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Tag: carbon emissions

Did the Australia Carbon Tax Initiative Really Reduce Carbon Emissions?

Generally, plants and trees need carbon to survive in contrast to animals and humans who need oxygen to live. However, the increasing amount of carbon in the atmosphere has led to changes to the environment, such as a shift in weather pattern and the rise of atmospheric temperature all over the world. So, to bring back balance to Earth’s atmosphere, governments began to implement green initiatives, including carbon tax, designed to reduce carbon emissions caused by burning gas, coal or crude oil from manufacturing plants and other industrial sites.

A Significant Drop in Carbon Emissions Index

The Australian government introduced its carbon tax in July 2012 after years of debate. According to BBC News, around 300 firms were levied at $23 Australian dollars per tonne of greenhouse gases they create. When the country’s top industries include mining, steel manufacturing, and energy generation, this legislation can be an alarming threat. The opposition branded it as “toxic tax” that will cost people their jobs and increase the cost of living in the country.

However, after nearly four months since its implementation, reports from ABC News and other local media revealed positive results. Victoria alone has had a 8.7 percent reduction in its carbon emissions since July. All over the country, the fall in record emissions reached down to 7.6 percent, according to a report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Hopefully, this trend continues until the year 2020 and meets the government’s goal of reducing carbon levels by five percent or less in all regions.

But, what does this mean to consumers and businesses? Will the Australia carbon tax lower power rates, supply enough energy for a growing population, and still attract investors to the mining and energy sector? Nobody knows for sure how far and wide the benefits of the levy would go ten years or twenty years from now. One thing’s certain though: consumers and small business owners end up reaping the benefits of getting energy from abundant sources.

Carbon Tax Led to a Surge in Power Costs?

Of course, it’s too early to predict the downfall of the energy and mining industries of Australia as result of the levy. Naturally, an increase in power rates began almost immediately after implementation. Energy firms had to cover the cost of paying taxes for every tonne of pollutants they release into the atmosphere. On one hand, these discouraging power rates shifted public attention to more efficient technologies, such as hydroelectric turbines and solar panels. Although the demand for renewable energy hasn’t begun to surge yet nationwide, the huge investments of companies and their high production expenses has nudged clean energy prices a bit closer to traditional rates.

The AEMO report also admits that other possible factors may have contributed to the decrease in the Carbon Emissions Intensity Index (CEII) during the months of June through August. Before the carbon tax, floodwaters in Gippsland, Victoria stopped operations for the Yallourn power plants, which supply most of the energy to that region. They had to go offline for emergency cleanup and repairs. These power generators run on coal fuel and their temporary absence may have led to a significant decrease in carbon levels. In short, the policy has definitely been successful in curbing the atmospheric levels of carbon over large regions in Australia, but there were negative effects from paying too much taxes too soon and to the energy sector’s mad scramble to provide more clean energy options to consumers.

This article was provided by Gene Armstrong. Gene has worked as a consultant for industrial firms on and off for eight years specializing in energy-efficient technologies and green energy policies. He also contributes to online media regularly with articles and blog posts that share effective money-saving advice for households and businesses. Most data and news reports shared in this article came from http://www.switchwise.com.au where you’ll learn more about carbon tax and how it works.

Historic Drop in U.S. Carbon Emissions: Experts Skeptical of Impact to Slow Climate Change

A recent article in New Scientist reports that even though carbon emissions are lower than they have been in twenty years, climate change is not slowing down. The price of natural gas has decreased due to hydraulic fracturing, and natural gas has been a preferred source of energy based on its inexpensive price tag. This has caused reduced carbon emissions, but is not likely to have an effect on climate change. Along with people at the grassroots level, those in major corporations, universities, and governments, are making significant advancements in energy conservation and clean energy.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Some people see gas as a good transition fuel that can be used in the interim until sufficient wind farms and solar arrays are constructed. Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester, UK, believes that gas cannot be used as a lesser evil energy while making a transition to greener fuels. He thinks that in order to achieve the 2° C goal, we need to make a rapid transition to low carbon energy.

The Energy Collective has written a humorous article comparing America’s energy consumption behavior to that of someone with an eating disorder, advising that weight loss is healthy when it takes place over the long term and with discipline. In some respects our carbon weight is like real weight, and while we are at a long term low, natural gas is no substitute for clean energy. Utilizing recycling services at republicservices.com will help you contribute to energy and waste reduction.

Heating Things Up

Earthsky.org reported that this past summer was the third-hottest in recorded U.S. history, and a mild winter earlier in the year should have been an indicator that this year was going to heat up. The U.S. is failing to create the necessary choices to adequately reduce carbon consumption. According to The International Energy Agency, gas will cause a disaster if aggressively consumed over the medium-term.

