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Renewables future no more costly than fossil fuels : Renew Economy

The Australian government appears to have made a remarkable concession following the release of the 100% renewables report by the country’s energy market operator – a renewables future will be no more costly than a largely fossil fuel alternative.

 

This should not be a surprise to anyone who has properly considered the costs of new generation – as ACT minister Simon Corbell has – and their likely progress in coming years. Wind, and then solar, clearly offer the cheapest options.

 

New coal and gas plants will be priced out of the market, an important consideration when taking into account that most current generation needs to be replaced in coming decades. (Some pro-nuclear web-sites and commentators like to say that nuclear energy will be within the same cost bracket, but that is only if the cost of capital is ignored.)

 
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Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030

Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College. A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.


“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage—which we did by an exhaustive search—and to calculate costs correctly.”


Unlike other studies, the model focused on minimizing costs instead of the traditional approach of matching generation to electricity use. The researchers found that generating more electricity than needed during average hours—in order to meet needs on high-demand but low-wind power hours—would be cheaper than storing excess power for later high demand.

 

“Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90 percent reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings,” the authors observe.

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Sustainability and the Concept of a ‘Circular Economy’

Sustainability and the Concept of a ‘Circular Economy’ | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
In an article for the World Economic Forum blog, Leo Schlesinger – CEO of MASISA México – makes the argument for the concept of a regenerative ‘circular economy’. This concept would basically embed sustainability firmly within society and effectively restore much of the life-supporting biosphere for our generation and future generations as well.

 

He advocates a shift from a linear – i.e. a so-called “take-make-dispose” view – to a regenerative ‘circular economy’ stating that the latter concept “aims to eradicate waste – not just from manufacturing processes, as lean management aspires to do, but systematically, throughout the life cycles and uses of products and their components.”

 

”In a circular economy,” Mr. Schlesinger elaborates, “the goal for durable components, such as metals and most plastics is to reuse or upgrade them for other productive applications through as many cycles as possible. (…) Ultimately, the circular economy could decouple economic growth from resource consumption.”  Though his last ‘decoupling’ point seems a bit idealistic, he is right in pointing to the potential of maximizing the utilization of assets without – whenever possible and sensible – adding waste.

 

The concept of a ‘circular economy’ emanates from the simple understanding that projected future global demographics render current consumption patterns unsustainable in the long term.

 

The World Economic Forum defines ‘circular economy’ in a report as follows: “A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models.”

 

The [above] graphic shows such an economy based on those three core principles:

 

1. Waste does not exist: products are designed and optimized for a cycle of both disassembly and reuse thereby preserving large amounts of ‘already’ embedded energy and labor.

 

2. There is a strict differentiation between consumable and durable components of a product. Note, a decisive shift towards consumable products largely made of biological ingredients to ensure that they can safely be returned to the biosphere.

 

3. Reliance on renewable energy to power this cycle in order to decrease the dependency on natural resources while at the same time increasing the resilience of the entire system.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Achieving Zero Footprint requires a circular economy, where nothing is considered waste because everything is either reused or recycled, and everything is powered by 100% renewable energy.

 

If the full life cycle cost of products is paid in advance, or if the value of materials is at least high enough that everyone benefits more by recycling than polluting, then durable and high quality products will tend to dominate.

 

But as renewable energy gets cheap enough, recycling old products and manufacturing new products can continue.  There will still be economic value in doing things better, creating new ways of interacting with the world and each other, improving our lives and all life on Earth.  Innovation and economic growth without physical expansion will continue.

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Unsubsidised wind and solar competitive with coal, Lazard says : Renew Economy

Unsubsidised wind and solar competitive with coal, Lazard says : Renew Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Wind and solar power are set to be cost competitive with coal-fired stations, even without subsidies, says US investment bank Lazard.

 

The study presents an ongoing trend; utility-scale solar and wind power are increasingly cost-competitive with traditional energy sources, such as coal and nuclear, even in the absence of subsidies.


Battery storage, integral in transforming the solar and wind markets, continue to be costly without subsidies, however, next generation battery storage technologies could decline by as much as 40 per cent by 2017, according to the report, thanks to expected reductions in capital costs, operation and maintenance costs, and improvements in efficiency.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Imagine what we could do if we ended the fossil fuel subsides.  But even with their unfair advantage, fossil fuels will very soon price themselves out of the market.  Then we will begin to see a huge and rapid transition as renewable energy scales up to replace the over-priced fossil fuels.  

