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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

December 12 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Arctic Reindeer Numbers Crash by Half” • The population of wild reindeer, or caribou, in the Arctic has crashed by more than half in the last two decades, according to a report released at a meeting of the American Geophysical Research Union. Weather patterns and vegetation changes are making the Arctic tundra much less hospitable for reindeer. [BBC]

Reindeer, also called caribou (Kaj R. Svensson | Science Photo Library)

  • “Energy Giants Issue Offshore Power-to-X Plea” • Shell, Siemens, and TenneT called on the German government to tender for extra offshore wind power capacity specifically tied to hydrogen production. A study they commissioned found 900 MW of power-to-gas projects driven by offshore wind could be built between 2026 and 2030. [reNEWS]
  • “Replacing Nuclear with Renewables Would Save France $44.5 Billion” • The French government just announced a plan to power 95% of the country with solar and wind energy by 2060. And by doing so, the government would spend about $44.5 billion (€39 billion) less than it would if it maintained its current energy infrastructure. [Futurism]
  • “Zero Hour Nears for Massachusetts Offshore Bonanza” • Nineteen companies will have the opportunity to compete in an auction for three lease areas to develop over 4 GW of offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will host the auction for the 158,000 hectares of ocean leasing areas. [reNEWS]
  • “Unparalleled Warmth Is Changing the Arctic and Affecting Weather in US, Europe” • A peer-reviewed report from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic. The report highlighted weather of the past year to show how Arctic warming can influence day-to-day weather. [CNN]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

December 11 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Costa Rica Is Already 300 Days of Living on Renewable Energy” • Costa Rica broke its own record for running entirely on renewable energy in 2017, when the country managed to hold on to environmentally friendly electricity 299 days. In 2018, that record has been broken, as Costa Rica has run 300 days without using fossil fuels. [The Bobr Times]

San José, Costa Rica

  • “Climate Change Is Not Only Influencing Extreme Weather Events, It Is Causing Them” • Extreme weather events that spanned the globe in 2017 have been directly linked to – and in some cases were even caused by – continued warming of the planet by human influence, according to a report from the American Meteorological Society. [CNN]
  • “Luxembourg Makes All Public Transportation Free” • The government of Luxembourg says beginning in 2020 it will make public transportation free for all. The move is expected to reduce congestion in Luxembourg City, which is said to be among the worst in Europe. It will have the additional benefit of reducing air pollution. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Offshore helping ‘Drive 680 GW Global Wind Growth'” • Over 680 GW of new wind power capacity will come online in the next 10 years, with the offshore market accounting for nearly 40% of global generating installations at the end of that time, according to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. [reNEWS]
  • “Australia’s Renewables Sector Doubles Output in Boom Year” • Australia’s renewables sector has doubled its output over the past 12 months, with more than A$20 billion ($14.4 billion) of projects now under construction, but the current boom will not last without policy certainty, according to the Clean Energy Council. [The Guardian]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

December 10 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “‘Historic’ Month as Wind Power Meets 109% of Energy Demands” • November has been hailed as a “historic month” after over 100% of Scotland’s electricity demands were met by wind power for the first time. Wind production last month broke previous records by generating enough energy for nearly six million homes. [STV News]

Wind turbines (STV image)

  • “US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait Torpedo COP 24 Climate Conference in Poland” • Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the US gave notice that they do not intend to lift a finger to prevent Earth’s destruction. Guided by a denier and fossil fuels financing, the US even had the chutzpah to stage a pro-coal exhibit at the COP 24 conference. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Trump Coal Event Overshadowed at COP24” • An event endorsed by the White House is promoting use of fossil fuels at COP 24. But green campaigners are likely be cheered by news that 415 investors managing assets of around $32 trillion are calling for greater action on climate change and an end to coal as a source of energy. [BBC]
  • “Exxon Knows Renewables Are Cheaper, Even if Trump Doesn’t” • At Cop 24, the Trump administration may be touting coal and gas as the energy of the future, but leading US energy companies are doubling down on renewable energy. One large corporate buyer embracing the benefits of renewables is oil major ExxonMobil. [Climate Home]
  • “Huge Desert Solar Initiative to Make Africa a Renewables Power-House” • Solar projects stretching across the Sahel region are expected to connect 250 million people with electricity by using the region’s abundant solar resource. The details of the “Desert to Power Initiative” have been outlined at climate change talks at COP24. [Brandspurng]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

