Need to stay focused on Green Technology

Need to stay focused on Green Technology

ZAWYA’s #TECHNOLOGY of 16 July, 2019 published this post on The need to stay focused on green technology. It is written by Mazen Al Saleh, Strategic execution manager in Refinitiv.

Actions by individuals and businesses, such as improving energy efficiency in the home or office, make a difference.

The role of technology in keeping climate catastrophe at bay is becoming ever more critical. The resurgence of protests around the world such as the civil havoc wreaked by Extinction Rebellion or the school strikes begun by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg has renewed pressure on governments to “do something”, no matter how unrealistic or economically ruinous.

The individual and political solutions usually meant by “doing something” are not as straightforward as they sound and may actually create more difficulties than they solve. Actions by individuals and businesses, such as improving energy efficiency in the home or office, make a difference, but this is still a drop in the ocean when put up against the output of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. They are also a bit hit-and-miss. Many of us are happy to do our bit of recycling or to stop the tap running while we brush our teeth, but how many of us are prepared never to fly again or to take up a vegan diet?

Similarly, swingeing political solutions such as carbon and fuel taxes can jolly things along, but such taxes inevitably hit the poor hardest and contribute to their own political unrest, as seen with the Yellow Vest movement in France, which could backfire by encouraging the election of more climate-sceptic leaders such as Donald Trump.

Technology presents only opportunities
Yet where individual and political solutions pose their own problems, the technological approach presents only opportunities. The growing recognition of the essential role played by green technology is highlighted by the fact that the World Green Economy Summit held in Dubai last year included a discussion on the role of technology in the green economy, this year it will be the summit’s overarching theme. 

One example of the win-win nature of technological solutions to green issues is renewable energy. In its early days, renewables were seen by many as nothing more than a way for governments to spend taxpayers’ money on switching to more expensive energy. But we hung in there and the fruits are beginning to show. Prices of renewables, particularly solar, are through better technology being brought to a point where not only do they no longer require public subsidy, but turn a profit enough that they become an attractive business proposition. 

Two years ago the World Economic Forum reported that solar and wind power had fallen to the same price or even cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries. This was a crucial tipping point for renewable energy, and has led to a big increase in its use by corporates in particular around the world. A report produced last year by FTSE Russell found that the green economy was outperforming much of the rest of the global economy, making green technology an increasingly appealing investment prospect. 

Much still to be done
Still, despite renewable power having accounted for 70 percent of net additions to global power generating capacity in 2017, greenhouse gas emissions edged higher that year nonetheless, showing there is still much work to be done. The main laggards were the heating, cooling and transport sectors, which account for about 80 percent of global energy demand.

This shows that although technological breakthroughs in areas such as renewable energy can have a win-win impact – reduced emissions and cheaper energy – the road ahead isn’t easy. For example, if there is a greater take-up of electric cars this might cause oil prices to fall, which in turn could increase demand from the aviation sector that would push up emissions.

Despite advances in green technology such as the smart grid, electric vehicles, bioplastics, carbon capture and storage, green computers and green packaging, some critics insist that these advances are not nearly enough. They say that although we have been led by some of the modern world’s amazing inventions into believing that technology can achieve anything that simply isn’t true. They contend that future advances in green technology cannot be blindly relied upon to save the planet, and that essential breakthroughs such as improved battery efficiency in electric vehicles may still be a long way off. 

Technology predicted to potentially cut emissions by 64 percent by 2050
But if there are problems with green technology, they are considerably less than those created by a purely political approach, which will inevitably lead to punitive, and polarising, taxes. Governments would do better to ease the path for innovative firms and startups through funding and supportive legislation so they can find the myriad solutions that will be needed to meet or go beyond the carbon targets of the Paris Agreement. ING in a report issued last year predicted that such an approach could result in a 64 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

To conclude, while the political pressure intensifies to enact all sorts of rash and damaging ecological measures, it is best to keep our heads and do all we can to back and push forward the technological innovations that may not just combat climate change, but do so while strengthening the global economy.

The World Green Economy Summit (WGES) this year will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, UAE on October 20th-21st. To learn more about the World Green Economy Summit, please visit the following link http://www.wges.ae/

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Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency

Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency

Published on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by Common Dreams is this story titled “7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It,” reproduced here for obvious reasons with our courtesy to all in Common Dreams.

“We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a greener and cleaner future for all.” by Jessica Corbett, staff writer.

climate emergency sign
Civic intelligence requires citizen engagement. (Photo: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 7,000 colleges and universities across the globe declared a climate emergency on Wednesday and unveiled a three-point plan to collectively commit to addressing the crisis.

