India and China, Full Speed Ahead in Climate Change Mitigation

chinese-and-indian-leaders-meetingWhile the United States is wondering what will happen next on climate change mitigation in their country, both India and China have recently unveiled very ambitious plans to fight local air pollution and global climate change.

According to an article from the Guardian, India plans nearly 60% of electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2027. This makes the Indian government believe that it will exceed its Paris Agreements targets by far, with :

” A draft 10-year energy blueprint published this week predicts that 57% of India’s total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027. The Paris climate accord target was 40% by 2030.”

The Guardian goes on to list how India could become a renewable energy super power in the next decade or so, as investments in the area are booming. From bringing electricity to 400 million people with solar energy to going LED or investing massively in renewables, India has been showing strong leadership in this most important issue for a few years now. To the point that, according to newspapers, renewable energy investments in India to reach $250 billion over next five years, and over a trillion by 2030.

In neighbouring China, the government has announced a plan that it will spend $360 billion on clean energy sources by 2020. This will result in the creation of 13 million jobs and cut significantly the amount of air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

Meanwhile, Beijing has announced that it will be closing  and/or not building another 104 coal-fired plants that were either due to be constructed soon or were being constructed. This move is significant – 120 Gigawatts of capacity – as it is equal to a third of the amounts of coal-fired plants in the United States.

China installed over 34 Gigawatts of solar PV capacity in 2016 alone as Cleantechnica reported, with over 11 GW in one month alone. This is absolutely staggering as it brings the total solar PV capacity of the country to 77 GW. Yes, capacity almost doubled in one year.

All this can be explained by the fact that renewables are getting more and more competitive every day and that smart countries invest in cost effective and low carbon solutions. In early 1996, the global solar PV capacity was of 200 MW, now the world installs that capacity every single day… Let that sink in. And it probably will not stop anytime soon as to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar is now becoming even cheaper than wind.

Edited, original article written by Edouard Stenger
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How Climate Change Impacts Our Water Supply

The water cycle, the process by which water circulates through the planet’s atmosphere and waterways, helps make life here on Earth possible.

Climate change, however, caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions, is disrupting that process. It’s creating a vicious cycle in which higher temperatures, changes in rainfall and water contamination cause environmental consequences that make global warming worse and damage the health of the planet further.

How Climate Change Impacts Earth’s Water

Climate change causes various changes in our water supply, which sometimes leads to pollution and other problems.

Changes in rainfall

Increased temperatures caused by climate change raise the rate of evaporation from both land and oceans, as well as enable the atmosphere to hold more water by about 4 percent for every 1 degree Fahrenheit increase.

This added evaporation will dry out some areas and fall as excess precipitation in others. Generally, dry areas are expected to get drier while wet areas become wetter. This will lead to increasing instances of drought in some areas and more flooding in others.

Increased need for water

As temperatures rise and evaporation amplifies, so will the need for water for individuals, agriculture and industry. Rising population will add to this increased demand.

As certain areas experience more droughts, we’ll have to more frequently transport water where it is needed. Rising water levels in other areas may necessitate infrastructure changes. Both of these essential measures may result in more emissions and more used energy.

A rise in sea levels

Melting ice caps, ice sheets and glaciers, as well as expanding warming waters, will lead to rising sea levels. This could harm coastal communities and various ecosystems, as well as contaminate fresh water supplies.

Rising sea levels could push saltwater into freshwater aquifers, making the water unusable for drinking or irrigation unless it’s treated using an energy-intensive process.

Increased water pollution

High levels of rainfall could overwhelm and damage important infrastructure like sewer systems and water treatment plants and lead to polluted water, causing it to become brown or cloudy. Heavy precipitation could also lead to increased runoff of fertilizers, sediment, trash and other pollutants into water sources.

Impact of water pollution

Water pollution can have a multitude of negative effects on our environment, some of which can lead to even more problems and exacerbate climate change.

Stress on ecosystems

Increased levels of nutrients in water from things like fertilizer runoff can cause algae to grow at excessive rates. When this algae dies, bacteria can lower the level of oxygen in the water, creating dead zones where nothing can live.

Garbage that makes its way into ocean waters can also kill marine life that mistake it for food or get caught in it.

