Tag Archives: ghg reduction

It can be done: Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen to a 120-year low 

Akshat Rathi, QUARTZ

The last time the UK emitted less carbon dioxide than it did in 2016, most Brits were still traveling by horse and carriage.

Last year, the UK emitted 381 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. The last time the country spewed less of the greenhouse gas was way back in 1894. (Industrial strikes in 1921 and 1926 also resulted in lower emissions, but for unintended reasons.)

Carbon emissions in 2016 fell by 5.8% compared with 2015, and the use of coal fell by a record 52% over the same period. More oil and gas was burned that year, but both are relatively cleaner fuels. The UK also generated more power from wind than coal for the first time ever last year.

The precipitous drop in coal use was attributed to UK’s carbon tax, which doubled in 2015 to £18 ($22) per metric ton of CO2.

Carbon emissions in 2016 fell by 5.8% compared with 2015, and the use of coal fell by a record 52% over the same period. More oil and gas was burned that year, but both are relatively cleaner fuels. The UK also generated more power from wind than coal for the first time ever last year.

The precipitous drop in coal use was attributed to UK’s carbon tax, which doubled in 2015 to £18 ($22) per metric ton of CO2.

Source: Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen to a 120-year low — Quartz

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change


The launch of Sonoma Clean Power in spring of 2014 is widely cited as the single largest action Sonoma County has taken to address climate change locally.

The public agency and the county’s dominant electricity provider is credited with reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through large-scale purchase and delivery of renewable power from non-fossil-fuel burning sources, including geothermal and wind. Additional contracts are expected to add solar and more wind power to the mix next year, ambitious moves that represent the agency’s core mission of sourcing electricity from county- and state-based sources, while helping to stabilize rates.

Now, Sonoma Clean Power is making another huge bet: that it can convince hundreds of Sonoma County residents over the next two months to ditch their gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient wheels.

The public agency has launched a new, $2.5 million venture to help people purchase electric vehicles and install at-home charging stations, further advancing efforts to reduce climate change by targeting the largest source of pollution in Sonoma County — tailpipe emissions.

“If just 100,000 cars switched from driving on oil to driving on local renewables, we’d go a long way in achieving our climate change goals. That’s pretty extraordinary,” said Geof Syphers, chief executive officer of Sonoma Clean Power. “The state has some really strong objectives related to reducing emissions, but the state doesn’t really know how to achieve them, so this is our opportunity to experiment with relatively low risk.”

Starting Oct. 27 and through Jan. 5, Sonoma Clean Power will offer its customers $2,500 discounts — on a first-come, first-served basis — to purchase or lease a Nissan Leaf or a BMW i3, two models of electric vehicles on the market. Nissan and BMW have offered additional on-the-spot rebates against the purchase price of the vehicles at Santa Rosa-based Jim Bone Nissan and Hansel BMW.

Nissan is offering a $10,000 immediate rebate on Leaf purchases and up to $11,625 for the lease option, and BMW is offering $10,500 off for purchases and $9,500 off for leasing.

Low-income Sonoma Clean Power customers are eligible for an even greater discount of $5,000. Additional state rebates and federal tax credits are available for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power adds electric vehicles to its fight to address climate change | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Transportation

Global deal reached to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons 

Chris Johnston and staff, THE GUARDIAN

Also see: How bad is your air conditioner for the planet? at NYTimes.com.

A global deal to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the battle to combat climate change is a “monumental step forward”, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said.

The agreement, announced on Saturday morning after all-night negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda, caps and reduces the use of HFCs – a key contributor to greenhouse gases – in a gradual process beginning in 2019, with action by developed countries including the US, the world’s second worst polluter.

More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, will start taking action in 2024, sparking concern from some groups that the action would be implemented too slowly to make a difference. A small group of countries, including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states, also pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That is three years earlier than India, the world’s third worst polluter, had first proposed.

Worldwide use of HFCs has soared in the past decade as rapidly growing countries like China and India have widely adopted air conditioning in homes, offices and cars. But HFC gases are thousands of times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and scientists say their growing use threatens to undermine the Paris accord by 195 countries, an agreement last year to reduce climate emissions.

President Barack Obama praised the deal on Saturday morning, calling the agreement “an ambitious and far reaching solution” to a “rapidly growing threat to the health of our planet”.

Read more at: Climate change: global deal reached to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons | Environment | The Guardian

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County Climate Action 2020: Litigation over the county’s Climate Action Plan


The County of Sonoma and it’s nine cities together are formulating a plan to collectively decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This plan is called Sonoma County Climate Action 2020, and until a lawsuit was recently filed challenging some of its underlying assumptions, the cities were prepared to sign onto the plan. This report provides background information about the plan, and where things stand today.

