COP21 climate change summit reaches deal in Paris – BBC News

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  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Professors: Climate accord to boost Finnish exports

    The climate accord adopted in Paris on Saturday will improve the competitiveness of Finnish industries, predicts Markku Ollikainen, a professor of environmental and resource economics.

    The first universal and legally binding climate accord in the world will commit its signatories to limit global warming below the critical target of 2.0 degrees – or 1.5 degrees, if possible – above pre-industrial levels.

    The accord will according to Ollikainen boost the competitiveness of Finland relative to the rival economies that have yet to adopt an active climate policy.

    The metals industry will be one of the beneficiaries: “China has cranked out cheap steel produced with extremely emissions-intensive technologies to the markets of Europe and the United States. The price of the steel it produces will creep up now that it has to invest in reducing the emissions,” explains Ollikainen.

    Its repercussions for consumers, however, will not become tangible until the European Union agrees on how to distribute the reduction targets necessitated by its own climate objectives. The EU found an agreement on the targets before the summit in Paris but will not begin negotiations over the burden distribution until early next year.

    “It’s too early to tell what kind of targets will concern Finland.”

    The Government may also seek to promote energy efficiency in heat and electricity production.

    “It’s another question entirely whether they’ll use a carrot or a stick to achieve that,” Ollikainen points out.

    Jyri Seppälä, a professor at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), says the ambitious objectives set forth in the climate accord have taken some by surprise. “Emissions will be reduced at a rate that’s faster than imagined,” he says. “I doubt more than a few realise that if you want to go below 1.5–2.0 degrees, the emissions from Finnish energy production must be zero in 2050.”

    He believes the ambitious climate objectives will have repercussions for all aspects of life in Finland by encouraging the proliferation of electric cars, and energy-efficient housing, building and renovating solutions. “Energy-plus houses will be a future trend in building,” he declares.

    What is already certain, however, is that the efforts to mitigate climate change are moving forward faster than expected.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Science Behind the Paris Climate Accords

    The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists offers a pretty thorough run-down of the pros and cons of the Paris climate accords. William Sweet examines not only the political machinations behind the agreement but much of what the agreement entails and how it got there after 21 years of COP meetings. “As for the tighter 1.5-degree standard, this is a complicated issue that the Paris accords fudge a bit. The difference between impacts expected from a 1.5-degree world and a 2-degree world are not trivial. The Greenland ice sheet, for example, is expected to melt in its entirely in the 2-degree scenario, while in a 1.5-degree world the odds of a complete melt are only 70 percent… But at the same time the scientific consensus is that it would be virtually impossible to meet the 1.5-degree goal because on top of the 0.8–0.9 degrees of warming that already has occurred”

    A surprising success at Paris

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Efficiency Standards for Wall Warts in the US

    The common household wall wart is now under stricter regulation from the US Government. We can all testify to the waste heat produced by many cheap wall warts. Simply pick one at random in your house, and hold it; it will almost certainly be warm. This regulation hopes to save $300 million in wasted electricity, and reap the benefits, ecologically, of burning that much less fuel.

    However, it does look like most warts will go from a mandated 50-ish percent efficiency to 85% and up. This is a pretty big change, and some hold-out manufacturers are going to have to switch gears to newer circuit designs if they want to keep up.

    Energy Efficiency Standard Effective This Week Affects Virtually All of Us

    With 5 to 10 external power supplies in the average U.S. household, the new efficiency standards are projected to save consumers $300 million a year in electricity costs and reduce the carbon pollution that fuels dangerous climate change.

    The standards, which will make new external power supplies up to 33 percent more efficient, are an important step to achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through efficiency rules for appliances and federal buildings.

    NRDC has long regarded power supplies as a hidden opportunity for significant energy savings. California, ever the environmental trendsetter, established the first efficiency standards for external power supplies in 2004 with NRDC’s help. ENERGY STAR® began to cover them in 2005 in order for manufacturers to be able to attach the label signifying the most energy efficient models, and national mandatory external power supply energy efficiency standards were established in 2008.

    Eight years later, updated federal standards took effect yesterday (Feb. 10) after a lengthy public input process. The revised standards strengthen efficiency requirements, and extend them to new types of power adapters not previously covered. This makes sure that the vast majority of these devices now use technology best practices to minimize energy wasted as heat (efficient power supplies are much cooler to touch, and much smaller in size, than their predecessors were 12 years ago before the first standards went into effect).

    According to an analysis by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, which has worked with NRDC to promote energy efficiency, the typical household will realize a savings of up to about 30 kilowatt-hours a year once all adapters in the home comply with the new standards. This may not be huge savings per household but nationally it adds up to 93 billion kilowatt hours over the next 30 years and 47 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, equivalent to the annual emissions from nearly 10 million cars.

    The power adapters convert power from a wall outlet to the lower voltages needed to charge laptop computers, smartphones and devices. External power supplies were a good candidate for efficiency standards because they draw power – so-called no load power consumption — when plugged in, even if disconnected from a device such as a phone, or connected to a fully charged device. This idle load contributes to the $19 billion a year Americans spend on “always-on” energy use by inactive appliances, electronics and miscellaneous electrical devices.

    Battery chargers next

    Separately, NRDC is pressing DOE to finalize the first federal efficiency standards for the roughly 500 million battery chargers sold annually in the United States. Battery chargers include not just the external power supply, but also the battery itself and the charge control circuitry component of devices that use rechargeable batteries, such as smart phones and laptop computers.

    Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for External Power Supplies

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    With Scalia’s Death, the Paris Climate Plan Is Back in Play

    For an aspect of nature that unfolds on geologic time, Earth’s climate seems like it’s moving pretty fast. Just last week, it seemed like the Supreme Court had wrecked the US’ participation in the Paris climate accords, a sweeping international agreement that could be the planet’s last best hope of stopping—or at least slowing—the climate apocalypse. Then Justice Antonin Scalia died. The famously pugnacious, conservative judge had been a vote against the rule. His successor, given a shot at a similar decision, might not. And meanwhile, the high court is split along political lines.

    So, yes, this next Supreme Court nomination is important, whether it comes from President Obama or whoever comes after. But the truth is, the EPA and Obama administration can set the climate up for success, no matter who gets that SCOTUS chair.

    Flash back to last summer: The EPA unveiled its Clean Power Plan, a new rule using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants. Faster than slapping doubles in a game of Egyptian Ratscrew, opponents of the rule sued the EPA. That’s normal enough. The case went to DC’s circuit court of appeals, where the two sides will argue on June 2.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Complex Ecosystems of Cities, Where Plants Meet Politics

    Cities may not look like natural ecosystems, but they are prime examples of networks where everything is interdependent. That makes ecology a great method for studying those interactions and their consequences. It’s just that in addition to examining forces like predation or changing rainfall, you have to add in things like politics and and socioeconomic status. According to the speakers on an urban ecology panel on Monday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, DC, this idea isn’t about studying the interaction of cities and nature, counting the dispirited frogs trying to eke out a life next to a creek running through a suburb. It’s about using ecological tools to reframe cities as urban biomes, where factors as disparate as climate, green space policy, and economic inequality all interact to create unique ecosystems for the people (and plants and animals) that live in them.


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