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Archives for paris agreement

Sweden’s New Goals

Yesterday, June 15, the Swedish government passed a proposal intended to make the country carbon neutral by 2045. The legislation was approved by a 254 to 41 majority (86 percent) and will take effect on January 1, 2018. The drafters of the proposal call it the “most important climate reform in Sweden’s history.”

The law is divided into three key areas:

  • A climate act that forces the government to provide an environment report every year and to draw up a targeted plan every four years, as well as compels it to base policy on the legislation’s climate goals
  • Climate goals that include a minimum 63 percent decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030 and at least a 75 percent decrease by 2040, as well as complete carbon neutrality by 2045
  • The establishment of a Climate Policy Council that will carry out an “independent assessment of how the overall policy presented by the Government is compatible with the climate goals”

As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, Sweden originally planned to be carbon neutral by 2050. By bringing this target forward by five years, it becomes the first nation to set a significantly higher standard for itself since the 2015 adoption of the agreement.

According to Climate Home, Gareth Redmond-King, the head of climate and energy at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), responded to the legislation passing in a statement: “Today is an important victory, not only for Sweden, but for everyone who cares about the future of our environment.”

A Global Impact

Paris Climate Agreement
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Sweden’s signing of the Paris Climate Agreement meant that the country agreed to efforts to limit the global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). To meet that goal, 50 percent of the world’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2060, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Sweden’s new legislation of becoming a completely carbon neutral nation by 2045 is taking that to the next level.

The Paris Agreement, which has now been ratified by 148 countries out of 197 at the convention, is a vital step toward saving the world that humans are on the path to destroying. Though United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement earlier this year was met with acerbic criticism by domestic and international parties, if other countries strive to exceed rather than just meet the goals of the agreement — as Sweden, the United Kingdom and China have all done — the cumulative effect could help alleviate the burden caused by the U.S.’s decision.

The post Sweden Passes Law to Be Completely Carbon Neutral by 2045 appeared first on Futurism.

A $15 Million Pledge

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised up to $15 million toward the U.S.’s share of the Paris climate accord financial commitment. The businessman, who is also an envoy to the UN on climate change, says lack of cooperation from the federal government will not stop the U.S. from meeting its carbon reduction goals, and pledges to support the UN’s climate change work using his Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation.

Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Flickr
Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Flickr

“Americans are not walking away from the Paris climate agreement,” Bloomberg said in a press release. “Just the opposite — we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing onto a statement of support that we will submit to the UN, and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the U.S. made in Paris in 2015. As a sign of our commitment, Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with others, will make up the approximately $15 million in funding that the U.N.’s Climate Secretariat stands to lose from Washington. Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up — and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”

According to the statement, the $15 million will assist other countries in implementing their Paris accord commitments.

Unified Resistance

Bloomberg is in good company, joining many Americans who have spoken out against the U.S. withdrawal. Governors of four states, along with numerous of mayors, heads of corporations, and university presidents are pledging to meet Paris accord climate change goals. The coalition plans to ask the UN to accept their own document as if they were a national government.

“We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Bloomberg told The New York Times. If they do, they will have a significant impact on carbon emissions and climate change. Major cities have both the most to offer climate change programs and the most to lose if global warming is not abated; more than 90% of urban areas are coastal, and these are the places that can cut down on pollution by implementing green transit plans and capping emissions.

“One man cannot destroy our progress,” former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a video statement. “One man can’t stop our clean energy revolution.”

The post Michael Bloomberg Says the U.N. Will Get the $15 Million to Fulfill Paris Agreement appeared first on Futurism.

The Green City

Some of you might have heard of Burlington, Vermont. It’s a relatively small city that borders Lake Champlain on the state’s western coast. The total population was just a little over 40,000 in 2013. It’s also home to United States senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

But there’s also something that Burlington has that sets it apart from any other city in the entire nation—something that we hope municipalities will use as a model for green initiatives.

Burlington is the country’s first city to completely run on renewable energy. It get its power from a hydroelectric plant a half-mile away, four wind turbines on the nearby Georgia Mountain, and from the McNeil Generating Station which supplies almost half of the city’s electricity through completely sustainable and local lumber. The airport is even coated with solar panels, and residents haven’t seen a raise in electric costs in 8 years. Throw in plans for more EV charging stations, an expansive bike path, and a collection of waste heat to use for downtown buildings, and we’ve really got something to look up (and forward) to.

