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News Article | December 8, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

Only a few weeks after it was revealed that carbon emissions nearly stalled in 2014, new figures suggest carbon emissions could stall in 2015. New figures from researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project suggest that global carbon emissions are projected to stall in 2015. Their figures were published in the journal Nature Climate Change, with detailed data made available simultaneously in the journal Earth System Science Data. Specifically, the researchers are predicting that not only might the growth of CO2 emissions slow or stall this year, but that there might even be a chance emissions growth would decline by 0.6% in 2015. This possible decline would be the first during a period of strong global economic growth. “These figures are certainly not typical of the growth trajectory seen since 2000 – where the annual growth in emissions was between 2 and 3 per cent,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, who led the data analysis. “What we are now seeing is that emissions appear to have stalled, and they could even decline slightly in 2015. “But it is important to remember that our projection for 2015 is an estimate and there will always be a range of uncertainty. In this case, the 2015 projection ranges from a global decline in emissions of up to 1.5 per cent – or at the other end of the spectrum, a small rise of 0.5 per cent.” The biggest emitters in 2014 were China, which accounted for 27% of the world’s total emissions, the United States with 15%, the European Union with 10%, and India with 7%. But there were significant improvements on the part of these regions: Global CO2 growth slowed to only 0.6% in 2014 according the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project (while a report published late-November by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency brought that number down to only 0.5%); economic growth grew by 3% in 2014, further proof that there is a trending decoupling of emissions growth and economic growth; while the European Union managed to decrease its emissions by 5.4%. “With two years of untypical emissions growth, it looks like the trajectory of global emissions might have changed temporarily,” added Professor Le Quéré added. “It is unlikely that emissions have peaked for good. This is because energy needs for growing economies still rely primarily on coal, and emissions decreases in some industrial countries are still modest at best.” The next five years will be a vital time for global emissions decreases — especially across China, the US, the European Union, and India, which make up for 61% of the world’s total emissions — if emissions are to peak in the early 2020s, and halt global warming in its tracks. Infographics courtesy of the Global Carbon Project and the University of East Anglia    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 | February 2, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Alexandra Clark is a sustainable-food campaigner at Humane Society International. She recently presented HSI's meat reduction work at the COP21 in Paris. Prior to joining HSI, Clark worked for the vice president of the European Parliament and was responsible for a number of high-profile parliamentary initiatives on sustainable food systems. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Global leaders in Paris accomplished much with the climate change agreement they reached late last year, but it had its shortcomings — including a failure to specifically mitigate the emissions of climate-changing gases from animal agriculture. However, outside of the Paris talks, policymakers in the European Union (EU) are beginning to advance that discussion, pushing for a shift away from diets heavy in meat, egg and dairy products, in an effort to clear the air. There is extensive research showing the outsize impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." It's not hard to see why. The process of converting energy and protein in animal feed into meat calories and protein for humans is highly inefficient: For example, a 2014 study led by Henk Westhoek for the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and appearing in Global Environmental Change, found a 50 percent reduction in all EU consumption of meat, dairy and eggs would cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 19 to 42 percent. Similar research that year in the journal Climatic Change found that, in the U.K., vegetarian and vegan diets had 32 percent and 49 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions , respectively, than medium-meat diets. Compared to high-meat diets, the difference was even starker, with vegan diets emitting 60 percent less greenhouse gasses. Yet, reductions aren't the projected future we face. One 2010 study by Nathan Pelletier and Peter Tyedmers at Dalhousie University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, projected a 39 percent rise in emissions from animal agriculture by 2050 over year-2000 levels, accounting for more than two-thirds of the amount of greenhouse gases considered safe by 2050. Given the threats that climate change and other environmental impacts from farm animal production pose to long-term food security, there is a need for a global shift away from meat-heavy diets. Less meat for the wealthy, food security for the poor Eggs, meat and milk can continue to serve as sources of nutrition — particularly in rural areas of developing countries, which sometimes exhibit higher rates of undernutrition. Farm animals can provide a variety of supports to pastoralists, mixed farmers and landless peoples in rural areas. In rural communities around the world, people use farm animals as a means of acquiring cash income, a way to save and accumulate assets, as a food source, and as insurance against health or other financial crises. Integrated into a broader rural landscape of small farms, animals provide inputs and services for crop production. However, most farm animal production (and growth in production) is taking place in polluting and inhumane industrial farm animal production systems. These industrial systems are feeding middle- and higher-income consumers who could benefit from more plant-based diets. