Greenhouse gas emissions tracking project all over the world looks out of context or mishandled, as We are about to break the 1.5°C limit and as rightly put by Isabelle Kempe in her article republished here.
Greenhouse gas emissions tracking project addresses ‘flawed’ approach cities use now, researchers say
The image above is metamorworks via Getty Images
City Climate Intelligence can provide free, near-real-time information on greenhouse gas emissions at the city, neighborhood, building and street level.
The systems cities use to monitor and analyze greenhouse gas emissions are “flawed,” says a group of researchers from Carbon Monitor, Hestia, IG3IS, Nexqt and RMI.
That’s why the group is developing City Climate Intelligence, which it describes as a “next-generation” methodology that offers cities free, near-real-time greenhouse gas emissions information at three increasingly granular levels: the metropolitan area, neighborhood and building and street level. The methodology draws on satellite data and local information such as public building databases, transmission service operator data and GPS data.
The greenhouse gas inventory is a hallmark of city climate action plans nationwide, allowing leaders to understand how much climate pollution their city emits and which sectors are responsible. While early tools to create that inventory were suitable for raising big-picture awareness— for example, that a city should drive down transportation or building emissions — they aren’t cutting it anymore, Nexqt founder and CEO Fouzi Benkhelifa said. As climate change impacts bear down on communities, and decarbonization deadlines loom, cities need more specific, timely data to make decisions that reduce emissions the most, he said.
Emma Loewen, a senior associate with RMI’s urban transformation team, described City Climate Intelligence’s future as akin to the National Weather Service. “Everyone can access it; it’s free. It’s updated in a timely manner that is useful for people,” she said. “And there’s no real questioning of it. It’s just an independent third party that is respected and taken for face value.”
Cities currently face numerous challenges in measuring and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. Inventories are time-consuming and resource-intensive, costing up to tens of thousands of dollars, points out an April report by the City Climate Intelligence team. Further, existing data systems on urban greenhouse gas emissions aren’t designed for planning or implementing emissions reduction efforts, the report says.
“During RMI workshops, city governments and community advocates alike identified policy planning capabilities as a key component of an optimal emissions data tool,” the report states. “Currently, these city stakeholders don’t have the capacity to conduct detailed data analyses on the impact of proposed climate solutions.”
The City Climate Intelligence team has provided emissions data at the metropolitan area level for 53 cities globally, including Madison, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon. For the covered cities, users can see two years of emissions data at a 10-kilometer resolution broken down into six sectors: ground transportation, power, industry, residential, aviation and international shipping. The team plans to eventually offer this information for every major metropolitan area in the world.
The researchers have also explored the potential to use street- and building-level data to simulate the effects of specific climate policies in Los Angeles and Paris. In Los Angeles, their analysis showed that installing rooftop solar in central LAfor households making less than $50,000 annually would result in a 21.6% annual reduction in citywide emissions compared with 2019 levels. The median savings in annual electricity costs for the more than 260,000 households making the switch would be $1,884, the analysis estimates.
This ability to support effective decision-making is part of what sets City Climate Intelligence apart from other tools, the researchers say. “There are a lot of greenhouse gas emissions data platforms out there,” but they aren’t driving climate action on the ground, Loewen said.
Her team isn’t alone in identifying this information gap. An October report by the National Academy of Sciences acknowledges the rapidly increasing needs of cities and states to manage emissions and calls for accelerated development of greenhouse gas emissions information “at more granular temporal and spatial scales.”
It’s not just city leaders that the researchers believe could benefit from City Climate Intelligence. RMI’s report points to potential uses by community-based organizations to raise awareness of emissions-related equity issues, journalists to track progress toward goals and the climate finance community to locate areas for investment.
Next, the City Climate Intelligence team plans to create a policy toolkit using neighborhood-, street- and building-level information to simulate the impact of policies, investments and infrastructure. It will also develop a platform for the data and methodology that has a user-friendly design, is integrated with existing inventory reporting frameworks and can layer socioeconomic data sets with emissions data.
The researchers also plan to expand emissions data to a larger group of cities, prioritizing smaller ones and those in the Global South that might not have the information they need for a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the report says.
Current climate policies will leave more than a fifth of humanity exposed to dangerously hot temperatures by 2100, new research suggests.
Despite the Paris Agreement pledge to keep global warming well below 2°C (compared to pre-industrial levels), current policies are projected to result in 2.7°C warming by the end of the century.
The new study, led by researchers at the Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter, associated with the Earth Commission, and Nanjing University, assessed what this would mean for the number of people living outside the “climate niche” in which our species has thrived.
It says about 60 million people are already exposed to dangerous heat (average temperature of 29°C or higher).
