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- Job Openings: The Water Institute of the Gulf
The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent applied research institute dedicated to providing advanced understanding and technical expertise to support management of coastal, deltaic and water systems, within Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and around the world. Its mission supports the practical application of innovative science and engineering, providing solutions that benefit society.
Interested in working for the Water Institute? Good news, they are currently hiring for the following positions. Click on each position for more information on job duties and instructions on applying.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 30, 2015 - 5:16 pm
- Latest Mississippi River Delta News: November 30, 2015
Tons of recycled oyster shells from New Orleans area restaurants could help protect the coast
*features Kim Reyher, CRCL
By Amy Wold, The Advocate. November 25, 2015
"Restaurant workers and oil company employees rolled up their sleeves one day last week and shoveled ton after ton of oyster shells into bags as part of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s oyster shell recycling program.” (Read More)
Private companies restoring wetlands in Plaquemines Parish are employing mitigation bank process
By Amy Wold, The Advocate. November 25, 2015
"A private wetlands creation project in Plaquemines Parish, with the size and complexity of state-built coastal restoration work, expects to take advantage of a mitigation bank to bring back wetlands near the Mississippi River and make a profit at the same time.” (Read More)
Culinary institute, restaurants using oyster shells for coastal restorationRead more »
*features Jimmy Frederick, CRCL
By Elizabeth Barrouquere, Houma Courier. November 27, 2015
"Spearheading the project is the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, which started the oyster shell recycling program in June 2014. In what the Baton Rouge-based nonprofit hopes is the first of many similar projects, the coalition plans to introduce 800 tons of bagged shell in spring or summer to the waters of Lake Athanasio off St. Bernard Parish. The lake is part of the Biloxi Swamp, where high-energy waves have severely eroded the land, CRCL spokesman Jimmy Frederick said.” (Read More)Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 30, 2015 - 4:50 pm
- Countries at COP 21 substantially increase funding for reducing emissions from deforestation & land useRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 30, 2015 - 5:00 am
- How carbon markets are driving deeper, faster pollution cuts in Paris climate pledges
By Alex Hanafi
With only a few days before nations meet in Paris to negotiate an inclusive post-2020 structure for global climate cooperation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we already know that the world will be entering a new paradigm of climate action, in which all nations play a role in the collective fight against climate change.
We also know that while the emissions reductions pledged for 2025 or 2030 by over 170 countries over the course of this year are significant, aggressive additional action well beyond 2030 will be necessary to meet the internationally agreed goal of limiting global average atmospheric warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That goal is the upper limit agreed by the international community, at a level that scientists believe would likely avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Because the Paris pledges mark only the beginning of a new era of climate cooperation, it is imperative that an effective international climate agreement promotes greater and greater ambition as it matures. A successful Paris agreement can thus set the stage for the world to turn the corner on global emissions.
Even before they arrive in Paris, countries have started identifying effective tools that can be used to accelerate ambition over time, so that the UNFCCC’s objective – to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” – can be met.
Emissions trading systems allow countries to be more ambitious, by channeling capital and entrepreneurial effort into finding the fastest and cheapest ways to cut emissions.
Many countries have stated they can and will do more, if they have access to bilateral, regional, or international carbon markets – also known as emissions trading or “cap-and-trade.”
As shown in the map above, among the more than 170 countries that have submitted their carbon-cutting plans (known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or “INDCs”) to the UNFCCC, more than half have either stated their intention to use international carbon markets to tackle carbon pollution, or are already employing them domestically, at the national or subnational level. (For more detail, see the UNFCCC's synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions [PDF] and IETA's INDC tracker.)
Mexico is a great example of how markets can drive greater ambition and deeper reductions. Mexico’s INDC indicates carbon markets can play an important role in reducing Mexico’s carbon pollution well below its current planned cuts of 22% below “business as usual” (BAU) levels by 2030.
In fact, Mexico states that international carbon markets are “require[d]” to meet its conditional emissions target, i.e. a 36% reduction below BAU of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Think about what that difference means: Mexico says that the availability of international carbon markets would allow it to cut its emissions 60% more than its unconditional goal.
