Trans Mountain pipeline costs skyrocket

Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. File photo by The Canadian Press/Jason Franson

President and CEO Ian Anderson says the company owned by the federal government has spent $2.5 billion to date, including the impact of delays and additional regulatory processes, leaving an additional $8.4 billion needed to complete the project, plus $1.7 billion of financial carrying costs.

He says the project is now expected to be in service by December 2022.

The estimate of $7.4 billion was made in 2017 by the previous owner, Houston-based Kinder Morgan, Inc., which sold the expansion project and the existing pipeline to the federal government in 2018 for $4.5 billion.

Opponents have attacked the greenhouse gas emission and oil spill risks of the pipeline project but they’ve also charged it will be a money-loser with unproved markets in Asia that will fail financially and leave the public holding the bag.

Anderson says the company is recommending that Ottawa, as owner and lender, set aside a further $600 million reserve for cost impacts beyond the control of Trans Mountain.

Opponents of the pipeline expansion have vowed to do whatever it takes to stop the project despite losing a legal challenge before the Federal Court of Appeal earlier this week.

The four First Nations who lost the court challenge on Tuesday have 60 days to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The expansion project would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

SOURCE

LNG BC ferries don’t deliver environmental promise

This fully electric ferry, the E-Ferry Ellen in Denmark, has a 22 nautical mile range. Photograph by Erik Christensen.

BC Ferries has made a big promise. To operate the environmentally cleanest possible ferries. In the words of BC Ferries’ President and CEO, Mark Collins, “It is our privilege to operate in one of the most pristine environments in the world and it is our objective to be a leader in environmental and social governance”.

That promise is in black and white in the BC Ferries’ Clean Futures Plan, Summer 2019. But the promise and the prescribed actions don’t add up.

The Clean Futures Plan objective is to reduce GHG emissions by “continually seeking among available energy sources the cleanest, lowest carbon-intensity option that can displace non-renewable diesel”. And by that they mean liquefied natural gas (LNG).

But LNG fueled ferries result in little or no net GHG reduction.

To make the claim that “we currently have five LNG-fueled vessels in our fleet that substantially outperform diesel fueled vessels for emissions and costs” the Plan relies on a common deception that natural gas (aka fracked gas, LNG or methane) is a “clean” fossil fuel because it releases less CO2 than other fossil fuels at point of burning.

While LNG does burn cleaner than fossil fuel there are other factors that have to be considered.

The most recent research shows that LNG ferries have no climate benefit over ferries using marine diesel fuel. In fact, they are slightly worse. Mark Collins, BC Ferries CEO, states in the BC Ferries Authority’s 2018-19 Annual Report, “We have expanded the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which emits significantly lower GHGs compared to ultra low-sulphur diesel.” It would be more accurate to say that LNG is cheaper than diesel, promoted by the Province of BC and has a reputation burnished by decades of industry disinformation.

The myth of methane as a clean fossil fuel rests on several untruths. First, it counts only CO2 at point of burning, not methane itself (CH4), an extremely potent GHG.

And then there is this: methane leaks at every stage of natural gas production, storage and use. Methane is known to leak from marine engines in particular, a thing called “methane slip”.

This infrared camera of Texas gas fields shows the potential intensity of invisible methane leaks. It’s hard to measure the escape of an invisible gas but, where careful monitoring has occurred, research established years ago that natural gas is a dead end for climate stability. Methane gas is 85 times more potent than CO2 in the short term.

LNG fueled ferries result in little or no net greenhouse gas reduction. But that hasn’t stopped BC Ferries from buying them.

And in the world of GHG emissions “short term” is defined as 20 years. That short term just happens to encompass the (now) eleven year timeframe in which we will prevent – or trigger – the runaway feedback loops that threaten the fate of Earth.

BC Ferries has acquired five LNG-fueled vessels. That’s thanks to hundreds of millions of BC taxpayer dollars and the $16 million dollars chipped in by FortisBC, a subsidiary of Canada’s largest private utility company, Fortis Inc. The Fortis deal locks BC Ferries into a ten-year contract for LNG fuel with the electric and natural gas distribution utility,

The BC Liberals in 2012 put their thumb on the LNG ferry scale by passing a Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation which allows a utility (such as FortisBC) to make grants of up to $6 million to other entities toward the purchase of a natural gas vehicle (such as a ferry). Grantors can favor a person whose machine uses natural gas from the utility’s pipelines. The NDP is completely bought in to the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Which helps explain how and why FortisBC funded BC Ferries to a total of $10 million for infrastructure for the new LNG ferries and locked it into a contract to buy 13 million gigajoules of LNG. Doug Stout, FortisBC’s vice president of market development and external relations, celebrated the deal with the unsupported claim: “This abundant, made-in-BC energy source can reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 15 to 25%….”

COVERT POLLUTION: METHANE SLIP

The fundamental problem of LNG as a fuel for ferries is “methane slip” – the escape of unburned methane escapes from ferry engines. According to a report from UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, the engine model used by BC Ferries’ new LNG ferries doesn’t reliably reduce GHG emissions at all and, in fact, increases GHG emissions when production emissions are included. And that increase isn’t insignificant – from two to seven percent compared to a medium or high speed diesel engine. UBC’s result confirms earlier studies and findings by other scientists.

