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Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies

Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

If the Internet was a country, its electricity use would rank sixth highest in the world. That huge power demand, and the potential to drive a renewable energy solution to its sourcing is the basis for Greenpeace’s report on tech companies that are moving toward one hundred percent renewable energy to power the Internet.

 

Five companies—Apple, Facebook, and Google, along with B2B companies Rackspace and Salesforce—have committed to a goal of powering their operations with one hundred percent renewable energy.

 Microsoft was noted for its carbon neutrality effort, for which it increased its renewables by 70 percent from 2011 to 2012. And SAP’s recent announcement that it would power all its data centers and facilities worldwide with one hundred percent sustainable electricity by the end of this year.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It's great that the tech companies are leading the way, but everyone should be making a similar commitment to reach the 100% renewable energy goal.

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Zero Footprint
We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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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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More consumption not necessary for human well-being, says UN report

More consumption not necessary for human well-being, says UN report | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Greater food system efficiency and curbs to the expansion of cropland are necessary to prevent the collapse of global ecosystems, says a report presented today (24 January) by the UN at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

 

The report, by the UN Environment Programme’s science think tank the International Resource Panel (IRP), says that policymakers must break the link between greater resource consumption and human well-being.

 

The IRP calls on governments to take immediate action to prevent the degradation of land and soils and to carry out measures to regenerate destroyed areas, rather than moving agricultural production to new sites, through deforestation, for example.


“Today’s report shows how Europe is consuming more than its fair share of land, at the expense of other world regions, and suggests that Europe needs to reduce its consumption of cropland by around a third,” read a statement by Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE), an environmental campaign group.


Via David Rowing
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U.S. Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050, Study Says - CleanTechies

U.S. Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050, Study Says - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The United States can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, using existing or near-commercial technologies, according to researchers with the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. The study analyzed scenarios with four types of decarbonized electricity: renewable energy, nuclear energy, fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage, and a mixed case.

 

The energy efficiency of buildings, transportation, and industry would need to increase through the use of smart materials and energy-efficient designs, and vehicles will need to be fueled with electricity generated from wind, solar, or nuclear, as opposed to coal, the researchers said. They project the net costs would be on the order of 1 percent of gross domestic product per year.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If we can do this, at a cost of only 1% GDP per year, that's good news, but then we can easily do a lot more, a lot sooner.  We really do need to cut emissions all the way down to 0 in only a couple decades, and we need to go further and sequester everything we have already emitted, and somehow cool the oceans where most of the excess heat is being stored.

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Why it pays to join the circular economy - Forum:Blog

Why it pays to join the circular economy - Forum:Blog | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The circular economy in developing countries will explode over the coming decade, creating up to 7 million new jobs in China alone, writes Danish MP Ida Auken.

 

We all know that the current linear economic model is not sustainable. Materials are extracted, manufactured into products and then discarded into landfill – it’s a system that wastes valuable resources, causes environmental damage and will make it near impossible to satisfy the demands of the 3 billion new consumers in developing nations, who are expected to join the middle class by 2030.

 

The concept of the circular economy is about decoupling growth from resource consumption – and maximizing the positive environmental, economic and social effects. It’s about designing products so that they are easier to reuse or recycle, like Timberland’s Earthkeeper shoes. It’s about making sure that every product ingredient is biodegradable or fully recyclable, like the chemicals company that has replaced fossil-fuel feedstocks in their production methods. It’s about maximizing useful product life by repairing or remanufacturing, like Caterpillar’s parts-refurbishing programme.

 

There are those already catching on to this competitive advantage. Take, for example, anyone involved in the World Economic Forum and Young Global Leader’s first annual Circular Economy Awards, which recognizes ideas leading the transformation towards a truly restorative industrial economy.

