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Renewable Energy Jobs are UP, and RE cost is down

The Shining Future of the GREEN Economy


Employment in the clean energy sector features, first and foremost, jobs in energy efficiency (of the over 3 million U.S. clean energy jobs total). These include jobs in companies that feature EnergyStar products, as well as jobs in producing energy efficient technologies such as LED and CFL lighting and manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs). Jobs in smart grid, maintaining smart meters, clean energy storage, renewable energy, and in sustainable mass transit, are also included in the over 3 million clean energy jobs in the United States figure (cited below).

With regard to sustainable transportation, jobs in EV, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicle production, in addition to jobs in sustainable mass transit, and in biofuel production, are also included in the U.S. clean energy jobs figures below. Clean energy jobs are also jobs in solar, wind, and other jobs in renewable energy (RE) production, managing RE, and distribution of RE.

California, Washington, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Washington DC have all committed to the goal of 100% renewable energy (100RE). A few other states plan to follow suit, and 26 states have passed Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (which includes RE, nuclear, and potentially highly efficient fossil fuel production with carbon capture).


Renewable Energy JOBS are UP

The wind/ solar/ clean energy industries provide Americans with over 3 MILLION jobs. So, purely from a standpoint of looking at renewable energy vs. fossil fuels from how the United States’ economy is grown by focusing more on a certain type of energy; especially regarding employment opportunities, renewable energy is quite a bit better than fossil fuels.

For example, coal provides Americans with less than 80,000 jobs; but only about half that number of jobs in the United States are in actual coal mining, the rest of the jobs in U.S. coal are in associated jobs. Jobs in transporting the coal and maintaining the coal mines, or in maintaining coal-fired power plants, could be transitioned to clean energy jobs.


It should be emphasized that there are more jobs in renewable energy than fossil fuels, but renewable energy is also more cost-efficient than fossil fuels, even in the Midwest United States.


The following is a snippet from E2.org on the clean energy job market in the U.S.-

“At the start of 2020, clean energy employment increased for the fifth straight year since this annual report was first released—growing beyond 3.3 million workers nationwide.

While California remained the nation’s undisputed leader in clean energy jobs, states as diverse in size and structure as Texas and Massachusetts also are in the top ten for clean energy jobs. Florida, North Carolina and Georgia continued to lead the South, while Michigan, Illinois and Ohio led the Midwest. On a per capita basis of statewide total employment, the Northeast claimed the top five spots with Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Delaware employing the largest share of clean energy jobs per capita in the country.”  FROM –  e2.org/reports/clean-jobs-america


Quote on how clean energy jobs pay more on average than the median wage for other job sectors in the U.S.-

“Overall, median wages in clean energy are significantly higher than median wages in sectors such as retail, services, recreation and accommodations, especially when it comes to entry-level wages.”   FROM –  solarpowerworldonline.com/clean-energy-job-wages-higher-than-national-median-report-finds


Clean Energy JOBS

Clean energy jobs continue to provide the most job opportunity; even in the middle of the country; the Plains states, the Midwest, and the Southern states.

Overall, when you add the rest of the clean energy jobs to jobs directly in renewable energy, there are over 3 million jobs in clean energy in the United States. This figure includes energy efficiency-related jobs, clean energy storage jobs, and clean transportation jobs. Employment that is directly in renewable energy in the U.S. features jobs in solar and wind; although jobs in hydroelectricity, biomass, and geothermal energy are also included.

Wind turbine technician is the single fastest-growing job in the United States. “Wind [and solar] farms—and the new jobs that come with them—have swept across the Midwest [and Southwest U.S.], where coal and traditional manufacturing gigs have vanished.” Quote from – motherjones.com/wind-iowa-energy-coal

Solar energy also has impressive employment growth statistics, with about 1 in 50 new jobs created in the United States coming from the solar industry. The fastest-growing job in solar is solar panel installer. Sustainability professionals, sustainable builders, and clean car engineers are also among the fastest-growing jobs in clean energy, and the United States as a whole.


 Clean Energy Jobs in the United States via Cleantechnica

To see recent clean jobs statistics, please see: eesi.org/files/FactSheet_Climate_Jobs


Green JOBS = Fast-Growing JOBS

There are 3 times more jobs in the clean energy sector than in fossil fuels. There are over 2 million Americans who have energy efficiency jobs; energy efficiency is the fastest-growing employment opportunity sector of the U.S. economy. The majority of jobs in energy efficiency are in construction and manufacturing, although many jobs in the energy efficiency sector are in Energy Star, smart grid, and energy storage. 1 in every 6 American construction jobs is in energy efficiency. The future of employment in the energy sector is in clean energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, not in fossil fuels.

This article in Mother Jones sums it up perfectly: 

Wind [and solar] farms—and the new jobs that come with them—have swept across the Midwest [and Southwest U.S.], where coal and traditional manufacturing gigs have vanished

In the “wind belt” between Texas and North Dakota, the price of wind energy is finally equal to and in some cases cheaper than that of fossil fuels. Thanks to investments in transmission lines, better computer controls, and more efficient turbines, the cost to US consumers fell two-thirds in just six years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.  

Still, not all windy states have a turbine-friendly climate. In Wyoming, for example, coal-loving legislators passed a tax on wind energy in 2010 and are also considering penalizing utilities for including renewables in their portfolios.  

The next few years will see a showdown between “rural Republicans who really want to get the economic boost [wind & solar, other renewables] offers to their district, versus Republican ideologues who don’t like renewables because they like fossil fuels”—and whose campaign contributions depend on protecting them.  

So farmers—and voters —will have to fight for wind [and other renewables] which, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency,  offer the greatest potential for growth in US renewable power generation. 

(Article by Maddie Oatman – Maddie Oatman is a story editor at Mother Jones. Read more of her stories here.)



The global growth in the employment market in renewable energy, especially solar, but also wind, biomass/ biofuel, and hydro, is impressive, as depicted in this chart-


Global job creation in renewable energy by RE source via IRENA (statistics published 2018)

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy sector is adding over 1/2 million jobs annually worldwide, for a growth rate of over 5%, far eclipsing the potential for growth and employment potential in fossil fuels.


Renewable energy sources vs. fossil fuels

Forbes says that by switching from coal to renewable energy, the United States’ economy will save billions of dollars, in part by taking advantage of the lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of renewable energy sources vs. fossil fuels; and by avoiding the cost of negative externalities of fossil fuels (the cost of damage to public health and damage to the environment of fossil fuels).

The cost savings to the United States economy by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy include, most significantly, reducing the cost of mitigation and adaptation to anthropogenic climate change by investing in sustainable technologies such as renewable energy and energy efficiency vs. fossil fuels. 

The renewable energy industry employs over 500,000 people in the United States. The coal industry is responsible for under 120,000 jobs in the U.S. (see: nytimes.com/interactive/climate/todays-energy-jobs-are-in-solar-not-coal). There is already billions of dollars invested in installed renewable energy capacity in the United States, including over $12 billion of private investment in 2018 US wind energy alone.

Individual states that are leaders in solar & hydroelectricity include coastal and southwest states, especially west and northeast coastal states for hydroelectricity, and southwest states for solar.  Wind energy production is dominated by states in the Plains and Midwest.


EIA expects wind’s share of electricity generation to increase.

[Please note that states like California create a lot of solar energy, but even more hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity is produced in higher quantities as far as overall energy production in California (over 20% of the state’s energy is from hydroelectric sources), and that makes hydroelectricity the dominant form of renewable energy in the state. However, California produces a substantial amount of solar energy (over 11% statewide). California, Washington, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Washington DC have all committed to the goal of 100% renewable energy. A few other states plan to follow suit.]



For a set of policies focused on increasing the momentum of clean job growth in the United States, please see GCT’s Guide to Green Energy Public Policies



Renewable Energy costs are down

For your reference, here is Lazard‘s 2020 levelized cost of energy (LCOE) chart>> On the 2020 LCOE chart, it’s renewable energy sources (especially onshore wind farms and utility-scale solar) with the best overall price of all energy sources; and wind energy and utility-scale PV are now priced lower than coal; onshore wind and utility-scale PV are now even cheaper than gas combined cycle (when the full LCOE is taken into account)>>> 

Lazard‘s 2020 levelized cost of energy (LCOE)


Cost of renewable energy vs. fossil fuels

The cost of producing energy with renewable energy vs. fossil fuels is dramatically lower when just the cost of producing electricity (marginal cost) is considered. When the costs of the negative externalities (negative externalities of fossil fuels– damage/ cost to the environment and public health, climate change) associated with fossil fuel production are added in with the LCOE*, the relative cost of renewable energy sources vs. the cost of fossil fuels is lower still.

The negative externalities associated with coal are particularly dire; not only black lung in coal miners, also a general public health hazard in fine particulates, and other toxins, emitted into the air during the energy production process with coal. Those public health issues are in addition to coal’s significant contribution to anthropogenic climate change, and other forms of air, land, and water pollution associated with coal.

Overall, the lowest cost of energy production is onshore wind (which also has minimal negative externalities), followed by utility-scale solar, and natural gas (which carries the cost of negative externalities). Producing energy from coal is no longer cheaper than renewables or gas, and is damaging to public health and the environment.

