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Analysing the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement

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Paris by Klovovi via Flickr

A new analysis of the 1.5°C temperature limit in the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal has identified a number of important areas that require more scientific research.

The analysis, written by a team of scientists who have published key research papers on the science, impacts and policy aspects of the 1.5˚C limit, is a centrepiece of a collection by Nature Climate Change, Nature Geoscience and Nature on ‘Targeting 1.5°C’  (http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3096.html).

Much of the paper’s focus is on characteristics of presently available science on low emission pathways that could achieve 1.5˚C. The paper finds that most of such scenarios at least temporarily overshoot the 1.5˚C limit, where warming would rise above this level before returning to below 1.5˚C by 2100.

“Whether the presently available pathways are in line with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal is not a scientific, but a political question.  Many vulnerable countries see 1.5°C as a limit that should not be exceeded,” said the paper’s lead author, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, of Climate Analytics.  “Further research on the feasibility of pathways that limit warming to below 1.5°C is therefore a central element of a post-Paris science agenda.

The paper confirms that limiting warming to 1.5˚C significantly reduces risks and impacts compared with 2˚C, but also underscores the need for more research to improve the scientific understanding of impacts at 1.5°C of warming.  These include consequences of 1.5°C for vulnerable systems such as agricultural production in tropical regions, impacts on human health and natural systems such as coral reefs, ice sheets, and impacts such as sea level rise.

“In the light of our findings of discernible impact differences between 1.5°C and 2°C, we urgently require a better scientific understanding of the potential impact legacy of temporarily exceeding the 1.5°C limit,” said Michiel Schaeffer, co-author and Scientific Director at Climate Analytics.

The paper confirms that early peaking of global emissions, around 2020, and rapid decline toward zero emissions are critical steps towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. Governments’ near-term mitigation targets for the 2020-2030 period are insufficient to achieve the temperature limit. To address that, the Paris Agreement includes a mechanism aimed at increasing climate action over time.

“We outline how the legal and policy mechanisms in the Paris Agreement would, in principle, allow to achieve its goals:  through a regular, science-driven and synchronised five-year review of national emission reduction commitments that aims at enabling countries to regularly improve their pledges,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.

“The first major review in 2018 of national mitigation commitments, which is meant to lead to Governments increasing their 2025-2030 emission reduction targets by 2020, could be a crucial first test of the Paris Agreement’s effectiveness,” he said.

In order to achieve the Paris Agreement’s mitigation and temperature goals, globally negative CO2 emissions are required by the second half of the century. Achieving such negative emissions entails the deployment of uncertain and at present controversial technologies, including biomass energy carbon capture and storage.

“We find there is no clear difference in the assumed levels of bioenergy and negative emissions between 1.5˚C and 2°C pathways,” said Joeri Rogelj, a co-author and Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria. “Nevertheless, important and genuine sustainability concerns linked to these technologies have to be researched and addressed. Acting earlier and faster can substantially reduce the need for these technologies, but at this point not entirely eliminate it anymore.”

More research is also required into the risks and costs of negative emission technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Ensuring the environmental and social sustainability of bioenergy will be a key challenge under any future scenario and the scientific literature to date provides no conclusive evidence for increasing risks to food security from bioenergy systems between 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios.

Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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