December 9 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Trump’s Great American Forest Liquidation Sale” • Logging Alaska’s mature stands could exacerbate climate change. It could cripple Southeast Alaska’s recreation, tourism, and salmon fishing industries. But the state’s governor petitioned the US Forest Service to remove protection from Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. [Truthout]

Bear and bald eagle (Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA | Flickr)

  • “COP24 Fails to Adopt Key Scientific Report” • When it was released in October, the IPCC report impacts of temperature rises of 1.5°C had a significant impact. Scientists and many COP24 delegates were shocked as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to the meeting “welcoming” the report and reference to it was dropped. [BBC]
  • “Coal for Christmas at the UN Climate Conference” • At the COP24 convention pavilions, delegates found mounds of coal displayed behind glass, like objets d’art, and arrangements of coal-based cosmetics and coal-encrusted jewelry. For some, the coal-stuffed climate summit is completely absurd. One put it “beyond parody.” [The New Yorker]
  • “Australian School Kids Lead Mass Coal Mine Protests” • Australian schoolchildren led thousands of demonstrators in nationwide rallies calling for a suspension of plans by Indian mining company Adani to construct a controversial coal mine in the country’s north-east. The rallies followed student climate change protests of last month. [The Straits Times]
  • “PRPA Board Unanimously Endorses 100% Non-Carbon Electricity by 2030” • The Platte River Power Authority has officially made a renewable energy future part of its guiding documents. It unanimously approved a policy that calls for Platte River to pursue a 100% non-carbon energy portfolio and to reach that goal by 2030. [Loveland Reporter-Herald]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

How to Minimize Energy and Packaging Waste This Holiday Season.

It’s easy to be green over the holidays with a little advance planning. Credit: Erin Walker, Unsplash.

If you’re dreaming of a green holiday season this year, you’ll have to take care to shop and decorate with the planet in mind. Celebrating the holidays plays a substantial role in the creation of waste during this period as a result of packaging from gifts and surplus food being thrown away and making its way to the landfill. But whether you’re looking forward to a lavish holiday with your friends and family this year or a more minimalist celebration, you can still be green and enjoy the festivities.

One way to reduce your environmental footprint is to shop locally. While online shopping may seem greener, it involves excess packaging (think shipping boxes and padding) and pollution (from miles flown/driven by UPS and FedEX to get purchases to your door).  By patronizing nearby businesses instead, you’ll be supporting the local economy and reducing pollution. If you do shop online, try to consolidate your purchases into one big order to minimize the number of special trips shippers must make to your house.

Another way to green your holiday celebrations is to switch over from those flashing lights and inflatable snowmen to more subtle displays of holiday spirit. The Center for Global Development reports that Americans consume 6.63 billion kilowatts of electricity annually on holiday lighting and decorations. Instead of being part of the problem, unplug and light some candles. All-natural soy varieties—Real Soy’s ginger or cinnamon-scented candles are popular around the holidays—are friendlier to the environment than traditional petroleum-based paraffin candles.

Holiday cards are another clog on the waste stream during the holiday season, with Americans sending out some 2.65 billion of them each year. Ultimately many end up in landfills—especially if they’re covered in glitter or foil—and as such can’t be recycled. E-cards are a great alternative as they express the same sentiment without any waste.

Single-use wrapping paper is yet another environmental scourge of the holidays. An estimated 30 million trees are sacrificed each year to support Americans’ disposable wrapping paper habit, much of which ends up in landfills. An incremental improvement would be to only buy and use wrapping paper that doesn’t contain glitter—or even better just use brown paper—for ease of recycling or composting. Alternatively, shop for fabric gift wrap which can be used over and over again.

