Environment

Why electric cars aren’t always environmentally sound

Electric cars are often advertised as “zero emission vehicles”. Although it is true that they don’t have tailpipes, electric cars are charged from the electrical grid, and most electric power plants release air pollution emissions through their smokestacks. So which is cleaner, tailpipes or smokestacks?

As with real estate valuation, the answer depends on three factors: location, location, location. In […]

How to put cities at the heart of EU clean energy plans

Color of green (bike parking at Bologna station), by DaiLuo, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Four trends are reshaping the European energy system. Decarbonisation and digitalisation are leading to decentralisation and convergence. Thanks to strong public policy decisions, decarbonisation is reshuffling the European energy mix. Meanwhile, innovation in digital technologies is enabling disruptive changes in the management of energy systems. This is […]

  • strip-coal-mining
    Permalink Gallery

    What energy and climate change policies can we expect from President Trump?

What energy and climate change policies can we expect from President Trump?

Strip coal mining, by Stephen Codrington, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic licence
The election on 8 November of Donald Trump as President of the United States has created great uncertainty about future American policies on energy and climate change. President-Elect Trump has in the past made a number of public statements questioning the existence of climate change, even claiming […]

  • algeria-desert
    Permalink Gallery

    Can North Africa’s energy challenges become opportunities?

Can North Africa’s energy challenges become opportunities?

Algerian desert, by Magharebia, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
It is in Europe’s interest to foster stability, security and prosperity in North Africa. But so far Europe’s attempts to promote economic and political reform in the region have failed. The aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrated the limitations of the EU’s leverage over economic and political developments in North Africa. But […]

  • london-view
    Permalink Gallery

    Negative interest rates are an opportunity for the UK to invest in sustainable infrastructure

Negative interest rates are an opportunity for the UK to invest in sustainable infrastructure

London, by jo.sau, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
The new UK Government under Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to boosting UK productivity and addressing the widening wealth gap. Achieving all this will require the right investments by both the public and private sectors at a time of heightened economic uncertainty.

The UK Government could improve economic growth by taking advantage of negative […]

  • Hinkley_Point_B_reactors
    Permalink Gallery

    Hinkley Point C nuclear station: an expensive solution to a cheap problem

Hinkley Point C nuclear station: an expensive solution to a cheap problem

Colour Scheme, by Mark Robinson, under a CC-BY-NC- 2.0 licence
The UK will soon break ground on its first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years now that PM Teresa May has signed off on Hinkley. While clearly a political decision, given the involvement of both French and Chinese companies, my colleagues and I at Bloomberg New Energy Finance […]

  • air pollution
    Permalink Gallery

    When enough countries lead by example, they create a tipping point for climate agreements

When enough countries lead by example, they create a tipping point for climate agreements

Avoiding dangerous climate change is one of the most complex problems for international cooperation. It requires overcoming several barriers to collective action and success hinges on widespread cooperation by countries faced with incentives to delay costly mitigation and free-ride on the efforts of others.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has warned that climate change may be “abrupt […]

  • drought
    Permalink Gallery

    Climate change impacts the economic development of low-income countries

Climate change impacts the economic development of low-income countries

The Earth has warmed on average by about 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. Regardless of international commitments to reduce emissions, further substantial warming is now locked in for the next several decades at least. The worst effects of this warming, for societies and economies, will be felt in low-income countries, where livelihoods depend strongly on the […]

  • Frankfurt.Bankenviertel
    Permalink Gallery

    Euro zone crisis and climate change: Addressing two targets with one instrument

Euro zone crisis and climate change: Addressing two targets with one instrument

The threat of climate change requires a transition of society away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. Such transition cannot be achieved in a context of economic stagnation. The deplorable state of the European economy is the direct consequence not of the financial crisis of 2008/09, but of the seemingly unsolvable euro zone crisis. This places the long-term challenge […]

  • Sudan_agriculture_Landsat
    Permalink Gallery

    Africa’s Nile basin countries should invest in rain, not big infrastructure projects

Africa’s Nile basin countries should invest in rain, not big infrastructure projects

Last month the The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and over 1000 experts gathered in Dar es Salaam during the Africa Water Week to discuss new pathways for development and increased investment in water infrastructure. The challenges are huge; the El Nino of last year showed the exposure of African economies to the vagaries of weather. Climate change […]

How Brexit will affect climate change policy

It is still too early to know all the ways in which the UK’s departure from the European Union will affect the climate change policy of the 28 current Member States, but some things now seem likely if not inevitable.

