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The International Energy Agency(IEA)1 claims in its October special report that offshore wind could generate more than 15 times today’s global electricity demand. “Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3 per cent of global power generation, but its potential is vast”; to become a $1 trillion business by 20401. Offshore wind power will expand impressively over the next two decades, boosting efforts to decarbonise energy systems and reduce air pollution as it becomes a growing part of electricity supply.

“The Engineer”2 commenting on the Report “highlights the vast untapped wind resources around the world;” and in the most comprehensive study on the subject to date, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 TWh per year worldwide, with about 36,000 TWh of this easily accessible in coastal waters no deeper than 60m.

Rapid progress is being driven by: –

  • technical advances: more efficient, larger turbines, drone maintenance, floating foundations and sheer scale producing falling costs;
  • supportive government policies.

“Europe has pioneered offshore wind technology, and the region is positioned to be the powerhouse of its future development”1. There is about 20 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity in the EU currently, set to rise to nearly 130 gigawatts by 2040. This could jump to to around 180 gigawatts by 2040, if the European Union becomes carbon-neutral, and offshore wind is it’s largest single source of electricity. Governments and regulators need clear visions and objectives to enable the potential to be delivered through investment.

While Europe is making big strides China is also set to play a major role in offshore wind’s long-term growth. Driven by efforts to reduce air pollution, the technology is particularly attractive because offshore wind farms can be built near the major population centres spread around the east and south of the country. The IEA expects China to have the world’s greatest offshore wind capacity by 2025 overtaking the UK and rising from 4 gigawatts today to 110 gigawatts by 2040.

Europe and North America can meet electricity demand, possibly 3x over, from shallow coastal waters; while Russian, South America and New Zealand are similar. The IEA estimates that “offshore wind is set to be competitive with fossil fuel within the next decade”, something incredible 5 years ago. “In Europe, recent auctions indicate that offshore wind will soon beat new natural gas-fired capacity on cost”. Offshore wind can be used to produce hydrogen and, as such, 1 gigawatt could produce enough gas to heat ¼ million homes. Improved energy storage and new technology will further increase capacity.

Conclusion: this is: –

  • Good news for climate change3 and decarbonisation;
  • Good news for electric vehicles: – item for the next Ecopush blog.
  • Bad news for the nuclear power industry, (massive costs and sustainability3) and similarly the lack of sustainability of fracking in the UK.

1: IEA Report: Offshore Wind Outlook 2019: World Energy Outlook Special Report.. The report is an excerpt from World Energy Outlook 2019, which will be published in full on 13 November 2019.

2: The Engineer; October 2019.

3: Ecopush Blog:-Climate change: can i make a difference? -September 2019 and What can individuals do to reduce their carbon footprint

November 2019.

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Millions of mainly school children around the world took part in the “climate strike” day, on September 20th, with rallies in Glasgow, Manchester and London and many other British cities. The global protests, to save the Planet, come ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York urging countries to do more to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

As an example of this, the Met Office has forecast that Britain will be gripped by four heat-waves a year and twice as many flash floods in the next 50 years unless carbon emissions are drastically reduced.

UN Climate Action Summit September 2019: – Ecopush’s blog item September 2019

Greta damns world leaders for failing us on climate change

“Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.”

The Paris Agreement of April 2016, commits signatory nations to keeping global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times. The latest analysis shows that to act now will reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C and even to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The transformative approach envisaged by UN climate Action is action through six “action portfolios” and three additional key areas shown below: –

Energy transition

What is the UK doing about climate change?

Increased sustainable power generation: Ecopush’s blog item June2019

In October 2017, the UK Government launched the Clean Growth Strategy, fulfilling its legal obligation to set out policies and proposals to enable the carbon budgets set by Parliament to be met through eight key areas. The Government has now legislated to formulate the policies and provide the funding to to deliver and cut emissions to zero by 2050. Much of actual action to deliver the Government’s renewable energy strategy depends on increasing the proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power. Wind power, however, is playing an increasingly important role.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, states that wind generated almost a fifth of the UK’s electricity (19.1%) in the first quarter of 2018 of which 10.6% was onshore. At the same time Renewables generated 30.1% of overall need according to the Government’s “Energy Trends” document.

