San Antonio to Combat ‘Climate Emergency’ with New Action Plan

One of America’s highest Latino-populated cities now has a strategy to address the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, the San Antonio (64% Latino) City Council passed Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) by a 10-1 vote. It outlines objectives that will aim to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions by 2050 and achieve climate equity for all populations.

This plan follows in suit with many cities across the U.S. that are taking personal responsibility for its role in the climate crisis.

“We declare that we will not be bystanders,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, according to the Rivard Report. “In no simpler terms, here and around the world, we are in a climate emergency.”

Source: San Antonio to Combat ‘Climate Emergency’ with New Action Plan

Moss-growing concrete absorbs CO2, insulates and is also a vertical garden

Sustainability has always been a game of catch up. The current energy production and construction trends mean that sustainability researchers have to come up with clever ways to lower emissions.

Researchers at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona have found a creative solution to a long-established emissions problem. They discovered how to cleverly build megastructures with a biological concrete that lowers CO2, regulates heat and is totally eye catching. Its surface grows mosses, lich

Source: Moss-growing concrete absorbs CO2, insulates and is also a vertical garden

Fee-dividend climate plan right balance

How to solve the political paradox of climate change?

While most Americans accept that man-made climate change is real, they are divided about what to do in response to it and how urgently to take action.

Recent polling from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly 8 in 10 Americans agree human activity is changing the Earth’s climate. And the majority of Americans — about two-thirds — would like to see the federal government do more to mitigate climate change. In terms of public opinion, this suggests the debate about climate change has been settled.

The real debate is about what to do — and who will bear the responsibility for necessary change. Only half the respondents believed climate change should be urgently addressed over the coming decade — a significant increase compared with just years ago, but still low for something that scientists have repeatedly characterized as an existential threat.

Likewise, half of adults responding to the poll said they would be willing to pay $2 a month more on their electric bills to address climate change, the Post reported. But 75 percent of respondents balked at the idea of paying $10 a month. And while the majority of respondents support fuel-efficiency standards, they also oppose increasing federal and gas taxes, which haven’t been raised in a generation. In short, the vast majority of Americans are concerned about climate change and want something to be done, but many people don’t want to pay for addressing it.

Source: Fee-dividend climate plan right balance – San Antonio Express, 10/10/2019

BBC – Future – How brain biases prevent climate action

Cognitive biases that ensured our initial survival now make it difficult to address long-term challenges that threaten our existence, like climate change. But they can help us too.

We know that climate change is happening. We also know that it’s the result of increased carbon emissions from human activities like land degradation and the burning of fossil fuels. And we know that it’s urgent.

Source: BBC – Future – How brain biases prevent climate action

Vast subsidies keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat should be put to better use

Capitalism has often been identified as the underlying cause of the climate crisis. A leading voice on the subject is Naomi Klein, one of the climate movements most influential thinkers, whose seminal book on climate change was subtitled Capitalism vs. the Climate. She is one of many voices identifying capitalism as the cause of climate change.

Often central within the capitalism versus the climate framing is the idea that the heart of capitalist ideology—free market fundamentalism—has fueled the climate crisis. But this line of argument often glosses over the fact that energy markets are not free from government intervention. In fact, the fossil fuel industry is deeply and increasingly reliant on government support to survive.

Source: Vast subsidies keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat should be put to better use

Compare EVs: Guide To Range, Specs, Pricing & More

Compare EVs: Guide To Range, Specs, Pricing & More

Understanding all the choices when it comes to plug-in electric vehicles can be a daunting task. Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the lifting work for you.

More Details – Over 50 Plug-In EVs Compared: Price, Range + More

Which EV costs the least?  Which one goes the furthest? How much federal tax incentive will that vehicle quality for?  How quick is it?  The list of possible criteria goes on and on. Here are some handy specs, all laid out side-by-side, to make comparing EVs much easier for you:

See Our Plug-In Electric Car Sales Scorecard Here

Source: InsideEVs

New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin.

Later this month the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners is expected to approve a 25-year contract that will serve 7 percent of the city’s electricity demand at 1.997¢/kwh for solar energy and 1.3¢ for power from batteries.

“This is the lowest solar-photovoltaic price in the United States,” said James Barner, the agency’s manager for strategic initiatives, “and it is the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery-storage project in the U.S. and we believe in the world today. So this is, I believe, truly revolutionary in the industry.”

Source: New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.

The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute.

The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report.

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

Source: Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

What’s Worrying the Plastics Industry? Your Reaction to All That Waste, for One

HOUSTON — One by one, they stepped to a clear plastic lectern at the Global Plastics Summit here and talked about what their companies were doing in response to the world’s crisis in plastics waste.

Representing businesses all along the supply and packaging chain, the speakers suggested solutions ranging from new technology that would take plastic back to its molecular building blocks for repeated recycling to redesigning plastic bottles with caps that stay connected to the bottle.

