Close Login
Register here
Forgot password
Forgot password
or
or

Close
Close Inspiration on environmental sustainability, every month.

Currently 5,988 people are getting new inspiration every month from our global sustainability exchange. Do you want to stay informed? Fill in your e-mail address below:

Close Receive monthly UPDATES ON ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN YOUR MAILBOX EVERY MONTH.

Want to be kept in the loop? We will provide monthly overview of what is happening in our community along with new exciting ways on how you can contribute.

Close Reset password
your profile is 33% complete:
33%
Update profile Close

Climate categorybanner Man-Made

MenuMenu
Climate change efforts on reducing CO2 why not recycle it?
Most climate change efforts have been focused on reducing the amount of CO2 that is blown into our atmosphere. That is a fact - and definitely not one I am about to start arguing with. Research showing that CO2 is one of the main culprits driving global warming is plentiful and well established; and any and all attempts to reduce our reliance on the scarce resources emitting it should be applauded and encouraged.   Recycling CO2 by sucking it up Yet today, I would like to take a look at the matter from a slightly different perspective. There have been attempts made to quite literally suck the carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere. Nature already takes on a third of this work, soaking up carbon dioxide just by 'being'. In the past years, we have learned to do the same, whether through smart land management or through high-tech plants.   Especially the latter solution has received a lot of interest - and much-needed funding! - from the scientific field. In its simplest form, it appears like a machine that is able to scrub carbon dioxide from the air. While it might sound simple, it is far from. The filtering of huge volumes of air through a scrubber requires immense amounts of energy. Although while it is certainly cumbersome, it is not impossible, as has been proven by companies like Carbon Engineering and Climeworks. These run CO2 capturing facilities in Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, and Italy.   Through those activities, some 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide is captured each year. And there are still plenty of other ways of extracting carbon dioxide: scientists are heavily experimenting with projects that involve the use of seawater to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and the weathering of rocks to react with carbon dioxide. All in all, we can expect considerable amounts of CO2 to be taken out of the atmosphere as a result of those technologies. What to do with the excess CO2? Before anything else, let me make something perfectly clear. This will not in any sense be a 'solution' for global warming. No one will pretend it is - it is not a get out of jail free card, nor is it a fix in and of itself. The current capacity is falling painfully short of what would be needed to even make a dent in global emissions, and the technology is too costly to implement on a massive scale. Yet it will prove to be a good addition to a healthy diet of restrictions on emissions; and increased reliance on renewable energy sources . Now that the technologies driving carbon dioxide removal are becoming more established, a new urgent question is arising: what to do with this excess CO2? While some have argued for safely storing it underground after ‘harvesting’ it, others have found ways of turning it into a raw material that has some promising applications. And this is, in my opinion, where it gets interesting: how can we re-use this substance to make it more than just a waste-product? If the re-using of carbon dioxide for other applications proves to be valuable, huge steps can be taken towards making CO2 removal more profitable. While large polluters are presently hesitant to invest in those kind of solutions to offset some of their emissions, this may drastically change once there is an actual business case for doing so. After all, it is human nature to look at profits before anything else - so if it will actually benefit their bottom line, it is definitely an argument for increasing their CO2 removal activities. Some of those re-use cases are already well-researched and even applied in real life. Take San Francisco International Airport, whose Terminal One has been partially built using rocks infused with CO2 emissions. Yes, that’s right: you can turn CO2 into rock . It will be converted into carbonate and mineralised, isolating it with a coating of limestone. This process actually occurs in nature as well: the famous White Cliffs of Dover serve as the poster child of CO2 stored in rocks.   A plus of this technology is that it does not require the carbon dioxide to be purified first: it can be used straight out of the plant and put to good use by turning it into a rock-solid building material. The California-based company Blue Planet has explored this avenue and made it its mission to turn construction projects into CO2-reducing operations, by using rock infused with carbon emissions for the building of roads, bridges, residences and office buildings. It is quite something, allowing the building industry to offset (some of) its carbon footprint. A solution that is closely related to the previous, is the use of CO2 to make cement . The process is somewhat similar to that of rock, only this time the raw flue gas from the plant is infused in calcium, releasing the CO2 and resulting in calcium carbonate - which, when dried, results in cement. A great alternative to regular cement-producing methods, which are notoriously pollutive: the global cement industry is responsible for 6% of all global carbon emissions, with only very few initiatives in place that are looking to push back those numbers.   The far majority of those polluters are based in China and India, which has made it harder for the lobbyists of this technology to actually make a difference: even innovative projects such as the one launched by Novacem, a London-based start-up, failed to do so. Their proposal for a technology to replace the 'conventional' binding material in concrete with magnesium oxide, a material that will capture carbon dioxide when it is mixed with water, fell through when they did not find any investors. Another material that is used often, despite being highly polluting, is carbon fibre. It has many applications because of its superior strength and light weight, in particular in the automotive and aerospace industry, although those benefits do not outweigh the grave damage that its production inflicts on the environment . Not only do its energy needs exceed those of steel, it also relies on petroleum for its production.   