 

More on the circular economy
Blog: Why China is embracing circularity
Forum report: Towards the circular economy
Ellen MacArthur: It’s time to invest in regeneration

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One Solution to Climate Change and Growing Healthier Food Is Right Under Our Feet | Barbara Streisand Blog | HuffPost.com

One Solution to Climate Change and Growing Healthier Food Is Right Under Our Feet | Barbara Streisand Blog | HuffPost.com | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Imagine if we could quickly reduce the threat of climate change and grow healthier crops at the same time, without the sacrifice the coal and oil industry tells us are inevitable! Turns out we can, and the solution is literally right under our feet.

 

As we know now, too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is disastrous for our planet. CO2 traps heat and results in the ice caps melting, more extreme weather, sea levels rising and a variety of consequences that will disrupt life as we know it.

 

Much of the CO2 in the atmosphere (as much as 30 percent) is leaked by industrial farming. Climate scientists tell us there should be no more than 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and we are already at 400 ppm. What does this mean? We are racing against the carbon clock to combat climate change.

 

However... CO2 in the ground, where it naturally occurs, is in fact necessary for fertile soil, and results in healthier and more drought-resistant cropland. We can keep CO2 in the ground through a natural process that traps it in a "carbon sink." That process is organic or "carbon farming."

 

We all remember learning about photosynthesis in school. Plants manufacture much of their food from sunlight, water and CO2, turning those molecules into food. The CO2 is exchanged with the fungi and bacteria in the soil that need it to make richer soil and, in turn, healthier plants. In doing so, the CO2 is captured in the ground. In this natural ecological barter system, carbon is sequestered, helping plants grow while keeping the soil healthy. Industrial farming literally prevents this underground transaction from happening by releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

Organic farms, like the famous Rodale Farming System Trial in Pennsylvania, showed that building up soil carbon has other benefits too. It also acts like a water sponge and helps maintain crop yields when conventionally grown crops are dying of thirst during droughts. Unfortunately, extreme droughts may become the new normal as climate change alters our weather patterns, giving us yet another reason to implement organic farming on a large scale. According to the USDA-funded Marin Carbon Project, the overuse use of insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers also release what is normally sequestered carbon -- adding to the problems of climate change.

 

The good news is that if humans get out of the way, CO2 can be tucked back in the soil to do good, instead of being trapped in the atmosphere doing harm. A U.N. report noted using carbon sinks through natural farming methods could reduce the carbon in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels in just 50 years!

 

The critics say we need industrial agriculture to feed the growing population of the world. We're told that we cannot go back to natural, regenerative, organic farming as the way we grow our food. In short, this isn't true.

 

The world has less of a food problem, than a food distribution problem, and studies show that yields are comparable between the two methods when done to scale. The United Nations Environment Program points out that "in the United States 30 percent of all food... is thrown away each year [and] about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water."

 

Click headline to read more--

 


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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How energy storage will accelerate decline of fossil fuels : Renew Economy

How energy storage will accelerate decline of fossil fuels : Renew Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Citigroup analysis says energy storage will have profound impact on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas. It's good news for renewables though.

 

As we reported here, Ciigroup expects the cost of batteries storage to fall significantly in coming years. By 2020, it predicts solar and battery storage will reach “socket parity” in some countries, and at the utility scale level it will reach “grid parity” in large parts of the world.


Renewables: Citigroup says storage is the Holy Grail for intermittent renewables, and deployed at large levels would reduce both the cost of intermittency and the physical grid constraints that prevent deeper renewables penetration.


Coal: If storage can be competitively used to “firm” intermittent resources, renewables can become a true substitute for baseload generation [replacing coal].


Oil: Where oil is still used in the global power sector, it is often used in a peaking capacity, and because of its high price is at the top of the bidding stack. That means it will be the most vulnerable to storage. It will be one of the first casualties of widely deployed storage for arbitrage purposes (both utility scale and distributed).


Via Fidan Aliyeva
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Fossil fuels are already feeling the squeeze from renewable energy, and efficiency.  Competitive energy storage will make it that much easier to transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

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Climate Action = Economic Gains | EarthTechling

Climate Action = Economic Gains | EarthTechling | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
CLIMATE ACTION = ECONOMIC GAINS

 

Evidence continues to pour in that policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only aren’t detrimental to economic growth but in fact can fuel it. A new study by World Resources Institute, Seeing Is Believing: Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States, adds compelling evidence by providing examples of areas where government policies and technological progress are already offering the chance to reduce emissions and address climate change while also producing economic benefits.