Last but not least, is it better for the planet to get a real or fake Christmas tree? A fake tree may save you money in the long run as you can buy it once and use it for many years instead of throwing away $50 a year on a real tree. But most of the fakes come from China (which involves lots of carbon emissions in transit) and contain PVC and other chemicals that make them impossible to recycle. Meanwhile, a real tree can be chipped and returned to the earth as mulch (either by you or your municipality) once January rolls around. Or even better, buy a live tree and plant it in your yard. That way you can feel the spirit of the holidays year-round and feel good about your commitment to protecting the planet.

CONTACTS: Real Soy Candles, www.realsoycandles.com; Center for Global Development, www.cgdev.org.

Reprinted with permission. EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

 

Final Weeks of Button Up Campaign with Efficiency VT

Button Up Vermont 2018 is a weatherizing campaign designed to help Vermonters take action and reach our statewide goal of 25% energy savings in 80,000 homes by 2020. Forty-two Vermont communities are participating in Button Up Vermont this year. Visit here to see resources for Community Partners, along with a listing of contacts for participating communities.
Participating towns in TRO Region are Barnard, Hartford, Hartland, Norwich, Randolph, Strafford and Thetford. Residents of these towns that fill out a brief survey before December 15th will receive a free energy efficiency walk-through of their home with a qualified contractor! Walk-throughs will be completed before March, and will cover an assessment, scope of work, and cost estimate. Please sign up below:

Free EPCRA Compliance Workshop in Brattleboro, VT

If you are a facility that has over one hundred pounds of hazardous materials, you have probably filled out a Tier II form. If not, you are in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The purpose of this federal law is to protect your business, your employees and your community should a chemical accident occur. The EPCRA data and Risk Management Plan better prepares emergency response personnel and the community to handle an incident should one occur.
There is a free EPCRA training workshop coming up in Vermont to assist facilities and towns with filling out and submitting the Tier II form:
                  December 13, 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
                  Brattleboro Retreat, 1 Anna Marsh Ln, Brattleboro, VT 05302, 
                  Education Conference Center- parking in the ‘Lawton Hall’
Registration is required, so please email vanni.tammy@epa.gov if interested. Some facilities, like town highway departments, maybe be unsure if they need to report. If you have over 10,000 pounds of road salt and sand, for example, you are required to report. The reporting fee for municipalities is free. TRORC is able to come to your community to assist you with filling out the Tier II form. These forms are due by March 1, 2019 and include all chemicals stored on site in 2018.
Please contact Tory Littlefield at vlittlefield@trorc.org if you need assistance in filling out a Tier II form for the 2018 report year, or if you would benefit from a Region-wide training in your area.

VTrans Statewide Public Transit Policy Plan

Do you ride the bus? Carpool? Uber? VTrans wants your input and is gathering feedback on existing public transportation services, service gaps and challenges, and potential solutions from stakeholders and transit riders. An interactive survey is currently available to provide feedback.
The Vermont Public Transit Policy Plan (PTPP) will quantify Vermont’s transit needs, as well as recommend programmatic and policy initiatives to strengthen the statewide transit system.  This plan will lay out a 10-year vision for improved transit service in Vermont and develop policies and strategies to guide the improvement of Vermont’s transit network.
To take the 5-minute survey, and be entered for a $50 gift card, visit:
Hurry, the survey closes December 31st!

December 8 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • “Simple Steps to Climate-Proof Farms Have Big Potential Upside for Tropical Farmers” • Climate-smart agriculture boosts yields, mitigates extreme weather impact and reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. A study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture shows profitable opportunities for farmers and the environment. [Science Daily]

Drought and salinity-resistant rice at a research site in Vietnam (Georgina Smith | International Center for Tropical Agriculture)

  • “US Energy Storage Project Pipeline Doubles to Nearly 33 Gigawatts in 2018” • The US energy storage project pipeline has doubled in 2018, reaching an impressive 32.9 GW, according to the latest US Energy Storage Monitor published by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Envision Energy Says EV Battery Cell Costs Will Fall Below $50/kWh by 2025” • At the Stanford Global Energy Forum Lei Zhang, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based Envision Energy, made an extraordinary pronouncement. He said the cost of manufacturing EV battery cells would fall below $100/kWh, a disruptive price, by 2020. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Solar Overtakes Fossil Fuels for the First Time” • Data indicate that renewable energy production is growing faster than fossil fuels, and multiple studies predict that this trend will continue to grow. Renewable energy investments grew to $297 billion in 2016, while only $143 billion was spent on fossil fuels and nuclear power. [Digital Journal]
  • “MIT ‘Sun in a Box’ Uses White-Hot Silicon for Energy Storage” • Engineers at MIT have developed a grid-scale energy storage concept known as the “sun in a box,” which they claim would be half the cost of pumped hydro storage. Light from white-hot silicon is captured by highly efficient multi-junction solar cells to generate power. [The Engineer]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