And two billion – 22% of the projected end-of-century population – would be exposed to this at 2.7°C of global warming.
The paper highlights the “huge potential” for decisive climate policy to limit the human costs and inequities of climate change.
Limiting warming to 1.5°C would leave 5% exposed – saving a sixth of humanity from dangerous heat compared to 2.7°C of warming.
The study also finds that the lifetime emissions of 3.5 average global citizens today – or just 1.2 US citizens – expose one future person to dangerous heat. This highlights the inequity of climate crisis, as these future heat-exposed people will live in places where emissions today are around half of the global average.
In “worst-case scenarios” of 3.6°C or even 4.4°C global warming, half of the world’s population could be left outside the climate niche, posing what the researchers call an “existential risk”.
“The costs of global warming are often expressed in financial terms, but our study highlights the phenomenal human cost of failing to tackle the climate emergency,” said Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.
“For every 0.1°C of warming above present levels, about 140 million more people will be exposed to dangerous heat.
“This reveals both the scale of the problem and the importance of decisive action to reduce carbon emissions.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2.7°C would mean five times fewer people in 2100 being exposed to dangerous heat.”
Defining the niche
Human population density has historically peaked in places with an average temperature of about 13°C, with a secondary peak at about 27°C (monsoon climates, especially in South Asia).
Density of crops and livestock follow similar patterns, and wealth (measured by GDP) peaks at about 13°C.
Mortality increases at both higher and lower temperatures, supporting the idea of a human “niche”.
Although less than 1% of humanity currently live in places of dangerous heat exposure, the study shows climate change has already put 9% of the global population (more than 600 million people) outside the niche.
“Most of these people lived near the cooler 13°C peak of the niche and are now in the ‘middle ground’ between the two peaks. While not dangerously hot, these conditions tend to be much drier and have not historically supported dense human populations,” said Professor Chi Xu, of Nanjing University.
“Meanwhile, the vast majority of people set to be left outside the niche due to future warming will be exposed to dangerous heat.
“Such high temperatures have been linked to issues including increased mortality, decreased labour productivity, decreased cognitive performance, impaired learning, adverse pregnancy outcomes, decreased crop yield, increased conflict and infectious disease spread.”
While some cooler places may become more habitable due to climate change, population growth is projected to be highest in places at risk of dangerous heat, especially India and Nigeria.
The study also found:
Exposure to dangerous heat starts to increase dramatically at 1.2°C (just above current global warming) and increases by about 140 million for every 0.1°C of further warming.
Assuming a future population of 9.5 billion people, India would have the greatest population exposed at 2.7°C global warming – more than 600 million. At 1.5°C, this figure would be far lower, at about 90 million.
Nigeria would have the second-largest heat-exposed population at 2.7°C global warming, more than 300 million. At 1.5°C warming this would be less than 40 million.
India and Nigeria already show “hotspots” of dangerous temperatures.
At 2.7°C, almost 100% of some countries including Burkina Faso and Mali will be dangerously hot for humans. Brazil would have the largest land area exposed to dangerous heat, despite almost no area being exposed at 1.5 °C. Australia and India would also experience massive increases in area exposed.
The research team – which included the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the Universities of Washington, North Carolina State, Aarhus and Wageningen – stress that the worst of these impacts can be avoided by rapid action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking about the conception of their idea, Professor Marten Scheffer, of Wageningen University, said: “We were triggered by the fact that the economic costs of carbon emissions hardly reflect the impact on human wellbeing.
“Our calculations now help bridging this gap and should stimulate asking new, unorthodox questions about justice.”
Ashish Ghadiali, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, said: “These new findings from the leading edge of Earth systems science underline the profoundly racialised nature of projected climate impacts and should inspire a policy sea-change in thinking around the urgency of decarbonisation efforts as well as in the value of massively up-shifting global investment into the frontlines of climate vulnerability.”
Wendy Broadgate, Executive Director of the Earth Commission at Future Earth, said: “We are already seeing effects of dangerous heat levels on people in different parts of the world today. This will only accelerate unless we take immediate and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Energy-hungry data centres already match the aviation industry in terms of their contribution to global warming. Could they be adapted to heat other buildings as standard, wonders Kunle Barker
An article in the Economist last year entitled, ‘Say goodbye to 1.5°C’ made for depressing reading. It claimed we had already lost one of the critical battles in the climate war. The article suggested that we stood little chance of restricting the world’s post-industrial temperature rise to 1.5°C. The only way I could process this news was to ignore it. I convinced myself we were still on target and that the messaging was helpful as it would chivvy us all into focusing on hitting the 1.5°C target.
