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#COP21: Global Climate Agreement’s Historic Step As Local Governments Recognised For First Time

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The legally binding international climate agreement negotiated in Paris on 12 December offers a real glimmer of hope, though it will still not be enough to avert irreversible consequences from climate change. By recognising the importance of the world’s cities and regions, the agreement has, however, increased the prospects of a more effective and sustained global effort to limit climate change, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) believes.

Ahead of the United Nations’ COP21 talks in Paris, the Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly of local political leaders, had urged national governments to agree not to add carbon to the atmosphere after 2050. It had pressed the EU to cut greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). It also wanted the COP21 negotiators to decide to draw up an Action Plan for cities and regions.

These three goals proved overly ambitious. “However, Europe’s cities and regions take hope from the deal, above all because it is legally binding and because two important goals of the CoR were achieved. The agreement – for the first time – recognises the role of local governments in fighting climate change, and developed economies have made a commitment to provide $100 billion each year after 2020 to support developing countries’ climate actions,” said Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions. “These are significant achievements. The result – an agreement to keep climate change ‘well below’ 2 degrees, with an aim of 1.5 degrees – is better than many thought possible and provides real potential for us to build on.”

Nevertheless, Francesco Pigliaru, President of Sardinia and Chairman of the CoR’s environment commission, remarked: “Unfortunately, the agreement does not include cities and regions within the system of governance of climate policies, a decision that will reduce the quality of policymaking and implementation.” Mr Pigliaru was a member of the CoR’s delegation at the COP21 talks.

Europe’s local governments will try to compensate for this weakness through even greater mobilisation and coordination of efforts, by using existing partnerships and mechanisms. The CoR notes, for example, that cities and regions have been the most ambitious members of NAZCA (Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action), a United Nations platform that registers commitments to climate action by sub-national authorities, companies, civil society and investors.

“Local governments have to take around 70% of measures to reduce climate change and 90% of measures to adapt to climate change,” said Annabelle Jaeger, a member of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and a member of the CoR’s delegation in Paris. “Local government should therefore have a bigger say in deciding exactly what measures are taken and in shaping national and international policies.”

The desire of cities and regions for a major reduction in greenhouse gases was evident at COP21. The European Commission committed extra funds to help the Covenant of Mayors, a voluntary climate initiative of regions and cities, move beyond its base in Europe and become a global movement.

“The Paris talks offered cities and regions across the globe a chance to build alliances. It is clear that their level of ambition on climate action often supersedes that of national governments. It’s time to deliver for our communities, which is why we at the CoR look forward to promoting the Covenant of Mayors in Europe and beyond,” said Kata Tüttő, who is a member of the Local Government of District 12 in Budapest, Hungary, and who was a member of the CoR’s COP21 delegation.

Recent related resolutions by the Committee of the Regions:

– “The future of the Covenant of Mayors“, an opinion adopted on 4 December 2015.

– “Towards a global climate agreement in Paris”, an opinion adopted in October 2015.

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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