Summary of COP21 Climate Deal

The Paris climate (COP21) talks are over and the deal has been struck, many are rightly calling this deal a huge step forward! All countries agreed to cutting emissions while running a more efficient world economy. Nations of the world have agreed that our current trajectory of wastefulness will make life for everything on the planet very very hard. Even Canada, who had a reputation of sabotaging climate change negations, was invited to facilitate some of the talks.

With all the talk and coverage around COP21 it might seem all so overwhelming. Lucky for us, the Guardian has put together a short article summing up all the great points made in Paris.

Long-term global goal for net zero emissions
Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.

Experts say, in plain English, that means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must happen by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.

Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute said the long-term goal was “transformational” and “sends signals into the heart of the markets”.

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How CO2 is Measured

Today, world leaders are meeting in Paris to discuss climate change at the COP21 conference. They are going to be discussing many issues around climate change from how to lower emissions to how to deal with rising sea levels. It is up to every country to change how their policies to be more sustainable and the wealthy countries that made their riches by exploiting the environment need to do even more. How then, do they decide what to do and based on what information?

The CBC is doing a series of investigations into issues and the like related to climate change that people may still be unclear on. One of their first articles is about how CO2 is measured.

When we measure carbon dioxide, can we tell how much came from burning fossil fuels?

Yes. The carbon in carbon dioxide comes in different forms called isotopes, namely carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14. Levels of each vary depending on the source of the carbon dioxide, says Doug Worthy, study lead for Environment Canada’s greenhouse gas observational program.

Natural gas, coal and oil each also have distinct signatures for carbon-13, Worthy said.

Meanwhile, higher levels of carbon-14 mean that carbon dioxide sample is mostly from natural sources, such as plants. Lower levels mean it’s mostly from burning fossil fuels.

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Grow Diamonds Instead of Buying Blood Diamonds

Blood diamonds are a problem for a multitude of reasons and they really shouldn’t be since we can create diamonds from scratch. A company called Pure Grown Diamonds sell diamonds that are grown in a a lab for all your diamond needs. The market for diamonds is largely a social construct based off of good marketing, so you may as well play it safe and go for lab-grown diamonds instead of buying diamonds from sketchy sources.

How are Pure Grown Diamonds made?

Pure Grown Diamonds are produced by utilizing two gem-quality diamond creation processes: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). In both processes, a small diamond seed is placed in an environment that contains carbon. Under suitably controlled conditions, the diamond grows, atom-by-atom, layer-by-layer, recreating nature’s process.

Grown Diamonds—Eco Advantages

In a recent environmental impact analysis, Frost & Sullivan (F&S) concludes the impact of the Pure Grown Process is seven times lower than Diamond Mining.

Mined diamonds disturb more land, produce more mineral waste, use more water, create more air emissions (carbon, NOx and SOx), use more energy, have more environmental incidents, result in more lost time injury (both in terms of frequency and severity) and have a higher occupational disease rate. Based on their calculations, F&S further concludes that mined diamonds represent more than 7 times the level of impact as compared to grown diamonds.

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Europe Meets 2020 Emissions Targets Early

Europe has already beat its 2020 gas emissions target and it’s only 2015! This is good news because we need to reduce our energy consumption and our global output of greenhouse gas emissions. This demonstrates to the rest of the world that not only is it economically feasible to reduce emissions it proves that it can be done quicker than climate change deniers claim.

A report by the EU’s environment agency on Tuesday said 2014 emissions were 23 percent lower than in 1990. The EU’s goal is to achieve 20 percent reductions by 2020, but the report said the bloc is headed for 24-25 percent cuts with current measures to fight climate change.

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Why Urban Areas Are More Efficient Than Suburban Areas

It’s been known for years that urban centres have a lower carbon footprint than the lands of urban sprawl. This is a for a variety of reasons and it’s rather complex, sure most of it comes down to density, but the exact know how is still being figure out.

Over at Alternatives Journal they looked at how building sustainable cities makes better cities overall. This is how and why people make resilient cities.

FOR EXAMPLE, existing low-density suburban developments “actually increase the damage on the environment while also making that damage harder to see and to address,” wrote Green Metropolis author David Owen. Although Forbes ranked Vermont as the greenest US state in 2007, Owen’s 2009 article revealed that a typical Vermonter consumed 2,063 litres of gasoline per year – almost 400 hundred litres more than the US national average at that time. This vast consumption is primarily due to single-use zoning and the absence of a comprehensive public transit system. Contrary to popular belief, dense cities such as New York City typically have the lowest carbon footprints. NYC emits 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year, or less than 30 per cent of the US national average. This is due to its extreme compactness. Over 80 per cent of Manhattanites travel to work by public transit, by bicycle or on foot. Population density also lowers energy and water use, limits material consumption and decreases the production of solid waste. For example, Japan’s urban areas are five times denser than Canada’s, and the consumption of energy per capita in Japan is 40 per cent lower.

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