Green Cities

Week In Review – June 3rd

May 30, 2016 – The Great Barrier Reef was removed from a recent United Nations report on World Heritage Sites affected by climate change due to political pressure from the Australian government. A new study shows that in fact, “at least 35% of the northern and central Great Barrier Reef” has been destroyed through coral bleaching caused by warming oceans. May 31, 2016 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly negotiated a framework to control the rollout of renewable energy in the country. The proposed reforms to the nation’s green energy law is expected to curb the costs of developing green power projects. The latest reforms are aimed at slowing the growth in renewables, which accounted for around a third of Germany’s electricity last year. WIR02  June 1, 2016 – 2015 broke all previous records concerning renewable energy as investments into renewable energy were more than double the amount spent on new coal and gas-fired power plants, according to the Renewables Global Status Report. Despite the large subsidies awarded to fossil fuels, renewable energy has become more cost competitive with fossil fuels. This investment in renewable energy has also created numerous jobs, as more than 8 million people are currently employed in this sector worldwide. Despite the impressive progress, renewable energies still need to overcome the limitations that arise from the world’s dependence on infrastructure that is geared more toward fossil fuels. June 1, 2016 – Wildfires are more common during hot, dry summers which means that a warmer climate in expected to increase the frequency and severity of fires which would threaten home, and make the task of fire suppression even more costly. Additionally, a longer fire season and bigger fires in Alaska would have a significant effect on the global carbon cycle. June 2, 2016 – The Scottish Parliament passed a motion called the Green amendment that supports an outright ban on fracking by 32 votes to 29, with 60 abstentions. The Green amendment states that fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction are incompatible with Scotland’s low-carbon ambitions. This amendment is not binding, but represents a significant defeat for the Scottish Nation Party (SNP) who abstained from voting. This momentous decision follows SNP’s announcement last January that halted fracking but stopped short of an outright ban to allow for further research and public health impact assessments. June 2, 2016 – Teams of scientists from NASA’s Environment and Climate Change Canada, the University of Maryland, College Park and Dalhousie University have discovered 39 unreported sources of toxic air pollution. Using satellite imagery of sulfur dioxide sources, the scientists were able to pinpoint “hotspots” that corresponded to coal-burning power plants, and oil and gas operations in the Middle East, Mexico, and Russia. In total, the unknown sources and the discrepancy in the reported numbers could account for 12 percent of the total human-made sulfur dioxide emissions. WIR03