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The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.
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If you're looking to cut down on your single-use plastic consumption, refusing to-go cutlery is an easy switch to make. In this article, we'll show you three of the best bamboo utensils and cutlery sets for eating on the go.
More and more homes are making energy efficiency a priority. Not only is it a responsible way to reduce your environmental impact, but it can equate to serious savings on energy bills every month. But what can be done to make your home more efficient? Alongside a home energy audit, a smart home energy monitor is an energy-saving tool that can make a big difference.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into energy and continue to play an essential role in the fight to stop the climate crisis. As the pioneering panels of the early 2000s near the end of their 30-year electronic lives, however, they are at risk of becoming the world's next big wave of e-waste.
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By Jo Harper
Only 10% of global energy utility companies are expanding their renewable energy capacity at a faster rate than their gas or coal-fired capacity. That is the main finding of a study by Galina Alova from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.
The Matter of Gas<p>The report found that 10% of utilities favored growth in gas-fired power plants, dominated by the US utilities exploiting the country's shale gas reserves, followed by Russia and Germany.</p><p>"Renewables and natural gas often go hand in hand," Alova said, adding that companies often choose both in parallel. "So, it might be just in media reports we are getting this image of investing in renewables, but less coverage on continued investment in gas." </p><p>It might also be the case that gas is viewed as a transition fuel, relatively less carbon emitting and providing load-balancing services to intermittent renewables generation, Alova said.</p><p>Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst for independent climate think tank Ember, agrees with Alova that utilities have hindered the transition by "misunderstanding the future of gas." Utilities have a mindset to build big centralized power plants, replacing a coal power plant with a gas power plant, he said. "Fortunately, most of the gas hype across the world is now dying down, as wind and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/cheap-solar-energy-prices-explained/a-53590607" target="_blank">solar now provide cheaper options</a> for generating electricity," Jones said.</p>
Green Movement Taking Place<p>Over a fifth of Europe's energy was generated by solar panels and wind turbines in the first half of 2020, according to a report by Ember. Denmark came out on top, generating 64% of its energy from these renewable sources, followed by Ireland (49%) and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/renewables-make-up-over-half-of-germanys-power-mix/a-52986924" target="_blank">Germany</a> (42%).</p><p>In Ember's half-year review released in July, renewables exceeded fossil fuel generation for the first time ever, producing 40% of the EU's power, with fossil fuels contributing 34%. However, globally only a tenth of all energy was generated by these sources during the first half of 2020. </p><p>Last year saw the use of coal to generate electricity around the world fall by a record 3%. In part due to COVID-19, coal generation in the first half of 2020 again broke records with a drop of 8.3%. In the EU, the drop was higher, as coal energy generation fell by nearly a third.</p>
Slowly Getting There?<p>Utilities have been slow to understand how quickly wind and solar would drop in price, and also how quickly governments would want to move away from coal. "Many utilities have been caught off guard by the speed of the transition, and have suffered financially ever since," said Jones.</p><p>The world this year has generated one-tenth of its electricity from wind and solar, double from the 5% in 2015, and that increase has led to a fall in market share of coal generation, Jones added. </p><p>Valentina Kretzschmar from consultancy Wood Mackenzie says BP's recently announced strategy has created a new industry benchmark. BP plans to increase investment in its low-emission businesses, including renewable energy, by tenfold in the next decade to $5 billion (€4.5 billion) a year, while cutting back oil and gas production by 40%.</p><p>In July, Royal Dutch Shell won a deal to build a wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands, while France's Total has agreed to make several large investments in solar power in Spain and a wind farm off Scotland. Total also bought an electric and natural gas utility in Spain. Shell has said it will <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mexico-sells-rights-to-19-offshore-oil-fields-for-over-500-million/a-42393559" target="_blank">delay offshore oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico</a> and in the North Sea.</p><p>US giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, however, have been slower than their European counterparts to commit to climate goals.</p><p>"I have seen a substantial shift between companies in the fossil fuel clusters toward renewables," Alova said. "This signals that the companies that have been growing fossil fuel portfolios in the earlier time periods might be switching to renewables more recently."</p>
A first-of-its-kind study has examined the satellite record to see how the climate crisis is impacting all of the planet's ice.
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By Bill Ritter Jr.
Joe Biden is preparing to deal with climate change in a way no U.S. president has done before – by mobilizing his entire administration to take on the challenge from every angle in a strategic, integrated way.