“Young people around the world feel that schools, colleges, and universities have been too slow to react to the crisis that is now bearing down on us.”
—Charlotte Bonner, SOS

The declaration came in a letter—which other education institutions are encouraged to sign—that was organized by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), U.S.-based higher education climate action organization Second Nature, and U.N. Environment Program’s (UNEP) Youth and Education Alliance.

The letter, according to a statement from organizers, “marks the first time further and higher education establishments have come together to make a collective commitment to address the climate emergency,” and outlines the three-point plan:

  1. Committing to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest;
  2. Mobilizing more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation; and
  3. Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curricula, campus, and community outreach programs.

“The young minds that are shaped by our institutions must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges of climate change,” the letter says. “We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a greener and cleaner future for all.”

The letter, which calls on other institutions and governments to declare a climate emergency and pursue urgent action to combat it, was presented at a Wednesday eventhosted by the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative—a partnership of various United Nations agencies—at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

“The expectation is that over 10,000 institutions of higher and further education will come on board before the end of the 2019, with governments invited to support their leadership with incentives to take action,” said the organizers’ statement. So far, the letter has been signed by 25 networks that represent approximately 7,050 institutions and 59 individual institutions that, combined, have about 652,000 students.

The individual institutions that have joined the declaration include five in the continental United States and two in Puerto Rico as well as colleges and universities in Argentina, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Kenya, Kuwait, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

“Young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives which directly involve the youth in this critical work are a valuable contribution to achieving environmental sustainability.”
—Inger Andersen, UNEP

“What we teach shapes the future. We welcome this commitment from universities to go climate neutral by 2030 and to scale-up their efforts on campus,” said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen. “Young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives which directly involve the youth in this critical work are a valuable contribution to achieving environmental sustainability.”

The declaration follows months of students—from all levels of education—taking to the streets around the world as part of the school strike for climate movement, which calls on governments and powerful institutions to pursue bolder policies targeting the human-caused climate crisis.

Praising the college and universities’ letter on Wednesday, Charlotte Bonner of Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) said that “young people around the world feel that schools, colleges, and universities have been too slow to react to the crisis that is now bearing down on us.”

“We welcome the news that they are declaring a climate emergency, we have no time to lose,” Bronner added. “We will be calling on those who haven’t yet supported this initiative, to come on board. Of course, the most important element is the action that follows.”

Read more on Common Dreams.

Gaza’s crafts industries fast disappearing

Gaza’s crafts industries fast disappearing

Israel’s 12-year blockade of the territory has accelerated this trend of Gaza’s crafts industries fast disappearing at a time when normal life seemed ever more difficult to bring back onto its streets. Decades in the besieged enclave, have somehow allowed stores to be reopened, students to head back to schools, and people generally resuming work. This article of Gulf News dated July 10, illustrates fairly well the particular situation of the strip today.


Gaza City, Gaza Strip: When Gazans think of better economic times, images of clay pottery, colorful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats all come to mind. For decades, these traditional crafts defined the economy of the coastal Palestinian enclave, employing thousands of people and exporting across the region. Today, the industries are almost non-existent.

While such professions have shrunk worldwide in the face of globalisation and Chinese mass production, Gazan business owners say Israel’s 12-year blockade has accelerated the trend. “We have been economically damaged. We are staying, but things are really difficult,” said Abed Abu Sido, one of Gaza’s last glassmakers, as he flipped through a glossy catalogue of his products.

At his quiet workshop, layers of dust covered the few remaining glass artifacts, requiring him to scrub them to reveal their colours. Cardboard boxes of unfinished products and materials were stacked floor-to-ceiling.

Abu Sido opened his business in the 1980s, selling many of his items to vendors in the popular marketplace of Jerusalem’s Old City. In his heyday, he said he took part in exhibitions in Europe. That changed after 2007, when the Hamas militant group overran Gaza, and Israel and Egypt responded by sealing Gaza’s borders. Abu Sido laid off his 15 workers and ceased operations the following year.

Israel says the blockade is needed to contain Hamas and prevent it from arming. But the closure, repeated rounds of fighting with Israel and a power struggle with the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have hit Gaza hard.

A Fine Couple They Are (Wind and Solar Power)

A Fine Couple They Are (Wind and Solar Power)

The pairing of wind and solar is emerging as a smart strategy to implement renewable energy sources with better economic feasibility. A Fine Couple They Are (Wind and Solar Power) as suggested by Jim Romeo would definitely affect this Energy Transition era if only in terms of duration.

