First Emission Standards for Aviation Sector

by Judy Li

An interesting article by Jad Mouawad and Coral Davenport in the New York Times discusses the first binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation sector. After more than six years of negotiations among the global aviation industry, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations’ aviation agency, announced the new rules on February 8. Continue reading

New Aircraft Emissions Standards Decided at 10th ICAO Meeting

by Deedee Chao

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) wrapped up its landmark 10th meeting on February 12th, 2016, and reported progress in different environmental and sustainable areas for aviation, including commitment towards sustainable alternative fuels and the creation of an international aviation market-based measure for emissions. Most notably, the CAEP/10 created a new ICAO aircraft CO2 emissions standard, the first of its kind for any aviation sector. Continue reading

The Importance of Nuclear Power in Reducing Carbon Emissions and Protecting Developing Nations

by Margaret Loncki

After the recent catastrophic nuclear meltdown of Fukushima in 2011, global support of nuclear power plants has significantly decreased. Reinhard Wolf, an international relations professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt, aims to demonstrate that developed nations do not have the luxury of shutting down nuclear plants out of fear of meltdowns. Wolf emphasizes the philosophical concept of one’s obligation to not seriously harm any other individual, which he believes will be the result of continuing to shutdown nuclear power plants around the world. Recent studies suggest that in 2009, climate change forced 10 million people into severe poverty and 45 million people to go hungry. The same study suggests that climate change produced 315,000 premature deaths. These affected individuals reside solely in developing countries. Continue reading

The Risky Business Project

by Chloe Rodman

Writing in the New York Times, Burt Helm (2015) discusses the roles of Tom Steyer, Henry Paulson Jr., and Michael Bloomberg in leading the new Risky Business Project. The Risky Business Project originated as a study called Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, which was created to determine how American business will be affected by climate change and to determine the cost of carbon emission mitigation now, as opposed to the cost of waiting. While Risky Business comprises a wide variety of members who don’t agree on much—democrats and republicans, billionaires, senators, and mayors—they do have one common goal: to show both Congress and corporations across America the impact climate change will have on the economy, a cost estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars. Continue reading

Underground Storage of CO2 : Attempts to Eliminate Carbon Emissions

by Nour Bundogji

Postdoctoral researcher Yossi Cohen and Professor of Geophysics Daniel Rothman, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently published an article in the Royal Society Proceedings on the effectiveness of storing carbon dioxide underground in an effort to decrease carbon emissions in our atmosphere. When I first read this I immediately envisioned suction cups elevated high into earth’s atmosphere connected to long pipes extended deep within earth’s crust. Yet, you guessed it, the technology is quite different. Instead, greenhouse gases emitted by coal-fired power plants would be pumped into salt caverns 7,000 feet underground where these gases would react with the salt water and solidify (Cohen and Rothman, 2015). The U.S. Environmental Protection agency estimated that this technology could eliminate up to 90 percent of carbon emissions from coal-fired facilities. Considering the current state of our ozone layer and the drastic climate changes we’ve been experiencing these past years, this seems like a promising step forward in saving our environment. However, commentators on this technology, like Christopher Martin from Bloomberg, pointed out a few flaws. I knew it was too good to be true. Continue reading

How to Reduce California’s Greenhouse Gases by 80%

by Emil Morhardt

According to the latest runs of a complex computer energy model (CA-TIMES) coming out of the University of California at Davis (Yang et al. 2015), the energy scene across California may be quite different by 2050. The model is not designed to predict what will happen, but instead to examine the economic and policy implications of just about every possible major perturbation of energy generation and use in the state to get us to the current policy goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels. What results is a series of least-cost scenarios to get to various policy-driven energy endpoints. The bottom line is that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced enough to meet the 80% goal at low to moderate costs, but not without major investments in wind and solar power generation, production of synthetic fuels directly from biomass using the Fischer–Tropsch synfuel pyrolysis process (more about that in upcoming posts), and hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure to power fuel cells. Continue reading