Sadly, the UN Climate Report released in March confirmed the Economist s conclusion. And this week, scientists have said the 1.5°C threshold is likely to be broken over the next few years.
Even for an eternal optimist like myself, this is worrying and disappointing. After COP26, as I drove back to London in my EV, I felt hopeful and sure that the world would do what was needed to save the planet. Little did I know, as I triumphantly plugged my EV into a supercharger at Rugby services, it was already too late to save the 1.5-degree target.
I’ve written many columns about the critical role the built environment sector could play in averting a climate disaster. To a large extent, as an industry, our intent is clear: we question, campaign, and push each other to do better. However, something sinister may lurk underneath the surface of our hubris.
A recent BBC story about a swimming pool in Exeter that used a data centre as its heat source grabbed my attention. The story reminded me of a train journey I shared with fellow Manser Medal judge, Joe Jack Williams, in which he described using data centres as heat sources in heritage assets. The use of waste heat fascinated me, but the wider application struck me only while reading this BBC article. Could data centres be used as heat sources for homes, schools even entire developments?
Using excess heat is by no means a new idea. The Churchill Gardens estate, which started construction in 1946, used excess heat from Battersea Power Station. However, my research into the topic revealed a surprising fact about the impact on our environment of data centres: They are ‘sleeping giants’ when it comes to CO2 emissions.
Today, data centres account for 2 per cent of the world’s carbon footprint, similar to the aeronautical industry and only 1.6% less than the petrochemical industry. This is worrying enough, but there are predictions that by 2030 data centres will be responsible for more carbon emissions than both those industries combined.
When this sleeping giant awakens, our industry will shoulder the blame because we will have designed and built the structures these carbon goliaths inhabit.
An obvious solution would be to argue for restricting the growth of the data centre industry, but I believe it’s too late for this. In many ways, it has already happened. Our reliance on online payments, AI, cloud storage and so on is already integrated into our society’s fabric, and it is too late to go back.
But there could be a solution. Around 70 per cent of data centres’ energy is used for cooling, and this is set to climb to 80 per cent as machines used for AI and Blockchain operate more efficiently at lower temperatures. Data centres are usually designed on a large scale but perhaps they could be used to heat individual buildings if they were made smaller and supply and demand of this heat were efficiently balanced.
Designing smaller data centres would allow their integration into large-scale developments. Imagine a mini data centre located in each plot of a development, using the excess energy to heat space and water. This would represent a significant carbon saving for all involved.
This concept is not without its challenges. Although data centres produce heat constantly, it’s not very high quality, and even with the best form of heat exchange, you will struggle to get 30 degrees out of the system. But we as an industry must try, must ask ‘what if?’ and must push for rapid innovation. Unlike the adage, ‘the diet begins tomorrow’, it seems we may have already run out of tomorrows.
Kunle Barker is a property expert, journalist and broadcaster
Here is a decent snapshot of the going-on climate risks that are increasingly apparent these latter days. It is about the Built Environment taking a major leap in Race to Zero with new joiners and sector progress by CLIMATE CHAMPIONS.
Built Environment takes a major leap in Race to Zero with new joiners and sector progress
4 May 2023
The built environment sector is responsible for almost 40 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50 per cent of all extracted materials. Because of this, the sector is critical for climate action. Critically, the long lifespan of built assets highlights the need to act now to avoid ‘locking-in’ emissions and climate risk long into the future.
The role of the Built Environment extends beyond emissions reduction. As the ‘stage’ on which our lives are played out, the Built Environment is the platform through which a resilient, equitable and nature-positive future is delivered.
In recognition of this, the Climate Champions have been supporting the sector to reach net zero emissions by 2050. As part of this work, the Built Environment team has been tracking the progress of ‘major’ businesses in the Race to Zero campaign across four sectoral stakeholder groups, which include architects and engineers, construction companies, real estate investment companies, and real estate asset managers.
The team found that 49% of major architects and engineers by revenue have joined the campaign, while only 16% of major construction companies by revenue have joined
Furthermore, 19% of major real estate investment companies by revenue and 29% of major real estate asset managers by revenue have joined the campaign, indicating that the sector is making progress towards decarbonization.
In April alone, six new companies joined the Race to Zero, including Kerry Properties Limited, a Hong Kong-based real estate company, and Daito Trust Construction Co., Ltd., a Japanese real estate company. Both of these companies are significant joiners and will contribute to the sector’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.
The Built Environment sector has also seen progress in terms of policy, with Dubai announcing its Climate Action Plan to reach net zero and reduce emissions. The WorldGBC has launched its Global Policy Principles, which are driving action in the sector towards achieving net-zero emissions.
