Tag Archive | "climate change"

NASA to launch 5 Earth science missions to space this year

Five NASA Earth science missions will fly into space this year, with two of them headed for the International Space Station. NASA says the new missions will open more technically advanced remote eyes to monitor the changing planet.

Two of the 2014 Earth science missions will be sent to the International Space Station to measure ocean winds, clouds, and aerosols, marking NASA’s first use of the orbiting laboratory as a 24/7 Earth-observing platform. The new instruments are the first of a series that will observe Earth routinely from the Space Station.

“As NASA prepares for future missions to an asteroid and Mars, we’re focussed on Earth right now,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “With five new missions set to launch in 2014, this really is shaping up to be the year of the Earth, and this focus on our home planet will make a significant difference in people’s lives around the world.”

The first new NASA Earth science mission of 2014 is the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint international project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA. The GPM Core Observatory is scheduled to launch on February 27 from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center on a Japanese H-IIA rocket. The spacecraft was built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. This mission inaugurates an unprecedented international satellite constellation that will produce the first nearly global observations of rainfall and snowfall.
NASA says this new information will help answer questions about Earth’s life-sustaining water cycle, and improve water resource management and weather forecasting.

In July, NASA will launch a mission to advance understanding of carbon dioxide’s role in climate change. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, a replacement for a mission lost after a 2009 launch vehicle failure, will make precise, global measurements of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is the largest human-generated contributor to global warming. OCO-2 observations will be used to improve understanding of the natural and human-induced sources of carbon dioxide and how these emissions cycle through Earth’s oceans, land and atmosphere. OCO-2, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta II rocket.

With the November launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, scientists will track Earth’s water into one of its last hiding places – the soil. SMAP will map Earth’s soil moisture, and provide precise indications of the soil’s freeze-thaw state to improve understanding of the cycling of water, energy, and carbon.
High-resolution global maps of soil moisture produced from SMAP data will inform water resource management decisions on water availability around the Earth. SMAP data also will aid in predictions of plant growth and agricultural productivity, weather and climate forecasts, and will help monitor floods and droughts. SMAP will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on board a Delta II rocket. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the mission.

“On our home planet Earth, water is an essential requirement for life and for most human activities. We must understand the details of how water moves within and between the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land if we are to predict changes to our climate and the availability of water resources,” said Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division in Washington.

“Coupled with data from other ongoing NASA missions that measure sea-surface salinity and that detect changes in underground aquifer levels, with GPM and SMAP we will have unprecedented measurements of our planet’s vital water cycle,” Freilich said.

 

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Water shortages slow energy production worldwide

The World Bank is launching a new initiative at the World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi that will help developing countries better plan and manage scaling-up energy capacity to meet rising demand, in tandem with water resource management.

Producing energy requires a lot of water. Yet, the availability of and access to water is negatively impacting energy production around the world.

Last year alone, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the United States and threatened hydropower generation in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil.

The problem is expected only to get worse. By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35%, which in turn will increase water consumption by 85%, according to the International Energy Agency.

“The world’s energy and water are inextricably linked. With demand rising for both resources and increasing challenges from climate change, water scarcity can threaten the long-term viability of energy projects and hinder development,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Part of the challenge for the energy sector is the competing demand for water. This demand will grow as the world’s population reaches 9 billion, requiring a 50% increase in agricultural production and a 15% increase in already-strained water withdrawals. With two-thirds of the world’s population – or 5 billion people – urbanised by 2030, cities in developing countries will be under tremendous pressure to meet the demand for food, energy, and water services. Yet today, some 780 million people lack access to improved water and 2.5 billion, more than one-third of the world’s people, do not have basic sanitation.

Thirsty Energy is a global initiative aimed to help governments prepare for an uncertain future by:

  • identifying synergies and quantifying trade-offs between energy development plans and water use
  • piloting cross-sectoral planning to ensure sustainability of energy and water investments
  • designing assessment tools and management frameworks to help governments coordinate decision-making

With the energy sector as an entry point, initial work has already started in South Africa and dialogue has been initiated in Bangladesh, Morocco, and Brazil where the challenges have already manifested and thus where demand exists for integrated approaches.

Failing to anticipate water constraints in energy investments can increase risks and costs for energy projects. In fact, the majority of energy and utility companies consider water a substantive risk and report water-related business impacts.