LNG has benefits. It can reduce oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and particulates (although running engines for reduction can result in more GHGs). It can cost less than marine diesel. It has political support. But it isn’t a climate solution. It’s not even a climate solution for ocean-going vessels on long runs because its climate benefits are so minimal and because running LNG engines for low emissions comes at a much higher operational cost.

UPSTREAM EMISSIONS CLINCH LNG CLIMATE FAILURE

LNG’s climate damage begins during production, “upstream” of the methane slip from marine engines. Methane, being lighter than air, can float away at every point between extraction and delivery in the form of fugitive emissions. It’s hard to measure the escape of an invisible gas. BC’s estimates are far out of line with those where data has been gathered from “the top down” (atmospheric concentrations in operational areas rather than estimates based on the industry’s inventories). Years ago, research established that natural gas is a dead end for climate stability in those locations where careful monitoring has occurred.

In a recent BC study, the discrepancy between industry reports and measured emissions was 30%. Based on field measurements, the David Suzuki Foundation found that 35% of inactive wells and 85% of active wells in one part of Northern BC are leaking methane. A leaked Oil and Gas Commission document showed that nearly 50 of fracked gas wells, the process of using high-pressure water drilling to release gas inside rock, were leaking methane and that up to 900 gas wells in BC could be leaking. (This estimate applies only to one portion of northeast BC where fracking companies operate.) Another escape route for methane is the venting required to maintain storage tank pressure.

Worldwide, the climate impact of this escaped methane is minimized because the International Panel on Climate Change and the Province of BC attribute a warming factor of 25 to methane for climate reporting. That number, the global warming potential (GWP) for methane, means that methane is 25 times more warming than CO2 when it is in the atmosphere. But methane’s GWP of 25 averages the warming effect of this gas over a century time frame even though methane has a much greater warming potential during the first twenty years after release – 85 times more warming than CO2. The UN warns that in the next eleven years in we will either sharply swerve away from the runaway emissions loops that will entirely change life on Earth – or trigger them. For this reason, a GWP of 85 for methane most precisely reflects the impact of methane on climate outcomes. But whether 25 or 85 is used to determine methane’s global warming potential, LNG developments are going to render impossible the goals of the CleanBC Climate Plan. Methane escape is the reason why, worldwide, natural gas is being rejected as a climate solution.

INVISIBLE FACTS: BC FERRIES PUBLICATIONS

BC Ferries doesn’t quantify or even mention methane slip in its Clean Futures Plan, website or annual reports. In response to an email inquiry, it did not explain, admit or deny the problem. It referred me back to the Plan. It’s website uses LNG trucks for comparison purposes rather than marine engines. While LNG trucks have their own overstated claims, they do not have methane slip. The LNG engines purchased by BC Ferries, 34DF Wartsila engines, do have methane slip. BC Ferries’ claim of “important climate progress” appears to rely on ignoring methane slip. If so, LNG ferries are a huge investment in climate failing infrastructure

Governments and businesses track their changes from a baseline year in which they inventory their year’s emissions. Problematically, BC Ferries won’t publish its first baseline inventory until 2021 while BC and Canada climate targets use 2005 and 2007 respectively as climate baseline years. Using 2021 will make it difficult to compare BC Ferries’ claimed reductions with the Province’s goals. At a minimum, BC Ferries should publish past ship fuel usage for each year since the 2005/2007 climate baseline years to allow others to make the necessary calculations.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE BC FERRIES?

Who made these decisions? Organizational responsibility within BC Ferries’ labyrinthine administration makes this hard to pin down. In 2002, the Liberals took an indebted Crown Corporation and transformed it into a private company which could solicit private investments. BC Ferries Services Inc. is owned by the BC Ferry Authority, which holds the single voting share and appoints its Board of Directors. The BC government holds all the preferred shares of BC Ferries Services Inc. According to Clare Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, her Ministry has no authority to direct the decisions of BC Ferries Services.

The BC Ferry Commission, an independent regulator, is tasked with protecting the public interest. For the most part, this means keeping fares down. The Commission’s mandate has recently expanded to include reducing GHG emissions under a Section of the Coastal Ferry Act which states that ferry operators are to be “encouraged” to meet provincial greenhouse gas emission targets. The Commission has veto power over capital expenditures of over $50 million for vessels and $25 million for other infrastructure. But, according to Commissioner Eva Hage, this veto power does not mean the Commission can direct what a capital project can be. This is too bad, given that BC Ferries has invested close to $400 million in vessel technology in the last five years, much of it for climate-destabilizing LNG ferries.

So, who to ask about the problem of methane slip and why it doesn’t appear in any of the BC Ferries public reports and literature?

The Coastal Ferries Act authorizes the Commission to inspect a report which is incomplete or incorrect. When I reached out for answers, Commissioner Hage suggested that I direct questions to BC Ferries Service Inc. regarding methane slip, upstream LNG emissions and GHG accounting. BC Ferries Services referred me back to its Clean Futures Plan, an incomplete and incorrect report with regard to methane slip, upstream methane emissions and GHG emissions, matters within the purview of the Commission. So, no answers, no clear accountability.

