In part two of Climate Fight: the world’s biggest negotiation, a series from The Anthill podcast on the UN climate summit in Glasgow, we’re talking to experts about the grand goal of the negotiations: reaching net-zero emissions.
More than 130 countries have set or are considering a target of net-zero emissions by mid-century. At COP26 – the annual meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the UK is hosting this year – world leaders will be urged to submit emission reduction targets for 2030 that will put them on track to reach net-zero by 2050.
And what does net zero mean, exactly? “All it really means is that our dangerous interference with the Earth’s climate will stop when we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” says James Dyke, a senior lecturer in global systems at the University of Exeter. With time and the world’s remaining carbon budget running perilously short, net-zero emissions entails not only “the amount of carbon that we will emit”, Dyke explains, but also “the amount of carbon that we will remove.”
Carbon capture and storage is one technology that climate scientists hope could help in that effort. Our producer, Tiffany Cassidy, visited the Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, to see it in action. This is the first power station in the world to successfully use this technology, and we learn that it now captures two thirds of its carbon emissions.
“It’s not going to be just one technology that is going to help us to reach net zero,” says Mercedes Maroto-Valer, director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions at Heriot-Watt University. “It’s going to be a portfolio of different technologies that are going to be ready at different times.”
There are options for removing carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or direct air-capture machines; and preventing it getting there in the first place, such as carbon capture and storage; and replacing fossil fuels with zero-carbon alternatives, such as green hydrogen – but none of them are ready to be deployed at anything like the scale necessary to offset the more than 40 billion tonnes of CO₂ which countries emit each year.
As the awesome challenge of decarbonising the world bears down on us, Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, tells us that there is no longer room for half-measures:
We didn’t save the ozone layer by putting a tax on deodorant. We went to the manufacturers of CFCs and just said, no, you can’t produce these things that are going to destroy the ozone layer. We’ve got to do the same thing for fossil fuel producers.
Join us, and a host of academic experts, as we stake out the path to net zero.
The Climate Fight podcast series is produced by Tiffany Cassidy. Sound design by Eloise Stevens and the theme tune is by Neeta Sarl. The series editor is Gemma Ware.
The 4,000-page report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not due to be released until February, 2022, but a copy was leaked to Agence France-Presse. The report calls for a total transformation of our way of life if we wish to avoid catastrophe. The window of opportunity is closing rapidly. Urgent action must be taken within less than a decade.
The report states that,
“We need transformational change operating on processes and behavior at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments. We must redefine our way of life and consumption.”
Wildfires throughout the world have also become increasingly frequent and severe.
The Threat of a Very Large-scale Famine
Unless efforts are made to stabilize and ultimately reduce global population, there is a serious threat that climate change, population growth, and the end of the fossil fuel era could combine to produce a large-scale famine by the middle of the 21st century.
As glaciers melt in the Himalayas and the Andes, depriving India, China and South America of summer water supplies; as sea levels rise, drowning fertile rice-growing regions of Southeast Asia; as droughts reduce the food production of North America and Southern Europe; as groundwater levels fall in China, India, the Middle East and the United States; and as high- yield modern agriculture becomes less possible because fossil fuel inputs are lacking, there is a threat that a very large-scale famine will occur, involving billions of people, rather than millions,
Long-Term Effects of Catastrophic Climate Change
The problem of mobilizing the political will needed for effective climate action is a contrast between timescales. Effective action must be taken immediately if catastrophe is to be avoided. However, the worst effects of runaway climate change lie in the long-term future. Therefore it is difficult to mobilize the strong public opinion needed for political action. The politicians themselves, being few in number, can be bribed by the enormously wealthy fossil fuel corporations, whose profits are at stake. We should almost be grateful for the recent extreme weather events and wildfires, which have helped to make the public aware of the dangers of climate change.
Suppose that we fail in our efforts to avoid runaway climate change. What then? Then, in the long-term future, most of the earth’s surface will become uninhabitable, starting with tropical regions and regions that will be underwater due to sea-level rise. If this worst-case scenario takes place, the global population of humans will be much reduced.
Extreme Action Is Needed Immediately
It is not enough to stop subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. It is not enough to talk about future technologies for sequestering carbon. It is not enough to stop banks and pension funds from investing in giant fossil fuel corporations. It is not enough to give more television time to climate change. All these steps are helpful, but they are not enough.
What is enough? We must very rapidly stop the extraction and use of fossil fuels. At present, U.S. President Joe Biden authorizes drilling for oil on public lands. This must stop. At present, both Canada and Venezuela produce oil from tar sands, an extremely greenhouse-gas-polluting process. This must stop. At present, both China and India depend on coal for power. This must stop within less than ten years. Hopefully, the worst-case scenario discussed above can motivate these urgently-needed climate actions.
