Archive for the 'Climate Change' Category

Boost production and market for renewable energy technologies to build energy security

September 10th, 2014 by Nature

A field of photovoltaic panels with wind turbines in the distance near Goch, Germany on 4 January 2012 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

A field of photovoltaic panels with wind turbines in the distance near Goch, Germany on 4 January 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

In a comment piece in this week’s Nature, Professor John Mathews and Dr Hao Tan write that countries should follow China’s lead and boost markets for water, wind and solar power technologies to drive down costs.

The authors argue that by placing the emphasis on production scale and market growth, China is driving down costs and thereby “contributing more than any other country to a climate-change solution.”

As the scale of Chinese manufacturing has grown — production of solar cells has expanded about 100-fold since 2005 — the costs of renewable-energy devices have plummeted.

Countries such as Germany and South Korea, like China, are boosting their national renewable-energy industries and markets.

But others, including the USA and the UK, seem yet to notice this shift and are pursuing ineffective energy policies, including considering alternative fossil-fuels sources, putting trade tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, and importing energy technologies.

Professor Mathews and Dr Tan call for a new narrative in climate and energy discussions.

“As in China, renewables must be seen as a source of energy security, not just of reduced carbon emissions,” the authors wrote in their comment piece.

The authors also highlight the need for international climate and energy discussions to address the role of markets and financial drivers in delivering renewable technologies and energy to everyone.

Renewables industry unifies around key tests for next UK Government

September 7th, 2014 by RenewableUK

The photovoltaic panels on Blackfriars bridge had produced 1.35 GWh of electricity in 2014 up to 22 June 2014. (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The photovoltaic panels on Blackfriars bridge across the Thames in London had produced 1.35 GWh of electricity in 2014 up to 22 June 2014. (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Leading UK renewable energy trade bodies have come together to launch “key tests” for the UK political parties ahead of the next UK general election.

The grouping, which includes ADBA (Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association), the British Photovoltaic Association, the Renewable Energy Association, RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables, and the Solar Trade Association, has launched a renewables manifesto statement and campaign hosted on the Action for Renewables website.

Action for Renewables encourages public support for more renewable energy and is chaired by leading environmentalist Dr Tony Juniper.

Renewable energy provides 15% of Britain’s power today and is set to provide nearly a third by 2020. Continue reading

Wind energy’s growing importance for UK electricity generation

September 4th, 2014 by RenewableUK

RenewableUK said that August 2014 was an exceptional month for wind energy, with new records set and electricity generation levels exceeding both nuclear and coal generation, according to official National Grid statistics.

On five separate occasions, wind energy overtook coal-fired plants for electricity generation over a single day, which is the first time this has ever happened in the UK.

Electricity produced by UK wind energy exceeded the electricity generated from coal on the 3, 9, 11, 12 and 17 August 2014.

This strong performance continued towards the end of the month when onshore and offshore wind generated more than Continue reading

Changing the climate with what you eat

March 30th, 2014 by Chalmers

Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2° Celsius, according to research at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, which is published in “The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets” in the Journal of Climate Change.

On Monday 31 March 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents their report on the impacts of climate change.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution.

However, a study from Chalmers now shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit.

Emissions from agriculture threaten to keep increasing as global meat and dairy consumption increases.

(click graph to expand)

The line shows how much total emissions must be reduced to meet the 2°C target with large certainty. The bars show future agricultural emissions at current trends (blue), if agricultural productivity increases and technical measures are implemented (orange), and if technical measures are combined with a 75 % reduction in meat and dairy consumption (green). The distance between the bars and the line shows the total possible magnitude of emissions from energy, transport, industry and deforestation. Image: Fredrik Hedenus (click graph to expand)

Continue reading

World Meteorological Organisation reports on global weather in 2013

March 25th, 2014 by World Meteorological Organization

Blizzard conditions on Fort Road, St Peter Port on 11 March 2013 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Blizzard conditions on Fort Road, St Peter Port on 11 March 2013 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

The year 2013 demonstrated the dramatic impact of droughts, heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones on people and property in all parts of the planet, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Climate.

The report confirmed that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest on record, continuing the long-term global warming trend.

It provided a snapshot of regional and national temperatures and extreme events as well as details of ice cover, ocean warming, sea level rise and greenhouse gas concentrations – all inter-related and consistent indicators of our changing climate.

Thirteen of the fourteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. Continue reading

Number of extreme heat days over land continuing to increase

February 26th, 2014 by Nature Climate Change

There has been a continued increase in the number of extreme heat days over land since 1997.

This finding, reported in a Commentary in the March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change, suggests that the increase is in spite of the recent slowdown in global average surface temperature.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Sonia Seneviratne, analysed observational data to investigate the occurrence of extreme extremes — that is, the number of days hotter than the 90th percentile of a given base period — since 1997.

They looked at the ratio of land area that experiences over 30 days of extreme heat per year compared with the 1979 to 2010 average and found a positive and increasing trend for the period 1997 to 2012.

