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Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, July 2010 | Beyond Zero Emissions | Zero Footprint |

"The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan represents the kind of visionary work that should be eagerly embraced.  It is the first time that I have seen a plan that makes the possibility of zero emissions feasible and affordable.  In particular, solar energy offers so much promise in the dry and sunny continent.  Politicians have been postponing decisions in this area for too long." - Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal 

"100% renewable energy with zero emissions is achievable in Australia in about a decade if politics takes concerted actions…Moreover, Australia can become the initiator for a serious attempt to shift the world to a solar economy. This is the only promising strategy for climate protection and would provide societies around the world with solutions for climate protection, economic development, poverty reduction and conflict resolution. We need action now!" - Hans-Josef Fell


"Every nation in the world should make a plan like this.  If one can get a 100% renewable, zero carbon electricity system by investing 3% of GDP (and 10% of gross investment) for ten years, there is no good reason not to do it. Except, maybe, the straitjacket of old ways of thinking and doing.

This plan lays out a high solar-wind renewable future and then does more.  It looks carefully at the materials requirements of such a future, an aspect of the matter too often left unaddressed.

Australia could be the first large economy to show the way." - John O. Blackburn


"I get to work with people all over the world in the fight against global warming, a fight growing increasingly desperate as temperatures climb and rainfall patterns shift. Since Australia leads the world in per capita emissions, it makes sense that its transition planners would be thinking big. This transition obviously won't be easy or simple or cost-free, but given the alternatives it's very nice to know it's technically feasible!" - Bill McKibben 


"I strongly endorse the broad concept of such a solar and wind plan and applaud the work of the University of Melbourne and Beyond Zero Emissions.  Our own work underway to calculate the feasibility of a 100% solar - wind plan for the United States has so far had the aim of  testing technical feasibility, and the match seems to be 99-100%. " - Dr David Mills




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Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030

Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030 | Zero Footprint |

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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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 |

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.  

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."

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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 |

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.

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 |

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 |
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 |
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 |
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 |

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 |

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 |

 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 |

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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Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century | Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice | McKinsey & Company

Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century | Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice | McKinsey & Company | Zero Footprint |

The prophets of doom are wrong. They believe the rapid rise over the next two decades of a new 2.5-billion-person urban middle class—and the unprecedented demand this growth will generate for oil, gas, steel, land, food, water, cement, clean air, and other commodities—must inevitably spur a global economic and environmental crisis. Our new book, Resource Revolution, takes that challenge seriously—but comes to exactly the opposite conclusion.


Instead, we believe, the chance to meet soaring demand in a sustainable way by transforming how companies and societies prosper represents nothing less than the biggest business opportunity in one hundred years. The combination of information technology, nanoscale materials, and biotech with traditional industrial technology can unleash a step-change in resource productivity and generate enormous new profit pools. 

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Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George

Sahara Dust Produces Massive Bahama Carbon Sink - Russ George | Zero Footprint |
Iron in Sahara dust shown to produce massive Bahama carbon sink with similar effects proposed in ocean regions around the world.


A great mystery about how CO2 in ocean water is converted into solid carbonates is solved which in turn explains the formation of  vast regions of carbonate geology on the world’s seabeds.

This post was inspired by a terrific new and important paper that speaks to the role of Saharan dust, the iron and other mineral micronutrients it carries to the ocean, and how this results in a new explanation of the power and potency of ocean photosynthesis in regulating global CO2.


The dust that blows from land to the oceans proves to have yet another powerful mechanism through which in partnership with ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton it works to manage global CO2. This time the cyanobacteria/blue-green algae are stimulated to fix nitrogen which fuels plankton blooms and directly causes the precipitation and sinking of carbonate minerals sending vast quantities of CO2 to the seabed. 

However dust reaching the oceans and the iron it carries is in dramatic decline!

To make matters worse (from the oceans point of view) our high and rising CO2 improves plant growth on land producing much improved “ground cover” around the world which in turn by covering the ground is preventing dust from blowing out to sea where missing dust and minerals especially iron is the death knell for ocean pastures and their plankton blooms.