In an attempt to change this, scientists from Munich came up with a new production process. Here, carbon dioxide is fed to algae - turning carbon dioxide into carbon fibre . These special algae, capable of glycerol-production, can be cultivated in ponds near the Mediterranean coast, after which it will be fed carbon dioxide to create the highly coveted carbon fibre. And with their sights set on the construction industry as well, in a bid to replace steel or aluminium beams, these German entrepreneurs are definitely looking to create a market for their carbon dioxide-infused carbon fibre. Staying on the topic of re-using CO2 for building purposes: the British start-up Econic Technologies has come up with a way to incorporate CO2 emissions in polyurethane foams and similar plastics. This polyurethane is used for, for instance, mattresses, furniture, upholstery and car seats; alongside serving its purpose as an insulation material for houses. More and more people are looking to insulate their homes, as part of another government initiative pushed to combat climate change, and how to do so better than by re-using carbon dioxide, taken directly from the atmosphere? The usual production process of polyurethane involves the use of oil and requires quite a bit of energy. Using carbon dioxide instead, it will become environmentally friendlier ánd cheaper at the same time: much less of the more expensive oil is required. So you can make your house greener by using an insulation product that actively greens up the environment as well: the founders of the start-up claim that if they could only get 30% of the industry to implement their technology, it could already cut back CO2 emissions by some 3.5 million tons per year.   The examples given above - effectively turning CO2 in rocks, cement, carbon fibre or insulation foam - are only a handful of the many initiatives that have popped up in recent years that are hoping to put the freshly captured CO2 to good use. And while you might debate the individual benefits of each solution, the overarching conclusion will remain the same: extracting CO2 emissions from the atmosphere is just the first step of a potentially highly profitable process, that could lead to breakthrough innovations in some of the largest polluting industries.   Re-using CO2 emissions to fuel technologies that will cut back even more CO2 emissions: a promising cycle, that should be nurtured. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/natural
Most climate change efforts have been focused on reducing the amount of CO2 that is blown into our atmosphere. That is a fact - and definitely not one I am about to start arguing with. Research showing that CO2 is one of the main culprits driving global warming is plentiful and well established; and any and all attempts to reduce our reliance on the scarce resources emitting it should be applauded and encouraged.   Recycling CO2 by sucking it up Yet today, I would like to take a look at the matter from a slightly different perspective. There have been attempts made to quite literally suck the carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere. Nature already takes on a third of this work, soaking up carbon dioxide just by 'being'. In the past years, we have learned to do the same, whether through smart land management or through high-tech plants.   Especially the latter solution has received a lot of interest - and much-needed funding! - from the scientific field. In its simplest form, it appears like a machine that is able to scrub carbon dioxide from the air. While it might sound simple, it is far from. The filtering of huge volumes of air through a scrubber requires immense amounts of energy. Although while it is certainly cumbersome, it is not impossible, as has been proven by companies like Carbon Engineering and Climeworks. These run CO2 capturing facilities in Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, and Italy.   Through those activities, some 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide is captured each year. And there are still plenty of other ways of extracting carbon dioxide: scientists are heavily experimenting with projects that involve the use of seawater to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and the weathering of rocks to react with carbon dioxide. All in all, we can expect considerable amounts of CO2 to be taken out of the atmosphere as a result of those technologies. What to do with the excess CO2? Before anything else, let me make something perfectly clear. This will not in any sense be a 'solution' for global warming. No one will pretend it is - it is not a get out of jail free card, nor is it a fix in and of itself. The current capacity is falling painfully short of what would be needed to even make a dent in global emissions, and the technology is too costly to implement on a massive scale. Yet it will prove to be a good addition to a healthy diet of restrictions on emissions; and increased reliance on renewable energy sources . Now that the technologies driving carbon dioxide removal are becoming more established, a new urgent question is arising: what to do with this excess CO2? While some have argued for safely storing it underground after ‘harvesting’ it, others have found ways of turning it into a raw material that has some promising applications. And this is, in my opinion, where it gets interesting: how can we re-use this substance to make it more than just a waste-product? If the re-using of carbon dioxide for other applications proves to be valuable, huge steps can be taken towards making CO2 removal more profitable. While large polluters are presently hesitant to invest in those kind of solutions to offset some of their emissions, this may drastically change once there is an actual business case for doing so. After all, it is human nature to look at profits before anything else - so if it will actually benefit their bottom line, it is definitely an argument for increasing their CO2 removal activities. Some of those re-use cases are already well-researched and even applied in real life. Take San Francisco International Airport, whose Terminal One has been partially built using rocks infused with CO2 emissions. Yes, that’s right: you can turn CO2 into rock . It will be converted into carbonate and mineralised, isolating it with a coating of limestone. This process actually occurs in nature as well: the famous White Cliffs of Dover serve as the poster child of CO2 stored in rocks.   A plus of this technology is that it does not require the carbon dioxide to be purified first: it can be used straight out of the plant and put to good use by turning it into a rock-solid building material. The California-based company Blue Planet has explored this avenue and made it its mission to turn construction projects into CO2-reducing operations, by using rock infused with carbon emissions for the building of roads, bridges, residences and office buildings. It is quite something, allowing the building industry to offset (some of) its carbon footprint. A solution that is closely related to the previous, is the use of CO2 to make cement . The process is somewhat similar to that of rock, only this time the raw flue gas from the plant is infused in calcium, releasing the CO2 and resulting in calcium carbonate - which, when dried, results in cement. A great alternative to regular cement-producing methods, which are notoriously pollutive: the global cement industry is responsible for 6% of all global carbon emissions, with only very few initiatives in place that are looking to push back those numbers.   