 

The new study builds on another recent report from the New Climate Economy Better Climate, Better Growth: The New Climate Economy Report, which came to a similar conclusion about the global economy. And it comes the day after two reports were issued by the Climate Policy Institute showing that moving to clean-energy, low-carbon policies that help mitigate the effects of climate change could actually provide fuel for the economy.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We have to be cautious about such claims, because we need to consider *all* the losses as well as gains.  No fair being selective.  For example, the study mentions that switching to natural gas power plants will save money while supposedly being cleaner than coal plants, but I doubt they include the cost of sequestering 100% of the carbon dioxide either way.  

 

But we *can* do even better economically *and* environmentally by switching to 100% renewable energy as fast as feasible.

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Solar and Wind Plunging Below Fossil Fuel Prices | Ramez Naam

Solar and Wind Plunging Below Fossil Fuel Prices | Ramez Naam | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

First, the plunge in renewable prices continues, and over the last 5 years, wind has resumed its plunge as well. Their numbers show an average price decline over the last 5 years of 78% for utility scale solar and 58% for wind.


Second, unsubsidized prices are cost competitive with grid wholesale prices.


Third, It’s all about storage now. (Or soon, at any rate.)   Inside of a decade, in most of the US and most of the world, solar or wind will be cheaper than coal or natural gas on an instantaneous, non-stored basis. This trend appears inexorable.  


Fortunately, as I’ve written before, energy storage prices are dropping exponentially.    By the time we reach 20% grid penetration of renewables, we seem on path to have storage costs down to roughly 1/10th of their current level. That’s a price at which a mix of solar, wind, and storage could outprice even current ‘baseload’ power in large fractions of the country and the world.

 
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We can do without storage much longer, if we have to, by using biofuels for its stored energy, and by shifting demand to times when more energy is available.  But battery storage will be cheap enough soon enough anyway.

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Solar Energy Could Be Largest Source of Global Electricity by 2050 » EcoWatch

Solar Energy Could Be Largest Source of Global Electricity by 2050 » EcoWatch | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the sun could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear, according to  two new reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA). 


Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems would account for to 16 percent, while Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) could provide an additional 11 percent.


However, the IEA has stressed that this is not a ‘forecast,’ but rather a roadmap to enable change. Investment in solar power is crucial if the estimation is to become reality.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I believe solar is likely to grow much more than this, but we can take the IEA roadmap as a minimum.  More investment in solar is very likely since it will be the cheapest and most widely available source of energy.

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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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Peru lifts renewable energy target to 60% by 2025, aims for 100% long term

Peru lifts renewable energy target to 60% by 2025, aims for 100% long term | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Peru is looking to lift its renewable energy target from 46% to 60% over the next 10 years, and use solar - not coal - to solve energy poverty.

 

The plans include a program to install 500,000 solar arrays to lift the access to electricity to 99 per cent from the current level of 92 per cent by 2019. Most of these are in rural areas. Of course, they see no need to use coal to end energy poverty.


In the longer term, Peru says it aims to substitute gas with a mix of renewables including hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal. It is estimated that Peru has some 3,000GW of geothermal energy potential, but this has yet to be exploited.



Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Increasingly, "no need for coal" will lead to the demise of that part of the fossil fuel industry.

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World Bank to ditch coal for clean energy

World Bank to ditch coal for clean energy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The World Bank will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need” because climate change will undermine efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, says its President Jim Yong Kim.


Kim was backed by Rachel Kyte, World Bank group vice president and special envoy for climate change. “It will only be in circumstances of extreme need that we would contemplate doing coal again. We would only contemplate doing [it] in the poorest of countries where their energy transition as part of their low-carbon development plan means that there are no other base load power sources available at a reasonable price,” she said.


