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Economy

#COP21: Report: Cities and Nations Must Align Policies to Achieve a Low-Carbon Future

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A new research report, “What cities do best: piecing together an efficient global climate governance,” released today explores how city actions to combat climate change will be enhanced and expedited with support from national governments. The report notes that greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions in urban areas will require concerted actions at all levels of government, and increased policy coordination and “vertical integration” are necessary to achieve deeper GHG reductions.

The report, written by the Stockholm Environment Institute with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies using data prior to the INDC commitments, noted that urban mitigation actions – specifically, actions that most city governments have the power to undertake – could contribute up to 15 percent of the global GHG reductions required to stay on a 2°C pathway.

The report recommends the following roles for cities:

Cities as policy leaders and architects – For approximately 20 percent of urban GHG abatement potential, cities should be policy leaders and architects with efforts focused on the transportation sector.

Cities as critical implementers – For another 40 percent of urban abatement potential, the ideal role for cities is to be critical implementers of nationally applied policies. Opportunities here are greatest in the residential and commercial buildings sectors.

Cities as strategic partners – For the remaining 40 percent of urban abatement, cities can be strategic partners, taking crucial independent actions to enhance the effectiveness of policies enacted at higher levels of government. For these diverse opportunities, cities could enhance national efforts through incentives, education, permitting, and infrastructure development.

National engagement is critical, because even where cities have political will and resources, they may face realistic limits to their ambitions, especially if a majority of other cities are not similarly engaged and coordinated in pursuing GHG reductions.

The report views the vital role of national governments as follows:

Establishing national policy frameworks and incentive structures. National political and policy direction is often a strong enabler of urban GHG mitigation, especially when accompanied by efforts to coordinate policy formulation at multiple levels of government. Fiscal and political incentive mechanisms can also be effective for enabling city-level action.

Providing, or improving access to, financial resources. Often, city governments are best positioned to undertake mitigation measures, but they are budget constrained. National governments can address this shortcoming by providing direct funding support and enacting reforms to improve cities’ access to private capital.

Strengthening capacity and improving governance structures. Through training and outreach programs, national governments can assist local governments in obtaining the technical capacity they need to effectively undertake specific kinds of mitigation actions.  National governments can also promote better sharing of information and expertise among different levels of government to enable smarter policy design and implementation.

Aligning policies and eliminating conflicts. In some cases, national or state policies may actively conflict with city government priorities, or otherwise inhibit city-level actions. Aligning policies and properly delegating authority can enable cities to pursue urban mitigation more effectively.

The report explores case studies on vertical integration in the U.S., China and Brazil, providing a survey of priorities across those three countries.

To read the full report please click here.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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