electric car ford mustang

Electric and hybrid cars create more carbon emissions during their production than standard vehicles. That sheds a different light on the speedy transition to electrical transportation that climate activists advocate.

Electric and hybrid cars create more carbon emissions during their production but are still greener overall, according to a new report. A new report by Ricardo highlights the increasing importance of accounting for whole life carbon emissions to compare the greenhouse gas emissions of low carbon vehicles.

Some of the CO2 savings made during the use of low carbon vehicles are offset by increased emissions caused during their production, and to a lesser extent disposal. However, overall electric and hybrid vehicles still have lower carbon footprints than normal cars.

For example, a typical medium sized family car will create around 24 tonnes of CO2 during its life cycle, while an electric vehicle (EV) will produce around 18 tonnes over its life. For a battery EV, 46% of its total carbon footprint is generated at the factory, before it has travelled a single mile. For a conventional cars that is 26%.

Perverse effect: co2 emissions first go up

However, an accelerated replacement of fossil fuel propelled cars by electric, may lead to a perverse effect. In stead of reducing CO2 emissions in the short term, they will increase. Producing an electric vehicle emits almost twice as much greenhouse gas as a conventional one. It takes several years, depending from the annual mileage, to break even.

The calculation is simple: the extra emissions from production have to be compensated by the savings when operating the vehicle.

But there are complications. When a new car is sold, the old one usually enters the used car market and remains in use. At the end of the line some 5% of cars are scrapped annually, much less than new car production. And new conventional cars emit considerably less during operation than older ones, which decreases the lifetime footprint advantage further. (The carbon footprint of an electric car should be compared to a new, state-of-the-art conventional car of the same size, which it actually replaces. But electric replacements also tend to be larger than the cars they replace.)

On average, we look at some 4 tonnes of extra co2 per electric car produced, which has to be offset by 0.5 tonne annually of prevented emissions. According to these figures it would take some 8 years to break even. (Given electric cars run on 100% renewable energy)

What to do?

The automotive industry is taking steps to address this issue of production emissions- the recent announcement by Toyota of a solar array to provide electricity to power the hybrid Auris production facility and wind power at the Nissan Leaf plant are excellent examples of this.

But that will be far too little too late to result in short term effects. After all, we aim at 2030 for first results. No electric car sold today will contribute to those under the present conditions.

A key factor is car ownership. Reducing car ownership – especially in cities – and replacing it by electric car sharing, would result in a much more effective reduction of co2 emissions in the short term. It will reduce the need for new car production and take more cars out of circulation. And it will shift from fossil miles to electric miles much faster.

Of course this is a somewhat radical idea. But the central question is not how to sell as many electric cars as possible, it is how to reduce emissions and save the climate. That does take radical solutions to achieve it. The report does not address that. We do.

The report “Determining the environmental impacts of conventional and alternatively fuelled vehicles through LCA” and its associated documents are available for download from at DG Climate Action’s web pages.

 

Chief Sustainability Officer

The perspective that meaningful and credible sustainability reporting is an essential requirement for any responsible business is increasingly becoming accepted, by many companies around world. Yet reporting cannot take place in isolation. Sustainability is a critical aspect of business strategy and operational decision-making, which needs to be embedded in the corporate DNA through a transformative process.

That process takes time and requires strong leadership at the C-suite level, which has led to  the emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). Less than two decades ago, a CSO was a novelty. The first-known CSO appointment was Linda Fisher at Dupont in 2004. By 2011, there were 29 CSOs in publicly traded companies in the USA – and in 2020, Fortune 500 companies hired more CSOs than in the previous three years combined.

Cognizant of the crucial role of CSOs in accelerating business action on sustainability, in 2020 the Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative launched the Sustainable 30 Group. Comprised of CSOs from some of the world’s most influential companies, its aim is to ‘collaborate on initiatives and actions to help protect and drive sustainable stakeholder value’.