“The bank has taken an important first step in essentially stopping its support for coal-fired power plants, but climate change is caused by more than just coal,” said Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International. “The vast majority of currently proven fossil fuel reserves will need to be left in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, but last year the bank provided nearly $1 billion in support for finding more of these unburnable carbon reserves.”


Via SustainOurEarth
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

More and more money is turning away from fossil fuels, which signals the eventual collapse of the industry, and the sooner the better.

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Recycling Opens the Door to a Circular Economy

Recycling Opens the Door to a Circular Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Recycling is critically important, but it's only one part of a larger, globally emergent environmental paradigm known as the Circular Economy. 

 

The name is literal, referring to an industrial economy that goes far beyond recycling and which only creates secondary materials from primary ones. The Circular Economy is restorative by intention and based on eliminating material loss. To that end, it employs renewable energy, minimizes or eliminates toxic chemicals and avoids waste through careful design. It looks closely at how we design, make, sell, re-use and recycle products to determine how to secure the maximum value, both in use and at the end of their life.

 

With this all-encompassing approach, the Circular Economy aims to eradicate waste -- not just from manufacturing processes but systematically, throughout the life cycle of products and their components. Consciously designing durable goods to be restorative will keep components and products in longer use, and ensure that biological materials can re-enter the biosphere at the end of their lives.

 

Can it work? "Towards the Circular Economy," a 2014 report from the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, estimates that shifting to this model could add over $1 trillion a year to the global economy by 2025 and create 100,000 new jobs within the next five years if companies put their energies behind developing circular supply chains and increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture.

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Biodiversity for a Livable Climate - Conference 2014

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate - Conference 2014 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Promoting the power of nature to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere where it does untold damage, and restore it to the soils where it supports abundant life and helps reverse global warming.

 

Our primary urgent goal in the face of widespread breakdown in addressing climate change is to further the understanding necessary to embark on the global regeneration process made possible by enabling the forces of biology. Collectively we will present affordable strategies for eco-restoration that local, national and international governments, agencies, communities and individuals may rapidly implement in order to reverse global warming.

 

There is a way, which has yet to take its rightful place at the heart of the climate debate: the capacity of the natural world to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in soils worldwide.

 

The biosphere is a powerful geological force. While it is not yet widely understood, the life force has been terraforming the earth for the past 3.5 billion years, from vast rock formations to an oxygen atmosphere to soils and weather and everything in-between. Forces of living systems, managed for healthy biodiversity and natural cycles, will capture prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide. If we set up favorable conditions, nature will store greenhouse gases in complex and stable biomolecules in soils, the largest terrestrial carbon sink on the planet, as it has done for eons.

 

We already have the knowledge and experience to move ahead confidently with all due haste. Scientists and practitioners of eco-restoration have decades of experience, repeatedly having demonstrated dramatic successes in bringing dying lands back to life in only a few years, regenerating ecosystems such as dry grasslands, humid jungles, and temperate forests.

 

To accomplish this on a global scale would not only address a rapidly deteriorating climate, but restore flourishing habitats for the millions of species that we depend upon across the world, and bring untold benefits, including food production and economic security, to people everywhere. Best of all, it is low-tech and low-cost – and when given a chance, the biodiverse life in the world’s soils will do 99% of the work.

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Reducing Food Loss and Waste: An Overlooked Strategy for Creating a Sustainable Food System | World Resources Institute

Reducing Food Loss and Waste: An Overlooked Strategy for Creating a Sustainable Food System | World Resources Institute | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Today is World Food Day, a day to take a close look at our global food system and see what's working, what's not, and what needs to change. Much of the emphasis around feeding the world tends to focus around increasing food production. But just as important – and often left out of the conversation – is how we treat what’s already been produced.

 

Globally, according to WRI analysis, about 24 percent of all the calories produced for human consumption don’t actually end up reaching human mouths. As the chart [above] shows, this happens throughout the value chain, from farm to fork, and in all parts of the world.


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Not only can we reduce our enormous food waste, but we can produce better food in much better ways, both for the environment and for us.

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Alan Marson's curator insight, October 18, 4:41 PM

Globally, according to WRI analysis, about 24 percent of all the calories produced for human consumption don’t actually end up reaching human mouths. As the chart below shows, this happens throughout the value chain, from farm to fork, and in all parts of the world.

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Intensive Silvopasture – a Win-Win for Carbon and Yield

Intensive Silvopasture – a Win-Win for Carbon and Yield | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

As I research my book on carbon-sequestering agriculture I am occasionally struck by particularly promising techniques that mitigate climate change, build soils, and actually increase production of human food or other yields. One such system that has me excited this week is intensive silvopasture.

 

Intensive silvopasture combines improved pasture with extremely high densities of woody nitrogen-fixing legumes, typically Leucaena leucocephala. These trees are planted at a remarkable 8-10,000 per hectare (up to one per square meter).

 

Intensive silvopasture sequesters carbon at the high end of silvopasture potential, with a study in Colombia reporting 8.8 tons per hectare per year. When timber trees are incorporated, this soars to 26.6 tons per hectare per year, an extremely impressive number.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

While grazing ruminants are part of this equation for restoring grasslands and sequestering carbon in the process, we don't have to eat the meat.

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The Solution Is the Soil: How Organic Farming Can Feed the World and Save the Planet

The Solution Is the Soil: How Organic Farming Can Feed the World and Save the Planet | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Just over a week ago, the executive director of the Rodale Institute, Mark 'Coach' Smallwood, set out from the group's research farm in eastern Pennsylvania on a 160-mile journey to Washington, DC with a walking stick, a brimmed hat, and a simple but profound message: We can not only stop climate change. We can reverse it.

 

"There is a technology for massive planetary geoengineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization. The solution is farming. Not just business-as-usual industrial farming, but farming like the Earth matters. Farming like water and soil and land matter. Farming like clean air matters. Farming like human health, animal health and ecosystem health matters. Farming in a way that restores and even improves on soil’s natural ability to hold carbon."

 

The concept that is most critical to understand about what Rodale's research, explained Smallwood recently, "Is that we're not talking about slowing things down. We're talking about the capability of regenerative organic agriculture being able to actually reverse and draw down the excesses" of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are now overwhelming the capacity of the planet's atmosphere.

 

"We don’t have to wait for technological wizardry," reads the report, "regenerative organic agriculture can substantially mitigate climate change, now."

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We *can* reverse climate change, and we *must* do so.  But we need to push in this direction as well as all the rest, because the sooner the better, and all efforts will meet with resistance.  

 

We also need to shut down the entire fossil fuel industry, and replace it with 100% renewable energy. We need to shift our economy to account for 100% of inputs and outputs, so we can recycle 100% of our resources with 0 waste.  We need to restore our forests and grasslands, repair the oceans and all biohabitats as soon as we possibly can, and it can't be soon enough because we are already way behind.

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World of clean energy 'feasible' by mid-century

World of clean energy 'feasible' by mid-century | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

International researchers, in what they believe is the most comprehensive global assessment of clean energy’s potential, report that a low-carbon system could supply the world’s electricity needs by 2050.

 

They and international research colleagues report that they have made – as far as they know – the first global life-cycle assessment of the economic and environmental costs of renewable and other clean sources of energy in a world that responds to the threat of climate change.

 

Other studies have looked at the costs in terms of health, pollutant emissions, land use change or the consumption of metals. The Norwegian team set out to consider the lot.

 Their conclusion? Energy production-related climate change mitigation targets are achievable, given a slight increase in the demand for iron and cement, and will reduce the current emission rates of air pollutants.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This study does not even consider complete elimination of fossil fuel burning, which we need to do as soon as possible.  So we should consider this a baseline: "At the very least, we can do this much".

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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, 10:07 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, 2:01 PM

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, 11:48 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, 9:21 AM

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