Recent national carbon reduction is an excellent development, but it doesn’t replace adherence to a healthy energy policy. When coal companies can push their product to eager consumers in a multitude of foreign countries, planet Earth is still affected. It is essential to stay on the path of clean energy without distraction by less inferior products.

Stats Speak For Themselves

The 2012 Benchmarking Air Emissions report looked at 2010-2011 data to determine trends in the following power plant pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), mercury (Hg) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). One hundred utilities operating 2,500 power plants were included. These plants produced 86% of electricity generation and 88% of all emissions in the U.S. The good news is that three of the four pollutants studied experienced significant decline.

This improvement was attributed to cleaner energy replacing coal as a result of an increase in natural gas as well as wind and solar energy. Since 2004 utilities have doubled renewable energy sources. Currently 5% of our energy is renewable. Natural gas and coal each provide about 32% of all U.S. electrical generation.

Going Solar

As an example of transition from dirty to much cleaner, Southern Company –a utility in the Southwest with 43,000 MWs of generating capacity– is one of the most intense coal power producers in the country. Southern will increase its natural gas consumption for the first time in its long history. It also owns and operates the largest U.S. biomass plant. In a partnership with media mogul Ted Turner, Southern owns a 30 MW solar PV plant in New Mexico, and they have just purchased yet another solar facility.

This article was contributed by Aubrey Boone. Aubrey studied in Los Angeles with some of the finest chefs. She started documenting her experiences and now contributes to various foodie blogs.

Statistics Behind World Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Chris over at Fly.co.uk recently informed me of an infographic on their website. The infographic shows some interesting statistics on world carbon dioxide emissions.

For example, according to the infographic, in 2009, China produced 6,200 million tonnes of CO2 compared to 5,800 for the United States. One only needs to look at the population of these two countries to see that something appears to be out of whack.

China has over 4 times the population of the US and yet, the US emits almost as much CO2 as China. Unfortunately, this gap is bound to widen as China becomes more and more prosperous.

As one would expect, the infographic has an airline/transport spin (no doubt due to the fact that its on a flight website), so there are some interesting statistics in that area.

A copy of the infographic is below. Due to its size, I’ve resized it to fit on this blog.

You can view the full-sized infographic here.

10 Tips For Greater Fuel Economy

When assessing cars we usually consider if they are economical to run, but we should also consider how economical our own driving habits are. Indeed, by following the fuel economy tips below, you’ll be able to save on fuel and save the planet without having to change our used car to a brand new hybrid :

  1. Keep a steady average speed – avoid travelling at over 100km/h (65mph). When driving at higher speeds, your car uses most of the energy produced to combat the air resistance. As a result, your car’s fuel consumption is most effective at the speed of 50-90km/h (30-50mph), so it’s best to avoid over-accelerating wherever possible.
  2. Use the highest possible gear – most cars’ engines are more effective at lower revs, so make sure you change up as you accelerate to keep the revs down around 1,500 – 2,500rpm.
  3. Clean your car’s air filter regularly – driving your vehicle with a dirty filter can reduce its economy by 10 percent, as this restricts the air from reaching the engine.
  4. Make your car lose some weight Every extra 25kg makes your car consume 1 percent more fuel, so remove all the unnecessary items you’re carrying around, such as a roof box or bicycle rack, if you’re not going to use them in the near future.
  5. Predict the situation down the road – when you see red lights or traffic ahead, do not accelerate. Speeding unnecessarily and then braking rapidly burns more fuel than if you drove at a steady pace.
  6. Do not leave the engine idling – even when idling, an engine consumes fuel. So, if you’re stationary for more than 10 seconds, it’s more economical to stop the engine and then restart it when required.
  7. Close the windows – if driving at more than 50km/h (30mph) open windows increase the air resistance, which will be reflected in more frequent visits to the petrol station.
  8. Pump up your tyres – correct air pressure is essential for economical driving. What’s more, it’s easy to monitor and control your tyre pressure, as most petrol stations have a gauge and pump that drivers can use free of charge.
  9. Avoid overusing the air-conditioning – use your air-conditioning only when it’s necessary, as it can increase the fuel consumption by up to 10 percent.
  10. Ask yourself one simple question before each journey – ‘do I really need to go by car?’ For short hops, consider using a bike or walking from time to time, thereby cutting your fuel consumption and your carbon footprint.

This post was contributed by CBG.ie. Visit us to find more motoring advice, news and reviews as well as a comprehensive list of new and used cars for sale.

Brazil to Reduce Amazon Deforestation by 72% Within 9 Years

The Brazilian government has announced plans to slash deforestation in the Amazon region by 72 percent by 2017.