The far majority of those polluters are based in China and India, which has made it harder for the lobbyists of this technology to actually make a difference: even innovative projects such as the one launched by Novacem, a London-based start-up, failed to do so. Their proposal for a technology to replace the 'conventional' binding material in concrete with magnesium oxide, a material that will capture carbon dioxide when it is mixed with water, fell through when they did not find any investors. Another material that is used often, despite being highly polluting, is carbon fibre. It has many applications because of its superior strength and light weight, in particular in the automotive and aerospace industry, although those benefits do not outweigh the grave damage that its production inflicts on the environment . Not only do its energy needs exceed those of steel, it also relies on petroleum for its production.   In an attempt to change this, scientists from Munich came up with a new production process. Here, carbon dioxide is fed to algae - turning carbon dioxide into carbon fibre . These special algae, capable of glycerol-production, can be cultivated in ponds near the Mediterranean coast, after which it will be fed carbon dioxide to create the highly coveted carbon fibre. And with their sights set on the construction industry as well, in a bid to replace steel or aluminium beams, these German entrepreneurs are definitely looking to create a market for their carbon dioxide-infused carbon fibre. Staying on the topic of re-using CO2 for building purposes: the British start-up Econic Technologies has come up with a way to incorporate CO2 emissions in polyurethane foams and similar plastics. This polyurethane is used for, for instance, mattresses, furniture, upholstery and car seats; alongside serving its purpose as an insulation material for houses. More and more people are looking to insulate their homes, as part of another government initiative pushed to combat climate change, and how to do so better than by re-using carbon dioxide, taken directly from the atmosphere? The usual production process of polyurethane involves the use of oil and requires quite a bit of energy. Using carbon dioxide instead, it will become environmentally friendlier ánd cheaper at the same time: much less of the more expensive oil is required. So you can make your house greener by using an insulation product that actively greens up the environment as well: the founders of the start-up claim that if they could only get 30% of the industry to implement their technology, it could already cut back CO2 emissions by some 3.5 million tons per year.   The examples given above - effectively turning CO2 in rocks, cement, carbon fibre or insulation foam - are only a handful of the many initiatives that have popped up in recent years that are hoping to put the freshly captured CO2 to good use. And while you might debate the individual benefits of each solution, the overarching conclusion will remain the same: extracting CO2 emissions from the atmosphere is just the first step of a potentially highly profitable process, that could lead to breakthrough innovations in some of the largest polluting industries.   Re-using CO2 emissions to fuel technologies that will cut back even more CO2 emissions: a promising cycle, that should be nurtured. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/natural
Climate change efforts on reducing CO2 why not recycle it?
Climate change efforts on reducing CO2 why not recycle it?
Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
Right, we finally managed to wrap our heads around the concept that climate change is undeniable and real. And that we have to take action if we are to avert the majority of negative side-effects that this environmental disease, so to speak, brings along. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the close reader will quickly realise the fallacy here.   Yes, we have - some notable exceptions aside - largely agreed on the validity and reality of global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement and Poland COP24 are testament to this. Yet we somehow seem unable to turn this around to actual, hard-hitting action.   Lots of written words. Millions and millions of them, to be exact - these included. Lots of vague promises and pledges. Some half-hearted initiatives of the largest polluting countries and companies, that are all too easily mistaken for a publicity ploy instead. Yet the real urgency seems to be sorely lacking. Take the antibiotics or sit it out? Let’s draw the obvious comparison to your own, personal health. You feel miserable and after some days of calling in sick and staying in bed, there is no real improvement in your situation. You drag yourself to the GP, who claims that you have got a nasty case of the flu, which has led to pneumonia. He prescribes some antibiotics and urges you to take them twice a day for two weeks, to ensure that it does not get worse.   You consider yourself lucky that you are not living back in medieval times, when this ailment would often be considered a death sentence, and haul yourself to the pharmacy and back to bed. Time to take on this bug and get rid of it once and for all. Perhaps you’ll even consider giving up your precious cigarettes to give your lungs some much-needed relief. After all, you’ll still be needing them for the next decades. Why do we refuse the obvious  global warming medicine? So, what is the difference between our personal health vs the health of our environment? There must be one, as we somehow refuse the obvious medicine for global warming that will clear our earth’s lungs of the accumulated poison. We gladly accept the Doc’s explanation that the earth is sick, we’ve even decided on a course of action - to reduce our CO2 emissions, live more sustainably - yet we somehow forego the visit to the pharmacy. As of now, any action is mostly driven by young companies, aspiring eco-engineers and entrepreneurs. Some conscious households and communities, perhaps the odd lobbyist and politician. While we applaud their enthusiasm, most of us lack the real drive. Our minds do not seem to want to accept the small sacrifices we must bring if we are to enjoy this world for just a little while longer. The clock is ticking for climate change action Here is the reality check. If we do not cut our global carbon emissions in half in the next 12 years, we will not be able to avert the worst consequences of global warming. Fact.   And yet, while we read this, our minds already go in overdrive to find excuses for not taking action today, right now. It is a biological result of evolution, dating back to our ancestors living in caves. Their worries were pretty much focused on the present. Hunt. Escape from that sabre tooth tiger. Mate. Sleep. Repeat.   