Additionally, the team examined trends related to different numbers of extreme heat days — for example, 10 extreme heat days versus 50 extreme heat days per year.

They show that the increasing trend in the ratio of land that experiences over 50 extreme heat days is much greater than the increase related to both 30 and 10 days of extreme heat.

Based on these findings, the researchers highlight that it is wrong to interpret the recent slowdown in warming as a general slowdown in climate change.

An increase in extreme heat events, as demonstrated here, is more relevant for impacts and adaptation than global average temperatures.

This article is part of a special Focus in Nature Climate Change entitled ‘Recent slowdown in global warming’, which will be available in the March print issue and online from 26 February 2014.


Improving human well-being while relying on fossil fuels drives up carbon emissions worldwide

February 23rd, 2014 by Nature Climate Change

Growing economies across the world have seen the average life expectancy at birth rise since 1970, but at a significant cost to the environment, reports a paper, The Carbon Intensity of Human well-being, published on 24 February 2014 in Nature Climate Change.

Past research has confirmed that economic development improves the quality of life.

However, as economies rely mainly on fossil fuels, improved life conditions lead to rising carbon emissions.

Many studies have looked at the association between development and emissions but very few have analysed the dynamic relationship between development, human well-being and emissions, over time and across different world regions.

Andrew Jorgenson calculates the carbon intensity of human well-being — the ratio between per capita anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (in his study, derived from fossil fuel combustion and cement manufacturing) and average life expectancy at birth — for 106 countries over the period 1970–2009.

He groups the countries in regional samples and estimates how the effect of economic development (measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita) on the carbon intensity of human well-being has changed over the period in each group.

He found that, early in the period of study, increased development led to a reduction in carbon intensity of human well-being for nations in Africa, but in recent decades the relationship has become less sustainable.

For nations in Asia and South and Central America, development raises the carbon intensity of human well-being, and increasingly so over the period of study.

The effect of development on the carbon intensity of human well-being for nations in the combined regions of North America, Europe and Oceania has been positive, larger than in other regions, and stable over time.

The author concludes that as long as societies rely on fossil fuels, achieving better life conditions will drive up carbon emissions worldwide.


Climate change is a systemic threat to public health, national security and the global financial system

February 14th, 2014 by RSA

(please click report cover to open the RSA webpage containing the report)

(please click report cover to open the RSA webpage containing the report)

An RSA report has found that mischaracterising climate change as an exclusively environmental issue, rather than a broader systemic threat to public health, national security and the global financial system, has led to the majority of the British public failing to take climate change seriously.

In a challenge to the green lobby, A New Agenda on Climate Change, written by Dr Jonathan Rowson of the RSA’s Social Brain Centre, called for the debate to be reframed – so that we face up to our ‘pervasive stealth denial’ and demand politicians and businesses take leadership on the issue.

A Yougov poll of 2024 adults, commissioned for the report, showed that while only a fifth of the British population are sceptical about anthropogenic climate change, 64% of the population accept the facts but do not accept the full implications in terms of their feelings, responsibility and agency.

In addition, only 37% agree their actions are part of the problem, 61% think economic growth should be a priority even if the climate suffers, and 72% said their own standard of living Continue reading

Climate change doubles risk of extreme El Niño events

January 19th, 2014 by University of Exeter

Clay soil cracking in drought conditions (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Clay soil cracking in drought conditions (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

The risk of extreme versions of the El Niño weather phenomenon will double over the coming decades due to global warming, new research has shown.

The frequency of ‘extreme El Niños’ could see a twofold increase as the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean warms faster than the surrounding regions.

Similar events were experienced in 1982 and 1983 and 1997 and 1998, when sea surface temperatures exceeding 28°C developed in the normally cold and dry eastern equatorial Pacific, causing a massive reorganisation of global rainfall.

The impact of these events, including extreme floods and droughts, extend to every continent, with the 1997 an 1998 event alone causing between US$35 to 45 billion in damage, and claiming an estimated 23,000 lives worldwide. Continue reading

Sea level rising fast but just within natural range

December 13th, 2013 by University of Southampton

The sea meets Vazon, Guernsey on 11 September 2010 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The sea meets Vazon, Guernsey on 11 September 2010 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

University of Southampton and the Australian National University researchers report that sea-level rise since the industrial revolution has been fast by natural standards and at current rates may reach 80 cm above the modern level by 2100 and 2.5 metres by 2200.

The team used geological evidence of the past few million years to derive a background pattern of natural sea-level rise.

This was compared with historical tide-gauge and satellite observations of sea-level change for the ‘global warming’ period, since the industrial revolution.

The study, ‘A geological perspective on potential future sea-level rise‘, which was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (iGlass consortium) and Australian Research Council (Laureate Fellowship), is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Eelco Rohling, lead author, from the Australian National University, and formerly of the University of Southampton, said “our natural background pattern from Continue reading