[*Examples of levelized costs of energy include: up-front capital costs/ costs of initial investment (which are much higher for renewable energy than fossil fuel energy), the marginal cost of the fuel source (which is much higher for fossil fuels, and almost nothing for free, abundant sources of renewable energy like solar and wind energy, and very low cost for hydro, geothermal, and biomass), cost of maintenance for the power plant/ energy farm/ dam, etc…, cost of transporting the fuel (again, zero for most renewable energy), costs associated with transmitting/ distributing the energy, insurance costs for the energy-producing facility, etc…]

“Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competitiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-MWh cost (in discounted real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. 4 Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant.” – quote from the EIA.

 

In this chart, you can clearly see how much more expensive nuclear and coal are projected to remain in comparison to renewables-


Projected LCOE of US energy sources via Energy Innovation (statistics published 2018)


For the initial capital costs, nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. The “good” thing about nuclear energy production is that there are low marginal costs, and there are little to no negative externalities with regard to the actual energy production, i.e. little to no GHG emissions. 

With nuclear, it’s necessary to find secure locations to safely store the radioactive waste. Nuclear power plants must evolve to the point where there’s no chance for another Fukushima-type catastrophe.  However, future planned 4th generation nuclear power plants will be safe, autonomous, more sustainable than current nuclear plants, and more cost-efficient.

For the future the first half of this century, nuclear energy is going to remain an unlikely ally to clean energy in the fight against anthropogenic climate change. Coal is out for the reasons stated above; coal is no longer a viable, cost-efficient energy fuel source. Petroleum is mostly used to fuel vehicles around the world (although hopefully, the world population will continue to move toward electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hybrid cars). It’s safe to assume diesel generators will still be used to produce energy, largely for third world countries, island nations, remote locations, and energy backup.

Renewable energy and natural gas are the future of energy production, as seen in this recent study by the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute. Overall, renewable energy (and natural gas) are both cheaper sources of fuel for energy production AND better, larger sources of employment; thus, renewable energy is better for the environment AND the economy.



For more information on these, and similar topics, please see: 

greencitytimes.com/coal-vs-natural-gas


greencitytimes.com/what-makes-a-city-sustainable  


greencitytimes.com/economic-growth-vs-the-environment


greencitytimes.com/nuclear-one-necessary-energy-supply-to-fight-climate-change



 

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Reforestation

Climate Solution – Forests


Deforestation and solutions; including reforestation

Deforestation of our planet, for centuries, has led to issues such as – loss of wildlife habitat; as well as land, water, and air pollution. Clearing forests results in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the practice of deforestation itself (leading to an unmitigated increase in global warming). Deforestation is also responsible for the loss of trees to help absorb GHGs and create a healthy planet; and degradation of land quality.

Humans have taken for granted products originating from forests (a vast quantity of the world’s products of mass consumption come from forests). A significant quantity of beef, soy, palm oil, and wood products either originated, or were developed as a consequence of, now degraded or deforested land. Deforestation is a consequence of the exploitation of Earth’s natural resources for mass production and consumption.


What are some of the major problems caused by deforestation?

Deforestation has been a major contributor to the current global ecological crisis of climate change. The reckless manner in which forests are cleared has resulted in the degradation of large swaths of the planet’s land. Within the past decade and to the present day, it has been calculated that global deforestation occurs at a rate of at least 18 million acres annually.

Deforestation is a top global contributor to climate change. This is partly due to the polluting fossil fuel-intensive machines used to clear forests that spew GHGs and pollution. This is also due to ‘controlled’ fires to advance the deforestation process.

Deforestation is mostly done for the mass production of carbon-intensive goods manufactured from natural resources. A big climate problem that deforestation is to blame for is land cleared simply for cattle grazing. Methane emissions from cattle grazing are the #1 source of agricultural GHGs worldwide

Project Drawdown recognizes reforestation as a top climate solution. This is due to the biodiversity and thriving ecosystems forests provide; and because forests provide needed carbon sequestration from the atmosphere in order to create Earth’s healthy biome.


Where Does Most Deforestation Happen?

The top 10 countries that hold the majority of the forest coverage of the earth; and also have among the highest global shares of deforestation, include large nations like – China, Russia, Canada, and the United States.

The greatest percentage levels of national deforestation are in countries that contain portions of the Amazon Rainforest, most notably – Brazil. The Amazon has the greatest deforestation rate of any large forest in the world. Some highly forested countries, like the Philippines and Indonesia, used to be almost completely forested; and as of today, have had over half of their forests removed; yet still – the Amazon represents the most egregious rate of deforestation.

Forests have been destroyed at an incredible rate for hundreds of years, both in the Amazon, and across the globe. Stopping deforestation is the obvious solution to the problem. Serious organizations committed to stopping deforestation in various global regions include the Canadian Forestry Association, The Rainforest Alliance, Amazon Watch, and Conservation International.


The global significance of reforestation

Reforestation represents a holistic, practical climate solution to help create a healthy biome on the planet. Reforestation has been seriously engaged in by concerned private philanthropic organizations, as well as governments, throughout the world; from individual donors to non-profit organizations, to NGOs, to sustainable corporations. One example of successful reforestation efforts is a forest started in Ontario; supported by the Canadian government, as well as private donors, called the 50 Million Tree program.

Countries, states, and provinces, around the world, should make a concerted effort to invest more in planting forests, planting trees in planned urban green spaces, and setting aside land for nature reserves. “Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India has pledged to increase its forests by a massive 95 million hectares by 2030. In 2017 around 1.5 million volunteers planted more than 66 million trees in a record-breaking 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh.”  FROM – bbc.com/news

Another successful reforestation effort is forest being planted for ecological, social, and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, just at the southern border of the Sahara, organized by Greenpop.; and supported mostly by private donors and philanthropic non-profit organizations. Greenpop’s mission is to plant trees, restore degraded forest areas, increase biodiversity, help communities across Africa meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and expand ecosystem services across Africa.

An example of an organization dedicated to reforestation, supported by philanthropic non-profits run by some of the world’s best-known corporations; including Google and Amazon – is Trees for the Future. Trees for the Future is an agroforestry organization working with local populations to improve livelihoods and restore degraded lands to sustainable productivity through tree planting; in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Trees for the Future’s efforts are aimed at stopping deforestation, engaging local communities in reforestation and sustainable agriculture; and aiding the mitigation of climate change through investments to help restore, maintain, and protect ecosystems.

Please see more information from Project Drawdown on Protecting Forests.

“Project Drawdown defines forest protection as: the legal protection of forest lands, leading to reduced deforestation rates and the safeguarding of carbon sinks. This solution replaces non-protected forest land. It is assumed that forest protection primarily happens at the government and non-governmental organization (NGO) level.

Mature, healthy forests have spent decades or centuries accumulating carbon through photosynthesis. They represent massive storehouses of carbon in soils and biomass. Yet, forests are being cleared and degraded at a rapid rate, causing carbon loss as well as negative impacts on ecosystem services like habitat, erosion control, soil-building, water regulation, water supply, and air pollution removal.

Forest protection reduces these emissions from deforestation. Emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation alone are estimated at 5.1-8.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per year. This accounts for 14-21 percent of anthropogenic emissions…”     FROM –  drawdown.org/solutions/forest-protection


♥♥For great ideas on environmental sustainability♥♥, conservation of wildlife & their habitats, as well as global ecological conservation solutions, please see>> MONGABAY.COM. Mongabay.com also has current, worldwide examples of innovative measures implemented by non-profit organizations, NGOs, and governments. These innovative sustainability measures are put in place to protect, restore, and maintain ecosystems, global wildlife, and natural biodiversity.


The Global importance of protecting, maintaining, and restoring Ecosystems; Sustainable Ag. Techniques including Agroforestry

Forests are natural carbon sinks, sequestering carbon from Earth’s atmosphere, and providing oxygen to create healthy ecosystems on the planet; as well as creating sustainable habitats for plants, wildlife, and the biodiversity of the forest itself. Sustainable agriculture also creates carbon sinks, in the form of farmland with vibrant ecosystems and biodiversity.

In addition to reforestation, Project Drawdown also recognizes these sustainable practices, as top climate solutions:

  • Land is a critical component of the climate system, actively engaged in the flows of carbon, nitrogen, water, and oxygen—essential building blocks for life. Carbon is the core of trees and grasses, mammals and birds, lichens and microbes. Linking one atom to the next, and to other elements, it’s the fundamental material of all living organisms. FROM  –  drawdown.org/sectors/land-sinks
  • Plants and healthy ecosystems have an unparalleled capacity to absorb carbon through photosynthesis and store it in living biomass. In addition, soils are, in large part, organic matter—once-living organisms, now decomposing—making them an enormous storehouse of carbon. Land can therefore be a powerful carbon sink, returning atmospheric carbon to living vegetation and soils. While the majority of heat-trapping emissions remain in the atmosphere, land sinks currently return a quarter of human-caused emissions to Earth—literally.   FROM  –  drawdown.org/sectors/land-sinks
  • In their biomass and soil, forests are powerful carbon storehouses. [Forest] protection prevents emissions from deforestation, shields that carbon, and enables ongoing carbon sequestration.   FROM  –  drawdown.org/solutions/forest-protection
  • Multistrata agroforestry systems mimic natural forests in structure. Multiple layers of trees and crops achieve high rates of both carbon sequestration and food production.    FROM  –  drawdown.org/solutions/multistrata-agroforestry
  • An agroforestry practice, silvopasture integrates trees, pasture, and forage, into a single system. Incorporating trees improves land health and significantly increases carbon sequestration.    FROM  –  drawdown.org/solutions/silvopasture
  • Pumping and distributing water is energy intensive. Drip and sprinkler irrigation, among other practices and technologies, make farm water use more precise and efficient.  FROM  –  drawdown.org/solutions/farm-irrigation-efficiency
  • Building on conservation agriculture with additional practices, regenerative annual cropping can include compost application, green manure, and organic production. It reduces emissions, increases soil organic matter, and sequesters carbon.  FROM  –  drawdown.org/solutions/regenerative-annual-cropping


Red Meat and Carbon Offsets

Red meat from cows makes its way to fast food restaurants (but not before millions of acres of once-pristine forest are degraded or destroyed); in addition to the waste streams of paper products fast food restaurants create (also major contributors to forest degradation). 

