Friday, May 17, 2019

Clean Energy is Essential for More than Just Climate Action

Clean energy is a necessary part of efforts to address the climate crisis and if implemented at scale, renewables would favorably impact far more than just the environment.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) from fossil fuel based energy sources are contributing to planetary warming and driving the climate crisis. We have just surpassed 415 ppm of atmospheric carbon for the first time in human history. We urgently need solutions and making the transition to clean energy would afford substantial GHG reductions.

A 2018 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the rapid deployment of renewables, combined with greater energy efficiency, could achieve 90% of energy sector emission reductions required by the Paris Climate agreement. This would mean that by 2050 clean energy would have to provide 66% of the world’s energy consumption and 80% of its power generation. We have a long way to go to get to these kind of numbers, but we know what we have to do and we know that it is viable.

Erik Solheim, the former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme is among the thousands of authorities that argue the merits of clean energy. "A global transition to renewable energy technologies like solar and wind are also key ingredients of delivering on the Paris Agreement, keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C and avoiding catastrophic climate change," Solheim said in a press release.

As a leading source of GHGs dirty energy is a necessary focal point. The awareness that we must end fossil fuel use is not new, in fact the industry knew this more than 40 years ago. Two recent studies confirm that if we stop using fossil fuels we could keep temperatures below the upper threshold limit of 1.5 C. 

We understand the problem and we have a viable solution. Those who equivocate on the issue of energy are like those who question the veracity of climate change.  We cannot waste time trying to convince the willfully ignorant and those who are motivated by something other than reason. These people will not be swayed by facts. We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction and we have a little more than a decade to keep the planet from surpassing the upper threshold temperature limit.

The multifarious benefits of clean energy make a compelling case for anyone who is open to the facts. A 2015 IRENA report explains how renewable energy contributes to SDG goals. The report is the second edition of the REthinking Energy – Renewable Energy and Climate, a series outlining progress in the transition to a sustainable energy future. In addition to being a major part of climate action and sustainable communities, renewables support good health, well being, clean water and sanitation.  According to the report they also reduce poverty, contribute to gender equality, improve education, and decrease hunger.

The IRENA report also makes a business case for renewables pointing to advances in innovation and enhanced infrastructure.  This is a solution that offers a trifecta of benefits. It is a powerful method of combating both climate change and air pollution. It also is an economic boon that offers both cheap energy and good jobs. The economic case for climate action is irrefutable as is the moral case. The overwhelming logic of action over inaction is undeniable. Dozens of independent studies demonstrate that the range of economic benefits associated with a low carbon world.

Despite being popular fossil fuels still eclipse renewables by a huge margin. The US gets 63.5% of its energy from fossil fuels even though 83% of Americans support clean energy.  The transition away from fossil fuels is a popular idea that protects human health and conserves biodiversity. The alternative is to maintain our current energy trajectory and imperil civilization as we know it.

The call to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy is about more than holding the bad actors accountable or confronting the failures of our political leaderships. This is about survival.

It is time to move on to the next stage of energy production. It is time to demand that our political leaders embrace clean energy solutions.

The Ongoing Prodigious Growth of Renewables
MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership
The Transition Away from Fossil Fuels to Renewables is Well Underway
Clean Energy from Renewable Sources is the Answer but Government Policies are a Problem
The Dream of 100 Percent Renewable Energy is Alive and Well 
The World's Poor are Hurt Not Helped by Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Legislators to Protect their Subsidies
What Would Happen if Fossil Fuel Subsidies were Redirected Towards Renewable Energy?
Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies is a Crucial First Step

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Assaults on Wildlife from the Top to the Bottom of the Food Web

The Trump administration has proven harmful to species both great and small. Wildlife at the top of the food chain play vital roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems and although species at the bottom of the food web might not captivate the popular imagination like apex predators, they still play pivotal roles. The Trump administration has not been coy about its propensity to prioritize economic interests over the well being of the natural world. Some may celebrate the financial gains wrought through the elimination of environmental regulations and species protections but this is a Pyrrhic victory that ignores the fundamental interconnectedness of all life. Organizations like NRDC and Earth Justice are mounting successful court challenges to force the administration to address it's failure to protect wildlife. One judge described this administration's conduct as a "pattern of bad faith".

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership

In much of the world year over year growth of renewables has slowed, but countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are outpacing the norm. According to recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data, 2018 was the first year since 2001 that renewable energy growth failed to increase year on year. New net capacity from renewable sources was about 180 Gigawatts (GW), which is equivalent to the previous year. However, the report indicates that renewable capacity accelerated in many countries in the MENA region last year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Trump Administration's War on Wildlife

The Trump administration is working to erode protections designed to safeguard America's wildlife. As reiterated in a new U.N. report we are destroying biodiversity at an unprecedented rate.  The future of life on this planet is looking bleak as the world's most powerful nation belligerently disregards the natural world.

