What began as research at Columbia University became the catalyst for improving the sustainability of an airline, as JetBlue recently forged a 10-year deal to buy 330 million gallons of jet fuel made partially from plants.
Global communication and global travel have transformed economic life in our world and have been important tools in improving quality of life for many. They have transformed our world’s culture in ways that we do not yet fully understand. Let’s take the first small steps in building the technology and business models most appropriate to a renewable resource-based sustainable economy.
The Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to postpone implementation of the Clean Power Plan represents a setback for efforts to combat climate change; but the damage to the U.S. ability to meet pledges it made at the Paris climate summit in December “is less than it might seem,” says Michael Gerrard.
The United States has joined 185 countries in promising to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, develop other ways to mitigate the impacts and to make communities more resilient to climate change. So what exactly is the United States proposing to do?
The most important issue is whether countries will achieve their 2030 targets in a way that helps them to get to zero emissions by 2070. If they merely pursue measures aimed at reducing emissions in the short term, they risk locking their economies into high levels of emissions after 2030. The critical issue, in short, is not 2030, but what happens afterward.
The report says it is possible to revamp the energy system in a way that reduces per capita carbon dioxide emissions from 17 tons per person currently to 1.7 tons in 2050, while still providing all the services people expect, from driving to air conditioning.
If the international community were to fully understand the threat of climate change, and the likely cost of mitigation and adaptation, perhaps we would commit to continued tax breaks and incentives, and propel the renewable energy transition toward completion. In the long run, I am sure this would be less expensive than coping with the consequences of continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions through 2050.
The worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way, but to integrate all this variable power into the grid, battery storage is key. Researchers around the world are working on developing better and cheaper batteries.
Iceland is pioneering a new technology to deal with climate change. Its Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, the world’s largest, hosts arguably the world’s most advanced program to capture and lock away globe-warming carbon dioxide.
Iceland has a complicated relationship with climate change. As in much of the far north, global warming is already exerting many effects here–arguably both good and bad. Yet the country contributes relatively little to the warming, since most of its energy comes from geothermal and hydro plants, which produce little carbon dioxide. Now, it is on the scientific cutting edge of the issue.