In a CBC interview, Minister Trevena noted that BC Ferries Services is on track to replicate the vessel services of the last 50 years even thought the future needs of coastal communities are likely to be quite different. In visioning meetings through the winter, she will encourage stakeholders to re-imagine the whole system. What about passenger ferries? Electric ferries? Different routes? Ferries integrated into other forms of transportation? How do we get from A to B with the lowest emissions possible? What if there was seamless public transport between Campbell River and Hope?

According to a statement from Minister Trevena’s, the results of her stakeholer consultation will be advisory: “…to provide information to help guide all parties involved in transportation planning, including the BC Ferries Commissioner, and BC Ferries shareholder, the BC Ferry Authority.”

GOING ELECTRIC

Meanwhile, BC Ferries has the capacity to service the majority of its runs with electric ferries. It’s infrastructure funding could be better used to convert short run ferries to electricity. CEO Mark Collins seems behind this curve with statements such as, “There is no standard way of connecting the ship to grid,” and “You’re talking a lot of electricity and you’re around saltwater which is conductive so you’ve got to be very careful.” By contrast, Max von Ruden, director of vessel engineering and maintenance for the Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division, has stated, “This is not new or high-risk technology.” Washington State plans to have plug in capability at every port by 2023.

The range for electric ferries is now 22 nautical miles, thanks to Denmark’s new E-Ferry EllenNorway is adding 60 electric ferries to its fleet over the next three years. Ironically, many of them will be powered by batteries manufactured by a company founded in BC. Electric ferries run in many countries, including CanadaChinaIcelandUS and Sweden.

THE CASE FOR ELECTRIC FERRIES

By 2022, BC Ferries plans to operate 6 “electric ready” ferries with hybrid diesel engines but does not plan to use onshore charging until some time in the future. This is unreasonable delay. In Scandinavia, ferries are rapidly being switched over to electricity. According to industry analysts, even a weak grid can charge batteries overnight. For example, Denmark’s E-Ferry Ellen gets fully charged overnight and topped up through the day at its home harbor in the time it takes cars to load and unload.

And it’s cost effective. The E-Ferry Ellen cost approximately 40% more than traditional vessels but fuel costs are anticipated to be 40% less. According to Siemens, on average an electric vessel will pay for itself in five and a half years. After that, it increases profitability. Another recent study puts the payback period for an electric ferry at under 7 years with operational savings of 51.3% over the diesel-electric alternative. The Pacific Northwest’s reliance on cheap hydro power improves the case.

SOMEDAY, HYDROGEN

There’s still the problem of long runs which require molecular fuel – something you can put in the tank. So far, hydrogen is the most likely zero carbon solution for industries which require a supply of energy far from the electrical grid. To make hydrogen fuel, renewable energy which would other be spilled is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Zero carbon hydrogen fuel (not to be confused with hydrogen fuel made from LNG) can be used for long range marine transport. Biofuels also show potential, but finding adequate supplies from sustainable non-food sources would be a challenge.

According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, hydrogen is the inevitable solution for “hard-to-abate” industry sectors (responsible for 40 percent of GHGs) where clean molecular energy can work in coordination with batteries. In plans to decarbonize marine industries enough to meet the Paris Accord, the Energy Transitions Commission relies on fuel cells using hydrogen and ammonia as fuel. It warns against overinvestment in LNG infrastructure because LNG cannot deliver complete decarbonization of shipping. Shell and the International Energy Agency also rely on hydrogen for decarbonizing the hard-to-abate sectors.

BC FERRIES’ FUTURE IS NOW

BC Ferries needs a plan based on data, not on gas industry disinformation. Rather than spend more taxpayer dollars on climate-harming LNG, BC Ferries could keep pace with other jurisdictions which are electrifying their ferries. In the longer term, hydrogen promises to be a truly zero carbon molecular fuel. It won’t be a long wait: it will be implemented in Norway by 2021. Scotland is assessing its feasibility as well.

But it seems BC Ferries isn’t going to let scientific fact get in the way of LNG ferry expansion. Four more LNG ferries are under consideration.

To its credit, BC Ferries has implemented efficiencies such as low friction coatings to reduce hull resistance and modifications to hulls, rudders and propellers. In the MV Tanaka, braking charges batteries that power the thrusters. It has the world’s longest cable ferry. And it acknowledges the future for most of its ferries is electric.

The promotion of LNG as a climate solution by industry, and the embrace of LNG by governments, is a form of predatory delay: these institutions don’t deny the need for change but they claim it is more prudent to invest a “cleaner” fossil fuel. But the research is in: LNG is more destructive to the climate than current marine fuels. This predatory delay has trickled down to BC Ferries’ infrastructure decisions, causing it to prioritize LNG long-run ferries over electrification of short-run ferries. This is cheap in the short term but will require an expensive retool should BC Ferries get serious about climate mitigation. When tax money and ferry fares go to infrastructure which locks in climate damage, we all fund the remedy or suffer the consequences. The Province of BC needs to get real about carbon mitigation and stop promoting LNG, a known climate-failing fuel. If we sincerely want to beat climate change, the moment for on-shore charged electric ferries is now.  SOURCE

2020 to be one of hottest years on record, Met Office says

Temperatures are expected to be more than 1.1C above pre-industrial average

A hydrologist checks cracks in the dried up municipal dam in the drought-stricken town of Graaff-Reinet, South Africa, in November 2019. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Next year is likely to be another of the hottest on record, with global temperatures forecast to be more than 1.1C above the pre-industrial average, according to estimates from the Met Office.

