With the historic signing of the goals taking place in New York on 25th September, many extraordinary achievements have been made so far to make the goals famous, highlights available here, with an estimated 40% reach of the global population – an average of 417 million people per day.
– 500 million children reached with the World’s Largest Lesson thanks to commitments from Ministries of Education in 103 countries
– 136 flags raisedfrom the North Pole to North Korea, Moscow’s Red Square to 10 Downing Street, Larke Pass in Nepal to Lira Town in northern Uganda
– Mobile operators text almost one billion people about the goals and spread the word to 5.2 billion customers
– 60,000 people attended the Global Citizen Festival including; First Lady Michelle Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates and Malala Yousafzai. The concert was headlined by Beyoncé and Coldplay and watched on TV in 26 countries
– 1.3 million mentions on social media with #globalgoals trending across the world thanks to the support of 20 of the worlds top websites, Prime Minister David Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, Ashton Kutcher, 1D, David and Victoria Beckham and many more
– Countless people joined a star studded line-up in the crowdsourced film ‘We The People’ – contributed to by Stephen Hawking, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Colin Firth, Stevie Wonder, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and many more.
– The World’s First Global Cinema Ad produced by Aardman and voiced by Liam Neeson and Michelle Rodriguez premiered in 34 cinemas globally
– Over 250 million people engaged via Radio Everyone in 75 countries with 600 radio partners
– Famous faces including; Naomi Campbell, Nicole Scherzinger, Lily Cole, Sadie Frost, Jodie Kidd, Laura Bailey, Alice Temperley and Alek Wek pledged their support for the goals they are most passionate about in a series of striking photographs
– ‘Invisible man’ artist Liu Bolin created a new piece of artwork by camouflaging himself in front of 193 UN countries’ flags
– Action/2015 report that over 200,000 people took action across more than 100 countries
The aims of the Global Goals are to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years; end poverty, fight inequality & injustice and tackle climate change – for everyone.
193 world leaders have now adopted these aims and committed to addressing 17 Goals.
Project Everyone, founded by Richard Curtis, aims to both make the goals famous and to push for their full implementation. If the goals are famous- if people care about what has been promised by the politicians, it greatly increases their chance of being implemented.
Richard Curtis said: “In just 7 days we’re halfway towards achieving the ambitious goal of telling everyone in the world about the UN Global Goals. Knowledge is power and country by country people are starting to find out about the plan their politicians have made. We all need to know what our rights are in order to claim them. This simple idea of ‘telling everyone’ about the goals means that we can now begin to hold our politicians to account in addressing the 17 core issues brought to the world’s attention at the Sustainable Development Summit on 25th September. Their final aim will be to make us the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation to end inequality and injustice and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.”
I hope we can now continue to spread the message of the goals to everyone to help make them a reality by 2030. And work towards an annual day where everyone will be encouraged to focus on the Goals, the progress made so far and what needs to be addressed in the years and years ahead to achieve their final goal.”
Stephen Hawking said: “2015 is the year world leaders sign up to the Global Goals. They are an ambitious to do list to eradicate poverty, save the environment, and make the world a fairer place for everyone. To save the world we need everyone to tell everyone.”
Find out more about the Global Goals: www.globalgoals.org
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?
But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?
The Big Picture
The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.
That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.
One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.
As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.
Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.
Make and Model of Car
Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.
On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.
The Bottom Line
Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?
Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
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