The announcement, made by Environment Minister Carlos Minc in Brasilia on Monday, comes three days after it was revealed that deforestation in the Amazon had increased in 2008 for the first time in 4 years. 

Part of the plan includes adding 3,000 more officers to fight illegal logging in the Amazon.

“This plan improves Brazil’s image, we’ll have more moral authority internationally,” Minc told reporters after announcing the plan.

The 72 percent figure comes from comparing against an annual deforestation average between 1996 and 2005. Minc says the plan would reduce deforestation by 72% when compared with the 7,330 square miles lost on average each year during that period.

Reduced Carbon Emissions

Brazil’s announcement came as this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference commenced in Poznań, Poland. 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva believes that the plan puts Brazil ahead of many other countries attending the conference.

“We will surely receive criticism, but we can say that we are presenting a better one than China or India, and better than others that still haven’t signed the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.

Minc shares the president’s view “Just in terms of avoided deforestation in the Amazon, the plan foresees a reduction of 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide that won’t be emitted up to 2018, which is more than the reduction efforts fixed by all the rich countries,” he explained.

Reforestation

Brazil not only plans to reduce deforestation, but also plans to double the reforested areas to 11 million hectares by 2020.

“This means that by 2015 we will be planting more trees than cutting,” Minc said.

Brazil’s Forestry Service Welcomes the Plan

The Brazilian government’s forestry service welcomes the announcement.

“We can now adopt targets because we now have the instruments to implement them” said Tasso Azevedo, head of the forestry service.

The ‘instruments’ Azevedo refers to is the new Amazon fund established earlier this year.

The Amazon Fund

The Amazon Fund is a fund established to preserve millions of acres of the Amazon as quickly as possible. 

Through the fund, Brazil hopes to attract $21 billion in donations from rich countries to protect the Amazon.

Norway has already made a pledge of up to $1 billion to the fund. Norway’s contribution will be made by installments, each one being made on the condition that deforestation had reduced during the previous year.

Big Win for Environmentalists as EPA Rules Against Coal Plant

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remanded a PSD permit on Thursday for a proposed coal plant addition near Vernal, Utah.

EPA says that it cannot grant such permits until it decides what to do about limiting the CO2 emissions that the plant will produce.  

The decision will essentially delay any new coal plant in the United States for at least a couple of years.

The Sierra Club went before the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) in May this year requesting that the air permit for Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s proposed waste coal-fired power plant be overturned because it failed to require any controls on carbon dioxide pollution. Once the 110 MW Bonanza plant was in operation, it would have emitted 3.37 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. 

On Thursday, the permit was overturned.

Significant Decision

The ruling will make it much harder for companies to receive permits for new coal plants. This could have a significant impact on the US coal industry as over 100 coal plants are in various stages of development around the country. 

“They’re sending this permit — and effectively sending every other permit — back to square one,” said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. 

“It’s minimum a one to two year delay for every proposed coal-fired power plant in the United States.”

The ruling makes reference to the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision last year that declared carbon dioxide a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Until Thursday’s decision, the EPA had not yet acted on this ruling.

Coal Plants are Huge Carbon Emitters

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits are for construction projects that may significantly increase air pollutant emissions. Part of the process for granting a PSD permit is determining what Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to use in order to minimize pollutant emissions.

“Coal plants emit 30% of our nation’s global warming pollution. Building new coal plants without controlling their carbon emissions could wipe out all of the other efforts being undertaken by cities, states and communities across the country,” said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign. “Everyone has a role to play and it’s time that the coal industry did its part and started living up to its clean coal rhetoric.”

Good News for Low-Carbon Technologies

Thursday’s decision helps pave the way to making solar, wind, nuclear and other low-carbon technologies more competitive.

“Instead of pouring good money after bad trying to fix old coal technology, investors should be looking to wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies that are going to power the economy, create jobs, and help the climate recover,” said Nilles.

View the ruling [PDF document, 69 pages]

Is It Fair to Accuse WWF of Hypocrisy?

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been completely hammered over the announcement of their upcoming world tour in 2009.

The tour will enable 88 paying passengers the opportunity to visit, and learn about some of the 19 highest priority places that WWF operate in. Transport will be provided in the form of a private jet. Experts will present a series of lectures to passengers en route. 

News sites and blogs have accused the WWF of hypocrisy due to the amount of carbon the expedition will produce. According to Steven Milloy of the JunkScience website:

…the 36,800-mile trip in a Boeing 757 jet will burn about 100,000 gallons of jet fuel to produce roughly 1,231 tons of CO2 in 25 days

Here’s a collection of articles I’ve encountered slamming the WWF over this expedition:

Um yeah… I think it’s fair to say that people aren’t happy!