The forecast for 2020 is based on observations of trends over recent years that have seen a series of years more than 1C above pre-industrial levels, and bearing what meteorologists said was the “clear fingerprint” of human-induced global heating.

That trend is likely to continue in 2020, the Met Office predicted on Thursday, barring unforeseeable events such as a major volcanic eruption, which would have a cooling effect from the dust thrown into the atmosphere.

Next year is also unlikely to see a strong natural warming event, with no El Niño predicted. El Niño is the weather system in the Pacific that can result in unusually high temperatures, as it did in 1998, which until 2005 held the crown of the warmest year since records began in 1850. For years, that fuelled false claims from some quarters that climate science was wrong and global heating was not occurring.

The hottest year on record currently is 2016, when there was an El Niño effect, and the years since have all been close to the record.

“Natural events, such as El Niño-induced warming in the Pacific, influence the climate system,” said Prof Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office. “In the absence of El Niño, this forecast gives a clear picture of the strongest factor causing temperatures to rise: greenhouse gas emissions.”

If the forecast is correct, the world will come even closer to the brink of climate breakdown next year. Scientists have warned that warming of more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels would have damaging effects on the world’s climate.

The first year in which temperatures were certified to be more than 1C above the average from 1850 to 1900 was 2015, so the rate of change has been rapid. If current trends continue, we could breach the 1.5C threshold within two decades.

Greenhouse gas emissions show little sign of abating, however: research published during the UN climate talks earlier this month showed that annual carbon emissions were now 4% higher than they were in 2015, when the historic Paris agreement on climate change was signed.

The Met Office used the same methods last year to forecast 2019 temperatures, and observations this year show that temperatures tracked its central estimate closely. Its forecast for 2020 is for an increase in global average temperature of between 0.99C and 1.23C, with a central estimate of 1.11C.

Temperature rises have been uneven across the globe, with the Arctic heating far faster than the average. Greenland ice is melting seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to research. SOURCE

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Pressure on Canada to meet emission targets as CO2 levels hit record high

Image result for ctv: Pressure on Canada to meet emission targets as CO2 levels hit record high

A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

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The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high in 2018, according to new data put out Monday by the World Meteorological Organization, a revelation that casts a dim light on Canada’s current methods in battling the climate crisis.

Even more alarming, data from the United Nations-affiliated organization shows there is no sign of a slowdown in the rate of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, and that for some types, the concentration is increasing faster than ever.

 Slash emissions now or miss chance to avert climate disaster: UN

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement that the continued increase in greenhouse gases is happening “despite all the commitments” under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind,” he said.

Speaking to CTV News, WMO’s Oksana Tarasova said that their observations of the levels of greenhouse gases in 2018 showed that “carbon dioxide increased with a rate which is quite close to the 10 years average, though methane — which is the second most important … greenhouse gas – increased with a higher rate than within (the) last 10 years.”

Nitrous oxide, which she explained was the third most damaging greenhouse gas, “increased even faster than we’ve seen ever in this whole history of observations.”

CO2 is responsible for around two-thirds of the Earth’s warming. Methane is responsible for 17 per cent of warming, according to WMO, while nitrous oxide causes around 6 per cent. The last time CO2 levels were this high was “3-5 million years ago,” Taalas said in the WMO statement.

“This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems,” the statement reads.

This data comes only two weeks after Climate Transparency released a detailed analysis of which G20 countries are on track to meet their greenhouse-gas emissions targets — and Canada was one of the worst performers, assessed as unlikely to come near its targets.

Canadians have marched, chanted and demonstrated across the country, asking for more action on the part of the government to slow down the rate of devastating climate change, the effects of which we are already seeing. But so far, the policies have not followed.

The Canadian federal government has come under fire from climate activists and concerned citizens for the decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2018 and fund its expansion, even while promising to slash greenhouse-gas emissions. MORE

COP25 climate summit: what happened during the first week?

Activists were left frustrated by the lack of urgency inside negotiating rooms in Madrid


Extinction Rebellion activists stage a rally in solidarity with Amazon indigenous groups outside the COP25 summit in Madrid. Photograph: Rodrigo Jimenez/EPA

What happened in week one?

The COP25 climate talks in Madrid may have officially opened on Monday 2 December, but they only really started on Friday evening. That was when Greta Thunberg arrived to join a 500,000-strong march through the centre of Madrid, demanding that world leaders listen.

The young activist said that she, and the millions who have marched and protested around the world in the last two years, had “achieved nothing” because greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. Her stark message summed up the disjunction that scientists, campaigners and some politicians have despaired of at these talks: that the sense of urgency scientists have warned is needed, and that is felt in the outside world among those worst affected by climate breakdown, is still missing from these negotiating rooms.

Notable developments

Earlier in the week, a report on the world’s “carbon budget” revealed how far the world is from meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 0.6% last year – less than in recent years, but not enough to turn the corner. Johan Rockström, the joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “We must bend the curve [from increasing carbon to falling emissions] in the next year.”

