climate change

Protected: Statement for the SDG Summit 2019

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Youth -make it better!

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Our youth skips school and demonstrates instead. They complain that the Austrian government is doing too little delaying climate change. Politics is not easy, but undoubtedly they could do more. Today’s Youth in Austria, for the most part, is materialistic and demanding: they should limit their needs under the motto – Make It Better!

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

Air resistance increases with the speed of the car!

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The market share of SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) is growing. SUV drivers are looking down on others demonstrating their social status. One’s safety is certainly highly motivating for a person to acquire an SUV, even though the fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions are high and do not relieve the climate change.  The SUV is technically efficient but usually bulkier and consumes more energy and resources. The big front of SUVs dramatically increases the air resistance of the vehicle compared to streamlined cars. From physics lessons, we know that air resistance increases quadratically with speed. Accelerating, the speed of the SUV from 130 to 140 km / h, increases the air resistance over 20%.

Source: Christoph E. Mandl, Lernen S‘ in bißschen Physik, Herr Minister! Der Standard Sa/Do., 16/17 February 2019.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Warming of 2 degrees Celsius achievable?

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The IPCC (Weltklimarat) comes to the conclusion that even a warming of two degrees Celsius has severe consequences for our planet and with the currently planned measures of two-degree-celsius-limit cannot be achieved. The focus is therefore on urgency. Ms. Alzbeta Klein, Director of Climate Business at the World Bank Group’s International Financial Corporation (IFC) mentioned in an interview in the Wiener Zeitung 27/28 October 2018 “Climate change is a financial risk!” two technologies to mitigate the climate change problem: one is the storage of solar energy (including for the household) and the other Off-shore-wind power. For both, the World Bank Group is launching a $ 5 billion investment program. Ms. Klein notes a lot of movement at the corporate level citing several reasons: leadership vision and increasing pressure from customers. In summary, Ms. Klein enumerates three levers:  visionary business leaders, a government that takes the climate change seriously, and finally the consumer who demands a greenhouse,green car, and food with a good carbon footprint.

Roland Leithenmayr VFV 

The decrease of fossil emission is too slow

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IIASA (1) criticise the assumption of international policymaker that heavy implementation of negative emission technology later can offset the slow decrease of fossil fuel emission today.  IIASA proposes that the policymaker “…need a broader range of scenarios as they seek to limit climate change to below 2°C above the pre-industrial level .”  

(1) IIASA – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, is located in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria. IIASA uses systems analysis to research the critical issues of environmental, economic and technological change we face today.

(2) Thinking outside the box on climate mitigation, Option Summer 2018, page 5.

Further reading: Obersteiner M, Bednar J, Wagner F, Gasser T, Ciais P, Forsell 

N, Havlik P, Valin H, et al. (2018), How to spend a dwindling greenhouse gas budget.Nature Climate []

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

The unsustainable history  of SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle)

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SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are becoming increasingly popular – a paradox!

Before US car companies developed the new car type- the SUV- there were ingenious constructions of cars with fuel consumption of about 1.2 liters per 100 km. This was in line with rising mobility demands, dwindling supplies of oil, and growing concerns about climate change. Although the SUVs required on average 10 times as much fuel, the US government favored the SUV, offered tax incentives and stopped promoting the further development of fuel-efficient and electric cars. The SUV was a triumphal development,  still not ending.  Moreover, the US government called on its citizens to buy a house outside the city and offered low down payment and interest on the loans. The author of this posting himself acquired a house near Philadelphia, where the bank granted him a 120% loan with a low-interest rate and, also, put a large tax-exempt SUV in front of the garage door. The author lived with the feeling of being able to afford everything in the USA. There were hardly any reasons to pay much attention to “sustainability” and environment. One looked fascinated at global finance capitalism and was annoyed only by the outrageous bonuses to the acrobats of the financial circus. These magicians wrapped the mortgages in Christmas paper and sold them on to banks around the world to reduce the risk of US state-owned mortgage lenders (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). In 2007 and 2008, the mortgage bank crisis broke out, which in turn disrupted the global financial system. The investment banks, which were commissioned by the US government, bet for themselves that the mortgages become worthless. Back to SUV! The aforementioned urban sprawl and the tax-subsidized fuel-cutting SUV combined with the shock of crude oil prices in 2007 and 2008 and mortgage interest rates triggered the crisis, which can be outlined as follows (Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Factor Five, The Formula One sustained growth, 2009): 2007: world oil prices go crazy -> long-distance commuting becomes a nightmare in the US -> the pumped-up houses lose value -> subordinate mortgages turn into financial junk -> mortgage banks crash. This triggers an avalanche, many car stocks are scrap. Over the next 20 years, the shift to electric motors and digitization will lead to further economic upheavals that require a transformation of capitalism (destructive innovation, Joseph Schumpeter).

Roland Leithenmayr VfV


President Trump turned his back on the Paris agreement.

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In November 2016 the Paris Accord became the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement and framework for countries to adopt clean energy and collectively mitigate global warming. 

On June 1, 2017, in a Rose Garden speech, President Trump turned his back on the Paris agreement. Trump said he represented “the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” 

Apparently, the citizens of Pittsburgh hadn’t been consulted. 

“As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy, and future,” tweeted Mayor Bill Peduto. He then issued an executive order recommitting the city government to its goals of cutting energy use by half and sourcing all its energy from renewable sources by 2030. 

Trump may be out, but two hundred and forty-seven US cities are in, including nine of the ten largest cities in America – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose – along with hundreds of additional cities large and small in both red and blue states.

In the Climate Mayors statement, the mayors claim that not only will their cities individually adopt the Paris accord, but they will also work as a group to push for even stronger climate action. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create the 21st-century clean energy economy,” reads the statement. “The world cannot wait – and neither will we.”

As we build, so shall we live,

Kirstin Miller, Executive Director

Kirstin Miller

Executive Director at Ecocity Builders, San Francisco Institute of Architecture