This is an administration that puts economic impacts ahead of species protections. They have sought to end protections for threatened species including those that hinder the fossil fuel industry.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Event - Women In Green Forum: A Decade of Impact

The 10th annual Women in Green Forum will take place on Thursday August 15, 2019, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, 11461 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049, United States.

Over the past ten years, the Women In Green Forum has grown to be the premier event highlighting women in the environmental industry. Each year, they convene sustainability trailblazers who share insights about the newest and most cutting-edge environmental innovations.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Our Suicidal Genocide Against Nature and the Need for Transformative Change

We are often reminded that the fate of humanity is tied to the fate of other species and yet a new report emphasizing the interdependence of life on Earth tells us that we are destroying biodiversity at a perilous rate. The sixth great extinction threatens life on the planet. While previous extinction events were caused by things like volcanoes and asteroids, the defining feature of this one is that it is being driven by human activity. This suicidal rampage has been dubbed the age of the Anthropocene. A summary of a comprehensive new report warns that unless we make significant changes, we will, "plunge the planet into a nightmarish, downward spiral of conflict, growing inequality and continuing degradation of Nature."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Green Party Win in BC Foreshadows the Importance of the Environment in the Forthcoming Federal Election

Image Credit: Toronto Star
On Monday May 6th, voters in British Columbia highlighted the growing importance of environmental and climate issues to the Canadian electorate. Green party candidate Paul Manly was elected to the federal parliament in Nanaimo soundly defeating his nearest rival Conservative candidate John Hirst. "People really want to see action on climate change," Manly said.

There are now two Green party members of parliament. The other is party leader Elizabeth May who said Manly's win signals a new era in federal politics, intimating that the environment could be a major factor in forthcoming federal election scheduled for October 21. The Green party almost won the recent provincial election in PEI.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Forest Through the Trees: The Failure of the Ecosystem Services Model to Protect Nature at Scale

Money does not grow on trees: The problems of false equivalency

The aim of the ecosystem services model is to promote conservation and advocates argue that the profit incentive can protect the natural world. It is true that support for market driven solutions is pervasive and longstanding. Efforts to assign values to trees can be traced back more than 30 years.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Climate Emergency Declarations Around the World

The declaration of a climate emergency draws attention to the fact that we are not doing what we must to avert a climate catastrophe. The declaration seeks to mobilize society and government to urgently act on the climate crisis. Although momentum has been growing for years, 2019 is the year that this movement came of age. This campaign is sweeping the globe with hundreds of cities having already declared climate emergencies and mounting pressure to make such declarations at the national level. The UK is the first nation to declare a climate emergency and grassroots pressure is building in Australia, Canada, and the United States. All around the world the notion is gaining traction. More than 517 councils that govern 46 million people in seven countries have made climate emergency declarations.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Event - Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit

Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit will take place on May 20 – 22, 2019, at DeVos Place Grand Rapids Convention Center, in Grand Rapids, MI. Plastic is a major problem in our world today and businesses urgently need to find and deploy innovative approaches to address this crisis.

At this summit participants will discover the newest machinery, innovative materials and technology solutions to take your green goals from aspirational to operational.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Why Republicans Oppose Democrat's Efforts to Revive the Paris Climate Agreement

House Democrats are trying to keep the Paris Climate agreement alive while Senate Republicans are intent on killing the measure. On Thursday May 2, 2019 the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives formally expressed their opposition to President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement. They did this by voting on the first climate bill to come out of Congress in almost a decade. The motion passed by a margin of 41 votes (231 votes for and 190 votes against). House Democrats supported the bill while almost all Republicans voted against it.

The bill known as H.R. 9 would force the Trump administration to stay in the Paris Climate agreement. It would compel the administration to detail plans on how the country will meet its Paris targets that mandate emissions reductions of between 26 and 28 percent (compared to 2005 levels). It would also prevent Trump from using federal funds to finance the withdrawal.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Carbon Sequestration in Natural Forests vs. Monoculture Plantations

We recently saw a report from NASA that suggested the world is getting greener, however, this finding obscures the fact that much of this greenery is actually plantations and other forms of monoculture. Palm oil plantations have a particularly egregious footprint. This point was underscored by the devastating Indonesian fires in 2015.

Cultured forests do not support the kind of biodiversity we see in old growth forests. Massive mono cultures should not be confused with forest restoration. According a ScienceDaily article, "almost half (45%) of the vast areas that countries have pledged are set to become plantations of commercial trees, a move which will seriously reduce expected carbon uptake and prevent agreements to curb climate change being met."

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Climate Change Behind the Worst Flooding Ever in Quebec

Image credit: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers
Quebec has experienced the worst flooding in the recorded history of the province and climate change played a role. More than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes. On the island of Montreal 94 residences were flooded, 49 were surrounded by water and 55 were evacuated. In nearby Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac 6,000 people were forced to evacuate after a dike was breached last weekend. The flooding left more than one third of the homes in the small town under water.