Weekly Round-Up: Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

Energy efficiency and climate change are often discussed, and are important topics today.  Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are the fastest growing fuel sources.  But, the burning of fossil fuels will continue to be the largest source of energy powering the US and world economies for the foreseeable future.  The extraction of these fuels, as well as the thermodynamic forces used to convert fossil fuels into energy and mobility, also emit various emissions from particulates to methane and CO2.   Thousands of scientists have dedicated their careers studying the impact these emissions are having and could have on the world’s climate. 

Below are some recent articles regarding energy efficiency and climate change that we feel could be of use our customers and consumers.

Energy Efficiency

Office Energy Use. According to You Sustain, an average US office with 50 staff members emits around 530 tons of carbon dioxide yearly as the result of electricity and gas consumption, employees’ travel, water use and waste generation. This is equivalent to the energy use of an average American household for 41 years.

Energy Efficiency Grants and Incentives. Many cities, counties and state agencies offer rebates, grants and incentives to businesses and individuals to purchase and use energy efficient appliances and equipment. A comprehensive list (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) can be found online.

Your energy saving checklist by Dr. Paul Swift: Here’s a checklist of the top 6 things you need to do to stop wasting money on energy: 1. Check your figures – know how much you’re really using every month.  Speak to your energy supplier about getting a smart meter. Check you’re not using more than you should against sector benchmarks. 2. Take a walk around your premises – find out what equipment uses the most energy. Note the wattage of all of your equipment. 3. Get your timing right – only use energy when you need to. 4. Kit yourself out – invest in energy saving equipment. 5. Get employees on board; 6. Keep warm – stop heat escaping.

How Energy Star for Homes WorksWhat is your home telling you? Take the whole house approach to learn how the systems in your home can work together to provide the most comfortable, efficient living space.   With expert help from Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, you’ll get the home you deserve.

Climate Change

Seven Climate Change Records Broken In 2016.  1. String of Storms shatter statistical milestones. 2. Species Wiped Out – The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal wiped out by climate change. 3. Carbon Dioxide levels reach record high yearly minimum – In September, carbon dioxide in our atmosphere stayed above the 400ppm mark, and according to scientists, we may never see it dip back below this number in our lifetimes. 4. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than ever. 5. Warmest August on record. 6. 2016 Could be the warmest year ever. 7. One record to be proud of: The solar industry is soaring in 2016.

Shocking footage reveals Antarctic ice shelf crack is now wider than the Empire State Building as scientists warn it is ‘close’ to calving off and creating a giant iceberg –  Shocking new footage has revealed just how close a massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, is ‘close’ to falling off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and creating a huge iceberg. Experts are concerned the huge calving event, which would create an iceberg with an area of more than 5,000 km², roughly the size of Delaware or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable. This, they warn, could contribute dramatically to sea level rise.

iceberg calving

The massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, would create an iceberg with an area roughly the size of Delare or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable, scientists fear.

Weekly Round-Up: A Focus on Deforestation

Each week we’ll provide you with a round-up of news, information and happenings on a different topic effecting the environment including deforestation, climate change, sustainability, water stewardship, recycling and more.

This week, we’re focusing on Deforestation. World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that, 30% of global forest cover has been cleared, another 20% has been degraded. Most of the rest has been fragmented, leaving only about 15% intact.

The Round-Up

Plant trees while you search the web – Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees with its ad revenue. Share Ecosia and show friends how they can do good just by searching the web. https://info.ecosia.org/what

Deforestation rises with incomes in developing economies – by John C. Cannon – Economists have for the first time shown a definitive link between rising incomes and a corresponding uptick in deforestation using satellite mapping data. For a long time, economists have assumed that this more-or-less predictable pattern exists in developing economies, but it’s been difficult to prove. “Until now, nobody had found a way of testing it empirically in a convincing way,” said Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, an economist at the International Institute for Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The researchers also expected that reforestation would occur in richer countries as income levels rose, but their research did not bear that out. https://news.mongabay.com/2017/01/deforestation-rises-with-incomes-in-developing-economies/

Ceres and the PRI Join Forces to Tackle Tropical Deforestation – Ceres and the PRI announced a new partnership to tackle widespread, global deforestation driven by escalating production of beef, soy and timber, focusing initially on South America.  Through a new, joint investor group, the two organizations will support global institutional investors pressing food and timber companies to eliminate deforestation and other related concerns, including forced labor and land rights disputes from their supply chains. The announcement was made at an investor event at the United Nations climate negotiations in Morocco, formally called the Conference of the Parties, or COP22. Deforestation is a key topic at COP22, with an estimated 12 million hectares of forest being destroyed annually from human activity, or the equivalent to 36 U.S. football fields every minute. Cutting down forests releases carbon into the atmosphere, and an estimated 10 to 15 percent of global carbon emissions are produced annually from global deforestation, largely for agricultural and timber production. “Beyond the enormous environmental impacts of biodiversity loss, climate change and eroded landscapes that are less climate-resilient, deforestation poses real financial risks to investors with agribusinesses in their portfolios,” said Dawn M. Martin, who spoke at the event and is the chief operating officer of Ceres, which coordinates the $15 trillion Investor Network on Climate Risk. “Working collaboratively will enable Ceres and PRI to achieve far greater impact at stemming deforestation than each of our organizations could achieve alone.” Among the activities planned by the new global investor group over the next two years: Map and develop a set of indicators for evaluating beef, soy and timber companies’ sourcing policies and their impact on deforestation (e.g., traceability, sustainability goals and policies, transparency, adherence to certification schemes); Benchmark 50 to 60 companies in the beef, soy, and timber industries against the indicators. Based on benchmarking results, engage with low-scoring companies (including through shareholder resolutions) to press them to adopt sustainable sourcing policies. Engage in public policy advocacy at the national and international levels. http://3blmedia.com/News/Ceres-and-PRI-Join-Forces-Tackle-Tropical-Deforestation

Deforestation Free Funds is a search platform that enables people to find out if their money, in the form of individual investments or an employer-provided 401(k), may be causing tropical deforestation through investment in companies that produce, consume, or finance palm oil – the fastest growing cause of rainforest destruction today. Some companies are making real efforts to reduce the harm that this industry causes – and the goal of Deforestation Free Funds is to help make this happen. By driving transparency in the industry’s financing, we hope to encourage policies and practices that bring about real change. https://www.deforestationfreefunds.org/faq#about

The New York Declaration on Forests – is a non-legally binding political declaration that grew out of dialogue among governments, companies and civil society, spurred by the UN Secretary- General’s Climate Summit. For the first time, world leaders endorse a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030. It also calls for restoring forests and croplands of an area larger than India. Meeting these goals would cut between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon pollution every year – about as much as the current emissions of the United States. The Declaration is endorsed by dozens of governments, [30] of the world’s biggest companies, and [more than 50] influential civil society and indigenous organizations. The associated voluntary Action Agenda (section 2) serves as a guide to governments, companies, and organizations regarding the diverse set of actions that can achieve these transformational goals. http://forestdeclaration.org/summary/