The pairing of wind and solar power is an advantageous complement; the two benefit each other. The synergistic combination is an emerging trend in renewable energy and power generation as costs drop. The pairing of sustainable sources is in early stages, however. And the configuration still has challenges regarding return on investment (ROI), ease of implementation, and storage.

In western Minnesota, a 2-MW wind turbine and 500-kW solar installation—wind-solar hybrid project—is an early entrant to the wind-solar market and one of the first of its kind in the U.S. It was introduced at a cost of about $5 million with high expectations and the goal that Lake Region Electric Cooperative in Pelican Rapids would acquire the power for its 27,000 members.

The pioneering project got a boost amid the lower costs of solar. The power generation from both renewable sources is calculated to provide dividends on its investment.

According to market researcher Global Market Insights, hybrid solar-wind projects are expected to grow by 4% in the U.S. over the next five years to join a $1.5 billion global market. Some attribute the growth to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference objectives, combined with lower costs of development and materials, and a keen interest by many nations to rely more on renewable energy sources. Because wind turbine power and solar both have excess capacity, together they offer far greater possibilities.

Lucrative but Limited

Renewables especially make economic sense in non-urban areas, where costs per kWh are higher, said Mike Voll, principal and sector lead for Smart Technologies at Stantec. “So, rural communities and remote locations, where energy prices often reach $0.40 to $0.45 per kilowatt-hour, actually see an ROI from these projects. When it comes to combining both wind and solar with storage, however, the list of locations is even smaller still. In a perfect world, we’d have a place that has excellent radiance with enough wind and low cloud cover, but the reality is there are very few locations that meet the geographic requirements. So even as the price continues to drop, there will still be significant limitations to pairing solar and wind.”

Despite limitations, renewables can work well in locations where everything clicks. A storage option is an essential component. “Adding energy storage can reduce intermittency of output, reshape the generation profile to match to load, and enable dispatch of the renewable energy to maximize revenue generation through ISO market participation or utility programs,” said Todd Tolliver, senior manager at ICF, a global consulting and technology services company headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.

Tolliver said the economic viability of these systems is constrained by equipment, costs of storage, and limited or irregular revenue streams. But he explained that the most common combination today is solar plus battery storage, thanks to investment tax credit and incentive programs in certain markets that provide clear lower costs and better revenue streams. Still, wind power energy storage has challenges.

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The West Mediterranean, a basin for the mixing of cultures

The West Mediterranean, a basin for the mixing of cultures

The West Mediterranean, a basin for the mixing of cultures and fruitful dialogue between different civilisations.

Following a Meeting of the 5+5 in Marseille 23 and 24 June 2019, this contribution was my intervention as member of Algeria’s delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs before the various foreign representations and the President of the French Republic as part of The 5+5 Dialogue.  A sub-regional forum for the ten Western Mediterranean countries that take part since its creation, five from the north of the Mediterranean (Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal) and five from the southern shore (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia), all working in the hope for concrete results for the benefit of both sides of the Mediterranean western basin.

The Algerian delegation delighted with Marseille, the seat of different cultures and venue for this final meeting where in a few months, we have carried out an important work showing the vitality of civil society in the western Mediterranean. It was not that obvious at the outset.  From April to June 2019, civil society in the western Mediterranean on both sides worked together to bring concrete solutions to the region “through the implementation of concrete projects for human, economic and sustainable development. We hope that all of these reflections and proposals for initiatives will be shared today with leaders at this summit in Marseille to determine which ones will be implemented as a priority, the means and mechanisms to be implemented to forge strong links in all areas around the Mediterranean in order to boost cooperation, based on the conviction that civil society must be fully involved in the definition of a new “positive” agenda. I recall that recently with renowned experts from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya and 15 European personalities during 2015 and 2016, we produced under my direction and that of my friend Camille Sari two books (1050 pages), one on political institutions, the other economic in all its diversity entitled “The Maghreb in the face of geostrategic issues published by Harmattan Editions, following on from my contributions on this subject at the level of The French Institute of International Relations between 2011 and 2013 on Europe-Maghreb relations.

The ideas are not new but unfortunately have not been realized. I recall that during a meeting almost similar at the UNESCO in 1993 at the initiative of Pierre Moussa with Mr. Thom Bekki then Vice-President of South Africa on the theme – Africa-Maghreb as part of the strategy Euro-Mediterranean, I had advocated in my speech the creation of both a Euro-Mediterranean university as a place of fertilization of cultures, against intolerance, and a Euro-Mediterranean bank and stock exchange with financial instruments adapted to the situation for the realization of concrete projects by promoting decentralized networks of economic, social and cultural actors, involving international financial institutions and traditional banks.  I reiterate these proposals for this summit of 5+5 in addition to the creation of an economic and social council at the level of the Western Mediterranean (5+5) whose vocation is to bring together the different segments of civil society, experience if successful could be extended to a global civil society bringing together the different regions of our planet in order to combat insecurity, migration and thus promote a balanced and global solidarity space.