Credit: City of Burlington, Vermont

But all in all, this was no easy feat and the city has quite a bit of history regarding its ascent from inert manufacturing town to global trendsetter in green power. It’s an astounding achievement considering the fact that the United States’ commitment to addressing climate change has never been very certain.

In June 2013, now former President Obama formed the Climate Action Plan, a 21-page document outlining a strategy to cut carbon pollution, along with steps to prepare the country for the man-made continuation of climate change. The document provides some hope in prioritizing the issue for years to come.

The incoming Trump administration has signaled that it intends to chart a new energy policy, which at the moment is unclear; the fate of national clean energy initiatives is therefore uncertain, but of course, in a federal republic, individual states are free to undertake whatever clean energy programs they wish. With temperatures in the country hitting all-time record highs since its initial tracking in 1880, it’s more important than ever to take after Burlington and its commitment to a near future of net-zero energy consumption.

Other Cities Are Leading The Way

Take Las Vegas for example. Local government announced in December last year that they are now 100 percent powered by renewables. They were able to purchase carbon-free electricity from a massive solar array called Boulder Solar 1, which they plan to use in powering 140 buildings, facilities, and streetlights. The transition in energy sources would save the city approximately $5 million per year in spending alone.

Moving halfway across the world, Aarhus is making a remarkable transition of their own. The large municipality in Denmark built the world’s first waste treatment plant that uses wastewater and sewage to create electricity. The Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plan was upgraded to generate enough energy to power itself, with extra unspent energy being used to pump clean drinking water for 200,000 residents.

Credit: Aarhus Water

Last year, 68 American cities in both red and blue states joined together and wrote an open letter to then President-elect Trump, asking him to work with them in taking an initiative toward a clean energy future.

These are all examples of what is being done to not only reduce the effects of climate change, but to bring awareness to a ubiquitous problem affecting us all.

So What Can Be Done Now?

Governments all around the world need to take action. We can learn a lot from Burlington’s commitment to creating an efficient clean energy system.

The Paris climate conference in December 2015 gathered 195 countries together to sign the Paris Agreement. This global action plan agreed to have countries find ways to attain worldwide climate-neutrality before 2100.

Credit: ITER IO

We need to bring more solutions to the table and act upon them. For one, the prospect of nuclear fusion in energy generation as a response to global warming has been on hold for 60 years, but might finally become a reality. We’re hoping that the ITER project in France completes their experimental fusion reactor so that hopefully, a global trickle-down effect will occur in the years to come.

The post These Cities Are Setting the Standard for Clean Energy Worldwide appeared first on Futurism.

Ditching Coal

The next few years are going to be rough on coal producers as nations are slowly shifting away from it as a source of electricity. Solar and wind power is becoming a much cheaper alternative to coal and countries have been making sure that new power plants to be constructed are for renewable sources.

The recent ratification of the Paris agreement has only accelerated this further with six more nations pledging to simply ditch coal in favor of cleaner forms of power generation. These six nations are Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland.

 

Credit: Seth Perlman AP
Credit: Seth Perlman AP

Germany has ratified its Climate Action Plan 2050 which lays out its plan to limit coal power to 50 percent by 2030 and by going coal-free by 2050. The Dutch parliament has approved a similar plan to go coal-free by 2030 through the closure of its 5 remaining coal power plants. Canada has also pledged to phase-out coal by 2030 which translates to the country’s reduction of CO2 emissions by 90 percent. For Austria, a target of 34 percent renewable energy by 2020 and a long-term target of 100 percent self-sufficiency are on the horizon. Finland plans to outright ban the burning of coal by 2030. Finally, France has a more aggressive timeline for the shift from coal by phasing it out by 2023.

Economic and Environmental Reasons

All these nations stand to gain a lot by phasing-out coal. Not only do these countries get cleaner air by the reduction of greenhouse gases which cause respiratory diseases, they could also save a lot of money by eliminating the need to purchase coal. Finland, for example, imports its coal from other countries. By banning coal, these countries can be more self-sufficient in their power generation.

Government policies may be one of the primary reasons for the gradual phase-out of coal but private companies are also a big part of this change. Companies like Tesla and Solar City take a big risk by providing cleaner energy to consumers but in the process, they are bringing renewables to the mainstream and showing the world that not only are renewables cleaner, they could also be more profitable.

The post Six Countries Are Set to Completely Phase-Out Coal Power appeared first on Futurism.