A Different View

OK, at first glance, I couldn’t help but see the irony in the situation. WWF – an organization pleading with the world to lower its carbon emissions – coming up with a 25 day trip that will omit more carbon than an average household does in a year.

But I’m going to take a different view on this one. 

First of all, let’s look at who the WWF is targeting. It’s targeting people who can afford to pay $65,000 for a 25 day trip. People who can afford that amount are not likely to be short of cash, or influence.

It’s exactly people like this, that can help the WWF and its various causes. Wealthy people are in an excellent position to donate hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars to these causes. And, influential people are in a great position to inspire others to do something about a cause that they feel passionate about.

Here’s what Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, WWF Species Conservation Program Director, says on the brochure for this expedition:

During a field research outing in Borneo two years ago, I made a rare sighting of pygmy elephants, the smallest and tamest elephant in the world. A herd of a half dozen of them was weaving through the thick rain forest along the Kinabatangan River.

Of course, such sightings are rare—even after many years working in wildlife conservation or protection, I’ve seen just a handful of the world’s species in the wild. But each time I do, I remember why I work in the remarkable field of conservation: To help save these animals and to inspire others to care deeply for the world’s wild places—and because moments such as that day in Borneo, no matter how fleeting, are the most memorable of my life. 

Contrary to what some cynics would try to have you believe, rich people can have a conscience too. Just imagine if more “high-flying executives” and the “business elite” had experiences like the one described by Dr. Klenzendorf. Think about the good they might do for the environment.

Out of the 88 wealthy, influential passengers that will be on that plane, don’t you think at least some of them will be moved by the experience like Dr. Klenzendorf was in Borneo? 

I expect that an experience like that would almost certainly inspire passengers to ask themselves; “What else can I do to help?”

Plus, I could think of a lot more environmentally-damaging ways to spend $65,000. If they don’t spend it with WWF, where will they spend it?

I think it’s a bit unfair to accuse WWF of hypocrisy on this one. I reckon the WWF would view this expedition as an investment in the environment. If the WWF were to eliminate all its carbon emissions, it would cease to exist. Do you really think that the WWF could operate as effectively as it does if it didn’t use modern technology to help spread the word about the environment?

I’m hoping this expedition is a way of burning a (relatively) small amount of carbon, in order to inspire others to take positive action – the results of which will dwarf any negative impact that this expedition might bring.

You say “Hemcrete”, I say “Hempcrete”

I recently raved about the environmental benefits of hemp. I also compiled a list of various ways hemp is being used around the world. There’s no doubt to the versatility of this fiber.

One industry that is reaping the benefits of hemp is the building industry. Sustainable housing is becoming more and more important and hemp can certainly step up to the mark.

There are many applications of hemp in the building industry. It can be used for insulation, fiberboard, stucco and mortar and more. The use of hemp in the building industry has even sparked a new word – hempcrete.

What is Hempcrete?

Put simply, hempcrete is an eco-friendly alternative to concrete. It consists of a mixture of hemp, lime, sand, plaster, and cement, and can be used in the same way as concrete. Hempcrete is typically mixed on site, then sprayed on to the building frame. Hempcrete can also be used for making pipes.

Hempcrete is self insulating. It’s resistant to rotting, mice, rodents, etc. It is also fireproof, waterproof, and weather resistant.

Hempcrete actually has some pretty cool benefits over concrete too.

Benefits of Hempcrete

Hempcrete has a number of environmental benefits over concrete. It also has a number of general benefits too.

General Benefits

Here are some of the general benefits of hempcrete over concrete:

  • Stronger: Hempcrete is said to be 7 times stronger than concrete
  • Lighter: Hempcrete is about half the weight of concrete
  • Less cracking: Hempcrete is more elastic than concrete, which means it is less prone to cracking

Environmental Benefits

Using hempcrete instead of concrete can drastically reduce carbon emissions produced by our buildings.

In the UK for example, the construction and ongoing use of buildings accounts for over 50% of of carbon dioxide emissions. Studies have shown that, for each square meter of house walling, up to 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide is emitted from its construction. This works out to be around 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted for a typical house.

Hempcrete, on the other hand, can actually remove carbon dioxide from the air, and trap it within the wall construction. The producers of Tradical Hemcrete claim that it has been found to lock up around 110 kilograms of carbon dioxide per m3.

So, which is it? “Hemcrete” or “hempcrete”?

Both! Hempcrete (with a “p”) is the generic name for the product. Hemcrete (without the “p”), is a proprietary version of hempcrete. Its full name is Tradical® Hemcrete®, and it’s a registered trademark of Lime Technology in the UK.

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