But none of that is happening fast enough to keep pace with the global production of plastics, an analyst from IHS Markit told some 270 people attending the 2019 Global Plastics Summit.

Source: What’s Worrying the Plastics Industry? Your Reaction to All That Waste, for One | InsideClimate News

Energy storage hits the fast track, doubling year-over-year installations

Fueled by increased interest in grid service applications like time-of-use (TOU) shifting, self-consumption and backup power, the U.S. market for energy storage doubled in 2018 and is expected to double again by the end of the year. Of the 777 MWh of energy storage deployed in the United States in 2018 (which was an 80% growth over 2017 installs), 47% came from front-of-the-meter (FTM) projects, or those built and operated by utilities. Behind-the-meter (BTM) storage systems, including residential, accounte

Source: Energy storage hits the fast track, doubling year-over-year installations

Climate Change Poses Major Risks to Financial Markets, Regulator Warns

WASHINGTON — A top financial regulator is opening a public effort to highlight the risk that climate change poses to the nation’s financial markets, setting up a clash with a president who has mocked global warming and whose administration has sought to suppress climate science.

Rostin Behnam, who sits on the federal government’s five-member Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a powerful agency overseeing major financial markets including grain futures, oil trading and complex derivatives, said in an interview on Monday that the financial risks from climate change were comparable to those posed by the mortgage meltdown that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

“If climate change causes more volatile frequent and extreme weather events, you’re going to have a scenario where these large providers of financial products — mortgages, home insurance, pensions — cannot shift risk away from their portfolios,” he said. “It’s abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system.”

Mr. Behnam was appointed by President Trump to a seat on the commission that, by law, must be filled by a Democrat. He said that unusual status gave him a measure of political protection that other appointees within the administration might not benefit from.

Source: Climate Change Poses Major Risks to Financial Markets, Regulator Warns – The New York Times

Where Batteries are Replacing Power Plants

A curious thing recently happened in Southern California. One of the largest utilities in the country scrapped a proposal to build a new peaker plant, opting instead to build a battery system that could store excess electricity from solar and wind when conditions are good and cleanly dispatch it when needed.

Batteries paired with wind and solar may not yet be competitive with the biggest natural gas plants in all markets, but they’re replacing one crucial sector of the gas market.

Source: Why California Nixed a Natural Gas Power Plant in Favor of Batteries | National News | US News


Just Add Water: New Salt Battery Could Help Spell the End of Fossil Fuels

Could CPS Energy be doing this type of research?

This groundbreaking new project in Germany is testing the use of salt as an ingredient for a fossil fuel-free future.

The Reuter power plant in Berlin recently launched a new system of technology that is using calcium oxide, also known as quicklime, to store heat for long periods of time.

Germany already has the renewable energy capacity to power more than half of the country, but since many green energy sources are dependent on consistent weather conditions, the nation is forced to continue using fossil fuels as backup energy sources.

Quicklime, on the other hand, generates large amounts of heat when it is simply exposed to water.

The salt technology, which was developed by Swedish startup SaltX, works similarly to a battery except that it stores heat instead of electricity. Since more than half of Germany’s energy consumption is used on heating, the salt can be used to generate, store, and convert heat whenever the nation’s renewable energy sources fall short of the grid’s demands.

The technology is also far more efficient at storing heat compared to water storage systems that are notorious for gradually losing their heat over time.


These Shipping Container Pools Are Cheaper Than Your Average In-Ground Pool

Thanks to the Canadian company Modpools, your dream of having an expansive pool—or hot tub—might be more affordable and eco-friendly than you’d otherwise assume. They are turning shipping containers into swimming havens, and we’re all about it.

Traditional in-ground pools are notoriously a headache to install: the digging, the molding, the waiting. None of that is a factor with Modpools. According to the company’s website, you can be swimming the same day your pool is delivered. Prices range from $16,500 to $39,900, depending on the size (HomeAdvisor notes that an average in-ground pool can cost from $35,883 to $62,882)

Book-Sized Solar Panels Could Power a Whole Home in New Breakthrough

Scientists have developed a pioneering new technique that could generate enough electricity to power an entire home – all by using solar panels that are much smaller than current models.

A team of experts from the University of Exeter has discovered an innovative way for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy – or ways in which to convert light into power. The new technique relies on ‘funneling’ the sun’s energy more efficiently directly into power cells, such as solar panels or batteries.

In the research, the team of physics experts developed a process to ‘funnel’ electrical charge onto a chip. Using the atomically thin semiconductor hafnium disulphide (HfS2), which is oxidized with a high-intensity UV laser, the team was able to engineer an electrical field that funnels electrical charges to a specific area of the chip, where they can be more easily extracted.

While current solar cells are able to convert around 20% of the energy received from the sun, the new technique has the potential to convert around 60% of it by funneling the energy more efficiently.

The Plan to Grab the World’s Carbon With Supercharged Plants

In humanity’s battle against man-made climate change, the Earth itself provides one of the most important weapons, a natural system that breathes in Earth-warming CO2 and exhales oxygen.

