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Vertical Farming: Singapore’s Solution to Feed the Local Urban Population

Vertical Farming: Singapore’s Solution to Feed the Local Urban Population | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

For the island of Singapore, where real estate is at a premium and the land rates are exceptionally high, the only viable option is to go vertical to make the island more self-sufficient in food.


In making this goal of a food self-reliant Singapore a reality, Entrepreneur Jack Ng, with the help of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), has come up with one of the world’s first commercial vertical farms. This soil based vertical farm produces one ton of vegetables every other day and is five to ten times more productive than a regular farm.


The rotation system does not need an electrical generator. It is powered by a unique gravity aided water-pulley system that uses only one litre of water, which is collected in a rainwater fed overhead reservoir. This method also boasts a very low carbon footprint as the energy needed to power one A-frame is the equivalent of illuminating just one 60-watt light bulb. The water powering the frames is recycled and filtered before returning to the plants. All organic waste on the farm is composted and reused.


It’s still up for debate whether vertical farms are more efficient at producing food than traditional greenhouses. As Gene Giacomelli, a plant scientist at the University of Arizona points out, “The limiting factor is light.


Check out this video report on the technology: http://www.youtube.com/embed/2nFQOkzEjxQ"


Via Charles van der Haegen
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Charles van der Haegen's curator insight, July 25, 5:59 AM

Let's learn the lessons from the failures of the past.

Why are we facing so many intractable problems of our own making?

Because we have caught ourselves in Technological/Institutional Lock-Ins: Prisons of our own making, systems that are living their own life, that have escaped our control, in which we get enslaved...

 

What is the mistake we made:

Not following the way nature works, diversity, agility, small, cooperation, dying as a way to giving birth...

Collingridge has put the finger on our wound. He warned us of and developed indicators for decision making to avoid getting caught in such Technological/Institutional Lock-ins.

For a summary

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gnqvx8tarbvfchf/Michael%20Thompson%20THE%20CONTROL%20DILEMMA%20AND%20HOW%20TO%20CIRCUMVENT%20IT%20Except%20from%20the%20article.pdf

 

 

:

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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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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...


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

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

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

 

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


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


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

 

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

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Zero energy buildings at zero cost - a radical Dutch approach

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

 

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

 

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

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Fighting Global Warming Will Improve Health of People Everywhere

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

 

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


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


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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

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

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Remaking the industrial economy | McKinsey & Company

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

 

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

 

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

 

Circular thinking

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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