Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emitted by burning fossil fuels for energy today will only be removed from the atmosphere by natural sinks – like forests and the ocean – in the next 300 to 1,000 years. That means the climate benefits of transitioning to clean energy become apparent on far longer timescales than political term limits and election cycles. A US study, for example, found that deep cuts to emissions from the energy sector will not result in climate cooling until after 2100.
The costs of mitigating climate change outweigh the immediate benefits to the climate. Politicians seeking recognition for their actions at climate change conferences like COP26 in Glasgow have little motive to deliver policies which slash emissions quickly. But there is a large, short-term benefit to eradicating fossil fuels for global health.
The same fossil fuels producing the greenhouse gases warming the Earth’s atmosphere also form large quantities of air pollutants. The pollutants most hazardous to health are small particles which can penetrate deep into the lungs. These particles have diameters of no more than 2.5 micrometers, so are called PM2.5. At least 800 of these particles could fit end-to-end on the head of a pin. These fall out of the air when it rains, so they persist in the atmosphere for a much shorter time (just a few days) than CO₂.
In a study we published earlier in 2021 in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University, we estimated that exposure to air pollution from using fossil fuels globally accounts for one in five premature deaths. Our results suggest that at least 8.7 million early adult deaths could have been avoided in a single year if countries had already abandoned fossil fuels. This is equivalent to the population of Greater London.
The health benefits of decarbonisation
Our estimate of premature deaths far exceeds that of other researchers, as we used a model that simulates the sources and fate of air pollution to calculate its abundance on a much finer scale. This gives a more accurate picture of the concentrations of air pollution breathed in by people in urban areas. We then used this to estimate excess deaths using the most up-to-date health studies, which have found that air pollution is deadlier than previously assumed.
The most common causes of premature death from air pollution exposure are heart disease and lung cancer, but researchers routinely report additional illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published much stricter health guidelines for air quality than it last recommended in 2005 based on substantial evidence that exposure to air pollution is even worse for public health than scientists had imagined.
Our study is probably an underestimate of the possible public health benefits of abandoning fossil fuels. We only accounted for one type of pollution, PM2.5, which arises from burning fossil fuels. A range of air pollutants form as byproducts in all other steps of the fossil fuel supply chain: from finding, extracting and processing fossil fuels, to storing and transporting them.
One example is formaldehyde gas, which is emitted during petroleum refining and flaring of natural gas. Formaldehyde reacts to form ozone in the lower atmosphere, where it is toxic and can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
We also only focused on adults. The relationship between air pollution and poor health in children isn’t completely understood, but studies so far have shown that exposure to air pollution stunts growth and impedes brain and lung development in children. In a landmark case in 2020, air pollution was directly attributed to the death of Ella Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl in London.
The health benefits of transitioning to clean energy are substantial and can emerge quickly. They offer a tantalising opportunity for politicians to deliver immediate improvements in the lives of their voters.
This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage on COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world. Amid a rising tide of climate news and stories, The Conversation is here to clear the air and make sure you get information you can trust. More.
Op-ed: Solving the climate crisis requires more than switching to renewables—everyone needs equal access as suggested in the Environmental Health News of 2 November 2021 is literally nowadays a must if any agreements at the COP26 were to go through and above all last.
Environmental justice policy is the best path to energy equity.
This economic turning point is the next step in our global energy journey from wood to coal to oil to gas to renewables. Transitioning to 80% renewable electricity generation in the United States would alleviate an estimated 81% of the industry’s emissions. As a chemical engineer researching solar cell materials, the long-sought economic viability of solar energy is exciting to me—and long-awaited. But it only solves one of a laundry list of problems with the U.S. energy infrastructure, and it will not actually protect those most vulnerable to climate change.Stay in the know: sign up for the Agents of Change newsletter
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Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and low-income communities bear the brunt of climate change’s negative impacts, as discussed in-depth by the NAACP, Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and many more. However, renewable energy technologies like solar cells primarily benefit wealthy and predominantly white communities rather than the aforementioned environmental justice communities. Mandates, like the 2020 law in California, which requires all new homes built in the state to have solar panels, price low-income communities out of such housing due to high upfront costs of renewable technologies.
The pivot in U.S. energy infrastructure must be more than just adopting a few new technologies—we must completely change the system by centering environmental justice. Why? Because for centuries that system has disenfranchised and discriminated against BIPOC and low-income communities.