What governments did – or didn’t – do

Meanwhile, negotiators finally managed over the weekend to put out a text on the future of carbon markets. It is only a first step and there are still major disagreements over how carbon credits should be counted and how countries’ success in meeting previous carbon targets should be allowed to count towards their future targets.

There is still no guarantee of any resolution to the disputes over carbon markets – the so-called article 6 talks, named after the section of the Paris agreement that they are aimed at clarifying. If this issue is not resolved, this technical question will hang over next year’s talks too, getting in the way of the substantive issue: the fact that by next year at the latest, countries are supposed to realign their emissions-cutting targets with scientific advice on staying within 2C (and hopefully 1.5C) of global heating above pre-industrial levels.

Chile to Madrid

These talks were supposed to take place in Chile, but were relocated after political unrest in Santiago. There are reminders everywhere that Chile is still technically the host – in the logo and signs; in the leadership of the Chilean COP president, Carolina Schmidt, at every important meeting; the conference rooms named after Chilean landmarks, rivers and natural features; and in the protests outside the conference centre by Chilean democracy and social justice campaigners, who say they are being silenced and ignored.

Blue COP

Oceans campaigners have also struggled to be heard at these talks, which were meant to highlight the plight of the oceans and the vital but often overlooked part they play in the Earth’s climate. The key message from campaigners is that protecting marine life – stopping overfishing, stemming the plastic tide of pollution and the flow of fertilisers and chemicals that is suffocating fish – is not just vital to biodiversity, and healthy fisheries for the more than 1 billion people who depend on the oceans, but also to regulate the climate. Healthy oceans absorb carbon and provide a buffer against climate chaos, so damage to them is damage to the climate, and vice versa.

Campaigners took advantage of the move to Madrid by drawing some of the Spanish capital’s cultural icons into the climate fight. The Prado art gallery, in conjunction with WWF, has updated some of its most famous paintings to show how they might reflect a warming world, with Goya now depicting climate refugees and a Velázquez painting of Felipe IV showing the Spanish king up to his horse’s neck in flood water. Which makes participants wonder what other Spanish artists might have made of the talks. The tortured technicalities of article 6 would test the skills of a Picasso – though the surrealism of Dalí might be more appropriate. Melting watches could stand for how negotiating time seems to have stopped, while poles and glaciers liquefy.

What to expect in week two

Youth has taken over for the start of the second week, with activists making their presence felt at the conference centre on Monday, fresh from the weekend’s marches and protests.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, environment ministers and finance ministers will arrive to give directions for their officials, meaning the “high-level segment” of the talks can start and with it the actual decision-making needed to give these talks a concrete outcome, in the form of resolutions on key issues.

The EU is also expected to galvanise the talks with its green new deal proposals from the European commission on Wednesday. In normal circumstances the UK, as the host of next year’s COP, which marks the deadline for countries to update their Paris commitments, would be expected to play a key role here. But the its delegation has been hobbled by the general election, which means officials and the next COP president, the former UK climate minister Claire Perry O’Neill, are in purdah and cannot speak on the record. Perhaps by Friday, when the UK’s votes have been counted, there may be some much-needed clarity. SOURCE

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COP25 to Be the Launchpad for Significantly more Climate Ambition

Bonn/ Madrid, 29 November 2019 – As the global climate emergency intensifies and greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, governments will gather in Madrid for the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 (2 to 13 December 2019) to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process.

The conference will take place under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and will be held with logistical support from the Government of Spain.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change said: “This year, we have seen accelerating climate change impacts, including increased droughts, storms and heat waves, with dire consequences for poverty eradication, human health, migration and inequality.

“The world’s small window of opportunity to address climate change is closing rapidly. We must urgently deploy all the tools of multilateral cooperation to make COP25 the launchpad for more climate ambition to put the world on a transformational path towards low carbon and resilience,” she said.

A key objective of COP25 is to raise overall ambition also by completing several key aspects with respect to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Last year at COP24 in Poland, the bulk of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement were agreed, with the exception of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Article 6 is to provide guidelines for how international climate markets will work, as a key component of the world’s economic toolbox for addressing climate change.

Other focus areas at COP25 will include adaptation, loss and damage, transparency, finance, capacity-building, Indigenous issues, oceans, forestry, gender and more.

Notably, the provision of finance and technology is crucial for developing countries to green their economies and build resilience.

“While we have seen some progress with respect to climate-related financing for developing countries, we will continue to urge developed nations to fulfil their pledge of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020,” Ms. Espinosa said. “We also must see overall global finance flows reflect the deep transformation throughout society that we need: away from carbon-heavy investment and towards more sustainable and resilient growth. Drops in the bucket are not enough: we need a sea change.”

COP25 to  Set the Stage for Enhanced NDCs

In 2020, nations are to submit new or updated national climate action plans, referred to as Nationally-Determined Contributions, or “NDCs”.

According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2019 Emission Gap Report published this week, unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

This means collective ambition would need to increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade for the 1.5°C goal.

