined contributions to carbon reduction counted, Earth is currently on a path toward at least 2.7 degrees of warming despite the 2 degree pledge. They are growing to favor a 1.5 degree goal instead. This trend inspired UNFCCC delegates to include 1.5 degrees in the final Paris Agreement wording as a desirable lower limit for carbon emissions. However, previous scientific research and political approaches had concentrated on the 2°C scenario. The newly considered goal required rethinking and further research on the nature, benefits, and feasibility of a 1.5 degree temperature elevation. “We need to get ready to deal with surprise,” said Jim Hall, director of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute. When industrialized countries reach out to help those most vulnerable to climate change (less developed nations, the poor, the old, the sick, and the complacent) to withstand its challenges, efforts will be needed to help them not only adapt to the changes, but also absorb considerable shocks. The UNFCCC requested the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prepare a Special Report for 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. As the eighth annual Climate Week got under way last week in New York City and countries began to formally ratify the agreement, over 200 researchers, policy makers, businesspeople, and members of civil society gathered in Oxford to begin filling the knowledge gap. They explored the impacts of 1.5 degree warming above pre-industrial levels vs. 2 degrees and assessed the feasibility of meeting the challenges foreseen in Paris. Those attending reviewed the options for achieving the proposed 1.5°C warming target and the possible consequences of different actions. Analysts also predicted that some of the growing pressures may be hard to reduce. Land—simultaneously needed to grow food, to protect biodiversity, to store carbon in forests, and to grow more climate-friendly crops—becomes harder and harder to retain and serve multiple uses as prices soar and populations grow larger. The conclusion from Oxford proved startling and deeply uncomfortable. Thomson Reuters Foundation summarized the bottom line: “The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts, and deepening poverty.” No use denying it—the previous estimates of the time we have left to sustain livability for humans on this planet appear to have been overly optimistic. Climate change impacts like intractable heat waves, shoreline and internal flooding, and superstorms are already taking unexpected tolls. Global temperatures are rising even more quickly than scientists have predicted. World experts increasingly see only 10 years left to adjust the carbon regime before it makes huge ecological changes inevitable. As Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK’s national weather service, put it, the planet is already two-thirds of the way to the 1.5 degree goal, and we could begin to pass it in about a decade. “If the world is serious about achieving the goals agreed in Paris, governments have to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry,” says Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. A recent analysis by his firm and 14 organizations from around the world shows that using the world’s developed oil, gas, and coal reserves will push Earth well past the threshold for dangerous climate change in the near future. With world emissions unlikely to slow quickly enough to hit even the previous 2°C target, the Oxford scientists have concluded that some massive policy changes and even geoengineering may become necessary to decarbonize enough to stabilize the planet. The latter measures, like attempting to block some of the sunlight that reaches the planet and changing the chemical composition of the ocean, have previously been downplayed by other experts. Said Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen, “Negative emission technologies are likely to be needed, whether we like them or not…. [However,] there are lots of behavioral changes required, not just by the government… but by us.” Turning to cleaner energies and speeding the demise of fossil fuels are currently approved strategies. We can go much farther, though, by adopting mitigation in agriculture, food systems, forestry, and land use. Some relatively simple changes in lifestyle include reducing food waste and adopting more sustainable diets (less beef and imported produce). Changes on this order would greatly lower the risks of setting untested geoengineering schemes against changes whose scale, timing, and cumulative effects remain elusive. Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist working on climate change issues at the World Bank, pointed out the value of a public works program in Ethiopia that pays poor people cash or food for work on public infrastructure projects. The work improves water systems and builds drought resilience. When drought threatens, officials can scale up the program easily to create a social safety net. Other effective efforts to boost resilience among the poor include Rwanda’s push to provide health insurance (which 80% of people now have—and providing access to savings accounts, now thought more reliable than the tradition of putting cash into disaster-prone livestock. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly 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 17, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Originally published on EnergyPost by Jan Rosenow and Edith Bayer The European Commission’s recently released Clean Energy Package, has a 2030 target of 30% energy savings. An important policy instrument to deliver these are Energy Efficiency Obligation (EEO) schemes. According to new research from the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), not only are EEOs a highly cost-effective way to deliver energy efficiency, over the long term they can deliver consumer savings worth more than 4 times the costs of meeting the EEOs. But this only becomes apparent when a full evaluation is made. Most impact assessments carried out in Europe fail to take the full picture into account, thereby sending misleading messages. 