The issue is too large for any partner or sector to tackle alone.

“Water constraints on the energy sector can be overcome, but all stakeholders, public and private, must work together to develop innovative tools and use water as a guiding factor for assessing viability of projects,” said Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. “The absence of integrated planning is unsustainable.”

Solutions exist, but countries must continue to innovate and adapt policies and technology to address the complexity of the landscape. These solutions include technological development and adoption, improved operations to reduce water use and impacts in water quality, and strong integrated planning.

“We cannot meet our global energy goals of extending access to the poor, increasing efficiency and expanding renewables without water. The water energy interrelationship is critical to build resilient as well as efficient, clean energy systems. The time to act is now,” said Kyte.

 

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Report: Renewable energy should be make up a third of world use by 2030… ‘at no extra cost’

The global renewable energy share can reach and exceed 30 per cent by 2030 at no extra cost, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says in a report “REmap 2030,” that was published yesterday to coincide with the Wolrd Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The study maps out a pathway for doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix based on the technologies that are available today. Energy efficiency and improved energy access can advance the share of renewables in the global energy mix up to 36 per cent, according to the new report.

“There is a strong economic case for the renewable energy transition. When considering climate change mitigation, health impact and job creation, the transition practically pays for itself,” Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s Director-General, said. “More renewables in the energy system provide greater flexibility, increase energy independence, and make the system more resilient.”

The deployment of modern renewables – renewable energy sources that exclude traditional use of biomass – needs to grow more than threefold, the study shows. A rethinking of energy taxes and subsidies is critical to the economic case for renewable energy. A reduction of fossil fuel subsidies will facilitate the uptake of renewables. Subsidies for renewable energy can disappear altogether, if green house gas emissions and other air pollution are reasonably priced.

“Many governments are underestimating the potential of renewables in their planning the for energy transition. To reach the goal of doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030, additional efforts are needed, particularly in the building, industry and transport sectors,” Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, Germany said. “We identified five areas of national action: Planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways; creating an enabling business environment; managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment; ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and unleashing innovation.”

“REmap 2030” builds on the analysis of the energy supply and demand of 26 countries, which account for 74 per cent of projected global total final energy consumption in 2030. IRENA collaborates with member states and research institutions for “REmap 2030,” which derives its objective from the United Nations Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is mandated as the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange by 124 Members (123 States and the European Union). Over 40 additional countries are in the accession process and actively engaged. Formally established in 2011, IRENA is the first global intergovernmental organisation to be headquartered in the Middle East.

IRENA supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.  IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

Picture caption:  H.E. The Honourable Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, discussing the “REmap 2030″ report at IRENA’s FT Question Time in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Panelist of the debate included Michael Eckhart, Global Head of Environmental Finance and Sustainability, Citigroup; Dr José Goldemberg, Professor, University of São Paulo; Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO, ACWA Power International; and Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainable Studies (IASS).

 

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Prince of the ice

Helicopter, skis, and dog sled, Prince Albert II of Monaco has tried them all to reach both the North and South Poles to raise awareness about climate change

Son of Prince Rainier III and Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, Prince Albert II was born on March 14, 1958, and belongs to the royal family of Monaco.
Upon assuming the throne in 2005, Prince Albert II began his sustainable works by signing the Kyoto Protocol. A year later, he visited the North Pole by dog sled travelling 120 kilometres from the Russian ice camp, Barneo. The trip helped bring climate change and the dangers of industrial pollution into the limelight. Through this journey, he also paid a tribute to his great-great grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco, an oceanography who had four successful exploration campaigns in the Arctic.
Following his trip, the Prince set up the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation dedicated to protecting the environment. The foundation focuses on climate change, water and biodiversity by implementing sustainable and efficient management of natural resource, and supporting innovative and ethical solutions.
In 2009, Prince Albert II undertook a three-week project in the Antarctic, where he visited numerous scientific stations. The trip was turned into a documentary, Antarctique 2009, Terre en Alerte, which means ‘Antarctic 2009, Earth on Alert’ after joining explorer Mike Horn.

