ENERGY TRANSITION & CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS: Sept 26, 2020

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California’s Ban on Gas Vehicles is Also Good News for the Grid and the Auto Sector

Jules Kortenhorst Rocky Mountain Inst
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Today’s Headlines

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Main Headlines:

CRASHING DEMAND, KENNEY’S ‘DENIAL’ PUT ALBERTA AT RISK AS ENERGY TRANSITION ACCELERATES

The Alberta government’s inability to begin charting a shift off fossil fuels can only leave the province at risk of further economic mayhem, according to two news analyses published in the week leading up to a federal Throne Speech that largely cemented Ottawa’s embrace of a low-carbon transition.

While Toronto Star contributing columnist Gillian Steward points to Premier Jason Kenney’s “denial of oil’s gloomy future”, CBC writer Robson Fletcher asks whether Alberta can embrace the transition sweeping the global energy sector, rather than just bracing for it.

Steward opens her analysis by pointing to the big picture trends that are laying waste to Kenney’s vision of his province’s future. “Demand for oil has dropped like a stone since the pandemic hit,” she writes. “Renewable energy is gaining ground around the world. Forests in the western U.S. are burning up because climate change means warmer, drier weather: yet another urgent call to reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible.”

Yet Kenney “can still hardly bring himself to utter the words ‘climate change,’ ‘energy transition’ or, God forbid, ‘green plan’,” she notes. “Instead he refers to ‘green plans’ as ‘pie in the sky ideological schemes.’ Instead he establishes an inept ‘war room’ to fight environmentalists who he says are wrecking Alberta’s plans to keep producing oil.”

The real question, Steward writes, is whether there’s anything that can change what she calls Kenney’s “denial of reality”, or whether he will “continue to furiously row the leaky fossil fuel lifeboat that he desperately hopes will deliver Alberta back to prosperity.”

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What ‘net-zero carbon’ really means for cities

A city historically known for its lethal 20th-Century smogs has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – how will London get there?

London, like the rest of the UK, is committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2050. That means greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be dramatically slashed and any remaining emissions offset, neutralising environmental impact and slowing climate change. But how does a city choked with traffic and packed full of carbon-emitting processes and structures – from fossil fuel-generated energy to steel skyscrapers – reach such a goal? And exactly how different would the urban environment look if it were net-zero?

If London’s population continues to rapidly grow – by 2050 it may be home to more than 11 million people – and the climate crisis accelerates, the challenge will only become more urgent. Transport, energy infrastructure, waste, new construction and existing architecture, all need to be take steps to achieve carbon neutrality.

Transport

In the UK, transport is the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, damaging both the environment and public health. When we imagine the city of the future, novelties like flying cars may come to mind – but a decarbonised future for transport might mean no cars at all. Realistically, it’s about shifting the ratio of transport modes. At last count in 2018, 37% of trips in London were made by car or motorcycle, 36% of trips by public transport and 2.6% by bicycle (the rest were walked or described as “other”). In order to achieve a net-zero city, and reduce toxic air pollution, the proportion of trips made by car would need to drastically reduce.

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NEWS AND VIEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY & TRANSITION

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