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 40 percent of adults across the globe are overweight, and noncommunicable diseases linked to the overconsumption of fats and energy-dense foods (such as meat, eggs and milk) are now a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. The WHO has called for an increase in the consumption of plant-based foods — specifically fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts — as part of the solution. Developed countries like the United States still have the highest per-capita meat consumption. However, according to the FAO, developing and emerging economies already account for the majority of meat production overall, and are projected to account for the majority of growth in animal consumption in the coming years. Developing countries where farm animal production is expanding may no longer require an overall increase in the consumption of animal source foods among all segments of their populations, as a significant proportion of their populations are already meeting or exceeding their energy requirements.  Ironically, many developing countries with high levels of hunger and malnutrition now simultaneously bear the burden of an obesity-related public health crisis, with the number of overweight women already exceeding the number of underweight women in most developing countriesby 2005, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  To allow for a more equitable distribution of agricultural resources and to ensure long-term food security and health for all communities around the world, society should place greater emphasis on small-scale, multipurpose, more animal-welfare-friendly and environmentally sustainable farm animal production led by small farmers. Middle- and higher-income populations should also reduce their consumption of animal products.  A side event held within the U.N. climate conference — entitled "Meat: The Big Omission from the Talks on Emissions," hosted by leading international organizations such as the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and Humane Society International — brought together policymakers, scientists and civil society groups, and emphasized the need to reduce the number of animals raised for food. The event highlighted successful efforts around the world to achieve this goal by encouraging people to consume more plants and less meat. Jo Leinen, a German member of the European Parliament, spoke at the event, emphasizing nations' inability to mitigate climate change without shifting away from meat-centric diets. His comments came on the heels of a recently published report by Chatham House, "Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption," which specifically addresses potential government interventions to encourage meat and dairy reduction, ranging from public-awareness-raising campaigns to a carbon tax. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed with the event premise — the former California governor, actor and bodybuilder made waves during the climate conference by calling on people to keep meat off their plates one or two days a week to address climate change, according to the BBC. And, a growing number of food service providers, educational institutions, environmental groups and other stakeholders are embracing meat-reduction initiatives such as Meatless Monday.  In October, HSI launched Green Monday South Africa and a Meatless Monday campaign in Mexico with events attended by media, celebrities and other stakeholders. There are also thriving humane eating campaigns in India, China and other emerging economies where meat consumption is rapidly rising, along with problems relating obesity and chronic disease.  The growing middle- and upper-class consumers in these countries are becoming increasingly sensitive to animal welfare, health and environmental issues, as exhibited by the increasing number of food companies in these regions adopting animal welfare policies, and the growth in the market for organic and other sustainable products.  HSI advocates what it calls compassionate eating, or the three R's: "reducing" or "replacing" consumption of animal products, and "refining" diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards. In the EU, those goals are gaining popularity, and there is growing public support for meeting the target of a 30 percent reduction in animal product consumption by 2030 through a variety of policy mechanisms. HSI launched this formal call in September 2015 at The Free Lunch, one of the largest food events ever held outside the European Parliament, where approximately 1,000 people, including politicians, attended in support of reducing the consumption of animal-based foods in the EU. The event featured cross-party members of the European Parliament, including the Parliament's vice president, civil society representatives and a representative of the EU Health and Food Safety Commission. Pathways to the 30 percent goal include incorporating sustainable food consumption into the EU and its member states' climate action plan; revising the European Commission's Green Public Procurement guidelines; and developing guidelines for healthy and sustainable diets.  In early 2015, more than 60 cross-party members of the European Parliament wrote to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and others to demand the publication of the blocked Communication on Building a Sustainable System, as well as EU sustainable dietary guidelines including a reduction in consumption of animal-based foods. The communication has been held up by a "principle of political discontinuity," practically ensuring that this important document never sees the light of day. Yet science demands more work to move this issue forward. With its overall goal and its recognition of the importance of people's consumption choices, the Paris Agreement provides a signal at the global level.  The preamble of the document states that "sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed country Parties taking the lead, play an important role in addressing climate change." The parties should elaborate this at the national and subnational level. Research increasingly shows the benefits of moving toward more plant-based diets — to improve the welfare of farm animals, promote environmental sustainability and protect human health. It is time to really get to the meat of the matter and stop avoiding the elephant — or chicken or pig — in the room.  Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science. Why Does Less Meat Mean Less Heat? (Op-Ed) Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News Article | November 25, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

