Shortly after her appointment, the European Commission, through its President Ursula von der Leyen, and Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, presented a startling plan (the European Green Deal) to reach the required climate targets by 2050. This plan offers many opportunities for residents and businesses. The European Commission is showing leadership that is highly desirable.
According to the European Commission:
The European Green Deal is about improving the well-being of people. Making Europe climate-neutral and protecting our natural habitat will be good for people, planet and economy. No one will be left behind.
The EU will be climate neutral in 2050. The Commission will propose a European Climate Law turning the political commitment into a legal obligation and a trigger for investment. Reaching this target will require action by all sectors of our economy:
Decarbonise the energy sector
Renovate buildings, to help people cut their energy bills and energy use
Support industry to innovate and to become global leaders in the green economy
Roll out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport
According to the UNFCCC and organisers, the UN Climate Change conference is all about: “The conference is designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process. Following agreement on the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement at COP 24 in Poland last year, a key objective is to complete several matters with respect to the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The conference furthermore serves to build ambition ahead of 2020, the year in which countries have committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans. Crucial climate action work will be taken forward in areas including finance, the transparency of climate action, forests and agriculture, technology, capacity building, loss and damage, indigenous peoples, cities, oceans and gender.” Read more ….
IEA has launched a new “Methane Tracker”, providing a global picture of methane emissions, covering eight industry areas across more than seventy countries.
This tool provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions, drawing on best available data. Read more ….
When reading the above, please view the “Climate Action Tracker” as well. It all places matters in an interesting context.
In a previous blog we reported on this tool extensively; click here. Read more ….
Enough has been written about the recently reached Climate Agreement and in whichever article you analyse, because many people see things from their own perspective, we discover a number of common threads:
There are now more action-oriented plans, even though not all proposals are adequate in our perception. But it is a start and let’s get started as time is running out.
Built Environment: by 2050, 7 million homes and 1 million buildings must be off natural gas. This means insulating and using sustainable heat and electricity. As a first step, the Dutch Cabinet states, that the first 1.5 million existing homes must be made sustainable by 2030. In 2021, the municipalities will know which district is next, and when. Residents must be involved. So we are talking here about residents- activation, participation, and communication.
Agriculture and land use: To be climate neutral in agriculture and land use in 2050, a lot must be done. Part of the greenhouse gas emissions cannot be avoided. Cows produce methane. The sector also captures CO2: in trees, soil and grass. That in turn contributes to the reduction target. Many parties therefore have a role to play in the approach; farmers, site managers, food processors, suppliers, supermarkets and NGOs. So also here a clear bottom-up involvement of organizations is essential.
Electricity: In 2030, 70% of all electricity will come from renewable sources. This will be done with wind turbines at sea, on land and with solar panels on roofs and in solar parks. The demand for electricity is growing; eg. cars become electric, the industry opts for clean electricity, buildings are freed from natural gas and will therefore need more electricity. Many measures are needed to keep delivery reliable. And the recent experienced problems that network operators cannot connect new solar parks to the network sufficiently and quickly enough is in stark contrast to this clear objective. We should realise that during the last 10+ years sufficient attention has been requested for smart and sufficient network connections due to the implementation of sustainability measures. Hence effective cooperation is needed between network operators, energy cooperations and neighbourhood associations.
Industry: In 2050, the industry will be circular and will virtually no longer emit any greenhouse gases. The factories will then run on sustainable electricity from sun and wind or energy from geothermal energy, hydrogen and biogas. The raw materials come from biomass, residual flows and gases. The residual heat is used by industry itself or it is supplied to horticulture or buildings and homes. In addition to being an energy user, the industry is also a producer and buffer of energy. By 2030, the industry must already emit considerably less CO2. In this context, there is much talk about CO2 charges, including the current functioning of the ETS system. However, there is still a lot of innovation needed and, among other things, subsidies are needed. In addition, it is essential not to lose sight of the level playing field of the industry at the international level. After all, we are not alone. We can still be the best kid in the classroom, which can ultimately result in little value for everyone.
Mobility: A lot of effort is being put into creating a sustainable mobility system: mobility without emissions (without harmful exhaust gases), with excellent attainability and accessible to citizens and businesses. There are still quite a number discussions in this area; eg. do the latest plans provide enough guidance and direction? We will continue to inform readers about this; reference is made, among other things, to the Formula E team’s response to the Cabinet’s proposal due to a downward revision of the action perspective; read more ….
A recent article by the World Economic Forum really kept me thinking about a subject, which already had been on my mind for quite some time, but it reminded me again of our collective responsibility: how to better manage our ecological footprint.
The article (click here for more information) states regarding the global picture: “Earth Overshoot Day – the point at which humans use more than the world’s resources – takes place earlier and earlier each year. This year it will fall in July. Up until the 1970s, the planet was able to produce more than we consumed on an annual basis: now we are using up resources at a rate of 1.7 Earths a year”.
Viewing the graphs in the article, I must admit I’m quite worried and also shocked that there hasn’t been any real progress to be seen during the last few years.