Racial wealth disparities require more than new tech to bridge gaps
Our capitalistic society exploits energy resources rather than equitably utilizing them. Environmental justice is intrinsically anti-capitalist in the sense that for everyone to have equal and just access to clean air, water, food, and energy, there must be some level of government regulation and oversight of these commodities due to unreliable resource access throughout different parts of the U.S.
Racial and ethnic inequality in energy access largely originates from housing inequality, which remains a paramount issue today. In 1934, the U.S. government established the Federal Housing Administration to administer loans to families looking to buy homes. Approximately 98% of the loans granted between 1934 and 1968 were given to white people, and this practice was known as (legally allowed) redlining, a form of segregation that still plagues cities around the country. White families purchased homes and accrued generational wealth while Black families mainly rented homes. This contributed to the racial wealth gap that today also affects all other BIPOC communities and results in stratification of energy and utility access.
Coupled with this were the discrimination and violence against Black people in the work force. Specifically, Jim Crow era segregation in the early- and mid-1900s made workplace discrimination in the government not only legal but encouraged, making it more difficult for Black people to hold well-paying civil service jobs. The effects of Jim Crow still resound today. The segregation and gap in generational wealth between white and BIPOC families determined what commodities and luxuries families could afford.
Because of this immense inequality, BIPOC households are more likely to suffer from energy poverty, whereby they pay a larger proportion of their income than average on utilities. This disparity stems from a lack of energy efficiency in homes accessible to BIPOC and low-income families. Additionally, BIPOC families have less reliable access to utilities, facing more frequent blackouts and utility shutoffs than white families.
None of these problems are intrinsically connected to the source of energy producing that electricity or heat. They are instead products of a racist, capitalist society that allows white wealth to prosper at the expense of racial equity and justice.
Corporate greed won’t change with a different energy product for sale
Oil companies have a history of concentrating their industry and environmental impact in BIPOC and low-income communities. ExxonMobil and other oil and gas companies spent decades convincing the public and the government of doubt surrounding anthropogenic climate change to ensure their pockets would stay full. While renewable energy sources like solar and wind could alleviate the harmful emissions and pollution that plague fence-line communities, many other environmental justice issues would remain unless other changes are made.
As a glimpse into this future, one renewable energy giant called NextEra Energy emerged in the last few years rather quietly, gaining significant ground economically and beginning to rival the market capitalization of oil behemoths like ExxonMobil. NextEra began as a utility company in Florida and has since expanded nationwide providing solar and wind to cities and states all over the country. While the growing popularity of a renewable energy company is exciting, their path to success feels eerily familiar.
They grew profits by slowly and quietly using federal tax credits to fund new solar and wind projects and growing in market valuation until they could significantly undercut other renewable energy companies’ prices, becoming the largest renewable energy company in the country. Their board is composed of mostly white and male leadership, and while they support environmental stewardship, none of their company objectives available on their website mention environmental justice.
So, while the country is finally excited about transitioning to renewable energy, rebranding our capitalistic energy industry with shiny solar cells instead of oily black gold will still leave BIPOC and low-income communities with most of the same problems they face today.
We need environmental justice now
The problems of inefficient energy infrastructure in homes, energy poverty, frequent blackouts, and loss of power in natural disasters will continue to disproportionately affect BIPOC and low-income communities regardless of the type of energy fueling their homes. True alleviation of climate change requires many policy initiatives including: household and utility plant weatherization funded at the federal and local levels; government regulation of energy companies to prevent price gouging and provide strong consumer protections; and involvement of stakeholders at all levels of local communities in the implementation of renewable energy.
I recently proposed a series of policies addressing these needs which fit into the Biden administration’s current budget and promise to provide significant financial support to environmental justice communities. We cannot wait any longer to support our most marginalized communities. We need policy action centering environmental, climate, and energy justice, now.
Carolyn E. Ramírez is a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate at Northwestern University researching new materials for organic solar cells. Follow them on Twitter @CRami77.
By Yousef Saba and Saeed Azhar, Marwa Rashad in a Reuters article that is about how Saudi Arabia targets net zero emissions by 2060 cannot be more explicit about this top oil exporter is obviously struggling to keep up with the current trends of worldwide deep resentment against all fossil fuels. The forthcoming COP26 will definitely enlighten us on this aspect as well as on the major contributors to Greenhouse Gas Emissions plans.
