Technology News

Could a Clean Tax Cut Succeed Where Carbon Taxes Have Failed?

 

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — To say that the Trump’s administration’s disconnect from reality when it comes to climate change has created tensions both at home and abroad would be a vast understatement. Even fellow Republicans are uncomfortable with the extreme position taken by the president, one that totally defies well-established science. A number have openly broken from Trump in response to his decision to withdraw from the historic Paris agreement, including the governors of Massachusetts and Vermont,  who have joined the US Climate Alliance. Twelve states plus Puerto Rico, representing over 100 million Americans and one-third of the US GDP, have now formally joined the alliance, with ten other states expressing support. Altogether, those states represent 40% of the total US greenhouse gas emissions and one-third of US GDP.

Supporters of the withdrawal, are not questioning the science—in fact, they are not even talking about it. They are focused entirely on what they say the costs of compliance will be, with no mention of the cost of non-compliance. So how do we move forward on the policy front, with a bottom line-first, nothing-else-matters approach that only looks at one side of the balance sheet? Most attention has been focused on efforts to circumvent the president’s position which, as noted above, is substantial. But can anything be done at the Federal policy level?

It’s well known that after Trump is finished attempting to dismantle the health care system, his next target will be tax reform. Could there be an opening there?

A new proposal, born of conservative roots, called “clean tax cuts,” (CTC) just might have a chance. The proposal is the brain child of the Grace Richardson Fund, which seeks, “to spearhead new free market policy solutions to critical issues stuck in partisan gridlock.”

The key points to the proposal, which are spelled out here, are essentially a return of Reagan-style, supply-side tax cuts, only applied selectively to “all clean solutions.” The rationale behind it being, “if you want something more, tax it less.” The plan, which is described as “all carrot, no stick,” could be seen as a carbon tax turned on its head. Instead of punishing carbon usage, it rewards movement away from carbon. They claim it unites the interests of left and right: “ecology + tax cuts = clean capitalism.”

The Mobile Technology That’s Improving Lives

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The mobile technology industry is dynamic, where the mobile phone has gone from being a status symbol to being technology that enables almost every interaction in our daily lives and, in some parts of the world, improving lives.

G20 Groups Condemn Trump Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Yesterday, the chairs of the G20 climate and energy taskforces released a joint statement regarding the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The statement called the action “shortsighted and irresponsible.”

The letter was written in anticipation of the G20 summit which is scheduled to take place next month in Hamburg. There are already tensions rising between some of the other G20 members, over how confrontational they want to be with the US at that meeting. Some, like German chancellor Angela Merkel, want to feature climate as a central issue, while others like Canadian President Justin Trudeau, want to focus more on those things that can be agreed upon.

In the statement’s own words, “This decision not only ignores the reality of climate change and the opportunities of an international framework for the necessary transformation but also undermines the standing of the United States as a reliable partner in solving global problems. Ignoring the threat posed by climate change endangers a sustainable future for today’s youth and coming generations. Today’s challenges are global in nature and require coordinated solutions and international cooperation. We need globally agreed upon targets and frameworks – like the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to transform huge challenges into opportunities and to create a perspective for innovation, decent jobs, and a vivid civil society.”

The authors ask for the remaining 19 members of the G20, to remain committed. The document was signed by the B20 Energy, Climate and Resource Efficiency (ECRE) Taskforce leaders; the C20 Sustainability (Energy and Climate) Working Group leaders; the leaders of the L20, which represents the interests of workers; the T20 Climate Policy and Finance Task Force leaders; the leaders of the W20, which  is the official G20 dialogue focusing on women’s economic empowerment; leaders of the Y20, the official Youth Dialogue of the G20; and the leaders of the F20, the new G20 platform of foundations.

Companies Focus on Disruptive Innovation to Drive Sustainability

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Traditional cleantech industries have effectively led the fight against climate change, but the next wave of sustainable innovations is arising from outside of these industries. Disruptive technologies and business models for a more sustainable future include the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and the sharing economy.

Technology For Good Through Vodafone’s Wireless Innovation Project Winners

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – PathVis is a clever smartphone-based detection platform built to directly detect and help track infectious diseases afflicting over 250 million people world-wide. It has breakthrough technology that’s able to get results in less than 30 minutes, which can provide health organisations with real-time data to decrease costs and increase efficiency in identifying outbreaks and preventing further spread of disease.

Floating Tidal Power in Scotland Could Challenge Offshore Wind

(3Bl Media) — There was some exciting news in the world of renewable energy made off the coast of Scotland last week. While solar and wind power have been making tremendous inroads around the world, a new player is emerging that could have advantages over both. We’re talking about floating tidal generation. A company called Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd., commissioned the SR2000 tidal turbine last December, connecting to the Orkney power grid. Last week, during a grid-connected test, the 2MW turbine produced 18,000 kWh over a 24-hour period. The 500-tonne SR2000 is an integrated turbine-generator. It looks like a ship that rides low in the water, consisting of a floating hull, with two turbines on the lower half of the body that sit just below the surface of the water. Each turbine has a 52-foot diameter rotor. The turbines are designed to stow up against the hull for transportation, and in “survivability mode” during storms and periods of rough seas. Most of the internal components are situated in the hull for ease of maintenance.

According to the company’s website, the technology has been optimized for “fast tidal current regions, such as those of Scotland, Northern France and Canada,” although modifications can be made to suit local conditions elsewhere. 

According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) an onshore wind turbine produces 16,400 kWh per day. Offshore turbines are larger and can produce as much as 36,300 kWh per day. So, while this fledgling first effort is not quite up to the level of the largest offshore wind turbines, it’s already in the same ballpark.