Links to Other Books on Global Problems
Other books and articles on global problems can be found on the following links:
Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA, known for its green architecture many years before forests on towers became fashionable, has designed Singapore’s pavilion for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The pavilion is a prototype that demonstrates how the built environment can coexist with nature.
Other photos…A year late, the Dubai Expo 2020 opened on 1 October 2021. Among the many architectural highlights is the Singapore pavilion commissioned by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority from WOHA. In essence, it is a structure designed to welcome visitors to a sustainable oasis in the desert that integrates nature, innovation and architecture. In addition, the structure addresses Singapore’s vision of becoming a city in nature. That is why the pavilion was designed as a prototype to demonstrate how the built environment can coexist with nature. It also reflects Singapore’s history. It is a city-state that manages to thrive in a difficult environment on a limited area, as the pavilion is also located on one of the smallest lots in the Expo. But this is certainly not to the detriment of either the design solutions adopted or its tremendous visual impact. To maximise the usable area of the site, the architects of the WOHA studio, known for its distinct approach to biophilic design and integrated landscape planning, opted to stack multiple levels and functions on top of each other. Thus, visitors are treated to an experiential journey as they make their way along the canopied walkway that meanders through multiple levels of the pavilion, surrounded by verdant palms, trees, shrubs and orchids. The Hanging Garden and three thematic cones all wrapped in vertical greenery add to this immersive, three-dimensional biophilic experience. Next comes the Open Sky Market on the upper level, crowned by a canopy of solar panels that shelters the pavilion from the elements and generates electricity, making the Singapore pavilion a net-zero energy consumer. To reduce the use of energy and other resources, passive strategies such as natural cross-ventilation, shading and planting were implemented to create a comfortable climate for visitors and plants. A solar reverse-osmosis desalination system will meet all of its water needs. The Singapore Pavilion also houses more than 170 varieties of plants that will grow during the Expo period. As well as providing a wonderful immersive experience, the plants provide measurable ecosystem services such as reducing solar heat, sequestrating greenhouse gases, reducing other pollutants such as PM10 particles, producing oxygen, reclaiming rainwater and providing habitats for animals. By means of exhibitions and experiences, the Singapore pavilion investigates how we can build resilient, self-sufficient, biophilic, attractive yet highly functional structures that coexist with nature. These are flexible solutions in that these design strategies can be adapted to different climates and geographies, and even be scaled up to district or even city level. As the architects of WOHA say: “Our climate crisis shows us that the impact of human actions on the planet cannot be ignored, and that urgent action needs to be taken. This reinforces the aspirations of the SG Pavilion: to design a different future and to create a sustainable, resilient environment in which humans coexist with nature.”
Insurance Journal reviews the construction industry as to how it is globally impacted by climate change. The author L.S. Howard explains how Global Construction Industry Faces Climate Change.
Global Construction Industry Faces Climate Change Challenges, Opportunities: Marsh
1st October 2021
Climate change and the race to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (net zero) are arguably the greatest challenges that face the construction industry – but will drive new opportunities, according to a report published by Marsh and Guy Carpenter, subsidiaries of Marsh McLennan.
The infrastructure boom is set to fuel global economic growth over the next decade, with global construction output expected to grow by 6.6% in 2021 and by 42% by 2030, driven largely by government stimuli and the demand for residential construction, said the report, titled “Future of Construction: A Global Forecast for Construction to 2030.”
The global construction market is expected to grow by US$4.5 trillion over the decade to 2030 to reach US$15.2 trillion, said the report, noting that just four countries — China, India, US, and Indonesia — will account for almost 60% of this growth. At the same time, the top 10 global construction markets are expected to account for almost 70% of the growth over the same period.
Although the near-term outlook for the global economy remains clouded by a surge in inflation, supply-chain bottlenecks and the Delta variant, the global construction industry is set to lead global economic recovery from the pandemic over the medium-term and is expected to grow faster than the manufacturing or service sectors, said the report, which was written with Oxford Economics.
However, as the sector grows, so too does the risk of greater pollution and waste, the report warned, explaining that construction and the wider built environment currently accounts for around 40% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions. (Editor’s note: A Marsh representative explained that “the wider built environment” relates to the construction supply chain, namely the inputs and outputs associated with construction projects.)
During the global transition to net zero, the industry needs to radically reduce the amount of carbon embedded in new construction, infrastructure and buildings, which is already a “huge challenge.”
“An emerging deconstruction industry that will reuse huge existing urban stockpiles of construction materials could reduce embedded carbon in the construction of new buildings and infrastructure,” the Marsh report continued.