The solution to our own and Mother Natures deadly dilemma is of course for us to simple do the right thing. We must and we can restore and revive vital ocean pastures and their phyto-plankton by giving back to them the dust we are denying them. This is amazingly effective, immediately deployable, inexpensive, proven in real ocean large scale work, methodology and technology comes with the bonus that it begins with the fact that it  BRINGS BACK THE FISH, billions of fish to feed our children (feeding the kids, that’s proven too!)

There is a fine write up in FORBES magazine  27 July 2014 about the iron clad proof of CO2 sequestration for geologic time and about my work in this field.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We have a conflict: Since oceans NEED the iron dust blown from the land in order to grow the phytoplankton to sequester carbon and feed fish, if we improve ground cover, growing more land plants, we will end up preventing the dust from blowing out to sea.  


So until we get things balanced again, it appears we MUST fertilize the oceans ourselves.  

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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 |
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 |

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 |
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 |
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 |
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 |
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 |

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 |

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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Can India Achieve 100% Renewable Energy?

Can India Achieve 100% Renewable Energy? | Zero Footprint |

Energy Central. - Darshan Goswami.

By 2050, India could rely entirely on renewable energy to create a sustainable energy future.

In the coming years, India will face seemingly insurmountable challenges to its economy, environment and energy security.  To overcome these challenges India needs to shift to non-polluting sources of energy.  As Jeremy Rifkin, an economist and activist, said in New Delhi in January 2012,  “India is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and, if properly utilized, India can realize its place in the world as a great power,” and adding “but political will is required for the eventual shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”


India has tremendous energy needs and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet those needs through traditional means of power generation.  Over 40% of rural Indian households don’t have electricity.

Renewable energy is the only technology that offers India the theoretical potential to service all its long-term power requirements.  The Indian subcontinent is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources.  For instance, taking advantage of 300-330 sunny days a year, India could easily generate 5000 trillion kWh of solar energy, which is higher than India’s total yearly energy consumption.  Even if a tenth of this potential was utilized, it could mark the end of India’s power problems.  Using the country’s deserts and farm land, India could easily install around 1,000 GW of solar generation – equivalent to around four times the current peak power demand (India’s present generation capacity is about 210 GW).


Wind energy can also help India convert to 100% renewable energy.  According to the environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), while India has no estimates of its offshore wind potential, up to 170 GW could be installed by 2050 along the 7,500 km of coastline.  Hydropower could generate an estimated 148 GW, Geothermal around 10.7 GW and Tidal power about 15 GW.  


If these abundantly available resources were properly developed and utilized, all of India’s new energy production could be derived from renewable energy sources by 2030.  In addition, all existing generation could be converted to renewable energy by 2050 while maintaining a reliable power supply in the interim.  Barriers to implementing the renewable energy plan are seen to be primarily social and political, not technological or economic.


Supplying almost 100 % of India’s energy demand through the use of clean renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and biogas, etc. by 2050 is technically and economically feasible.  But, a number of political barriers must be overcome.  As examples of needed reforms, Denmark’s Parliament has passed the most ambitious green economy plan to generate 35% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020 and 100% by 2050.  Iceland, Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain 100% of their power from renewable energy. Three years after Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the Japanese province of Fukushima has pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040.

 Renewable Energy (especially solar and wind) is a game-changer for India: It has the potential to re-energize India’s economy by creating millions of new jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce the trade deficit and propel India forward as a “Green Nation.”  Providing 100% renewable energy is not a fantasy for someday, but a reality today.  India has a golden opportunity to solve three huge problems – reducing poverty, ensuring energy security and combating climate change. But it must act soon!  India can no longer afford to delay renewable energy deployment to meet its future energy needs.
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Zero Waste World

Zero Waste World | Zero Footprint |
When the economy goes in circles, everybody wins.


Welcome to the emerging world of the circular economy. Faced with rising prices for energy and raw materials, along with pressures from environmentalists and regulators who have passed “extended producer responsibility laws” in Europe and some U.S. states, forward-thinking companies are finding ways to take back, reuse, refurbish or recycle all kinds of things that would otherwise be thrown away. In contrast to the traditional “take-make-dispose” linear economy, which depletes resources, a circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.