 

If we continue the declining cost and growing deployment of both wind and solar at their current exponential rates, each would reach 100% of total electrical capacity in about 15 or 16 years, so both together would reach 200%.  

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Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach | InsideClimate News

Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach | InsideClimate News | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
IEA pegs cost of addressing climate change at 1.3 percent of global output of goods and services. The investment would also stoke a clean economy.

$1 trillion is roughly the amount of additional investment needed worldwide each year for the next 36 years to stave off the worst effects of global warming and keep the Earth habitable, according to the International Energy Agency.


Worldwide, almost $4 trillion a year will need to be invested over that time anyway in electric grids, power plants and energy efficiency, the IEA says. In a global economy of $75 trillion, $1 trillion works out to 1.3 percent of the world's annual output of goods and services, or about $140 a person.


Leading up to the UN Climate Summit next week in New York, business groups and investors who manage trillions of dollars published reports and held meetings to call for action. Last week, investment groups publicized the creation of We Mean Business, an umbrella organization of investors urging world leaders to agree on a plan for fighting climate change. 


So far, however, clean energy investment is lagging. Worldwide investment in clean energy peaked in 2011 at $318 billion, less than a third of the $1 trillion target. In 2013, clean energy funding fell to $254 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.


What it comes down to, according to the UN's Figures, is that it’s going to take major commitments from government leaders and investors to help the world stay clear of the worst effects of climate change.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The money is available.  It even makes economic sense.  All we have to do is make it happen.

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The New Climate Economy - Better Growth, Better Climate

The New Climate Economy - Better Growth, Better Climate | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate  was set up to examine whether it is possible to achieve  lasting economic growth while also tackling the risks of climate change.


The next 15 years will be critical, as the global economy  undergoes a deep structural transformation. It will not be “business as usual”. The global economy will grow by more than half, a billion more people will come to live in cities, and rapid technological advance will continue to change businesses and lives.

 

Many of the policy and institutional reforms needed to revitalize growth and improve well-being over the next 15 years can also reduce climate risk.  Potential “win-win” reforms in urban, land use and energy system would involve correcting market and government failures that now make economies less efficient than they could be. These are not “easy wins”, however; they will require real effort.

 

The climate benefits from economic measures considered in this report could be substantial: enough to achieve at least 50% and potentially up to 90% of the emission reductions needed to get onto a 2°C pathway. All these measures are compatible with goals of boosting national development, equitable growth and broadly shared improvements in living standards, and make economic sense even before considering future avoided climate damage.

 

 


Via Kim Flintoff
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Health Savings From Cutting Greenhouse Gases Will Pay for a Low-Carbon Economy

Health Savings From Cutting Greenhouse Gases Will Pay for a Low-Carbon Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A first-of-its-kind study finds that the economic benefits of reducing carbon emissions outstrip the costs.

 

Scientists have known that cutting carbon emissions would have such an effect but the MIT study is the first to undertake a rigorous analysis of proposed climate change polices and the resulting health benefits.

 

The researchers found that not all policies would result in the same savings. For instance, the health benefits from directly regulating vehicle emissions by imposing strict fuel economy standards would only pay 26 percent of the cost of the $1 trillion policy.

 

But the health savings of a nationwide cap-and-trade carbon market would be 10 times the $14 billion cost to implement such a program. Establishing clean energy standards for power plants would save $247 billion versus the policy’s $208 billion cost, according to the study.


Via Kim Flintoff
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Political will is only barrier to 100% renewables

Political will is only barrier to 100% renewables | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A report published ahead of next week’s UN Climate Summit illustrates that poor and prosperous nations, tiny islands and great cities, can achieve all their energy needs from renewables.

 

LONDON, 20 September, 2014 − A new handbook shows how forward-looking communities around the world are already moving away from reliance on fossil fuels and generating their own power with 100% renewables − while also becoming more prosperous and creating jobs.

 

The report, How to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy, is being released today, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York next Tuesday (September 23), when the UN Secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, will call on world leaders to make new commitments to cut fossil fuel use.

 The World Future Council, based in Hamburg, Germany, has issued the report to show that it is only lack of political will that is preventing the world switching away from fossil fuels. It believes that the leaders at the UN summit need to set ambitious targets and timetables to achieve the switch to renewables. 