In addition, the climate crisis is driving huge demand to decarbonize energy networks and develop renewable energy, the report said, citing Saudi Arabia’s Giga Projects, which is leading net zero initiatives.
“Sustainable and quality infrastructure is a driver of economic growth and social progress and is an enabler to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement commitments.”
Further, it continued, environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related capital for infrastructure grew 28% in 2020, which was largely due to a flow of fundraising into sustainability-related strategies. “Given that significant equity is usually allocated to infrastructure by major construction companies and developers using their own corporate balance sheets, opportunities exist for those companies that develop new technologies, designs, and processes.”
“Climate change and the ESG agenda – and the risks and opportunities they present – are among the biggest challenges the global construction industry faces over the next decade. These forces are changing risk profiles for the sector,” commented Richard Gurney, global head of Construction, Marsh Specialty, in a statement.
“Organizations must adapt in order to harness the sector’s massive potential for growth while playing a pivotal role in the advancement of economies and communities around the world,” he said.
“The construction and engineering industry is entering a period of exciting opportunity but also one that will require new ways of approaching risk by the insurance and reinsurance sectors,” said Simon Liley, co-head, Global Engineering, Guy Carpenter.
“These dynamics call for effective knowledge sharing from industry innovators at one end all the way through to reinsurance actuaries at the other,” Liley noted. “Understanding the shifting profile of exposure, technology, and sources of capital will be important to enable insurers and reinsurers to establish underwriting platforms and offer products that meet the construction industry’s changing needs.”
Other Marsh/Carpenter projections for the industry to 2030 include:
Predicted average annual growth in construction of 3.6% per annum – faster than either the services or manufacturing sectors.
The next decade for construction will see global growth up by 35% compared to the previous decade, driven by unprecedented levels of stimulus spending on infrastructure and the unleashing of excess household savings; it will represent more than 10% of GDP in North America.
Global infrastructure construction is forecast to grow by an annual average of 5.1%.
Annual growth in UK infrastructure is expected to average 3.7%, rivaling China over the period as UK mega projects provide heightened growth.
Urbanization is expected to turbo charge growth in emerging markets. Overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050 with almost 90% of this happening within Asia and Africa.
“It is unusual to see construction outstripping growth in both services and manufacturing over a more sustained period. We would normally expect to see construction growing faster than other sectors of the economy for shorter periods in a cyclical upturn,” said Graham Robinson, Global Infrastructure and Construction lead at Oxford Economics and lead author of “Future of Construction.”
“However, it’s not surprising that construction is expected to power the global economy over this next decade, considering the unprecedented nature of the stimulus spending on infrastructure by governments and the unleashing of excess household savings in the wake of COVID,” Robinson affirmed.
The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s article is a snapshot, at this conjecture, of the current vital decarbonisation awareness process throughout the world. In it, Ekaterina Miroshnik and Adam Sieminski ask How can we get hydrocarbon-rich nations to board the EV wagon? So here are the authors’ answers.
How can we get hydrocarbon-rich nations to board the EV wagon?
As the fourth largest source of carbon emissions, global transport must decarbonize.
Near-term reductions are most feasible in the light-duty vehicle sector.
Supply-side policies could be more effective in encouraging hydrocarbon-rich states to participate.
Hydrocarbon fuels account for more than 80% of commercially traded energy consumption. The abundance, convenience and affordability of fossil fuels have generated economic growth and made life better for billions of people. But the emissions and climate challenges associated with combustion are significant, and policy-makers around the world must limit the rise in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Global transport is the fourth largest source of GHGs, producing about 23% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. About 73% of transport emissions come from road vehicles including cars and trucks, 22% from planes and ships, and 1% from trains. GHG emissions reduction in transport is expected to significantly contribute to meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
GHG emission reduction from long-range heavy-duty transportation (trucks, trains, ships, planes) will likely require substantial R&D breakthroughs and policy interventions, because green technologies for these vehicle segments are not yet commercial. The majority of near-term GHG emission reductions in the transport sector are projected to come from electrification of light-duty vehicles (LDVs) as well as buses, where such technology is already commercial.
Governments globally have adopted various policies to support LDV electrification. Tax and other incentives to reduce the upfront price of electric cars are among the most commonly used policy levers. Using such a model, Norway, a hydrocarbon-rich economy, achieved the highest penetration of EVs in Europe. However, such measures can be expensive. The cost of reducing tailpipe CO2 through subsidies to EV alternatives can be as high as $1,000 per ton, significantly higher than other approaches to reducing carbon.
