Briefly Noted

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Just more bad news – 2.7 degrees possible by 2100

In its most recent landmark report in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5C requires a 45 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, or a 25 percent reduction by 2030 to limit warming to 2C.

Many of the biggest emitters, such as China, India and Turkey, have yet to formally commit to a 2030 emissions reduction target. Equally worrying, Brazil and Mexico both put forward weaker emissions targets compared to what they submitted five years ago. Russia said it could emit more in 2030 than it does now.

See: Full article from the Washington Post

Extracted from a Washington Post Rept

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) provide a handy road map to decarbonization.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers outline the products derived from a barrel of crude, and show just how we can reduce GHG’s from oil use.

They point out that a barrel of crude, 42 gal, producers just under 45 gal of refined products.

This is made up of:
19.2 gal of finished gasoline (42.7%)
12.3 gal of diesel (27.4%)
2.6 gal of jet fuel (5.8%)
2.25 gal of heavy fuel (5%) Ships etc and a big emitter of carbon.
1.8 gal of asphalt (4%)
1.3 gal light fuel (3%)
0.9gal hydrocarbon (2%) propane, butane etc
4.6 gal other products (10.1%) feed stock plastic, wax, tires etc

So it seems to me that despite the Associations earnest protestation that we cannot go fast. If we can agree that petroleum use is now the single largest source of GHG’s, and 75% of that is in transportation if marine is included, then the sooner the world electrifies, or moves to green hydrogen [if there is such a product], the better off we are going to be.

It also shows clearly what we have to do as individuals if we want to make a contribution, however small.

The Answer to Climate Change Is Organizing

Bill McKibben, writing his final collum for The Atlantic

“….And so do researchers’ fears that we’ve underestimated the vulnerability of the planet. Already we’re seeing real disruption of the most basic forces on Earth: the jet stream, the Gulf Stream, the hydrological cycle. From regularly interviewing scientists, I know that their sense of our peril grows—especially the sense that we must act quickly, making enormous changes by decade’s end.

And, at the same time, I sense the growing ability of the fossil-fuel industry and its friends in politics and finance to finesse the increasing public outrage. Just as, in 1990, the industry built an intricate architecture of climate denial that cost us three decades, now they’re erecting a similar buttress, constructed of something that is not quite denial but is just as dangerous. They imply that we have plenty of time, that they’re moving as fast as they can.

The only way I can think of to meet this challenge is with more mass organizing. Young people are now fully engaged and leading the way; we’re seeing remarkable activism in frontline and indigenous communities.

But there’s a group that, I think, is not pulling its weight, and it’s a group I’m now a part of. Call us “experienced Americans”—the baby boomers and silent generations that make up a huge percentage of the population, own a remarkable share of its financial assets, and vote in large numbers. As a rule, people do become more conservative as they age, but it’s not an inviolable maxim—many of the people in these generations witnessed broad cultural and political change in their early years, and now, conscious of their kids and their grandkids, they may be emerging from the primes of their lives with the skills and the resources to help make big change again.”

He goes on to say he will continue to write for Substack, see a recent example here Substack
He is also involved in an interesting start up Third Act,ThirdAct

Tourism beginning to confront the climate crisis

TIME Mag reports that the string of fires, floods, low snow seasons, extreme heat and low lake levels all combine to make tourism less attractive in many parts of the world.

They go to say, obviously enough, that “They’re also a sign of the sector’s extreme vulnerability to climate change. The growing number of natural disasters each year—which quadrupled between 1970 and 2016—are threatening the natural and cultural heritage that tourism destinations rely on to lure in visitors. Warming global temperatures are lengthening the unpleasantly hot stretches of summer in beach towns, and shortening ski seasons in mountain retreats. Rising sea levels are eroding land in coastal communities. And some travelers are beginning to confront the looming question of whether or not they can keep flying when the technology to decarbonize aviation is decades away from being used at scale”.

Image: Lake Powell – so low that previously flooded cayons now exposed.

We now have a law that will hold politicians to account for taking action to avoid a climate catastrophe.

The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12) passed its final hurdle in the Senate and will become law.

Bill C-12 was tabled late last year. It is intended to be a law that makes sure Canada — which has missed every emissions reduction target it has ever set — will finally and consistently meet its climate targets.