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Why $100bn invested in wind or solar will produce more energy than oil : Renew Economy

$100 billion invested in wind, or solar PV, will result is significantly more energy yield than the same amount invested in oil, according to a new analysis. This is particularly true when wind and solar is used to charge electric vehicles.

 

The implications, needless to say, are dramatic. It would signal the end of Big Oil, and the demise of an industry that has dominated the global economy and geo-politics, for the last few decades. And the need for it to reshape its business model around renewables, as we discuss here.

 

The main argument from Lewis is that oil prices could stay so low that it is no longer economic to bring in high cost new oil fields. But even if the oil price does rise, it will not be able to compete with renewables such as solar and wind.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is how the transition to 100% renewable energy will happen, as fossil fuels inevitably become more expensive until they can no longer compete.  Some argue that we can't produce wind and solar energy without fossil fuels, and while that may be true in many places today because our addiction runs so deep, this is all the more reason to replace our entire production process with renewable energy powered vehicles and factories as soon as possible.

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Remaking the industrial economy | McKinsey & Company

Remaking the industrial economy | McKinsey & Company | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
A regenerative economic model—the circular economy—is starting to help companies create more value while reducing their dependence on scarce resources. A McKinsey Quarterly article.

 

Could economic growth be decoupled from resource constraints? Could an industrial system that is regenerative by design—a “circular economy,” which restores material, energy, and labor inputs—be good for both society and business?

 

MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum1(see sidebar, “An enabler in a big system”), suggests that in addition to the implicit environmental benefits that a circular economy would bring, there is a significant economic impact. In fact, our research suggests that the savings in materials alone could exceed $1 trillion a year by 2025.

 

Circular thinking

A circular economy replaces one assumption—disposability—with another: restoration. At the core, it aims to move away from the “take, make, and dispose” system by designing and optimizing products for multiple cycles of disassembly and reuse.2 This effort starts with materials, which are viewed as valuable stock to be used again, not as elements that flow through the economy once.

 

The circular economy aims to eradicate waste—not just from manufacturing processes, as lean management aspires to do, but systematically, throughout the various life cycles and uses of products and their components. (Often, what might otherwise be called waste becomes valuable feedstock for successive usage steps.) Indeed, tight component and product cycles of use and reuse, aided by product design, help define the concept of a circular economy and distinguish it from recycling, which loses large amounts of embedded energy and labor.

 

The “take, make, and dispose” model of production has long relied on cheap resources to maintain growth and stability. That world no longer exists. By applying the principles of a circular economy—a system that is regenerative by design—forward-looking companies can seize growth opportunities while laying the groundwork for a new industrial era that benefits companies and economies alike. Capitalizing on the opportunities will require new ways of working, but the benefits are well worth the cost.

 

 

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Is It Time To Stop Constructing New Green Buildings?

Is It Time To Stop Constructing New Green Buildings? | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Sometimes, making a new building is worse for the environment than fixing an old one--no matter how energy-efficient it is.

 

Preservation Green Lab, a Seattle-based think tank, released a study this week showing that, in the think tank’s words, "the greenest building is the one that’s already built, in almost every case." It’s something that intuitively makes sense, but up until now, the evidence hasn’t been quantified quite to this extent.


The study uses life cycle analysis (a method of measuring impact from cradle to grave) to compare the environmental impacts of reuse and building renovation versus construction over 75 years of use.


The results are surprising, if not entirely shocking. It can take 80 years for a new "green" building to make up for the climate impact of its construction process with energy efficient features.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

All the more reason to make every new building net-zero!

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Geoengineering... a good idea? - YouTube

In this segment, the ABC's Lateline takes a look at one Canadian entrepreneur's efforts at Geoengineering, designed to increase the local fish harvests for the indigenous Haida villagers that funded the idea.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is essential to understand that we have ALREADY been doing massive geoengineering "experiments" for hundreds of years, by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, clear-cutting forests, ozone depletion, acid rain, etc, etc.  We have to completely STOP doing all that as soon as possible, but that alone will not be enough.  Because we have very little time before major ecological catastrophes descend upon the world, we MUST also begin to undo the previous damage with some intentionally positive engineering efforts.

 

This video focuses most on the idea of creating a sulfur shield in the stratosphere, which does happen naturally when volcanoes erupt, but infrequently.  Adding iron dust to the oceans also happens naturally all the time, and on a much larger scale, so adding a bit more in particular areas is not that risky.  It is also very cheap and very effective.  Restoring forests is another geoengineering activity we need to ramp up.

