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New UN report cites huge positive policy potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions

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A new report packed with best practice climate policies from across the world was released yesterday by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), revealing a wealth of existing opportunities to immediately scale up reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while powering up ambition to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

“Science tells us that there is one path for us to be able to have a stable planet and a safe stable economy, and that is to get onto a below 2 degree path – that is fundamental – and policy is actually following science as it should,” said Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, speaking to reporters in Bonn, Germany.

Less than two weeks away from the UN climate conference in Paris, widely known as COP21, she announced that 168 countries, covering almost 90 per cent of global emissions, have now submitted their national climate targets, known as INDCs.

“These do make a huge dent in the projected increase in temperature that we would have by the end of the century, so if these INDCs are fully implemented then we would no longer be on a track of 4 or 5 degrees, we would be on a track of anywhere between 2.7 and 3 degrees, which is a much, much better projection in temperature rise,” Ms. Figueres continued, but warned that this is not yet two degrees or below 2 degrees, which is what some countries still need for their survival and safety.

Introducing the new UNFCCC report— Climate Action Now – A Summary for Policymakers 2015, Ms. Figueres said it is a “solutions” guide. It explains how nations can deploy a wide range of proven policies and utilize existing initiatives to meet the common challenge of climate change and sustainable development.

It also highlights both national and international cooperative actions while underling the vital role of non-State actors such as companies, cities, regions and provinces in realizing bigger reductions in current and future emissions.

UNFCC further described the report as providing, at the request of governments, a straightforward, inspiring go-to-reference to assist ministers, advisors and policymakers pursuing climate actions now and over the years and decades to come.

The findings spotlight how effective policies across six key thematic areas not only reduce emissions rapidly but also advance goals in 15 other critical economic, social and environmental areas.

“Under the UNFCCC, governments have, over the past few years, led a significant effort during a series of technical expert meetings to identify and scope out the policies that lead to effective climate action – this report is the fruit of that effort,” Ms. Figueres explained.

“It underlines the myriad of remarkable transitions that are already occurring nationally and internationally in areas ranging from renewable energy to transportation and land use. In doing so it provides governments and their partners with the blueprints and tool-kits to cost-effectively catalyze action now and take the Paris agreement to the next level of long term ambition,” she added.

She also noted that the “remarkable reality” revealed in this report is that the very policies that deal most effectively with climate change also offer a ready-made portfolio of actions that can equally assist theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by UN Member States in September.

Meanwhile, responding to questions from the press on how the recent attacks in Paris could affect the conference, the Executive Secretary said the UN is still addressing how security around the many events planned can be increased, and that she thinks “this should be a call for personal prudence” on the part of everyone.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

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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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/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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