Do you think any of them worried about their retirement plans and next year’s elections? You bet they did not.   We are only human and this is how we have been trained to act and think for centuries and centuries. Our tendency to look towards the future and start worrying about tomorrow is still relatively new and fresh, with most of us still struggling to adjust.   What to change to avoid further climate change? The climate change lobby should therefore focus much more on playing to the psyche of people. It should explore why we are so hesitant regarding this perceived change and how we can turn this around to work in our favour. After all, there is nothing more astounding than human’s capability to adjust and overcome - the exact trait that has led to our survival over time. We have got to tackle the perception that we, as individuals, hold no control over this situation anyhow. So why bother?   Additionally, we’ve got to accept that even the smallest activities that we perform on a daily basis are malignant, such as stepping into our gas-guzzling car to take the kids to school. We have to stop undervaluing the impact of climate change on our lives. It may not be visible right now, but it sure will be in a decade of two.   Most importantly, we’ve got to educate ourselves and others. Ignorance is not a pretty trait in anyone, and in this case might even prove to be our downfall. We should stop telling people that they have to sacrifice and give up some comfort. Instead, start telling them about great new initiatives. Educate them about their personal emissions, open their eyes to their own actions. Get them excited about being a part of a massive movement that will clear our earth’s lungs.   Tell them that they will be the hero that saved the earth’s life. We hold the antibiotics that the earth so direly needs. We just got to start ingesting it. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Right, we finally managed to wrap our heads around the concept that climate change is undeniable and real. And that we have to take action if we are to avert the majority of negative side-effects that this environmental disease, so to speak, brings along. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the close reader will quickly realise the fallacy here.   Yes, we have - some notable exceptions aside - largely agreed on the validity and reality of global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement and Poland COP24 are testament to this. Yet we somehow seem unable to turn this around to actual, hard-hitting action.   Lots of written words. Millions and millions of them, to be exact - these included. Lots of vague promises and pledges. Some half-hearted initiatives of the largest polluting countries and companies, that are all too easily mistaken for a publicity ploy instead. Yet the real urgency seems to be sorely lacking. Take the antibiotics or sit it out? Let’s draw the obvious comparison to your own, personal health. You feel miserable and after some days of calling in sick and staying in bed, there is no real improvement in your situation. You drag yourself to the GP, who claims that you have got a nasty case of the flu, which has led to pneumonia. He prescribes some antibiotics and urges you to take them twice a day for two weeks, to ensure that it does not get worse.   You consider yourself lucky that you are not living back in medieval times, when this ailment would often be considered a death sentence, and haul yourself to the pharmacy and back to bed. Time to take on this bug and get rid of it once and for all. Perhaps you’ll even consider giving up your precious cigarettes to give your lungs some much-needed relief. After all, you’ll still be needing them for the next decades. Why do we refuse the obvious  global warming medicine? So, what is the difference between our personal health vs the health of our environment? There must be one, as we somehow refuse the obvious medicine for global warming that will clear our earth’s lungs of the accumulated poison. We gladly accept the Doc’s explanation that the earth is sick, we’ve even decided on a course of action - to reduce our CO2 emissions, live more sustainably - yet we somehow forego the visit to the pharmacy. As of now, any action is mostly driven by young companies, aspiring eco-engineers and entrepreneurs. Some conscious households and communities, perhaps the odd lobbyist and politician. While we applaud their enthusiasm, most of us lack the real drive. Our minds do not seem to want to accept the small sacrifices we must bring if we are to enjoy this world for just a little while longer. The clock is ticking for climate change action Here is the reality check. If we do not cut our global carbon emissions in half in the next 12 years, we will not be able to avert the worst consequences of global warming. Fact.   And yet, while we read this, our minds already go in overdrive to find excuses for not taking action today, right now. It is a biological result of evolution, dating back to our ancestors living in caves. Their worries were pretty much focused on the present. Hunt. Escape from that sabre tooth tiger. Mate. Sleep. Repeat.   Do you think any of them worried about their retirement plans and next year’s elections? You bet they did not.   We are only human and this is how we have been trained to act and think for centuries and centuries. Our tendency to look towards the future and start worrying about tomorrow is still relatively new and fresh, with most of us still struggling to adjust.   What to change to avoid further climate change? The climate change lobby should therefore focus much more on playing to the psyche of people. It should explore why we are so hesitant regarding this perceived change and how we can turn this around to work in our favour. After all, there is nothing more astounding than human’s capability to adjust and overcome - the exact trait that has led to our survival over time. We have got to tackle the perception that we, as individuals, hold no control over this situation anyhow. So why bother?   Additionally, we’ve got to accept that even the smallest activities that we perform on a daily basis are malignant, such as stepping into our gas-guzzling car to take the kids to school. We have to stop undervaluing the impact of climate change on our lives. It may not be visible right now, but it sure will be in a decade of two.   Most importantly, we’ve got to educate ourselves and others. Ignorance is not a pretty trait in anyone, and in this case might even prove to be our downfall. We should stop telling people that they have to sacrifice and give up some comfort. Instead, start telling them about great new initiatives. Educate them about their personal emissions, open their eyes to their own actions. Get them excited about being a part of a massive movement that will clear our earth’s lungs.   Tell them that they will be the hero that saved the earth’s life. We hold the antibiotics that the earth so direly needs. We just got to start ingesting it. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