Meanwhile here are the main points of this article:
Doubles target to reduce carbon emissions
To tackle climate change while ensuring oil market stability
Could hit target before 2060, energy minister says
RIYADH, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said on Saturday that the world’s top oil exporter aims to reach zero-net emissions by 2060 and will more than double its annual target to reduce carbon emissions.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his energy minister said OPEC member Saudi Arabia would tackle climate change while ensuring oil market stability, stressing the continued importance of hydrocarbons.Report ad
They were speaking at the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI), which comes ahead of COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow at the end of the month, which hopes to agree deeper emissions cuts to tackle global warming.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to reach zero-net emissions by 2060 under its circular carbon economy programme … while maintaining the kingdom’s leading role in strengthening security and stability of global oil markets,” Prince Mohammed said in recorded remarks.Report ad
He said the kingdom would join a global initiative on slashing emissions of methane by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, which both the United States and the EU have been pressing.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is due to attend a wider Middle East green summit Riyadh is hosting on Monday. read moreReport ad
Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Riyadh, a signatory to the Paris climate pact, had already submitted its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – goals for individual states under global efforts to prevent average global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The SGI aims to eliminate 278 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, the crown prince said, up from a previous target of 130 million tonnes.
Saudi Arabia in March pledged to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions. It said that would involve generating 50% of its energy needs from renewables by 2030 and planting billions of trees in the desert state. read more
HYDROCARBONS STILL NEEDED
Saudi Arabia’s economy remains heavily reliant on oil income as economic diversification lags ambitions set out by the crownprince.
Saudi officials have argued the world will continue to need Saudi crude for decades to come.
“The world cannot operate without hydrocarbon, fossil fuels, renewables, none of these will be the saver, it has to be a comprehensive solution,” the energy minister said.
“We need to be inclusive and inclusivity requires being open to accept others efforts as long as they are going to reduce emissions,” he said, adding that the kingdom’s young generation “will not wait for us to change their future”.
He said the net zero emissions target might be achieved before 2060 but the kingdom needed time to do things “properly”.
Fellow Gulf OPEC producer the United Arab Emirates this month announced a plan for net zero emissions by 2050. read more
The chief executive of UAE oil firm ADNOC, Sultan al-Jaber, also stressed the importance of investment in hydrocarbons, saying the world had “sleepwalked” into a supply crunch and that climate action should not become an economic burden on developing nations. read more
Saudi Arabia has been criticised for acting too slowly, with Climate Action Tracker giving it the lowest possible ranking of “critically insufficient”.
And experts say it is too early to tell what the impact of Saudi’s nascent solar and wind projects will be. Its first renewable energy plant opened in April and its first wind farm began generating power in August.
Megaprojects, such as futuristic city NEOM, also incorporate green energy plans including a $5 billion hydrogen plant, and Saudi state-linked entities are pivoting to green fundraising.
Some investors have expressed concerns over the kingdom’s carbon footprint. Others say Saudi Arabia emits the least carbon per barrel of oil and that de facto ruler Prince Mohammed is serious about economic diversification.
“Obviously the carbon footprint is an issue. However, we would highlight that realistically carbon is going to be slow to phase out, and oil is here for some time yet,” Tim Ash at BlueBay Asset Management said in emailed comments.
Reporting by Yousef Saba and Saeed Azhar in Riyadh, Marwa Rashad in London and Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai; Additional reporting by Raya Jalbi in Dubai; writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Nick Macfie and Jason Neely
Climate TRACE Lifts The Veil On Oil & Gas Emissions by Deborah Gordon & Frances Reulandposted by RMI could be considered an eye-opener for those petro economies of the MENA, whilst the planet seems to be more and more inclined to opt for decent life sustainability. Let us see:
Climate TRACE Lifts The Veil On Oil & Gas Emissions
When it comes to climate, oil and gas are the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The production and refining processes for oil and gas account for about one-tenth of human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs), making the sector one of the world’s largest emitters. But it is far less clear where in the world these emissions actually come from, which parts of the supply chain are responsible for them, and how much they shift over time. This climate-critical sector has historically been too opaque, making it difficult to create credible climate pledges and nearly impossible to take immediate and meaningful action to mitigate emissions.
Driven by satellites, remote sensing, and advanced applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Climate TRACE identifies when and where greenhouse gases are emitted. This enables leaders to pinpoint and prioritize specific decarbonization efforts to yield the greatest reductions. This level of focus is critical, as we have just nine years to halve emissions and stay on track to hold global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Informing Effective Climate Action
The intelligence gathered from Climate TRACE fills critical knowledge gaps for all countries that rely on the patchwork system of country self-reporting. This self-reported data serves as the basis for most existing emissions inventories, such as the country-level emissions data submitted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The intelligence collected by TRACE is particularly relevant to the more than 100 countries that currently lack access to comprehensive, recent emissions data.
