Carbon Zero 2040

Green house gases are warming Earth. We are told we need to get to “Carbon Zero”, the point where we emit no new green house gases to pollute our atmosphere and warm our planet. How do we do that? How do ordinary individuals make sense out of what’s happening?

Come and explore this with me.

  • Do Electric Vehicles Really Emit more CO2 than Fossil Fuel Burners?
    What if electric vehicles were actually worse for the environment than old-fashioned gas burners? What if, somehow, we have all been deceived by the diabolical Elon Musk and his minions in Fremont California… and hidden pollution costs associated with electric vehicles are actually making global warming worse? This story, unfortunately, keeps cropping up in corners of the internet. How can we determine what the truth is? To address this question requires us to consider two […]
  • Is energy access simply modern colonialism?
    770 million people globally lack access to electricity. They’re predominantly in developing nations. Despite international commitments to energy equity, like the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the dominant view is that electricity access for these folks will be a slow and expensive process. On July 14th, the Carbon Tracker Initiative published a report titled Reach for the Sun, which challenges this view. They forecast that 88% of the growth in global electricity demand between 2019 and […]
  • Emissions Trading and Border “Adjustments”
    Emissions trading schemes were in the news last week, and China was at the center of the news. China’s long awaited ETS went live on Friday, after operating seven pilot programs since 2011. It covers 2,225 power plants, responsible for over 40% of China’s national emissions, and is being called the world’s biggest carbon market. Certainly in terms of sheer coverage it is. The 4,000 megatonnes of carbon encompassed in the scheme represents about 12.4% […]
  • “Green ammonia” for energy storage.
    Yesterday a massive new wind and solar powered hydrogen generation plant was announced in Western Australia. The Western Green Energy Hub will produce up to 3.5 million tons of green hydrogen, or 20 million tons of green ammonia in a year, powered by 50GW of hybrid solar and wind. For context, according to the Australian Energy Regulator, the entire country has just over 50GW of total capacity today. This is truly a massive plant. Why […]
  • Fossil fuel lobbyists fight city natural gas bans.
    In 1969 I went to kindergarten at Central Public School in Ontario. It was built in 1882 at a cost of $12,000. Today it’s the oldest remaining building in the city with its original design. Central was heated with coal. I remember the coal chute at the back of the building, and the dust that seemed to always be present, but especially when a delivery came. My parents homes were all heated with oil, and […]
  • Long Read: Statistical Review of World Energy.
    BP’s 70th annual Statistical Review of World Energy came out this past week. This data-rich documents is 70 pages of detailed, country by country, statistics about world energy capacity, production, and consumption with commentary. Here are some of the highlights. Consumption Due to COVID-19, last year saw the largest decline in energy consumption since World War 2. Consumption fell by 4.5%, primarily due to the shutdown of the transportation industry. Oil consumption fell by 9.2%, […]
  • “Carbon-neutral” natural gas? Really?
    Can a container ship filled with liquified natural gas be “carbon neutral”? Shell Oil and Cheniere Energy want you to believe that. In May, the two companies delivered a shipment of gas to Europe in which emissions associated with the upstream costs of processing and liquifying the gas were offset by carbon credits purchased from Shell’s portfolio of nature-based projects. Emissions were offset to the “FOB delivery point”. This means that Shell and Cheniere have […]
  • Recycled – July 6, 2021
    FabricNano just raised $12.5M to scale their “cell-free bio-manufacturing” company. Fascinating article from TechCrunch that touches on bio-manufacturing, plastics, climate change and fossil fuel alternatives. You often hear questions about the “true” carbon footprint of one renewable industry versus another. Life cycle analysis provides the answer. This short post from Yale Climate Connections answers the question “What’s the carbon footprint of a wind turbine“? Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC is now the 6th largest emitter in […]
  • Electrifying Everything: Farmers
    Both Dave and I were struggling for breath as we hiked across Abra Huacahuasijasa, a 15,200 ft mountain pass overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We were an unlikely pair — a farmer from western Illinois and a techie from Washington state. The two of us met a few days earlier when we both joined a hiking adventure in Peru. And here we were, experiencing Peru, and sharing details of our lives as we […]
  • Electrifying Everything: the EV Charging Network