A general view shows the Eiffel tower and the Paris skyline through a small-particle haze March 13, 2014 as warm and sunny weather continues in France. World carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production rose 0.5 percent last year, the report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission's Joint Research Center said. At the same time, the world economy grew by three percent in 2014, it said. It was the smallest rise in emissions, without a recession, since 1998, the study said. An upwards revision to Chinese coal consumption partly explained why the findings exceeded a flattening of carbon emissions in 2014 reported by the International Energy Agency in March, it said. Almost 200 nations will meet in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 for a summit to try to agree ways to combat climate change beyond 2020, to avert impacts such as more floods, droughts and rising sea levels. "It's promising but it's not a clear case that we are already approaching a tipping point" to break the historic link between use of fossil fuels and economic growth, PBL senior scientist Jos Olivier told Reuters.

News Article | December 9, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

The latest Climate Change Performance Index has been released, and while the European Union can stand relatively tall, Australia, Japan, and Korea faired worst. Compiled by non-profit Germanwatch and Europe’s largest energy coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, the Climate Change Performance Index for 2016 was published on Tuesday, with indications of a turning point, but still missing a steady trend. Recent studies have shown that global emissions have been nearing a stalling-point: A report published by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) showed that global CO2 emissions had slowed to a growth of only 0.5% in 2014, while figures released this week suggest that CO2 emissions could stall, or even decrease, for the first time in a long time in 2015. “We see global trends, indicating promising shifts in some of the most relevant sectors for climate protection and important steps towards a transformation of the energy system,” said Jan Burck of Germanwatch, author of the CCPI. “The energy intensity of the global economy is further declining. In the next years, it will be crucial to decarbonise the energy sector on a global scale. The years 2013 and 2014 saw for the first time a higher amount of newly installed capacity from renewables than from all other energy sources combined; indicating that many countries have already started decarbonising their energy sector.” Australia, Japan, and Korea were the worst performers out of all industrialized countries — and were only followed by Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, out of all 61 countries. Meanwhile, the globe’s two largest emitters, the United States and China, both improved their rankings this year thanks to better policy evaluations, increasing investment in renewable energy, and the beginnings of a shift away from coal. Again, there are no countries filling the top three spots — the authors of the index explaining that “no country is acting enough to prevent dangerous climate change” — however, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Sweden took out the first three available spots (4, 5, 6 respectively). France, just in time to host the COP21 United Nations climate negotiations, skipped up six places to sit at eight, thanks to low-level per-capita emissions and a decreasing emissions trend. “EU countries still rank high, profiting from their early start in development of climate policies,” said Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. “However, as countries all over the world have now started to invest in renewable energy on a massive scale, the EU risks falling behind. Lack of leadership is reflected in cuts in support for renewables and the ailing Emissions Trading Scheme. The coming two years, when the EU will shape its future climate and energy policies, will define the speed of its transition to a fossil fuel free economy.” “For decarbonising the energy system on a global scale, it will be important that the world’s emerging economies manage to decarbonise their energy sector before their economies are as dependent on coal as the ones from developed countries,” added Jan Burck.    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 | November 11, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