In 1850 the Industrial Revolution kicked off an era of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that began to accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere. As the world’s population grew by the billions, human-caused GHG emissions environmental impacts became greater and greater, especially since the 1950s.

By the mid 1980s, human-caused climate change was acknowledged as a serious problem. and precipitated the first articulation of sustainability principles. These include concepts such as the triple bottom line, full cost accounting and systems literacy.

California, being a vanguard state, in 2006 the Schwarzenegger administration began a series of measures and bills that put the state on track to reducing GHG emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Sonoma County and Individual Cities Take Local Action

Sonoma County took the ball and ran with it, each jurisdiction setting even deeper reduction goals (25% below 1990) and creating the nation’s first Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in 2009.  This was seen as cutting edge throughout the entire United States. The RCPA then worked to create a Climate Action 2020 plan for Sonoma County, finalized in July of 2016.

Each Sonoma County municipality was included in the Climate Action Plan (CAP), and able to choose from among a slate of possible voluntary local GHG emissions reduction measures that would be their contribution to the overall plan. A combination of the number of local measures chosen from the RCPA list, plus the overall amount of carbon reduced, added up to the percent of a city’s contribution to the CAP.

Read more at: In-Depth Report: Sonoma County Climate Action 2020 | Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County to offer incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars 


Sonoma County wants to convince drivers to ditch their gas-guzzling vehicles for more energy-efficient electric cars as part of an ambitious countywide initiative that could offer residents financial incentives this year to make the switch.

Backed by the Board of Supervisors, several programs are underway that county officials hope will boost the number of electric vehicles on the road, and develop the public and private charging network to support them.

The effort would help to reduce greenhouse gases and stave off the impacts of climate change, officials said.

“This is one of those areas where Sonoma County wants to be a leader,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, the board chairman.

“We know that electric vehicles are the most effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and in order to get more clean cars on the roads, we have to get them in the hands of those who can benefit the most — middle-class workers.”

The county is planning to offer residents and businesses grants and rebate checks to purchase new cars or help with the installation of charging stations at homes or workplaces.

Read more at: Sonoma County to offer incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, Transportation

California extends most ambitious US climate change law 


A decade ago, California vowed to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.With the nation’s most populous state on pace to meet that target, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday charted a new goal to further cut carbon pollution by extending and expanding the landmark climate change law.

It will “keep California on the move to clean up the environment,” Brown said in a Los Angeles park before signing a pair of bills that survived heavy opposition from the oil industry, business groups and Republicans.

Experts said going forward will be more challenging because the new goal — to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — is considerably more ambitious and many of the easy solutions have been employed.

“The long and the short of it is that meeting the goal will require sustained regulatory effort across all sectors of the economy,” said Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

California is on track to meet the 2020 climate goal that called for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by restricting the carbon content of gasoline and diesel fuel, encouraging sales of zero-emission vehicles and imposing a tax on pollution.

The state plans to build on that foundation and ramp up other efforts including increasing renewable electricity use, boosting energy efficiency in existing buildings and putting 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road, according to the California Air Resources Board, which is in charge of climate policy.

Read more at: California extends most ambitious US climate change law | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Op-Ed: Putting the ‘action’ in climate action


Sonoma, meet the golden toad, a bright orange salientian – a wide-eyed rascal, slippery to the touch, and cute as a bug’s ear.

First discovered in 1964, the species has only ever been found in a remote, high-altitude region of Costa Rica, where as many as 1,500 have lived in the lower-altitude climes of an elfin cloud forest, an area less than two miles in radius. The glowing little hoppers would spend most of their 10-year lifespans in moist underground burrows, emerging for about a week in the spring to mate in pools of rainwater amid the twisted tree root. Ecologist Martha Crump, who studied them for decades, described them in her book, “In Search of the Golden Frog,” as “dazzling jewels on the forest floor.” The dazzle, however, wouldn’t last.

In 1987, during a particularly parched El Nino season, Crump observed a bitter drying of the rain pools, leaving behind “desiccated eggs… covered in mold.” Of the 43,500 eggs she counted, 29 hatched surviving tadpoles.

In 1988, fewer than a dozen toads emerged; the year after, only one. The golden toad has not been seen since – and bears the ill-fated distinction of being named in 2004 as the first species made extinct by human-caused global climate change.

The untimely demise of the golden toad would seem to have little to do with Sonoma. And yet it has everything to do with Sonoma – and all Sonomas, everywhere.

