Global Carbon Output Decreases

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In order to avert catastrophic climate change we need to dramatically cut global carbon output. That’s what the Paris Agreement is all about and it comes in to force in just three more days. The really good news is not just that we have decreased carbon output it’s also that the Paris Agreement is going to accelerate the decline. Things are looking good in the carbon reduction portfolio!

The biggest driver was a decline in China’s coal consumption, which resulted a 6.4% drop the carbon intensity of the world’s second biggest economy.

A centrally-led shift of the economy to a service-based industry has begun to shut down the vast coal-fuelled steel and cement sectors. For the first time, China led the rankings table for the biggest drop in intensity.

The UK and US were also significant contributors, reducing by 6% and 4.7% respectively, to the overall drop as both governments introduced policies that pushed coal plants out of business. In the UK coal use dropped by 20% for the second year running.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “In the week in which the Paris Agreement comes into force, this is very promising news in showing that the dominant paradigm of economic growth is swiftly changing, which makes the Paris targets look more achievable.

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We Can Use Nanotechnology to Scrub CO2

Scientists working with nanotechnology to try and create methanol from CO2 accidentally discovered that they made ethanol. Happy accidents are always welcomed – particularly when it can help the environment in multiple ways. The electrochemical process uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. This is fantastic news if it can be scaled up as it’s a way to something bad for the environment into a fuel source. The team that worked on the project is hoping that it can be used to store energy from renewable sources.

“A process like this would allow you to consume extra electricity when it’s available to make and store as ethanol,” said Rondinone. “This could help to balance a grid supplied by intermittent renewable sources.”

The researchers plan to further study this process and try and make it more efficient. If they’re successful, we just might see large-scale carbon capture using this technique in the near future.

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Putting CO2 Emissions on a Map

In the fight to curb CO2 emissions and hold back the rate of increasing climate change, researches have mapped out where the emissions are coming from. Unsurprisingly, they have found that where there is a lot of human activity there are more emissions. This will help convince naysayers and ignoramuses that humans are at fault for climate change and now we know the exact areas where we need to drastically cut emissions.

Using simulation results from 12 global climate models, Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, along with post-doctoral researcher Martin Leduc, produced a map that shows how the climate changes in response to cumulative carbon emissions around the world.

They found that temperature increases in most parts of the world respond linearly to cumulative emissions.

“This provides a simple and powerful link between total global emissions of carbon dioxide and local climate warming,” says Matthews. “This approach can be used to show how much human emissions are to blame for local changes.”

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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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Sucking Diesel Fuel From Thin Air

We’ve polluted so much that there are now companies that think there is profit to be made by sucking CO2 from the air. How they make money is by reselling the CO2 to make carbonation for soft drinks, or strangely, to make diesel fuel.

What a world!

German company Sunfire produced its first batches of so-called e-diesel in April. Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, put a few litres in her car, to celebrate.
And the Canadian company Carbon Engineering has just built a pilot plant to suck one to two tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air daily, turning it into 500 litres of diesel.

The process requires electricity, but if the start-ups use renewable electricity they can produce diesel that is carbon neutral.

In other words, burning it in your car only returns to the atmosphere the CO2 removed in the first place.

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