Originally published on the World Resources Institute blog. By and On Friday, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report joined a series of studies released over the past few weeks assessing how much countries’ recent climate change announcements, or intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs),contribute to combating warming. Collectively, the studies make it clear that the INDCs make a substantial contribution to bending the global emissions trajectory below our current path. However, the studies also show that without additional action, the INDCs are insufficient to limit warming to below 2°C and avoid some of the worst climate impacts. The details of the Paris Agreement are, therefore, very important to help achieve an additional bending of the emissions trajectory before 2020, to support the implementation of the INDCs and to ensure greater ambition after 2030. While all of the studies support these general conclusions, their numbers differ both in terms of projected temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels, as well as emissions levels in 2025 and 2030. Below we discuss the results of various studies assessing the INDCs and highlight differences among their underlying assumptions, which can help explain why some details of their findings diverge. The studies include those by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), Australian-German Climate and Energy College (CEC), Climate Interactive, Danish Energy Agency (DEA), European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC), the International Energy Agency (IEA), London School of Economics (LSE), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MILES Project Consortium (MILES), PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the UNFCCC, and the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, which is itself an in-depth assessment of many of these studies. Some of these studies may still be updated after this blog is published. Most studies compare global emissions pathways resulting from the INDCs to one or more alternative scenarios without the INDCs. These alternative scenarios include emissions under “business as usual” (typically defined as no new climate policy from 2010 onwards), emissions under currently adopted and implemented policies, and emissions assuming that countries’ 2020 pledges are met. The studies find that the INDCs reduce future emissions relative to these scenarios. The studies also find, however, that the INDCs do not reduce emissions sufficiently to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. Some of the studies model global temperature change under the INDCs out to 2100, and find that it will be higher than 2 degrees C. Other studies do not model temperature directly, but they still draw conclusions about temperature. They do this by comparing emissions in 2025 and/or 2030 under the INDCs to the levels that would be consistent with limiting warming to below 2C at the least possible cost. Either way, the result is the same — the INDCs are not sufficient. The subset of studies that assess temperature increases suggest that with the INDCs, we will witness 2.7–3.7 degrees C (median chance) of warming compared with pre-industrial levels. This is an improvement over business-as-usual trends, which would lead to 4–5 degrees C of warming, but falls short of the goal to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. Since temperature impacts are calculated out to 2100, the studies’ findings depend significantly on assumptions about what happens to emissions after the target date specified in the INDC  — 2030 for most countries, and 2025 for the United States. Scenarios showing higher temperature increases by 2100, such as Climate Interactive INDC Strict, assume no continued progress after the INDCs are achieved. The scenarios showing lower temperature increases, such as the Climate Action Tracker, assume that mitigation effort of 2020–2030 continues throughout the century. There are also additional scenarios that have been studied by some analysts (e.g. the MILES study’s “Bridge Scenario”) that examine what additional targets and policies would have to be adapted to limit warming to 2 degrees C. All temperature findings are associated with some degree of uncertainty, so analysts use probabilities to frame their results. Two common framings are 50% likelihood, which provides a “toss of the coin” chance that warming will stay within the given temperature, and >66% likelihood, which provides a “likely” chance that warming will stay within the given temperature. The Climate Action Tracker finds a 50% chance that warming will stay within 2.7C, and a >66% chance that it will stay within 3C. Climate Interactive Strict finds that under its INDC Strict scenario there is a 50% chance that warming will be limited to 3.5C. MIT presents three scenarios – the low scenario corresponds to the 5th percentile; the central scenario corresponds to the median, and the high corresponds to the 95th percentile of the probability density function. Given that policy makers should be interested in a higher probability of achieving desired temperature outcomes, more studies should examine what a higher probability of the resulting temperatures from the INDCs are. A higher probability of limiting warming to various temperatures gives much greater confidence that the INDCs will be successful in limiting warming to that temperature. Emissions levels in 2025 and 2030 have significant consequences for our ability to limit warming to 2 degrees C.  The higher emissions are in the near term, the greater the required emissions reductions in later decades for limiting warming. Steep rates of emissions reductions are far costlier than more gradual rates of decline. They also risk of failing to achieve the 2 degrees C target, and rely more on carbon dioxide removal technologies (e.g. bioenergy and carbon capture and storage), which have yet to be proven at scale. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report finds that if emissions levels are above 55 Gt CO2e in 2030, they require 6 percent per year rates of emissions decline between 2030 and 2050 (compared with 3 percent/year in cost-effective scenarios). A 6 percent rate of emissions reductions is unprecedented—emissions reduction rates during the collapse of the Soviet Union led to declines of 2–4 percent annually—and it will be exceedingly difficult to overcome the lock-in of carbon-intensive technologies, while at the same time rapidly scaling up zero and low-carbon energy sources. All studies included in our analysis find that emissions levels in 2025 and 2030 are higher than those consistent with a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. The emissions levels in the studies range from 51.1-57.2 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 52-61.1 Gt CO2e in 2030. For contrast, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report finds that for a least-cost emissions pathway consistent with a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C, emissions are 48 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 42 Gt CO2e in 2030. Below is a chart showing median values for various studies’ assessments of anticipated emissions levels in 2025 and 2030, given the INDCs. The chart does not include those scenarios assuming mitigation targets and policies that went above and beyond the INDCs, nor does it include the IEA, which reports energy and process-related greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the studies examine multiple scenarios – for example, one scenario might include those pledges that are conditional (for example, on international finance or other support), while another might include only unconditional pledges. Below we describe the differences among multiple scenarios. There are a number of factors that can explain why studies estimate different temperature outcomes and emissions levels. For some countries, estimating future emissions is straightforward, and results in relatively little difference across studies (e.g. those countries that pledge to reduce economy-wide emissions relative to a past year’s emissions). For others, analysts have to make more assumptions (e.g. countries that pledge to reduce emissions per unit of GDP, without specifying expected future GDP growth). The emissions covered by INDCs are then aggregated with projected future emissions from countries, sectors and gases not covered by INDCs. The latter are taken from projections of what future emissions will be under “business as usual” or under current policies. Three factors are largely responsible for these differences: Depending on the timing of the analysis, the number of INDCs analyzed differs. For example, of the studies we looked at, the cut-off dates for including INDCs ranges from mid-August to the end of October 2015. In addition, a number of countries attach conditions (such as international financing or other forms of support) to all or part of their INDCs. Some scenarios include unconditional pledges only, whereas others include both conditional and unconditional pledges. Moreover, some INDCs are not clear about the extent to which they are conditional; in these cases, studies may categorize the same pledge differently with respect to its conditionality. Although the INDCs are more transparent than the Cancun pledges, the variation in studies’ results is in part due to the fact that some countries have not identified an expected emissions level in the future. This is particularly the case for targets that are framed as intensity targets or baseline scenario targets, where projected GDP or baseline scenario emissions are not specified, or targets that set a year to peak emissions and don’t specify the peak emissions level. For example, how China’s emissions trajectory is treated will have a significant impact on global emissions and resulting temperature increase, given that it is responsible for 22% of global emissions. With the exact timing and level of emissions peak is not specified, studies are forced to make assumptions about China’s future emissions levels. In addition, some studies examine China’s intensity target only, while others also examine additional policies and technology transformation, which can lead to additional reductions. Furthermore, given that the Chinese INDC peak year target only covers carbon dioxide, analysts have to make assumptions about the growth rate of non-CO2 gases. In addition, studies rely upon different data sources both for historical emissions as well as projected emissions (which is particularly relevant to the analysis of uncovered sectors and gases, as well as countries that have not submitted an INDC). Official data submitted by countries can vary from international data sources that are harmonized across countries. For instance, we found that 2010 emissions estimates used by various studies ranged from 47-49.5 Gt CO2e. In addition, studies use projections of emissions to estimate future emissions for those countries, sectors and gases not covered by an INDC. The difference between relying on “business as usual” projections versus current policy projections can be significant. Furthermore, some studies use IPCC Second Assessment Report global warming potential (GWP) values while others use Fourth Assessment Report, which can lead to differences in emissions estimates for non-CO2 gases. Also, the way in which emissions reductions and enhanced sinks are accounted for can have an impact on future emissions levels. This is particularly the case for LULUCF accounting. Projections of future emissions and removals in the sector are extremely uncertain, and most countries did not specify their assumed accounting approaches or data sources. The DEA study, for example, finds that differences in accounting rules for LULUCF can increase the emissions gap in 2030 by around 0.8 to 3.4 GtCO2e. One of the most significant factors is likely to be what the studies assume after the target year of the national climate plans, which determines the countries’ post-2025 or post-2030 emissions trajectory. For instance, do actions continue or end after the INDC is completed? Since most INDCs do not specify action after 2030, different scenarios reflect a broader range of assumptions, resulting in divergence in conclusions regarding post-2030 global emissions. The Climate Action Tracker assumes continued emissions reductions in future decades at a level of effort no more, or less, ambitious than that implied by the INDCs. Climate Interactive, on the other hand, assesses multiple scenarios, one in which