Getting to grips with ESG risks

The role of the CSO covers a widening set of mandates and duties amid the multiple sustainability challenges that confront organizations. Deloitte’s recent report, The Future of the Chief Sustainability Officer, highlights how changes in the corporate’s external environment is intensifying scrutiny from stakeholders, fuelling an ever-greater focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks.

Despite these realities, which have only been heightened by the business resilience pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a CSO is still yet to be embraced evenly by all major corporations. Some are still at an earlier stage in determining why and how to integrate sustainability, as enabled by transparency, into their business functions and processes.

Against this backdrop, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), provider of the world’s most widely used and trusted sustainability reporting standards, held a webinar in July under the theme ‘do companies need a Chief Sustainability Officer?’. Unsurprisingly, the findings of the session were an unequivocal ‘yes’. This was the first instalment of a seven-part Building Leadership for Sustainable Business expert series, which runs until July 2022. Next up will be an event in September on aligning sustainability and risk management.

Through up-close and personal discussions with six distinguished CSOs and sustainability champions in Southeast Asia, the webinar illuminated why a CSO is becoming indispensable, what their core competencies, skills and leadership attributes are, and how the CSO will be crucial to the implementation of successful business strategies in future.

Competencies for CSO leadership

Herry Cho, Managing Director and Head of Sustainability and Sustainable Finance with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), debunked the myth that advancing sustainability comes at the expense of profitability.  According to Cho, the financial and non-financial performance and impacts are “interwoven by ESG analysis” – and the CSO’s commercial mindset enables them to “add value to every function in the organization” – anticipating sustainability risks and opportunities that may impact the organization’s financial and strategic position.

The CSO challenges the traditional understanding of leadership, according to Yvonne Zhang, Deloitte Southeast Asia Sustainability Leader. As she puts it, the CSO’s leadership qualities can be set out as ‘C’ for ‘credibility’; ‘S’ for ‘sense-making’ and ‘O’ for ‘orchestration’. As such, the CSO has a critical role helping companies to understand what is happening outside the organization, in support of decisions that “embraces disruption, innovation, and stewardship… The multifold tasks and hybrid roles can push a CSO to live both in the present and anticipate the future”.

Esther An – CSO for City Developments Limited (CDL) in Singapore – reflected on key learnings from her CSR and sustainability journey over the past 20 years. In her view, a CSO should be someone who cares about the environment and the community at large;  is committed to the cause of doing good and doing well; and creative and communicative in mapping out a sustainability centric strategy that has impact.

Darian McBain, Global Director, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability of Thai Union, emphasized that passion drives the CSO to be both a fighter and a collaborator. As she puts it, the CSO is not afraid to push something because it is the right thing to do, working with people across and outside the organization to make change happen. Similarly, Dr Simon Lord – an independent sustainability advisor, scientist and former CSO of Sime Darby Plantation – added that purpose and performance are of equal import to the CSO. Without a clear sense of purpose, one cannot perform well, and performance reinforces one’s purpose.

At the outset, embedding sustainability in the organization may entail some costs. However, according to Ignacio Carmelo Sison, Chief Corporate Officer of Del Monte Pacific, “In the long run the cost of investing in sustainability is less than the cost of not investing in it. Disruption, in its negative sense, would be a greater cost – be it environmental, social or operational. Sustainability is essentially the opposite of disruption. Companies, therefore, need to invest in the present to sustain the future.” This is the essence of sustainability and the CSO has a key role to work with stakeholders to future-proof the organization.

Where next on the CSO journey?

Companies cannot survive in an increasingly volatile, complex and uncertain world without putting sustainability at the core of their operations. Yet accessing the right people with the right sustainability skillset is not easy. As covered in analysis by GreenBiz this month, PwC intends to create 100,000 ESG jobs by 2026, reflective of the current situation whereby demand for sustainability professionals is far outstripping supply.

The mandate of the CSO can be expected to continue to evolve, while a comprehensive understanding of sustainability performance is likely to be a growing requirement for many other senior roles – be they Chief Financial Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and all the way up to CEO. Indeed, the ideal situation will see a CSO as unnecessary, with sustainability effectively integrated throughout the company’s operations, practices, products and services.