“Current NDCs remain inadequate,” said Executive Secretary Espinosa. “If we stay on our current trajectory, it’s estimated that  global temperatures could more than double by the end of this century. This will have enormous negative consequences for humanity and threaten our existence on this planet. We need an immediate and urgent change in trajectory.

It’s achievable, but to stabilize global temperature rise by 1.5 Celsius by the end of this century, we need to reduce emissions 45 per cent by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. It’s an extremely difficult challenge, but meeting it is absolutely necessary to the health, safety and security of everyone on this planet—both in the short- and long-term.”

With regard to raising ambition, COP25 will be informed by the outcomes of the Climate Summit in New York in September and Climate Weeks in Africa, Asia and Latin America co-organized by UN Climate Change this year.

“At these key events, we saw an enormous groundswell of action, with many contributions from governments and  non-Party stakeholders, including regions, cities, businesses and investors. Their contributions are crucial to drive the transformation we need, said Executive Secretary Espinosa.

At the New York Climate Summit, Chile launched a Climate Ambition Alliance that brings together nations upscaling action by 2020, as well as those working towards achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

MORE

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Yes, electric vehicles really are better than fossil fuel burners

Hans-Werner Sinn’s opinion piece on whether electric cars are as climate friendly as they seem generated a good deal of controversy. William Todts, executive director of Transport & Environment, gives his response. William Todts


 ‘If we want to halt global warming we need vehicles that don’t burn stuff.’ Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hans-Werner Sinn is quite the character. This German economics professor’s writings range from the Greek crisis to migration, to German energy policy.

Recently he has discovered a new passion: electric vehicles. Back in April Sinn published a paper claiming electric cars were worse than diesel. The study was roundly criticised for being misleading. Even Germany’s largest carmaker VW felt compelled to publicly contradict the report days after its publication, giving a rare glimpse of its own lifecycle analysis based on company-specific data that shows Volkswagen EVs are better than their diesels.

Yet rather than backing down, Sinn’s now back at it in an article published by the Guardian. Rather than forcing carmakers to invest in clean technology – the EU’s current policy – Sinn proposes introducing a big fuel tax on car drivers which he believes would be more effective than forcing German carmakers to go electric.

But this isn’t about Sinn. In fact, whenever you read a newspaper article claiming EVs are worse than diesel or petrol cars, that article will be based on a report that deliberately makes EVs look worse than they are.

Usually the plot is as follows: a smaller petrol or diesel car is compared with a bigger, more powerful electric car; then the fossil fuel car is assumed to be as efficient as the EU’s official tests portray (in reality its fuel economy is always a lot worse); and finally the electric car is driving in a region with a very dirty electricity mix. Then you assume very high emissions for battery production based on outdated studies and finally you pretend electric cars don’t last very long and that its batteries aren’t reused or recycled.

There will always be a new study with some flawed assumptions to keep us all busy and we could rebut these until we all drop. The advantage for the oil and diesel industry is that articles and reports, however poor, keep the controversy alive. Discrediting or distorting science is a political strategy, as Naomi Oreskes chronicles so well in Merchants of Doubt.

So let’s skip the detailed rebuttal and just look at some basic facts. Every year we burn around 275m tonnes of petroleum and diesel in cars, vans and trucks in the EU alone. Petrol and diesel vehicles are hugely inefficient. Around 70% of the energy that goes into a car engine is wasted. Oil that is burned cannot be recovered, reused or recycled. Oil cannot be made clean. Actually, thanks to the rise of unconventional oil, it is getting dirtier.

So if we want to halt global warming we need vehicles that don’t burn stuff. That’s the unique appeal of electric cars, trains and buses. They’re ultra-efficient and have no tailpipe emissions. And yes, of course, we’ll need clean electricity to run the vehicles and to produce the cars and batteries.

But we know how to make power clean and we’re making rapid progress towards exactly that. The UK has almost got rid of coalGermany is phasing it out, and even in Poland and Trump’s America, coal is in decline. Meanwhile clean wind and solar power are on the rise. By 2030 half of the EU’s electricity will come from renewables driven by renewable electricity mandates and the increasingly robust EU carbon pricing scheme.

The rise of electric cars and green power are some of the biggest climate success stories of the past few years. It is the result of regulators in Europe, California and China doing their job and industry rising to the occasion. It shows what we can achieve if we set industry ambitious goals to clean up its act.

That might not please some but it is fair, effective and, for the climate, unequivocally a good thing. As the Nobel prize committee eloquently put it: “Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised our lives since they first entered the market in 1991. They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind.” SOURCE

 

As electric vehicles age, here’s how the batteries are finding a second life

With EV sales projected to hit 130 million by 2030, the industry faces a potential battery waste problem


Reusing and recycling the batteries in electric vehicles further reduces the carbon footprint of the cars, touted as a key solution to climate change. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In his pursuit to completely get off fossil fuels, David Elderton has switched anything with a motor — from his car to his chainsaws — over to battery power.

Even the three-bedroom home he shares with his partner on B.C.’s Salt Spring Island is powered, in part, by a battery from a wrecked Tesla Model S he bought last year; it charges via solar panels mounted on his shed.

The size of two large coolers side by side, he says the battery can keep the lights on for up to five days with conservative power use, and about a day when almost everything is running.

Elderton is part of a community of do-it-yourself electricians offering the batteries from totalled or end-of-life electric vehicles a second life.