there is no post-2030 action and several in which there is continued emissions reductions in certain countries to varying extents. The MIT study assumes the proposed cuts from the INDCs are extended through 2100, but not deepened further. In addition, other factors could make a difference, such as assumed implementation of the pledges, variations among the models themselves, treatment of accounting rules, and more. The Paris Agreement can help bend the curve further before 2030 and ensure greater ambition after 2030 by including clear long-term and short-term signals,increasing transparency of INDCs and future cycles of commitments, andadvancing accounting rules governed by strong principles. Additionally it can increase the probability of full implementation through strong provisions on capacity building, finance and technology transfer. In a little less than a month’s time, we have the opportunity to build upon the momentum unleashed by the INDCs and start to close the emissions gap to have a fighting chance of keeping global average temperature below 2 degrees C.    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 6, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. Its little-known team came to Paris with a mission to force rich nations to lead the way in curbing emissions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the summit that "climate justice" meant poor nations needed "room to grow". Such positions may have prompted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to say that India would be a "challenge" to deal with in Paris but, in the corridors of the U.N. climate summit, it is winning the support of other developing nations. These see India - already the number three greenhouse emitter behind China and the United States, and likely to be number two by 2040 - as the main champion of the rights of the global poor to burn more energy to grow. Others, too, concede it is a just cause for India - far poorer than China and with 300 million of its 1.25 billion people lacking access to electricity - and do not see signs of intransigence that could scupper a deal. Jennifer Morgan, of the independent U.S.-based World Resources Institute, said the idea of India as a spoiler was "a storm in a teacup". "In the meeting rooms, India is defending its interests, and proposing solutions," she said. And a source at the French presidency said India was contributing constructively, "not standing on the sidelines and just watching". In Paris, almost 200 governments are seeking an agreement that will bind both rich and poor to limit greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020 to try to stave off the worst effects of global warming on the Earth's climate. At the last, failed summit in Copenhagen six years ago, India stood with China in demanding more action by the rich. But Beijing, buoyed by strong economic growth since 2009, now works more closely with the United States, leaving New Delhi as the standard-bearer. India is in some ways a more fitting champion for the poor. Its carbon emissions were just 1.7 tonnes per capita in 2011, according to World Bank data, level with countries such as Belize or Armenia, far below China's 6.7 tonnes and just a 10th of those of the United States. "It's fair for India to try to protect the hundreds of millions of poor people in India," said Pa Ousman Jarju, Environment and Climate Minister of Gambia. Still, India is opening a coal mine a month and is set to double output by 2020, putting it at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the most polluting fossil fuel, which also happens to its most affordable and abundant. This means that, although it is promoting solar power and other renewables, India's overall emissions will soar. Ajay Mathur, Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and a senior member of the Indian delegation in Paris, said India's greenhouse gas emissions may grow until 2050, unless new technologies are developed. "Projections ... that go out until 2050 are still showing an increase," he said. While China has pledged that its emissions will peak no later than 2030, India's national plan promises only to slow the rise relative to its economic growth by then. India's carbon dioxide emissions grew by almost 8 percent last year, according to the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, making it the biggest contributor to global emissions growth of 0.5 percent. By 2040, they could roughly double, according to projections by U.S. scientists at Climate Interactive, overtaking the United States. But India's tough position is popular at home. When Kerry made his comment to the Financial Times last month, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar angrily shot back that he was "not doing justice to India". "Sometimes the India team does get preoccupied by having to fend off all these attacks. But they will not buckle under finger pointing from a small group of Western countries," Shyam Saran, India's chief negotiator at the 2009 Copenhagen talks, told Reuters. This time round, Ravi Shankar Prasad, a low-profile mid-level official in the environment ministry, has led the negotiating team but, unlike some of his counterparts, he has avoided the limelight. "No one man is in charge. It’s a negotiating team," said Shyam Saran, India's negotiator at the Copenhagen talks. "Sometimes the India team does get preoccupied by having to fend off all these attacks, but they will not buckle under finger pointing from a small group of Western countries." Some delegates say India picked a fight in Paris by dismissing a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that suggested rich nations were on track to deliver a promised $100 billion a year in finance by 2020. India said the numbers were riddled with double counting, and that it could only clearly identify a mere $2.2 billion. But many developing nations are backing India's stance. "They are doing it for all of us," said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. India can also argue that it is doing its bit to promote renewable energy. Prime Minister Modi and French President Francois Hollande on Monday unveiled an alliance of over 100 nations that seeks to mobilize more than a trillion dollars by 2030 to harness the abundant solar power in the tropics.