Dealing With All Those Climate Policy Rollbacks<p>From its first days, the Trump administration began trying to nullify or weaken U.S. environmental regulations. It had <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks-list.html" target="_blank">rolled back 84 environmental rules</a> by November 2020, including <a href="https://rhg.com/research/the-rollback-of-us-climate-policy/" target="_blank">major climate policies</a>, and more rollbacks were being pursued, according to a New York Times analysis of research from Harvard and Columbia law schools.</p><p>Many of these rules had been designed to reduce climate-warming pollution from power plants, cars and trucks. Several <a href="https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/2017/09/bam-methane-waste-prevention-rule/" target="_blank">reduced emissions of methane</a>, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas production. The Trump administration <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mining-resolution-trump/trump-moves-to-loosen-mining-regulations-approve-projects-as-he-exits-idUSKBN29D1AD?ct=t(RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">also moved</a> to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2020/oct/26/revealed-trump-public-lands-oil-drilling" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">open more land</a> to more drilling, mining and <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/04/11/712121425/trump-signs-executive-orders-in-push-to-make-it-easier-to-build-oil-and-gas-pipe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pipelines</a>.</p><p>Some rollbacks have been challenged in court and the rules then reinstated. Others are still being litigated. Many will require going through government rule-making processes that take years to reverse.</p>
Pressuring Other Countries to Take Action<p>Biden can quickly bring the U.S. back into the international Paris climate agreement, through which countries worldwide agreed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming. But <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-biden-and-kerry-could-rebuild-americas-global-climate-leadership-150120" target="_blank">reestablishing the nation's leadership</a> role with the international climate community is a much longer haul.</p><p>Former Secretary of State John Kerry will lead this effort as special envoy for climate change, a new Cabinet-level position with a seat on the National Security Council. Other parts of the government can also pressure countries to take action. International development funding can encourage climate-friendly actions, and trade agreements and tariffs can establish rules of conduct.</p><h3>Cleaning Up the Power Sector</h3><p>The Biden-Harris <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">climate plan</a> aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector to net zero by 2035.</p><p>While <a href="https://sepapower.org/utility-transformation-challenge/utility-carbon-reduction-tracker/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">62 major utilities</a> in the U.S. have set their own emission reduction goals, most leaders in that sector would argue that requiring net zero emissions by 2035 is too much too fast.</p><p>One problem is that states are often more involved in regulating the power sector than the federal government. And, when federal regulations are passed, they are <a href="https://policyintegrity.org/trump-court-roundup" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">often challenged in court</a>, meaning they can take years to implement.</p><p>Reducing greenhouse gases also requires modernizing the electricity transmission grid. The federal government can streamline the permitting process to allow more clean energy, like wind and solar power, onto the grid. Without that intervention, it could take a decade or more to permit a single transmission line.</p><h3>The Falling Costs of Renewable Energy</h3><p>A comparison of the average levelized cost of utility-scale power generation, without subsidies, shows how new solar and onshore wind became less expensive than coal generation. Costs are in U.S. dollars per megawatt-hour.</p>
What to Do About Vehicles, Buildings and Ag<p>The power sector may be the easiest sector to "decarbonize." The transportation sector is another story.</p><p>Transportation is now the nation's <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/10/everything-you-need-know-about-fastest-growing-source-global-emissions-transport" target="_blank">leading emitter of carbon dioxide</a>. Decarbonizing it will require a transition away from the internal combustion engine in a relatively short amount of time.</p><p>Again, this is a challenge that requires many parts and levels of government working toward the same goal. It will require expanding carbon-free transportation, including more electric vehicles, charging stations, better battery technology and clean energy. That involves regulations and funding for research and development from multiple departments, as well as trade agreements, tax incentives for electric vehicles and a shift in how government agencies buy vehicles. The EPA can facilitate these efforts or hamstring them, as happened when the Trump EPA <a href="https://www.resourcesmag.org/resources-radio/waive-goodbye-history-and-future-california-waiver-emily-wimberger/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">revoked California's ability to set higher emissions standards</a> – something the Biden administration is likely to quickly restore.</p><p>The other "hard to decarbonize" sectors – buildings, industry and agriculture – will require sophistication and collaboration among all federal departments and agencies unlike any previous efforts across government.</p>
A New Comprehensive Climate Bill<p>The best way to tackle these sectors would be a comprehensive climate bill that uses some mechanism, like a <a href="https://www.rff.org/publications/issue-briefs/clean-energy-standards" target="_blank">clean energy standard</a>, that sets a cap, or limit, on emissions and tightens it over time. Here, the problem lies more in the politics of the moment than anything else. Biden and his team will have to convince lawmakers from fossil fuel-producing states to work on these efforts.</p><p>Democratic control of the Senate raises the chances that Congress could pass comprehensive climate legislation, but that isn't a given. Until that happens, Biden will have to rely on agencies issuing new rules, which are vulnerable to being revoked by future administrations. It's a little like playing chess without a queen or rooks.</p><p>Years of delays have allowed global warming to progress so far that many of its impacts may soon become irreversible. To meet its ambitious goals, the administration will need everyone, progressives and conservatives, state and local leaders, and the private sector, to work with them.</p><h3>Biden's Core Climate Team</h3><p>President-elect Joe Biden's senior leadership picks have years of experience with climate policy. He and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduced these seven as their core climate team. Gina McCarthy, John Kerry and Ali Zaidi will not require Senate confirmation. The others will.</p>
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By Stuart Braun
We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.
But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.
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By Ken Kimmell
2020 is coming to a close, and it can't end fast enough. But as the year winds down, I am buoyed by two big climate victories on the same day, perched atop a clear change in direction mandated by the election.
By Brett Wilkins
Texas oil refineries released hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide into the air as they scrambled to shut down during last week's deadly winter storm, Reuters reported Sunday.
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a cheap, efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, potentially reducing the amount of new carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.
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