    The UK automobile industry wants to see 2.3 million publicly available electric car chargers installed in that country by 2030. 2030 is the magic date, because that is the year the UK will end the sale of gasoline / diesel powered vehicles. So an electric charging infrastructure will need to be in place. 2.3 million seems like a lot of chargers, doesn’t it? For comparison purposes, as of 2019 the UK had just over 8,300 […]
  • Energy Equity
    “Energy poverty” is lack of access to modern energy services. I became intrigued by the idea a few days ago listening to an episode of The Energy Gang podcast. The topic was the Equity Outcome of Decarbonization with guest Dr. Destenie Nock. One tends to think of energy poverty as a developing nation problem. It’s true, after all, that the vast majority of those without access to energy (759M people) are in developing countries like […]
  • Happy Canada Day
    Happy Canada Day, to my friends and family north of the 49th! In honor of the day, let’s dig into some Canadian climate news. Yesterday marked the passing into law of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which (among many things) gives the Canadian Paris-accord commitments the force of law. It has attracted both plaudits and criticism. Ecojustice climate program director Alan Andrews applauded the frequency of reporting, and the framework itself, for example. However […]
  • Recycled – June 30, 2021
    According to Argonne National Lab, 90% of all battery packs used in electric vehicles between 2010 and now were produced in the United States by Tesla and Panasonic. Not a huge surprise, given how Tesla has dominated the early EV market. The trend continues, however, with 70% of cells and 87% of packs produced here in 2020. China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam plan to build more than 600 coal power units. A risky move, […]
  • GREET your vehicle?
    Most people know that the carbon footprint of an electric vehicle, in use, is lower than that of an internal combustion vehicle. Except in the rare case that the electricity used by the vehicle is all generated from coal-fired stations, all of the literature confirms this. But what about the emissions impact of manufacturing an all-electric vehicle compared to an internal combustion engine? Well, that turned out to be a bit of a rabbit hole. […]
  • Recycled – June 29, 2021
    What happens if carbon dioxide removal (CDR) strategies are unsuccessful? Many net-zero ambitions count on being able to “abate” CO2, either through carbon dioxide capture technologies, or offsetting actions such as planting trees. Neil Grant and Dr. Ajay Gambhir from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College, London have modeled the impact of CDR failure. Eye opening. The EU has just set a binding target of 55% GHG reduction (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030, with […]
  • Renewables “On Fire”
    The theme that renewable energy is cheaper than some kinds of fossil fuels keeps recurring. The Guardian reported last week that solar and wind are often cheaper than coal, noting that the cost of solar and wind have dropped 85% and 56% respectively over the last decade. Last fall, the IEA said Solar is now the cheapest electricity in history. In January 2021, the US EIA forecast that 84% of new capacity would be zero […]
  • Recycled – June 28, 2021
    It was a scorcher here yesterday. Record temperatures, and set to achieve them again today. And for the record, these are not normal, or even normal variance. @weatherprof provides this insight: You might have seen the World Economic Forum Net-Zero Challenge: Supply Chain Opportunity paper back when it came out in January. It’s worth a read if you missed it. Their analysis showed that 8 supply chains accounted for over 50% of emissions globally. The […]
  • Batteries Part 2
    Last week’s piece on batteries generated questions from readers. Specifically two: What about the environmental impact of disposing of the battery? What is the carbon impact to manufacture an electric vehicle (EV)? How does it compare with a conventional vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE)? Let’s start with the Battery Disposal and Recycling. I’ll have more on the supply chain footprint for vehicles in a future post. Battery Disposal / Recycling The short answers […]
  • Recycled – June 27, 2021
    How much energy does using the internet really consume? According to researchers Jonathan Koomey and Eric Masanet, not as much as we’ve been led to believe. Meanwhile, if you want to know what your own personal browsing is costing, Microsoft PM Pierre Lagarde has a handy post, and scripts that you can use to find that out. If you prefer to consume content via podcast, then I recommend The Energy Gang, and newcomer The Big […]
  • Batteries
    Electric vehicle critics will often tell you that the environmental cost of the batteries is the “dirty little secret” that nobody is telling you about. The claim is that the manufacturing impact of the batteries is so high that we might as well just keep burning gasoline. The origin of this statement is an early and flawed study from 2017. Let’s examine their claim in more detail. Battery trends Battery technology is advancing rapidly. You […]
December 2021
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