Fast food restaurants, globally, can help stop deforestation; as numerous corporations in different segments of the manufacturing industry have started joining global conservation efforts recently. Fast food companies, as with other companies concerned about lowering their carbon footprint, can purchase carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets help balance out global GHGs and other environmental degradation; for instance, damage to the environment wrought by companies that commit deforestation, and companies that are reliant on fossil fuels, are a partial solution to the deforestation problem.

Some offsets often formally offered in emission trading schemes (ETS) globally include: forestry projects (like planting and caring for trees; restoring, maintaining, and protecting forests and their ecosystems), as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects worldwide. These types of carbon offsets are also available for purchase by companies and individuals.

The amount of carbon offsets required for a company to purchase in an emission trading system (ETS) is proportional to the amount of pollution, GHGs, released by the company involved in the ETS. These offsets should also be measured by the deforestation that a company commits, and the subsequent effect of that behavior by the company on the environment. However, individuals and companies can purchase offsets to lower their carbon footprint – the more carbon offsets purchased, the greater the good.

In addition to reforestation measures taken by private companies, and concerned individuals, and lifestyle changes by individuals taken to help address the problem, governments can help.

Governments like Brazil, and around the world, have the ability to enact carbon emission trading systems, forcing companies, and the major industries involved in deforestation, to purchase offsets to their destructive behavior. Carbon offsets can be purchased by individuals, non-profit organizations, and private businesses of every size, from small businesses to large international companies, and even governments; in order to lower their net carbon footprint and/ or in order to support sustainability efforts worldwide

However, as of now, most ETS around the world only use the amount GHGs released by companies, not deforestation, as a metric to assess a companies’ responsibility for purchasing carbon offets. ETS, and other carbon pricing mechanisms (such as a carbon tax), can be mandated by states, provinces, and entire countries.

For more on this topic, please see Green City Times article on:

Sustainable agriculture

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Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative GREEN Land-Use


The United Nations (UN) has advised that a global shift towards plant-based food will counteract the worst effects of climate change. Is going vegan really going to help in global climate action, and help the world meet net zero emissions targets?

Well, actually…the UN says that land-use practices that favor plant growth vs. a focus on animal grazing, as well as sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices, are among top climate change mitigation solutions. Regenerative agriculture creates environmentally-friendly carbon sinks; turning farms into thriving ecosystems that sequester atmospheric carbon, while also producing crops for food.  



Sustainable and regenerative agriculture

The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out with a report in August 2019, about how the global community must switch now to sustainable land use in food production. All countries and farm industries globally must adopt sustainable agriculture practices, as the world begins transitioning to more sustainable food consumption habits.

Effective global climate action depends on sustainable land-use practices as the foundation for successful action.


For more information about sustainable agriculture practices, permaculture, and reforestation, please see>>>

Sustainable agriculture

Reforestation

[A quick note about the terms in this article; all regenerative agriculture is sustainable agriculture, but not all sustainable agriculture techniques and practices are considered the same as specific practices of regenerative agriculture]


What exactly is regenerative agriculture?

A major component of regenerative agriculture is a focus on proper soil nutrition. Crop rotation of a variety of perennial crops, and no-till farming, for example, are designed to increase soil health. Conventional animal grazing is a much less sustainable land-use practice and has almost no considerations for proper soil health, versus farmland used for regenerative agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean that absolutely no animals are raised on farms for food (as an immediate global dietary shift seems to be highly unlikely).

Rather, sustainable land-use simply means that farms focus on “well-managed grazing practices [that] stimulate improved plant growth, and increased soil [health]“. However, the primary focus of regenerative agriculture remains diverse food crops, and land use dedicated to plant growth, biodiversity, and healthy ecosystems.


Regenerative agriculture focuses on farming done with the implementation of specific sustainable farming methods. Here are some key points in defining regenerative agriculture>>>

Strict regenerative agricultural practices include:

no-tillage

diverse cover crops

in-farm fertility (no external nutrients)

no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers

multiple crop rotations

polyculture

organic soil fertility


Cover crops, no-till or low-till farming, crop rotation, organic soil fertility, and polyculture (vs. monoculture) – are a few sustainable agriculture practices that increase soil health. Cover crops refer to a variety of crops grown on farmland during off-seasons in order to maintain soil health.

Polyculture is also a practice of introducing and maintaining multiple species of crops and plants on farmland. Polyculture involves the consistent year-round farming practice of creating diverse crop and farmland plant species.

Biodiversity of a farm’s crops and other ecosystems on the farm improve soil health, deter pests, and help to maintain healthy ecosystems.


Carbon farming and cover crops to improve soil health

Sustainable farms enhance environmental quality and agricultural economy through the enhancement of natural resources. For example, carbon farming is a sustainable agriculture practice that maintains healthy soils and is common practice in most organic farming.

Practices to maintain soil health are found in regenerative agriculture, as well as in permaculture. A sustainable farm must focus a substantial amount of time year-round on healthy soil nutrition to help maintain long-term soil quality.

the cover crop buckwheat shown juxtaposed to the same land without cover crops

One solution to help create more sustainable farms is for governments to simply subsidize farmers to implement sustainable farming practices.

Governments should consider legislating agricultural subsidies through increasing financial incentives, tax breaks, or direct payments, for farmers that practice sustainable ag. techniques; with the easiest practice to implement being cover cropping.

These financial incentives would be for farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture practices such as carbon farming and implementation of cover crops during off-seasons. Some governments worldwide already have legislation to support farmers that use sustainable agriculture practices, but more is needed.

After all, farmers that adopt sustainable agriculture practices are helping reduce global GHGs and fight climate change. Sustainable farms are carbon sinks; sequestering carbon and transforming conventional farmland into thriving, climate-saving, ecosystems.

Typically after farmland crops are harvested, and especially during wintertime, farmland just lays fallow. A few months later, when it’s time to sow seeds for a new harvest – weeds, pests, and unhealthy soil fill the land. Tillage, and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers only make the problem worse. The simple remedy for this problem is cover cropping. Cover crops keep weeds and pests at bay, and maintain soil health during the off-season.

Solutions, in order to encourage farmers to implement the widespread use of cover cropping, include: providing government subsidies to farmers that practice cover cropping, proving guaranteed investment of markets for the crops, or at least making sure farmers get detailed information about cover crops.

Cover crops not only maintain farmland health but provide a source of potential income, providing useful crops to the community. Examples of cover crops include buckwheat, alfalfa, annual cereals (rye, wheat, barley, oats), clovers, winter peas, cowpeas, turnips, radish, forage grasses such as ryegrass, and warm-season grasses such as sorghum-sudan grass.

Here’s a brief snippet from an article by The Union of Concerned Scientists on sustainable agriculture:

Environmental sustainability in agriculture means good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms rely on. Among other things, this involves:

  • building and maintaining healthy soil with low till or no till farming
  • crop rotation
  • use of cover crops during off-seasons
  • polyculture vs. monoculture
  • managing water wisely
  • minimizing air, water, and climate pollution
  • promoting biodiversity

There’s a whole field of research devoted to achieving these goals: agroecology, the science of managing farms as ecosystems. By working with nature rather than against it, farms managed using agroecological principles can avoid damaging impacts without sacrificing productivity or profitability.”     FROM  –    ucsusa.org/what-sustainable-agriculture


Land-use solutions; how to reduce GHGs from agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN believes that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” This problem is largely due to deforestation to clear land; a significant amount of which is either directly or indirectly for the global meat industry. Another major contributor to the problem is land-use designated for grazing. Land used for grazing is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) than all of the world’s transport systems combined.

The world should stop the unsustainable practice of deforestation, but an immediate global climate solution is simply improving practices on existing farms. A realistic solution is for the global agriculture community to be encouraged to maintain focused efforts on regenerative farming practices.

The global transition to sustainable agriculture would be expedited if the global farming community was simply catering to a majority organic plant-based diet in the consumer food market. However, this ideal sustainable circumstance is far from realistic.

One solution that will remain politically unpopular for obvious reasons (as the vast majority of the world’s population have meat and dairy-intensive diets) – is a carbon tax on meat. It takes on average 11 times more fossil fuels to produce a calorie of animal protein than to produce a calorie of grain protein. That’s a considerable amount of GHGs released per calorie.