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Wind and Solar Energy Rush Goes Global : DNews, July 2013

Wind and Solar Energy Rush Goes Global : DNews, July 2013 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

There have been plenty of gold and oil rushes in history, but now wind and solar energy are where the big action is.   [Image shows renewable energy electricity generation worldwide. Note the dotted line shows the *percentage* of all electricity generation.]

 

Renewable electricity generation from wind is expected to double, and from solar to triple, in the next six years and outpace natural gas and nuclear power as a global source for electricity as early as 2016, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). If that happens, renewables will be second only to coal for electricity generation.

 

“Globally, renewable generation is estimated to rise to 25% of gross power generation in 2018, up from 20% in 2011 and 19% in 2006,” the IEA reports. That growth is being driven mostly by the expansion of wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) generation.

 

“It’s a remarkably bullish outlook compared to most forecasts,” commented greentechmedia energy analyst Chris Nelder in a thorough post about the new report. “It’s particularly remarkable for the IEA, whose conservative outlook on renewables has historically lagged behind reality.”

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IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable | The Guardian

IPCC climate change report: averting  catastrophe is eminently affordable | The Guardian | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.


“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

 

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. 

 

Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concluded.


“The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” said EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard.


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The only reason we might not be able to change directions fast enough is the belief by too many people that we are doomed, combined with the dominant power structure that continues to benefit by leading us to our doom.  In fact, developing the 100% renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and to recycle 100% of our resources should result in enormous economic activity - i.e. GDP.

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The carbon map

The carbon map | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Climate change responsibility is conventionally discussed in terms of national emissions or emissions per capita. We feel that fails to convey the true complexity of the picture, as it ignores crucial factors such as historical emissions – most of which are still in the air – and the international trade in fossil fuels and other goods.

 

To give a more nuanced picture, we’ve assembled data from various different sources to show where the fossil fuels that become CO₂ are taken out of the ground (Extraction), where they’re burned (Emissions) and where the resulting goods and services are consumed (Consumption).

 

In addition to those three perspectives on current emissions, we also give a view of the past in the form of cumulative emissions from the last 150 years (Historical) and one view of potential future emissions in the form of each country’s estimated stocks of fossil fuel (Reserves).

 

The Guardian has a nice video summary of the maps at:  http://gu.com/p/4xn2c

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Note that where population is still growing the most (i.e. Africa) they contribute almost nothing to the carbon emissions, but are affected disproportionately by our emissions.

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WHAT'S POSSIBLE: The U.N. Climate Summit Film (Preview) - YouTube

Presented to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, this short inspirational film shows that climate change is solvable. We have the technology to harness nature sustainably for a clean, prosperous energy future, but only if we act now. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it calls on the people of the world to insist leaders get on the path of a livable climate and future for humankind. 

 

"One day we will wake up to find we have literally changed the face of the Earth. 

 

We have never faced a crisis this big, but we have never had a better opportunity to solve it. 

 

We have everything we need to wake up to a different kind of world. What is needed is a concerted effort. 

 

We can make today the day we turn toward the solutions we need.

We can make today the day we chart a new course together. 

 

We have every reason in the world to act. We can't wait until tomorrow. 

 

You can choose today to make a world of difference."

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Choose to be the change, to act together, to make a world of difference.

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, September 26, 7:07 PM
The longer version is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4r5OsKyTUU
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Investor heavyweights call for clear action on climate

Investor heavyweights call for clear action on climate | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

As a major UN climate summit gets under way in New York today, some of the world’s leading institutional investors demand clearer policies on climate change and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

 

Many of the biggest hitters in the global financial community, together managing an eye-watering $24 trillion of investment funds, have issued a powerful warning to political leaders about the risks of failing to establish clear policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme, said: “Investors are owners of large segments of the global economy, as well as custodians of citizens’ savings around the world. Having such a critical mass of them demand a transition to the low-carbon and green economy is exactly the signal governments need in order to move to ambitious action quickly.


“What is needed is an unprecedented re-channelling of investment from today´s economy into the low-carbon economy of tomorrow.”


