Coal

India Working Towards A Future Powered By Renewables

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – India is committed to protecting the climate, irrespective of the Paris agreement. That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month, at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), just as President Trump pulled America out of the pact. Modi stated, “It is not a question of which way I go.

How to Engage Trump Supporters on Sustainability

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Last week’s US election was both a shock and a disappointment for many people around the world. It’s important to think about what happened and why. There are important lessons to learn for all, including those of us working for a more sustainable society.

What’s clear is that there are a lot of people in America who are struggling, people whose lives had fallen outside of the traditional scope of the compassionate liberal vision, with its focus on “underrepresented minorities.” As ironic as it seems, this election was decided by primarily white, working class voters, who had come to feel that they were underrepresented. Donald Trump spoke to these people. Whether or not he will help them remains to be seen, but when a person is suffering, what they want first is to be seen and heard.

The reason this matters in the sustainability fight is, that for these voters, the issue is not one they felt they could afford to pay attention to. When a man who is barely scraping by, has to drive 50 miles each way to a minimum wage job in a beat-up old pickup truck to feed his family, all he wants to know is how much will gas cost. Not only can he not afford a Prius, he wouldn’t want one. He needs that pickup to do odd jobs with, collect firewood, and find other ways to make ends meet.

Many of these people have lost the good-paying jobs they once counted on, in areas like manufacturing and the energy sector. These jobs were often swept away by changes in technology, as well as by global trade. Robots, ATMs, self-checkout lines, and soon, autonomous cars and trucks continue to squeeze out livelihoods, as does the export of manufacturing jobs to lower wage countries. Environmental concerns have also been cited, in slowing down coal production, for example, though cost competition from natural gas has been a far bigger factor. Laying all this at the feet of the president is a bit unfair. Most of these decisions are made by company executive, sometimes because their products are not competitive.

Democrats are angry and scared, but calling these people names, or painting them with the flaws of their candidate will not be helpful. All that can said definitively is that they felt strongly enough about the need for change to overlook those faults.

The biggest block of Trump supporters was rural, while the smallest came from big cities.  While demographers talk about the migration to cities and planners are looking at how make those cities sustainable as the potential salvation of our planet, there are still plenty of people—enough to swing an election—still living in the past century, for whom this is a corner they haven’t gotten to yet.

Many of these supporters come from areas that lack diversity. They have not had the opportunity to go to school with or become friends with children from other backgrounds while growing up. I don’t mean to oversimplify the issue of racism here, or in any way excuse it, but those who have had firsthand experience of other groups tend to be more tolerant. There is also the question of education, and perhaps even more disturbing is the impact that the right-wing media echo chamber (e.g. Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) have had by spreading false information couched in inflammatory rhetoric.

These are the patterns and trends that now potentially block the path to a sustainable future. On the plus side, these folks obviously love their families, care about their children’s future and their own health. Many of them surely love the land and are sad to see it  being despoiled. If provided with the facts of the situation, they will see that a flourishing, sustainable future is in all of our best interests.

Clean Power Plan Emission Targets Will Be Met Regardless of SCOTUS Pick

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Even as the Supreme Court remains deadlocked over the future of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the U.S. appears likely to achieve the CPP goals a full 14 years ahead of schedule. That’s according to a story by Daniel S. Cohan and Leah Y. Parks in The Hill. According to the authors, this early arrival will come courtesy of a combination of energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. The CPP is looking for a 32% reduction in electric power generated emissions, relative to 2005, by 2030. As of 2015, emissions had already dropped by 15%. Although we don’t have numbers yet for 2015, we do know that coal use, by far the largest emissions source, dropped by another 12%. However, EIA has projected coal consumption to stabilize and increase slightly in 2017. The reason for this is unclear, but it’s worth noting that EIA has been fairly consistently wrong in their “long run projections.” At present, coal production is down 30% compared to the same period last year.

If the intent of the CPP executive order could be compared to a steady process of moving material from the top of a mountain to the bottom, in this case, moving from coal and other fossil fuels to cleaner sources, market forces have produced the equivalent of an avalanche.

China Begins to Move Beyond Coal

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - When a good thing is done for the wrong reason, it’s still a good thing. When the government of China, no doubt wary of unrest they’d been seeing around the world, vowed to bring their vast country out of poverty through modernization, they seized upon the energy source that was cheap and domestically abundant: coal. They then developed and implemented a massive plan involving the construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants that would be needed to energize their economic explosion. China now has approximately 620 coal-fired plants, about 27% of the world’s total.

Unfortunately, this happened at roughly the same time that the rest of the world was coming to grips with the fact that emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, particularly coal, were wreaking havoc on the delicate blend of gases in the upper atmosphere that serve to regulate the Earth’s temperature. Responding to expressions of consternation from the global community, the Chinese vowed to get off of coal as soon as they could, which was received with plenty of hand-wringing as to whether that would be soon enough.

A lot has changed since then, including the recent agreement signed with President Obama, in which China promised to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and begin declining after that. But another factor has been quietly, though not invisibly lurking in the background: pollution. Air pollution is bad enough in some Chinese cities that many citizens have taken to wearing masks to protect them from fine particles.

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.

New Report Warns of Coal’s Increasing Share of the Global Energy Mix

IEA's new report forecasts coal growth in emerging countries for lack of high carbon prices.

Coalition of Leading U.S. Businesses Supports Michigan’s Renewable Energy Amendment

A coalition of major U.S. companies announced its support today for Michigan's Prop 3, which seeks to amend Michigan's constitution to require at least 25 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

House Approves “Stop the War on Coal” Act

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last Friday morning that would significantly deregulate the coal industry.

Report Reveals Unsustainable Water Requirements for U.S. Energy Policy

A new report reveals that traditional electricity generation technologies require huge demands on increasingly scarce water resources, while solar and wind power plants require relatively little water.

Fracking and Finance: The Pros and Cons of New Fossil Fuel Energy

With lawsuits, moratoriums and bans on hydrofracking popping up across the United States, the promise of natural gas for a cleaner and more independent energy future is stuck between a rock and hard place

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