So much so that Chatham House, otherwise known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs, has called for a carbon tax on meat to help combat climate change. In fact, globally, raising cows for food ranks only behind the United States and China as a GHG contributing segment of the global economy. Raising cattle for food is the #1 source of GHGs from agriculture globally.

Going vegan, vegetarian, or at least eating less meat, helps reduce global GHGs by helping in the global transition to sustainable, plant-based agriculture. It helps fill the demand for a plant-based consumer diet as the global fight against climate change gains steam. It also helps to reduce your carbon footprint.


Meat & GHGs

An Oxford study published in the journal Climate Change found that the diets of meat-eaters who ate more than 3.5 ounces of meat a day – roughly the size of a pack of cards – contribute to GHGs significantly. These heavy meat eaters generate 15.8 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent each day; compared to vegetarians – 8.4 pounds, and vegans – 6.4 pounds. This is because the process of raising livestock for food on farms itself is carbon-intensive. Also, the majority of global deforestation is just to create land for cattle to graze.

The average meat-eater has a much higher carbon footprint than people who adopt a plant-based diet – 50-54% higher than vegetarians, and between 99-102% higher than vegans. Of course, there are other ways for individuals in society to contribute to lower emissions, but veganism may be a top solution. Research shows that, as Dr. Fredrik Hedenus of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden said, “reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural pollution down to safe levels.” 

Raising cattle for meat and dairy ranks close to the top of the list as a segment of the global economy contributing to GHGs (mostly in the form of methane emitted from grazing cattle). There are a variety of innovative ways to reduce methane emissions from grazing cattle.

However, transitioning to a plant-based diet now is considered one of the best ways to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, and to reduce one’s personal contribution to the problem of GHGs. A study from the University of Chicago posits that eating less meat (or none at all) is more effective at reducing one’s personal responsibility for GHGs than changing from a conventional car to a hybrid.  

According to PETA – “…the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown that animal agriculture is globally the single largest source of methane emissions and that, pound for pound, methane is more than 28 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere. The use of manure storage and of manure being used as fertilizer for crops and feed, which then generates substantial amounts of nitrous oxide, contributes greatly to the greenhouse gases affecting the global warming crisis.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The three most critical GHGs responsible for climate change are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – and together they cause the majority of climate change issues.

Methane is a gas that can be produced from stockpiling of animal and human sewage, manure used as fertilizer, as well animal’s personal “gas emissions [for ex. cow burps and farts]”.  Methane is a potent GHG released from livestock in dangerous quantities exacerbating climate change, and is closely followed in significance by nitrous oxide in unsustainable agriculture practices.

Nitrous oxide is roughly 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and methane is roughly 40 times more potent than CO2. CO2 is the most well-known GHG because it’s the longest-lasting, and most significant GHG in terms of quantity of CO2 released in the common industries tracked for GHG emissions (energy generation, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, buildings).

Agriculture is the largest man-made source of nitrous oxide, with meat, dairy, and other animal-based food industries – contributing to 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide emissions are primarily direct emissions from fertilized agricultural stock, and manure, as well as indirect emissions from leaching of fertilizers and pesticides; which is when rainwater causes part of the nitrogen in fertilizers and pesticides to leach into groundwater and eventually into rivers. 

In basic terms, societies should begin to try and transition from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet today; and the global farming community absolutely must switch now to sustainable agriculture practices, in order for the global fight against climate change to be truly effective.

Food consumption habits greatly affect land-use/ agricultural practices. Project Drawdown ranks having the global community transition to a plant-based diet as one of the most effective climate mitigation strategies, albeit one that has gained very little global momentum (as eating meat and dairy remains very popular worldwide).

For reference, around 3% of the population in the United States is vegetarian or vegan, and the agriculture sector is responsible for 9% of GHGs from the United States. The U.K. is a lot better than the U.S. as far as the vegetarian portion of the population, with estimates that as much as a quarter of the population of the United Kingdom will be vegetarian by 2025

Dietary consumer choices directly influence land use and agriculture. One solution to the global climate crisis is to focus on changing cultural dietary choices and, in turn, help foster the transition to sustainable global land-use/ agriculture practices to effectively fight climate change.

Project Drawdown estimates that transitioning the global agriculture systems to sustainable practices can reduce global CO2 emissions by over 20 gigatons, stating that “bringing that carbon back home through regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.”

Additionally, Project Drawdown ranks implementing sustainable agriculture practices, such as regenerative annual cropping, and transitioning the global community to sustainable land use turning farmland into land sinks, as top solutions in their list of most effective ways to fight climate change. Project Drawdown also ranks managed grazing as a top climate solution; offering the following key points-

Managed grazing imitates herbivores, addressing two key variables: how long livestock grazes a specific area and how long the land rests before animals return. There are three managed-grazing techniques that improve soil health, carbon sequestration, water retention, and forage productivity:

  1. Improved continuous grazing adjusts standard grazing practices and decreases the number of animals per acre.
  2. Rotational grazing moves livestock to fresh paddocks or pastures, allowing those already grazed to recover.
  3. Adaptive multi-paddock grazing shifts animals through smaller paddocks in quick succession, after which the land is given time to recover.

FROM – https://drawdown.org/solutions/managed-grazing

And here’s a snippet from World Resources Institute on governments subsidizing sustainable agriculture for farmers willing to adopt practices that actively sequester carbon on farmland (through carbon farming, cover crops, and/ or another sustainable farming practice discussed above) –

“To both feed the world and solve climate change, the world needs to produce 50% more food in 2050 compared to 2010 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. While government funding has an important role to play, a new World Bank report found that agricultural subsidies are currently doing little to achieve these goals, but have great potential for reform.

What is needed to mitigate the 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions contributed by global agriculture, including emissions from land use change? The good news is that many opportunities exist to boost agricultural productivity to provide more food on existing agricultural land while reducing emissions.

Opportunity one is to increase natural resource efficiency by producing more food per hectare, per animal and per kilogram of fertilizer and other chemicals used. Opportunity two is to put in place measures to link these productivity gains to protection of forests and other native habitats. Opportunity three is to pursue innovations, because reaching climate goals for agriculture — just like for energy use — requires new technologies and approaches.

Overall, governments around the world should redirect more agricultural funding to focus on mitigation and the synergies between reducing emissions and producing more food. A first step toward a sustainable food future is to make better use of the large financial support governments are already providing.”   FROM – wri.org/redirecting-agricultural-subsidies-sustainable-food-future



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Using Technology to Provide Clean Water to Cities

Clean Water Technologies


How Technology Can Help Cities Avoid Another Flint Water Crisis

Article by Jane Marsh |

The green movement is influencing natural resource protection. As the global temperature rises, adverse effects limit individuals’ access to freshwater sources. In answer, ecologists are developing technologies that improve urban water supplies.

Many engineers and scientists evaluate the Flint Water Crisis while designing their purification devices. The systems assess ways to improve public health and well-being by minimizing contamination. Before individuals consider the different filtration technologies, they must examine the effects of the Flint Water Crisis.


What Is the Flint Water Crisis?

Flint River

In 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan, began noticing changes in their water supply. Before individuals experienced the differences, the city changed its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River in order to save money. Flint is a working-class community with a lower-than-average income.

The government saw the community’s health as less of a priority than more developed regions. Officials failed to monitor the new water supply’s safety, which led to adverse effects. After consuming the water, residents began feeling sick and reported rashes, hair loss, and itchy skin.

Even after multiple claims, the local government continued supplying Flint with contaminated water. Residents consumed the water supply for years and some eventually developed Legionnaires’ disease. The effects killed 12 individuals and left 87 with severe illnesses.

Environmental scientists explored Flint’s challenges to create preventive technologies. Engineers and ecologists are applying the systems to protect all communities equally. There are six technologies purifying water sources to avoid a recurrence of the Flint Crisis.


AI Water Monitors

Scientists are using artificial intelligence (AI) to support filtration systems in the digital age. After the Flint Water Crisis, the University of Michigan and Google teamed up and created advanced purification technology. The AI system determines which of Flint’s 55,000 houses have lead pipes.

The technology is 97% accurate at preventing lead poisoning. Switching the water supply and replacing lead pipes can effectively protect Flint’s citizens from adverse health effects. The AI system explores the residual effects of the contaminated water source on residents’ lines.

The Flint Action and Sustainability Team (FAST) received $100 million from the government to apply the technology and replace lead-containing pipes. When corporations like Google advocate for underserved communities and advance AI technology, the government understands the severity of the ecological issue.

Other scientists are developing systems to detect and remove bacteria, further protecting residents.


Bacteria Detection System

Scientists are using membrane concentration technologies to identify specific pathogens and contaminants in water sources. Professionals sample water supplies using hollow-fiber and ultra-filtration methods. Individuals may identify bacteria and viruses in the samples using the detection technology. They can also use the system to identify and remove harsh bacteria from local supplies.

Sampling professionals may use detection technology to locate Escherichia coli (E. coli) in water sources. This bacteria may cause mass illnesses which cause cramping, vomiting, and fever.

Another bacterium the technology can detect to increase health and safety is heterotrophic bacteria. Heterotrophic bacteria are less harmful than E. coli. Scientists assess heterotrophic bacteria levels to identify the potential for other contaminants to reproduce.

Environmental engineers create purification systems using reverse osmosis to remove bacteria and other impurities from water sources.