If all nations – or even just major economies with the capacity to administer robust emissions trading systems – increased their ambition by 60%, we would collectively be much closer to limiting warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Countries agree that carbon markets catalyze “an increase in mitigation ambition, particularly by developed countries.” Indeed, the advantages of a collaborative model for cost-effective emissions reductions informed the design of the Kyoto Protocol’s emissions trading system, which is credited with spurring developed countries to adopt deeper emissions reductions than they would have in the absence of these carbon market tools.
How emissions trading works to reduce pollution
Just how do emissions trading systems allow countries to be more ambitious?
By channeling capital and entrepreneurial effort into finding the fastest and cheapest ways to cut emissions, a price on carbon drives deeper reductions.
While cap-and-trade is not the only way of pricing carbon, it is a natural candidate, combining the economic appeal of a carbon price with the environmental guarantee of an emission cap.
Evidence from actual emissions trading markets – including the EU Emissions Trading System, the California cap-and-trade program, the U.S. Regional GHG Initiative (RGGI), and the U.S. sulfur dioxide trading system – shows that these programs are cutting pollution at lower cost and in less time than initially expected.
Growing experience with emissions trading – and the cross-border sharing of lessons learned that allows development of more effective domestic policies over time – means that momentum is building on carbon markets around the world, at the international, national, and subnational level.
As the vast majority of countries head to Paris with concrete plans to reduce their pollution, coordination among jurisdictions with carbon markets will be increasingly crucial to maximize cost-effectiveness and environmental integrity – which in turn will give jurisdictions the confidence to catalyze a faster transition to a prosperous low-carbon economy.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 25, 2015 - 6:26 pm
- 2015 Brings Momentum for the Louisiana Coast
By Emily Guidry Schatzel, Senior Communications Manager, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, National Wildlife Federation
Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta is a region in dire need of comprehensive restoration. We all know the harrowing statistic facing coastal Louisiana: every hour, a football field of land vanishes off the coast. According to historical averages, Louisiana loses 16 to 25 square miles per year. The rest of the Gulf, which is in many places still working to rebound economically and ecologically from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster, is also in need of projects that will advance real restoration.
Despite this, 2015 was a good year for coastal Louisiana in many ways. We have a lot to be thankful for this year:
$20.8 billion settlement in Gulf oil spill is largest environmental settlement in U.S. history
More than five years after the start of the 2010 oil spill, the Justice Department and five Gulf States announced they reached a $20.8 billion settlement with BP. We’re thankful for the settlement and federal rules like the RESTORE Act of 2012 that ensure most of the money will be used for restoring the Gulf ecosystem. While $6 billion of the total settlement will go to economic damages across the Gulf states, the remaining more than $14 billion will go to restoring the environment – including critically injured coastal fish and wildlife habitat. In Louisiana, the Coastal Master Plan’s suite of land-building restoration projects will receive at least $4 billion. It’s not nearly enough to get the entire list of projects in the master plan done, but it’s a start, backed by real dollars that weren’t available prior to the settlement.
Restore Council’s priorities list included four of our priority projects
In August, the Gulf Coast Restoration Council released their draft Initial Funded Priorities List which proposed to dedicate $139.6 million from the oil spill settlement with Transocean Deepwater Inc. to projects and programs that would provide near-term benefits to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. In Louisiana, this list proposed funding for four of our nineteen priority projects: Mississippi River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp, Golden Triangle Marsh Creation, Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline and West Grand Terre Beach Nourishment and Stabilization.
Next steps for Louisiana’s first sediment diversions announced
Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) recommended advancing both the Mid Barataria and Mid Breton sediment diversion projects in the Coastal Master Plan, which will reintroduce fresh water and sediment from the Mississippi River into its surrounding wetlands and rebuild land over time. We appreciate this important step toward getting sediment diversions up and running; the urgency and severity of our collapsing delta requires that we use the most powerful tools at our disposal. Sediment diversions provide the best opportunity to restore the coast over time, preserving our communities, industries and entire way of life.