Inspired by nature, a circular economy aspires not merely to limit waste but to eliminate the very idea of waste: Everything, at the end of its life, should be made into something else, just as in the natural world, one species’ waste is another’s food.

The transition to a circular economy could generate savings of more than $1 trillion in materials alone by 2025, according to an analysis by the U.K.-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum, which are collaborating to promote circular thinking.

So are we moving closer to the circular economy — or further away? Accurate data is hard to come by, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates indicate that recycling rates grew rapidly from 1980 through 2000, and only gradually since then. Disposal of waste to landfill declined from 89 percent of the amount generated in 1980 to 54 percent — about 135 million tons — in 2012.

Clearly there’s lots of work ahead for advocates of the circular economy. But the vision they are pursuing is a bold one: In a truly circular economy, where waste becomes nutrients and energy is renewable, economic growth would be decoupled from environmental restraints. Companies could sell more stuff without generating pollution. Consumers could buy more stuff, without guilt. What’s not to like?

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

So paying the full cost for products, including the cost to recycle them completely at the end of their life, could end up costing LESS, not more, since we will design products to be reused longer and eventually recycled.

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Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave

Ocean Fertilization: A Dangerous Experiment Gone Right | PlanetSave | Zero Footprint |
A rogue ocean fertilization experiment carried out in 2012 may well prove to be the saviour of the world-renowned Fraser River sockeye salmon run.


When details of this experiment emerged it was widely condemned by scientists, and environmentalists.

And yet, here’s the thing; it appears that this rogue experiment may have worked, and worked much more dramatically than anyone could have foreseen.

One of the most critical nutrients required by phytoplankton is iron. 

For this reason, it has been suggested by a number scientists that adding iron to the ocean could have a beneficial effect on marine life. However the scientists who suggested this approach urged caution, since the effects of ocean fertilization on a large-scale are largely unknown.


Another potential benefit of ocean fertilization is that it could offer a way of sequestering atmospheric carbon. As phytoplankton multiply they use carbon in the process of photosynthesis, just as land-based vegetation does. The theory is that eventually the phytoplankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, where the carbon becomes locked up in sediments on the sea floor. Though not yet scientifically verified, there is reason to believe that large-scale ocean fertilization could sequester significant amounts of atmospheric carbon.


After the experiment became public, it was roundly condemned by environmentalists and scientists alike. However within a few months, satellite imagery showed that a massive 10,000 square kilometer phytoplankton bloom had developed in the Gulf of Alaska, centered around the area which was seeded with iron sulfate. The following year, in 2013, catches of pink salmon from the Pacific Northwest showed a 400% increase over the previous year. The latest estimates for the 2014 Fraser River sockeye run are more than double the numbers for 2010. This would be unprecedented, and would represent by far the biggest ever recorded run of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River.

While its potential effectiveness in removing CO2 from the atmosphere remains unproven, many scientists believe that ocean fertilization may be an inexpensive way of countering a significant percentage of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

There have also been charges that ocean fertilization constitutes geoengineering. If this is the case, what about fertilization of agricultural crops, and the runoff of fertilizer into the ocean? This is unintentional geoengineering, with largely negative consequences.

The removal of atmospheric carbon is not about finding an excuse to carry on with business as usual. It needs to be carried out in parallel with decarbonising our economy. Moving to a low carbon economy does nothing about the extra carbon we have already added to the atmosphere. The only way to deal with that is through direct removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, and the take up of CO2 by photosynthesizing phytoplankton is analogous to encouraging forest growth on land, in that natural processes are being used to reduce atmospheric carbon levels. The process of ocean seeding has exactly the same effect as a large dust storm blowing iron-rich dust into the sea, a process which occurs frequently in the natural world.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I strongly agree with the argument that we MUST do more than merely eliminate carbon emissions.  We MUST do two things: (1) eliminate carbon emissions as soon as possible AND (2) remove the excess CO2 from previous centuries of emissions and any emissions going forward.  

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