USA Raises ‘Carbon Price’

Climate change is happening and it’s costing a lot of money to deal with. More floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural events are happening with greater frequency thanks to planetary temperature increase. The reason the planet’s temperature is increasing is thanks to the way previous generations have dealt with waste.

One such waste product comes in the form of exhaust from cars and other air pollution from various sources. This much is obvious, but very few countries have acted on this issue (in fact, Canada has gone out it’s way to stop action). In the USA, the Obama administration has quietly passed a new law that raises the cost of releasing pollutants into the air in the hopes it will help slow more climate change.

Buried in a little-noticed rule on microwave ovens is a change in the U.S. government’s accounting for carbon emissions that could have wide-ranging implications for everything from power plants to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The increase of the so-called social cost of carbon, to $38 a metric ton in 2015 from $23.80, adjusts the calculation the government uses to weigh costs and benefits of proposed regulations. The figure is meant to approximate losses from global warming such as flood damage and diminished crops.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Dynamic Systems Modelling for Better Prediction of Emissions

Canada has a large pulp and paper industry and it produces tons of waste in the form of wastewater and greenhouse gas emissions. Collectively the industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars to lower their environmental damage, so even a marginal increase in environmental efficiency can have a large impact on their bottom line.

A study from Concordia University looked into using dynamic systems modelling to asses what the output of processing facilities to predict waste output.

“With dynamic modeling, we can better understand the behaviour of the treatment plant over time,” says senior author Fariborz Haghighat, professor in Concordia’s Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Concordia ResearchChair in Energy and Environment. “With this knowledge, we can then recommend a strategy to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas and also improve energy efficiency.”

“Models such as this are used to simulate the behaviour of a particular management system either in the early stages of system design or in later development to incorporate changes,” adds Yerushalmi. “We want to make sure that we use the most accurate method possible and the dynamic model isbest predictor yet.”

Read more at Concordia.

Strong Climate Change Law Passes in Mexico

Of the three countries in NAFTA, Mexico seems to care the most about the environment. The country just passed a strong law that will product the environment and aim to cut carbon emissions.

The new law contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.

Furthermore, it stipulates that 35% of the country’s electricity should come from renewable sources by 2024, and requires mandatory emissions reporting by the country’s largest polluters. The act also establishes a commission to oversee implementation, and encourages development of a carbon-trading scheme. Although there was initial resistance from Mexico’s steel and cement industries, the bill passed with bipartisan support.

Read more in Nature.

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