2017 will be a big year for European energy policy, as the legislative proposals in the European Commission’s recently released ‘Winter Package’ are negotiated in the European Council and Parliament and shape the policy framework post-2020. Included in the package is the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) (2012/27/EU), which was introduced in 2012 to deliver a cut of 20 percent of energy consumption by 2020. The Winter Package now proposes a 30 percent energy savings target by 2030, instead of the 27% initially discussed. Key to meeting this target will be the effective use of policy instruments: according to a report commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, released in May 2016, EEOs (Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes) are expected to deliver 34 percent of all energy savings to 2020. This even though only 3 percent of all adopted policy measures across the EU Member States are EEOs. This makes EEOs the most important instrument in terms of energy savings. Energy Efficiency Obligations (EEOs) are set out in Article 7 of the EED, which stipulates that Member States must require energy companies to save 1.5% of their energy sales per year through energy efficiency measures delivered. Alternatively, they can deliver savings through other policy measures, as long as they meet the same target. There are now 16 countries in Europe that have implemented or are planning to establish EEO schemes. The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) has been closely advising the European Commission and helping Member States to implement EEOs with our Toolkit for Energy Efficiency Obligations. In a new report Costs and benefits of Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes, based on research on EEOs in five Member States, we conclude that EEOs are delivering value for money in terms of energy savings, but that evaluation methodologies are not yet accounting for the full range of benefits that come with improved efficiency. The figure below shows the cost of EEOs to the public in Eurocent/kWh and compares those costs to the typical cost of supplied energy. All five EEOs analysed clearly show that the cost of “negawatt” hours is much lower than of megawatt hours. In other words, it is much cheaper to save one unit of energy than it is to supply one unit of energy. Data for alternative energy efficiency measures such as loans, tax rebates and grants shows that the costs of those measures are similar, although somewhat higher. On average, saving 1 kWh through those measures has a public cost of 1.4 Eurocent/kWh, compared to the range of approximately 0.4 to 1.1 Eurocent per kWh of energy saved through the EEOs reviewed in this study. As well as delivering efficiency at low cost, there is now good evidence that EEOs have contributed to significant reductions in energy consumption. For example, the UK has delivered a series of energy efficiency schemes beginning in 1994, and as such, is one of the longest existing EEO in Europe. Total household energy use in the UK decreased by 19% between 2000 and 2014, despite a 12% increase in the number of households and a 9.7% increase in population. The Centre for Economics and Business Research[1] estimate that energy efficiency measures provided the greatest contribution to the reduction in gas consumption. As the majority of these measures were subsidised by the supplier obligations, it appears likely that the latter were the primary driver of energy savings over this period.[2] Further analysis by Odyssee-MURE, a pan-European research project, confirms that EEOSs are the most important factor in delivering energy efficiency in the UK. In evaluating the impact of EEOs and other energy efficiency measures, there is an emerging body of evidence on the benefits to the energy system as a whole. System benefits include avoided or deferred investments in generation, transmission, and distribution capacity. They also include reduced reserve requirements, and avoided CO2 permit costs for power generating facilities that are within a carbon tax or cap-and-trade regime. Analysis of data from Vermont shows that the energy system benefits on their own can justify aggressive investment through EEOs—the levelized costs of the EEO to consumers are $39/MWh compared to more than $100/MWh of energy system benefits. Thus, the impact of EEOSs on bills can be roughly divided into two categories: the direct impact on bills of participating consumers, and the indirect impact on bills across all consumers – savings that result from avoided investments in generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. Our research found that these net-benefits to bill payers can be modelled over time. Initially the total energy bill will increase due to the cost of EEOs and higher unit prices. However, over time consumers’ bills are reduced resulting from the energy savings generating net-benefits after a few years. For a fictitious case this effect is illustrated in the graph below. The data are based on typical characteristics of EEOs in Europe, and therefore are a realistic reflection of the cost savings to expect over time. After five years, the modelled EEOs generate net-benefits as indicated in the graph. Over 20 years, the benefits exceed the cost by more than a factor of 4. Assuming a succession of EEOSs over 30 years, the long-term benefits are significant with total