Reverse Osmosis

Filtration professionals use reverse osmosis to convert ocean water, wastewater, and other sources into drinkable resources. The technology uses a semipermeable membrane to capture and store solutes. Reverse osmosis systems effectively purify water sources and protect individuals’ health.

The technology can also increase a community’s access to safe drinking water. In areas like Flint, where freshwater sources carry contaminants, individuals can use reverse osmosis to convert ocean water into a potable resource. Freshwater only makes up about 1% of Earth’s water supply.

The remaining water resides in the oceans and icecaps. Using the advanced technology helps prevent adverse health effects and communities’ reliance on contaminated water sources. Scientists are also utilizing ultraviolet (UV) rays to avoid another Flint Water Crisis.


UV Water Treatment

Purification professionals are using the germicidal properties of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill microorganisms. The wavelengths ranging from 200 to 300 nanometers eliminate nearly all contaminants. UV light eliminates a microorganism’s ability to reproduce, protecting the current and future water supply.

Professionals could utilize UV filtration technology at water treatment plants to prevent mass contamination. Flint’s plant can install a light system and protect its citizens from adverse health effects. Many green city developers are utilizing such purification technologies to support sustainable systems.


Supporting Green Cities With Purification Technology

Green cities support modern urbanization while minimizing adverse ecological effects. Developers are implementing water purification technologies to eliminate surface-level pollution. Some professionals are even utilizing the systems to convert contaminated water into energy.

Generating power from wastewater decreases a community’s reliance on fossil fuels. The technologies can lower surface and atmospheric degradation over time. Regions may also pair their AI filtration technology with smart city systems to safeguard a community’s health and well-being.


Article by Jane Marsh

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co


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Kamuthi Solar Project; and the largest solar PV farms in India, China, and other countries

What are the World’s Largest Solar Projects?


Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district; the Kamuthi Solar Power Project supplies energy to ~300,000 homes. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a 648 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Tamil Nadu, India. However, as you will see in this article, there are actually a few larger solar projects in India, China, and elsewhere worldwide.


Kamuthi Solar Project

A lone solar worker strides along PV panels of Kamuthi Solar Power Project>>>


Crown Jewel of Tamil Nadu

Kamuthi cost US $710 million, and became operational in 2016. As a result, India became the #3 country in the world for operational utility-scale solar PV parks, behind only China and the United States. To reach the third spot, India had to leapfrog the United Kingdom, and this solar farm gave them just enough edge.

Tamil Nadu, home to the Kamuthi Solar Plant, is a relatively large state in India at the South-east tip of India, and the capital is Chennai. Known as the most urbanized state in India, Tamil Nadu is industrialized and produces a significant quantity of manufacturing. However, the Kamuthi Solar Plant remains the crown jewel of Tamil Nadu.


Adani ventures into solar energy with Kamuthi

Kamuthi was built and funded by Adani power, a company that was founded in 1996 as an energy trading company; and since became India’s largest private energy company. In 2011, Adani became the largest private thermal power generating company in India.

Adani took their first step into power generation with a massive coal power project in Mundra (built in 4+ stages between 2009-2012). This huge solar energy plant – Kamuthi – was Adani’s first venture into massive solar projects; and as Adani begins to look beyond coal, into sustainable energy, so too does the whole country of India seek a greener energy future.


How Long Did it Take to Build Kamuthi?

The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a massive structure, however, it was built in only eight months. This feat was accomplished through the dedication of 8,500 team members, who worked 24 hours a day to complete the project. Perhaps as a result of the quick and efficient build, this project cost significantly less than the Topaz Solar Plant, an only slightly smaller sized plant than Kamuthi, but still a relatively large solar plant, in the Mojave desert.


Who Had the World’s Largest Solar Farm Prior to Kamuthi?

The record for the world’s largest individual solar PV farm prior to Kamuthi belonged to the Topaz Solar Plant in California, which has a total capacity of 550 megawatts, took 2 years to build, and cost $2.5 billion. The Kamuthi plant, by comparison, has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Kamuthi took ~1/3 less time to develop than Topaz, at ~1/3 the price. However, both of these solar plants have since been surpassed by subsequent developments of even larger solar PV parks; in India, China, and other parts of the world.

Both the Kamuthi and Topaz solar farms have been eclipsed in size by even bigger solar parks, again mostly in India (although some of the largest solar PV parks are elsewhere in the world; most substantially in China). China, the US, and India, stand as world leaders in the production of large solar farms, but other countries also have significant large solar projects.

Even larger than Kamuthi, is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China, at 850 MW, which went operational in February 2017. And bigger still, is the 1GW Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, The 1 GW Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in the south Indian province of Andhra Pradesh became fully operational in July 2017.

Bhadla Solar Park

The Noor solar plant in Abu Dhabi has a capacity of over 1 GW and was fully functional as of June 2019. Tengger Desert Solar Park takes up over 10,000 acres in China’s northwestern Ningxia province and has a total capacity of 1,547 MW. India has a couple of solar PV parks that have around 2 GW of capacity: Bhadla Solar Park and Pavagada Solar Park. Read more about the>>> the 2 GW Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.

The following list has some of the largest PV parks in the world [note: this list was generated before solar parks like Noor, Bhadla, and Pavagada, were completed]:
  • Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
  • Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
  • Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
  • Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
  • Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
  • Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
  • Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
  • Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
  • Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
  • Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW                  FROM:  power-technology.com/features/the-worlds-biggest-solar-power-plants

How Green is India?

India was the first country worldwide to set up an official government department of non-traditional energy resources, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. India has been working towards more sustainable energy sources since the 1980s.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, whose mission statement is to “increase the share of clean power, increase the availability of energy and improve its access, improve energy affordability, and maximize energy equity”, plans for India to generate 40% of the country’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Renewable energy currently accounts for over 1/3 of electrical generation in India, and well over 1/3 of energy production capacity in the country. India has a goal of powering over 60 million Indian homes with solar energy by 2022.


What Plans Does India Have for More Solar Plants?

India will soon have developed the world’s newest, largest solar power parks with other ultra-high capacity solar power parks – Pavagada and Bhadla Solar Parks. India is developing approximately 25 more large solar parks, with capacities around, or over, 1 GW; and now even two 2+GW solar parks (the Bhadla Solar Park, and the Pavagada Solar Park). India is also focusing on bringing clean electricity to remote villages and is taking on many other environmental sustainability initiatives.

India, along with China, is continuing to work on environmental sustainability measures like solar farms and other renewable energy projects as part of the transition these countries are in the process of making; from coal-based energy generation to supply a large share of these countries’ electricity needs, to renewable energy like solar power. Newly developed large solar farms in India, and throughout Asia and the Middle East, will have a substantial, positive impact on the environmental health of the planet.



Please also see:

The 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Plant, and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System



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Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities

Climate Priority Pathways & Policies |


Strategies for mitigating climate change

What are the best strategies for mitigating global warming? How is the United States going to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions? Carbon pricing? The Green New Deal? Here’s a brief list of sustainability priorities that the United States should implement in order to avoid contributing to the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic climate change:


Priority Climate Actions for the US government

The United States federal government under Biden; all relevant Climate, Energy, and Environment executive administrative agencies must implement the following priorities. Also, ideally Congress and/ or state legislatures & governors must focus on priorities outlined in GCT’s Climate Public Policies article.   


Regulations

  • The EPA under Biden needs to work on ensuring environmental regulations are put back in place; including air, water, and land pollution and GHGs regulatory rollbacks, now that the Trump administration is gone. “Most of these [environmental protection] rollbacks can be reversed by the Biden administration, but it will take some concerted effort. [Berkeley Law] has compiled nearly 200 rollbacks, listed here“.   FROM  –  law.berkeley.edu/research/clee/reversing-environmental-rollbacks
  • A permanent moratorium on new coal plants legislated and mandated by the U.S. federal government, or at least by a majority of U.S. states. Pursue a just transition for coal country (e.g. retraining coal miners, other coal industry employees, in clean energy jobs. Just transition assistance with clean energy job placement; financial assistance to coal communities as local coal industry-dependent economies transition to clean energy economies). Existing coal mines are phased out completely by 2040 at the latest during the energy transition to clean energy in the U.S.
  • Permanent ban on all drilling for oil & gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Moratorium on all mining in ANWR & in all public lands and waters of the United States. Ban on oil & gas drilling on federal lands & waters in the U.S. (Biden has effectively done most of the current moratoriums on drilling/ mining on federal lands/ waters with executive actions – now these bans must be made permanent with legislation through Congress).
  • Ban all Canadian tar sands oil imports and close tar sands oil pipelines – so that means ban all trains and pipelines that transport tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S., and stop the development of the Keystone XL pipeline – which Biden now has issued an executive order to do. The development of the Dakota Access pipeline should have effectively been stopped by the order of a federal judge in 2020. However, the case is still being bandied about the courts, pending ‘environmental review’, among other legal issues. Biden and Congress could shut the Dakota Access pipeline down, along with ensuring similar dirty tar sand oil pipelines are shut-down; especially the Line 3 pipeline.