In finance, UNEPFI’s Finance Sector Briefing has shown that over 50 major banks and investors have a developed understanding of the physical and transitional risks of real estate. This report paves the way for the finance sector to price the cost of non-resilient and inefficient buildings into their funding decisions.
The sector has several strategically important events coming up, including the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki, Finland, and the EmiratesGBC Annual Congress, which will discuss the road to COP28.
Notwithstanding the positive signals of change, currently the Built Environment sector is not on track to achieve decarbonization by 2050. UNEP’s 2022 Buildings Global Status Report shows that whilst decarbonisation efforts have increased since 2015, these efforts are swapped by the growth of the sector globally.
Addressing this call-to-action will require accelerating ‘radical collaboration’ across the value chain, to drive market transformation. The upcoming ‘Buildings Breakthrough’, due for launch ahead of COP28, will provide a forum for driving international collaboration to unlock climate action on buildings.
The Built Environment 2030 Breakthrough Outcome
Our dedicated Built Environment 2030 Breakthrough Outcome page provides information and resources for anyone interested in tracking the sector’s efforts to achieve net zero.
The page highlights the importance of the sector’s transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy and provides updates on the progress being made by key stakeholders, such as major architects/engineers, construction companies, real estate investment companies, and asset managers.
The page also features a list of new members who have joined the Race to Zero, along with relevant events, policy developments, case studies and partners, such as the Buiding to COP initiative.
Here are some thoughts ‘On Urban Greening 2023 and the challenge of valuing nature at this stage; as the author put it, “Generations of capitalism, consumerism and environmental degradation will take much undoing to move humanity back to operating within our ecological limits.”
Generations of capitalism, consumerism and environmental degradation will take a lot of undoing to move humanity back to operating within our ecological limits.
All those involved in the built environment have their work cut out for them. First, it was operational and embodied carbon. Then it was biodiversity, and soon it will be embodied water.
The Fifth Estate’s Urban Greening 2023 event on Thursday highlights the top thinkers, researchers and practitioners of biophilic design and integrating nature back into our homes, workplaces and places of leisure.
And what better way to kick off the day with appreciation of earth-centred governance with a keynote from Earth Laws Alliance of Australia national convenor, Michelle Maloney?
The earth jurisprudence expert framed the discussion with research from Will Steffen on the “Great Acceleration” – a 2015 study which visualises how the acceleration of industrial system development since the 1950s impacted our socio-economic and planetary wealth in 24 economic and earth system trends.
As the graphs of earth system trends in the image below indicate, increased economic output and development occurs in tandem with stratospheric rises of all indicators, from population to GDP, CO2 to ocean acidification, and tropical forest loss to coastal nitrogen levels.
These trends describe planet Earth’s transition from the Holocene, where all beings live in harmony with each other, to the Anthropocene, where human survival dominates that of all other living things.
The result is that humanity has created an “over-extractivist way of being influenced everything we all do,” Maloney said.
“And not one of us can change it on our own. But there’s an entire body of work that’s out there that’s challenging these systems. And great acceleration…was entirely manmade, entirely reliant on fossil fuels. And something that is entirely capable of being changed into something much better.”
Before launching into what most would consider radical ideas for changing our mindsets and improving our stewardship of the planet, Maloney refers to her work with leading Indigenous thinker Mary Graham to emphasise the importance of working with Indigenous governance systems and the laws of Country to build better futures.
“And that’s why we call ourselves Future Dreaming. Because yes, we’re a little bit out there. But is it weird or unusual to think that we should try to live within ecological limits?”
In her search for what she terms “alternative governance models”, Maloney was enchanted by Graham’s construct of “sacralised ecological custodianship” which has driven much of her focus as an environmental lawyer on “nature personhood” where human rights are conferred on things like mountains, rivers and the like.
The threads of how to modify our governance, financial and economic systems to build a better world carried over into a fascinating discussion featuring panellists from EY, KPMG, NSW government and GHD.
As KPMG head of social and sustainable finance Carolin Leeshaa pointed out: “We tend to think of nature as free, but it’s really not.”
The World Economic Forum, she said, estimates that nature directly contributes $US125 trillion to the world economy every year, and around 50 per cent of global GDP is either moderately or highly dependent on nature.
On the flip side, we now realise that if we degrade nature through deforestation, water pollution and species loss, it carries significant material financial risks.
She pointed to a growing realisation among corporates that preserving nature needs to be part of investment and strategic decision-making. “We’re bounded by nature because we simply cannot grow beyond our planetary boundaries.”
The need to incorporate nature into economic language and terminology gives Rasika Mohan market lead for sustainability, resilience and ESG for GHD Advisory, “a twinge of discomfort because it seems like this is the only way we can preserve and protect nature.”
