Despite the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERC, EPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies. MORE
You’ll invest in reusable items that will save you money overtime.
There’s an allure to the idea of resetting. Of starting fresh. Of looking to the past as a guidepost, but knowing the future can be whatever you mold it into. It’s the reason why so many of us love New Year’s resolutions and the hope that surrounds them.
If you’re still debating what you’re going to change in your life for 2018, here’s a case for choosing to adopt a zero or less waste lifestyle, and why it’ll check off almost all of the resolutions you might be considering. MORE
Building and operating new wind energy can cost less than continuing to operate fully-depreciated conventional generation facilities
Wind energy has solidified its position as the most cost-effective source of new electricity generation, coming in now at less than one-third the price seen in 2009. The full “levelized cost” (LCOE)* for a megawatt-hour of onshore, utility-scale wind energy in the United States is now between US$29 and $56 on an unsubsidized basis, according to an authoritative analysis just released by U.S. investment firm Lazard.
Wind energy costs have dropped 69 per cent since 2009, and seven per cent just in the last year. In comparison, the key conventional energy sources of coal plants, natural gas combined cycle plants, and natural gas peaker plants have seen much more modest declines in the same period, while the LCOE of nuclear has actually increased.
Remarkably, the low-end of the wind energy cost range also falls within the range of operating costs alone for existing nuclear and coal generation. In other words, it can be less expensive to build and operate new wind generation than to continue to operate fully-depreciated conventional generation facilities. MORE
Cora Group’s new three-storey office building in Waterloo, Ont., is expected to be a template for other green office developments. Its operation results in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. JENNIFER LEWINGTON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
The project’s origins date to 2013 when Cora, with a history of clean technology in its projects, responded to an industry challenge from Sustainable Waterloo Region, a non-profit that works with local firms on climate change issues, to build an environmentally sustainable, multitenant office at market rates.
A key consideration, says SWR executive director Tova Davidson, was that the proposed office be replicable. “Creating one building does not change green building standards and organizational sustainability,” she says. “But if you can do one and it is scalable financially in a replicable model then you have a foundation to build something much bigger on.” MORE
At the end of 2016, Maersk had reduced carbon emissions by 42% per container and reduced their total amount of carbon emissions by 25%.
The world’s largest maritime shipping company has just announced that they are ditching fossil fuels in a bid for carbon neutrality – and they are challenging other companies to do the same.
According to the United Nations, oversea shipping contributes to roughly 3% of the world’s total carbon emissions while handling 90% of the world’s trading. Though phasing out fossil fuels will prove to be difficult, Danish-based shipping company Maersk plans to lead the shift towards sustainability by investing in renewable fuel sources and cleaner shipping models.
“The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonization in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon neutral fuels and supply chains,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at Maersk. MORE
CleanBC plan — probably the most comprehensive Canadian attempt to date to achieve the transition to a low carbon economy. (flickr.com)
…But in the midst of these setbacks and outright tragedies, key leaders and movements across our country fought back with great ideas and even greater energy and resolve.
Movements such as “$15 and Fairness” and #MeToo and Black Lives Matter continued, in many places, to gain ground and ensured that out-dated and damaging attitudes were confronted.
Led by great progressive mayors in cities as varied as Vancouver, Saskatoon and Montreal, municipal councils took action to help their neediest citizens, including critical expansions of affordable housing.
The governments of British Columbia and Alberta, though divided on the issue of pipelines, continued to implement ambitious plans to create jobs including with First Nations, build critical infrastructure, and protect the rights of vulnerable communities, to name but a few of their accomplishments. Right before the holidays, BC announced its widely praised CleanBC plan — probably the most comprehensive Canadian attempt to date to achieve the transition to a low carbon economy. MORE
“It’s a paradigm shift from planning the city for cars to planning for people.”
A game of tic-tac-toe is played in a pedestrian area in Oslo, Norway.Morten Brakestad
LONDON — Horns blaring, tires screeching and miles of traffic — these are the hallmarks of busy cities the world over.
But that is changing in Europe as some urban areas take steps to regulate and reduce the number of cars as they aim to improve both the environment and quality of life.
Oslo is perhaps the furthest ahead with plans to restrict private cars within a half-mile radius of its city center. It expects to eliminate all 700 of its on-street parking spaces by the end of the year and is slowly closing streets across that area to traffic. MORE
(Reuters Health) – People who live in neighborhoods with more green spaces may have less stress, healthier blood vessels and a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes than residents of communities without many outdoor recreation areas, a small study suggests.
Trees and plants frame a building in the “eco-neighbourhood”, Clichy-Batignolles, one of several new ecological housing developments with low energy use and carbon emissions, in Paris, France, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
“Both the magnitude of the effect and the pervasiveness of the influence of greenery on health are surprising,” said senior study author Aruni Bhatnagar of the University of Louisville. MORE
Spix’s macaws in captivity. They are extinct in the wild. IMAGE: PATRICK PLEUL/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES)
With the end of 2018 comes the near-certain reality that some critters, after millions of years of existence on Earth, are gone for good.
There’s little question that humanity’s continued exploitation of wild animals and the depletion of their habitats have left many species either clinging to existence, or at worst, extinct. Today’s extinctions are happening 100 to 1000 times faster than the expected, natural rate of die-offs. It’s grim. MORE
From pricing carbon to shifting diets, here’s what we need to prioritize now.
According to the Carbon Majors Database, 71 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced back to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Hitting the 1.5°C or 2°C goals means these corporations, their customers, and other large enterprises must phase out fossil fuels (more aggressively than what Shell laid out in its vision for a zero-carbon world).
Governments will also have to come up with tax schemes to generate new revenue for investment in and incentives for renewable energy, reforestation, and carbon removal technologies. And we need to vote for leaders who will deliver on them. MORE