YELLOW VESTS AND GREEN NEW DEALERS- Carl Pope

by Carl Pope

The fiery street protests challenging French President Emmanuel Macron over his proposed higher taxes on gasoline and the young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement who sat in at prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office might seem like antagonists – one resisting, the other seeking, faster and more ambitious movement away from fossil fuels. I’m not so sure about that, though. Some deep currents connect the two movements, currents that raise a fundamental challenge for the climate movement – how to shed the issue’s historic framing as a question of austerity and sacrifice.

The Paris protesters’ uniform is the brightly colored outer garment that French motorists are required to carry for roadside emergencies – so they are known as les gilets jaunes, or the “yellow vests.” Their movement rejects any right-left political label; they identify simply as drivers! The triggering issue was that Macron proposed a (modest) increase in gasoline taxes, to finance France’s transition to clean energy and to encourage purchase of more efficient cars. It sounds sensible. But like all sales taxes, this one is regressive by definition, would have hit rural and small-town France disproportionately hard.

Gas is already famously expensive in France, more than $6 a gallon, and most people in rural have no realistic alternative to driving. Low-income citizens aren’t buying new cars of any sort, let alone the most fuel-efficient models. Macron was already perceived as favoring the Parisian elite, who typically don’t drive their own cars to work every day, enjoy access to mass transit and can afford the modest cost increases in their leisure travel.

The protests quickly morphed into something broader and hence harder for Macron to respond to. Eighty percent of the public support the yellow vest movement, which is raising the fundamental question of whether, as France modernizes and reforms — Macron’s platform – it will leave the “other France,” the marginal middle class and working poor, behind with lagging incomes, rising taxes and ever-higher cost of living cost of living.

Upon his return from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron was forced to back down on the fuel tax, at least for now. It would have been a small increase: About 12 cents a gallon for regular gasoline, 28 cents on diesel fuel. But it’s symbolic. As an anti-tax protest coming from the “forgotten” France, the yellow-vest moment has a somewhat similar feel to the “economic anxiety” that drove some blue-collar Americans to support Donald Trump. This entire episode speaks of the cost of “austerity,” meaning that when society is perceived as living beyond its means, it is the average person, not the privileged insider, who must scale back.

The protesters sum up their attitude with this slogan: “The government talks about the end of the world. We are worried about the end of the month.” The immediate response to Macron’s attempt to address the grievances was that Macron had failed to confront the real issue – salaries and purchasing power.

There lies the potential bridge to the friendly sit-in by young climate campaigners in Nancy Pelosi’s office. Carrying signs praising clean energy and calling for a “Green New Deal,” they posed a sharp contrast to the yellow-vested protesters in Paris. Members of the new Democratic majority quickly rallied to their demands. While health care was the Democrats’ dominant issue in the midterm elections, clean energy and climate were the first post-election progressive demands. Indeed, how to structure the party’s climate strategy has become the focus of a generational clash within the newly-elected Democratic House majority. Exactly what this means in policy terms remains to play out.

But all framings of the “Green New Deal” concept, beginning with Tom Friedman’s launch of the idea as a response to the economic slowdown of the Great Recession, conspicuously frame climate action as the 21st-century version of economic stimulus — investment in innovation. The rest of the package varies. Friedman’s version was  centrist, with a focus on infrastructure investment, while the 2018 version promoted by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others tilts left of center, with a stronger emphasis on equity, employment and wage issues. But at its heart the Green New Deal is first and foremost about the end of the month as well as the end of the world.

Continue reading YELLOW VESTS AND GREEN NEW DEALERS- Carl Pope