Is CO2 Still Accelerating?

“In recent years, CO 2 emissions have been almost flat despite continued economic growth” GCP CarbonBudget 2017 HOWEVER …

Open Mind

Not only is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere on the rise, the rise itself has been getting faster — so CO2 concentration has been accelerating. A reader recently asked whether or not there’s any sign of its increase flattening out, or even stopping its acceleration.

Here’s the CO2 data from Mauna Loa:

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Car-free cities: The Ripa di Meana study

“the car-free city costs between two and five times less”


An excerpt from a press release from the European Commission in 1992:

   Based   on  these  observations,  Carlo RIPA  di  MEANA,   the   European
   Environment Commissioner, has had a study carried out on car-free  cities
   in  an  attempt  to find the answer to  the  following  question:  Is  it
   possible,  and  if so to what extent, to conceive of a  city  which  will
   operate  more  efficiently than the type of cities we  have  at  present,
   using alternative means of transport to the private car?

   The  answer provided by the study is positive, even in  purely  financial
   terms:  the  car-free  city costs between two and five  times  less  (the
   costs  varying  depending on the population density  of  the  city). 

Anybody know what happened to the study ?

P.S. See also Mixed communities, car-free cities and pedestrian apartheid

Housing – part 3: Carbon budgets and transport

Carbon budgets, housing and transport

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 3

Some readers may have heard about a recent scientific paper
Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

This paper estimated the remaining carbon budget to keep below a 1.5°C
temperature rise since pre-industrial times. It’s estimate is much larger than
that outlined in the IPCCs fifth report (AR5). Fact checks about this paper on
Carbon Brief and RealClimate show it should not be taken seriously.

UK Carbon budgets

The Climate Change Act of 2008 aimed to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 in relation to emissions in 1990. Thes are measured in Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e), which also takes account of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses, such as methane. The  starting figure in 1990 was 799 million tonnes CO2e. Roughly 12 tonnes CO2e per person per year. This gives the target for 2050 as 2.5 tonnes CO2e per person.

According to 2016 UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, PROVISIONAL FIGURES from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, emissions for UK  in 2016 had fallen to 466 million tonnes of CO2e or 7.28 tonnes per person.

The  Carbon Budget 2016  from the Global Carbon Project gave the remaining carbon budget to keep the global temperature below 2°C as 816 billion tonnes of CO2. Adjustments and accounting for non-CO2 gasses means that averaged over the world’s population the budget is roughly 120 tonnes CO2e per person.

MORE… Continue reading Housing – part 3: Carbon budgets and transport

What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Representative consumption pathways

Representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are hypothetical emissions of greenhouse gasses and other climate pollutants.  (So why are they called concentration pathways?) The RCPs specify individual climate pollutants, such as CO2, CH4, N2O and black carbon for each year from 2000 until 2100. The RCPs were introduced in IPCC Assessment Report Five (AR5) in 2014. After a selection process four of these pathways – tables of numbers specifying the yearly emissions of each pollutant were chosen as representatives of possible future climate forcing over the century.

Four RCP’s were chosen as standard: RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP 6 and RCP8.5.  RCP2.6 specifies the lowest concentrations of climate pollutants was specified in RCP2.6.  According to climate models, RCP2.6 is the only RCP that keeps the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial to below 2°C.  The others have worse outcomes i.e. higher average global temperatures.

Different climate pollutants have different warming and cooling effects on the Earth but the effects of different pollutants are often combined into a figure that would equal the effect of carbon dioxide alone. This measure is called carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e. Combining the effects of the pollutants for the RCPs give this graph

Continue reading What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Housing – part 2: Food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing 2: Food and the
remaining carbon budget

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 2

To recap on the topic carbon budgets mentioned in the first note:

“The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5 – in 2013) was the first to include an assessment of a “remaining carbon budget” – a finite amount of carbon that can be burnt before it becomes unlikely we can avoid more than 2°C of global warming. Later they issued a budget for 1.5°C, which Carbon Brief updated in Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. – according to these calculations this is now five years.” Continue reading Housing – part 2: Food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing – part 1: embodied carbon and climate

Housing: embodied carbon and climate

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 1

There are many ways for looking at housing: climate change, local environmental impact, community spirit, security, affordability, asset values &etc. However, finding a political narrative to address these issues is difficult because public awareness is low – I blame the ‘don’t inform and educate just entertain‘ BBC for that. The topic is also biased by self-interest, creating beliefs that cannot easily be shifted by facts. One of the most difficult issues is climate change, which is not given the importance it demands, in particular the greenhouse gasses emitted as a result of construction – the embodied carbon – is rarely mentioned. This first note is about embodied carbon.

Climate change

Continue reading Housing – part 1: embodied carbon and climate

Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

Green growth, inclusive growth and de-growth

The OECD say green growth is

“… economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which  our well-being relies.”

One corollary of this must be that world economic activity should increase but the consequent greenhouse gas emissions do not cause dangerous climate change. This means emissions should remain within certain limits until greenhouse gasses can be extracted from the atmosphere. This extraction is thought to become possible in the second half of this century. Some rough calculations are presented below to explore the meaning of ‘green growth’.

The OECD say inclusive growth is

“… economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society.”

Continue reading Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

The racket in housing

A note for LBC radio’s James O’Brien

Council house building stopped by Thatcher

On LBC radio this morning, James O’Brien discussed the housing crisis. He had a “penny drop” moment:

In 1971, Maggie Thatcher banned councils from borrowing to build houses. This has meant that private landlords have taken over much of the rental market and are making a killing through rents, many of which are paid through housing benefit. Private landlords are being paid increasing amounts from government expenditure

Subsequent governments haven’t changed the restrictions on councils – even the Labour governments of Blair and Brown.

Rents rise as house prices rise

Continue reading The racket in housing