It is in this context that I would like to welcome the initiative of His Excellency the President of the French Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, to whom Algeria has given its support from the outset. This initiative, it seems to me, is part of the new transformation of the world, ecological challenges, the breakthrough of digital and artificial intelligence to witness between 2025/2030/2040 a fourth global economic revolution based on knowledge, which will influence all international relations, recalling the conclusions of COP 21 and COP 22, which calls on all humanity for a solidarity future. The 21st century will have three strategic actors forging dialectical links: states that must adapt to globalization (the centralized bureaucratic Hegelian state is outdated, the North African states have unfortunately copied the French Jacobin system, a blocking factor for reforms as shown by my friend Jacques Attali, the international institutions that need to be renovated with the massive entry of emerging countries including China, and civil society which will play an increasingly important role more predominant, non-antinomic with the other two players but complementary. The common hope is that this important meeting will be able to turn the Mediterranean basin into a lake of peace, tolerance and shared prosperity based on a win/win partnership far from any spirit of domination, through tolerance and dialogue cultures of which I am deeply attached.

Algeria is a strategic player in the Mediterranean and Africa since it played an essential role in the various meetings in preparation for the 5+5 meeting where it proposed concrete projects with a regional impact, favouring economic interests and the stability of the region, taking into account the transformation of the world. Algeria, endowed with the issue of Energy Transition, proposed projects from civil society, where the work of the Forum in Algiers organized in the form of four thematic sessions, namely: Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency; Electrical interconnections, Natural Gas as the engine of an energy transition and the digital transformation of the energy sector.  It is that energy will be at the heart of the sovereignty of states and their security policies and their economic dynamics alter the balance of power on a global scale and affect political recompositions within countries as regional spaces. The energy transition refers to other subjects than technical, posing the societal problem. It can be viewed as the passage of human civilization built primarily fossil, polluting, abundant, and inexpensive energy, to a civilization where energy is renewable, scarce, expensive, and less polluting with the objective of eventually replacing energies stocks (oil, coal, gas, uranium) with flows of energies (wind, solar). This raises the problem of a new model of growth and consumption: all economic sectors and households are concerned. The important potentials of all forms of energy in the Mediterranean, that of wind or sun, or of fossil fuels present in its subsoil, can make this area contacts between millennia-old civilizations, which have always been subject to political tensions, a new energy region of the world, at the gates of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Crossroads of three continents, fragile from an environmental point of view, the Mediterranean basin is also a region that provides energy, such as those of the wind or the sun, or fossil fuels present in its subsoil. The energy mix of tomorrow will be electrically dominant, as the electricity market is expected to increase by almost 80% by 2040. Solar thermal for export, combined with photovoltaic for internal consumption needs, is expected to be the most important resource for electricity generation. Hybridization with gas should already allow it to be competitive. Electric highways in continuous current to cross the Mediterranean could be used to meet the growing needs of Europe’s Mediterranean coast and superconductivity completed by liquid hydrogen cooling will be the most medium-term solution to meet the needs of Northern Europe.

After the mixed results of the Barcelona Agreement and the Union for the Mediterranean, let us hope that this summit can lead to concrete results for the benefit of the people of the region. I am convinced only the culture of tolerance will allow our space, in the face of the new challenges of globalization, to meet the challenges of the 21st century in the face of fierce competition, including the breakthrough of emerging countries, the rise of global terrorism threat, the rise of protectionism detrimental to the growth of the world economy, existing a dialectical link between security and development, to the dangers of populism.  Finally, co-development in the Mediterranean via the continent Africa issue of the 21st century can, as I pointed out recently in interviews with AFRICAPRESSE.PARIS and the American Herald Tribune, curb ensure security and avoid destabilization that would have geostrategic repercussions for the entire Mediterranean and African region.

I wanted to stress during this meeting on behalf of Algeria, that a strategic player at the regional level will contribute to the success, based on a win-win partnership, of this enormous undertaking, an old dream, forging our common Mediterranean consciousness.  I quote the conclusion of my speech: “Mr. President of the French Republic, you, who are the age of my son, hope that all together leaders of the 5+5 and civil societies of our region, supported by international institutions, will realize this old dream that I defend with the many Maghreb and European friends, for more than 30 years the Mediterranean, a place of mixing of cultures, tolerance and fruitful dialogue between different civilizations, our common destiny being to do business together.”

