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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Failing Grades

Failing Grades

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, November 26, 2019/Categories: wildlife conservation, space science, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

      Haze layers in Earth's atmosphere as photographed from the International Space Station (credit: ISS/NASA)

A UN Environment Program (UNEP) has released their 2019 report on atmospheric emissions. It paints a bleak picture on the progress nations have made in reducing CO2 and gives nations a "failing grade" for their collective inaction. The report warns that unless greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to reach the goal of 1.5°C temperature rise aspired by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. The Agency has now determined that under the pledges made in Paris:

the world is heading for a 3.2°C temperature rise; technologies and policy knowledge exist to cut emissions; and transformations must begin now for a 78% reduction of all emissions between 2020-2030.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has previously warned that going beyond 1.5°C will increase the frequency and intensity of climate impacts and that:

“our collective failure to act early and hard (to deal) with climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions---over 7 per cent each year---if we break it down evenly over the next decade. This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.”

The entire UNEP climate analysis is available here: Emissions Gap Report 2019

While the UN's report is a serious 'wake-up call' for the need to accelerate actions to limit climate change, they also point out that use of renewable energy is expanding rapidly everywhere. Prices keep falling for installation of wind, solar, and battery storage that have are now competitive with coal-fired electricity generation. Another renewable energy technology may soon follow, ie, the use of hydrogen as a power source.

This Journal previously noted exciting developments underway in Australia in hydrogen development The country is poised to become a global leader in hydrogen as a fuel with the release of a National Hydrogen Strategy. It established a vision for developing a clean, sustainable, and competitive hydrogen industry. The goal is to produce low-cost power from hydrogen, reduce dependence on imported fuels, and limit carbon emissions in the Australia and elsewhere. The benefits of using hydrogen could transform transportation and power generation with unlimited fuel supplies that produce only water as a bi-product of burning. The Australian strategy uses solar power to drive electrolysis of H2O into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The hydrogen (H2) is stored in a fuel cell which is use to generate electricity for cars, trucks, or power plants.



                 Sustainable Hydrogen Production and Uses (credit: the Conversation)

Maybe the next time their is a review of actions taken to reduce or halt global CO2 emissions, a failing grade can be turned into an A+ report card.



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