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International Cooperation Set To Offset Aviation Pollution

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International Cooperation Set To Offset Aviation Pollution

A global market-based measure (GMBM) is set to be adopted by 191 countries after 20 years of international negotiations aimed at addressing emissions growth from international aviation during a two-week aviation summit in Montreal from 27 September to 7 October, 2016.

The Assembly convenes after over 60 countries ratified the landmark Paris Agreement. As the Paris Agreement transitions from aspiration to implementation, the outcome of this meeting in Montreal is a defining litmus test of international willingness to truly confront greenhouse gas emissions from the fast growing aviation sector. If aviation does not act, emissions from the sector are expected to soar from approximately 2% to 22% of CO2 alone by 2050.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN group charged with regulating aviation pollution, agreed to take action this year when they last convened in 2013. Because ICAO only convenes its Assembly once every three years, 2016 s a critical time for progress.

As the only environmental observer organisation representing civil society at ICAO, the International Coalition on Sustainable Aviation (ICSA) urges countries to use their next two weeks together to finalize and adopt an agreement that ensures strong environmental integrity and broad participation from the proposed 2021 start date.

ICSA released a previous statement and held a press call earlier this month expressing their concerns with the current text’s shortfalls. Based upon current voluntary commitments and expected exclusions, the GMBM is expected to require offsetting approximately three quarters of emissions growth after 2020, falling short of the ICAO goal of “carbon neutral growth” at 2020 emissions levels. That means absolute international aviation emissions could still increase through at least 2035, jeopardising achievement of the goals of limiting temperature rises to 1.5˚C or at most 2˚C that world leaders set in Paris in December 2015. This underlines the need for further work under the review clauses in the current text in order to ratchet the level of ambition up.

Environmental integrity and broad participation are the defining characteristics by which any ICAO agreement will be measured. There remains a great deal of work to do and ICSA stands ready to work with ICAO member states over the next two weeks and beyond to help close the gap.

There are five key aspects of the GMBM that will be critical to follow as negotiations unfold over the next two weeks:

 
Public commitment to participate
The proposed agreement establishes a “pilot phase” from 2021 through 2023 and a “first phase” from 2024 through 2026, during which States could “opt in” to the programs, followed by a “second phase” based on mandatory criteria from 2027 through 2035. Public commitment from a wide range of countries, particularly industrialized and major aviation countries, for the first two phases of the GMBM is critical at the ICAO Assembly.
Opt-out provision
The explicit ability of States to “opt out” of the early phases of the GMBM after joining sows uncertainty for airlines and runs counter to the need to increase participation and emissions reductions to achieve the temperature goals in the Paris Agreement. It can be addressed with text modifications or firm country commitments.
Double counting
If offsets used to achieve the goal of the GMBM are also credited to other climate goals, emissions will continue to increase while countries and airlines appear to meet their pledges. Addressing double counting is essential to environmental integrity.
Regional and national efforts to increase ambition
It’s important that ambitious states and regions are able to go further in reducing their emissions. ICSA will be watching to see if ICAO actively encourages such action.
Emissions credits and alternative fuels
Recognition of the need for strict and enforceable rules for emissions credits and alternative fuels are absent from the draft resolution. Such discussions will need to continue in ICAO technical committees after the Assembly. Stressing the importance of emissions credits and alternative fuels in the assembly text will help guide future conversations.

With the Paris Agreement set to come into force by the end of 2016, all eyes are now turning to Montreal for an inclusive outcome with meaningful environmental integrity. Just one month before COP 22 takes place in Morocco to focus on Paris Agreement implementation, an ICAO deal on a global market-based measure can send a critical signal to countries and industry alike that aviation emissions will not be allowed to balloon to consume a quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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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.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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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.

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