Welcome to our two weekly review of energy and
environmental events and developments from both here in New
Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our
collection of articles to be of interest in what continues to
be a rapidly evolving area.
December is approaching fast, and with it key talks in
Paris around global climate change action. Can we afford to
think these talks will lead to meaningful action? French
President Francois Hollande believes nations must make a
greater effort to reach agreement. If not, millions face the
risk of becoming climate refugees. The time for nice words has
passed and firm action is required. Hopefully Paris will be
the launching point for this.
An important step towards making these talks a success is
assessing the INDC's (Intended Nationally Determined
Contributions). These must be submitted by October 1st. The
INDC is basically a nation's commitment to addressing
emissions ahead of the talks. In the example given, China has
pledged to increase forest stock and increase non fossil fuels
in primary energy consumption. Two important steps among a
How are New Zealand and Australia fairing ahead of these
vital talks? A very good question. Our INDC plans have been
best described as inadequate. After criticism that they are
doing too little to tackle climate change, the political line
by both Australia and New Zealand is to say they face
“unusually high” costs to cutting greenhouse gas emissions
because of their respective dependence on coal and livestock.
Each government's current approach seems aimed at achieving
lower costs or increased profit, rather than the wellbeing of
Why is firm action required? A number of reasons. One of
those currently highlighted by NASA is that oceans are going
to rise much more than previously predicted. From 1992 to
2014, NASA satellites have measured our planet's changing sea
levels. Overall, seas around the world have risen an average
of nearly 3 inches (7.62cm) over this period. NASA are now
warning that recent projections have been too conservative.
What does this mean? Definitely more detailed studies are
needed, and there are probably some very concerned coastal
cities and smaller island nations.
Bringing New Zealand and Australia's lack of real action
together, plus drop in a hint of sea rises and we have some
very concerned Pacific neighbours. These issues will likely
dominate this week's Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit in
Port Moresby, ahead of the United Nations climate change
conference in Paris. Pacific leaders want the world to work on restricting the
global warming temperature rise to 1.5oC, fearing a
2oC target will risk the survival of many tiny
islands. Host nation Papua New Guinea is facing what could be
its worst drought in 20 years and a potential food crisis.
Recent cyclone damage to Vanuatu and heavy flooding on Tuvalu,
Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are all very real for those
living in these areas.
Better action and support for these small nations is
important, and New Zealand and Australia must deliver. Fiji's
Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, urged Tony Abbott to
abandon the "coalition of the selfish" and look to help its
Climate change is thought to be caused by carbon emissions
blanketing the Earth, keeping the reflected heat trapped in.
So what can be done to limit the amount of carbon compounds
going into the atmosphere?
One thing we can do is limit the use of vehicles, and it
seems that people have begun to do this.Our next series of articles looks at some things happening in this area.
“Peak Car” is a term
that refers to the declining individual use of cars, and there
is emerging evidence of this in developed economies. City
living, and government's investment in public transportation
may be major contributors to this phenomenon, seen in London,
for example, where journeys by car now are only 37% of all
trips, compared to 50% in 1990, even with its increased
population. There is evidence this “Peak Car” is also
happening in other cities.
Los Angeles City Council are taking steps to increase
public transport use , along with making it a more pedestrian
and cycle friendly city. Not only will their 'Mobility Plan
2035' hopefully lower individual car journeys and help limit
carbon emissions, it aims to improve travel efficiency and
safety for all.
And in the UK, plans are underway to develop a system to
make the highways electric – to charge your EV as you drive.
South Korea already has a small electric highway. Imagine if
you could have your car charging up as you drive along. Who
wouldn't want an electric car then, especially if the power
used in the electric road was renewably sourced?
So after electric cars – what else does the future hold?
Driverless cars are being tested at the moment, and the flow
at intersections is a major area of the research being
undertaken by the University of Texas. A system of “reserving”
a slot to cross the intersection is being studied, and when
this project is completed, the efficiency and safety of
crossing intersections will be increased. This increased
efficiency would ultimately reduce carbon emissions as well.
The future of transport is, necessarily, changing. We hope
all these attempts at change make the required difference, and
influence other cities/countries to make these changes
We finish this week with a comprehensive article on the
“battery revolution”. This article is a great rundown on some
battery types currently available and how they work, and what
may be available in the future. Battery storage is and will be
such a major component of any renewable energy system, all
attempts to get the best capacity and fastest charging storage
for the least resource use and cost must be applauded. Maybe
the best solution will ultimately be for everyone to
“renewably” produce and store their own power requirements,
with the ability to be tied into the grid for any surplus to
be used elsewhere.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look
forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items
of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to