Last week, Lazard, the asset management firm, reported that a decline in cost and increased efficiency means large wind and solar installations in the US can now, without subsidies, be cost competitive with gas-fired power.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

With wind and solar already growing exponentially and crossing the "net parity" threshold, and with huge financial investors pushing for action, everything is lining up to accelerate our transition to 100% renewable energy, full speed ahead!

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Banning food waste: companies in Massachusetts get ready to compost ("innovation to reduce waste")

Banning food waste: companies in Massachusetts get ready to compost ("innovation to reduce waste") | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In the United States, 40% of food goes to waste. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod


America’s trash stream is stuffed with squandered food – 36m tons of it. According to the federal government, tossed food reaches more landfills and incinerators in America than any other municipal solid waste, and it’s a problem that Massachusetts officials are taking seriously.

 

Diverting more than 800,000 tons of current food waste will require an infrastructure that can handle it. State officials are encouraging organizations to get creative. That may mean partnering with local food banks to salvage still-edible foods, changing the way cafeterias order, prepare and serve food, and connecting businesses with local farms that may be able to use some of the waste as feed for livestock. The state is also providing technical assistance and $1m in grants, and $3m in low-interest loans to spur development of local composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.

 

“I’m all for composting,” says Rauch, “But the absolutely best thing is to reduce the amount of food waste generated. Then distribute it to people who need it. Third is to distribute it to animals that we’re going to eat because it’s a better use of what’s already committed in the carbon footprint. Next is composting and anaerobic digestion, and last is landfill which is the worst thing you can do.”


Via Bert Guevara
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Reducing the huge percentage of food waste should be relatively easy. Growing all our food with 100% sustainable practices will take more time, but is absolutely possible.  

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Bert Guevara's curator insight, September 15, 11:01 AM

As I said before, this needs to be done here in the Philippines where more than 50% (reaching up to 70%) of landfill waste is biodegradable.

"Cash calls the new ban “a win six ways”: it reduces the need for landfills, saves money on disposal costs, reduces greenhouse gases, provides a source for clean renewable energy, creates clean energy jobs, and produces useful products like fertilizer and compost."

Angeliki Moutsika's curator insight, September 23, 8:48 AM

America deals with the problem of food waste by banning it. Maybe we should consider of something like that for Greece because otherwise nothing will be done.

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Tackling climate change would grow global economy, World Bank says

Tackling climate change would grow global economy, World Bank says | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Fighting climate change would help grow the world economy, according to the World Bank, adding up to $2.6tn (£1.5tn) a year to global GDP in the coming decades.

 

The report also advances on the work of economists who have argued that it will be far more costly in the long run to delay action on climate change.

 

The pro-climate regulations and tax incentives would also on their own deliver nearly a third of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to keep warming below the 2C threshold for dangerous climate change, the bank said.


The World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, said the findings put to rest claims that the world could not afford to act on climate change. “These policies make economic sense,” Kim said in a conference call with reporters. “This report removes another false barrier, another false argument not to take action against climate change.”

 

In the World Bank report, economists looked at the effects of specific policies in six regions – Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and the United States – that are both leaders in the world economy and global emissions.


None of the policies involved putting an economy-wide price on carbon emissions. Instead, the bank used computer modelling to gauge the effects of specific measures – such as installing dedicated bus lanes in India or clean cook stoves in China, or introducing more efficient air conditioning and other building systems in Mexico.


Via Kim Flintoff
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

These policies, good as they are, only address a third of the reductions in GHG emissions needed, as it says.  This is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough by itself.  Maybe it will help change the momentum which will help push us the rest of the way, and maybe we can reinvest the savings towards fully addressing all of our deeper problems.

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Kim Flintoff's curator insight, September 20, 6:21 AM

The Australian PM is maliciously ignoring science and overwhelming economic modellling that says his opinion is just wrong...


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Shift to Mass Transit Could Have Major Economic and Climate Benefits - CleanTechies

Shift to Mass Transit Could Have Major Economic and Climate Benefits - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Expanding public transportation and infrastructure that promotes walking and biking throughout the world’s cities could save $100 trillion and cut transportation-related carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2050, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. 

 

This chart compares projected urban transportation-related emissions in 2050 under two scenarios: “business as usual,” shown in red, and the “high shift” scenario, shown in green. Under the “high shift” scenario, countries make major improvements in urban mass transit and infrastructure that promotes walking and biking. Transportation-related emissions from 2010, in black, are shown for comparison. (Image source: UC-Davis, ITDP)


Redirecting funds from road construction, parking garages, and other infrastructure elements that encourage car ownership to public transportation would save trillions in public and private dollars, the analysis found.


