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climate change

Oxford climate experts call for action head of COP26

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In the run-up to Glasgow, 10 leading Oxford climate researchers including Professors Myles Allen, Lavanya Rajamani and Nathalie Seddon, have been asked to record their concerns and hopes for the November conference.

The first of these new videos featuring the well-known climate attribution expert, Dr Friederike Otto, predicts that heat waves have become 100 times more likely in some places because of climate change.

She says in the video: ‘We know how much greenhouse gas is in the atmosphere… Climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heat waves.’

Fredi, as she is widely known, is the co-lead of World Weather Attribution (WWA), an international effort to analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events.

Working at the forefront of cutting-edge climate science, in her message, Dr Otto adds: ‘In the last five years, we have developed the tools and understanding of how climate change affects us.’

Fredi’s COP26 ask is: I hope this evidence is used really to up the game on adaptation and adaptation finance.

In later videos, leading Oxford researchers say that, with investment in new technologies and commitment to promises, climate change can be mitigated – if policymakers set the agenda.

Derwent fm takes positive action for World Environment Day

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By Derwent fm

Derwent fm are proud to announce the bold steps we are taking on climate action by signing up to The Climate Group’s business initiative on efficient energy (EP100).

Derwent are joining the EP100 project through the energy management pathway. We have committed to reduce our energy consumption by 40% through our energy management system by 2050. This is based on our 2019/20 baseline year.

Derwent fm are one of the first facilities management companies to sign up to EP100. Joining this initiative is a major step towards helping us deliver our strategy and achieve our goals.

Janice Boucher, MD, Derwent fm, said: “Following our implementation of an energy management system and accreditation to ISO 50001, we wish to join other energy smart companies with a commitment to accelerate improvements in climate change. We are passionate about exploring energy efficient technologies and driving cultural change to reduce emissions, costs and combat climate change.”

Big business seeks to assert clean energy needs

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A group described as featuring the world’s most influential companies says it’s actively engaging with policy makers and utilities to accelerate the transition to renewable energy – but it is calling on governments to remove the remaining barriers.

Going 100% renewable: how companies are demanding a faster market response is the 2019 RE100 Progress and Insights Annual Report from international non-profit The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. It tracks the progress of more than 200 member companies toward 100% renewable electricity.

The report reveals that although members are increasingly opting for cost-effective sourcing methods that directly bring additional renewable energy capacity online, unfavourable policy and market structures are inflating prices and making it harder to switch in places such as China and Russia.

The good news is that half of members (49%) are planning to partner with and influence stakeholders (such as governments and energy companies) by the end of next year, to help create markets for renewables. Such efforts are already bringing about policy changes in the Republic of Korea and the Taiwanese market, where to date access has been difficult.

This week policy makers are gathering at the UN Climate Change conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, to discuss how to bring ambition in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Analysis released last week by the UN Environment Programme showed on current unconditional pledges, the world is heading for a dangerous temperature rise of 3.2˚C.

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, said: “At a time when UN research has said countries are underdelivering on climate action, leading businesses are stepping into the void left by national governments and accelerating the clean energy transition.

“With ten years left to halve greenhouse gas emissions, it is vital that governments respond faster to rising demand for renewable energy. Without decisive action, countries and the energy sector risk losing out on billions of US dollars in investment from RE100 companies.”

Paul Simpson, CEO, CDP, said: “Corporate demand for renewable power is rapidly growing as the world moves to address the climate emergency. Encouragingly, we see renewable energy increasingly becoming a matter of business competitiveness in numerous markets around the world.

“Many companies are now making the shift because it makes business sense – in part due to changing expectations from their key stakeholders – be that investors, customers or employees. Now is the time to meet the demand and speed up the clean energy transition”.

Seven critical areas for energy sector transformation revealed

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A new report has mapped seven critical areas for energy sector transformation and outlines a path that world leaders and companies involved in the energy sector should consider to mitigate the looming climate crisis in the next decade.

The by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) report, ‘Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation,’ was launched during three connected international events in Delhi, Beijing and New York entitled ‘EMERGE’ that brought together senior energy stakeholders to discuss issues faced within the energy sector.

The report frames RMI’s view on the most critical areas for collective action in the next three to five years that will keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

It identifies tipping points for rapid change that can be leveraged across investment, breakthrough policies, cross-sectoral partnerships and more. It calls for decisive actions on the part of citizens, corporations, philanthropic institutions, subnational leaders, regulators and policymakers to work together in new ways that leapfrog outdated boundaries and scale new and existing technologies.

“Working together, public and private institutions can harness market forces to dramatically accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies,” said Richard Kauffman, chair of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. “I’m proud New York is showing how these partnerships are making good progress towards our climate goals.”