C02 levels hit 50% higher than preindustrial times

In May, before plant life takes off in the Northern Hemisphere global C02 levels are at their highest. This year at the Mauna Loa Observatory, which is high enough to provide mixed air and where measurements have been taken since 1958, the May C02 level was 419.13 ppm. This is 1.82 higher than the year before and 50% higher than preindustrial levels. Note that Scripps, which measures slightly differently, says that the may peak was 418.9.

The 10 year average rate of increase is now up to 2.4 ppm/yr. NOAA climate scientist Peter Tans said, “Carbon dioxide going up like this in a few decades is extreamly unusual.”.

Price of Carbon in Europe reaches a record high

The cost of polluting is on the rise in Europe. Last week the price of carbon in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) surpassed €55 ($67) per tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent. That is a record price for the world’s biggest carbon market and represents an increase of over 100% since December.

That was when European leaders agreed to raise the region’s emissions-reduction target from 40%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030 to 55%. The ETS is the cornerstone of their plans. It requires firms to hold an amount of carbon permits equivalent to their pollution. The supply of these permits is limited, guiding the price. The new emissions target signalled that eventually there would be fewer permits, causing the price to be bid up.

The soaring prices of carbon is good news for the planet, but heavy industries will feel the squeeze. That is, of course, the point. Some sectors such as utilities can decarbonise at low cost. And that is what they have been doing. Since the introduction of the EU’s ETS in 2005, emissions from power generation in Europe have been roughly halved. But for other sectors, such as steel and cement, cutting carbon is pricey. Goldman Sachs, a bank, estimates that decarbonising steel could cost between $90 and $200 per tonne. As a result, many of Europe’s industrial firms are given free carbon allowances.

Sourece The Economist

As goes Namibia so goes …..

The northern part of Namibia is warming by 3.6 C per century, making it one of the world’s hottest global warming hot spots. As a result, drought and food insecurity are increasing. Enter ReconAfrica, a Canadian company that has secured oil rights to that part of Africa and believes it may hold the world’s last significant untapped onshore supply. Will it help an area that could badly use some assistance, or further endanger the local ecosystem? We can’t do this story justice in this space; you can check it out on Canadian oil company thinks it has struck big

Source: CTV News foto from CTV

Net Zero grows along with cautions and concerns

Commitments to “net-zero emissions” are spreading like a climate-change-induced wildfire across governments, businesses, and communities around the world. And while the concept is a sign of more climate-conscious times, some have warned it is a “dangerous trap” propagating a reliance on “future technological salvation” to avoid taking necessary and urgent action today. But while these concerns are legitimate, net-zero commitments do offer a path to decarbonizing the toughest third of emissions, like steelmaking, with solutions such as hydrogen. The upcoming International Energy Agency report, The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, will undoubtedly shed light on such potential pathways.
From Clean Energy Review – news and insights you need

The idea of small nuclear reactors will not go away any time soon

Business groups seem more convinced than environmentalists that these reactors can truly be a sustainable part of Canada’s energy future. Regardless of which group is right, nuclear power in some form will certainly remain a part of this country’s landscape for generations to come.

According to Natural Resources Canada, nuclear is the source of approximately 15 per cent of Canada’s electricity. There are 19 nuclear reactors in operation at six power plants, all but one of which are located in Ontario.

Unlike hydroelectric or coal power, nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. It does, however, create radioactive waste that can remain toxic for thousands of years.

Government regulations require this waste to be stored in ways that minimize the risk it could ever pose to the health of Canadians or the environment. It is kept in a pool for up to a decade, then transferred to dry containers and buried deep underground. Since this system was introduced, there have not been any reported leaks in Canada.

Source:CBC news

China must shut down nearly 600 of its coal-fired power plants in the next 10 years, replacing them with renewable electricity generation, to meet its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, a report has said.

But replacing the 364GW of coal generation with renewable power would achieve a net saving of $1.6tn (£1.2tn) over the period, since wind and solar power are now much cheaper than coal, according to the analysis company TransitionZero.

The coal consumption of China, the world’s biggest emitter, is of global concern. The country has ramped up plans for new coal-fired power stations in an effort to spur economic growth after the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: The Guardian

Canada’s Green House Gas emissions refuse to go anywhere … other than up

The national inventory report filed for the UN Framework Convention reports that 2019 emissions where up slightly to 730 million tonnes of GHG [CO2 and equivalents]. This was 1 million higher than the 2018 figure. And, closer to those of 2005 and no where near the 2030 targets [511 million].
Cdn Press Rept

The Big Picture: California’s emissions reduction experiment

For a long time, one of the most consistent counterarguments to taking the necessary steps to reduce carbon emissions has been that it will wound the economy. It’s true that transitioning from a cheap but dirty fuel like coal to solar power — to cite one example — is a costly adjustment (although much less so than it was even five years ago).