Back in 2008, the Climate Change Act was passed as part of the strategy of the United Kingdom to drastically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases. It was quite ambitious, to say the least - with the opening line already clearly stating who is to take care of its execution: "It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the baseline.” This baseline is 1990, making it a rather significant change. It would, after all, enable the country to transform into a low carbon economy. For this purpose, it allows the ministers to introduce all measures that they deem necessary to reach the set targets. The Act also led to the creation of a Committee on Climate Change, that acts as an advisory body to the government.   Even more dramatically, there are only two possible outcomes: either the targets are met, or the Government will be taken to court.   The pledges of the Climate Change Act Initially, the idea was that a 60% cut in emissions would have to be realised, based on a report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. This report claimed that, if adopted by other countries, a 60% reduction would suffice in reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide to below 550 parts per million. This number was deemed sufficient for withholding the worst consequences of global warming, that will follow if global temperatures are to rise with more than 2°C. However, another assessment indicated that even at a level of 550 ppm, the threshold of 2°C would be exceeded. Quite a few  environmental organisations and political parties argued that the 60% target would not be sufficient, and instead proposed a greater cut of anywhere between 80% to 100%. While some might think that this is a far-reaching goal, it should be noted that this does not include emissions from the entire aviation and shipping industry. As these are the largest polluters, the net effect on total emissions would only be somewhere in the range of 35-50%. Even though this does not sound nearly as impressive, it would still be a great first step towards making the world more sustainable. Making it a reality We are already ten years underway since the establishment of the Act. This anniversary is a great checkpoint to see how much progress has been made, and check whether the UK is still on track to meet its targets.   At a first glance, it looks as if everything is going well. The country has been considerate in setting carbon budgets, and with this, effectively encouraged innovation and awareness. Especially the move towards generating more renewable energy is very promising. While it took almost two decades for Britain to build its first 5GW of wind capacity, they realised the latest 5GW in merely two years. A major improvement. Less than a year ago, an important milestone was reached; after the share of  renewable energy skyrocketed to a high of 30% of the energy generation in the country. This does, however, not deny that there is still a long way to go. In 2017, a report indicated that the overall energy consumption still used a whopping 80% of fossil fuel. The share of wind, solar and hydro energy was only 3%. It illustrates the great potential for cutting back emissions. So yes, the increase in renewables has been remarkable, but it is nowhere near the targets as set forth in the Act and the levels that should be reached in 2050.   The looming clouds Alongside the still dominant position of fossil fuels, there are some other clouds that have been cast over this otherwise relatively blue sky. There is a possibility that, in the future, the government will start exploiting flexibilities in the Act to help them meet the set carbon targets. As such, the government could use the fact that the targets were exceeded in previous years and use this to sit back and relax, missing the targets for the next period but justifying this by offsetting it against the earlier overachievement.   It sounds like a technicality, but this loophole could cause the government to take a backseat instead of pushing the boundaries. The target should be looked at as the bare minimum required, not the end-goal in itself.   Secondly, recent insights have led to even stricter targets for the reduction that should be achieved if climate change is to be countered effectively. In the Paris Climate Accord, it has been pointed out that, to be on the safe side, global temperatures should not increase with more than 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C quoted before. For this to be a feasible option, the world needs to have a net zero economy by 2050 and the reduction in carbon emissions should be almost double of what will be brought forth by the Climate Change Act. What is next? Even though the recommendations of the Paris Climate Accord are not set in stone, and therefore do not render the Act obsolete as of now, it should be noted that predictions are that more should be done than is currently established. Therefore, the successes already achieved should be celebrated, after which they should encourage the government to push even further and find ways to exceed expectations - rather than lean back and pride themselves on compliance.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Back in 2008, the Climate Change Act was passed as part of the strategy of the United Kingdom to drastically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases. It was quite ambitious, to say the least - with the opening line already clearly stating who is to take care of its execution: "It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the baseline.” This baseline is 1990, making it a rather significant change. It would, after all, enable the country to transform into a low carbon economy. For this purpose, it allows the ministers to introduce all measures that they deem necessary to reach the set targets. The Act also led to the creation of a Committee on Climate Change, that acts as an advisory body to the government.   Even more dramatically, there are only two possible outcomes: either the targets are met, or the Government will be taken to court.   The pledges of the Climate Change Act Initially, the idea was that a 60% cut in emissions would have to be realised, based on a report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. This report claimed that, if adopted by other countries, a 60% reduction would suffice in reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide to below 550 parts per million. This number was deemed sufficient for withholding the worst consequences of global warming, that will follow if global temperatures are to rise with more than 2°C. However, another assessment indicated that even at a level of 550 ppm, the threshold of 2°C would be exceeded. Quite a few  environmental organisations and political parties argued that the 60% target would not be sufficient, and instead proposed a greater cut of anywhere between 80% to 100%. While some might think that this is a far-reaching goal, it should be noted that this does not include emissions from the entire aviation and shipping industry. As these are the largest polluters, the net effect on total emissions would only be somewhere in the range of 35-50%. Even though this does not sound nearly as impressive, it would still be a great first step towards making the world more sustainable. Making it a reality We are already ten years underway since the establishment of the Act. This anniversary is a great checkpoint to see how much progress has been made, and check whether the UK is still on track to meet its targets.   