bill savings of close to 4,000 Euro over the 30-year period and a reduction of the average annual energy bill of 17%. Additionally, the societal, or non-energy, benefits delivered by EEOs and other energy efficiency measures are substantial. In 2011, the International Energy Agency began its work on identifying and evaluating the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency, which include better health through reduced pollution, increased comfort, economic stimulus, employment creation, cost savings in transmission and distribution, avoided CO2 allowance costs, and air quality improvements. Data from the UK suggests that the non-energy benefits alone (including health, comfort, air quality, and carbon mitigation) exceed €4 for every €1 spent through the EEO. Despite this diversity of benefits, most evaluations that are currently carried out in Europe focus on one benefit only—bill savings. A more comprehensive analysis would need to incorporate and monetise a much wider suite of benefits. In particular, the methods for carrying out impact assessments and evaluations of EEOs (and other efficiency policies) need to be adjusted to allow for accounting for the multiple benefits of energy efficiency both at EU and national level. The current practice of largely ignoring those multiple benefits in cost-benefit analyses underestimates the true value of efficiency and sends potentially misleading messages. This requires changes in the guidance on conducting impact assessments and an explicit consideration of all multiple benefits rather than just a selected few. EU policy makers need to use a methodology that allows broad-brush assessments of the multiple benefits of energy efficiency by, for example, estimating typical benefits for each kWh saved. At a national level, Member States can modify their methodologies for conducting policy assessments and evaluations to better reflect the full range of benefits beyond the mere bill savings. Where data collection is burdensome and complex, the use of rough estimates (e.g., jobs created per million euros invested in energy efficiency) and/or adders (e.g., five-percent increase of the benefits to account for health improvements) is a simple option to include multiple benefits. Our research evidences what international experience has demonstrated for a long time: if designed properly, EEOs are an effective policy mechanism and can deliver large energy savings and multiple benefits at low cost. EU Member States need to act through improving their existing and implementing additional EEOs. They also need to systematically consider the multiple benefits of EEOs, and energy efficiency more generally, when making decisions about future policies. Ultimately, this will be one of the cornerstones of Europe’s much needed clean energy transition. Dr Jan Rosenow is a Senior Associate at the Regulatory Assistance Project, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, SPRU and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute. Edith Bayer is an Associate with the Regulatory Assistance Project, based in Brussels. The report can be downloaded from the RAP website. [1] Centre for Economic and Business Research (2011), British Gas Home Energy Report 2011: An assessment of the drivers of domestic natural gas consumption, London. [2] The figures provided by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency on the delivery rates more or less match the figures of cavity walls installed with CERT funding. There are no data for other types of energy efficiency available but anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the market was dependent on CERT which is also evident from the drop of the installation rates of loft insulation after CERT ended. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly 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 15, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

The European Commission’s recently released Clean Energy Package, has a 2030 target of 30% energy savings. An important policy instrument to deliver these are Energy Efficiency Obligation (EEO) schemes. According to new research from the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), not only are EEOs a highly cost-effective way to deliver energy efficiency, over the long term they can deliver consumer savings worth more than 4 times the costs of meeting the EEOs. But this only becomes apparent when a full evaluation is made. Most impact assessments carried out in Europe fail to take the full picture into account, thereby sending misleading messages. 2017 will be a big year for European energy policy, as the legislative proposals in the European Commission’s recently released ‘Winter Package’ are negotiated in the European Council and Parliament and shape the policy framework post-2020. Included in the package is the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) (2012/27/EU), which was introduced in 2012 to deliver a cut of 20 percent of energy consumption by 2020. The Winter Package now proposes a 30 percent energy savings target by 2030, instead of the 27% initially discussed. Key to meeting this target will be the effective use of policy instruments: according to a report commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, released in May 2016, EEOs (Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes) are expected to deliver 34 percent of all energy savings to 2020. This even though only 3 percent of all adopted policy measures across the EU Member States are EEOs. This makes EEOs the most important instrument in terms of energy savings. Energy Efficiency Obligations (EEOs) are set out in Article 7 of the EED, which stipulates that Member States must require energy companies to save 1.5% of their energy sales per year through energy