RMI is a proud member of the TRACE coalition and has been particularly focused on helping to make emissions from the global oil and gas sector visible, starting at the country level. Our latest analysis reveals several key insights that can help policymakers identify the right actions to pursue today.
In both production and refining, the top 15 countries in each category account for over 70 percent of emissions.
The path to global decarbonization starts with knowing where emissions come from. Just 15 top production countries and 15 top refining countries account for the lion’s share of oil and gas sector emissions. Several countries, including the United States and Russia, pollute doubly, emitting massive amounts of GHGs from both oil and gas production and refining. Others are top emitters in terms of production or refining, but not both, as shown in the two figures below.
Each country can focus its GHG reduction strategies on where it emits most (production, refining, or both). This will be critical when it comes to tracing and reducing emissions from petroleum supply chains.
Self-reporting today is wholly inadequate — many top oil and gas emitters don’t even track their emissions.
Overall, emissions from the large, intensive oil and gas sector are poorly accounted for. Among the world’s top countries that submit regular GHG inventories, emissions from oil and gas production and refining may collectively be around double the amount in recent UNFCCC reports. Further, it is likely that over 1 billion additional tons of CO2 equivalent per year—more than the annual emissions of the 100 lowest-emitting countries combined—have gone uncounted by nations that aren’t required to report their oil and gas emissions regularly.
This is, in part, a result of haphazard accounting and convoluted reporting in current inventories. For example, several high-emitting oil and gas operations, such as surface processing, hydrogen production, and catalyst regeneration, are not reported uniformly in country inventories. This leads to missing or hidden emissions.
Furthermore, reporting requirements vary among different countries due to historic UNFCCC designations, resulting in inadequate country assessments of global oil and gas emissions. Some countries (designated as “Annex 1” nations) typically submit regular inventories on a two-year delay. Other countries (non-Annex 1) are not subject to the same guidelines and don’t report regularly. This hodgepodge approach makes it difficult to carefully track emissions trajectories and obtain up-to-date information to make informed climate decisions.
Of the top countries for global oil and gas production and refining, fewer than half are required to regularly inventory and report sector-specific emissions (see Figure 2).
Drilling down to the level of oil and gas assets and operations reveals further opportunities to reduce emissions.
While quantifying and differentiating country-level emissions is critical, expanding transparency beyond national data reveals new opportunities to slash GHG emissions. Even within a country, the climate intensity of oil and gas can vary markedly. In the United States, for example, a barrel of heavy oil from California can be 10 times dirtier than a barrel of low-leak light oil from Texas. The same holds true for gas production and oil refining. But this emissions gap can be significantly narrowed through available operational improvements.
Greater visibility on oil and gas assets and operations offers insights that countries can use to submit more accurate emissions inventories and climate pledges. As the granularity of TRACE data improves over time, decision makers will be able to pinpoint emissions from specific sites and operations, both in the oil and gas industry and in other high-emitting sectors. With this climate intelligence, we can quickly cut oil and gas sector emissions as we strive to meet global climate and sustainable development goals.
Bringing Transparency to COP26
To chart a clean energy transition, we must bring transparency to emissions-intensive sectors like oil and gas. For production and refining, the Climate TRACE platform bolsters accountability that is currently lacking when countries self-report their emissions. The platform also offers all countries access to reliable, accurate, and timely emissions data across all sectors of their economies.
This data is especially important as world leaders head into climate negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. With the launch of Climate TRACE, every country’s leaders can now inform their decisions with data that reflects current emissions trends, rather than outdated or incomplete estimates. Bringing transparency to emissions will be critical to prioritizing the most meaningful, timely, solutions—after all, we have no time to waste.
The authors of this article on Climate change and elaborate on how to avert it through experts’ notable advice of a ditch of 90% of the world’s coal and 60% of oil and gas to limit warming to 1.5°C. Would it be feasible if some of the MENA countries economic life sustenance depends on fossil fuels related revenues? Here is what these authors are saying.
Climate change: ditch 90% of world’s coal and 60% of oil and gas to limit warming to 1.5°C – experts
Global mean surface temperatures reached 1.2°C above the pre-industrial average in 2020, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in its recent report that Earth could hit 1.5°C in as little as a decade. The 0.3°C separating these two temperatures make a world of difference. Scientists believe that stabilising our warming world’s temperature at 1.5°C could help avoid the most serious effects of climate change.
Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are the source of just over 80% of the world’s energy. Burning them accounts for 89% of human-derived CO₂ emissions. To avert catastrophic warming, the global community must rapidly reduce how much of these fuels it extracts and burns. Our new paper, published in Nature, revealed just how tight the world’s remaining carbon budget is likely to be.
In order to hold global warming at 1.5°C, we found that nearly 60% of global oil and fossil gas reserves will need to remain in the ground in 2050. Almost all of the world’s coal – 90% – will need to be spared from factory and power plant furnaces. Our analysis also showed that global oil and gas production must peak immediately and fall by 3% each year until mid-century.
Even meeting these stringent limits may not be enough on its own to stabilise global warming at 1.5°C, however.
That’s because we based our estimates on a carbon budget compatible with just a 50% probability of limiting warming to 1.5°C. Our model simply could not be pushed to a greater chance of achieving the 1.5C target because it was already at its limit, given our projections of fossil fuel demand in the near future.
Our analysis also relies on the large-scale deployment of technologies capable of removing CO₂ from the atmosphere sometime in the future. By 2050, our scenario expects around four gigatonnes a year will be being captured by so-called negative emission technologies. There remains a lot of doubt about whether it is even possible to sufficiently scale these technologies up in time.
So, to aim for a better chance of achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal and to lower the risk of relying on as yet unproven technologies, we argue that our estimates of how much of the world’s fossil fuels cannot safely be extracted should be treated as cautious underestimates. The world may need to be even more ambitious.
Fossil fuel rationing
We estimated how much fossil fuel production in each region must fall and how fast based on a global energy system model. We allocated the remaining shares of fossil fuel production allowed within the budget based on the costs and carbon intensity of producing different oil and gas assets, and how cheap low and zero-carbon technologies are in different parts of the world.
Our analysis showed that total fossil fuel production is limited by a global carbon budget. Production growing in one region of the world will require a decrease in another to keep the global trajectory pointing downwards. A mechanism such as the Global Fossil Fuel Registry – a public database of all known reserves – could provide the necessary transparency for an international effort, with the cooperation of governments and fossil fuel producers.
The US and Russia sit on half of the world’s coal but must leave 97% of it in the ground. Australia, which recently pledged to keep producing and exporting coal beyond 2030, would need to keep 95% of its reserves underground. Oil-producing states in the Middle East must not extract around two-thirds of their reserves, while most of Canada’s tar sand oil must not be burned, along with all of the fossil fuel buried beneath the Arctic.
Our analysis suggests that many countries will need to move out of fossil fuel production relatively quickly, which raises concerns about how the transition can be managed fairly. Countries such as Iraq and Angola have a high dependency on fossil fuels for government revenues. They will need support to diversify their economies in a managed way – including financial and technological assistance to develop new low-carbon industries – and to decarbonise domestically to reduce their own reliance on fossil fuels.
The necessary energy transformation highlighted in this research will require a range of policy levers, including measures that drive down fossil fuel consumption, such as banning petrol cars or promoting renewable electricity generation, and those targeting production itself, including restrictions on new fossil fuel extraction licenses.
Alliances between countries are also likely to be important to build political support for reducing fossil fuel production. The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, formed by Denmark and Costa Rica, has pressured other countries to halt investment in new oil and gas projects.
Phasing out global fossil fuel production at the rate suggested in our study is possible, but it will rely on some of the measures we’ve described expanding and gaining the support of large producing countries and companies – those which have benefited most from the fossil fuel era.
Originally posted on Good Food on Bad Plates: We don’t typically make a lot of stews because Toddler Mash doesn’t typically eat them. A couple of weekends ago, though,we ended up making a lamb cobbler on the Saturday and kusksu (Libyan couscous with spicy beef and vegetables) on the Sunday. He surprised us on the…
Originally posted on Imen Bliwa Blog: Abib, Sierra Leone’s immigrant helping a friend’s child while camping in front of UN building in Tunisia Along with many of his friends and neighbors, Abib had to spend days and nights in front of the UN building (IOM). A calm fancy neighborhood next to Tunis Lake turns into…
Originally posted on Mackneen, The Algerian Goldfinch: It’s Spring, like the season then, twelve years ago. Time flies, like a bird. On this day, twelve years ago, I created this blog and I gave it a name: Mackneen,The Algerian Goldfinch. On that day I went to Algiers for a visit to my mother, and to my…
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