Yes, I’m talking about plants, engineered by nature itself over the course of millennia to harness the Earth’s natural conditions to turn sunlight and CO2 into oxygen and organic matter. Plants are the key to many climate-change-fighting tactics. Want to cut down on the methane gas that’s contributing to global warming? Eat more plants (and fewer farting cows). Want to offset some of the carbon emissions from your airline or consumer retail company? Buy a forest of oxygen-emitting trees. Want to create a natural fuel that won’t puff black clouds full of CO2 into the air? Consider vegetable oil (or photosynthesizing algae, which isn’t a plant but has a lot in common with them).

Plant biologist Joanne Chory thinks plants can do more. She has studied the genetics of plants at the Salk Institute in San Diego for more than 30 years, and she and the rest of the five-person Harnessing Plants Initiative team are convinced that photosynthesis itself can be exploited to create a biological solution to carbon capture.

Source: The Plan to Grab the World’s Carbon With Supercharged Plants | WIRED

Plastic Packaging Alternatives

Tired of plastic pollution? There are many alternatives. Why should we and brands care about plastic pollution?

Plastics is one of the biggest challenges the world is facing right now. Thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, consumers are suddenly aware of the thousands of tonnes of plastic filling the ocean.

As plastic is so prolifically used, especially in packaging, brands are going to need to act quick to find plastic alternatives. In fact, 25% of consumers are extremely concerned about plastic packaging, 42% think manufacturers should prioritize making packaging recyclable and 21% think the industry should work toward entirely plastic-free packaging (Kantar). This number is only going to grow as plastic continues to get covered daily in the press. Brands will need to be seen to be taking a responsible approach, otherwise they will risk damaging their hard-earned equity.

With so many plastic alternatives being developed, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting innovations in plastic replacement. The following are some good sources to learn about many of the available alternatives to plastic.

And think about all the good paying green jobs this new industry has to offer in our communities.

That said, keep in mind not all that’s claimed to be green is golden. So take a closer look to distinguish between the green sheen of greenwashing from the real thing: 

Source: 13 Plastic Packaging Alternatives – Innovation Excellence

Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar

Texas, home to the world’s largest oil reserve and America’s biggest source of coal-fired power, is on the verge of a clean-energy boom.

Wind already supplies about 15 percent of Texas’s electricity, and now developers are about to quadruple the state’s solar capacity, adding enough panels by 2022 to light up all of Dallas. But they won’t just power homes. Solar developers are responding to demand from oil and gas drillers, whose booming operations are gobbling up electricity and pushing prices spiking above $1,000 a megawatt-hour.

The fact that Texas is turning to solar for help when it’s home to some of the cheapest energy resources in the world is the best evidence yet that the technology can compete head on with fossil fuels. Solar is getting built based purely on economics in the state, which isn’t offering the types of incentives that have spurred clean-energy booms elsewhere.

“People are trying to get in as much solar in Texas as they can,” Mike Garland, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based clean energy developer Pattern Energy Group Inc., said in an interview.

Building a solar farm in Texas currently costs about $32 per megawatt-hour, spread over the lifetime of the plant, according to BloombergNEF. Compare that to $38 for a high-efficiency gas plant. Plus, solar farms can be built in six months, while gas plants can take years. That’s crucial for Texas, which needs more power plants as soon as developers can put them up.

Source: Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar – Bloomberg

“Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

Perhaps it’s time for doctors to start prescribing more produce than pills. That’s, at least, what researchers argue in a new study that finds “prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.

Researchers at Tufts University made the case that subsidized fruits and vegetables could prevent millions of cases of chronic diseases. Roughly 70% of diseases in the U.S. are chronic and lifestyle-driven, according to the CDC, and nearly half of the population has one or more chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, or cancer.

Source: “Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids

The US Army is not particularly shy about adopting the latest high-tech gadgets, and renewable energy is a case in point. Despite all the fossil friendly rhetoric emanating from the White House, the Army is still pursuing microgrids with renewable solar energy to improve operations and cut costs at its domestic bases here in the US and at forward operating bases overseas, too.

That’s improving operations as compared to relying on diesel generators for back-up power and transportable power generation, by the way.

The latest development in the forward operating base category is a new contract with the microgrid company Go Electric, to develop a “portable, modular, self-forming microgrid solution” that can withstand whatever punishment the US Africa Command can dish out while maximizing fuel efficiently and improving reliability over diesel generators. Sounds like magic, right?

The Return Of The SPIDERS Microgrid

Well, it’s not magic. Just a lot of elbow grease and years of R&D.

If the name Go Electric rings any bells, you may be thinking of the company’s role in the cutting edge SPIDERS microgrid project.

SPIDERS stands for Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security. It’s a three-phase, $30 million project under the umbrella of the US Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories. The aim is to deploy microgrids with renewable energy as a more efficient, more reliable, and more secure replacement for conventional diesel generators.

Source: The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids | Red, Green, and Blue