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Economy

ET Index blog series: Cutting through the carbon: knowing your carbon reserves from your carbon emissions

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As we discussed in the previous post, in concrete terms greenhouse emissions represent the physical source of the climate change problem. Sam Gill, CEO of ET Index writes.

The Kyoto Protocol specifies 6 greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and the so-called F-gases – hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride). Each of these has a global warming potential, meaning that when they are released into the atmosphere they trap heat causing the temperature to rise. Emissions of these gases are then converted into tonnes of CO2 equivalent so that they can be compared. This also means that generally when ‘carbon emissions’ are talked about this is shorthand for greenhouse gases (GHGs). Throughout this series I use ‘carbon emissions’ as shorthand for ‘greenhouse gas emissions’. This is pretty common within the industry and amongst commentators, but it is always good to make sure the other gases are not forgotten.

Carbon Tracker’s ‘carbon bubble’ thesis has drawn much-needed attention to fossil-fuel reserves and their embedded carbon. The thesis can be distilled down to a few straightforward questions. Would you invest in a company that owned a warehouse in which 4/5 of the stock could never be sold? And, if you already owned one of those companies – as many investors do – should you be worried? These are valid questions for any prudent investor or fiduciary to ask, and this way of framing the debate has been extremely important in helping to propel the climate change debate into the public and investor consciousness.

However, it does shift the focus somewhat from the fact that it is actual realised emissions that are the problem. As long as fossil fuel reserves stay in the ground and are not burnt, there is no problem. Hence why the Guardian has decided to call its campaign Keep it in the ground.

Therefore I would argue that if we are going to create an incentive mechanism designed to apply pressure to greenhouse gas emissions, measuring greenhouse gas emissions is a good way to go.

Similarly, just as many companies may say they are doing lots of amazing things, sometimes they are  actually doing some pretty bad things. Sadly, the world is awash with greenwash. That is why quantitative measurements such as the total emissions produced by a company in a given year are a much better, and safer, indication of the actions they are taking to address climate change when compared with more subjective measures such as what the company says it is doing to cut emissions.

If we apply pressure to the emissions, everything else will follow: the strategy, the actions and the investment.

More recently there is growing move towards seeking to measure the amount of money a company is investing in the types of energy technology that will facilitate a shift towards a zero carbon economy. Whilst there is certainly logic behind this approach, if we keep things simple and apply pressure to company carbon emissions, investments in new technologies will be a necessary by-product as companies seek out ways to lower their carbon emissions.

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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