On Aug. 15, the Sonoma City Council tabled a discussion, and possible action, on the county’s Climate Action 2020, a regional plan to meet state-mandated greenhouse-gas emission reduction goals tied to eligibility for state funding.

The council on that Monday was set to consider the plan, plus eight additional Sonoma-specific GHG-lowering measures council members had previously suggested, as part of the County’s and its nine cities’ effort to achieve a 25 percent percent reduction in GHGs below 1990 levels by 2020. That’s even more ambitious than the state’s requirement to simply meet 1990 levels, as required by AB32. (Another bill in the works, SB32 would require counties to be 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.)

Read more at: Editorial: Putting the ‘action’ in climate action | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Wildlife

Sonoma City Council tables climate action


That’s the way things were left Aug. 15 when the Sonoma City Council tabled discussion of its plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in light of a lawsuit filed last week by environmentalists against the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority. The lawsuit was filed by a Sebastopol-based group called California River Watch which alleges that the County’s “Climate Action Plan” (CAP), a program partnered with the City of Sonoma to meet state mandated greenhouse gas levels, is woefully undercounting the amount of greenhouse gases produced by what the group describes as the County’s fuel-driven wine and tourism industry.

The eco brouhaha stems from countywide efforts launched back in 2008 to meet state-required targets of reducing greenhouse gas levels to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020, with a longer-term goal of reaching 80 percent below that level by 2050. In 2013, the City of Sonoma joined what the county’s Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) now calls its Climate Action 2020 program, a collaborative effort among the County and all nine of its cities to take measurable steps to reach those GHG targets.

At its Monday meeting, the City Council was set to consider eight Sonoma-specific steps to add to the Climate Action Plan – most of them incentives to encourage Sonomans to lower their carbon footprints. Those measures include ways to encourage solar installations, water conservation methods and restrictions on idling cars. But in the River Watch lawsuit, which challenges the EIR findings in support of the climate action plan, attorneys Jack Silver and Jerry Bernhaut charge that many of those and other similar CAP measures would have shaky implementation rates, are unenforceable and fail to provide evidence that they would set the County on a path to meet its GHG goals.

Read more at: Sonoma City Council tables climate action

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors votes to join Sonoma Clean Power


Mendocino County supervisors have formalized their intent to join public supplier Sonoma Clean Power in a bid to offer greener, cheaper electricity options to county residents.

More than 30,000 residential and commercial customers could be offered a choice between PG&E, the county’s dominant electricity supplier, and Sonoma Clean power by early next summer if things go as planned, said Christopher Shaver, Mendocino County deputy chief executive office.

The next step is for Sonoma Clean Power to grant Mendocino County membership. Its board already voted in early July to offer services in Mendocino County and several of its cities, excluding Ukiah, which has its own electric utility.

Mendocino County supervisors this week unanimously adopted a resolution stating their intent to join Sonoma Clean Power.

Read more at: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors votes to join Sonoma Clean Power | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Feds ease rules on homes with PACE green-upgrade loans 


The federal government has announced new guidelines that will make it easier for the sale and financing of homes with existing property-assessed clean energy (PACE) loans, through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Veterans’ Administration (VA).

Seniority has been a sticking point for PACE loans since California enacted Assembly Bill 811 of 2008, allowing such financing, and the pioneering Sonoma County Energy Independence Program launched in March 2009.

“This guidance provides resolution on how PACE financings will be handled in the event of a property’s sale, refinance or foreclosure and upholds PACE’s senior lien position,” said Stacey Lawson, CEO and president of Ygrene Energy Fund, a Santa Rosa-based PACE financing provider. “This is confirmation for the homeowners and local governments that have realized enormous, positive benefits of PACE financing for energy and water-related improvements.”

PACE programs enable homeowners to finance up to 20 years water and energy-efficiency projects, paying for the improvements along with their property taxes.

The new guidelines say that a senior PACE lien can be secured to a property with an FHA-insured mortgage in a manner consistent with traditional special property-tax assessments. Additionally, the announcement reinforces lien transferability by stating that in the event of a sale — including a foreclosure sale — that the outstanding PACE obligation will remain with the property and the new homeowner will be responsible for the balance.

The Obama administration, in collaboration with state agencies, also announced a new goal to bring 1 gigawatt of solar — enough to power roughly 700,000 homes — to low- and moderate- income families by 2020. The Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative is a joint partnership between the department of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Health and Human Services and Veteran’s Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Source: Feds ease rules on homes with PACE green-upgrade loans | The North Bay Business Journal

Filed under Climate Change & Energy