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Posts by Ramon Arratia

The Basics Of Climate Science

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It doesn’t get much simpler than this. 

In this video The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences explain climate science in 60 seconds.

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine.

“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, accompanied by sea-level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes.”

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Waste Management’s 2014 Sustainability Report

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Waste Management have released their comprehensive sustainability report called “CREATING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY “. Waste Management is the largest environmental solutions provider in North America, serving more than 20 million customers in the U.S. and Canada.

“As part of our strategy, we are committed to developing new waste solutions that can help communities and organisations achieve their green goals, including zero waste.”

Waste Management Summary

As with all self served sustainability reports it can sometimes be hard to distinguish ‘company line’ from hard fact but this thorough report is well worth a read, if for no other reason than to check in with what’s going on across the pond.

Their report focusses on the circular economy and covers: 

Progress to Date
Sustainability Key Performance Indicators
Introduction to the Circular Economy
Reducing Waste
Recycling
Extracting Value from Organics
Recovering Energy from Waste
Harnessing Energy at the Landfill
Sustainability Performance
Workforce Safety
Engaging with Communities

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Why I love Tesla

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TeslaLast week I was lucky enough to drive a Tesla – What an experience!

Thanks to Laura Cremer who organised the event for the Interface Sustainability Ambassador Training participants.

The entire driving experience was amazing: immediate torque, no noise, huge computer display. I hope one day I’m fortunate enough to own one.

The company is not just interesting for being a pioneer in electric cars, or for making electric cars sexy (now the mainstream German manufacturers are trying to copy it).

What IS interesting from Tesla is now that that job is done, and electric is on its way to becoming mainstream, they are betting big on batteries.

Tesla DashBattery technology is the bottleneck for this industry, it’s also where a lot of the cost is sunk. Owning the supply chain in batteries is a huge bet that could go horribly wrong or could become a pseudo monopoly of the most critical part of the cars of our future.

… keeping in mind we’re not only talking about batteries for vehicles – batteries are also the bottleneck for the domestic PV generation, as well as many other sectors.

However. If anyone can pull it off, Tesla can.

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How Solar Will Light The Way in the UK [Study]

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GS1 Solar ReportGerman think-tank Thema1 has published a report where they outline the solar situation in the UK.

Here are some key extracts – to download the full report click on the image.

In 2015, solar PV globally will overtake both gas and coal to become the number one power generation technology in terms of annual installations.

* We investigate three markets in solar power: large- scale, ground-mounted “solar farms”; commercial roof-top; and residential rooftop. We estimate that all three will be economic without support in the next decade.

*  Increasing cost-competitiveness and capacity growth of solar PV in Britain will impact the British power system, including falls in wholesale power prices, as already seen in Germany. The growth of solar power may threaten electric utilities which fail to transition away from solely supplying electricity, to providing residential energy services.

* We find that unsubsidised residential solar power may be cheaper with battery storage. Unsupported domestic solar battery packs achieve payback periods of little more than 10 years by 2020. By 2025, solar battery packs are fully competitive without subsidies across Britain. That could create an inflexion point driving adoption of domestic solar system.

INCREASINGLY AFFORDABLE - Solar costs have fallen faster than rival technologies. Such cost reductions will continue, leading to ever greater grid penetration in the near and medium term.

LOWER WHOLESALE POWER PRICES - Assuming solar PV continues to have priority grid access, higher installed capacity will lead to falls in wholesale power prices, as seen in Germany

FAST TO BUILDSolar PV has the fastest installation rate in Britain among electricity generating technologies. It takes an average of 1.1 years to generate its first electricity from initial planning application, compared with 5.4 years for offshore wind. EDF Energy has forecast 12 years (from planning application in 2011) to commission the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Britain.

PREDICTABLE - Solar power is variable, but reliable and predictable; day ahead forecasts are about 90% accurate.

SECURE - By relying on a web of thousands or millions of individual installations, solar power can become an important part of a highly resilient and intelligent power network.

CLEAN - Solar power emits next to zero carbon emissions, and also displaces particulate matter (PM) from coal combustion, which is harmful to human health.

An Economy That Works

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An Economy That Works LogoUK business coalition backs “better growth” roadmap to get economy working harder for the environment and society.

A coalition of some of the UK’s biggest businesses today backed a new macro-economic roadmap for Britain and launched a new independent campaign called “An Economy That Works” based on the findings of a major report.