Paris; UN Sustainability Goals; Climate & Land-use Targets

  • Rejoin the international community on climate. The United States must make good on commitments made at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord before trying to put into U.S. law (through Congress) parts of new policies like sections of the Green New Deal (GND). This is true for even less dramatic policies than the GND, like the various federal carbon pricing proposals circulating Congress. Now that the Biden administration has rejoined Paris, the U.S. must try and achieve the more ambitious Carbon Neutrality Coalition (CNC) goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and join the CNC. Even if any part of The Green New Deal does get passed by Congress and signed into law by Biden, the U.S. must still try to achieve goals set at the Paris Climate Accord. The U.S. must maintain its commitments to vital measures; such as ambitious GHG reduction goals.
  • The U.S. will try to pull its own weight on climate, energy, the environment, and other sustainability goals.
  • The sustainability and clean energy measures listed above in this article should be implemented by the U.S. government; even if the efforts fall short of the ambitious climate, energy, environment, and social justice targets outlined in The Green New Deal. It is recommended that the US federal government, or just individual states, consider passing carbon pricing legislation; similar to California’s emissions trading system (ETS); or an ETS similar to the one conducted by 10 Northeastern states (11 with Virginia joining in 2021) – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).   
  • The United States must ensure (through the EPA); or ideally pass legislation through Congress – setting GHG reduction, decarbonization targets for the U.S. in order to meet all ambitious goals to meet the climate targets set by the United States at the Paris Climate Accord. Biden has pledged to decarbonize the energy generation sector (for electricity generation) by 2035, and to achieve net zero emissions (carbon neutrality targets) by 2050 – these represent significantly ambitious climate targets.
  • All regulations for fossil fuel developments that were mandated under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which mirror GHG reduction targets initially set at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord must be enforced at a minimum. Based on the new, more ambitious direction of the international community on climate change mitigation; even more ambitious targets than were originally set up by Obama’s CPP should be new targets for the Biden administration. Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants will need to meet the most ambitious standards set by the Paris Climate Accord; and continue to evolve with new guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – and which now are GHG reduction targets aligned with carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Expand, protect, restore, and maintain U.S. protected public wilderness, parks, nature reserves, natural monuments, and all U.S. public lands.
  • Tax incentives/ direct government subsidies for sustainable agriculture (encourage farms to adopt practices such as cover crops, agroforestry, other common sustainable agriculture practices.


There were a few significant events which showed strong signs of global progress, with the United States as an occasional global leader on climate action; in terms of addressing anthropogenic climate change in 2014-2015, leading to the Paris Climate Accord:

  1. the Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change
  2. Obama’s CPP
  3. Paris Climate Accord

These events represented true progress. We must get back to this momentum.

The new climate envoy and related staff, John Kerry and his staff, for the new executive climate department of the U.S. government; and the new Biden Administration picks for EPA, Energy, Interior, and other climate related cabinet positions – should get the U.S. back on track as far as ambitious climate policies based on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change guidance. The COP26 in Glasgow should provide a beacon of hope for the global clean energy transition.

On day one of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris climate accord, and canceled further U.S. development of the Keystone pipeline, as well as discontinuing any further U.S. investment in the Keystone pipeline (stopping any use of the pipeline for Canadian tar sands oil). Now Biden and Congress just need to tackle the above priorities (including stopping at least 2 more major Canadian tar sands oil pipelines). Relevant parts of the Biden administration (EPA, the new Climate executive department, Energy, Interior) need to start issuing incremental policies (such as those listed above) to address sustainable climate solutions to meet new IPCC guidance. Public policies that are recommended for the United States to pursue as far as climate, energy, and the environment, please see: GCT’s CLIMATE PUBLIC POLICIES article.


The United States federal government (through Congress), or individual states (through state legislatures), should at least consider passing legislation from the various carbon pricing proposals circulating Congress. Please see: GCT’s EU and US climate progress, carbon pricing, and carbon tax articles; for more insight on the range of carbon pricing legislation measures proposed and in effect globally.


Big Oil (and gas) and Big Coal, in the United States as in much of the rest of the world, finance the campaigns of many politicians and have successfully been able to slow down progress on some major climate goals. How much of the Clean Power Plan had the Trump administration, Congressional Republicans, and the EPA under Trump been able to stop?  The EPA under the Trump administration had been able to stop or reverse the ambitious goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord in some, Republican-controlled, states.

However, many states and cities in the United States have stayed on track to meet the initial requirements of the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Accord; as individual states (like California, many states in the Northeast, several other states) have remained committed to the ambitious climate goals of the CPP and Paris Climate Accord; and remain committed to achieving the latest climate targets set by the IPCC. Please see: greencitytimes.blogspot.com/elements-of-clean-power-plan-still-move and: greencitytimes.blogspot.com/was-clean-power-plan-just-wiped-out.


Some U.S. states have even more ambitious strategies to reduce GHGs and fight climate change than put forth in the CPP, or at Paris in 2015; closer to the carbon neutrality targets set by the latest IPCC guidance.

Examples of states with ambitious climate mitigation plans include: states like California, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, as well as several states in the Northeast U.S., a few other states (all are states which have passed bills through their states’ legislatures that mandate 100% renewable energy within the next 3 decades for their entire state; or at least 100% clean energy ). New York City is even planning a congestion levy for cars in the city center of NYC); and is investing substantial support for electric vehicles – like the development of extensive EV charging stations, as well as other EV infrastructure.


Carbon pricing, fiscal incentives for clean energy technologies, and incentives for clean energy job growth are among public policies that would benefit the environmental health of the planet by increasing investment in clean and renewable energy; helping in the fight against climate change by reducing GHGs from energy production.

Policies supporting clean energy job growth would also help the economy. Here is an article by Green City Times – a guide to needed public policies for environmental (as well as economic) sustainability, including our complete take on the Green New Deal – greencitytimes.com/stabilize-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2



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Renewable Energy – Breakthroughs in Wind Energy

Latest trends in global wind turbine technology


Onshore Wind Farms – Cheap and Clean Energy |

Onshore wind farms now provide the least expensive form of energy, renewable or non-renewable, once the wind farm is fully constructed and operational. Among energy sources used to power a municipal grid, wind farms also have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and the lowest carbon footprint, of ANY energy source (given the complete lifecycle of the energy source).


Recent breakthroughs in wind turbines

Investment of research & development in wind turbines has recently made wind turbines more efficient, helped to drive down costs due to technological advancements of new wind turbines, and helped to put wind energy on a stronger footing to out-compete coal and natural gas. Breakthroughs in wind technology include the production of increasingly larger wind turbines.

Turbines are increasingly made from stronger, lighter composite materials such as carbon fiber or composite materials. New wind turbines are being produced with an increased use of strong, light, corrosion-resistant composite materials for wind turbine blade, tower, and foundation structure construction.

Recent developments in wind turbines include such technological advancements as lasers pinpointing the direction of the wind. Lasers are used so that turbine blades can optimize their productive capacity by automatically adjusting their position. Here’s a brief summary of recent wind turbine optimizations:

As towers get taller, turbine blades get longer, which helps catch more wind. By turning to lighter, stronger materials, such as carbon fiber or advanced fabrics (the same composite materials used for next-generation aircraft), turbines can spin and generate power at lower speeds.

Today’s turbines have sensors and precision controllers, which constantly tweak the blade position to optimize the use of the wind energy and provide information to wind farm operators. The orientation of each turbine blade is continuously adjusted as well. Intelligent controllers expose more of the blade to capture the most wind…

Improvements in weather forecasting are also increasing the output from wind farms. Accurate wind forecasts can increase the power dispatch…by having a better grip on the wind’s intermittent nature.”   FROM –  windenergy.org.nz/improvements-in-technology


Modern Wind Turbines – Bigger and Better

Advancements in blade design of new wind turbine blades optimize performance by maximizing energy production capacity, optimizing the flow of wind turbine blades, and decreasing drag. Many new wind turbines on the global market are also manufactured with an increased length of wind turbine blades.

New wind turbines also have increased power generating capacity, compared to wind turbines produced last decade. GE recently unveiled a 12 MW offshore wind turbine (now being developed as 12,13, or even 14 MW units)- the Haliade-X. The Haliade-X is being developed for use in new European offshore wind farm projects, and offshore wind farms in the US as well.


How Do New Wind Turbines Address the Intermittency Issue?

Two types of technologies in particular address intermittency of wind; as well as energy storage concerns, factors which have held wind back in the past. Industrial smart systems in new, advanced tech wind farms send data to wind farm operators, allowing operators to predict wind strength, times of stronger wind activity, and wind direction. With these smart systems, turbine operators can program optimal position for turbines based on the forecasted wind speed, time, and direction.

In addition, renewable energy storage technologies store excess electricity when more energy is produced by the wind than what is needed. Energy storage is needed with wind farm in order to feed energy back into the grid when the wind slows down, or the wind stops blowing for a time.


Here is a snippet from Bloomberg Green on the new GE Haliade-X wind turbine, as well as other large wind turbines now in development-

“Since GE debuted its own 12-megawatt Haliade-X turbine in March 2018, the machine has racked up numerous orders, including for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm that will be built off the coast of England [specifically for Dogger Bank C, the 1.2GW third phase of the 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm), and cut into the business that’s been dominated by Siemens Gamesa and to a lesser extent by MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S.

