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#COP21: Francesca Baker on The Winning of the Carbon War



Across the world protesters are marching, groups are convening, petitions being signed and rallies forming as people seek to have their voices heard by key leaders gathering in Paris for the UN Climate Summit. It’s been estimated that over 2,000 events have been planned across the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia and France ahead of COP21 and as a significant milestone and in some ways the climax of conversations, with a real hope for practical measures being implemented, it’s been a long time coming.

One person who has been following the conversations through their gestation is Jeremy Leggett, author of a new book The Winning of the Carbon War. Although, in some ways his book, when published in hardback in January 2016, won’t be ‘new’ as each chapter has already been published, for free, on his website, as he responds to events in the ongoing saga.

The aim of the summit is to develop a deal that starts to see a shift away from the dependence on fossil towards cleaner energies such as wind or solar power – and it’s a debate that has seen its ebbs and flows. Leggett has been keeping diaries, videos, and notes on the topic since 2006, using them as source material for his work, and putting his views out there in an almost real time format.

The reason for this is the level of change we have started to see. Momentum is accelerating, as the situation becomes more urgent. Leggett has published four books, (The Carbon War, Half Gone, The Solar Century and The Energy of Nations) all of which went through the traditional publishing route, but he realised that when dealing with subjects such as the ‘great global energy transition’ that working with publishers would mean that by the time an essay or book was published its subject could ‘be hopelessly out of date.’ His latest book is essentially a first hand diary covering events from 2013 to the present day, written in his informative style, presenting his response to events as they happen.

Having worked for BP and Shell for many years, before a realisation as to the damage his work was doing led him to leave, join Greenpeace, and eventually set up his own renewable energy company SolarAid, Leggett knows his stuff. This allows him to present the facts in his book in a very measured way, not generating hyperbole or seeking to slander anyone. Although, as he says, ‘there are however some dreadful people making a lot of money out of this and so fighting very hard to defend the indefensible.’

Essentially, Leggett has found that he is able to spread his message further and wider than traditional publishers have been able to do. He’s received reviews from Richard Branson, The Observer, Caroline Lucas MP, and Sami Grover of Tree Hugger. He’s found that his ‘experiment is working’ and knows that key political influencers, UN policy makers and government staff have been reading chapters. The accessible and immediate nature of his delivery means that it can have a timely and powerful impact, and can be written with timely response.

The Winning of The Carbon War is a narrative driven by desire for change, where endless meetings and frustrations pile up, diary extracts reflect on political reports, and glimmers of hope come briefly but quickly. Told through one man’s eyes, it is a story that affects the whole world and its entire future. It’s a story that has the potential for huge impact. We wait to see whether COP21 gives Leggett the content to allow him to write something of a happy ending.

Francesca Baker is a freelance journalist and writer. Her website is here.


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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