‘Brexit’ will not be completed for at least two years, particularly as the UK has not yet activated Article 50 […]

  • Greenwashing
    Permalink Gallery

    Environmental disclosure: corporate accountability or greenwashing?

Environmental disclosure: corporate accountability or greenwashing?

Nearly all of the 100 largest companies in Japan, France, and the United Kingdom — and the vast majority of such companies in the United States — issue sustainability reports. These very high reporting rates reflect increasing pressure on companies from stakeholders — including investors, consumers, governments, and civil society — to be more transparent about their environmental impacts.

Does […]

  • Kaskaskia_Island_1993_flooding
    Permalink Gallery

    When disaster strikes, who pays for the impacts of climate change?

When disaster strikes, who pays for the impacts of climate change?

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change calls for further emission reductions, more efforts to increase our resilience to climate impacts, and support for those who are affected by a changing climate. Under the heading ‘Loss and Damage’ this third pillar of the international climate architecture has gained prominence over the last few years and is now an official element […]

  • office
    Permalink Gallery

    Don’t try to convince your employees to become environmental advocates

Don’t try to convince your employees to become environmental advocates

Improving environmental performance remains a key concern for many organisations, with consumer and NGO expectations regarding sustainability increasing. Whilst much attention has focussed upon adopting new technologies, supply chain innovations and production efficiencies, there has been a growing appreciation of the role that individual employees may play in reducing the environmental impact of an organisation’s activities.

Organisations and academics have […]

  • Coal barge in China
    Permalink Gallery

    As China uses less coal, its emissions of CO2 may be past their peak

As China uses less coal, its emissions of CO2 may be past their peak

Something quite remarkable is happening in China. The country’s coal use grew at more than eight per cent per year between 2000 and 2013. But, in 2014, coal use barely grew at all and then it actually fell by more than three per cent in 2015.

Figure 1: Chinese coal consumption, 1990–2015

Source: China National Bureau of Statistics

This drop in coal consumption […]

How can the wood industry communicate its sustainability?

The efficiency of environmental communication should be built throughout business practices. Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) (www.luke.fi) has studied this issue by interviewing companies in the Nordic woodworking industry and by analysing recent developments in environmental performance measures.

Wood is a renewable raw material, and thus the environmental performance of wood product companies has the potential to give them a […]

  • Solar power
    Permalink Gallery

    Subsidies don’t guarantee success for the volatile solar power industry

Subsidies don’t guarantee success for the volatile solar power industry

In my book Emerald Cities, I wrote enthusiastically about the connections that cities were making between sustainability and economic development—transforming building materials suppliers into green building suppliers and producing streetcars and electric vehicles and biodiesel among others. Many of the examples were in renewable energy, particularly photovoltaic (PV) solar panel production.

The story started in Freiburg—one of several cities whose […]

  • wind-turbine
    Permalink Gallery

    Better locations could lead to a 20-50% increase in wind farm profitability

Better locations could lead to a 20-50% increase in wind farm profitability

Wind power is becoming an increasingly important part of the US energy mix, taking up more than four per cent of the total electricity generation as of 2014 and growing by 25.8 per cent annually for the past decade.

But have we been able to put the wind turbines in the right locations? It is widely acknowledged that the economic […]

  • ghg emissions option 2
    Permalink Gallery

    Without a definition of corporate sustainability, how to measure performance?

Without a definition of corporate sustainability, how to measure performance?

BMW is the world’s most sustainable corporation. This is according to the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World index released by Corporate Knights at this year’s World Economic Forum. Last year’s most sustainable corporation, Biogen, was ranked 30th this year. These companies have clearly performed well on a rigorous set of environmental and social criteria, but are […]

  • Flood featured image
    Permalink Gallery

    Cities affected by flood often keep economic activity in the vulnerable areas

Cities affected by flood often keep economic activity in the vulnerable areas

Extreme rainfall during December 2015 resulted in widespread flooding across northern England, Scotland and Ireland. With the costs of this one event potentially exceeding $2 billion, an important policy question is why so many people are hit by flooding, particularly in locations that are repeatedly inundated.

The recent events in the British Isles are just one example of a major […]