LA- 1: Huge win for protecting coastal restoration funding
In October, Governor Jindal proposed that the CPRA Board redirect money from the Coastal Master Plan to fund the elevation of Louisiana Highway 1. Our Coalition immediately took action by vocally opposing this proposal and launching the “Protect the Funding” campaign to raise awareness and garner support to safeguard coastal dollars for restoration. With a flurry of last minute decisions, a better alternative was reached. The Board replaced the draft resolution with one directing CPRA staff to develop a prioritization process for coastal infrastructure projects that could spend up to 10% of available funds under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA). GOMESA has already authorized such spending up to 10%, and this is an appropriate use of those dollars. We are thankful that funds dedicated for coastal restoration were kept right where they should be – not redirected to other projects.
Polls show voter support for coastal restoration
Encouraging news – a poll of likely Louisiana voters showed that nearly 94 percent of respondents valued a candidate’s commitment to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. An overwhelming majority (90 percent) said they want the next governor to ensure funds currently dedicated to coastal restoration are not spent on anything but coastal restoration, and 87 percent want the next governor to work to identify and secure additional funding for future projects identified in the state’s Coastal Master Plan.
- 85 percent believe restoration of coastal Louisiana should be a high priority for the new governor
- 95 percent want the new governor to commit to move quickly and get started building coastal restoration projects
- 78 percent believe protecting and restoring coastal Louisiana is as important as other issues facing the state
- 97 percent say Louisiana’s coastal areas and wetlands are important to them personally
- Two-thirds (66 percent) indicate support for river diversions to build new land in Louisiana
Launched "Restore the Coast" Community Engagement Campaign
In August, our Coalition launched the “Restore the Coast” community engagement campaign to highlight the important role Louisiana’s elected officials play in coastal restoration. This multifaceted, nonpartisan education campaign encouraged Louisiana voters to sign a pledge urging leaders to: be a voice for coastal restoration, protect existing and secure future coastal restoration funding, and support Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. Our goal was to send a clear message to our public officials: Louisianians want leaders who will prioritize coastal restoration, by keeping restoration dollars for restoration and continuing the forward progress made through the coastal master planning process.
The “Restore the Coast” campaign included television and radio commercials, billboards, print ads, tabling at local community events, as well as interactive street activities to engage the public and encourage social sharing of this important issue facing Louisiana. Over the course of the entire "Restore the Coast" campaign, we secured over 13,500 pledges, our materials were seen by more than 1 million people online and our videos had more than 335,000 views! We are so thankful for our supporters!
Louisiana’s newly-elected governor made strong commitments
Additionally, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards recently wrote in response to handling key coastal issues while in office:
“I look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure timely funding of coastal restoration projects.
We have lost nearly 2000 square miles of coastal land mass over the last 100 years. The economic contributions of Louisiana’s coast exceed $20 billion per year. But much of this is threatened, including our fisheries, wildlife, tourism, oil and gas, and shipping and navigation industries.
We must immediately match the scale of the crisis with the response, implementing unprecedented coordination and taking three primary actions:
1. Create certainty of funding
2. Ensure the funding is spent only on coastal restoration master plan and priority of projects
3. Fully and convincingly making the case to the Congress and the Administration that coastal restoration in Louisiana is a national priority worth of funding tens of billions of dollars
The Coastal Restoration Master Plan is a living document which must be constantly revisited through the lens of new and better science.”
A voting public and a new governor showing strong commitments to coastal restoration, spending wisely and rebuilding our great Mississippi River Delta are all things to truly be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition!Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 25, 2015 - 4:19 pm
- California Market at Three: All Grown Up and Thriving
By Jonathan Camuzeaux
This post was co-authored by Jonathan Camuzeaux and Derek Walker.
As we pointed out in August, no news is good news when it comes to California’s cap-and-trade quarterly allowance auctions, which have been running effectively and without hiccups since November 2012. That’s right, last Tuesday’s auction marks the three-year anniversary of the program’s first auction, and the fifth time that California and the Canadian province of Quebec have conducted a joint auction. Time flies by when you settle into a routine, and another set of consistent, stable results indicates once again that California has a strong, well-functioning cap-and-trade program.