UNEP named him “Champion of the Earth” for his work on climate change, biodiversity, water as well as environmental journalism.
Prince Albert II is dedicated to carrying out an exemplary policy in his country in terms of the environment, by developing of public transport, ecological vehicles, renewable energies and green buildings.
Some of his other notable works include supporting Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai’s campaign to plant a billion trees, hosting a global conference on the health of the world’s oceans, and establishing a partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation to protect the bluefin tuna from ecological extinction.

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Qatargas reiterates commitment to sustainable environment

Ghanim Al-Kuwari, Qatargas’s chief operating officer, delivered a speech at the inaugural session of the second Doha Carbon and Energy Forum, being held at the Qatar National Convention Centre from November 11 – 13.

Qatargas is a strategic sponsor of the forum that brings together international, regional, and Qatari experts to discuss current emerging and innovative technologies in carbon capture and storage, alternative energy and energy efficiency.

Al-Kuwari’s speech outlined the current and future developments in Qatar with regard to carbon capture and storage, climate change, alternative fuels and energy efficiency.

He said: “Carbon capture and storage can have a critical role to play in managing our carbon footprint. There are demonstration projects in several countries with research and development ongoing at multiple levels. Qatar has also formed the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre and is funding a $70 million, 10-year research partnership between Shell, Qatar Petroleum , Imperial College of London and the Qatar Science and Technology Park. The centre will help build Qatar’s capacity in carbon capture and storage.

“Qatar Vision 2030 and the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 aim at reducing the energy intensity of electricity consumption through awareness campaigns, standardisation; and seasonal equipment maintenance shutdowns. Qatar through ongoing studies, innovation within its industrial sector and extensive flare reduction programmes is contributing towards enhancing energy efficiency. Research is also ongoing within the private and education domain to increase understanding related to energy efficiency.”

Al-Kuwari also underlined Qatargas’ efforts in reducing its carbon footprint stating: “Qatargas contributes to reducing carbon footprint and we are doing so via initiatives such as reduced flaring, greenhouse gas management strategy, by exploring carbon capture and storage and revising energy efficiency studies in collaboration with Qatar Petroleum.”

The Doha Carbon DCEF, organised jointly by Qatar Foundation, Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil Qatar, provides a platform for a select panel of experts to discuss energy and greenhouse gas challenges facing Qatar and the wider region. Discussions during the Forum will fall under three pillars: reviewing state of the art scientific research and development; policies and regulation; and practical industrial applications to mitigate and adapt to the risks of climate change.

 

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Clean energy investment falls

Global investment in clean energy was US$45.9billion in the third quarter of 2013, down 14% on the second quarter of this year and 20% below the number for Q3 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

This suggests that investment in technologies such as smart grid, efficiency, storage and electric vehicles will end this year below 2012′s US$281 billion. This total was in turn11% down from the record established in 2011.

The third quarter data showed weakness almost across the board, with investment in China, the US and Europe all down on the equivalent period of 2012. The only region to show a rise in activity on both the quarter and the year was the Americas outside the US and Brazil, due to firm figures from Canada, Chile and Uruguay.

However, the installation of solar photovoltaic power capacity worldwide is set to hit a new record in 2013 at 36.7GW.

“After the slightly more promising second quarter, we now have a very disappointing third quarter figure for investment,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “US$45.9 billion is still a substantial amount of money, greater than that invested in the whole of 2004, but the loss of momentum since 2011 is worrying.

“The latest setback reflects policy uncertainty in Europe, the lure of cheap gas in the US, a levelling-off in wind and solar investment in China, and a general weakening of political will in major economies. Governments accept that the world has a major problem with climate change but, for the moment, appear too engrossed in short-term domestic issues to take the decisive action needed.”

Among the major countries, the US saw its total fall to US$5.5 billion in Q3 from US$9.4 billion in Q2, China was down at US$13 billion from US$13.8 billion, India was at US$1.2 billion from US$1.5 billion, and Japan US$7.3 billion from US$7.4 billion. Brazil showed a modest rise, from US$950 million to US$1.1 billion.

In Europe, German investment was US$1.6 billion, down from US$1.7 billion in Q2 and far below the quarterly figures seen in recent years. France saw a fall from US$1.2 billion in Q2 to US$727 million in Q3, Italy a rebound to US$1.3 billion from US$1.2 billion, and the UK a somewhat rally from US$1.6 billion to US$2.6 billion.

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