efficiency measures delivered. Alternatively, they can deliver savings through other policy measures, as long as they meet the same target. There are now 16 countries in Europe that have implemented or are planning to establish EEO schemes. The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) has been closely advising the European Commission and helping Member States to implement EEOs with our Toolkit for Energy Efficiency Obligations. In a new report Costs and benefits of Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes, based on research on EEOs in five Member States, we conclude that EEOs are delivering value for money in terms of energy savings, but that evaluation methodologies are not yet accounting for the full range of benefits that come with improved efficiency. The figure below shows the cost of EEOs to the public in Eurocent/kWh and compares those costs to the typical cost of supplied energy. All five EEOs analysed clearly show that the cost of “negawatt” hours is much lower than of megawatt hours. In other words, it is much cheaper to save one unit of energy than it is to supply one unit of energy. Data for alternative energy efficiency measures such as loans, tax rebates and grants shows that the costs of those measures are similar, although somewhat higher. On average, saving 1 kWh through those measures has a public cost of 1.4 Eurocent/kWh, compared to the range of approximately 0.4 to 1.1 Eurocent per kWh of energy saved through the EEOs reviewed in this study. As well as delivering efficiency at low cost, there is now good evidence that EEOs have contributed to significant reductions in energy consumption. For example, the UK has delivered a series of energy efficiency schemes beginning in 1994, and as such, is one of the longest existing EEO in Europe. Total household energy use in the UK decreased by 19% between 2000 and 2014, despite a 12% increase in the number of households and a 9.7% increase in population. The Centre for Economics and Business Research[1] estimate that energy efficiency measures provided the greatest contribution to the reduction in gas consumption. As the majority of these measures were subsidised by the supplier obligations, it appears likely that the latter were the primary driver of energy savings over this period.[2] Further analysis by Odyssee-MURE, a pan-European research project, confirms that EEOSs are the most important factor in delivering energy efficiency in the UK. In evaluating the impact of EEOs and other energy efficiency measures, there is an emerging body of evidence on the benefits to the energy system as a whole. System benefits include avoided or deferred investments in generation, transmission, and distribution capacity. They also include reduced reserve requirements, and avoided CO2 permit costs for power generating facilities that are within a carbon tax or cap-and-trade regime. Analysis of data from Vermont shows that the energy system benefits on their own can justify aggressive investment through EEOs—the levelized costs of the EEO to consumers are $39/MWh compared to more than $100/MWh of energy system benefits. Thus, the impact of EEOSs on bills can be roughly divided into two categories: the direct impact on bills of participating consumers, and the indirect impact on bills across all consumers – savings that result from avoided investments in generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. Our research found that these net-benefits to bill payers can be modelled over time. Initially the total energy bill will increase due to the cost of EEOs and higher unit prices. However, over time consumers’ bills are reduced resulting from the energy savings generating net-benefits after a few years. For a fictitious case this effect is illustrated in the graph below. The data are based on typical characteristics of EEOs in Europe, and therefore are a realistic reflection of the cost savings to expect over time. After five years, the modelled EEOs generate net-benefits as indicated in the graph. Over 20 years, the benefits exceed the cost by more than a factor of 4. Assuming a succession of EEOSs over 30 years, the long-term benefits are significant with total bill savings of close to 4,000 Euro over the 30-year period and a reduction of the average annual energy bill of 17%. Additionally, the societal, or non-energy, benefits delivered by EEOs and other energy efficiency measures are substantial. In 2011, the International Energy Agency began its work on identifying and evaluating the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency, which include better health through reduced pollution, increased comfort, economic stimulus, employment creation, cost savings in transmission and distribution, avoided CO2 allowance costs, and air quality improvements. Data from the UK suggests that the non-energy benefits alone (including health, comfort, air quality, and carbon mitigation) exceed €4 for every €1 spent through the EEO. Despite this diversity of benefits, most evaluations that are currently carried out in Europe focus on one benefit only—bill savings. A more comprehensive analysis would need to incorporate and monetise a much wider suite of benefits. In particular, the methods for carrying out impact assessments and evaluations of EEOs (and other efficiency policies) need to be adjusted to allow for accounting for the multiple benefits of energy efficiency both at EU and national level. The current practice of largely ignoring those multiple benefits in cost-benefit analyses underestimates the true value of efficiency and sends potentially misleading messages. This requires changes in the guidance on conducting impact assessments and an explicit consideration of all multiple benefits rather than just a selected few. EU policy makers