Demand-side measures can incentivize consumers, but also act to spur the automotive industry by helping the automakers recover their R&D investments on EVs and by allowing them to charge relatively higher prices for EVs. These incentives are part of governmental energy and environment policy, and industrial policies, designed to support local innovation and manufacturing.
Incentivizing the fossil fuel hubs
Demand-side policies are difficult to justify in countries without a local EV manufacturing industry, as is currently the case with countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Additionally, market barriers to EVs in the MENA region and in Eurasia are exacerbated by the policies that tend to favour hydrocarbon fuels use, reducing consumer incentives to adopt electric vehicles by lowering their operational cost advantage. Though government support for fossil fuels is phasing out over time in most MENA countries, economies in Eurasia have been taking very slow steps in this area.
An alternative approach for the regions with an abundance of fossil fuels, especially if the goal is long-term GHG emissions reduction that is also highly cost-effective, is to emphasize technology-neutral supply-side policies, such as fuel economy standards. Such policies are based on a combination of more stringent technology-neutral performance standards with credit-based mechanisms to incentivize the uptake of lower emission vehicles. Such technology-neutral standards offer the possibility of utilizing high-efficiency gasoline-electric hybrids or high-compression internal combustion engine vehicles as affordable interim solutions. In the longer term, there is the possibility of utilizing alternative technologies once they become available, including mobile carbon-capture technology.
Saudi Arabia, led by the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center, is among the first MENA countries to have adopted fuel economy standards. Outside the region, another example includes the recent revision in the European Union’s CO2 emission standards for LDVs. In such a case, the speed and extent of GHG emissions reduction depends on how stringent the implemented standards prove to be.
While an EV is emission-free on the road, it is useful to calculate the net carbon emissions associated with using one by considering the energy mix that provides the electricity to charge it. Ideally, the energy used to charge EVs should be generated from low-carbon or carbon-neutral sources, so that EV deployment results in overall net emissions lower than levels generated by internal combustion (ICE) engine vehicles.
Countries possessing significant shares of renewable energy like hydro, solar and wind in their energy mix are better suited for EV deployment. For example, countries such as Georgia and Tajikistan (both have a substantial share of hydropower) have increased investments in electric urban transport recently.
This does not mean that countries with inexpensive and abundant fossil fuels cannot still adopt EVs and reduce emissions. Hydrocarbon-rich nations can shift their generation from marginal sources toward lower-emission alternatives. For example, Saudi Arabia has announced an ambitious target aiming to generate 50% of its power needs using renewable energy by 2030, with the remainder provided by natural gas. Renewable electricity costs as well as battery costs for EVs, have been falling sharply. If the trend continues, EVs may eventually be suitable for general use in emerging markets, including in the MENA and Eurasia regions.
However, a rapid increase in demand for the core battery materials (e.g. cobalt, lithium), combined with constrained supply, may lead to significant increases in the cost of raw materials. Such increases could increase battery prices and ultimately electric vehicles prices, which could act as a barrier to EV adoption in the short term.
Another barrier is the lack of widespread EV charging infrastructure. Going forward, it we must build roads with an eye to a future where a significant proportion of vehicles could be EVs. This means that at the planning and design phase, road corridors need to be equipped with high-capacity EV chargers within existing fueling stations. To do so, in many cases it might be important to upgrade the local electrical grids and substations to handle these fast chargers, which consume significant energy.
Challenges like air pollution in cities continue to worsen, which should lead electorates exercising more pressure on local authorities to advance green policies. Cities are likely to become the e-mobility change champions in Eurasia (e.g., in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan) with many embracing green development concepts and preparing green city action plans (GCAPs). GCAPs will focus on developing e-mobility strategies and prioritizing investments in electric transport (buses, trolleybuses, taxis, metro and light rail transport systems). The bottom-up pressure will encourage mayors and city councils to speed up electrification of transport, while greening electricity supply.
With the right policy mix and synergy between the power and transportation sectors, as well as supportive investment by multilateral development banks to eco-responsible governments, all countries – including those who most rely on fossil fuels – have an opportunity to reduce their transportation-based GHG emissions.
Ekaterina Miroshnik, Director; Head, Infrastructure, Eurasia, Sustainable Infrastructure Group, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Adam Sieminski, President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC)
Originally posted on Earth Report: Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms: In the Northwest Pacific Ocean: Tropical Storm 25w (Malou), located approximately 349 nm south-southwest of Iwo To, is tracking northeastward at 06 knots. Tropical depression 26w (Twenty-six), located approximately 259 nm east-northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has tracked west-northwestward at 08…
Originally posted on Neko Random: The clementine fruit is also known as the Algerian tangerine as that was where it was first cultivated.
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