Steady results equal a healthy carbon market
Over 75 million current vintage allowances – which covered entities can use for compliance as early as this year – were offered at last Tuesday’s auction, and 100% of these allowances were purchased at a price of $12.73. This price, known as the settlement price, is 63 cents above the floor price set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for this auction, and is in line with previous auctions where allowances have cleared at prices slightly above the floor. In the advanced auction for 2018 vintage allowances – which can only be used starting in 2018 – over 10 million allowances were offered and 100% of these were purchased at a price of $12.65.
The absence of significant changes in results from one auction to the next is a positive sign that California has designed and implemented a well-functioning and mature carbon market, and that companies are integrating the requirements of the cap-and-trade regulation into their everyday business practices without difficulty. The high level of demand for future allowances also shows there is confidence in the program’s longevity and that forecasting of future compliance needs is being incorporated into many companies’ long-term planning.
California is paving the way for others
Other states and countries continue to keep an interested eye on California’s cap-and-trade program, in part because it has succeeded at cutting emissions while growing the state’s economy. This success is laying the groundwork and creating the momentum for the adoption of similar solutions elsewhere.
In fact, the idea of pricing carbon – through cap and trade or related mechanisms – is rapidly taking hold all around the world. Last week, Ontario released draft design options for a proposed cap and trade program that is scheduled to launch in 2017 and to link with the existing California-Quebec system in 2018. What’s more, almost half of the countries that have submitted emissions reductions pledges – called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs – have stated an interest in using market-based tools to meet their post-2020 commitments, according to an analysis by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
For many countries, California’s experience launching cap and trade and linking with Quebec to create the largest carbon market in North America provides an inspiring, real world example that can be studied, replicated and adapted elsewhere.
Image Source: FlickrRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 24, 2015 - 8:08 pm
- REDD+ in Paris: Follow the money
By Chris Meyer
The biggest tip-off as to how REDD+ will fare in Paris will come early on in the conference.
Heads of state and ministers are expected to announce new financial support for REDD+ countries on the Dec. 1, the second day of the climate talks, at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests.
This financial support will target readiness—how prepared a country is to implement REDD+ programs—and results—the financial rewards a country will receive for verified emissions reductions.
At the same time, we expect to hear from REDD+ countries themselves about their progress in completing key milestones in the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. They’ll be addressing reference emission levels, REDD+ national strategies, and status reports on the implementation of safeguard information systems.
Where do businesses and states fit in?
Private sector engagement is also critical for REDD+. Companies could announce in Paris how they will implement their existing zero deforestation commitments. Those announcements need to be in line with policy efforts by REDD+ countries’ governments to ensure effectiveness by both sectors. Earlier this year, EDF proposed the Zero Deforestation Zone framework for how both the private and public sectors could align their efforts.
Brazilian states of Acre, Mato Grosso, and Para have already started to coordinate efforts by public and private sectors. We expect their governors, local non-governmental organizations, and multinational companies operating in those states to offer up details on their progress towards reducing deforestation. Those announcements will most likely happen at side events and receptions near the end of the first week and start of the second week of talks.
Indigenous peoples have their say
We expect new studies that will highlight the critical role indigenous peoples play in conserving tropical forests and eventual climate stability. Delegations of indigenous leaders will also share their climate change experiences at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests, UNFCCC side events, panels at the indigenous peoples’ pavilion, and many other event spaces.
What about the politics?
REDD+ was an important part of climate progress made at the last two Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw and Lima. Because of that, we don’t expect REDD+ or forests to be the primary focus of negotiators trying to finalize a Paris Agreement.
And that’s fine. Check out what we think about the politics of it all here. The Paris Agreement needs to deliver on a much broader set of tools and a framework that will support future actions in the land sector, including REDD+.
The Paris framework should ensure integrity in accounting for activities in the land sector, including REDD+, agriculture and other issues. The text needs to encourage all countries to reduce emissions and increase removals by sinks because land use is the only sector that can absorb a significant amount of greenhouse gases. And, it will be crucial that land use policies and actions protect food security, ecosystems and people.