The Siemens Gamesa [14-megawatt] turbine, which the company’s calling SG 14-222 DD, will be ready for a prototype in 2021 and commercially available in 2024. With the new machine cutting off GE’s claim on the world’s biggest windmill, Siemens Gamesa will be well positioned to solidify its position as the market leader.”   FROM –  bloomberg.com/battle-over-world-s-biggest-wind-turbine-is-heating-up



Related wind energy articles>>>

windpowerengineering.com/new-advances-in-wind-turbine-components

bbc.com/is-wind-powers-future-in-deep-water

nesgt.com/what-does-the-future-of-wind-turbine-technology-look-like-for-engineers


Please also see:

Amazon wind farms


London Array – paving the way for efficient offshore wind energy farms


Anholt Offshore Wind Farm — Denmark’s most powerful source of renewable energy


The Block Island Wind Farm – America’s 1st operational offshore wind farm


carbon farming carbon footprint carbon neutral carbon neutrality carbon pricing carbon tax clean energy Clean Power Plan climate change climate solutions cogeneration Conference of the Parties cover crops e-bikes electric vehicles energy energy efficiency energy star Freiburg global warming green building greenhouse gas emissions hydrogen hydrogen fuel cells Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change LEED nationally determined contributions net zero greenhouse gas emissions nuclear energy Paris Climate Accord recycling renewable energy reverse osmosis smart grid smart meter solar sources of renewable energy sustainability sustainable agriculture sustainable mass transit United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change urban planning waste-to-energy waste management zero-waste

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Shortfall in International GHG Reduction Pledges

Shortfall in International NDCs |


Is the World Going to Meet its Climate Targets?

There is a substantial shortfall between GHG emission reduction pledges that almost 200 countries have made, and global climate reality. Worldwide, almost 200 countries have set climate targets – independently, and internationally all member-nations of the UNFCCC* have recommended targets.

The international pledges are known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs)  – and can be compared to UN recommendations. The international NDCs made at the Paris Climate Accord represent a problematic shortfall compared to the reality of what greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) the planet has in store for its future. [*UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]

At the same time, there is also a genuine, continuing effort by the world’s countries to try to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius average global temperature increase (above pre-industrial era global temperature averages) by the end of this century. 2° C is the number that represents saving the planet from the worst effects of climate change.

The UNFCCC advises all world governments that a reduction in global GHGs (NDCs) by 7.6% annually for the next decade is required to meet the ambitious 1.5°C Paris target (see below).



What Measures are Needed to Reach Climate Targets?

In order to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change, the international community has pledged (both in the COP21 at Paris, and in subsequent years) to increase the use of such sustainability technologies like renewable energy and energy efficiency measures; while simultaneously decreasing fossil fuel use, in order to mitigate GHGs…emissions which lead to global temperature rise.

The idea is to keep global temperature rise to well under 2°C (compared to historical values, usually mid-19th century) by the end of this century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advises that world nations must increase ambition/ investment in clean & renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and green building, in order to keep global warming well below 2°C this century. **The ambitious recommended IPCC limit to global warming is for the world to stay to no more than 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial average global temperatures this century. Global average temperatures are already over 1° increase; using scientifically accepted metrics of measuring global temperature rise to assess the last 150-170 years; thus 1.5° is rapidly approaching.


Global Warming Reality vs. Paris Pledges

The reality is that the average global temperature rise will likely be significantly greater than what was promised at Paris – barring concerted, ambitious climate action by the international community. A 4.1-4.8°C degrees rise in average global temperatures would result if the world simply maintains the status quo. The world is thankfully not simply going to maintain the status quo in reality. This is evidenced by progressive net zero targets by the US and China (among many other nations), and best exemplified by ambitious climate action by the EU and especially Northern European countries.

The Paris pledges, as well as actions by nations, industries, and private investors, after COP21, demonstrate a genuine global effort. This global effort to reach climate goals involves the research, development, and effective use of sustainable low- or zero-emissions technologies and measures. Of course, this is great, but global temperature rise is still projected to be over the global temperature goals committed to in Paris.

In other words, a 2+°C change over the acceptable 2°C limit by the end of this century will result even if all pledges by all countries are actually met. Even in this somewhat positive scenario (and in the realistic best-case scenarios), as of now, there is still a shortfall – this NYTimes interactive piece clearly illustrates this problem — for the original 2015 NYTimes interactive click>>> http://tinyurl.com/gct333

If all nearly 200 nations keep all of their promises from COP21, global temperature rise will be limited to just 0.035°C (0.063°F) annually (best case). Even if every government on the planet that participated in COP21 keeps every Paris promise, reduces GHG emissions as promised, and shifts no emissions to other countries; and also keeps these emission reductions going throughout the rest of the century – the average projected global temperature rise will be kept to just 3°C (5.4°F) by the year 2100.

United States Future Climate Ambition

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his moratorium on drilling for oil in the Atlantic, the U.S.’s 3-year moratorium on building coal mines on federal land represented progress on climate goals that was, and still is, the best hope for America to do its part. Now that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the new United States President and Vice President; and Democrats are in charge of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the United States will rejoin the international community focused on climate action. Progressive action on climate will be legislated and, in some cases, mandated, both nationally and state-by-state.

First and foremost, this means rejoining the Paris Climate Accord; and working to achieve the latest global decarbonization goals of the International Panel on Climate Change. Relevant U.S Environmental, Energy, and Climate executive administration agencies are now focused on action for sustainability agendas.

The United States government is also poised to invest substantially in clean energy infrastructure, clean energy job development, environmental protections, and in many other significant sustainable climate, energy, environmental, and economic/job growth US sectors. For a complete list of the latest GCT recommended US climate priorities, including ambitious priorities such as carbon neutrality for the U.S. by 2050 – please see – Permanent ban on new coal mines and other sustainability priorities for the United States.

The Rest of The World

China looking to shut down older coal power plants is a very positive sign. Promising signs include the global increased development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Energy transition progress is also seen in substantial increases in electric vehicles in Northern European nations, Asia, and much of the both the developed and developing world. Europe has been leading the way on ambitious climate action for many years.

European nations are independently setting ambitious net zero goals of 2050 (or even sooner in a couple cases). The European Union passed legislation that also targets net zero GHG emissions by 2050,. Even before President Biden announced a net zero by 2050 target for the United States, China set a net zero target of 2060.

However, optimism, in the face of the undeniable math of GHG reduction targets, reality, and the true effort it will take to reach ambitious climate goals, such as carbon neutrality by 2050; clearly tells us more needs to be done.



Green City Times is a resource on sustainability, urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency and green building. Find facts on renewable energy including: hydroelectric (from dams, mills, waves, currents and tides), solar, wind, geothermal, biomass (and biofuel). Also get info. about everything from recycling to clean coal…Green City Times also features articles on the latest sustainability technology. 

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Breakthroughs in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal Technology

SHINING Future of Solar


Solar – the most abundant renewable energy on the planet |

Recently there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar energy that will help advance the mainstream use of photovoltaic (PV) technology. Here is a guide on top solar companies as well as in-depth explanations of various solar projects. This guide offers different recommendations depending on what solar services are needed (comparing cost, customer satisfaction data, and technology).

Recent technological advancements are bringing solar PV down to a more affordable cost. In the case of utility-scale PV (solar farms), solar energy is at an even lower cost: cheaper when compared to fossil fuel energy (given an ideal location for the solar farm).

Breakthroughs in solar are not limited to PV, there are also breakthroughs in solar thermal technologies (CSP towers, solar parabolics, solar water heaters). Solar is the most abundant energy source available on the planet and is steadily dropping in cost while rising in efficiency.

A key development that will enable the widespread use of solar is the production of cells using less expensive, and readily available materials. Silicon has traditionally been the preferred material for PV, however, cadmium telluride, among other PV cell materials, is now also used to produce PV cells as flexible thin-film cells or brittle crystalline structures. These materials are used to produce highly efficient, low-cost cells with far fewer raw materials needed.

Advanced solar PV technology, along with nano PV, is found in utility-scale thin-film solar farms, as well as most modern solar PV farms, rooftop PV, and solar arrays of every size.

Nano solar cell

Nano PV

Nano PV cells result in much more compact, thinner, more efficient solar panels. Nanotechnologies in PV with from 4 to 7 times (or more) the efficiency of standard photovoltaic cells are in the R&D phase today, with limited commercial availability. 

However, there are nano and alternative material PV cells with substantially higher efficiency than the traditional standard in the solar market (double to triple the efficiency of common solar cells that have typically had up to 19% efficiency). 

The solar arrays now being produced could be exponentially improved with the development, refinement, and implementation of nanotechnology. For more information on materials used to make modern solar cells, please see Renewable Energy: Solar.