“It’s a good feeling not to be buying gas anymore,” he told Day 6.


David Elderton has fitted his woodshed with an array of solar panels, which charge the Tesla battery he has connected to his house. They also feed electricity back into British Columbia’s electrical grid. (David Elderton)

A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature found while the electric vehicle “revolution” is crucial to a greener future, it presents a battery waste management problem that should be quickly addressed.

The authors estimate the one million electric vehicles (EV) sold in 2017 carry a collective 250,000 tonnes — or 500,000 cubic metres — of battery.

With the International Energy Agency forecasting more than 130 million electric vehicles on roadways worldwide by 2030, manufacturers and startups are looking ahead to keep EV batteries from the landfill through second-life use and recycling.

Research shows that while an electric vehicle will produce fewer carbon emissions compared to a fossil fuel-powered car over its lifetime, building them is energy intensive.

Manufacturing one electric vehicle battery is equivalent to about one year of emissions from a fossil fuel-powered car, according to Olivier Trescases, who heads the University of Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Research Centre.


Based on the typical driver’s annual driving distance, the battery in an electric vehicle could see a 20 per cent reduction after about 150,000 km. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

Reusing and recycling the batteries further reduces the carbon footprint of the personal vehicles, he said, which are touted as a key solution to climate change.

“There’s a cycle that’s envisioned and it’s already starting to happen.”

A second life

Like a cellphone battery, electric vehicle batteries lose capacity as they are charged and discharged. That means less range and more frequent charging — but not that it’s necessarily ready for the dump.

“Once the battery degrades to, let’s say 20 per cent below its nominal capacity, then you can actually use it, repurpose it for stationary applications,” said Trescases. “Then finally [move to] recycling and repurposing.”

This year, Nissan began powering streetlights in Japan and a stadium in the Netherlands with customers’ used batteries. In 2015, General Motors took on a similar project at their data centre in Michigan.

A computer monitors the voltage and health of Elderton’s second-life battery project. Fully charged, the battery holds about 20 kilowatt hours of electricity. (David Elderton)

A computer monitors the voltage and health of Elderton’s second-life battery project. Fully charged, the battery holds about 20 kilowatt hours of electricity. (David Elderton)

But DIY builders have used the older batteries in their homes as makeshift powerwalls.

“There [are] people who are trying to save money on their power bill. There are people who are living off-grid, whether it be in a house or a cabin or maybe an RV,” Elderton said.

“I think there’s just something about batteries that is fascinating and people like to play around with them.”

Particularly crafty do-it-yourselfers have even fitted sailboats and classic cars with electric motors for a silent ride.

Repurposing an electric vehicle battery at home can be risky. The battery packs hold a lot of energy, and when damaged, lithium-ion batteries can explode.


(Ben Shannon/CBC)

But researchers suggest that second-life solutions are preferable to direct recycling.

Given how valuable batteries could be for stationary storage, Trescases suggests that, in the future, electric vehicles batteries could be built with repurposing in mind as a standard feature.

“What makes that the most compelling is when you design the battery from the get-go to actually make a seamless transition from the first life in the car to second life in stationary,” he said.

According to Jessika Trancik, an energy systems researcher at MIT, second-life solutions and recycling of the battery packs could also be a key element in eliminating one of the main barriers to EV adoption: Sticker shock.

“Finding either a way to capture the value in the metals in the battery through recycling or … finding valuable second-life applications can reduce the upfront cost of electric vehicles,” she said.

As electric vehicles age, here’s how the batteries are finding a second life  A study published in the journal Nature finds that while the EV “revolution” is crucial to a greener future, it presents a battery waste management problem. Manufacturers, startups — and everyday Canadians — are already looking ahead. 9:24

Recycling companies emerge

Established companies and startups are already gearing up for what they say is an oncoming onslaught of spent batteries from the first commercially available electric vehicles, which are expected to reach end of life by 2025.

According to Kunal Phalpher, chief commercial officer for Li-Cycle, a battery recycling startup in Mississauga, Ont., vehicle manufacturers want to do the right thing when it comes to disposing batteries.

“I would say that it’s really more rare that the battery ends up in the wrong place from the EV space than say portable electronics,” he said, pointing to e-waste from devices like cellphones and laptops that may end up forgotten in a drawer or thrown in the garbage.


In Canada, charging an EV emits less carbon dioxide than burning a tank of gas because electricity is generated mostly by carbon-free sources. ‘Simply by switching to an electric vehicle, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions from driving by 40 per cent or more,’ said Jessika Trancik. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A handful of Canadian companies, including Li-Cycle, say they have developed processes that can mine the valuable — and finite — materials that might otherwise remain locked in depleted lithium-ion batteries.

“The process that we’ve been developing is able to produce raw material — very pure, so battery-grade material — that we can ship back directly for people that are producing batteries,” said Samuel Fournier, head of business development at Montreal-based Lithion Recycling.

Both Li-Cycle and Lithion use a process called hydrometallurgy; after the batteries are mechanically dismantled, solvents are used to separate the essential minerals and metals.

Li-Cycle says their process can recover 80 to 100 per cent of materials, and Lithion claims 95 per cent.