Campaign founders the Aldersgate Group and its progressive alliance of NGOs and UK businesses argue in their first report that the UK economy risks becoming detached from the long-term needs of society. It says that GDP growth is an important tool in creating prosperous societies, but warns that on its own growth is unable to define a path to lasting prosperity and competitiveness. It says an economy that works for the UK is one that will be low carbon, will deliver high employment and equality of opportunity, and place wellbeing and regard for natural resources at its core.

Sir Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher plc said: “The last seven years have shown us that we urgently need an economy that contributes to society and strengthens it. GDP is not a comprehensive measure of prosperity: it is an important tool, not a goal in itself. Instead of maximum linear growth in GDP, we need to start thinking of maximum wellbeing for minimum planetary input.”

Launching the new campaign, Sir Richard Lambert, former Financial Times editor and former Director-General of the CBI said: ”Single-issue policymaking is struggling to address the complex social and environmental challenges of our time.  The Economy that Works coalition has a relentlessly positive vision and its systemic blueprint for creating decent jobs, delivering equal opportunity, and enhancing wellbeing across the UK is exciting and galvanising.”

Peter Young, Chair of the Aldersgate Group said: “Despite encouraging UK growth figures, we risk getting stuck with reduced wellbeing, rising inequality, continued loss of natural capital and rising resource pressures. Policymakers urgently need to look beyond GDP to define successful growth – setting far more coherent policy goals which strengthen the links between our economy, our society and the environment.”

Oliver Dudok van Heel, Director of “An Economy That Works” said: “Our coalition wants to see an economy that works harder for our society and our environment. Many of our member companies are championing best practice and progressive social and environmental policies that will keep our economy in the fast lane. This campaign is an ambitious attempt to draw these strands together into a joined-up roadmap for policymakers that will help insulate UK society from future economic shocks.”

The organisations behind the campaign – including Aviva Investors, BT, Friends of the Earth, Interface, Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, Nestlé, RSPB, Sky, the TUC and WWF – hope to spark informed political debate about what UK citizens and businesses want from their economy and inspire policymakers to develop solutions that will keep the UK prosperous, competitive and sustainable for generations to come. Many of them have long been at the forefront of driving progressive ethical and sustainable business practices.

The growing coalition behind the new campaign will work with the UK government over the coming years to identify the key policy levers for change, support their adoption, and encourage wider uptake of innovative business practices that together are needed to guarantee a competitive and successful UK economy now and in the future.

An Economy That Works Infographic

Click here to view the downloadable infographic.

KEY REPORT FINDINGS:

Moving beyond ‘growth’ and defining six core characteristics of ‘An Economy that Works’:

1. High employment 
- investment in job generation and skills development, promoting flexible and part-time working, investing in lifetime educational support to increase financial independence and create fulfilling work opportunities.

2. Equality of opportunity – unlocking a ‘double dividend’: reducing inequality and boosting social and economic mobility for all; cutting the cost of employment and introducing living wage levels.

3. Wellbeing at the core
 - ensuring everyone has confidence their material needs will be met, supported by strong healthcare & education systems, strong social networks & democratic institutions.

4. Low carbon 
- there is no such thing as a high carbon low cost future; effective carbon pricing and policy support for innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies are essential. The environmental goods and services sector is growing and already represents £122bn (9.3 per cent) of the UK economy.

5. Zero waste
 – promotion of a circular economy to cut landfill and promote re-use of materials; UK could cut its reliance on raw materials by 20 per cent by 2020 and unlock a £5.6bn opportunity in UK re-manufacturing.

6. Enhancing nature - The UK’s diverse natural capital provides the economy and society with food, clean air, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation and protection from hazards. Measuring this value to the UK economy and preventing its exploitation makes sound business sense.

Notes

The ‘An Economy That Works’ report is available at www.aneconomythatworks.org

Click here to view the downloadable infographic.

Organisations that support the ‘An Economy That Works Campaign’ include: Anglian Water; Asda; Aviva Investors; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BT; CDP; Energy Saving Trust; The Equality Trust; Forum for the Future; Friends of the Earth; Grant Thornton; Green Alliance; IEMA; Interface; Johnson Matthey; Kingfisher; Landmark; Lucideon; M&S; National Grid; the National Union of Students; Nestlé; New Economics Foundation; Reed Elsevier; RSPB; Share Action; Sky; Thames Water; Trade Union Congress; the UK Green Building Council; Willmott Dixon; the Woodland Trust; WSP and WWF.

