Morocco Leads in Cutting Subsidies to Oil and Gas Industries

Oil and gas companies get a ton of subsidies from governments which holds back the adoption of renewable energy. In most countries, the gas industry is supported by policies encourage car use and other related infrastructure decisions. Sometimes, like in Morocco, fuel is directly subsidized and recently the country found that it was just too expensive to augment the market so bluntly.

Morocco should be held up as a ‘poster child’ for effective green policymaking, according to the World Bank’s top climate official.

Speaking at an environmental meeting in Pori, Finland, Rachel Kyte said the Rabat government’s recent decision to cut tax breaks for petrol and gas used a template other developing nations could follow.

“What Morocco did was remove subsidies on fossil fuels, because they couldn’t afford it, not because they had a big climate goal, but because they couldn’t afford the subsidies,” she said.

“Then they started to incentivise investments in renewable energy, domestic and foreign.”

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Addiction Therapy Applied to Car Use

It’s no secret that as a global society we are addicted to automobile use. It’s also no secret that cars are literally killing us (just starting the engine causes harm) and the way we have built cities to cater to drivers has damaged society from our health to our social well-being. But just knowing these facts won’t change people’s behaviour, much like how gamblers know they won’t always win but keep on playing.

How do we change this self-destructive behaviour? In the UK “motivational interviewing” is being used to help people kick their car habit.

“We’re not guilt-tripping people. It’s really easy to do that in behavior change,” says SDG’s Eleni Harlan. “Rather than us telling them the benefits or what the facts are or what other people think, it’s about guiding them through the process of what would motivate them.”

Often working with local governments, SDG identifies areas with the potential to reduce car use or increase use of more sustainable modes. While community-based travel programs in the United States often rely on direct mailing, SDG deploys at least a dozen advisors to knock on thousands of doors in the area. One recent two-year program in the city of Ely visited more than 8,000 households in a few months; another, along a corridor in the West Midlands, visited 17,500.

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Edmonton Has a Massive Waste to Biofuel Facility

The province of Alberta is usually only mentioned on this site when people are campaigning against the tar sands and the destruction of the environment. Today though, the capital of Alberta, Edmonton, has done something rather great. Edmonton is home to a large industrial-scale waste processing plant that converts what would normally go into a landfill into useful energy.

Thanks to its extensive composting and recycling facilities, the city of Edmonton, Canada is already diverting approximately 60 percent of its municipal waste from the landfill. That figure is expected to rise to 90 percent, however, once the city’s new Waste-to-Biofuels and Chemicals Facility starts converting garbage (that can’t be composted or recycled) into methanol and ethanol. It’s the world’s first such plant to operate on an industrial scale, and we recently got a guided tour of the place.

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Time for an Ocean Cleanup

We recent looked at Illinois banning microbeads, which will cut back on plastic pollution in large bodies of water. But what about the plastics that are already in the oceans? That’s where Ocean Cleanup comes in.

Right now, the young organization is raising $2 million through crowd funding to do a large-scale cleanup of plastic trash floating in the ocean. They have successfully completed a pilot study and are about to start a larger feasibility study before moving on to the final goal. Now is your chance to help contribute to saving the oceans!

  • At least one million seabirds, and one-hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution (Laist, 1997)
  • Lantern fish in the North Pacific Gyre eat up to 24,000 tons plastics per year (Davidson & Asch, 2011)
  • The survival of many species, including the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Loggerhead Turtle, could be jeopardized by plastic debris (Derraik, 2002)
  • Plastic pollution is a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems (Barnes, 2005)
  • The Ocean Cleanup

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    Chilean Dam Project Broken Up Thanks to Activists and Locals

    Activism works, just ask the Chilean communities that stopped a hydroelectric dam from being built. The dam was going to cause a lot of local ecological havoc with little actual gain to the local populace. The Chilean government has backed down from building the dam and the communities that were to be affected are celebrating the decision. Chile is committed to supporting other forms of renewable energy that won’t cause such environmental damage.

    The committee “decided to side with complaints presented by the community,” Environment Minister Pablo Badenier told reporters. “As of now, the hydroelectric project has been rejected.”

    Opponents complained that the plan required 5,700 hectares (14,000 acres) of land to be submerged and would involve cutting through swathes of forests to build the dams along the Baker and Pascua rivers. Fears were also expressed that the project, which would have involved the relocation of some three dozen families, would destroy vital habitat for the endangered Southern Huemul deer.

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