REN21 Global Status Report Shows More Renewables for the Money

 

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - REN21, the Paris-based, multi-stakeholder, global renewable energy policy network, just released their Renewables 2017 Global Status Report (GSR), the world’s most comprehensive annual overview of the state of renewable energy. Over 800 individuals contributed to the report. Highlights include the fact that a record-setting 161 GW of new capacity was added, a 9% increase from last year. Although that’s an impressive achievement, it actually represents a 23% decrease in financial investment from the year before. Christine Lins, Executive Secretary for REN21, told Justmeans that “the key message for 2016 was that investors could get more for their money.” While it’s good news that costs have come down enough to enable this, if we are to meet the targets set in Paris, especially in light of President Trump’s withdrawal of support for the agreement, we need to see investments increasing rather than decreasing.

Still, the decreasing costs will be the prime driver for continued investment. Recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour or less, well below equivalent costs for fossil fuel and nuclear generation in each of these countries.

When asked about the Trump withdrawal, Lins said, “What we’ve seen so far is that President Trump’s announcement has created a lot of united voices around the globe, of countries announcing that they are going to stick to the Paris agreement. Right now, renewables are cost-competitive in many situations with fossil fuels. With him as a businessman, it’s quite surprising to see him taking that step.”

As others have pointed out, it will take three and a half years to fully withdraw from the agreement, and by that time, we could be looking at another administration. Lins also pointed out that within the US, numerous state and companies were reaffirming their commitments to the goals agreed upon in the Paris accord. It was concerns over what Trump might do that hastened the ratification of the accord last year.

Nestlé Wins 2017 European Identity and Cloud Award

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – According to Gartner.com, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a computer security and business discipline that “enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times and for the right reasons.” It addresses the need to ensure appropriate access to resources across diverse technology environments and to meet increasingly rigorous compliance requirements.

Chinese Wind Company to Provide Free Job Training to Wyoming Coal Miners

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — There’s an old saying that goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That‘s what Goldwind Americas, a division of a major Chinese manufacturer of wind turbines is hoping that coal miners, particularly in Wyoming, will soon be saying about wind power. The company is making a special effort to hire American workers to maintain the equipment for the wind farms that are now popping up around the state. They just announced a new free training program called Goldwind Works for wind turbine technicians, one of the fastest growing jobs in the country. Employment for wind power technicians is expected to grow by 104% between 2014-2024. While coal miners work well beneath the ground and wind technicians work well above it, both need to be able to work in difficult conditions and both need electrical and mechanical skills. It’s a good long-term strategy for the Chinese, who know how to think long term, leading to a broader acceptance of wind power in a region that has long opposed it.

The technicians will be needed at a new wind farm in Carbon County (Pop. 15,885), where, ironically, the first coal mine in the state opened just after the Civil War. The new Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm, will be operated by the Power Company of Wyoming, which just received a permit to build the $5 billion project last month. It will be the largest onshore wind farm in the US. Once the nearly 1,000 turbines have been installed, some 200 workers will remain to maintain them.

Just a year ago, the NY Times reported on a generation of coal miners that were leaving Wyoming after being laid off from mines that had been operating there for decades. Robert W. Godby, a Professor of Economics at the University of Wyoming, told the Times that the state could lose up to 10,000 coal industry jobs over the next few years. According to this Sierra Club report, Wyoming is one of only six states with more jobs in fossil fuels than renewables. (Overall, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by a factor of 2.5 to 1.) But not all those jobs are mining jobs. That’s because there’s another big difference between wind and coal beside the fact that wind power is cleaner; wind is also far more productive and less expensive to operate. Once a wind turbine is installed, no trainloads of fuel are required to keep it going. A number of those fossil fuel jobs will remain however, since natural gas is the county’s primary export today.

Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Looks For and Finds Common Ground

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — At the onset of Day Two of SB17 Detroit, the thinking behind the conference title, “Redefining the Good Life,” began to reveal itself. A subtext running through the event, like an underground spring, has been the notion that the polarization of our society has become a major barrier to the achievement of a sustainable, flourishing future. That’s why a number of workshops on topics such as “Breaking Through Gridlock,” and “ How to Have Difficult Conversations: Building Bridges in a Divided Country,” are being presented, acknowledging and attempting to address this challenge. The data presented by Solitaire Townsend of Futerra, and later by others, offered some hope that this challenge could  potentially yield.


According to Harris poll data, taken across generations and political parties, all people essentially agree on the fundamental constituents of the good life. These consist of the following four elements: balanced simplicity, meaningful connections, financial independence, and personal goals. If we all want the same things, it will be far easier to come up with a plan that we can all agree on—it’s only the “how do we get there” part that needs to be resolved. That’s not exactly a walk in the park, but its far easier than if we’d all wanted different things.


Solitaire also shared a pertinent quote from the Bard, “All things are ready if our minds be so,” and an invocation of what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Erica Parker of Harris, carried the story forward with the thought that “If you are not disrupting, you will be disrupted.”
Sharing more data, Parker said that 71% of adults today said that their lives were different than their parents, while 45% said it would be different for their children. As consumers, 51% believe that companies care, though 65% feel that products do , to contribute to a better life. At the same time, while 65% feel that they, as consumers, can influence companies, only 28% say that they have actually tried.


Chris Coulter of GlobeScan and Raphael Bemporad of  BBMG shared results of another survey in which 16,000 people from around the world said that these were the four primary elements of a good life: health & well-being, financial security, meaningful relationships,  and a sense of purpose. Note the similarities to the other poll.  So what’s the problem? For starters massive income inequality, lack of access, and a disconnect between, “aspirations and capacity.”
Oxfam reported that the wealthiest eight people on the planet own as much as the  lowest 3.4 billion people. Trust in institutions is very low. So what to do?

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