For more information and interviews please contact:

Tom Howard-Vyse on 07920 269 477 or media@aldersgategroup.org.uk

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The past, present and future of CO2 – Data visualisations from KILN

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KILN Data VisualisationsIf you’re a reader of the Guardian – environment or sustainable business sections mainly, you may have come across the data visualisations from the guys at KILN. They have an amazing ability to bring data to life, including the example below – “The past present and future of CO2″.

KILN is an award-winning data visualisation and interactive studio. We combine skills from journalism, web development, data analysis, mathematics, cartography and graphic design to make complex information engaging, beautiful and interactive. We specialise in data visualisation, maps and digital storytelling.”

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Understanding the state of climate finance

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Following on from my recent NASA post which visualises CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, here is another great resource from the Climate Policy Initiative - it’s a superb site that visualises the state of climate finance and it’s notable shortcomings. There’s more on the CPI initiative below the image.

Their aim with this website is to bring to life the numbers that sometimes get lost in the rhetoric, and they do it superbly. Click on the image to open the site:

Climate Finance Visualised

“Climate Policy Initiative works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world, with a particular focus on finance. Our analysts and advisors support decision makers through in-depth analysis on what works and what does not. We work in places that provide the most potential for policy impact, including Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Our work helps nations grow while addressing increasingly scarce resources and climate risk. This is a complex challenge in which national policy plays a crucial role.”

A year in the life of Earth’s CO2

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A truly fascinating visualisation from NASA showing how CO2 moves around the globe and patterns change with the seasons.

This high-resolution computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide and monoxide in the atmosphere travels. Plumes of Co2 in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons. This model will help predict climate change and will also support other models.

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The Environmental Outlook for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)

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Carbon Trading PermitsSandbag are doing amazing work pushing to create a clean renewable based future for us all. They focus where they can do most, on the carbon trading market – The EU emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the only large scale policy yet implemented to cut carbon emissions. The simple idea is to destroy excess trading permits. To give you some idea how big the problem is click on this image of the live counter to get the latest reading:

Sandbag’s latest report Slaying the Dragon: Vanquish the surplus and rescue the Emissions Trading Scheme reveals how hundreds of millions of excess carbon allowances continue to be issued, with a disproportionate share of these being awarded for free to Europe’s “Carbon Fatcat” companies which are shifting from being steel to cement companies. What is the environmental outlook for the ETS?

You can download the report by clicking on the image:

The Environmental Outlook for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

More news from Sandbag

As the latest emissions figures came out, showing the EU has all but met its 2020 target to cut emissions by 20%, Sandbag released projections showing that by 2020 EU emissions could be down by 29% on current trends. They’re using this research to call for a higher 2020 target, and were pleased when sharing a platform with a senior DG Energy official to hear them already talking about potential increases to the 2020 target. As emissions are likely to be very low this year the pressure to move this target is only going to grow, internationally and at home.

MSR knight small As coal prices seem to plunge ever lower we are now engaged helping NGOs EU wide to develop coal phase out plans with a big focus on Germany, the UK and Poland. They’ve helped Greenpeace with some research, looking at loopholes in the ETS that have subsidised coal power plants and in the UK they’ve been analysing the effect of the capacity market which looks set to keep old plant going longer than necessary or sensible.

Buy carbon permits here at £6.47 to take them out of the system.

c/o Bryony (in Brussels), Damien (in Australia), Alex (in China), Dave (in Brussels), and Phil, Laurence and Tricia (in London) - Illustrations by the marvellous Kerry Hyndman - About Sandbag.

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The Netherlands as a circular economy hotspot

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This short video made by Circle Economy looks at organisations and businesses involved in the Dutch circular economy and what they are doing currently. We are proud to be highlighted too.

Circle Economy is a non-profit open platform that aims to accelerate the transition to the circular economy. We believe it is time to move away from our current linear take-make-waste economy, towards a system that is in balance with and inspired by nature. Together with our members we are accelerating the transition towards this new circular economy, in which we close the loops and not only focus on economic growth, but also take social and ecological value into account in every decision we make.”

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