Could renewable energy end up costing more?
Research from Michael Greenstone and Ishan Nath at the Becker Friedman Institute is suggesting current renewable commitments may greatly increase energy costs. Their concern is the additional land required by wind and solar farms, spare capacity to deal with intermittent disruption and increased transmission costs resulting from getting the power to where it’s needed, greatly add to the overall cost of the energy. The result is a “total cost of ownership” that could far exceed the headline grabbing “cheap energy” claims.
Their argument is a purely economic one, but it does raise some valid questions about total cost of ownership, transmission and how to support the increasing commitments in the US to support 100 per cent renewable energy.
India’s hand-picked e-waste is building a mountain of problems
India’s reliance on “rag pickers” to sift through rubbish and find electronics and other waste, could have serious environmental consequences. Neither the pickers, nor the scrap dealers they sell to, are aware of the environmental hazards associated with e-waste, leading to it being mishandled or dumped in rivers and landfills. That’s according to research from KPMG, which highlights the problem will only get worse as India’s economy grows.
Education may be the solution to raising India’s woeful 1% recycling levels. Although it may seem low-tech, regulating or formally employing rag pickers may be the fastest way to tackle the problem. Until then, India will continue to pile up environmental debt.
Trading recycled plastics? Plastship has an app for that
A new trading portal could make it easier to source recycled plastics. The initiative comes from plastship and backed by RIGK GmbH, a supplier of recycling systems from Germany. As well marketing recycled materials, the platform offers impact assessments and consultancy on using them, as well as contracts trading platform.
Renewable growth has stalled – is it a blip or a trend?
Growth in renewable energy projects stalled in 2018. The International Energy Agency reported 180 gigawatts of capacity was added, far short of the 300 needed each year to meet the 2030 Paris Agreement goals.
The stall is being attributed to governments easing back on subsidies and support, notably in China where its charge to invest in solar plants has largely ended. What’s unclear is whether this is a blip, or the start of a long-term trend.
Given the number of countries, states and cities pledging to increase renewable energy use over the coming decade, we’re hoping it’s a temporary “catch your breath” moment.
OECD calls for higher taxes on polluters
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has told the G7 group of advanced economies to increase taxes on polluting companies. Analysis by the OECD showed 1.6 per cent of taxes were raised by Environmental Protection measures, with less a per cent of that coming from biodiversity measures. Changes to the tax system are required, they argue, as fossil fuels receive 10 times the subsidies of biodiversity projects.
The OECD joins a growing clamour of voices warning if widespread change to the planet’s economic systems does happened, an ecological disaster awaits.
Education reduces CO2 emissions in diets
A UCLA study has reported students reduce their carbon footprints after studying environmental systems. Researchers found students on an environmental course changed their diet to one with a lower impact, with an average reduction of 16 per cent. Diet changes saw meat consumption fall, while overall balances of diet remained the same or improved. Women seemed more likely to pick up the mantra.
Baltic cruises take another step towards becoming a sustainable tourism option
Going on a Baltic Cruise could soon be a sustainable tourism option, following the signing of the “Cruise Baltic Manifesto” in Copenhagen. The cruise industry has been reducing its impact on the environment for some years and this represents another step after widespread adoption of the “Green Cruise Port Plan” earlier in the year.
It may be some time before the industry can tackle one of its biggest problems: emissions from cruise ships. Electrification technology is in its infancy, mostly limited to in-harbour manoeuvres rather than open sea cruising. Plus there’s the lifespan of the ships to consider.
Where are the world’s most sustainable corporations?
Pulling together data from Corporate Knight’s 2019 Global 100 report, the Visual Capitalist has found the world’s most sustainable corporations. Any corporation turning over $1 billion was eligible, and screened against criteria including clean revenue, financial management and supplier performance.
The US has the most sustainable companies in the top 100 with 22, while second placed France has half that at 11. Japan follows (8), with Finland and the UK tie with 7.
|Country||Number of Sustainable Companies|
Jared Harris on climate change and Chernobyl
As a major new drama airs on UK TV, one of the stars talks to The Big Issue about Chernobyl and climate change. Appearing in the drama has made him look back to 1986, reflect on what we were told and question some of the practicalities of cleaning up the world’s largest nuclear accident.
UK goes “coal-free” for nearly 5 days
The previous record of over 90 hours lasted barely a couple of weeks. After the Easter Weekend’s record breaking coal-free run, this Bank Holiday the UK went further, lasting 122 hours. However, it’s not all good news. The slack was picked up largely by gas, which though less polluting, is still considered a fossil fuel. Emissions from power generation would have been lower, but nowhere near the “zero” promised by 2025.
Low-Carbon travel across Europe hit by train company relationship breakdown
A systems change at Eurostar has unpicked a key part of low-carbon travel across the continent. Passengers were able to book tickets from point-to-point that included a journey through the Chunnel. A single ticket could take someone from the UK to Austria, Germany or Switzerland, greatly increasing convenience and reducing cost. Hopefully it’s a temporary glitch though, with everyone concerned claiming to be working towards a solution.
UK agriculture needs to embrace data if it’s going to improve
An “island mentality” is holding back many farmers from unleashing their true potential, argues farmer and consultant Sarah Bell. Farmers tend to see data as something “done to them” rather than trying to understand the vast swathes they produce and which could be used to make their farms more efficient and profitable. As pressure to become “sustainable” mounts, better data management is going to help the industry make the changes it needs, but only if attitudes change first.
Consultation on the future of UK carbon pricing – GOV.UK
The UK Government has issued a consultation paper on the future of taxation and pricing carbon. It follows the Committee on Climate Change’s paper calling for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
Any interested party can contribute, with the consultation ending on the 12th July 2019.
Image by UC Davis College of Engineering and used under a Creative Commons licence
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