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Urban Centers Disproportionally Affected by Climate Change: New Report

A new report warns that climate change may disproportionally affect people living in dense population centers and few cities are taking proper precautions to protect the vitality of their residents.

The world is currently undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history.  According to the United Nations Population Fund, since 1950 the number of people living in cities has quadrupled.  In 2008, for the first time in history, more people were living in towns and cities.  By 2030, an estimated 5 billion people will be living in cities, with the most concentrated urban growth coming from Asia and Africa.

“Climate change is a deeply local issue and poses profound threats to the growing cities of the world,” says Dr. Patricia Romero Lankao of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.  She warns that people living in dense population centers are at increased risk from natural disasters, rising air pollution and water contamination; all of which may become worse as a result of the changing global climate.

“Cities can have an enormous influence on emissions by focusing on mass transit systems and energy efficient structures,” she said, noting that many recent metropolitan initiatives to reduce emissions have the twin benefit of cutting down on urban traffic.  London has embarked on a Congestion Charging Zone and developing regions in Brazil and Columbia are now integrating development with public transportation systems.  Read more…

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Extract from President Obama's State of The Union Address

President Obama’s State of the Union Address challenged Americans to “win the future” by stepping up in a world of increasing global competition.  “We need to out-innovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world,” to create new jobs and “make America the best place in the world to do business.”

The President reaffirmed his dedication to clean energy, calling for massive scale federal investments for research and development. He also set a new clean energy target for 2035:

So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Last year, the President tried to end the nearly $40 billion in federal subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies, but his proposal was defeated by lawmakers.  In his address Tuesday night, he revisited the fossil fuel subsidy issue once more, saying “let’s stop subsidizing oil technology and subsidize new clean technologies instead.”

The President challenged the United States to compete with nations like China and India, which are investing heavily in clean energy technologies. The United States can increase its energy independence, revitalize and “reinvent” its manufacturing industries and create thousands of jobs by diving into this expanding global industry.

With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” the President said.

Read a transcript of the speech here

 

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Luftunsa Pioneers Use of Biofuel on Commercial Flights

In order to boost sustainability and reduce carbon emissions, european airline giant Luftunsa will become the first major carrier to use biofuel on commercial flights.

Beginning in April of 2011, Luftunsa will launch a pilot program testing a half blend of biofuel mixed with traditional kerosene on its Airbus A321 jets flying between Hamburg and Frankfurt.

This program is part of Luftunsa’s Future Aircraft Research Initiative (FAIR) which is investigating biofuel capacity and effects upon aircraft engines.  FAIR is supported in part by the German government with a €5 million grant.

Incorporating the use of biofuel in commercial jets is just one way that Luftunsa is attempting to reduce emissions through FAIR.  Thus far, the airline says its efforts have improved overall fuel efficiency by one third.  Read more…

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Energy Efficiency

 

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U.S. Riders Flock to Public Transportation

2008 Increase Saves Nation 4.2 Billion Barrels of Gasoline

Ridership on public transportation systems in the United States increased by 4% last year, says Environment America in a new report.  This increase effectively saved the nation 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline, the approximate amount guzzled by 7.2 million cars every year.  In 2008, the use of public transportation systems reduced greenhouse gas emission in the U.S. by 37 million tons.  “Aside from energy savings and reduction in climate change causing carbon emissions, Metro and our other transit services offer greater travel choices and save families money,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.  Citing figures from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Schwartz explained that the average two-person household in the U.S. stands to save up to $9,167 a year by living with one less car.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2009 in Oil, Transportation

 

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Growing Cities Need Smarter Traffic Management

IBM Report Highlights New Metropolitan Transportation Ideas

As cities grow more populous and polluted, a new research report from IBM warns they will face severe traffic management challenges.  IBM’s publication, “Intelligent Transport: How Cities Can Improve Mobility,” states that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities for the first time in human history.  The 20 million cars on the road today in China will likely increase to 140 million by 2020, adding stress to the nation’s roadways.  These problems are not unique to the developing world.  The cost of congestion in the U.S. is reportedly $200 billion annually, and in Europe, traffic problems from the continent’s 300 million drivers costs the EU close to 1% of its GDP – €100 billion – every year.  IBM’s study conducted extensive interviews with urban planners and transport officials in over 50 cities around the world, and almost all have started planning improved transport and mobility schemes, including initiatives such as integrated fare management, traffic prediction and road user charging.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in Transportation

 

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Fast Growing Car Markets; New Hurdles for Electric Vehicles

China & India are World’s Fastest Growing Car Markets

The Economist Foresees Hurdles for Electric Vehicles

Over the next 40 years, the number of passenger cars on the world’s roadways is expected to increase four-fold to 3 billion cars.  China is likely to supplant the U.S. as the world’s largest car market; by 2050, there could be as many cars in China as there are on the planet today.  By that time, India’s car fleet may have increased 50 times over.  Already, automobiles contribute 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and rapid fleet expansion, especially in developing countries, has severely increased local air pollution.  Faced with these predictions, a year and a half ago Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said if the industry did not start producing cars will little or no emissions, the world would “explode.”  Chevy and Nissan have recently made headlines with their new electric models, and across the board, mainstream auto companies are producing fuel efficient or hybrid lines.  However, despite the promise of electric vehicles, a recent article in The Economist says the industry’s two largest hurdles – pricing and charging- have not gone away and require attention.  The Nissan “Leaf” and Chevy “Volt” cost almost twice as much as conventional gasoline cars, and they require nightly charging to keep their batteries full.  Until prices come down and charging mechanisms become more convenient, electric cars “may remain little more than a promising niche technology,” the magazine writes.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2009 in Transportation

 

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