Solar Thermal |

In addition to advancements in traditional photovoltaic technology, there have been exponential advancements in the field of solar thermal energy. Instead of simply converting energy from the sun into electricity as with PV, solar thermal technology uses energy from the sun to heat water, molten salt, or another working fluid. That heated liquid produces steam, which drives a generator to create electricity. Solar thermal represents an advancement in solar energy with 4 to 5 times the power density of PV.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

CSP

Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems are examples of large-scale solar thermal projects. CSP solar tower generators consist of a central solar energy collector positioned on a tower (solar power tower) and used to concentrate solar energy in order to heat a working fluid. The concentrated solar power is beamed solar power tower from thousands of mirrors (heliostats). Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a good example of a successful large-scale CSP tower operation. Some of the most promising new projects in the world of solar power are in CSP.

solar dish, solar trough, and CSP tower

Solar Parabolics

Another type of solar thermal energy system is a parabolic solar installation. Solar parabolic systems consist of solar dishes and troughs; and are used as grid-scale energy generators, as well as for large-scale energy storage. Additionally, other solar thermal technologies have found great use in the emerging field of thermal energy storage (see Science Direct link). See this link for a detailed description of the various types of solar thermal systems touched on in this article, and more on solar thermal storage using molten salt; as well as more on solar water heating systems – sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/solar-thermal-storage


Solar water heaters

Another commercially successful application of solar power is the solar-powered water heater. Solar-powered water heaters are mandatory in most new residential buildings and homes in the country of Israel, and now, in the state of Hawaii. Some of the other new applications of solar thermal energy include power generation and solar space heating, as well as solar water heating; in industrial buildings, schools, hospitals, and even in remotely situated buildings.


Both types of solar energy (PV and solar thermal) will continue to steadily lessen in cost as technological advancements are made. However, photovoltaic is projected to remain ahead of thermal in terms of cost of production and utilization. Solar thermal does have a couple of advantages that compensate for the higher cost. Solar thermal energy is produced consistently throughout the day, not relying on weather conditions. as the turbine will run on natural gas if there is no sun for an extended period of time. Solar thermal units fit easily with power storage systems and will continue to produce energy at night, using energy harnessed during the day.


Dropping cost of solar

This chart illustrates the future trend of dropping costs for solar, to a level much lower than fossil fuel energy. Solar energy is already cheaper than all fossil fuel energy for utility-scale thin-film solar PV farms in many locations ideal for solar.

 

At the end of 2019, solar produced just over 2% of global electricity. The chart above tells us that after two more doublings, when 2,400 GW of solar are producing roughly 8% of current electricity demand, solar costs (of the most recently built built & operational projects) will have dropped in half from today’s levels. In the sunny parts of the world with low costs of capital, labor, and land, we could routinely be seeing unsubsidized solar in the 1-2 cent range. In California (typical of the green line) we could be seeing unsubsidized solar at 2.5 cents per kwh. In northern Europe, we could be seeing utility scale solar routinely priced at 4-5 US cents per kwh.  FROM  –  rameznaam.com/solars-future-is-insanely-cheap-2020


Related links on solar energy:

understandingnano.com/solarcells

grist.org/solar-power/harnessing-the-suns-energy-for-water-and-space-heating

Here’s a snippet from a BBC article titled A breakthrough approaches for solar power about the rising efficiency of solar cells, and growing use of solar worldwide>>>

“Today’s average commercial solar panel converts 17-19% of the light energy hitting it to electricity. This is up from 12% just 10 years ago. But what if we could boost this to 30%? More efficient solar cells mean we could get much more than today’s 2.4% of global electricity supply from the sun.

Solar is already the world’s fastest growing energy technology. Ten years ago, there were only 20 gigawatts of installed solar capacity globally – one gigawatt being roughly the output of a single large power station. By the end of last year, the world’s installed solar power had jumped to about 600 gigawatts.”   FROM –  bbc.com/May2020

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Economy vs. the Environment

GREEN, Healthy Environment = GREEN, Healthy Economy


Economic growth does not have to come at the expense of the environment. Sustainable technologies (such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mass transit, electric vehicles) are also extremely beneficial to the economy. For example, the renewable energy industry employs over 500,000 people in the United States. The coal industry is responsible for under 90,000 jobs in the US. In addition, the cost of renewable energy, like solar and wind, is lower than coal (especially when looking at the levelized cost of energy), as depicted in this chart:

(chart from: wind-and-solar-are-our-cheapest-electricity-generation-sources-now; and also see: lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy)


GREEN Growth

A good example of eco-environmental sustainable growth can be seen clearly at the national level. Economic growth is beneficial and necessary for both industrialized and developing nations; as modernization (cities, national infrastructure, vital services, etc…) significantly improves the quality of peoples’ lives.

Unfortunately, most global economic growth historically has only been possible with the exploitation of natural resources. Historically, this exploitation of natural resources has been in land (as in exploitation of forests. wilderness), water (e.g. oceans, rivers, lakes), and especially fossil fuels (gas, coal, and oil for energy, oil/ petrochemicals for manufacturing).

Today, this exploitation of natural resources is no longer necessary to achieve growth; sustainable technologies are abundant, efficient, and affordable (such as renewable energyenergy efficiency technologies, sustainable mass transitelectric vehicles, etc…).

The global sustainability movement best represents the current global modernization movement; as evidenced by increased global investment in, and increased innovation of, clean energy technologies. In addition to the lower cost of, and increased efficiency of, clean energy technologies, the clean energy is the fastest growing segment of the US economy for job growth.


Please see: Renewable Energy JOBS are UP; and RE cost is down


Efficiency of sustainable technologies

Modern, 21st-century sustainability technologies are simply more energy-efficient and cost-efficient than their 20th-century fossil-fuel-intensive counterparts; as evidenced by hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). EVs and hybrids get greater MPGs with greater fuel efficiency; providing much more savings (and responsible environmental safety as well), than all transportation options relying on more polluting vehicles running only on internal combustion engines (ICE vehicles).

EVs generate much less CO2 and other GHGs than ICE vehicles; especially when EVs are charged with electricity from a municipal grid powered with low-carbon energy sources. There’s also savings on maintenance costs, in addition to savings on fuel and much lower emissions, with EVs and hybrids compared to ICE vehicles (even when an EV is more expensive to purchase than a similar ICE vehicle); as illustrated in this chart comparing the total cost of ownership for a Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vs. ICE equivalent minivan:

PHEV vs ICE vehicle – total cost of ownership


The significantly greater long-term, sustained economic benefits of, and opportunities provided by, modern, sustainable technologies are true for every technology that uses clean energy instead of dirty fossil fuels. The economy grows more as companies’ carbon footprints are reduced, fewer natural resources are used, the environment is treated with care; and more efficient products, as well as sustainable jobs, are developed.

Economic growth only TRULY happens (long-term) with sustainable technologies, which promote both economic growth AND environmental protections. If the economy has boom cycles due to environmental deregulations which allow coal, oil, gas, and petrochemical companies to avoid best environmental practices – how is that not counter-productive and a negative strategy overall?


Economic costs of unsustainable energy

Let’s say one person in the community gets wealthy due to loosening regulations on fossil fuel development, while another deals with damage due to the same deregulation. For example, in the case of a mishap in fracking or drilling when there are deregs allowing for booming fossil fuel business, but also causing destruction due to lax environmental standards. This is seen in: us-oklahoma-drilling-blast/five-missing-after-oklahoma-oil-and-gas-drilling-site-explosion.

The costs (negative externalities; costs to public health and the environment) of damage due to fossil fuels are increasing; costs of repair, cost of clean-up for environmental pollution, and/ or medical costs due deregulation & increased pollution (not to mention loss of life and personal injury in fossil fuel development and production), global warming, less clean water, air, land etc…

These costs associated ONLY with fossil fuels and NOT with renewable energy, increase when environmental deregulations continue to be given to what should be highly regulated fossil fuel industries. The federal, state, and private resources required to deal with the many problems associated with the deregulated fossil fuel industry offset any short-term economic gains. With clean energy and energy efficiency job growth and economic investment there is sustained long-term growth, without the abundance of negative externalities that come with fossil fuels.


Sustainable economic growth

Isn’t it a better idea to focus on a sustainable social business growth model vs. analyzing adjusted gains due to continual subsidies to fossil fuel companies; and deregulating industry to help fossil fuel intensive companies in the stock market? 10% of the richest Americans own 84% of all stocks in the stock market.  A much better indicator of economic health is the job market, and, in fact: jobs in clean energy are up to 10 times higher than jobs in fossil fuel industries.

For example, take this chart which compares US jobs in solar (& wind energy) v. jobs in fossil fuels (& nuclear):


Job opportunity is much more focused on the clean energy sector than fossil fuels- see: The United States green economy now employs 10 times more people than the fossil fuel industry



An article from the Earth Institute of Columbia University looks at the need for combining the ideas of environmental sustainability and economic growth. Here, the author specifically examines the economic opportunities created with environmental regulations>>>

“There are political and business leaders who do not care if economic growth causes environmental damage and there are environmental advocates who do not believe you can have economic growth without causing environmental damage. In a New York Times piece on the climate and economics discussions at Davos, Mark Landler and Somini Sengupta reported that:

Critics pointed to a contradiction that they said the corporate world had been unable to resolve: how to assuage the appetite for economic growth, based on gross domestic product, with the urgent need to check carbon emissions. “It’s truly a contradiction,” said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It’s difficult to see if the current G.D.P.-based model of economic growth can go hand-in-hand with rapid cutting of emissions,” he said.”

I find this dialogue a little amazing since it completely ignores the history of America’s success in decoupling the growth of GDP and the growth of environmental pollution. This fact of American environmental and economic life began around 1980, a decade after the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and continues today. It’s really quite simple: with public policies ranging from command-and-control regulations to direct and indirect government subsidies, businesses and governments developed and applied technologies that reduced pollution while allowing continued economic growth…

Environmental protection itself contributes to economic growth.”     FROM –  blogs.ei.columbia.edu/economic-growth-environmental-sustainability