But the state of California has shown that committing to a broader drawdown of carbon can happen while the economy surges.

The graphic below, based on data from the California Air Resources Board, shows that between 2000 and 2018 the West Coast state managed to reduce its emissions (keeping them below 1990 levels) while gross domestic product grew by about 60 per cent. (Note that the population grew in that time as well.)

Many people have argued that economic growth is ultimately bad for the environment in the long term, but California’s experiment shows that carbon reduction won’t necessarily hurt GDP. What’s more, California isn’t the only example of this — the U.K. reduced emissions 29 per cent over the past decade while growing its economy by 20 per cent.

UK Govt scraps Green Home Grant – leaving 000’s in the cold. Sensible planning needed before govts jump into needed improvements in old housing stock

Scrapping the green homes grants leaves the 20m households on moderate incomes without any government help to undertake the improvements necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Heating the UK’s draughty homes makes up about 14% of the country’s carbon emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change, and successive efforts to tackle the problem have run into problems. The failure of the green homes grant follows the abandonment in 2015 of the previous scheme, the green deal loan scheme.

Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK, said: “We’re just seven months away from hosting a global climate conference at which we’re supposed to be leading the world on climate action. But we cannot expect anyone to think we’re a credible leader when our own policies on climate action are going in the wrong direction.”

Bad GHG numbers: There’s no sugarcoating the emissions news

Sorry to be a downer but researchers keep finding new ways to reveal that nations are together showing very few signs of getting on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals.
One big question: That’s whether a spate of recent analyses to that effect, and scientific reports coming later this year, will move the needle on meaningful new policies (not just targets).

What’s new: Analysis yesterday in Nature Climate Change offers a new window onto progress in the years since the Paris deal and the results are…not great.
The big picture: It finds that 64 nations cut their fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions from 2016-2019 compared to the 2011-2015 period.
• But don’t pop the corks. Average cuts were “a tenth of what would be needed at the global level to meet the Paris climate goals,” the tally notes.
• And 150 nations together increased emissions slightly on average, per researchers from the University of East Anglia, Stanford and the Global Carbon Project.

By the numbers: Those 64 nations cut CO2 emissions by an average of 0.16 gigatons annually in 2016-2019, while the average increase in 150 nations with rising emissions was about twice that amount.

But basically, it’s all pretty static, as this line makes clear: “[C]uts of 1–2 GtCO2 per year are needed throughout the 2020s and beyond to avoid exceeding warming levels in the range 1.5 °C to well below 2 °C, the ambition of the Paris Agreement.”
Why it matters: It’s a pivotal year for climate efforts, with United Nations officials hoping for aggressive new national goals ahead of a pivotal late-year summit — and concrete steps to back them up.

Catch up fast: It’s just the latest analysis that shows the gulf between nations’ current actions and emissions cuts needed to meet the Paris targets.
• New International Energy Agency data this week showed that global emissions have rebounded from cuts during the pandemic.
• An interim UN analysis Friday of nations’ Paris pledges so far finds that they would bring only a 1% decline in emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
• However, the UN noted that many large emitting nations had yet to submit revised pledges.

The intrigue: HSBC Global Research suggests those UN numbers, combined with looming scientific analyses from the UN-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, could create new pressures.

“We think these reports could be used as foundations for governments to formulate various policies, by influencing decisions and highlighting the urgency of action required to both curb emissions (mitigation) and prepare for the impacts (adaptation),” they said in a note.

CO2 levels in the atmosphere

Weekly averages
14 February 2021: 416.51 ppm

This time last year: 414.12 ppm

10 years ago: 391.92 ppm

Pre-industrial base: 280
Safe level: 350

Weekly averages
14 February 2021: 416.51 ppm
This time last year: 414.12 ppm
10 years ago: 391.92 ppm
Pre-industrial base: 280
Safe level: 350
Atmospheric CO2 reading from Mauna Loa, Hawaii (part per million). Source: NOAA-ESRL

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450ppm risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

Fracked gas and LNG – contributors to the BC climate crisis

The following is an extract from a very good article by Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee. For the complete work see

Communities and companies are seeking to reduce their reliance on polluting fossil fuels, so the industry is looking to exports for survival. LNG Canada, Woodfibre LNG and Kitimat LNG, three approved LNG plants in the province, would require tens of thousands of new fracking wells to supply them with fracked gas. 