At a first glance, it looks as if everything is going well. The country has been considerate in setting carbon budgets, and with this, effectively encouraged innovation and awareness. Especially the move towards generating more renewable energy is very promising. While it took almost two decades for Britain to build its first 5GW of wind capacity, they realised the latest 5GW in merely two years. A major improvement. Less than a year ago, an important milestone was reached; after the share of  renewable energy skyrocketed to a high of 30% of the energy generation in the country. This does, however, not deny that there is still a long way to go. In 2017, a report indicated that the overall energy consumption still used a whopping 80% of fossil fuel. The share of wind, solar and hydro energy was only 3%. It illustrates the great potential for cutting back emissions. So yes, the increase in renewables has been remarkable, but it is nowhere near the targets as set forth in the Act and the levels that should be reached in 2050.   The looming clouds Alongside the still dominant position of fossil fuels, there are some other clouds that have been cast over this otherwise relatively blue sky. There is a possibility that, in the future, the government will start exploiting flexibilities in the Act to help them meet the set carbon targets. As such, the government could use the fact that the targets were exceeded in previous years and use this to sit back and relax, missing the targets for the next period but justifying this by offsetting it against the earlier overachievement.   It sounds like a technicality, but this loophole could cause the government to take a backseat instead of pushing the boundaries. The target should be looked at as the bare minimum required, not the end-goal in itself.   Secondly, recent insights have led to even stricter targets for the reduction that should be achieved if climate change is to be countered effectively. In the Paris Climate Accord, it has been pointed out that, to be on the safe side, global temperatures should not increase with more than 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C quoted before. For this to be a feasible option, the world needs to have a net zero economy by 2050 and the reduction in carbon emissions should be almost double of what will be brought forth by the Climate Change Act. What is next? Even though the recommendations of the Paris Climate Accord are not set in stone, and therefore do not render the Act obsolete as of now, it should be noted that predictions are that more should be done than is currently established. Therefore, the successes already achieved should be celebrated, after which they should encourage the government to push even further and find ways to exceed expectations - rather than lean back and pride themselves on compliance.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
It sounds like the concept of a super futuristic, sci-fi blockbuster movie starring a handful of the earth’s most brilliant geniuses as well as a few brave, daring astronauts and engineers. Solar geo-engineering is a fancy term for spreading particles in our earth’s stratosphere, that will effectively block the sun from ‘breaking through’. Although in all of these movies, it usually goes wrong whenever one country tries to take over control of the system. What better weapon could there be, after all, than the mighty sword of playing God and changing the global climate for good? Rather unfounded fears, thankfully, as scientists that are hoping to one day make this dream a reality now claim.   How does solar geo-engineering work? The process of solar geo-engineering most closely resembles major volcanic eruptions, that effectively reduces the temperature on earth through the release of small sulphate particles. Perhaps surprisingly so, it actually adds up to be a rather affordable solution for climate change.   In the most cost-effective way, specially designed aircrafts are used to release the sulphate particles in the atmosphere, at a altitude of about 20 km. Releasing it from regular commercial jets would not be effective enough, as it will lead to the particles falling out of the sky within a very short time. These modified airplanes will be able to carry a huge amount of particles to the 20 km mark, at which the particles can remain afloat for at least a year. For this, it needs four engines instead of two and substantially larger wings. Nothing that science hasn’t invented yet, and therefore fairly simple. Estimations as made by Harvard University, based on a hypothetical deployment program, show that it could come in at a remarkably low 2 million dollar per year. When compared to the annual budget currently spent on green technologies - an amazing 500 billion dollar - it seems to be a no-brainer. Why, then, has it not been implemented yet? Facing the opponents of geo-engineering Well, for starters, the entire topic of geo-engineering is very controversial. First of all, for the argument given before, where hostile countries or persons could attempt to gain control of the system and eventually harness its power for bad intentions. Although experts are stating that this is theoretically impossible to do, as it would require thousands and thousands of high-altitude flights in order to affect the global temperature significantly - something that would not go by unnoticed. A second argument that opponents frequently bring to the table is the effect that it would have on people’s attitude towards global warming and sustainability. After all, it does sound and feel like a quick, easy fix for global warming. As such, it would drastically weaken any attempts made to actually tackle the root causes for global warming in the first place. Why should we try so hard to cut back on our emissions if we can neutralise them in this way? Finally, there are some side-effects that it could have on the planet, including lengthy  droughts and damage to crops. This effect of the particles on the land have not been properly investigated yet, adding fuel to the fire of those fears. Geo-engineering: a long-term solution or a last resort? The effects of geo-engineering are suspected to be quick and quite significant. Projections of its impact are that it will reduce global warming by 0.1 degrees Celsius per year, with a total reduction of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This would be sufficient according to recent reports, that indicated that there will be an increase in temperature of 3 degrees Celsius if emissions will continue to rise - which would be catastrophic - and naming a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius as much more desirable.   