To take the real measure of whether Paris advances REDD+ we will be watching what happens on the parallel announcements about the financing and implementation of REDD+. Like I said, follow the money.
Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 24, 2015 - 8:00 pm
- Don't see REDD+ in the final Paris climate text? Look closer.
- Summary of the REDD+ and land sector references in the Paris agreement, COP 21 decisions, and workstream 2 (as of Nov. 10, 2015) [PDF]
- Glossary of terms and phrases that refer to the land sector and REDD+ in mitigation, adaptation, finance, and transparency in the Paris agreement; COP 21 decisions; and workstream 2 [PDF]
- 5 Signs of Texas’ Clean Energy Momentum in 2015
By Peter Sopher
From Apple to General Electric, it is common practice in the corporate world for established juggernauts to invest significant sums for research and development. Why? Maintaining one’s reign atop a sector requires dynamic, cutting edge innovation.
The same logic applies to state economies. And when it comes to energy, Texas – where oil and gas rein king – has arguably been America’s most dominant state for the past century. Over recent years, however, technologies and developments reshaping the sector have advanced at an unprecedented rate. As a result, it’s become clear that the energy sector of the future will rely far more on clean energy and smart technologies than on fossil fuels.
The good news: Texas has by far the most potential for solar and wind generation in the United States, which means the Lone Star state might be even more energy-rich in the 21st century than it has been in the past. In addition, the state’s energy sector is trending cleaner due to market forces.
And, in case you needed more proof, 2015 has been a dynamite year for clean energy momentum in Texas. Here are five reasons why:
- As prices have dropped, the growth rate for renewables has accelerated.
Texas’ grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), keeps track of all electric generation in the state year to year, and evidence from 2015 suggests renewables have taken off. ERCOT’s installed wind capacity – or the amount of wind energy capable of being produced – is projected to increase nearly 25 percent from 2014 by year’s end. In addition, solar capacity has increased more than 30 percent this year. And the groundwork has been laid for an explosion in 2016: ERCOT solar installations are expected to quadruple, and wind installations are forecast to grow more than 35 percent.
Why is all this wind and solar growth occurring? Prices for both are plummeting. In particular, these competitive prices have manifested in unprecedented 2015 Texas solar power deals. Austin’s utility, Austin Energy, received offers earlier this year for solar energy at 4 cents/kilowatt hour (KWh), which led Greentech Media to declare it the “Cheapest Solar Ever.” Houston, Texas’ biggest city, also made plans for solar energy to generate 7 percent of its power by late 2016 at 4.8 cents/KWh, a price that city officials estimate could save the city more than $19 billion over the deal’s 20-year lifespan.
An encouraging sign for the future is that solar costs have historically fallen over 20 percent as global capacity has doubled, and global capacity is expected to double from the 2014 level by 2017. Austin Energy expects the price of solar to drop below 2 cents/KWh by 2020.
- Economics are driving corporate giants and cities (even conservative ones) toward ambitious clean energy action.
Stellar clean energy prices have contributed to big Texas news from companies and cities alike in 2015.
For example, Facebook announced earlier this year that it will power its large new data center in Fort Worth using wind energy. This announcement preceded an October 2015 announcement from Procter & Gamble and followed a 2014 statement from Mars who both will power 100 percent of their U.S.-based electricity needs using Texas wind.
And last month, the municipal electric utility that serves Denton, a North Texas city of 130,000 people, announced plans to get an impressive 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2019. This ambitious renewables target echoes one set earlier this year by Georgetown, a fellow Texas city just north of Austin, which is on track to be 100 percent renewable by 2017. The city’s mayor, Dale Ross, minced no words in clarifying the reason behind the decision saying, “environmental zealots have not taken over our city council…Our move to wind and solar is chiefly a business decision based on cost and price stability.”
While in the past, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso have set ambitious clean energy goals, what is especially encouraging about Denton and Georgetown is that they are politically conservative. For example, in the 2014 Senate race, Williamson County (which subsumes Georgetown) and Denton County voted 62 percent and 68 percent for the Republican candidate, respectively. Even in Texas’ conservative cities, politics are not proving to be a hindrance as renewables begin to outcompete fossil fuels.