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

100% electric vehicles would also help, even if the electricity doesn't come from renewable sources, because burning anything wastes about half the energy.  But by 2050, we should have a 100% renewable energy system. 

 

Mass transit systems that use large vehicles actually waste energy in off-hours when there are fewer passengers, so small vehicle mass transit systems like Personal Rapid Transit should be encouraged instead.

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Zero energy buildings at zero cost - a radical Dutch approach

Zero energy buildings at zero cost - a radical Dutch approach | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
The Netherlands has found a way to refurbish existing buildings to net zero energy, within a week, with a 30-year builders’ guarantee and no subsidies.

 

How does the plan work? The basic trick is that tenants instead of paying their energy bills, pay a similar amount to the housing corporations that own the houses. With this money, the corporations pay building companies to retrofit the houses, which after renovation have net zero energy costs. The building companies have for this project developed ‘industrialised’ renovation procedures that are highly cost-effective. One important difference with existing renovation projects is that all elements that are needed for a successful move to zero-energy housing are brought together  in one plan.

 

We say to builders your biggest competitor is not your fellow builder but energy companies. Because it is their money you can use to get your revenue going. I think builders now understand it’s not about getting back to business as usual. They have at their disposal the €13 billion a year which customers spend on energy. That now becomes their market. It’s a completely new pool of money they can tap into and it’ll probably double or triple the pie they have to share amongst themselves.

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Fighting Global Warming Will Improve Health of People Everywhere

Fighting Global Warming Will Improve Health of People Everywhere | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
What if we could reduce worldwide deaths from disease, starvation and disaster while improving the health of people everywhere? According to the World Health Organization, we can.

 

In a Huffington Post article, Ban Ki-moon stresses that global warming is an immediate and urgent issue. “Instead of asking if we can afford to act, we should be asking what is stopping us, who is stopping us, and why?” he writes. “Let us join forces to push back against skeptics and entrenched interests. Let us support the scientists, economists, entrepreneurs and investors who can persuade government leaders and policy-makers that now is the time for action.”


A leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment’s final synthesis report concludes that global warming is already having major impacts worldwide and that, unless we do something about it, we can expect “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”


The choice is clear: If we want to protect our health, our children’s and grandchildren’s health, and the natural systems that keep us alive and healthy, we must act now.

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'Vertical farm' blossoms in Chicago

'Vertical farm' blossoms in Chicago | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
An old meatpacking plant in Chicago is being transformed into an eco farm, which its founders says will produce food sustainably, while creating zero waste.

 

American entrepreneur John Edel is the founder of "The Plant," a vertical-farm initiative that he hopes will show people the ease of adapting to green food production in urban living environments.


Edel says of The Plant's ethos: "It started out minimal (waste) because that's how I've always operated ... Using as little resource as possible to do things. At a certain point I realized if we built an anaerobic digester, we could get our waste down to zero."


Recycling is also a big part of the inner workings of The Plant and tenants work with each other to use their waste output in their food production and farming techniques.


Edel says: "The key to this farm is the closing of loops: energy loops; resource loops; money loops -- by keeping jobs local. If you can close the loops, you can make things more sustainable."


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Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife? | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The eminent evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event.

 

The high point of biodiversity likely coincided with the moment modern humans left Africa and spread out across the globe 60,000 years ago. As people arrived, other species faltered and vanished, slowly at first and now with such acceleration that Wilson talks of a coming “biological holocaust,” the sixth mass extinction event, the only one caused not by some cataclysm but by a single species—us.

 

Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it—half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.

 

“It’s been in my mind for years,” Wilson told me, “that people haven’t been thinking big enough—even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto. I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I think Wilson is only going half way, though giving back 1/2 the earth is a good start.  Zero Footprint really means giving back the entire planet.  This is entirely possible, though it will be more challenging the closer we get to absolutely zero footprint.  The further down the road we go, the more we will see the necessity and desirability of going further.

 

All we should really need in the near future is the relatively small amount of space we require to live in. The number of people living in cities is now more than 50%, and it is expected to grow to 84% by 2050.  We can grow all the food we need and gather all the energy and most of other resources we need within the space of our cities. Recycling 100% of our resources means we won't need any more.