Finally, as I pointed out in an interview with Jeune Afrique, Paris on June 24, 2019, far from any vision of disaster, Algeria’s future holds immense hope as at the end of my interview, and I quote: “Our youth and the National People’s Army have shown unwavering maturity. But it is imperative to move beyond the current status-quo before the end of 2019 with transparent elections, as a longer transition period could inevitably lead the country to an economic and social drift. And as in economics, lost time is never caught back, the productive dialogue with concessions on both sides for Algeria being its benefit, accompanied by a profound restructuring of parties and civil society based on new networks, is the only way out of the current crisis.”

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices

Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices

We did query back in February 2019 Where does the MENA region’s food come from? We did, however, imply that the region’s countries, especially those with thick piles of cash, have to do their best to aim locally. In any case here is the latest on the issue that is applicable worldwide. Be adventurous in your tastes, local in your choices per the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Calling all foodies: this one’s for you!

Gastronomy is a cultural expression of the world’s natural and cultural diversity. On June 18, we celebrate Sustainable Gastronomy Day and acknowledge that everyone plays a role in making sustainable choices for healthy diets and a food-secure future. @ Chompoo Suriyo/ shutterstock.com

Every year, June 18 marks Sustainable Gastronomy Day. This begs the questions:

  • 1) What in the world is sustainable gastronomy?
  • 2) Why is it important enough to have a “day” dedicated to it? and
  • 3) Even so, why should I care?

What is Sustainable Gastronomy? 

Gastronomy is sometimes called the art of food. It can also refer to a style of cooking from a particular region. In other words, gastronomy often refers to local food and cuisine. Sustainability is the idea that something (e.g. agriculture, fishing or even preparation of food) is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.

Sustainable gastronomy, therefore, means cuisine that takes into account where the ingredients are from, how the food is grown and how it gets to our markets and eventually to our plates. 

Why does it have a “day”?

Because eating local foods that have been produced sustainably makes a difference to people’s livelihoods, to the environment and to economies. By 2050, the world will have over 9 billion mouths to feed. Yet, 1/3 of all food produced is lost or wasted. As it stands now, we are using our oceans, forests and soils in largely unsustainable ways. We need to be more careful about how we use our natural resources as producers and we need to be pickier about how we choose our food as consumers.

By being open to locally grown foods and eating what is in season, you can help shift the buying patterns of local businesses, like restaurants and hotels, and support the area’s fishers and farmers. Left: ©Curioso/Shutterstock.com Right: ©Fundación CoMunidad/Alberto Pascual

Eating locally-grown products helps to boost an area’s economy, support its farmers and reduce the greenhouse gases and resources used in transporting food. Buying locally grown products means that there is demand for them and this helps farmers maintain their livelihoods. 

Why should I care?

Most of us care about food. Some of us REALLY care about food (We are talking to you foodies out there!). Caring about our local foods and markets means that we can help to preserve our culinary roots: the traditional crops, recipes and cultures from which these cuisines originate. It means that we are mindful of the resources that have gone into growing the food that we cherish and that we are helping to keep culinary traditions alive. 

As overweight and obesity rates soar worldwide, it is that much more important to ensure that healthy and sustainable diets are available and affordable to everyone. ©FAO/Sebastián Villar

By being open to locally grown foods and eating what is in season, you can help shift the buying patterns of local businesses, like restaurants and hotels, and support the area’s fishers and farmers. You can also expand your diet to include other traditional crops, like quinoa or cactus pear, that are full of vitamins and minerals.

What can I do?

1. Support your farmers: Go to local food markets. By buying from small producers or family farmers, you are supporting their livelihoods and strengthening communities. 

2. Try local foods in your travels: whether trying types of fish you have never heard of or fruits that you have never seen before, eating local products helps to give you a better insight into the culture of a place and supports local economies.

3. Keep culinary traditions alive! Culinary traditions are generally sustainable by nature and remind us of our ancestral roots. Try cooking recipes that use ingredients native to your region. Pulses, for example, are easy to grow and extremely nutritious.

4. Avoid food waste: While cooking, and even after your meal, be conscious to use all of your ingredients wisely and to save your leftovers. Being careful about portion size, expiration dates and reuse of meals is one of the easiest ways to save natural resources.

As overweight and obesity rates soar worldwide, it is that much more important to ensure that healthy and sustainable diets are available and affordable to everyone. We can all take action to achieve healthy diets and #ZeroHunger by 2030.

*This story is an update of one first published on 28 June 2017.