New Report Highlights the Trends Threatening Our Climate Future
Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA issued its annual World Energy Outlook, an 810-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2040. However, high up in the foreword the IEA makes it clear that it is not in the business of making predictions.
"The [World Energy Outlook] analyzes the choices that will shape our energy use, our environment and our wellbeing. It is not, and has never been, a forecast of where the energy world will end up," the report reads.
While the report did increase its projections for cleaner energy sources, it also warned that policies on the books will allow greenhouse gas emissions to rise for the next 20 years, especially since our demand for energy from fossil fuels continues to rise, as CNBC reported.
"Without new policies in place, the world will miss its climate goals by a very large margin," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, as The New York Times reported.
The IEA noted the companies and investors can make a big difference, but combating the climate crisis really requires a shift in policy.
"Governments must take the lead ... the greatest capacity to shape our energy destiny lies with governments," said the IEA, as the AP reported.
Here are three troubling takeaways from the report:
1. Growing Demand for SUVs Is Erasing Electric Vehicle Growth
The demand for SUVs continues to climb in the U.S., China, India and Europe. Since they are harder to run on electricity than smaller cars, their continued growth could negate all gains made by electric cars, according to the World Energy Outlook, as the AP reported.
Even as the electric vehicle market climbs due to incentives in China and California and increased battery efficiency, the report questions if car makers will have the incentive to find a way to make SUVs electric and to convince consumers to buy them. After all, the growth in the SUV market shows no signs of abating. In 2000, just 18 percent of cars sold worldwide were SUVs. Today that number is 42 percent according to the report, as The New York Times reported.
2. We're Losing Momentum in Energy Efficiency
Continued investment in coal, rollbacks of environmental regulations, and steps backwards in energy efficiency like Trump's reversal of an improved light bulb efficiency standard made 2018 one of the slowest years in recently in energy efficiency growth. In fact, energy efficiency worldwide only improved a paltry 1.2 percent last year.
"Two out of three buildings worldwide today are being built without efficiency codes and standards," said Birol, as The New York Times reported. "And those buildings can last for five to six decades, so focusing on efficiency is very important."
3. We Need Africa to Go Green
The World Energy Outlook noted that Africa is poised to urbanize at breakneck speed in the next few decades, and how it decides to fuel that growth will have a tremendous impact on the world. If it decides to grow the way China and India have then greenhouse gas emissions will rise considerably, as The New York Times reported.
However, Africa's natural resources leave it well positioned to be a leader in clean energy. Africa has the potential for 40 percent of the world's solar energy but still has less than one percent of the world's solar panels, according to the The New York Times.
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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