- Private utilities are increasingly opening their minds to clean energy.
Earlier this year, Luminant, the state’s biggest electricity generator with a coal-heavy fleet, announced plans to power more than 50,000 homes with West Texas solar by late 2016. This is the largest solar deal in the country for an investor-owned utility in a competitive market. Although Luminant has a long way to go, it has taken its first step in the right direction.
In addition, transmission and distribution utilities, like CenterPoint, are modernizing through an aggressive push for pervasive advanced meter installations and a cleaner energy portfolio that enables customer-owned distributed energy resources (or everyday folks adding rooftop solar to their homes, for example).
5 signs of Texas’ #cleanenergy momentum in 2015.
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- The state has experienced substantial energy efficiency progress.
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) annual state rankings, Texas was most improved – jumping from 34th most efficient state in 2014 to 26th in 2015. The state’s emphasis on adopting the newest building energy codes and ensuring compliance to them was the primary driving force behind this improvement.
In addition to building codes, the perennial energy efficiency leaders within the state, Austin Energy and CPS Energy in San Antonio, continue to be on track to achieve their ambitious energy efficiency targets. Austin Energy aims to reduce peak 2020 energy demand by 17 percent through energy efficiency. In addition, CPS Energy is midway to achieving a similarly ambitious efficiency goal for 2009-2020.
- The Clean Power Plan anchors a future policy landscape that is favorable for renewables.
August 2015 saw the finalization of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit carbon pollution from our nation’s power plants for the first time ever. By emphasizing carbon-free energy sources and energy efficiency, this policy creates a landscape for clean energy growth in the United States like never before.
Fortunately, Texas is nearly 90 percent of the way toward compliance with the plan by 2030 under “business as usual.” And the even better news is the Clean Power Plan is a major boost for clean energy progress in the state because it will:
- Spur clean energy activity in order to achieve the remaining 12 percent gap in compliance.
- Add clarity for businesses about what to expect from the state’s energy sector over the coming years, meaning they can feel confident about developing long-term strategies.
- Provide certainty that politically-charged decisions will not hinder Texas’ current clean energy momentum.
Over the past decade, year-on-year clean energy progress has been exponential in Texas. Not only has this trend ramped up in 2015, all signs point to 2016 leaving this year in a North Texas dust storm.
And for every Coca-Cola, which has adapted to the times decade after decade to remain on top, there are 10 companies like America Online (AOL), whose market share fizzled as its competitors’ superior technologies turned its value proposition obsolete. With more years like 2015, Texas will set itself up to be the energy world’s Coca-Cola as it dominates the sector for another century.
This post originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 24, 2015 - 6:16 pm
- Four Things To Know About Oil And Gas Methane
By EDF Blogs
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas packing a climate punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. More than a third of the climate impact we feel today is caused by short-lived pollutants, including methane, which accounts for most of that amount. These emissions are worsening already extreme weather patterns responsible for more frequent, higher intensity storms. And, in the absence of action, these trends are expected to accelerate.
2. The oil and gas industry is responsible for over 7 million tons of methane pollution
3. Curbing emissions at both new and existing facilities is critical
In January, the administration set a goal of reducing 40 to 45 percent of oil and gas methane emissions by 2025. To help meet that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced plans to set standards for methane emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and gas supply chain. And, the Bureau of Land Management is due to propose a rule that would limit methane for existing operations on public lands. But we can’t reach the national methane reduction goal without comprehensively regulating the numerous sources currently emitting methane. EPA estimates these existing sources will be the ones responsible for 90 percent of our nation’s methane emissions over the next few years.
A 2014 analysis by a leading energy consulting firm identified a number of technologies made by U.S. businesses that are helping oil and gas companies find and fix methane leaks. These technologies are currently on the market and enable operators to slash over 40 percent of their emissions across the supply chain by spending, on average, less than a penny per unit of gas.
The outsized opportunity to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases quickly, while preventing needless energy waste, makes reducing oil and gas methane emissions the best bargain in the energy business for tackling climate change. Common-sense regulations that make best practices the standard practice can help the U.S. reach its methane reduction goal.