Sustainable Energy good news

In the 20th September auctions of offshore wind generated electricity costs had tumbled by a third of those in 2017, to about £40 (£39.65 to £41.61)per megawatt hour, which is less than the current price of electricity in the wholesale energy market (around £50 Mwh).

The UK announced that Equinor and its partner SSE were awarded contracts to develop three large scale offshore wind projects in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea. This will be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm development with a total installed capacity of 3.6 GW and in the last five years or so offshore wind has plummeted below the cost of fossil fuels. Currently, the UK has 10,010 wind turbines, total installed capacity of over 21.5 gigawatts, and the Government’s ambition of 75 gigawatt capacity by 2050 would make the country self sufficient.

And another good action to save the Planet:

Trees Planting

  • In the 2018-19 financial year just over 2m trees were planted in England and about 11,200 hectares of new planting was undertaken in Scotland last year. The Government is committed to plant 11 million trees (about 1,273 hectares) between the 2017-22, but the Committee on Climate Change in July 2019 recommended 30,000 hectares of woodland should be planted annually, more than double the new trees planted last year.
  • One tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of CO2 per year and can sequester 1 ton of CO2 by the time it reaches 40 years old with oak being the most carbon-absorbing species.
  • Ethiopians Planted 350 million trees as part of the ‘Green Legacy’ Program in one day in on 31st July 2019.
  • India planted 50 million trees in one day, in Allahabad, on 11th July 11 2016.
  • On average, about 218 million seedlings are planted each year in British Columbia, and in 2016, about 259 million trees and about 266 million in 2017 were planted.
  • Americans plants approximately 1.6 billion trees every year of which forest product companies are responsible for half.

The Woodland Trust says 50 million trees need to be planted each year for the UK to achieve “net zero” carbon by 2050. The Government’s Climate Change Committee says that 1.5 billion tree need to be planted to reach the 2050 target.

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Flash, I love you but we only have fourteen hours left to save the earth”.

What has this unforgeable quote from “Flash Gordon” [1], the 1980 film, to do with CC? Everything, as in a peculiar way it presaged the present climate change crisis and, further, its extravagant hyperbole has a depressingly large element of the truth for our modern world.

Most people, with noticeable exceptions, recognise that the world’s climate change is accelerating dramatically, which will impact catastrophically on all living creatures. “Yes I know this”, I hear you say, “but what can I do on my own when global action is required?” Despite the gloom of not enough global action and the usual political approach to difficult problems of “kicking the can down the road” and leaving the mess for future generations things are beginning to move, so don’t be too despondent you can do more than you might think and help to save help the world.

This blog sets out briefly the problem, some of what’s going on, simple actions you can undertake, as an individual, to reduce pour impact on CC, an a bit about carbon offsetting. For more detailed information on CC read Ecopush’s blog item June 2019, “Can I reduce my carbon footprint?

The Impact of Climate Change

CC is altering the fundamental fabric of the earth itself, the composition of the atmosphere and the oceans. Although we’ve have know about this for some time with the early science dating back over a century, it is the knowledge of the extent and speed of these changes which is new and frightening. Svante Arrhenius, the pioneering Swedish scientist in 1896, first estimated the scope of climate warming from widespread coal burning: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by WHO in late 1988, after when the “greenhouse effect” enter the international spotlight. The first International Panel on Climate Change was established in 1990, and climate assessments was published every five or six years. The major reports of the last two years has had massive influence – (Wikipedia).

CC is and will continue to affect all living creatures, animals, insects plants and other organisms from the large to the minute: –

  • Changing climate belts: temperatures and rainfall; up, down, less and more, and more frequent major events;
  • Increasing the amounts of CO2, greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollution;
  • More extreme weather: hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons and thunder storms;
  • Retreat of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, Greenland (more ice mass has been lost this year since records began), and glaciers world-wide;
  • Rising sea levels, altering of salinity;
  • Changing habitats for all living creatures, animals and plants.