Until that day comes, the CSO is here to stay. Bringing vision, passion and purpose to the leadership team, they will be at the forefront of shaping the organizational transformation that is still needed to achieve a sustainable and successful future.

Dr. Allinnettes Adigue is Head of the GRI ASEAN Regional Hub in Singapore. 

hydrogen transport
Storing energy as hydrogen is seen by many as a critical part of the energy transition and the road to net-zero emissions. That goes for hard-to-electrify transport applications as well as a wide range of industrial and domestic heating, cooking and other applications.

A new study and Well-to-Tank (WTT) model by Element Energy, commissioned by Zemo Partnership, identifies a range of pathways for the production, distribution and dispensing of low carbon hydrogen to transport end-users. It shows the energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from each potential pathway, as well as the infrastructure requirements related to each choice.

32 pathways

The research looks at a combination of six production configurations, three distribution pathways, and two dispensing options – a total of 32 potential pathway combinations.

The work identifies the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each hydrogen supply chain pathway, based on technologies available today, as well as those expected to be commercialised in the medium-term such as offshore electrolysis, gas reformation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and waste gasification with CCS.

It shows that fundamental choices exist in terms of the production of ‘green’ hydrogen using electrolysis powered by renewable electricity or ‘blue’ hydrogen, primarily produced by reforming fossil natural gas combined with CCS. It also looked at the implications of using biomethane in place of fossil gas and hydrogen derived entirely from biogenic waste.

The study also considers the energy use together with emissions arising along the full production, distribution and dispensing pathway, including unavoidable – or fugitive – emissions likely to arise during the process. It shows that there is a wide variation in the emissions associated with each of the alternative pathways, depending on the carbon footprint of the energy and feedstocks used.

Carbon negative possible

The work suggests that renewables-based electrolysis is expected to represent one of the lowest emissions pathways in the medium-term. Natural gas reformation using emerging autothermal (ATR) technology with CCS could also significantly reduce emissions compared to current industrial steam methane reforming (SMR) process for so called ‘grey’ hydrogen.  There are even potential pathways to generate carbon-negative hydrogen when biomethane is used, or through the gasification of waste, allied with CCS.

Whilst the study showed GHG emissions can be almost eliminated, improvements in the efficiency of the process of electrolysis are expected to contribute to a modest reduction in the energy intensity of this pathway in the medium-term.  There are opportunities to co-locate hydrogen production with renewable energy, using surplus or currently curtailed energy at times of high production/low demand.

The study provides a detailed model allowing new pathways to be assessed and gives an overview of the quality of the data used in the analysis, identifying areas where further work and monitoring is needed.

The study Executive Summary is available here and the full report here.

real inconvenient truth about climate change

Some fifteen years ago, Al Gore tried to wake up the world with his Inconvenient Truth message, after dozens before him failed to do so. An audience of millions saw the movie or read the book, and moved on to business as usual. That was back in 2006.

New reports from the IPCC followed, in 2015 a major climate conference was held in Paris, and the climate continued to change. We hardly did. At all levels, we continue to underestimate climate- and societal risks.

In 2019 I wrote a column about the risk of extreme events, which is much greater than the IPCC wants us to believe. Breakthrough, an Australian think tank, described this phenomenon in a 2017 report.

It’s forecasts included both the corona pandemic (it could have been any other virus) and the current extreme weather disasters. No one responded to this really inconvenient truth. Even while the world experiences  runaway climate change, the illusion is kept alive that we can prevent worse.

Misty IPCC jargon and hidden deceivers hide real inconvenient truth

Underestimation results from the terminology the IPCC applies to describe the risk levels of events, and the level of consent about it. Outsiders are easily misled by this code.

It leads to a (far too) positive assessment of risks. For example, an event with a 33% chance, or 1 in 3, is described as ‘unlikely’. Would you get on a plane that has a 33% (or even a 10% chance = very unlikely) risk to crash? Or would you be able to insure a house that has even a 1% chance of burning down within a year? At the IPCC, they apparently don’t have a problem with those.