Boschman S.,PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Urban Studies | Year: 2012

Dutch policy-makers perceive high shares of ethnic minorities in neighbourhoods as a problem; it might generate fewer opportunities for minorities to have contact with the native Dutch population and thereby hinder integration. The question, however, is whether the ethnic composition of neighbourhoods influences interethnic contact. In this paper, the focus is on the leisure contact of people from ethnic minorities aged 15 to 65 with native Dutch people. Binary logistic multilevel analysis shows that contact with native Dutch people is mainly explained by individual characteristics. In addition, living in one of the four largest cities-cities with high shares of minorities at the city level-leads to less contact with native Dutch people. The ethnic composition of the neighbourhood has no effect on contact, therefore segregation at the neighbourhood level does not necessarily hinder integration. © 2011 Urban Studies Journal Limited.

Hoen A.,PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency | Koetse M.J.,VU University Amsterdam
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice | Year: 2014

This paper presents results of an online stated choice experiment on preferences of Dutch private car owners for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and their characteristics. Results show that negative preferences for alternative fuel vehicles are large, especially for the electric and fuel cell car, mostly as a result of their limited driving range and considerable refueling times. Preference for AFVs increases considerably with improvements on driving range, refueling time and fuel availability. Negative AFV preferences remain, however, also with substantial improvements in AFV characteristics; the remaining willingness to accept is on average € 10,000-€ 20,000 per AFV. Results from a mixed logit model show that consumer preferences for AFVs and AFV characteristics are heterogeneous to a large extent, in particular for the electric car, additional detour time and fuel time for the electric and fuel cell car. An interaction model reveals that annual mileage is by far the most important factor that determines heterogeneity in preferences for the electric and fuel cell car. When annual mileage increases, the preference for electric and fuel cell cars decreases substantially, whilst the willingness to pay for driving range increases substantially. Other variables such as using the car for holidays abroad and the daily commute also appear to be relevant for car choice. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Bryan N.S.,University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston | van Grinsven H.,PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Advances in Agronomy | Year: 2013

The enrichment of the biosphere with reactive nitrogen from anthropogenic origin, in combination with increased consumption of vegetables and (preserved) animal products, has led to increased intake by humans of nitrite and nitrate. Nitrate and nitrate-forming salts are among the key components of fertilizers and the increased dependency of farming practices on such fertilizers over several decades has led to increasing levels of human exposure. This arises from consumption of crops and from nitrate-contaminated drinking water due to agricultural land runoff. For years, people have viewed dietary sources of nitrate as harmful to humans causing methemoglobinemia and cancers. However, methemoglobinemia is rare and evidence suggests a relation with infective enteritis rather than with nitrate alone. Also, epidemiological evidence for an association between cancers of the digestive tract and nitrate intake is inconclusive in terms of increased risks of cancer although the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded " ingested nitrite or nitrate under conditions that result in endogenous nitrosation is probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)" The discovery of the nitric oxide pathway in the early 1980s revealed that nitrate is produced endogenously in the body changing our perception of nitrate safety. Recently benefits of dietary sources of nitrate for cardiovascular health and protection against infections have been unveiled, calling for an assessment of the risk and benefits associated with nitrate in our food and water supply. The scope of this article is to review the current state of the science on nitrate in human health and disease. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

News Article | November 26, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

Global CO2 emissions growth almost stalled in 2014, slowing to only 0.5% growth compared to 2013, according to new figures released this week. A new report published by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) showed that not only did global CO2 emissions growth slow to only 0.5% in 2014 compared to the year previous, but that the world’s economy grew 3% during the same period, showing again the partial decoupling we have been seeing over the past 18 months of emissions and economic growth. This continues the trend we have seen over the past few years, and the report notes that it follows on from a decade of annual increases of 4%, followed by two years (2012 and 2013) of slowing to about 1% growth. This compares well with the global average growth rate over the 1980-2002 period of 1.2%. Unsurprisingly, when looking at individual players, China and the US both saw their emissions increase by 0.9%, and India’s emissions grew by 7.8%. At the same time, however, the European Union saw “unprecedented” decrease in emissions of 5.4%. These four “countries” accounted for 61% of total global emissions, and were the top four emitters as well (China, 30%; the United States, 15%; the European Union, 10%; and India, 6.5%). China might have remained the largest emitter on the planet, but it was the United States that topped per capita emissions, sitting twice as high as those of both China and the European Union. In fact, the CO2 emissions growth slowdown of the past three years can mostly be explained by changes in China’s economy and its associated energy consumption — however the report’s authors are unsure whether this slowdown also reflects structural changes in the wider global economy.    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.  

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