International Action – Ecopush’s blog item June 2019

The 2016 Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to hold the increase in global average temperature to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5°C, which would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change. Also included were: –

  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

UK Action

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change 2018 seeks progress in the reduction of UK emissions of greenhouse gases within 7 main areas: Economy-wide progress, Power, Buildings, Industry, Transport, Agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry, Waste, and Fluorinated gases – (F-gases). It has 4 clear messages: –

  1. Support the simple, low-cost options;
  2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement;
  3. End the chopping and changing of policy
  4. Act now to keep long-term options open

Individual Action

Greta Thunberg the 16 year old climate activist has spend two-weeks crossing the Atlantic on a solar-powered yacht attend “Climate Week NYC”, which will take place from September 23 to 29. The event is run in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York, and seeks to continue to grow as the time and place for the world to showcase climate action and discuss how to do more. The number of events at this years Climate Week run by The Climate Change Group, [2] the international non-profit organisation focused on accelerating climate action, are growing and are set to far exceed the 150 events of 2018.

In April, activists around the world took to the streets to demand that global leadership take climate change seriously. Protesters near Manhattan’s City Hall; traffic blocked in Germany; streets in the Hague’s ’doused with fake blood. In London, Extermination Rebellion activists have glued themselves to trains, attached themselves to fences, and blocked the city’s busiest traffic routes and in Bristol and Manchester. This disruption aims to get the U.K. government to declare a climate emergency, reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and form a Citizen’s Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. On May 1 2019, the House of Commons declared the world’s first ever “climate emergency.” The Government has since launched its Strategy to cut emissions to zero by 2050, but nothing on the policies and funding to achieve this goal.

Carbon footprint and carbon offsetting

Your carbon footprint is defined by the total amount of CO2 and greenhouse gases that you produced, directly and indirectly, by your activities. It is usually expressed in equivalent tonnes of CO2 generated by your lifestyle, heating, travelling by plane or car particularly using fossil fuels, the food you eat, the clothes you ware, the water you use and how you dispose of your waste.

Carbon offsetting is a way to compensate for your emissions of CO2 or other greenhouse gases, measured in tonnes, by funding a saving elsewhere. A tree is estimated to remove about 7 tonnes of CO2 and, therefore, about 5 billion trees per year need to be planted to meet current emission levels.

There are two markets for carbon offsets. In the larger, international compliance market, companies, governments, or other entities buy carbon offsets to comply with caps on the total amount of CO2 emitted. In the much smaller, voluntary market, individuals, companies, or governments purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use, and other sources. For example, an individual might purchase carbon offsets to compensate for emissions caused by personal air travel. Carbon offset vendors offer direct purchase of offsets, often offering other services such as designating a carbon offset project to support or measuring a purchaser’s carbon footprint – (Wikipedia).

Each offset, equal to one tonne of CO2, sells for about £9 to £11 per credit, depending on market rates. According to the Guardian Newspaper, a typical British family would pay around £45 to neutralise a year’s worth of gas and electricity use, while a return flight from London to San Francisco would clock in at around £20 per ticket. Drive 15,000 miles per year, fly 50,000 miles and stay in hotels four weeks a year, your carbon emissions, according to the Mercy Corps (a global team of humanitarians), come to more than 16 tonnes, which could be offset with a donation of £80, enough to purchase 32 trees.

Ten simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

  • Eat less meat (the single most effective action you can take to combat climate change is to stop eating meat);
  • Reduce food waste and compost if possible;
  • Reduce the temperature of your heating;
  • Drive less;
  • Fly less;
  • Use sustainable transport – walk and cycle more;
  • Don’t buy “Fast Fashion”;
  • Plant a garden / trees;
  • Eat local (and organic).
  • More sustainable use and charging of your devices.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint permanently is perhaps to adopt the Mike Berners-Lee “10-tonne lifestyle” as set out on Ecopush’s blog “Can I Reduce My Carbon Footprint?”, June 2019.

Changing one’s lifestyle is not easy, but it is now essential that we give it a go, and you don’t have to do everything at once. Try flying or driving a little less and compensate against these by reducing your carbon footprint more in other areas. Flash Gordon did save the earth and liberated the Universe from the clutches of the evil Emperor Ming. By taking small, individual steps getting bigger, we can do the same and make a real difference.

1. The film Flash Gordon (1980) released by Universal Studios.

2. The Climate Change Group.

Ecopush’s next blog will discuss the interrelated topic of sustainable development which combined with climate change mitigation seeks to “save the earth” and its environment. At Ecopush ecopush blog, we really value your views and ideas on climate change and reducing peoples’ carbon footprint: so contact us and let us know what you think.

Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius from Pexels