Hidden deeper is the underestimation that results from the risk-calculation itself, which is based on a normal distribution of the Gauss curve.

It works fine for collections of static elements, for example the height of people. However it does not work with dynamic elements, whose properties or values ​​change over time, such as the weather. With those, events with a small probability in a normal distribution could appear to pose a much greater risk as a result of the influence of external factors, creating a so called fat tail at the positive end of the graph. (What Lies Beneath, pg 13)

This can have major consequences for estimates like the possible rise of temperature, as Breakthrough shows. In a scenario of (average) 3 degrees rise, the risk that it eventually turns out to be 6 degrees warmer is not 2%, but 10%. In other words, 1 in 10, instead of 1 in 50, or 5 times as large. At the IPCC however, both are still “very unlikely”. So you can sleep peacefully.

The delusional IF word

The illusion that we can prevent worse is often preceded by the word ‘if’. If we take extra measures to reduce co2 emissions in time, if we all work together, if we… just name a few. The Paris Agreement is built on it: if we all stick to our resolutions….

In reality, we have not even done what is absolutely necessary. Even the day after the release of the last IPCC report, both China and the worst polluters of Dutch industry announced that they are not going to change their climate plans. Putin is silent. India says it can do no more and that probably goes for the rest of the world as well. Europe has a plan, but it is slow and divided.

As in the case of the corona pandemic, in the climate crisis too we are unable to organise a collective and coherent response to deal with it. Yet we know very well what needs to be done and there are more than enough resources to do so. But each and every time we don’t. Why?

Bubbles in a tunnel

This paralysis is rooted in a few reinforcing phenomena in human behaviour. Two of these are bubble thinking and tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision is the unwillingness or inability to experience events that lie outside one’s immediate world. It occurs in individuals and in group behaviour.

Bubble thinking arises when likeminded people form a group (bubble) in which they reinforce their common ideas. Thus bubbles are easily created based on tunnel vision. The larger (or louder) the group, the stronger the effect. It happens in football stadiums and in meeting rooms and more recently it happens on social media.

Add the effects of economic and political interests, socio-cultural sentiments and technical lock-ins of existing, rigid structures to this and then calculate the effects of the interplay of millions, perhaps billions, of organised and informal systems interacting. From Yellow Vests and Taliban to United Nations and football associations.

That outcome almost certainly leads to a real inconvenient truth: we won’t make it. The climate warms (much) more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are on course for 3 to 4.5 degree rise in temperature which will have dramatic consequences. For you, for me, for our (grand)children and for the rest of the planet, that becomes sheer uninhabitable. Dozens of disaster movies show what that looks like.

What we still might be able to do

Breakthrough argues that only an all-out war economy can turn things around. All our actions should be aimed at the max reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

It requires extreme measures that go way beyond keeping distance and wearing face masks. It will take extensive and powerful interventions.

Unavoidable in such a strategy is the rationing of CO2. Like food stamps during World War II, limited rights on emissions will be allowed. Emission equivalents are assigned to all products.

Car ownership and air travel are allowed only on a permit base. The idea that everyone can own a car is unsustainable, even if it is electric. Especially in cities we need to completely switch to car sharing and public transportation.

A progressive tax on unsustainable products will be introduced.

Climate crime will be included in criminal law.

No one would imagine it will ever come to this. But that’s what we thought too, two years ago, when it comes to face protection and lockdowns.

All of us have to act within our power to contribute: stop using fossil fuels, eat less meat, or none at all, consume less and sustainable only.
It we don’t, it will mean the end of our current civilisation. Unfortunately there is no more convenient truth.

Peter van Vliet

chief editor of iNSnet.org and Duurzaamnieuws.nl

sustainable travel sweden

66.4% of consumers globally want to have a positive impact on the environment through their daily actions in 2021, according to a new report ‘Top Countries for Sustainable Tourism’, released by global market research company Euromonitor International.