(Ben Shannon/CBC)

Currently, battery recycling often takes place in China and South Korea and, as this week’s Nature study notes, stockpiling or shipping batteries has its own set of environmental concerns.

Fournier says Lithion hopes to open small-scale plants that will be able to recycle batteries locally, reducing the need for shipping and cutting down on carbon emissions.

“We treat this a bit as urban mining,” he said, adding their first pilot plant is expected to open in Montreal early next year.

By using recycled materials, Phalpher says automakers will be able to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

“People are looking at … the CO2 footprint of the complete life cycle of the car,” he said. “Having recycled raw material in their supply chain will significantly benefit them.” SOURCE

30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

The international community has collaboratively crusaded to quickly reach peak global greenhouse gas emissions. By doing so, they hope to alleviate worldwide temperature rise and related climate disasters. A recent report confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities — all members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — have completed their peak greenhouse gas emission milestones.

What does it mean when a country or city “peaks” its greenhouse gas emissions? As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, first enacted in 2016, countries across the globe — and their respective cities, some of which are members of the C40 — have agreed to decrease global warming by keeping the collective planet-wide temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. To ensure this, the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have set goals to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. When a country’s emissions levels have reversed substantially, they are described as having “peaked” at last, so they are now capable of industrially operating at emissions levels far below their “peak” point.

Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), “peaking” really began even before the Paris Agreement was established. For instance, by 1990, 19 countries were documented to have peaked their greenhouse gas emission levels. By 2000, an additional 14 countries reached their critical milestones. A decade later, in 2010, 16 more countries joined the list of countries that have peaked, including the United States and Canada, which both peaked in 2007.

Meanwhile, in 2005, the multinational organization now known as C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40 for short, was founded when representatives from 18 mega-cities cooperatively forged an agreement to address widespread pollution and climate change. The group began with 18 cities and has grown significantly since then. Interestingly, the C40, on its 10th anniversary back in 2015, was instrumental in shaping the Paris Agreement prior to its 2016 ratification.

Now, ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit, a new analysis just revealed that 30 of the world’s largest and most influential cities — all members of C40 — have each achieved their respective peak greenhouse gas emissions goals. The 30 cities include Athens, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Warsaw and Washington, D.C.

The C40 analysis further disclosed that these 30 influential cities have helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22 percent, which is encouraging.

“The C40 cities that have reached peak emissions are raising the bar for climate ambition, and, at the same time, exemplifying how climate action creates healthier, more equitable and resilient communities,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities.

To further its endeavors, C40 has launched the C40 Knowledge Hub. It is an online platform dedicated to informing and inspiring policies to ramp up global climate initiatives that can encourage even more sustainable changes to protect the planet.  SOURCE

What’s driving California’s emissions? You guessed it: Cars.

California received plenty of praise back in 2016 when it hit its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions four years ahead of time. But the Golden State’s progress has slowed, according to a report out Tuesday from a nonpartisan research center. California is now on track to hit its 2030 goal in 2061. Three whole decades late.

The biggest problem: California’s beloved cars.

“This is a sobering report,” said F. Noel Perry, a California investor who founded the center behind the report, Next 10. “We are at a very important point: California is going to need major policy breakthroughs and deep structural changes if we’re going to meet our climate goals.”

What happened? Over the last three years, California has reduced emissions at a rate of only 1.15 percent. At that pace, it would take a century for the state to zero-out carbon emissions. But a law ex-Governor Jerry Brown signed in 2016, requires the state to reach zero emissions by 2050. Since falling behind, the state would need to step up emissions reductions to 4.51 percent every year, according to the report.

Next 10

Next 10’s report, the California Green Innovation Index, shows that the state has plucked most of the low-hanging fruit, mainly by cleaning up electricity production. California’s next challenge is the tougher job of eliminating climate pollutants from transportation, industry, and homes, and offices. And, yes, all of those cars.

Passenger vehicles alone produce nearly a third of California’s emissions, more than all of the electric plants, livestock, and oil refineries in the state put together. Vehicle ownership has reached an all-time high, as has the total miles that Californians are driving. Moreover, “even in climate conscious California we’ve seen a consumer preference shift to favor SUVs and light trucks,” said Adam Fowler of Beacon Economics, which prepared this report for Next 10.

Next 10

Since early 2017, more than half the new passenger vehicles Californians bought were SUVs and trucks.

Another big, related problem is housing. California’s economy is booming, but cities haven’t built the homes needed by all the new workers. That’s forcing more people into suburbs far from public transportation. The report found that the percentage of people choosing public transit “declined substantially throughout most of California between 2008 and 2018.” Failure to build housing is doubly bad because new buildings are much more efficient in terms of insulation,climate control, and energy efficiency. Every new home even gets solar panels.

“This is one of the gnarliest challenges,” Perry said. “How do we reduce commute times and how do we build denser housing?”

It’s not all bad news. California continues to prove it’s possible to cut carbon emissions while the economy expands. From 2016 to 2017, California’s economy per capita grew 3.1 percent while each person’s emissions decreased.

And the authors said that the state still deserves a lot of credit. “California policies have made appliances more efficient, renewable energy cheaper, and given cars better gas mileage all across the country,” Perry said.