 

After we have restored the world to wilderness, we will then be able to leave it as wilderness, or live within the wilderness.

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Excerpts: Maclay's 'The New Net Zero'

Excerpts: Maclay's 'The New Net Zero' | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Human civilization has been powered by different primary energy sources over time. Transitioning from one energy source to another is and has been a part of human evolution, and when our energy sources change, so do our settlement patterns.

 

Today we are transitioning from fossil energy to something else — and in our opinion the only current viable energy option is renewable energy.

 

"Net zero" does not mean using no energy. That's impossible in our modern, high-tech world, just as it was impossible in ancient times and throughout the evolution of all life and the universe. Rather, "net zero" refers to producing, through renewable sources, more energy than is consumed — or becoming a net renewable energy producer. This new term broadly indicates a future without fossil fuels.

 

But with climate change upon us, we have no choice except to wean ourselves from fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can. We need solutions that are viable and practical and can start being implemented today. The only energy sources that seem capable of fulfilling this need are renewables.

 

No matter how much the energy load is reduced, buildings will still need some energy. Under almost all definitions of "net zero" (including ours), this energy must be produced from renewable sources.

 

Yet the best renewable energy sources are often not located where buildings are. To build a net zero city we cannot meet net zero goals individually on each building property, nor should we, as this individualistic approach does not provide for the best use of resources.

 

Approaching the goal of a net zero world by making each separate building meet net zero standards guarantees failure.

 

Furthermore, while the term "net zero" may refer to one building, nothing restricts the definition to this small scale. The term can extend to an office complex, a residential neighborhood, a college campus, an entire town, a state, a country, or the whole world.

 

Once net zero is viewed on the scale of a larger project, we can share efficiencies between buildings and place renewable sources to allow for more efficient energy production.

 

Ultimately, our buildings, villages, regions, and planet need to live within a homeostasis where all flows and cycles are in balance.

 

In other words, we need to think beyond net zero buildings and also consider net zero waste, net zero water, net zero food, and other aspects of a net zero society so that we can achieve the ability to truly live within our means.

 

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NREL 2012: 80% Clean, Renewable Energy for U.S. by 2050: More Than Possible, But Need More Political Will (& Public Demand)

NREL 2012: 80% Clean, Renewable Energy for U.S. by 2050: More Than Possible, But Need More Political Will (& Public Demand) | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

 NREL released a report last week (June 2012) showing that we could power 80% of the US with already commercially available clean, renewable energy technology by 2050. Now, before getting into the key findings from the report, I think it's useful to put this into a bit of perspective and historical context.

 

Even more ambitious than the above, Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi wrote in 2009 about how the whole world could be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2030. These guys aren’t wackos, either. Mark Z. Jacobson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program, and Mark A. Delucchi is a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. I have seen no indication that they were technically wrong.

 

Another very reputable body, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), noted this year that research it has conducted has found that clean, renewable energy could cheaply supply 48 states of the continental U.S. with 70% of its electricity demand by 2030 (and that’s without including hydroelectric).

 

Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country. 

Notably, many technologies that we expect will soon be commercially viable weren’t even included in the identified renewable energy potential, because the study focused on commercially available technologies. This includes floating offshore wind turbines, enhanced geothermal, wave energy, tidal energy, ocean thermal energy conversion, and more. Add all of that in and I’m sure 100% renewable energy is more than viable.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is an older report, but I am scooping it for the record and the references to related studies.

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The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter?

The Solar Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter? | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The solar industry has been very hot. Record amounts of new solar capacity have been installed over the past two years. The accelerating pace of adoption of solar panels for distributed generation (installed at the point of use, rather than sold into the power grid) and the downward trend of module prices have created exuberance over the industry’s future.

 

The rapidly decreasing costs of solar cells and corresponding growth of the global solar industry have lead people to invoke Moore’s law and predict that the installed capacity of solar PV on homes and businesses will double every two years.  The total installed capacity worldwide and in the U.S. doubled over the last two and a half years.


The longer-term future of the solar industry, and especially the future of distributed solar PV, is exciting and the economic potential is simply immense. The industry will certainly go through a period of exponential growth.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Doubling solar capacity every 2.5 years is a growth rate of about 32%. If that same growth rate continues, starting at 100,000 MW in 2013, the global solar capacity will exceed the current total electrical capacity (5,000,000 MW) in just 15 years.

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