According to the report, Scandinavia is leading by example in its engagement and progress towards sustainable travel, with Sweden ranked first, followed by Finland, Austria, Estonia, and Norway. These findings extracted from the new Sustainable Travel Index, developed by Euromonitor International, assess 99 country destinations through the lens of environmental, social and economic sustainability, country risk as well as sustainable tourism demand, transport and lodging.

“Sweden is a pioneer in lifecycle assessment research which is critical to understand the full impact of consumer behaviour and consumption patterns,” analyses Caroline Bremner, head of travel at Euromonitor International. The country is highly engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals and preserves the Arctic ice and permafrost to help stop climate change, aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

Other countries also show good progress in sustainable transport and lodging. Just outside the top 20 – featuring other European countries for the most part, such as Germany and France – we find New Zealand, Bolivia and Canada.

“There is globally a clear change in mindset and resistance in returning to a volume-driven travel and tourism model. Instead, stakeholders are rallying together to ‘build back better’ through value creation from sustainable tourism. As momentum grows in the run up to COP26, consumers, travel brands, destination marketing organisations and governments continue to align to avert the climate emergency,” concludes Bremner.

Euromonitor International is the world’s leading provider for global business intelligence, market analysis and consumer insights. From local to global and tactical to strategic, our research solutions support decisions on how, where and when to grow your business. Find the right report, database or custom solution to validate priorities, redirect assumptions and uncover new opportunities. With offices around the world, analysts in over 100 countries, the latest data science techniques and market research on every key trend and driver, we help you make sense of global markets.

Fotocredits: Martin Edström, Visit Sweden

killer climate

The leader of the European Union has seen the light: Ursula von der Leyen has discovered that doing nothing about climate change is getting too expensive. Sir Nicholas Stern came to that conclusion more than 15 years ago when he wrote his much-discussed report about the cost of climate change. In 2008 he corrected his earlier conclusion: the costs of climate change turned out to be much higher than anticipated in the first calculations. About political smalltalk in a killer climate.

As it took 15 years for EU bureaucrats to absorb a 662-page report, it would take 272 years to decide on its own climate proposal “Fit for 55”, which holds some 12000 pages and is to be approved by 27 Member States, if processed at the same speed.

The publication process of the IPCC series of climate reports follows a similar path. These too, contain an almost incalculable amount of pages about the risks of climate change, which are already obsolete at the time of publication and which have been politically watered down beforehand because of the required consensus about the articulation of scientific facts.

Belgium as a third world country

Meanwhile, at some 100 kilometers from the European capital, the rubble and wreckages of the first real European climate disaster are still piled up in the streets of – also still electricity and water deprived – villages, because the local crisis response in Belgium hardly reaches the level of an average third world country.

That is where the measures that have to save the world from a climate Armageddon have to come from, since the rest of the world still regards the EU as a forerunner in the fight against climate change.

Meanwhile politicians continue to chatter as climate change creates a killer climate. The numbers of fatal climate change related casualties are carefully kept out of the main news media, even as those numbers are significantly higher than those of the victims of the corona pandemic. By way of comparison: more than 4 million people died from corona in almost a year and a half, while in 2017 alone more than 5 million deaths were directly linked to climate change. These numbers don’t even include deaths by starvation.

Hard reality

These are not forecasts and predictions, these are the confronting numbers from the recent past and the present.

The outlook is even more confronting.

Although scientists are well aware that climate change is not gradual, they calculate with models that do suggest just that. Also, they express the risk of an event as a probability, as a percentage within a period of time. And their data are running years behind. That doesn’t work well, as we’ve noticed: the event  of flooding in Europe of the present magnitude was calculated not to occur before for 2050. Things are getting worse much sooner than expected.

The same applies to the rest of the world and to the effects of accumulating climate events. Tipping points in various types of climate change show the risks of a sudden acceleration. Look how heat leads to more wildfires, which release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing even more heat.

