G7 Leaders Up the Ante on Climate Action

(3BL Media/Justmeans) When the leaders of the world’s largest economies, United States, Germany, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, France, and Italy, otherwise known as the G7, met last week to discuss the global economy, climate and energy were high on the agenda, given the heightened level of concern and the major climate talks coming up later this year in Paris.

The group took a bold step, pledging to completely phase out greenhouse gas emissions by the century’s end, and to cut somewhere between 40 and 70% by 2050. Can they back it up? Not by themselves. These seven countries currently represent about a third of the world’s GHG emissions. That means they can have a significant impact, but they can’t do it without help, especially from rapidly growing economies like China (now the #1 emitter), India (#4) and Russia (#5). That will not be easy, considering that even among those in the G7, consensus did not come easily. Both Canada and Japan pushed back before finally agreeing to sign on to the statement that said, “We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050 and invite all countries to join us in this endeavor. To this end we also commit to develop long term national low-carbon strategies.”

However, if the goal is to limit global warming to 2 degrees or less, the goal of eliminating emissions by the end of the century is not enough. Even the 40 to 70% cuts mentioned by 2050 will fall short, even at the higher end, according to some sources. The carbon calculus shows that we have used up about two-thirds of the total emissions limit of around 3,200 gigatonnes that must be maintained if we hope to keep the climate from spinning out of control. At the current rate of emissions, we will run through that in the next 27 years. That’s a frightening thought when you consider that, at this point, the rate is still going up (albeit more slowly than it was a few years ago). That trend has to be dramatically reversed if the goal is to be met. Keep in mind that most greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for a hundred years or more, so even when we stop emitting, it will take a while for the concentration to begin falling. It also means that when we stop, we need to stop for good, or at least the next hundred years. Given the way that these emissions accumulate in the system, the sooner we act, the better.

Fossil Unbound: Collaborating With Social Problem Solvers To Change Young Lives Worldwide

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Fossil Unbound is an organisation that is creating tumbleweeds of change by supporting projects that are nurturing and inspiring children. It strongly believes the best social entrepreneurs aren’t just changing the world, they’re changing the way we change the world. It has an affinity for collaborating with social problem solvers who are devoted to supporting young people and also likes taking on big ideas.

China’s New Bank To Fight Poverty With The World Bank

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – So far, more than 50 countries have either joined or applied to be members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bank's progress demonstrates China’s approach to shaping the Asia-Pacific region. The forming of the AIIB is a leading-edge geopolitical, economic story.

Recent China-Africa Health Roundtable: A Pivotal South-South Meeting

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – China is a superpower and the preferred partner of many governments in Africa, and is why last month’s 5th International Roundtable on China-Africa Health Collaboration in Beijing was a pivotal South-South meeting, exploring how Chinese and African resources and experiences can be leveraged to mutually supp

China Making a Major Shift to Natural Gas

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - Two weeks ago we wrote about the surprising announcement that Beijing would be banning the burning of coal by 2020. Though the move was largely prompted by the intolerable levels of air pollution, there is also growing evidence that they are determined to clean up their act on carbon emissions.

Beijing to Ban Coal Burning

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - We all know that there are a number of people in this country who are not inclined to do anything to try and mitigate the impacts of climate change. These people have too often sought refuge in the notion that “if China is not doing anything, why should we?” Well, it’s starting to look like these folks might not have China to kick around much longer, when it comes to this issue.

ACEEE Ranks World’s Largest Economies on Energy Efficiency

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - We see a lot of analyses and projections showing why renewables, despite their rapid growth will not be able to provide sufficient energy to allow us to get off fossil fuels or nuclear for decades to come. Those analyses are based on assumptions regarding population growth, economic development and rate of energy consumption on a per capita basis.

But if you look at disparities in energy consumption, not just the obvious ones—developed vs. developing countries, but rather between countries and states with similar quality of life, we can see that there are still tremendous opportunities to be in exploited with regard to how efficiently we use energy. As an example, the state of Texas, uses 50% more energy than California, despite California’s 48% larger population.

If forecasts and projections were based on the best populations, who are bound to get even better, rather than the average, these renewable goals might begin to look far more achievable

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just completed a ranking of the 16 largest economies in the world. Results are somewhat surprising. The US, which likes to think of itself as technologically advanced, actually ranked 13th out of 16, while China, despite its sizeable growing pains, managed to achieve a 4th place rank.

Below is the list in order.

1.            Germany                

2.            Italy

3.            EU

4.            China

5.            France

6.            Japan

7.            UK

8.            Spain

9.            Canada

10.          Australia

11.          India

12.          South Korea

13.          US

14.          Russia

15.          Brazil

16.          Mexico

The ranking are based on thirty-one metrics, divided between policy metrics, which they call national efforts (e.g. national energy savings target, fuel economy standards) and performance metrics (e.g.  Average mpg, energy per square foot in buildings). State and local policies were not included. Performance metrics were divided between Buildings, Industry, and Transportation. These four categories were equally weighted, receiving 25 points apiece.

Water Wars: Fighting Over Earth's Most Precious Fluid

With global water use growing at more than twice the rate of human population increase in the last century, the issue of water security is quickly rising to the top. When it comes to life's most precious fluid, mankind has two very different choices: conflict or cooperation

Electric Cars Get A Jump Start in China

Anyone concerned about the planet's future and our ability to bring our climate-disrupting emissions under control, can't help but regularly steal nervous glances at China. What China, with its massive population and prodigious growth rate does or doesn't do, will have a significant impact on all of us. So when China said they wanted 500,000 "new energy vehicles” on the road by next year and five million by 2020, many of which would be driven by first time car buyers newly entering the middle class, that gave us reason to be hopeful. Many have been skeptical that such numbers could be achieved. Especially since last year, only 17,600 EVs were sold. Today, there are approximately 50,000 of them on the road.

But a number of recent developments could be turning up the heat.

First, Chinese EV-maker BYD, which is partially backed by Warren Buffett, has been selling most of their cars in their home city of Shenzhen. Earlier this week, they gained approval to begin selling in Beijing with its population of 11.5 million. Beijing officials will provide a subsidy for EVs and they also commit to installing 100 charging stations in the city by the end of the year with roughly ten charging units per station. This roughly coincides with Swiss electrical equipment-maker ABB's announcement that it would begin making and marketing wall-mounted home electric vehicle chargers in China. The chargers are being developed for Denza, a new joint venture between BYD and Daimler.

Says Chunyuan Gu, ABB's top man in China, "Either you believe or you don't believe. What's difficult to predict is how fast the volume will come."

BYD also received approval this week to sell its plug-in hybrid, the Qin, in Shanghai

China's fast growing car market is attracting the attention of automakers around the globe. Last year 22 million cars were sold there, compared with 15.6 million in the US. Major problems like air pollution and gridlock are leading local officials to tighten restrictions on new drivers' licenses, which will slow the pace of growth. Electric cars, which don't contribute to air pollution are getting a warmer reception.

Some people believe that were are approaching a point of “peak cars” altogether, but that is clearly still a ways off in China.


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