That we focus on CO2 footprint reduction, in order to limit global warming, is great and essential. Yes, our circular economy thinking is becoming more and more part of our daily lives but does it really encompass all aspects? Shouldn’t our entire personal focus be much more about looking at our own ecological footprint and what our behaviour results into?
To be honest: I need to rethink what this all means for my personal life. We take things for granted, as I live in a part of the world where there are no shortages. Except perhaps the somewhat restricted and smart use of drinking water in case we experience a hot summer, like we did last year.
Shouldn’t we develop more insight into our daily life patterns and what this all means for our ecological footprint. We started to link products now with CO2 emissions over its product lifecycle. From creation, and usage to end of life situation. But to be perfectly honest, we are only in the early stages yet. Yes, I know that when I drive my car, what the CO2 emission has been. The public discussions on meat and its environmental impact is becoming larger. But to know the CO2 numbers for, for example, eating a peanut-butter sandwich few times a week is another thing. You may consider the latter a ‘silly example’, but it illustrates that we must make this subject of ‘ecological footprint’ very concrete and approach it in a very pragmatic manner. And to be honest: we still have a long way to go. So practical guidance is required. And I’m realistic enough to see that this will be a difficult journey, viewing how the Netherlands is struggling with the energy transition and what this means for a normal household.
Hence our, or at least my focus on this subject must change. How to do this most effectively? I’m not sure yet, but at least I will try to do my best. The difficult part will be to change our living habits. The minimum action is to write about it and to create discussion and hence awareness. Not by pointing fingers, but by engaging each other in information-sharing encounters. Because by knowing and realising, we can act better.
Ideally each product should have, besides the obvious euro value, a CO2 value and an Eco value. I recently mentioned to a colleague: let’s use the analogy of the airmiles card, and see if we can visualise each product into actual environmental contributions and savings. We have the technologies to support us, so nothing is stopping us, except perhaps our own willingness.
Note: The author of this article, Thijs Aarten, is involved with various transition projects.
Key excerpts of a joint letter are provided below which was signed by a group of 60 investors, academics, business and faith leaders and NGOs (including Carbon Tracker) and sent to Fatih Birol and the International Energy Agency (IEA) governing council chair;
1) Make clear that the ‘New Policies Scenario (NPS)’ is a business as usual scenario that charts a dangerous course to a world with between 2.7ºC and 3ºC of warming. …..
2 ) Develop an updated, fully transparent, ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’’ (SDS) to reflect the full range of ambition of the Paris goals and make this the central reference of the WEO . This scenario should include a reasonable probability (66%) of limiting warming to 1.5ºC; a longer time horizon (beyond 2040); and a precautionary approach to negative emissions technologies. …… Read more ….
A recent study by Navigant, for the “Gas for Climate consortium“, shows that a smart combination of hydrogen and green gas together with electricity is the optimal way to make the energy system CO2-free.
A good gas infrastructure will be needed in NL in order to sufficiently scale up the share of renewable gas by 2050 for the realization of a CO2-free and sustainable energy system at the lowest costs.
For more details refer to the Navigant website or Gasunie website.
The above message is a confirmation of what we have been arguing about a long time.
So let’s preserve what we have. And above all bring nuance in the discussion. We realise that different solutions for homes and businesses will continue to co-exist in the coming decades; natural gas-dependent solutions, hybrid solutions and so-called all-electric. We know that making the whole of the Netherlands all-electric is unrealistic in view of costs, physical (im)possibilities, the measures to be taken, time required for this, etc. The natural gas transition takes time and will have to be done in phases. Particularly when a municipality has made a decision to become ‘natural gas-free’ in a district. We realise that with the (generally) good gas infrastructure in the Netherlands there are various other solutions in the field of green gas and hydrogen. And that optimum use must be made of this. With transition solutions, so-called “no-regret” solutions must also be considered; after all, we cannot do everything at once. And it must remain affordable.
UN Emissions Gap Report 2018: clear warning that our efforts to reduce CO2 must increase SIGNIFICANTLY
“Current commitments expressed in the NDCs are inadequate to bridge the emissions gap in 2030.
Technically, it is still possible to bridge the gap to ensure global warming stays well below 2°C and 1.5°C, but if NDC ambitions are not increased before 2030, exceeding the 1.5°C goal can no longer be avoided. Now more than ever, unprecedented and urgent action is required by all nations.
The assessment of actions by the G20 countries indicates that this is yet to happen; in fact, global CO2 emissions increased in 2017 after three years of stagnation”. Read more ….
Global Carbon report: global CO2 emissions are likely to increase again in 2018 compared to 2017 (ca. 2,7%); the second year in a row that emissions are rising (in 2017: + 1,6%). Read more ….
CE Delft states that the Netherlands may miss its CO2 target of 25 percent reduction in 2020 by 10 percent Read more ….
COP24 Katowice December 2018
The UN climate summits, or the so-called COP (Conference of the Parties), are global conferences where action for climate policy is negotiated. Read more .…
IEA: World Energy Outlook 2018
WEO 2018 details amongst others global energy trends and what possible impact they will have on supply and demand, carbon emissions, air pollution, and energy access. Read more ….
“An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”. A must read for all those involved in energy transition programmes ! Read more ….