Post-Brexit, the U.K. and Canada can fuel global sustainability

 

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A “circular economy” is one that avoids waste and instead innovatively reuses or regenerates end products. That’s in contrast to today’s largely “linear” economy, in which products are dumped as waste after we’re finished with them — losing value and damaging our environment.

With a circular economy, new business models generate value from end products and even turn those products into services, such as the phenomenon known as car-as-a-service, which minimizes negative impacts on the environment and people. A circular model relies on renewable energy, and an emphasis on human well-being has been incorporated into the concept.

The main message of our research is that Canada and the U.K. could jointly start a global race to the top through a trade agreement that incorporates circular economy principles.  MORE

Canada needs its own Green New Deal

A rechristened GM Canada would design vehicles for Canadians, and devise winning vehicles for niche markets worldwide.
A rechristened GM Canada would design vehicles for Canadians, and devise winning vehicles for niche markets worldwide.  (STEVE RUSSELL  / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)

Toronto Star columnist David Olive suggested that the Oshawa plant be nationalized and turned into a “truly Canadian automaker.” Imagine if this was done in the context of a Green New Deal.

The plant could become a development and production facility for zero-emission transit technology. It could prioritize hiring people from disadvantaged groups. It could operate as a workers’ cooperative.

Of course, concerns exist about the cost of ambitious plans to deal with climate change. However, among the supporters of a Green New Deal is economist Stephanie Kelton, a proponent of modern monetary theory. She argues that barrier to a Green New Deal is not affordability, but political ignorance.

[Canada] can fund training for unemployed oil workers. It can nationalize the Oshawa auto plant. It can develop sustainable energy technology. It can connect remote communities through low-emission transportation options. MORE

Unlocking the potential of microbiomes in food production systems: SIMBA project

636821092798918338sustainablefood.jpgA new project funded by the EU is set to explore the potential of exploiting microorganisms in plants and animals to improve food security and promote sustainable food production.

The project, SIMBA (Sustainable Innovation of Microbiome Applications in Food System), aims to tackle the growing challenge of supplying food to a growing global population amid the climate change crisis, through innovative activities around food systems using microorganisms….

At the recent meeting in Helsinki in mid-December, SIMBA Project Coordinator and Principal Scientist Anne Pihlanto from LUKE, Natural Resources Institute Finland, said: “Recent research has indicated the huge impact microbiomes have on our lives. This makes SIMBA a very exciting project to be involved in. The project will have far-reaching impacts, not only contributing to improved food security, but the development of sustainable diets and novel fermented products are also expected to function as a cure for type 2 diabetes potentially.” MORE

 

 

Norway’s electric cars zip to new record: almost a third of all sales

In a bid to cut emissions, Norway exempts battery-driven cars from most taxes and offers free parking and charging points

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Electric cars are parked in Oslo, Norway January 1, 2019. Picture taken January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

The independent Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said on Wednesday that electric cars rose to 31.2 percent of all sales last year, from 20.8 percent in 2017 and just 5.5 percent in 2013, while sales of petrol and diesel cars plunged.

“It was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” by which time Norway’s parliament wants all new cars to be emissions-free, Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the NRF, told a conference.

Still, he cautioned that there was a long way to go since two-thirds of almost 148,000 cars sold in 2018 in Norway were powered by fossil fuel or were hybrids, which have both battery power and an internal combustion engine.  MORE  See graphic Electric Cars in Norway

New Congress Members See Climate Solutions and Jobs in a Green New Deal

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement and other outspoken supporters want to avoid what they see as a fatal misstep of past climate efforts: setting the bar too low.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has led the push for a Green New Deal along with the youth-filled Sunrise Movement. Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was being sworn in on Jan. 3 with the new Congress, has led the push for a Green New Deal along with the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist movement that formed shortly after Donald Trump’s election. Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The idea that climate action must be bound up in the drive for economic justice is at least as old as the pledges nations made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. But young U.S. activists have supercharged that concept in the campaign for a Green New Deal, hoping to blow past political barriers that have thwarted more timid proposals of the past.

“This is going to be the Great Society, the moon shot, the Civil Rights Movement of our generation,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the 29-year-old freshman lawmaker who has helped force the Green New Deal into the political spotlight. MORE

A Clean Energy Revolution Is Rising in the Midwest, with Utilities in the Vanguard

Xcel is leading the pack, with a pledge to go 100% zero carbon by 2050. Other major electricity providers are trading coal for wind and solar sooner than planned.

Xcel Energy's Rush Creek Wind Farm mixes renewable energy and agriculture. Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty
This was a fulcrum year for the clean-energy transition in the Midwest as Xcel announced plans to go zero carbon and other utilities said they would shut down coal-fired power plants early. Credit: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Even with all the evidence that renewable energy has become less expensive than fossil fuels, it doesn’t seem real until utilities start to stake their futures on it.

For some Midwestern utilities, 2018 is the year that happened.

“It’s a matter of environmental value and economic justification.”

Xcel Energy of Minnesota in early December said it would go to zero carbon emissions throughout its eight-state territory by 2050, the first major utility to do so. MORE

Oslo starts 2019 as Europe’s eco capital

The Norwegian capital plans to cut emissions by 95 percent by 2030, despite being one of Europe’s fastest growing cities. As European Green Capital 2019, it hopes to set an example for others.

Oslo - Stadtzentrum mit Tram (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/G. Yaari)

Oslo’s waterfront was once a mass of shipping containers and a vast intersection jammed with cars pumping out fumes.

Today, traffic is diverted through an underwater tunnel, and much of it is made up of electric or hybrid cars. Above, the scene is becoming dominated by a new Edvard Munch art museum and central library — both due to open in 2020.

The new development has impressive environmental as well as cultural credentials, with all new buildings meeting energy efficiency standards for low energy use, explains Anita Lindahl Trosdahl, project manager for Oslo’s Green Capital year. MORE

Commentary: Climate change? You’re not powerless.

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What is the best antidote to feeling powerless about anything? Start doing something. Here are the steps I took to begin making a difference and being able to sleep at night.

1. Read, listen and understand. Become climate change literate. What is it exactly and how does it work? There is a wealth of information out there. One of the best sites is citizensclimatelobby.org. These people know how to make a complex issue understandable.

Now, make it personal. How is climate change affecting your region (agriculture, tourism, transportation, energy, economy). How does it affect your areas of interest (fly fishing, mountain biking, wildlife diversity, or skiing)? What do future forecasts and modeling predict for your area? Brace yourself; a bit of mental fortitude is helpful here for the somber news.

2. Get involved using your special superpower! (You know you have one.) Given your unique talents, networks and skill-set, how can you contribute/advance climate change solutions? MORE

Horizon scanning: Nine innovations set to shake-up sustainability in 2019

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Over the past 12 months, countless innovations which could help businesses and nations deliveron resource and carbon commitments have emerged. Here, edie rounds up nine key products and concepts that could transform sustainability in 2019. MORE

 

 

Your meals are speeding up climate change, but there’s a way to eat sustainably

5 tips for trimming your culinary carbon footprint that don’t involve going vegan

Your supper last night may have generated as many greenhouse gas emissions as driving to the next town in your car. At best, it was probably the equivalent of a couple of kilometres.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to eat more sustainably. Science shows there are lots of ways to reduce your dietary carbon footprint without going vegan — or even giving up any foods you enjoy.

Bonus: They’ll probably save you money, too. MORE