If the LNG plants are built, fracked gas production would need to more than double over the next eight years. Otherwise, if the facilities are not built, fracking would continue at current rates and then begin falling after 2032. Altogether, the proposed LNG plants would contribute around 15 megatonnes of carbon pollution in 2050 — even though B.C.’s new provincial government has promised “net zero” emissions by then. 

Frankly, the math just doesn’t add up. LNG Canada alone, a project which is already under construction, would emit more carbon pollution than every passenger vehicle in British Columbia once completed. Getting people out of their vehicles becomes futile when a single facility can undo those efforts.

On a global scale, there’s no doubt exporting LNG will lock-in decades more carbon pollution at a time when scientists are pleading for us to reverse course. Yet the province offered billions in subsidies to breathe life into this industry after most proposed LNG plants folded due to persistent low prices and oversupply. 

Premier John Horgan gave a huge package of tax breaks and subsidies to get LNG Canada off the ground. In fact, provincial fossil fuel subsidies grew 79 per cent since the NDP came to power. 

Despite all this public money, B.C. LNG is on shaky footing. It’s the most expensive proposed anywhere in the world and any small drop in projected demand renders it uneconomic. 
Source: Wilderness Committee

B.C. charging ahead with EV fleet supports

B.C. municipalities and businesses building their light-duty fleets of electric vehicles (EVs) have access to new rebates and supports for charging infrastructure through CleanBC’s Go Electric programs.
“We want to encourage more B.C. businesses, Indigenous Nations, municipalities and regional districts to make the switch to electric vehicles in their fleets,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “The new rebates and other supports make it easier for fleet owners to install chargers on site and further our CleanBC goals, as well as the climate change targets of municipalities and businesses, by ensuring workers are behind the wheel of clean-energy vehicles.”
The Go Electric Fleets program offers rebates for the purchase and installation of level 2 and direct-current fast-charging stations for fleets of one or more EVs. For a limited time, eligible businesses purchasing and installing level 2 charging stations can access a higher rebate of up to $4,000 per station, representing an increase from 50% to 75% of basic rates. Those purchasing EVs for a fleet are eligible for the same $3,000 point-of-purchase vehicle rebates as the general public in B.C.
Source: Provincial Govt press release

Has the US turned the corner … will timid Trudeau be left behind?

‘The Trump years may well have been the death rattle of influential denialism. The American public’s concern over the climate crisis is at record levels, with even a majority of Republican voters supporting government intervention in the wake of a year of unprecedented wildfires and hurricanes that cost hundreds of lives and tens of billions of dollars. The question is now whether the US is able to change quickly enough to avert further disaster, rather than if it will change at all.

“We are already spending the money, folks,” Kerry, the former secretary of state who is now Biden’s climate envoy, said of the recent climate-fueled disasters. “It’s cheaper to deal with the crisis of climate than to ignore it. This is life or death, a challenge to the fibre of our society. The stakes on climate change couldn’t be any higher than they are now. Failure is literally not an option.”

Source: The Guardian

CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to rise

Week of 17 January 2021: 415.18 ppm
This time last year: 413.80 ppm
10 years ago: 391.63 ppm
Pre-industrial base: 280
Safe level: 350
Atmospheric CO2 reading from Mauna Loa, Hawaii (part per million).

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450ppm risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.
Source: The Guardian

Electric vehicles are close to the “tipping point” of rapid mass adoption thanks to the plummeting cost of batteries, experts say.

Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.

The tipping point has already been passed in Norway, where tax breaks mean electric cars are cheaper. The market share of battery-powered cars soared to 54% in 2020 in the Nordic country, compared with less than 5% in most European nations.

Meanwhile GM announce that they will go fully electric by 2035 for cars and pickups – no gas or diesel offered [they presently make up 98% of sales]. Stock price rises 3.5% on news.

Source: The Guardian and CBC Radio

The ‘1%’ are the main drivers of climate change, but it hits the poor the hardest: Oxfam report

The richest of the rich are polluting the world and driving climate change, while the poorest of the poor suffer the greatest consequences, according to a new report published Monday by Oxfam International. 

