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EU supports a full phase out of emissions, but falls short of action to achieve it

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The EU’s negotiating position for the global climate talks in Paris in December, adopted by its Environment Ministers today, calls for climate neutrality  – a full phase out of all greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, it falls short of providing details on the EU’s contribution to achieve this.

The EU’s 28 environment chiefs stuck to the target of 40% cuts in emission reductions by 2030 agreed last year. This level is not in line with the science for keeping global warming below 2°C and does not reflect the EU’s historical responsibility, said Friends of the Earth Europe. The group says that by saving energy and backing a renewable energy system with people at the centre Europe can achieve much greater cuts in emissions more quickly.

In reaction to the conclusions of the Environment Council adopted today, Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe said: “The call for a phase out of emissions from all the EU Member States is an important signal that the EU still wants to reach a meaningful Paris agreement, which should provide an action plan for a transition to a fossil fuel free economy. The unanimous decision to end carbon pollution is what we expect from leaders at a time of a climate crisis. However, if we are to tackle climate change before it spins out of control, the EU needs to support its allies in the developing countries in their pledge for completing this transition by the middle of this century.

Susann Scherbarth, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “This is not a promising sign for an international climate agreement. EU bosses have said today they want to be dealmakers at the climate talks in Paris, but they have not said they will take the action necessary to make it an adequate and fair deal.

“With today’s decision ministers have stayed on the side of the fossil fuel industry when they could have signalled their willingness to save energy and replace our energy system with a clean, renewable one led by people.

“The clean energy transformation is already happening all across Europe led by people and communities – today’s decision shows the EU’s so-called leaders are failing to even follow.”

Outside the meeting in Brussels, climate groups staged a symbolic ‘tug-of-war’ between polluting fossil fuels and renewable energy. They called for EU governments to join the side of citizens and build a 100% renewable future.

Daan Creupelandt from Belgium’s biggest renewable energy cooperative, Ecopower, said: “Ordinary people – like the 50,000 members of our energy cooperative in Belgium – are already showing that communities can come together to control and run their own renewable energy. If Europe puts its weight behind the people’s energy transition many more projects like ours can flourish.”

Wendel Trio of CAN went on: “We welcome the fact that the EU continues to call for a binding and transparent international climate regime. However, at the same time its negotiating position has blind spots which undermine the EU’s leadership role in climate negotiations.

“EU Ministers failed to provide details on how they will scale up climate action, so that the transition to the fossil fuel free economy happens at a scale and pace needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. They did not specify what additional measures the EU will take before 2020, when the Paris agreement comes into force. We do not have clarity on how and when the EU will increase its 2030 climate target, which does not represent its fair share of the global effort for tackling climate change.

Finally, the Ministers failed to provide clarity on what the EU has to offer to developing countries in terms of provision of climate finance for empowering them in their efforts to tackle climate change as well as support for adaptation and loss and damage”.

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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