The city has a new hyper-accurate map, more money, and is trying to streamline bureaucracy in the hopes that the sun could one day power half the town. Here, solar panels on a television studio in Brooklyn.
New York has a long way to go before becoming that solar utopia. The city currently only gets a tiny fraction of its power from solar. And until there’s a good way to store the electricity generated during the day and release it at night, solar will likely continue to make up a modest part of the city’s overall energy mix.
But even a small amount of solar can help the city in big ways. It can reduce the overall stress on the electric grid, eliminating the need to build expensive new transformers or lay underground transmission wire.
During hot days when air conditioning is working overtime, it can reduce the chance of a blackout and cut the need to fire up older, dirtier generators.
“Some people are waiting to see what the federal or state government will do,” David Bragdon, head of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sustainability office, said at a recent solar conference in the city. “But important things are happening right here.”
Among them: A new hyper-accurate map of the city that is designed to gauge solar’s potential building-by-building. A plan to put solar farms on top of old landfills. New financial incentives that add to existing city, state and federal subsidies. And an overall streamlining of the solar power permitting bureaucracy.
These measures, combined with a mandate that requires 30% of the state’s power to come from renewable sources by 2015, are driving the development of solar.
In addition to reducing current demand on the grid, the idea behind solar subsidies and mandates is to foster a stable and growing market for the technology. That way the private sector will put the time and money into solar research, and perhaps one day it can meet a big chunk of New York’s power needs.
American Airlines yesterday announced what it says is the largest aircraft order in history — and one that will make its fleet the nation’s most fuel-efficient.
The massive new order — 460 planes from Boeing and Airbus, with an option for 465 more — is focused on bringing even more fuel efficiency to its business: The first shipment of aircraft will be 35 percent more fuel efficient than models they’ll be replacing, while the second batch will boost efficiency another 15 percent to 20 percent.
“The environmental footprint improvement really comes from those fuel efficiency gains,” said American Airlines Spokesman Ed Martelle. “If we’re using less fuel, we’re dumping less carbon into the atmosphere.”
Jet fuel is responsible for 98 percent of American Airlines’ direct carbon footprint, so it’s no surprise that the company has focused its efforts and spending on fuel use. And they’ve had some significant successes: Since 2001, AA has cut its fuel consumption by 10 percent, with decreases every year since 2004.
The new jet order, reportedly valued at around $38 billion, will put a dent in the company’s fuel consumption and also move American Airlines closer to its goal of improving its greenhouse gas intensity — metric tons of carbon measured against passengers and cargo transported — by 30 percent between 2005 and 2025. The company is lagging a bit on this goal, achieving just a 6.8 percent drop in greenhouse gas intensity between 2005 and 2010.
A federal task force investigating the cause of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill will delay the release of its final report.
The task force — headed up by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — was slated to release its report July 27. But Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the task force, said the release date has been pushed back so the task force, known as the Joint Investigation Team, could analyze all of the relevant information.
“To ensure that all evidence is properly weighed and considered, the JIT is taking additional time to finalize the report,” Angelico said in a statement. “The team is in the final stages of completing its report and expects to release it in the near future.”
Republicans and others in Congress have called on their fellow legislators to wait for the results of the report before moving forward with wide-ranging offshore drilling reforms.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), in a statement, called on the task force to “move swiftly” to issue its findings.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke to the NAACP National Convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Sunday about the impact of pollution on minority communities, an issue that will be also be explored during a Monday afternoon panel: “The air we breathe: taking action against toxic exposures in African American communities” from 2 to 4 p.m.Before her speech, Jackson spoke with The Times about her approach to environmental justice.
Q: What does environmental justice mean to you?
“Dirty Dozen” chemicals, including the notoriously toxic DDT, are being freed from Arctic sea ice and snow through global warming, a study published on Sunday suggested.
The “Dirty Dozen” — formally known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — were widely used as insecticides and pesticides before being outlawed in 2001.
They are extremely tough molecules that take decades to break down in nature. They also bio-accumulate, meaning that as they pass up the food chain, concentrations rise, posing a fertility threat to higher species.
In addition, they are insoluble in water and easily revolatilise, so can swiftly transit from soil and water to the atmosphere in response to higher temperatures.
The study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, looked at atmospheric concentrations of three chemicals — DDT, HCH and cis-chlordane — monitored between 1993 and 2009 at a station in Norway’s Svalbard Islands and at another in the Canadian Arctic.
The scientists indeed found a long-term downward trend in primary emissions after the Stockholm Convention banned production and trade in the “Dirty Dozen.”
But a more complex and disturbing picture emerged when the same data was crunched through a simulation of the effect of global warming on POP concentrations.
As U.N. talks keep failing to agree how to raise money to protect forests, private investors are testing a trade in credits to slow the deforestation that emits as much carbon as all the world’s cars, ships, trucks and planes.
A clothing factory in Maungu, Kenya, is funded by the sale of carbon credits by a conservation developer, offering workers an alternative to chopping down forests to make charcoal.
BNP Paribas is one of a handful of financial institutions and investment funds entering the risky but potentially lucrative market for “credits” in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD. A credit represents one ton of carbon dioxide not emitted because a forest was left standing.
Last September, BNP’s commodities derivatives arm provided $50 million to Wildlife Works, a conservation project developer designing a portfolio of ventures to reduce deforestation and degradation in Africa.
BNP also acquired the rights to buy as many as 1.25 million carbon credits over the next five years from Wildlife Works’ flagship project in the Kasigau corridor in Kenya. The program aims to protect more than 202,000 hectares, or 500,000 acres, of forest, secure a wildlife migration corridor between two national parks and bring sustainable benefits to local communities through education, jobs for rangers and an “ecofactory” producing organic cotton clothing.