3 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for August 5th: Mexico working on plan to cut CO2 growth; Clean energy rises at old manufacturing sites
Mexico aims to put a detailed offer to cut the growth of its own greenhouse gas emissions on the negotiating table at global climate change talks in Copenhagen this year, a senior environmental policymaker said.
“If Mexico can bring a plan for cuts through 2020 to the table with a detailed description of what will be mitigated it would set a positive precedent for the other big emerging economies,” said Adrian Fernandez, the president of the National Ecology Institute, in an interview on Monday.
The plan will likely offer significant cuts in expected emissions growth from Mexico, which currently accounts for 1.5 percent of global emissions, by proposing projects like improving efficiency of power plants or reducing deforestation.
As the clean energy manufacturing base in this country grows, it often builds upon the facilities and expertise of struggling traditional industries.
Last week my colleague Kirk Johnson wrote about how the old steel town of Pueblo, Colo., is adapting to the times with a new wind turbine plant. Similarly, in the town of San Angelo, Tex, a steel company took a 50 percent joint venture stake in a wind tower plant in June.
There are many more examples of the co-mingling of old and new industries. A few mills, suffering amid the pulp and paper industry’s retreat, are reorienting to process biofuels. These include a once-shuttered Maine pulp mill being refitted to make biobutanol, as well as two Wisconsin mills (see here and here) that will produce biodiesel from wood waste….
SolarWorld, a German company, opened a manufacturing plant in Oregon last year that makes use of an abandoned semiconductor factory (and recruits many workers from the semiconductor industry). And Stirling Energy Systems, which makes solar electric machines called SunCatchers that will eventually be deployed in California, plans to use automotive suppliers in the United States to make several components (though Stirling will not yet specify its automotive partners).
“SunCatchers use steel, glass and engines,” a company representative said in an e-mail message, “so the natural supply chain is automotive.”
The air in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics was cleaner than the previous year’s, due to aggressive efforts by the Chinese government to curtail traffic, increase emissions standards and halt construction in preparation for the games, according to a Cornell study.
Led by Max Zhang, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, the study indicates that such measures as regulating traffic density and encouraging public transportation can have a significant impact on local air quality.
The government has made the demise of domestic air travel an explicit policy target for the first time by aiming to replace short-haul flights with a new 250 mph high-speed rail network.
The transport secretary, Lord Adonis, said switching 46 million domestic air passengers a year to a multibillion-pound north-south rail line was “manifestly in the public interest”. Marking a government shift against aviation, Adonis added that rail journeys should be preferred to plane trips.
“¦Simply put, the U.S. wants India and others to agree to CO2 emissions caps if the process is to move forward. India is the stand-out developing country for refusing to accept caps, saying they may endanger development and the West is responsible for all that pollution anyway.
Jairam Ramesh, India’s minister of state for environment and forests, publicly keeps unleashing the battle cry. After meeting in Gurgaon with a U.S. delegation during Secretary of State Clinton’s recent visit, he distributed a prepared statement that read in part: “There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions. And as if this pressure was not enough, we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours.”
“¦ Yet there just might be an alternate narrative unfolding here that will play out in the next four months. It could alter the predictable developed-versus-developing-nation script. By several accounts, the talks in Gurgaon before Mr. Ramesh’s turn in front of the cameras were much more cordial and constructive than his public statements have implied and the media’s reaction would suggest.
Developing economies are vulnerable to climate change and need funds to implement much needed adaptation and mitigation measures. This is one of the key points that needs to be addressed during the next round of U.N.-led negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen, according to Mohamed Aslam, Maldives Minister of Housing, Transport and Environment.
Government negotiators – meeting in Copenhagen Dec. 7-18 – are expected to argue over emissions targets. Industrialised countries like the U.S. are insisting that the fast rising Chinese and Indian economies should also commit to cap their emissions, while the latter argue that developed economies are the culprits behind global warming.
While there’s no question that LED lamps use a fraction of the energy to produce the same amount of light compared with a standard incandescent bulb, several Bits readers have pointed out that that’s only half the story.
If the energy used to create and dispose of the LED lamp is more than that for a comparable standard bulb, then all of the proclaimed energy savings to produce light are for naught.
Until recently, no one knew if that was the case. In March, a preliminary study reported by Carnegie Mellon indicated that LED lamps were more energy efficient throughout their life, but the researchers pointed out that not every aspect of the production process was taken into account.
A new study released on Tuesday by Osram, the German lighting giant, claims to confirm those findings.
Federal and state fire officials are warning that a third year of drought means California could face one of its worst wildfire seasons in years. Scientists say the danger could be heightened by global warming.
Peak fire season begins July 1, but Janet Upton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said a severe, early spring fire in Santa Barbara has fire officials concerned about the intensity of this year’s wildfire season.
“Experts believe that climate change may be influencing drought and therefore wildfire occurrences, but that’s an ongoing study,” she said.
Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit home building organization headquartered in Americus, Ga., announced plans on Tuesday to build 5,000 “green” homes around the country for low-income families.
The homes, built over five years, will meet EnergyStar guidelines or other green building standards, like LEED. The project expands on a pilot program and is being done in conjunction with the Home Depot Foundation.
“This is unquestionably the largest scale accelerated initiative we’ve taken on to drive green building,” said Jonathan Reckford, the chief executive of Habitat for Humanity International. The $30 million initiative, he added, would bring rapid payback for families in terms of lower energy bills.