need to use a methodology that allows broad-brush assessments of the multiple benefits of energy efficiency by, for example, estimating typical benefits for each kWh saved. At a national level, Member States can modify their methodologies for conducting policy assessments and evaluations to better reflect the full range of benefits beyond the mere bill savings. Where data collection is burdensome and complex, the use of rough estimates (e.g., jobs created per million euros invested in energy efficiency) and/or adders (e.g., five-percent increase of the benefits to account for health improvements) is a simple option to include multiple benefits. Our research evidences what international experience has demonstrated for a long time: if designed properly, EEOs are an effective policy mechanism and can deliver large energy savings and multiple benefits at low cost. EU Member States need to act through improving their existing and implementing additional EEOs. They also need to systematically consider the multiple benefits of EEOs, and energy efficiency more generally, when making decisions about future policies. Ultimately, this will be one of the cornerstones of Europe’s much needed clean energy transition. Dr Jan Rosenow is a Senior Associate at the Regulatory Assistance Project, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, SPRU and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute. Edith Bayer is an Associate with the Regulatory Assistance Project, based in Brussels. The report can be downloaded from the RAP website. [1] Centre for Economic and Business Research (2011), British Gas Home Energy Report 2011: An assessment of the drivers of domestic natural gas consumption, London. [2] The figures provided by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency on the delivery rates more or less match the figures of cavity walls installed with CERT funding. There are no data for other types of energy efficiency available but anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the market was dependent on CERT which is also evident from the drop of the installation rates of loft insulation after CERT ended.


News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

At the end of October, after the Habitat III conference, the UN formally adopted a new plan for cities that was two years in the making. The New Urban Agenda will guide urban policy at every level for the next twenty years. So how do we start putting the vision into practice? We are in a world that is moving towards mega-cities, with the numbers of people living in urban settings expected to nearly double by 2050, from 3.7 billion people now to 7 billion over the next 30 years. Nearly one billion people live in urban slums and informal settlements in cities around the world, with huge problems in accessing clean water, energy and sanitation. Fortunately for them, among the key visions s et out in the New Urban Agenda are the right to adequate housing, universal access to safe and affordable water and sanitation, access to health, education and transport and good air quality. There are many questions around how to implement the new agenda. How do cities of the future should promote civic engagement? How can we make sure that our cities are spaces where girls and women can achieve their full potential? And as the world is rapidly ageing, how do we make sure cities are built in a way that promotes mobility and access for older people? While holding these many goals in mind, what will it take to make this development sustainable, so that the future cities do not make our world uninhabitable. And where can we see the key innovations already in practice that will build these cities of the future? Join an expert panel on Thursday 24 November, from 2pm to 3.30pm GMT, to discuss these questions and more. Grete Faremo, under-secretary-general and executive director, UNOPS, Copenhagen, Denmark, @UNOPS UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, providing infrastructure, procurement, and other management support services. Scott Thacker, research scientist, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK @scott_thacker1 Scott’s research focuses on modelling the function and performance of infrastructure systems. Sion Jones, urbanisation policy officer, HelpAge International, Delhi, India, @AgeingCities Sion is an expert in urbanisation and ageing populations. Timon McPhearson, assistant professor of urban ecology, environmental studies, the New School, New York City, USA, @timonmcphearson Timon is director of the Urban Ecology Lab at the Tishman Environment and Design Center, where he works with designers to foster sustainable and resilient cities. Anaclaudia Rossbach, regional adviser for Latin America and the Carribean, Cities Alliance, São Paulo, Brazil, @CitiesAlliance Anaclaudia has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and supported the Brazilian government on their national housing plan. Wangari Kinoti, women’s rights policy manager, Action Aid International, Nairobi, Kenya, @wangkinoti Wangari is an expert in women’s rights in Kenya. Jaideep Gupte, Co-leader of the Cities Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex @JaiGupte Jaideep’s research is on urban violence, poverty and development. Fernando Duarte, former social director of TECHO Paraguay, now working at TECHO International, leading the Department of Development of Habitat. @choferd TECHO is a youth led organization seeking to overcome poverty in slums in Latin America & the Caribbean. The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). Want to recommend someone for the panel or ask a question in advance? Get in touch via globaldevpros@theguardian.com or @GuardianGDP on Twitter. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #globaldevlive.