Her most depressing example of this is that in land valuation, a patch of land is worth more if it is cleared than if it is rich in natural diversity, because cleared land is thought to be economically productive, “whereas land that has wilderness on it is considered to be a poor return.”
Mohan pointed to GHD’s recent work on the Fishermans Bend redevelopment in Melbourne where the company studied ways to implement biodiversity sensitive urban design to revegetate and rehabilitate former industrial spaces, and a rehabilitation at the aptly named Boggy Creek in Victoria’s Otway Ranges, a former sand quarry and creek. Finding quality data is a recurring issue, she added, even in the face of advancements such as digital twins and LIDAR (light detection and ranging).
Amy Croucher spoke about NSW Treasury’s Sustainability Advantage program that works with businesses to undertake a Nature Health Check and an action plan to implement change.
The program developed a natural capital accounting framework for the Wollondilly Shire Council, a peri-urban development area to the south of Sydney, which [tp1] is home to critically endangered ecological communities, where the aim was to quantify the amount and type of native vegetation that might be impacted by development.
Emma Herd, partner with EY, likened the process of incorporating natural capital into existing economic and financial systems as a “translation exercise.. it’s about taking the large amorphous and turning it into things that business must and can be doing, and measurable impacts and outcomes from them.
“Getting business to do things is often giving them the language and the tools they need to make decisions and act as well. The challenge is, how do we do that in a way that doesn’t throw out all the new, by bringing it into the fold?”
Mohan said it wasn’t capitalism that felt uncomfortable, rather it was the fear of the unknown. “You can’t really predict the future, but you can only be resilient enough to be able to adapt to it and bounce back from it…so I think it’s a deeply uncomfortable space.”
We need to conserve 30 per cent of nature by 2030
Leeshaa described the signing of the Gulf Biodiversity Framework at COP 15 last year, which stipulates that 30 per cent of nature must be conserved by 2030, as a landmark development for the nature positive movement because it will translate into new national legislation, as is occurring with the federal government’s new Nature Repair Markets Bill.
Having the tools to assign a monetary value to nature is one thing, but it will all be for naught if consumers are unwilling to pay for it.
What the developers think
No one knows this more keenly than large-scale property developers. The Fifth Estate managing editor Tina Perinotto, moderated a panel that included Mulpha head of developments Tim Spencer, who observed a general flight to quality towards sustainable buildings but argued that to achieve better outcomes, it was necessary to push architects harder to allocate space for green infrastructure because they tended to want to maximise the amount of built form on a given site.
Melissa Schulz, general manager of sustainability at QIC described the fund manager’s master plan to develop green spaces around the Castle Towers shopping mall in Sydney’s northwest. “I think I’m speaking to the converted when I say that Western Sydney has a problem with the urban heat island effect. So [adding green infrastructure in that location is really, really important.” QIC is also pushing the green envelope at its office tower in Albert Street, Brisbane, one of the above-station developments as part of the Cross River Rail project.
Not to be outdone, Mirvac senior sustainability manager Andrew Scerri pointed to a master-planned community in Western Australia where the developer had managed to preserve 600 established trees. “And it’s actually a cost saving as well because transplanting them within the site was a lot cheaper than buying them.”
But the property developer‘s curse is that no matter how much you flex your green credentials and no matter how many trees you plant, someone will always point to flaws in your track record. Mirvac’s Scerri was painfully reminded of this when a Hornsby Shire councillor in the audience took the floor in a fiery exchange to ask how this could be reconciled with the company recently cutting down “hundreds of trees” at a recent project in her municipality.
With time running out before the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures releases its framework guidance in September, developers, fund managers and consultants alike are scrambling to find the data and tools they need to measure and manage the ecological footprint of their operations.
While it’s clear that some have a lot of catching up to do, it’s also apparent that even in the short space of a year since Urban Greening 2022, the industry’s approach to listening, understanding and working with nature has significantly evolved.
It feels like the “translation exercise” is well underway.
Originally posted on HUMAN WRONGS WATCH: Human Wrongs Watch (UN News)* — Disinformation, hate speech and deadly attacks against journalists are threatening freedom of the press worldwide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday [2 May 2023], calling for greater solidarity with the people who bring us the news. UN Photo/Mark Garten | File photo…
Originally posted on Moroccan Travel Blog: When it comes to vibrant and diverse cultures, Morocco certainly stands out as one of the most colorful and fascinating destinations in the world. With its rich history, a blend of Arab, Berber, and French influences, and breathtaking landscapes, this North African gem has much to offer to curious…
This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.