The richest 1% of the global population have used two times as much carbon as the poorest 50% over the last 25 years, the nonprofit’s report says.
What the report does not point out is that so many of us, living a life of privilege as we do in Canada, might just as well be in the 1% as far as our carbon footprint goes – besides there are far more of us so cumulatively ….

World’s largest asset manager calls on CEOs worldwide to announce plans to reach net-zero by 2050
BlackRock investments CEO said sustainability will strengthen capitalism.
• Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO, pledged to help guide investors toward environmentally friendly investments.
• He said businesses that adapt to net-zero emissions goals will be more profitable.
The CEO of the largest asset management firms in the world is calling on chief executives around the world to develop and disclose sustainability plans to ensure leading companies can support a sustainable future.

BlackRock leader Larry Fink penned his annual letter to CEO stakeholders, encouraging fellow business leaders to work on adapting their industry practices to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and help halt climate change.Fink explains that among the societal ills the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare, urgency surrounding action toward reducing carbon emissions needs to be reinvigorated as the pandemic rages on.

Global ice loss accelerates to level of ‘worst case’ scenario

The rate of global ice loss has risen by 65 per cent over 23 years, according to the first-ever satellite study.

It has accelerated within the past three decades, from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tons per year by 2017, researchers from the University of Leeds found.
Two-thirds of the melting was caused by atmospheric warming with the remaining losses being driven by a rise in ocean temperatures.

The melting of ice on land has pushed up global sea levels by 35mm, while the loss of sea ice means more heat is absorbed by the Earth rather than being reflected away, accelerating warming in the Arctic.

While the survey discovered that 215,000 glaciers as well as Arctic sea ice had been affected by rising air temperatures, warmer oceans had also caused melting in the Antarctic.

Source: Telegraph

Fast Charging Car Batteries …. ???

Batteries capable of fully charging in five minutes have been produced in a factory for the first time, marking a significant step towards electric cars becoming as fast to charge as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles. Electric vehicles are a vital part of action to tackle the climate crisis but running out of charge during a journey is a worry for drivers. The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines. StoreDot has already demonstrated its “extreme fast-charging” battery in phones, drones and scooters and the 1,000 batteries it has now produced are to showcase its technology to carmakers and other companies. Daimler, BP, Samsung and TDK have all invested in StoreDot, which has raised $130m to date and was named a Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneer in 2020.
Note: there is some skepticism as to just how quickly such production can be brought on stream and of course at what price.
Source: The Guardian

Just Stop Burning Things – easier written than done ….

If one wanted a basic rule of thumb for dealing with the climate crisis, it would be: stop burning things. Human beings have made use of combustion for a very long time, ever since the first campfires cooked the first animals for dinner, allowing our brains to get larger. Now those large brains have come to understand that burning stuff is destroying the stable climate on which civilization depends.
In the early years of the climate crisis, scientists thought that “biomass” was an exception to the burning rule. That’s because, when you cut down a tree and burn it, another one eventually grows in its place, theoretically sucking up the carbon dioxide that the burning emitted. But, in recent years, researchers have upended those calculations. For one thing, wood burns inefficiently, producing large amounts of carbon for each unit of energy that it produces. Worse, it takes decades for those forests to re-grow and suck up that carbon—decades that we don’t have.
Source: The New Yorker

Coal Use on the decline – especially in the US – as cheaper, often renewable green energy, takes its place.

By this point, it’s pretty clear to almost everyone that we’d be better off not burning coal, the first fossil fuel that we learned to set on fire in a big way. The explosions set off by a billion spark plugs every second around the world are—for serious motorheads—being replaced by the electric engines in the most admired cars on earth. Even natural gas, long heralded as the clean fossil fuel, is now widely understood to be climate dangerous, spewing both CO2 and methane.

Ocean Temperatures Rise within 200 m of the surface

Scientists say temperatures in the world’s upper oceans — the sections within 2,000 meters of the surface – hit a record high last year. They say oceans’ delayed response to global warming mean they will continue to heat up for the next few decades, no matter what we do. For some marine creatures, though, these increasing temperatures are already a problem. New research out of Australia finds that baby epaulette sharks are being born sooner due to warming water, meaning they’re entering the world smaller and in a less healthy condition.
Source: CBC


About Author

Leave A Reply