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Leading Scientists Gather For Urgent Need For Arctic Change

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Leading Scientists Gather For Urgent Need For Arctic Change

Growing concern prompts ‘Arctic Basecamp’ at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting calling for responsible and responsive leadership on Arctic change.

On Wednesday 18 January, 2017, eminent scientists, government representatives and business leaders will come together to discuss and address the complex challenges Arctic change presents to the world.

Their message to the Davos delegation, the world’s most powerful global audience, is to convey that ongoing temperature changes in the Arctic have serious socio-economic effects in the rest of the world. They offer their expertise to help political and business leaders shape the international agenda in order to address these effects.

They will present the latest findings on Arctic science and call for the mobilisation of an international response team.

Such incontrovertible evidence of our planet’s distress cannot be ignored and the impacts to the global economy, to food production and civil stability are growing

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says:

“We’re seeing signs from the Arctic that climate-change is progressing extremely quickly, even with just 1 degree of warming. Such incontrovertible evidence of our planet’s distress cannot be ignored and the impacts to the global economy, to food production and civil stability are growing. However, a climate-safe world, where nature thrives and opportunities for all are abundant, is still within our line of sight. Actions to arrest global warming pollution are increasing at great pace all around the world. The shift to a low-carbon economy is now unstoppable, but can it be done in a timely fashion?

“We are all united in wanting a safe, stable environment with long-term jobs that serve the economy of tomorrow. Let us harness that collective consciousness and use it to raise ambition, increase the speed and scale of the transition and deliver a turning point in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.”

The event is organised by Lancaster University, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL.

Lancaster University and BAS are members of the ICE-ARC, (Ice, Climate, and Economics – Arctic Research on Change), project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. ICE ARC examines the current and future changes in Arctic sea ice – both from changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions and the consequences of these changes both on the economics of the area, and social aspects such as on indigenous peoples. The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL is a founding member of the Swiss Polar Institute.

Professor Gail Whiteman, Lancaster University:

“We know that science has important answers in assessing the global risks associated with the Arctic change and we need to make this as visible as possible in Davos. Arctic change is at a critical juncture; hard choices need to be made. These must be evidence-based and not ideologically driven. Ultimately we want to see a new Global Platform for Arctic Action, and it starts here with this summit.”

Jeremy Wilkinson, BAS:

“It’s fantastic that Arctic issues are on the political and business agenda as they are very relevant to society. Scientists must build meaningful relationships with policy makers, business leaders, economists, and the peoples of the Arctic in order to provide access to the latest research studies which can then underpin decision making.”

Director of WSL, Professor ETH, Konrad Steffen, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow & Landscape Research WSL:

“The Polar Regions, as well as Alpine regions, will experience two to three times the mean level of global warming predicted for the future. We need to act swiftly to delay, or prevent, the loss of the ice masses in the mountains and the shrinking of the two polar ice sheets which will lead to unsustainable sea level rises.”

Ten leading Arctic experts will participate in the event and be camping at the specially built Arctic Basecamp at Davos, in the grounds of the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF.

A series of panel discussions and presentations will illustrate the current changes in the Arctic due to warming:

  • Climate change in the Arctic is unequivocal
  • Long-term measurements clearly demonstrate that the Arctic is warming at a rate over twice the global average
  • The legally binding Paris Agreement states global temperatures should not exceed the 2 °C limit compared to preindustrial times. 2 °C globally would mean 5 °C or more temperature increase across the Arctic
  • Extreme events are becoming more common; in some regions of the Arctic, the temperatures over Christmas were around 20 °C above what is expected for this time of the year

In the Swiss Alps climate change is shortening the snow season due to earlier spring snowmelt

To find out more about the Arctic Basecamp please visit the supporters’ page.

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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