The events serve as a starting point for leading energy sector thinkers and catalysts across India, China and the U.S. to explore the seven challenges and develop innovative, market-led ideas that will transform global energy use. Guided by the framework of the report, senior leaders from the public, private and philanthropic sectors will identify the highest leverage points to massively scale zero-carbon solutions together.

This ongoing work — part of a multiyear effort spearheaded by RMI — is being undertaken via a series of global labs for stakeholders to forge powerful, cross-sector connections and drive exponential impact.

“The time for action is now,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of RMI. “The window of opportunity to avoid the most severe consequences is closing quickly. This report, and our efforts to mobilise the world’s top leaders to solve it together, is a critical first step to bring about urgently needed change.”

To download the report, visit https://rmi.org/seven-challenges-report.

GUEST BLOG: Why the new energy generation should not focus on the past

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By Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO, Azuri Technologies

The saying goes, the best way to predict tomorrow’s weather is to assume it will be the same as today. A lot of the time it will be. But this approach gives you no insight into what the future will bring and fails horribly when disruptive change is around the corner and people are left unprepared. That’s why weather forecasts were invented.

Similarly, in the energy sector it’s all too easy to look to traditional markets today for tomorrow’s energy solutions. But in doing so we are in danger of not letting go of the past and failing to be properly prepared for the future. Two hundred years of electricity history and infrastructure makes it difficult for alternative approaches to compete with what is already there.

Instead we must look at places where the established order does not exist, where innovative approaches compete on their own merits and where the future is able to shine through. Look at renewable energy. In the mainstream, there are people with solar panels on their roofs, there are solar farms, wind farms and hydro power, but the renewable energygenerated by these generally goes back into the grid.

To see the true value of renewable energy, look to where the grid does not exist. In sub-Saharan Africa, 600 million people, that’s well over half the population of the continent, have no access to the grid. Here households are increasingly using solar power as their first step to getting energy access. Solar and batteries have many advantages. For one, the cost of connecting to the grid, on average, is about $2,000, whereas a basic solar home system can be purchased for as little as $50. These solar systems may not have the capacity of the grid, but they do deliver something the grid cannot in Africa: clean and reliable power that can be managed by the customer themselves.

Learning to innovate

The past can provide some valuable insights, but these must be applied with new technologies and perspectives. Many households in Africa without any electricity spend around 50 cents per day on fuel for lighting and to get someone to charge their mobile phones. In 2012, companies started offering small solar home systems on a rent-to-buy basis (PayGo). At that time, 50 cents per day would buy you a single small light and some phone charging. Dial forwards to 2019 and the same money will get you a home lighting system with 4 LED lights, phone charging, rechargeable radio and torch. For $1 a day you get a 24-inch smart TV with 60 channels of satellite content.

The cost of solar is coming down at a rate of around 15% annually. Similarly, the cost of batteries is falling rapidly, driven by the demands of the electric car industry, especially in China. If we can go from powering a small light to providing basic household electricity in 7 years, imagine what will be possible in another decade. The same money will likely get you about 4 times the power of today’s systems; enough power to drive a TV, fridge, fan, laptop, lights, phone charging and internet access. Couple that with gas for cooking (and heating if necessary) and you have pretty much covered the household needs for many homes.

A leapfrog generation

The cost of accessing the grid is not reducing. If the cost of connecting to the grid is unaffordable, it may well simply become redundant in the future. After all, standalone power gives you what you need at an affordable price.

At a time when the world’s leaders are meeting regularly to look at the future of the climate, it is good to reflect on global trends in sectors which can have a direct impact. While predicting the climate from historical information remains very difficult because of the complexity of global interactions, looking at the trends in the cost of solar and batteries is much simpler.

These trends tell us that new technology and new ways of energy generation will overtake conventional ways very soon.

In many parts of Africa, it already has. Look at the millions of off-grid households that have already found the cheapest source of electricity that generates no carbon whatever. Of course, there is still some carbon footprint from the equipment’s manufacture, but this is reducing all the time. The gap between what these systems can power compared to normal household use of the grid is rapidly reducing to zero.

On a continent with the highest annual population growth on the planet at about 3%, that’s adding the equivalent of nearly half the population of the UK every year, it’s encouraging to see millions of households skipping the fossil fuel generation and jumping directly into clean electricity and a digital world powered by the sun.

About The Author:- 

Simon leads the team at Azuri Technologies, bringing affordable clean energy to rural off-grid households in Africa. He has 25 years global experience in building rapid-growth, technology-based businesses, including 7 years at Symbian, the phone OS maker, where he was a member of the Leadership Team and VP Global Marketing. Simon also founded Myriad Solutions Ltd and was named a Global Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Simon was formerly an Industrial Fellow at the London based Royal Society and Research Fellow at Cambridge University in the UK. Since Azuri Technologies was launched in 2012, nearly a million people have benefited from clean, reliable energy in rural Africa.  

Government told to be ‘ambitious’ on UK’s emissions goals

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The UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said.

Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, the Committee says now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal – it asserts that achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.

Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall, and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2045.

Wales has slightly lower opportunities than the UK as a whole, and should adopt a target for a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

The CCC says now is a crucial time in the global effort to tackle climate change. Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels, driving changes in our climate that are apparent increasingly. In the last ten years, pledges to reduce emissions by the countries of the world have reduced the forecast of global warming from above 4°C by the end of the century to around 3°C.  Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to further limit the rise to 1.5°C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasised the vital importance of limiting further warming to as low a level as possible and the need for deep and rapid emissions reductions in order to do so.

The CCC’s recommended targets, which cover all sectors of the UK, Scottish and Welsh economies, are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and should be put into law as soon as possible, the Committee says.

Falls in cost for some of the key zero-carbon technologies mean that achieving net-zero is now possible within the economic cost that Parliament originally accepted when it passed the Climate Change Act in 2008.

The Committee’s report, requested by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments in light of the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s Special Report in 2018, finds that:

  • The foundations are in place throughout the UK and the policies required to deliver key pillars of a net-zero economy are already active or in development. These include: a supply of low-carbon electricity (which will need to quadruple by 2050), efficient buildings and low-carbon heating (required throughout the UK’s building stock), electric vehicles (which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier), developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen (which are a necessity not an option), stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, increasing tree planting, and measures to reduce emissions on farms. However, these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
  • Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2050. The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed. Serious plans are needed to clean up the UK’s heating systems, to deliver the infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology and to drive transformational change in how we use our land.
  • The overall costs of the transition to a net-zero economy are manageable but they must be fairly distributed. Rapid cost reductions in essential technologies such as offshore wind and batteries for electric vehicles mean that a net-zero greenhouse gas target can be met at an annual cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050. However, the costs of the transition must be fair, and must be perceived as such by workers and energy bill payers. The Committee recommends that the Treasury reviews how the remaining costs of achieving net- zero can be managed in a fair way for consumers and businesses.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response. The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The Government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”

Welsh government sets out carbon goals

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The Welsh Government has published what it calls a ‘robust and detailed cross-government plan’ to cut emissions and fight climate change.

Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales sets out how the country will meet its first carbon budget and lays the foundations for it will achieve an ambitious target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

It sets out 100 priorities and policies across all areas of government, including:

  • Increasing tree planting to initially at least 2,000 hectares per year and then to double that to 4,000 hectares as rapidly as possible
  • Commissioning an independent feasibility study on carbon capture use and storage
  • Reducing emissions from power generation in Wales, including using our consenting, planning and permitting powers and developing a policy position on the fuels used to generate power
  • Encouraging take-up of electric vehicles by developing a rapid charging network
  • A bold ambition for buses, taxis and private hire vehicles to be zero emission  by 2028
  • Reviewing building regulations to explore how higher energy efficiency standards can be set for new builds
  • Working with partners to include more about sustainability and decarbonisation in the new curriculum
  • Providing fruit and fuel trees for the entire Mount Elgon region in Uganda by 2030.

The First Minister will confirm £4 million to support community-led low carbon projects. This includes £1.3 million for CARE – a community benefit society in Pembrokeshire, to help the Cwm Arian community become a low-carbon community.

A Low Carbon Wales was launched at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff – once the heart of the global coal trade – in a symbol of Wales’ commitment to move forward and become a leader in clean energy technologies.

The plan is the result of collaborative working, with input from people and organisations across Wales, including young people.

The First Minister said: “It’s impossible not to be inspired by the passion we have seen from younger generations, although I wouldn’t advocate young people missing school.

“Our younger generations recognise the action we fail to take to make improvements to our environment now could have catastrophic consequences for their futures.

“In Wales, we developed and introduced ground-breaking legislation, requiring us to consider the impact the decisions and policies we make will have on future generations.

“This is why we are inviting young people to be a part of the conversation, to help embolden us to make the changes that are needed for their future.”

Cardiff University has been selected to lead a new £5 million centre to explore how to achieve the rapid and far-reaching emissions cuts required to address climate change.

It will focus on challenging areas of everyday life that contribute substantially to climate change, but which have proven stubbornly resistant to change. These include consumption of goods and physical products, food and diet, travel, and heating/cooling in buildings.

Welsh Government says it has worked closely with researchers at Cardiff University and its other partner organisations to shape the projects planned by the Centre.

The new Centre’s Director, Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh of Cardiff University, said: “While there is now international momentum on action to tackle climate change, it is clear that critical targets, such as keeping global temperature rise to well within 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, will be missed without fundamental transformations across all parts of society.

“At the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations we recognise that climate change is an emergency that requires action on a far greater scale than has been seen so far. Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales recognises that everyone has a role to play. We will address the fundamental question of how we can live differently and better, in ways that meet the need for these systemic, deep and rapid emission reductions.”