Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report, an influential review of the market, revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. They also resulted in a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade. Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy. That level of growth in emissions represents the carbon equivalent of driving an extra 400m combustion engine cars onto the world’s roads, said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist. Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China, India and the US which was in part due to industrial demand, as well as the “weather effect”. This was spurred by an “outsized” energy appetite in the US which recorded the highest number of days with hotter or colder than average days since the 1950s. “On hot days people turn to their air conditioning and fans, on cold days they turn to their heaters. That has a big impact,” Dale...
Our Efforts to Moderate Extreme Weather Are Fueling a Climate Change ‘Feedback Loop’

Our Efforts to Moderate Extreme Weather Are Fueling a Climate Change ‘Feedback Loop’

SOURCE: Fortune DATE: March 27, 2019 SNIP: A record-smashing heat wave isn’t just a symptom of climate change—in a way, it’s also contributing to it. Efforts to moderate extreme weather—blasting air conditioning or cranking up the heat—in 2018 were one of the major factors behind surging global energy demand, particularly in the U.S., the International Energy Agency said in a report published Tuesday. And that demand is directly linked to record-level energy-linked carbon dioxide emissions last year, even as countries pledged to substantially cut back their carbon output. “In a way, global warming is leading to higher demand for fossil fuels,” says Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Stockholm-based SEB Bank. “Which is kind of uncomfortable.” In 2018, global energy demand rose by 2.3% from the previous year, the fastest pace of growth this decade and a jump seen across every source of energy, from coal to renewables, the Paris-based agency said in its annual Global Energy and CO2 Status...
Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C

Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C

SOURCE: Nature.com DATE: October 29, 2018 SNIP: Reducing emissions to keep warming below 2 °C is already regarded as a very difficult challenge given the increasing human population and consumption as well as a lack of political will. Then came Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized cashless payment system introduced in early 2009, and it is now accepted by over 100,000 merchants and vendors worldwide. Each transaction paid for with Bitcoin is compiled into a ‘block’ that requires a computationally demanding proof-of-work to be resolved, which in turn uses large amounts of electricity. Globally, ~314.2 billion cashless transactions are carried out every year, of which Bitcoin’s share was ~0.033% in 2017. The environmental concern regarding Bitcoin usage arises from the large carbon footprint for such a small share of global cashless transactions, and the potential for it to be more broadly used under current technologies. Bitcoin usage has experienced an accelerated growth (Supplementary Fig. 1), which is a common pattern during the early adoption of broadly used technologies. Should Bitcoin follow the median growth trend observed in the adoption of several other technologies (Fig. 1b), it could equal the global total of cashless transactions in under 100 years. Yet, the cumulative emissions of such usage growth could fall within the range of emissions likely to warm the planet by 2°C within only 16 years (red line in Fig. 1b). The cumulative emissions of Bitcoin usage will cross the 2°C threshold within 22 years if the current rate is similar to some of the slowest broadly adopted technologies, or within 11 years if adopted at the fastest rate at which other...
Are we stuck with cement?

Are we stuck with cement?

SOURCE: The Outline DATE: June 28, 2018 SNIP: Not many want to fret over cement, the world’s second-most consumed material behind water, and how its use in this economic transition might prevent our society from achieving its climate goals. Because there are just so many opportunities, they say, for savvy investors and conservationists alike: renewable energy projects; new energy grids; updates to our nation’s battered piped water system (which leaks enough drinking water a day to serve 15 million households). Governments and environmentally minded investors luxuriate in these types of projects because they can help prevent human-caused, or anthropogenic, global warming without sacrificing economic growth. The problem is that many of these projects require concrete. A lot of concrete. This worries Law and her colleagues at the Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit that tracks industrial greenhouse-gas emissions and promotes proper carbon disclosure. The CDP recently released a report, “Building Pressure: Which cement companies will be left behind in the low-carbon transition,” warning the cement industry — cement being the main binder in concrete — that “in its current form, it will not be compatible with” any nation’s commitment in the Paris agreement; and if radical changes do not occur the world will “risk missing [its] climate goals.” Cement is perhaps the most essential ingredient in an economy’s growth. According to the CDP report, the cement industry is the second-largest industrial emitter of carbon after the steel industry. And when accounting for its use in human-made structures, it is responsible for more than a third of the world’s carbon emissions. But unlike the transportation sector, in which a new type...
In Iceland, bitcoin mining will soon use more energy than its residents

In Iceland, bitcoin mining will soon use more energy than its residents

SOURCE: The Guardian and Ars Technica DATE: 13 February, 2018 SNIP: Bitcoin’s price may be down more than 50% from its highs in December, but no one has told Iceland, where the cryptocurrency and its offspring are reshaping the economy. According to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, an employee of the energy company HS Orka, Icelandic cryptocurrency “mining” is likely to double its energy consumption to about 100 megawatts this year. That is more than households use in the nation of 340,000 people, according to the national energy authority. Mining is the name for the decentralised process that underpins the integrity of most cryptocurrencies. Effectively, a bunch of computers engage in a race to burn through the most electricity possible and, every 10 minutes, one wins a prize of 12.5 bitcoin for the effort – still worth more than $100,000, despite recent falls. As the price of bitcoin has risen, so too has the amount of electricity that it is economical to use in order to get the rewards. One recent estimate pegged the energy consumption of the entire network as equivalent to that of the Republic of Ireland. Bitcoin-mining operations are set to overtake domestic residential energy consumption in Iceland later this year, according to a local energy company. As a result, one lawmaker is considering what could or should happen if Iceland continues to expand its role as a major bitcoin-mining hub. “We are spending tens or maybe hundreds of megawatts on producing something that has no tangible existence and no real use for humans outside the realm of financial speculation,” Smári McCarthy, and Icelandic member of parliament told...