Connect with us

Environment

Carbon Context – why momentum is building whatever comes out of Paris COP21

Published

on

2014 saw carbon risk move ever higher up the agenda for investors with the launch of the Montreal Pledge by the United Nations backed Principles for Responsible Investment. The Montreal Pledge provides investors with a platform for commitment to the measurement and public-disclosure of the carbon footprints of their investment portfolios on an annual basis, with a view to reducing them over time. At the time of writing there over 80 signatories representing over $1 trillion in assets under management. Sam Gill, CEO of ET Index writes.

In parallel, the Portfolio Decarbonisation Coalition was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) to mobilize a critical mass of institutional investors committed to gradually decarbonising their portfolios. Institutional investors have committed to decarbonising over $100 billion of equity portfolios.

It is reasonable to assume that such voluntary initiatives will, over the course of the next decade, be accompanied by mandatory regulatory requirements as national governments seek greater transparency from investors and their agents over whether and indeed how Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analysis is being incorporated into the portfolio construction process.

All this is occurring against the backdrop of a growing global fossil fuel divestment campaign, with over 440 institutions pledging to drop fossil fuel holdings by September 2015. The primary driver for this action comes from the risk that company reserves will become stranded as governments move to limit rising global temperatures.

2014 also saw the United States and China, the world’s largest polluters and economies, agree an historic deal to cut their emissions, while the European Union announced that it would reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030.

Action at the national, city, state and region level is also growing rapidly. Since January 2012, the number of carbon pricing instruments already implemented or scheduled for implementation has almost doubled, jumping from 20 to 38. Moreover, the share of emissions covered by carbon pricing has increased threefold over the last decade. As of 2015 there are now 39 national and 23 sub-national schemes putting a price on carbon. Together, carbon pricing instruments cover about half of the emissions in these jurisdictions, which translates to about 12 percent of global emissions.

2015 has seen countries announce in increasing numbers their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), their pledges to limit emissions in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. As of September, 33 submissions have been received by the UNFCCC, reflecting 60 countries (including the European Union member states), and covering around 66% of global emissions.

Meanwhile, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has become increasingly vocal on the issue of a carbon assets becoming stranded. In September 2015 warning that investors face “potentially huge” losses from climate change action that could make vast reserves of oil, coal and gas “literally unburnable”.

Perhaps the most significant event of 2015 was the introduction of la loi transition énergétique pour la croissance verte in France which has made it mandatory for institutional investors to begin disclosing the full carbon footprint of their portfolios with a view to reducing their exposure to carbon over time from 2016. Other countries may well follow suit.

What does all of this mean? Regardless of whatever comes out of Paris COP21, the cost of carbon is increasing.

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

Published

on

green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

Continue Reading

Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

Published

on

auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending