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G20 Climate Action – A turning point?

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Climate action by the G20 has reached a turning point, with per capita emissions falling in eleven members, and renewable energy growing strongly, but they must all urgently decarbonise their economies to meet an internationally agreed target to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, finds a country comparison released today by Climate Transparency.

Climate Transparency is a new initiative, bringing together expert groups for the assessment of climate action worldwide, to provide a more independent, credible and comprehensive view, and so boost public policy awareness and drive ambition.

The initiative has drawn upon detailed analysis by leading climate policy researchers, to compare the emissions, share of renewable energy, decarbonisation levels and policy performance of G20 countries, ahead of a summit of the world’s leading economies in Turkey on November 15-16. The comparison combined analysis by the Climate Action Tracker and the Climate Change Performance Index.

The analysis shows that if present emissions trends continue, the world will breach the 2°C target, On a positive note, however, the level of renewable energy has seen strong growth in three quarters of G20 members, while the first signs can be detected of decarbonisation, and of a breakthrough in climate diplomacy.

G20 countries represent two thirds of the world population, and four fifths of global economic output, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Collectively, they emit three quarters of global annual greenhouse gases (GHG). Because of their political and economic clout, they drive global trends in greenhouse gas emissions.

Average per capita greenhouse emissions in G20 countries is nearly 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). To meet the 2°C target, global average per capita emissions should be around 1-3 tCO2e, by 2050. Next month, countries are expected to reach in Paris a new global agreement to limit climate change. However, even if countries implemented the climate policy plans (called INDCs) that they have submitted to the Paris conference, global temperatures would rise to about 2.7°C above preindustrial levels[1], according to the Climate Action Tracker.

However, there are now encouraging signs of a turning point:

– Per capita emissions are falling in eleven of G20 members.

– In the past five years, 15 of the G20 countries have seen double digit growth in renewable energy production

– There are strong indications that total global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have stopped rising in 2014, the first such reversal in annual emissions growth in the industrial era, aside from periods of serious economic crisis.

– In both the United States and the European Union, there is now evidence for a decoupling of economic growth from carbon emissions, where both the energy intensity of the economy and carbon intensity of energy supply is falling.

– In climate diplomacy, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters China and the United States last year agreed targets to curb emissions beyond 2020, representing their most significant bilateral agreement on climate change

– Scientific evidence for multiple benefits from reduced fossil fuel use is increasingly robust, including: reduced deaths from cleaner air; higher infrastructure investment; enhanced productivity and energy efficiency; and better energy security and balance of payments

Alvaro Umaña, former environment minister of Costa Rica and Co-Chair of Climate Transparency said: “The good news is that we know that climate policy is working, and that we may have reached a turning point. But G20 countries need to scale up their ambition, if we are to meet the internationally agreed target to limit global average warming to below 2°C. Countries with high cumulative and present emissions have a special responsibility not only to reduce their emissions, but also to help those countries most affected by climate change.”

His Co-Chair, Peter Eigen, added: “With Climate Transparency we are providing credible and transparent information about countries’ mitigation efforts to stimulate a race to the top. Through the experience of the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, we have seen how such transparency can create peer pressure.” Peter Eigen is also the Founder and Chair of the Advisory Council of Transparency International.

Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute, one of the four organisations behind the Climate Action Tracker, said: “The INDCs submitted by more than 150 countries have been a big success, never before have so many countries developed and shared plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are not yet enough – our analysis shows that even if they were fully implemented, the global average warming would still be in the region of 2.7°C, and only ‘likely’ below 3°C. But they bend the curve of emissions downwards. And with the planned review process, they can and must be strengthened, the earlier the better.”

Jan Burck from Germanwatch, one of the two organisations behind CCPI, said: “Renewables are the big success story of the last 15 years, hardly anybody would have believed that they would grow so strongly. And our analysis shows that in many countries economic growth has started to decouple from the growth of CO2 emissions.”

Climate Transparency’s comparison of climate mitigation actions across the G20 is based on detailed country profiles and key indicators, supplied in the Climate Transparency’s first report, “How do G20 countries perform on climate change? Assessing mitigation”. The findings are based on national assessments by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) and the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).

Click here for the report 

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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