News Article | September 22, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

OXFORD, England (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. Last December, 195 nations agreed to try to hold world temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the planet is already two-thirds of the way to that lower and safer goal, and could begin to pass it in about a decade, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre. With world emissions unlikely to slow quickly enough to hit that target, it will probably be necessary to remove some carbon pollution from the atmosphere to stabilise the planet, scientists said at a University of Oxford conference on how to achieve the 1.5 degree goal. That could happen by planting forests or by capturing and then pumping underground emissions from power plants. Or countries could turn to controversial "geoengineering" techniques, such as blocking some of the sunlight arriving on the planet, to hold down temperatures, they said. "Negative emission technologies are likely to be needed, whether we like them or not," said Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen. But other changes – such as reducing food waste and creating more sustainable diets, with less beef and fewer imported greenhouse vegetables – could also play a big role in meeting the goal, without so many risks, he said. "There are lots of behavioural changes required, not just by the government ... but by us," Smith said. The scientists said building resilience to deal with climate change impacts was likely to prove tricky, not least because their scale and timing remains hard to predict with precision. "We need to get ready to deal with surprise," said Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. TO WARN - OR NOT TO WARN? Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, said officials in the Netherlands failed to issue a heat warning earlier this month, despite a prediction of very hot days, because they assumed – falsely – that lower nighttime temperatures in September would help moderate the problem. That kind of difficulty in making good decisions about changing conditions is playing out in many places, van Aalst said. "This is the sort of misperception ... that will determine how we cope with these risks," he said. Virginie Le Masson, a researcher on disaster risk, climate change and gender issues at the London-based Overseas Development Institute, said climate change was another factor – on top of widespread problems such as bad governance and social inequality – adding to the pressures people face. Helping those most vulnerable to climate change to withstand the problem will require efforts to help them not only adapt to changes but also to absorb shocks, van Aalst said. Ethiopia's government, for instance, operates a public works programme that pays poor people cash or food for work on public projects, such as improving water channels or roads. The programme can be quickly scaled up in times of drought to provide a social safety net for those affected, while the work done improves water systems and builds drought resilience, said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist working on climate change issues at the World Bank. Other effective ways to boost resilience among the poor include Rwanda's push to provide health insurance – 80 percent of people now have coverage – and giving poor people access to savings accounts, as a safer alternative to the tradition of putting cash into disaster-vulnerable livestock, Hallegatte said. The problem, the scientists said, is that some of the coming pressures may be very hard to reduce. Competition for land, for instance, is likely to grow in coming years as it is simultaneously needed to grow food, to protect biodiversity and store carbon in forests, and to grow more climate-friendly biofuel crops. That makes holding down global temperature rise – currently on a path toward at least 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming – more difficult, the scientists said. "We are woefully behind in our current response to climate change," said Stefan Raubenheimer, the director of SouthSouthNorth, a Cape Town-based organisation.


