Shipping Industry Finally Delivers on Climate Change

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When climate conferences occur and parties sign on to legal agreements like the Paris Agreement some industries are excluded. Historically aviation and shipping have been left out from many climate change agreements which has resulted in both industries being behind the times, inefficient, and down right bad for the planet. Already, climate change is harming coastal nations and these coastal nations usually favour shipping. The impact of increasing water levels, storm surges, and more has led to those shipping-friendly nations to better regulate international shipping practices.

The result is a deal that shipping industry will finally address their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Mr Paul added: “This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back.”

The UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, described the agreement as ” a watershed moment with the industry showing it is willing to play its part in protecting the planet”.

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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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The Growing Industry of Green Cement

Cement is a very popular building material for a lot of good reasons, the problem though is that the process of making it requires a ton of energy. This problem has led to a growing number of people looking into ways to make cement less damaging to the planet. We’ve covered cement on here before.

The Smithsonian has a good round-up of the current world of greening the cement industry. In some ways these solutions can work together.

Though still refining its procedures, Novacem is racing with at least five other companies and university centers to come up with a greener cement. “Given all the attention to carbon these days, a lot of entrepreneurs have popped up,” said MIT’s Jennings. “They see the opportunity side.” With cement a $170 billion-a-year industry, investment money is pouring in.

A California company called Calera has perhaps the most unusual approach: It harnesses carbon dioxide emitted from a power plant and mixes it with seawater or brine to create carbonates that are used to make cement. They can be added to Portland cement to replace some or all of the limestone. Calera is backed by a $50 million investment from Vinod Khosla, a computer engineer who is perhaps Silicon Valley’s most respected and deep-pocketed investor in green technologies. “We are actually making our cement out of CO2,” said company founder Brent Constantz. “We are taking CO2 that would have gone into the atmosphere and turning it into cement.” The technology is still in development, with a demonstration plant in Moss Landing, California, and a partnership with a Chinese group to build a plant next to a coal mine in Inner Mongolia, where they plan to use carbon dioxide emissions to make cement.

Calix, an Australian company, makes cement using superheated steam, which modifies the cement particles and makes them purer and more chemically reactive. The process also separates out carbon dioxide, making it easier to capture the gas and keep it out of the atmosphere.

Louisiana Tech University, like Novacem and Calera, is doing away with limestone altogether; it’s using a paste called geopolymer, which is made of fly ash, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.

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Green Cities Help Poor

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Cities that go green not only help the environment, but they also help alleviate poverty. By investing in green programs they put money into an industry that is growing and needs labour. As a result, many environmentalists (myself included) are arguing for programs that go beyond hybrid cars and switching light bulbs to programs that promote systemic change. Building green cities is a change that can last more than a lifetime.

The Bronx group is at the forefront of a movement to put low-income and low-skilled workers in “green collar” jobs: manual work in fields that help the environment.

Cities trying to strengthen the local economy and go green see the solution in green-collar jobs. Jobs in the $341-billion-a-year green industry have the potential to move people out of poverty, says Trenton, N.J., Mayor Douglas Palmer.

Advocates of green-collar job programs say concerns about the environment have been focused on hybrid cars, polar bears and the melting ice cap. They want more attention on improving conditions in poor communities, which studies show bear the brunt of environmental hazards because they have more power plants, industrial warehouses and waste facilities.

“We want to use the green-collar movement to move people out of poverty,” says Majora Carter, head of Sustainable South Bronx. “Little green fairies do not come out of the sky and install solar panels. Someone has to do the work.”

Her group, which is funded through private grants, has helped almost 90% of its graduates find jobs working for the city parks department, local cemeteries and environmental groups, such as the Central Park Conservancy and the Bronx River Alliance.

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