Or like melting ice as a result of a warmer climate creates a larger ice-free and dark water surface that absorbs more heat and makes ice melt even faster.

Stacking disasters and costs

Hardly any research has been done on the mutual reinforcement of various tipping points. Or the interplay between climate and environmental disasters (such as leaking oil pipelines in burning tundras). Perhaps this will soon no longer need to be investigated, then we will see it happen ourselves.

And just as tipping points can pile up, so will the costs of climate and environmental disasters. At an ever-increasing pace, we are going to pay for slowing down climate change (it has long been impossible to stop), for repairing damage after disasters and for preventing more damage in future disasters.

The political mills are now standing still for a while; it’s vacation after all. These will slowly start again in September and in Brussels they will then start a long grind to get 27 countries to agree with 12000 pages of new measures. With notorious climate criminals in and around the club, you can be sure that they will be slowed down and wrung out. And by the time a decision can be made, the money has already partly disappeared because it has been spent on recovery after subsequent climate disasters.

Climate change not our fault

Last minute, I read a commentary by John Sutter on CNN that holds an interesting view: Climate change is not our fault, as consumers and citizens. It is certainly the fault of waning big business owners and politicians who have been shifting their actual responsibility onto us for decades. Instead of buying tofu burgers, we should put more pressure on politicians to finally take action. For the sake of convenience, Sutter assumes that it would work in the current system and that it will work in the rest of the world as it does in the US. Nevertheless he has a point.

Maybe ballot papers from now on should show a warning: voting for unwilling politicians kills.

Peter van Vliet

IPCC report 6

The climate is changing in every region and across the whole climate system. That is the inevitable conclusion of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report.

Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.

While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize, according to the IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis. The report was approved on Friday (August 6) by 195 member governments of the IPCC, through a virtual approval session that was held over two weeks starting on July 26.

The Working Group I report is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022.

“This report reflects extraordinary efforts under exceptional circumstances,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “The innovations in this report, and advances in climate science that it reflects, provide an invaluable input into climate negotiations and decision-making.”

Faster warming

The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach. The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”

Every region facing increasing changes

Many characteristics of climate change directly depend on the level of global warming, but what people experience is often very different to the global average. For example, warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic.

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai. The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions.

For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows. But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans.

For example:

  • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
  • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
  • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
  • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
  • Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century. For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities. For the first time, the Sixth Assessment Report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in the climate – heat, cold, rain, drought, snow, wind, coastal flooding and more – into what they mean for society and ecosystems.

This regional information can be explored in detail in the newly developed Interactive Atlas interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch as well as regional fact sheets, the technical summary, and underlying report. Human influence on the past and future climate “It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” said Masson-Delmotte. Yet the new report also reflects major advances in the science of attribution – understanding the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events such as extreme heat waves and heavy rainfall events.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate. “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said Zhai.

solarboat

An electric boat that runs virtually endlessly on solar power –  that’s the dream that’s been driving David and Alex Borton for the last 17 years. Since 2004, the father-and-son team has been working to fulfil their vision, building several custom, patented, solar-electric boats under the brand name of Solar Sal.

This summer, the two of them completed what they believe to be the first-ever solar-electric boat voyage from Bellingham, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska.

They departed on Tuesday, 25 May, in their 27-ft wooden hull solar boat Wayward Sun and made landfall at Ketchikan, Alaska, 13 June, then continued up the coast at a more leisurely pace to Glacier Bay and Juneau, concluding the voyage on 8 July.

The electric boat is powered 100 per cent by solar energy with no fossil-fuel combustion engine at all on board. “People always ask us if we have any gas or diesel back up,” said Alex Borton, “but the sun rises every day. If our batteries get too low, we just wait.”

Wayward Sun, built by Devlin Boat in Olympia, WA, is propelled by a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 electric pod drive with six Torqeedo Power 24-3500 lithium batteries.  There is a separate 12-volt system for lights, electronics and other DC-powered systems and an inverter for occasional AC loads, like making waffles. The batteries are charged from a 1700-Watt array of solar cells on the boat’s rooftop.

