Britain Joins the Green Wave in Swearing Off Combustion Engines

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — A surprising announcement has come out of London—to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-fueled cars and vans, beginning in the year 2040. The plan was announced in response to concerns about public health as the result of air pollution. Ministers claim that air pollution is the number one public health risk with costs in recent years reaching $3.5 billion annually .

The announcement is similar to the one made by France on July 6,  but different in that, while the French ban was primarily intended to address climate change, with public health as a secondary benefit, the British ban is being framed more in terms of public health. The French announcement came just one day after Volvo announced that it would stop producing gasoline or diesel cars beginning in 2019. But while Volvo plans to continue making hybrid cars, along with all-electrics, the UK ban includes hybrids as well, as does the French plan. India has proposed a similar ban.

While the ban might seem like a drastic measure, many analysts, like Stanford economist Tony Seba, whose recent report predicts the collapse of  internal combustion engine and the oil industry, said that “Banning sales of diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2040 is a bit like banning sales of horses for road transportation by 2040: there won’t be any to ban.”

Likewise, many in England felt the move would not produce results quickly enough. Some had lobbied for vehicles to be charged a fee in order to enter "clean air zones," but ministers have been reluctant to add new taxes and fees.

Climate Change is Affecting The World’s Wine Production

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Climate change has been responsible for lots of changes on the planet, from loss of species to challenging weather patterns. Now it is affecting global wine production, which is expected to fall by five percent this year. Data shows steep drops in production in most of the southern hemisphere, particularly Chile and Argentina. Climate change is causing harvest time to be pushed back further as hot spells last longer and longer.

Socially Responsible Investment Gaining Ground In Europe

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Wealthy European investors are beginning to see the long term value in sustainable funds. They are increasingly looking to Socially Responsible Investments (SRI's), a form of investment that is dynamic and a solution. SRI's combine financial objectives with social, ethical and environmental issues. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the U.K.

Bank of England Governor’s Speech Is a Significant Milestone In the Climate Change Debate

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has given a stark warning that climate change poses a huge risk to global stability.

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.

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