Chemical pollution can also harm or kill marine life. It can accumulate in sea creatures in increasing amounts as it moves up the food chain, eventually affecting humans.

Some scientists say ocean degradation could even cause a mass extinction event.

Worsened climate change

As water becomes a scarcer resource, we may need to treat this increasingly polluted water to make it useable. This process requires a lot of energy and could lead to more emissions.

Hope for the future

Climate change is having a negative impact on our water supply, ecosystems and quality. These problems in turn lead to more issues and the overall degradation of our environment.

The situation is clearly serious, but there are some things we can do.

Decreasing emissions by using less energy or switching to renewable energy helps to slow global warming. Turning lights off when not in use, driving less and insulating your home to make it more energy-efficient can all help reduce energy use.

Buying environmentally responsible products and eating a low-impact diet are other lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact.

Expressing your support for environmental protection can also help. You can make your voice heard by writing government officials, voting, posting about it online or simply talking with family and friends.

The effect that climate change has on our water is just one example of the impact it can have. It is becoming increasingly evident that we are at a critical point in time regarding our changing climate and the future of our planet.

By Scott Huntington

Emerging Nations Have Taken the Lead on Renewable Energy

Historically speaking, wealthier, developed nations, particularly the US and Europe, have led the world on renewable energy, investing the most capital and building the most capacity. Last year, that changed.

In 2015, for the first time, countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) invested more in renewable energy and added more renewable capacity than the 15 OECD countries combined.

This is only a bit of symbolism — the lines have been converging for a while — but it is important symbolism.

Led by China, emerging nations have emerged

The finding comes from the 2016 Climatescope report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It’s an annual snapshot of the state of clean energy in non-OECD countries. It goes deep, ranking countries on policies, finance, value chains, and various other metrics.

They’ve got an excellent data visualization to walk you through the results, if you’re interested, and a cool widget that allows you to compare any two countries on any set of metrics.

To me, the headline news is illustrated by two charts. This shows renewable-energy capacity additions from 2011 to 2015:

climatesope capacity additions(BNEF)

As you can see, after some fluctuations, non-OECD countries nosed ahead last year. It might bump around another year or two, but the longer term trend is clear: The center of clean-energy gravity is moving south.

And it’s almost entirely due to China. The country installed 142 gigawatts (!) of new power generation capacity in 2015, of which 33 GW was wind and 18 GW was solar PV. (Compare to India, which installed 27.8 GW of new capacity — 2.6 GW of wind and 1.7 GW of solar PV.)

This shows renewable-energy investment from 2011 to 2015:

climatescope investment(BNEF)

Again, these numbers might bump around for a few years, but renewable-energy investment in non-OECD countries is headed up, whereas investment in developed nations seems to have plateaued.

The surge in non-OECD investment is led by solar:

Investment in utility-scale solar in Climatescope nations spiked 43% from 2014 to $71.8bn in 2015. Total clean energy investment in Climatescope countries rose $24.8bn with solar accounting for nearly all of that. Photovoltaic (PV) costs are essentially on par with wind and, as recent tenders for power contracts have demonstrated, PV can now out-compete fossil-fuelled projects on price.

Solar and wind now dominate renewable-energy investment. “Together, [wind and solar] accounted for 65% of new clean energy investment in 2011,” BNEF writes. “By 2015, that had risen to 94%.”

And investment is spreading beyond China as well (this is from a different BNEF report):

An expanded list of emerging countries committed billions to clean energy last year with record increases, including Mexico ($4.2bn, up 114%), Chile ($3.5bn, up 157%), South Africa ($4.5bn, up 329%) and Morocco ($2bn, up from almost zero in 2014).

The world’s fate will now be decided by the race between coal and renewable energy in the Southern Hemisphere. Coal growth is slowing, but we are still headed for catastrophe.

This (okay, fine, three charts) is from the US EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2016:

EIA: energy sources through 2040(EIA)

If this unfolds, global average temperatures will exceed 2 degrees — possibly even 3 or 4. To stop short of 2 degrees, global coal use will need to be close to zero by 2040, with oil not far behind.

Emerging nations, like their OECD counterparts, are moving in the right direction, but too slowly.

Article originally published here