Better than expected

“The solar-electric system has more than exceeded our expectations,” said Alex Borton. “During the 45-day passage from Bellingham to Glacier Bay to Juneau, we were underway for 38 days. We averaged 32 nautical miles per day at an average speed of 3.7 knots. While some days we stopped early or left late because of weather, there were only two full days we didn’t travel at all due to high winds or dense fog.

“Even on a completely overcast day this time of year, we can travel at 2-3 knots during daylight hours without drawing on our batteries at all,” Borton said. “With direct sunlight, we can do 5 knots or more all day without any battery use. Most of the trip was overcast and it rained a lot. Some days we travelled slowly because we had to; other days we travelled slowly and charged the batteries while underway.”

No limits

“Most electric boats on the market today are limited by their battery capacity, which means they have to return to shore power to charge,” explained Borton. “Until recently, solar panels and batteries were just not capable of severing the tie to shore power, so it was only functional for extending range or for partial charging. But now, thanks to advances in solar cells and Torqeedo’s efficient electric drives and high-capacity batteries, it’s possible to produce a solar boat with reasonable speeds and accommodation that can continuously cruise without ever charging from the shore. If I had more time I would keep going for another 1000 miles.”

They navigated from Bellingham to Ketchikan using the inside passage, anchoring at night since they were not permitted to go ashore in British Columbia due to Canadian Covid-19 travel restrictions. “That was no problem for us,” said Borton. “We had lots of food, a cosy cuddy for sleeping below deck. And, of course, our solar boat doesn’t need refuelling.”

“This is an important validation of state-of-the-art solar-electric boat propulsion technology, and we have enjoyed following their daily progress on their blog,” said Mary Jo Reinhart, director of OEM and retail sales, Torqeedo, Inc.

You can see the progress reports with photos and video clips from Wayward Sun’s epic voyage at squarespace.com

green lahti

The carbon-neutral symphony orchestra of Lahti has played a piece titled “ICE” to endangered coastal cities. The piece can be heard only in places threatened by climate change and rising sea levels.

If climate change is not curbed, rising sea levels threaten to drown several coastal cities by 2050 and 2100. The problem is global and affects many cities from Jakarta and Sydney to New York.

That’s why the city of Lahti, the European Green Capital 2021, has donated a piece to the world to remind us of the dangers of climate change. The piece, titled “ICE” has been composed by Cecilia Damström and is performed by the world’s first carbon-neutral symphony orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dalia Stasevksa.

“ICE” is a part of Lahti’s European Green Capital year 2021 programme, as Lahti is the first city from Finland to be awarded the honorary title.

The piece can be listened to only in the 100 most endangered cities across the world, on the site https://greenlahti.fi/icemusic based on your browser’s IP address.

In “ICE” the Earth fights for its existence through each beat

The 10-minute piece starts with a peaceful harp melody which intensifies quickly. As the song continues, powerful rhythms with contrasting harmonies can be heard: the piece sounds like our planet is fighting for its existence.

– Through this piece I wanted to express how global warming as well as the collapse of ecosystems is destroying the Earth’s beautiful glaciers. The heart of the Earth is fighting for its existence through each beat, says the composer Cecilia Damström.

The title “ICE” refers to the In Case of Emergency emergency tag. The piece ends with a glimpse of hope: during the last seconds, the harp heard at the beginning can be heard again; finally, a small bell rings as a reminder that there is still a chance to influence the future.

Lahti carbon neutrality target for 2025

In the city of Lahti, the European Green Capital of 2021, multiple actions have been taken to cut emissions from energy production, transport, housing, and other consumption to combat climate change.

– The climate is in an undeniable state of emergency. The role of European cities in halting climate change is significant; slowing down climate change requires rapid action and commitment to carbon neutrality targets. That is why Lahti has set its carbon neutrality targets for 2025, says Mayor of Lahti Pekka Timonen.

You can listen to “ICE” from here.