This post originally appeared on the Washington Post's Brand Connect.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 24, 2015 - 4:51 pm
- 3 Ideas That Could Shape Our World After The Paris Climate Negotiations
By Andy Darrell
There is reason to be optimistic: from China to the United States, from Europe to South Asia, countries are coming together with commitments to cut climate pollution. And so are cities, companies, investors, entrepreneurs – and even moms. That’s real momentum that could open a new era for how we make and use energy.
The real action starts after we all go home from Paris with the biggest question coming out of COP-21: Now what? I want to share three specific ideas for the future – ideas that could accelerate access to clean energy.
First, the biggest barriers today lie in how to deploy the technology we have or will soon have. Solar panels, “smart” buildings, electric cars – the cost of these technologies is on its way down. Yet we still face problems of scale, because barriers in policy and finance limit the ability of clean technologies to deploy in ways accessible to everyone.
In the United States, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) thinks we can run 80 percent of the country on clean electricity by 2050 with technology that exists today. To get there, we need to clear away thickets of outdated regulations and establish a path for smart, clean technology to scale up.
But how will we finance the transition to clean energy? Will the rules of our electricity markets make it easy to plug in renewables at a massive scale? What is the role of utilities going forward, in a world where clean energy technology requires managing a network of many players? These are some of the questions we need to address in short order to begin overcoming policy and finance obstacles.
Second, the transition to clean energy requires a fundamental change in the regulatory structure of electricity. We need to change the electric grid from a narrow, one-way street to a two-way highway, so that it performs more like the Internet – managing vast amounts of energy and information in ways that deliver more and cost less. This new structure will reward people for shifting their energy usage to the least polluting times of day when renewables are abundant, and welcome millions of solar panels, wind turbines, and ultra-efficient buildings into a reliable web of affordable electricity.
Just like our iPhones are platforms for app developers creating all kinds of services we could not have imagined a decade ago, so can electricity regulation support participation by intermittent renewables, smart data tech, and energy management programs that generate energy savings.
This kind of change occurs largely at the sub-national level. For the most part, in the U.S., it happens at public service commissions in every state, framed by some key federal actions. The exciting news is there are a few places where this change is moving forward at full speed.
3 ideas that could shape our world after the Paris #climate negotiations.
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In New York, for example, the governor has set in motion New York REV – Reforming the Energy Vision – to boldly rethink how electricity is made, moved, used, and valued. It’s tackling questions of utility business models, access to data, and the interconnection of distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and microgrids.
It is one of the few places in the U.S. where the whole model is being reimagined all at once – and where decision makers are engaging various players, from policy to business to finance. Policy innovation like this is also happening in California, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and in parts of Asia.
This innovation is predominately taking place inside national or sub-national silos and could progress a lot faster with collaboration. At EDF we are trying to build that collaboration around the most important barriers and the common problems we all need to solve in order to create a platform for clean energy technology to become widely accessible.
Third, we need to unleash the power of capital markets to help finance the transition to clean energy in both developed and developing economies. Europe recently released a report stating it cannot meet its climate targets without a five-fold increase in investment to renovate buildings. They are looking for around a hundred billion Euros a year in investment, and that’s just for Europe.
Frankly, there is no way that scale of investment will come from the public sector, from taxpayers, or electricity customers alone. Meaning, we need to activate capital markets and investors in new ways, too.
EDF launched the Investor Confidence Project, which looks to do just that for energy efficiency. Basically, the idea is to standardize energy efficiency renovation projects in the U.S. and Europe, to increase confidence in the financial and environmental performance of the projects, and to make it possible to invest in them not just one by one, but at portfolio scale. The basic system is in place in the U.S. and has just launched in Europe.
If we can unleash the potential of clean energy technology and energy efficiency, I believe it will be possible to turn the corner on climate change. But that will require innovation in policy and in finance at a scale equal to the innovation already happening in technology. I am hopeful Paris will create the motivation necessary to get it done.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: November 24, 2015 - 4:17 pm