Hence, geo-engineering would be capable of bringing the earth’s climate back down from the brink of disaster to a much more manageable level. The advocates of this technology claim that it is definitely worth investigating, as it has the power to serve as the ‘last resort’ for nations if climate change becomes too bad. Yet they are also quick to emphasise that it should only be used - if ever - in combination with a climate change policy that includes hefty cuts in emissions, adaptation and carbon removal from the atmosphere. And this is probably what it is. Geo-engineering seems suitable as a final lifeline, yet it is not a solution in itself. It merely combats the symptoms of an underlying illness and does not, nor will it ever be, a cure of its own. Therefore, nations should - while taking it seriously as an option - never see it as a quick way out, allow them to sit back and relax.   The only way to combat climate change is by permanently changing our behaviour. As for geo-engineering: it will only be a feasible plan of action if it serves an ultimate goal, rather than being the goal in itself. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
It sounds like the concept of a super futuristic, sci-fi blockbuster movie starring a handful of the earth’s most brilliant geniuses as well as a few brave, daring astronauts and engineers. Solar geo-engineering is a fancy term for spreading particles in our earth’s stratosphere, that will effectively block the sun from ‘breaking through’. Although in all of these movies, it usually goes wrong whenever one country tries to take over control of the system. What better weapon could there be, after all, than the mighty sword of playing God and changing the global climate for good? Rather unfounded fears, thankfully, as scientists that are hoping to one day make this dream a reality now claim.   How does solar geo-engineering work? The process of solar geo-engineering most closely resembles major volcanic eruptions, that effectively reduces the temperature on earth through the release of small sulphate particles. Perhaps surprisingly so, it actually adds up to be a rather affordable solution for climate change.   In the most cost-effective way, specially designed aircrafts are used to release the sulphate particles in the atmosphere, at a altitude of about 20 km. Releasing it from regular commercial jets would not be effective enough, as it will lead to the particles falling out of the sky within a very short time. These modified airplanes will be able to carry a huge amount of particles to the 20 km mark, at which the particles can remain afloat for at least a year. For this, it needs four engines instead of two and substantially larger wings. Nothing that science hasn’t invented yet, and therefore fairly simple. Estimations as made by Harvard University, based on a hypothetical deployment program, show that it could come in at a remarkably low 2 million dollar per year. When compared to the annual budget currently spent on green technologies - an amazing 500 billion dollar - it seems to be a no-brainer. Why, then, has it not been implemented yet? Facing the opponents of geo-engineering Well, for starters, the entire topic of geo-engineering is very controversial. First of all, for the argument given before, where hostile countries or persons could attempt to gain control of the system and eventually harness its power for bad intentions. Although experts are stating that this is theoretically impossible to do, as it would require thousands and thousands of high-altitude flights in order to affect the global temperature significantly - something that would not go by unnoticed. A second argument that opponents frequently bring to the table is the effect that it would have on people’s attitude towards global warming and sustainability. After all, it does sound and feel like a quick, easy fix for global warming. As such, it would drastically weaken any attempts made to actually tackle the root causes for global warming in the first place. Why should we try so hard to cut back on our emissions if we can neutralise them in this way? Finally, there are some side-effects that it could have on the planet, including lengthy  droughts and damage to crops. This effect of the particles on the land have not been properly investigated yet, adding fuel to the fire of those fears. Geo-engineering: a long-term solution or a last resort? The effects of geo-engineering are suspected to be quick and quite significant. Projections of its impact are that it will reduce global warming by 0.1 degrees Celsius per year, with a total reduction of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This would be sufficient according to recent reports, that indicated that there will be an increase in temperature of 3 degrees Celsius if emissions will continue to rise - which would be catastrophic - and naming a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius as much more desirable.   Hence, geo-engineering would be capable of bringing the earth’s climate back down from the brink of disaster to a much more manageable level. The advocates of this technology claim that it is definitely worth investigating, as it has the power to serve as the ‘last resort’ for nations if climate change becomes too bad. Yet they are also quick to emphasise that it should only be used - if ever - in combination with a climate change policy that includes hefty cuts in emissions, adaptation and carbon removal from the atmosphere. And this is probably what it is. Geo-engineering seems suitable as a final lifeline, yet it is not a solution in itself. It merely combats the symptoms of an underlying illness and does not, nor will it ever be, a cure of its own. Therefore, nations should - while taking it seriously as an option - never see it as a quick way out, allow them to sit back and relax.   The only way to combat climate change is by permanently changing our behaviour. As for geo-engineering: it will only be a feasible plan of action if it serves an ultimate goal, rather than being the goal in itself. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns
A report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose again during 2018, highlighting the imperative for countries to deliver on the historic  Paris Agreement  to keep global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The report comes just days before the key UN climate change conference known as COP 24, taking place in Katowice, Poland, with the agency urging nations to triple their efforts to curb harmful emissions. {youtube} For all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster The UNEP report comes hot on the heels of the watershed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global warming, which cautioned that emissions had to stop rising now, in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and reduce the risks for the well-being of the planet and its people. “If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.” Global emissions have reached historic levels. Heat-trapping CO2 gas in the atmosphere is largely responsible for rising global temperatures, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. UNEP’s 2018 Global Emissions Report, show global emissions have reached historic levels. Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons in 2017, an increase of 0.7 compared with 2016. “In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C respectively,” said the report. What’s worse, the report notes that there is no sign of reversal of this trend and that only 57 countries (representing 60 per cent of global emissions) are on track to bridge their “emissions gap” – meaning the gap between where we are likely to be and where we need to be. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap published in this year’s report is larger than ever. Nations would need to triple their efforts on  climate action UNEP stresses that while 'surging momentum from the private sector' and 'untapped potential from innovation and green-financing' offer 'pathways' to bridge the emissions gap globally, the 'technical feasibility' of limiting global warming to 1.5°C 'is dwindling'. The authors of the report note that nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action without further delay, in order to meet the 2°C-rise limit by mid-century.  To meet the 1.5°C limit, they would have to quintuple their efforts. A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings. “The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen,” said UNEP. The report offers concrete ways for Governments to bridge their emissions gap, including through fiscal policy, innovative technology, non-state and subnational action, and more. This ninth UNEP emissions report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidize low-emission alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said Jian Liu, UNEP’s Chief Scientist. Global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030 "Thankfully, the potential of using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly recognized," said Dr. Liu, referring to the 51 initiatives already in place or planned across the world to charge for carbon emissions (called 'carbon pricing'). "If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030," he added, explaining that "setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US$70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40 per cent are possible in some countries." The 2018 Global Emissions Report report adds yet another building block of scientific evidence to inform decision-making at the upcoming UN climate change conference – the COP 24 in Poland – which starts on Sunday and will last for two weeks. The key objective of the meeting will be to adopt an implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Cover photo: Havard.udo Source: news.un.org https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
A report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose again during 2018, highlighting the imperative for countries to deliver on the historic  Paris Agreement  to keep global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The report comes just days before the key UN climate change conference known as COP 24, taking place in Katowice, Poland, with the agency urging nations to triple their efforts to curb harmful emissions. {youtube} For all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster The UNEP report comes hot on the heels of the watershed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global warming, which cautioned that emissions had to stop rising now, in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and reduce the risks for the well-being of the planet and its people. “If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.” Global emissions have reached historic levels. Heat-trapping CO2 gas in the atmosphere is largely responsible for rising global temperatures, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. UNEP’s 2018 Global Emissions Report, show global emissions have reached historic levels. Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons in 2017, an increase of 0.7 compared with 2016. “In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C respectively,” said the report. What’s worse, the report notes that there is no sign of reversal of this trend and that only 57 countries (representing 60 per cent of global emissions) are on track to bridge their “emissions gap” – meaning the gap between where we are likely to be and where we need to be. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap published in this year’s report is larger than ever. Nations would need to triple their efforts on  climate action UNEP stresses that while 'surging momentum from the private sector' and 'untapped potential from innovation and green-financing' offer 'pathways' to bridge the emissions gap globally, the 'technical feasibility' of limiting global warming to 1.5°C 'is dwindling'. The authors of the report note that nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action without further delay, in order to meet the 2°C-rise limit by mid-century.  To meet the 1.5°C limit, they would have to quintuple their efforts. A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings. “The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen,” said UNEP. The report offers concrete ways for Governments to bridge their emissions gap, including through fiscal policy, innovative technology, non-state and subnational action, and more. This ninth UNEP emissions report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidize low-emission alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said Jian Liu, UNEP’s Chief Scientist. Global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030 "Thankfully, the potential of using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly recognized," said Dr. Liu, referring to the 51 initiatives already in place or planned across the world to charge for carbon emissions (called 'carbon pricing'). "If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030," he added, explaining that "setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US$70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40 per cent are possible in some countries." The 2018 Global Emissions Report report adds yet another building block of scientific evidence to inform decision-making at the upcoming UN climate change conference – the COP 24 in Poland – which starts on Sunday and will last for two weeks. The key objective of the meeting will be to adopt an implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Cover photo: Havard.udo Source: news.un.org https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns
Climate

Here you will find great information about projects that try to combat the rising temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts and their destructive effects on the flora and fauna around the world.

Get updates on environmental sustainability in your mailbox every month.