News Article | September 22, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

File photo of a view of the lake formed by meltwater from the Pastoruri glacier, as seen from atop the glacier in Huaraz, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo OXFORD, England (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. Last December, 195 nations agreed to try to hold world temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the planet is already two-thirds of the way to that lower and safer goal, and could begin to pass it in about a decade, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre. With world emissions unlikely to slow quickly enough to hit that target, it will probably be necessary to remove some carbon pollution from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet, scientists said at a University of Oxford conference on how to achieve the 1.5 degree goal. That could happen by planting forests or by capturing and then pumping underground emissions from power plants. Or countries could turn to controversial "geoengineering" techniques, such as blocking some of the sunlight arriving on the planet, to hold down temperatures, they said. "Negative emission technologies are likely to be needed, whether we like them or not," said Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen. But other changes – such as reducing food waste and creating more sustainable diets, with less beef and fewer imported greenhouse vegetables – could also play a big role in meeting the goal, without so many risks, he said. "There are lots of behavioral changes required, not just by the government ... but by us," Smith said. The scientists said building resilience to deal with climate change impacts was likely to prove tricky, not least because their scale and timing remains hard to predict with precision. "We need to get ready to deal with surprise," said Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. TO WARN - OR NOT TO WARN? Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, said officials in the Netherlands failed to issue a heat warning earlier this month, despite a prediction of very hot days, because they assumed – falsely – that lower nighttime temperatures in September would help moderate the problem. That kind of difficulty in making good decisions about changing conditions is playing out in many places, van Aalst said. "This is the sort of misperception ... that will determine how we cope with these risks," he said. Virginie Le Masson, a researcher on disaster risk, climate change and gender issues at the London-based Overseas Development Institute, said climate change was another factor – on top of widespread problems such as bad governance and social inequality – adding to the pressures people face. Helping those most vulnerable to climate change to withstand the problem will require efforts to help them not only adapt to changes but also to absorb shocks, van Aalst said. Ethiopia's government, for instance, operates a public works program that pays poor people cash or food for work on public projects, such as improving water channels or roads. The program can be quickly scaled up in times of drought to provide a social safety net for those affected, while the work done improves water systems and builds drought resilience, said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist working on climate change issues at the World Bank. Other effective ways to boost resilience among the poor include Rwanda's push to provide health insurance – 80 percent of people now have coverage – and giving poor people access to savings accounts, as a safer alternative to the tradition of putting cash into disaster-vulnerable livestock, Hallegatte said. The problem, the scientists said, is that some of the coming pressures may be very hard to reduce. Competition for land, for instance, is likely to grow in coming years as it is simultaneously needed to grow food, to protect biodiversity and store carbon in forests, and to grow more climate-friendly biofuel crops. That makes holding down global temperature rise – currently on a path toward at least 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming – more difficult, the scientists said. "We are woefully behind in our current response to climate change," said Stefan Raubenheimer, the director of SouthSouthNorth, a Cape Town-based organization.


News Article | December 23, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Temperatures in the Arctic are predicted to rise nearly 50 degrees above normal from Thursday under the spell of a pre-Christmas heat wave. It means the frozen tundra is racing close to a melting point. The surging warmth in the past two months has already left scientists jittery, as escalating temperatures are feared to hit ice formation or coverage next summer and bring it down to record low levels. More warming trends are hitting the region as a result of climate change effects. Walt Meier, a NASA scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, said the current warmth is an offshoot of fluctuations in the jet stream that is passing frigid air to North America and parts of the Arctic. However, stark climate change indicators are setting off alarm bells. The record low polar sea ice is a big concern and the heat wave of November has led to the region losing 19,000 square miles of sea ice in less than a week, which was described as "almost unprecedented occurrence" by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. There is worry that despite the North Pole lying in darkness after the Sun left in late October, high temperatures are going to reign the Christmas season. Concerns are up that the high warmth would lead to a delayed "freeze-up" of ice in the Arctic Ocean than usual. Jeremy Mathis, director of the Arctic Research Program for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said ice coverage would fall to record levels in the spring and summer. Warming is likely to go up as less ice would be left to reflect the Sun's rays and darkness would mean the ocean absorbing more heat. "We're going to be watching the summer of 2017 very closely," Mathis said in an interview. Meanwhile, a new study released by researchers linked the abnormal Arctic temperatures to climate change induced by human activities. "A warm episode like the one we are currently observing is still a rare event in today's climate," said Friederike E.L. Otto, one of the researchers. The senior scientist at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford said it would be an extremely unlikely event without the effects of climate change. The reasons of Arctic heat wave were described variously including "powerhouse storm east of Greenland" pushing warm air to the Arctic. With traditional temperature buffer of sea ice absent, the warm air is being pushed northward. Warming trends analyzed by scientists related with the outlet "Climate Central" noted the low sea ice levels and unprecedented heat waves as "extremely unlikely ... in the absence of human-induced climate change." They warned these events are going to become a common occurrence if urgent action is not taken to halt climate change and control greenhouse gas emissions. "If nothing is done to slow climate change, by the time global warming reaches 2 ºC (3.6 ºF), events like this winter would become common at the North Pole, happening every few years," the scientists wrote. In November, an Arctic Resilience Report projected major "tipping points" with catastrophic effects from the warming, including rapid polar melting. The World Meteorological Organization is expecting 2016 to surpass the hottest year title of 2015. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | September 22, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

People walk along a dried and cracked river beach of the Yangtze River in China (AFP Photo/) Oxford (United Kingdom) (AFP) - The global target to prevent climate catastrophe, crafted at a landmark summit last year in Paris, will be very difficult if not impossible to hit, said some of the world's top scientists meeting this week in Oxford. The first-ever climate pact to enjoin all nations vows to cap global warming at "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels -- and under 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible. "Currently we only have a few scenarios that get us there, and they are outliers," said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a climate scientist at Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris, said of the more ambitious goal. All but a few of the hundreds of complex computer models plotting the rapid reduction of greenhouse gases that drive climate change, in other words, zoom right past it. "The 1.5 C target took the scientific community by surprise," said Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, which is hosting the three-day conference ending Thursday. The question stretches back to the chaotic Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which nearly derailed more than a decade of UN talks, set the threshold for dangerous global warming at 2 C. A huge body of scientific literature has accumulated around that benchmark, feeding into periodic reports by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But a recent crescendo of devastating impacts -- heat waves, deadly flooding, storm surges fuelled by rising seas -- pushed world leaders to inscribe even more demanding temperature targets in the Paris pact, inked by 195 nations in December. The effort was led by small island nations, some of which are likely to disappear under the waves within decades. Major emerging economies, notably India, went along despite fears that the new threshold would be a brake on economic development. On current trajectories, the world is set to warm at least 3 C (5.4 F) by century's end, a recipe for human misery and species extinction on a global scale, scientists say. The inclusion of 1.5 C -- even as an aspirational goal -- was hailed as a political victory, especially by poor, climate-vulnerable nations. But it caught the scientific community tasked with informing policy makers off-guard. Top climate scientists gathered in Oxford to help fill this knowledge gap, and to funnel raw material for a major review -- mandated by the Paris Agreement -- to be delivered in mid-2018. "The findings from our conference are going to lead directly into the evidence base for the IPCC special report on 1.5 C," Hall said. "The bad news is that we are already two-thirds of the way there," he added, noting that average global temperatures in 2015 -- the hottest year on record -- were a full degree higher than 150 years ago. Indeed, the 2018 report is likely to make for grim reading. A 2 C cap on warming was already seen as hugely ambitious, both technically and politically. For many scientists, 1.5 C seems virtually impossible -- at least not without "over-shooting" the target. "We may see the first year of 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels within a decade," cautioned Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre in England. For some scientists, even setting the target is a bad idea. "There is a risk that the 1.5 C temperature threshold is a distraction," said Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in England. "The danger is that it will push us to look at geo-engineering solutions rather than how to achieve deep decarbonisation." Slashing the output of greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere and oceans -- decarbonisation, in other words -- has long been the preferred solution to global warming. But despite a boom in renewables, emissions have continued to grow, putting even a 2 C target out of reach unless engineers find ways to suck CO2 out of the air and store it underground -- so-called "negative emissions." The 1.5 C goal depends on these geo-engineering schemes even more, and could tempt policy makers to opt for "quick fix" solutions rather than a wholesale transformation of national economies, Anderson said. The problem, scientists agree, is that few of these technologies have moved beyond the experimental stage, and those that have may pose new quandaries.


Eyre N.,Environmental Change Institute
Energy Policy | Year: 2013

The use of feed-in tariffs (FITs) is now widespread for renewable energy and under discussion for other low carbon electricity generation, but not for energy efficiency. There is a small literature on FITs for electricity demand reduction, but not energy efficiency more generally. This paper considers the general application of FITs on the demand side and sets out the economic arguments in the context of changing energy markets. It then discusses the implications of some practical issues, including the definitional problems arising from the difference between energy efficiency and demand reduction. Using experience from historical energy efficiency programmes, it considers the public benefits, payment methods and policy scope that need to be considered and how these might affect policy design. It makes some provisional estimates of economically justified payments in the context of the proposed UK energy market reform. It concludes that FITs for energy saving might be a powerful tool for incentivising energy efficiency. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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