Climate change

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_coefficient

http://rc.opelgt.org/indexcw.php

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Str%C3%B6mungswiderstandskoeffizient

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, www.iiasa.ac.at 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 [pure.iiasa.ac.at/15031]

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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Greetings,

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

 

Larger project in Vienna rejected because of climatechange !

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For the first time, a large-scale project in Austria was rejected by the Federal Administrative Court (BVWG) referencing to climate protection targets and ground consumption. It is the third runway at the Vienna Airport. This causes clashes between the supporters and opponents of this third track. The advocates see the danger that the Vienna airport will no longer be able to fulfill the unique feature of “the gate between West into the East” and that the economic- and employment situation in Vienna and around it will be negatively affected. The opponents are glad that this practice will lead further stops for large projects in Austria and abroad. They point to the 21st climate conference of the United Nations (COP21) and to the voluntary reduction plans (NDCs- Nationally Determined Contribution), and that the emissions of Austria have not declined since 1990. The author of this posting recommends applying the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach (PPP – Prosperity, Planet, and People) and the 17 SDGs to accomplish a fair evaluation of projects such as the third runway of the Airport Vienna. It shall be noted that the three dimension of the TBL shall be treated equally and balanced and that among the factors of the TBL as well as between the 17 SDGs exist dependencies.

Roland Leithenmayr, FVF

Post-Capitalism and Climate Change as Non-Zero-Sum-Game

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The demand to transform current systems seems to be a depressing diagnosis. It takes a holistic package were almost everyone gains by those desired transformations. The problem is, – contrary to the holistic solution -, that attempts are made to solve each problem isolated and the suggested solutions are zero-sum games. It’s a political, social, ecological and economical arrangement that one set of players would gain at the expense of another set.  Because the prospective losers could be a powerful nations, multinational corporations or influential stakeholder, they are not willing to negotiate adequately or refuse it entirely fearing they would be losers. To break this deadlock, a non-zero-sum game has to be started; therefore, the suggested solution is instead to solve each problem by itself (individually) applying the holistic approach with the chance everybody wins.

Previous game theories based on the assumption that one party’s loss was always the adversary gain. John Nash, 1928-2015, he shared the Nobel Prize with two fellow game theory pioneers 1994 (depicted in the hit 2001 Hollywood film “A Beautiful Mind”), developed the Nash Equilibrium where each party gets the best deal possible under the circumstances and is now used to underpin everything from nuclear arms talks to developing contract negotiations tactics (Source: Obituaries, The troubled mathematician who inspired A Beautiful Mind, The Week, June 5, 2015, Volume 15, Issue 722).

Here is an amusing example of the Nash Equilibrium as shown in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”: Five girls meet in the evening in a bar five lads. All ten persons are interested in making an acquaintance, so there are ten persons with the same objective. One of the five girls looks very beautiful and all five young men desire to have a date with her. According to the theory of John Nash, none of those young men will achieve his objective. The beautiful girl would, if at all, select no more than one of them, but probably none, because it feels obliged to her girlfriends who are not cherished by the boys. To preserve her status in the group, the sought-after girl will do anything not to be separated from her group. So no one will achieve his or her goal: the girls who want to make the acquaintance, not, and the young men not because they interfere with each other due to their mutual interests. John Nash calls this  a “non-cooperative equilibrium“: five possible relations, bit five times a failure.

It seems that in this “Nash Equilibrium” are stuck the negotiators at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 being held in Le Bourget near Paris, November 30 to December 11. In case of post-capitalism, the economists (or self-proclaimed one), politicians and well-meaning people hinder and denigrate each other at every given opportunity at low level by discussions about the transformation of the capitalism or about the climate change. In the case of economics, the conclusion is that the originators of the well-known schools of economic suffered less of a tunnel vision that some of their followers today: they caught in the Nash Equilibrium! (Source: Josef Taus, Oliver Tanzer, Umverteilung Neu, Ideen für die Zukunft von Wirtschaft und Finanzsystem, 10. Kapitel, Chancen der Synthese, Plädoyer für eine neue Sicht der Ökonomie).

Although the Nash Equilibrium appears mathematically and abstract, it should be applied in conjunction with synthesis. Maybe a reader of this Post has an idea how this “non-cooperative equilibrium” could be bypassed whether in the negotiations in Paris or to create an adequate system for the Post-Capitalism?

Weblinks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum_game

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis

 

The Bad and the Good: Oil Companies

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When it comes to climate change, there are the Do-Gooders who categorize typically between the good and the bad. The Good, the NGOs and politic who are committed to environmental protection and the Bad primarily the neo-liberal businesses and multinational corporations, – and very evil they oil companies. These are now trying to improve their image, and ten (10) of them support the global climate agreement: global warming of max. 2 degrees Celsius. These ten oil companies campaign for a global CO2 trading system. The immediate actions would be the application of (innovative) technologies, such as “Carbon Capture and Storage”. And the restriction of gas flaring at oil fields, – blasting around 300 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, corresponding to the driving of 77 million cars a year (total of 1.2 billion cars worldwide). Greenpeace – an environmental organization – views this critically: the initiative has no concrete objectives. US oil companies which are not involved in this project assert that there are (innovations, state of the art) technologies available to solve this problem in short-medium term.

According to recent studies there will be up to 2.7 billion cars on the Earth in the year 2050; and therefore, 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide are projected to be discharged annually. Whether by then so many fossil fuels will still be present is questionable.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Weblinks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_capture_and_storage

http://www.oilandgasclimateinitiative.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissions_trading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Emission_Trading_Scheme

http://www.live-counter.com/autos/

Land Grabbing – Impact on Human Rights and Climate Change

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Koh-Keng-LianKoh Kheng Lian examines in her presentation and paper in the form of a trilogy the connections between Rule of Law, Human Rights and Human Security in a context of environmental changes and land grabbing. Although she trusts the Rule of Law is generally comprehended, she indicates that the consequences of environmental challenges on human rights and human security are still not fully apprehended. Her question and answer is how those three approaches work together: Or do they? Read more: kas_41976-1522-2-30 , see page 94.

Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian is an established authority on environmental law. She is one of the founder members and the former, and currently honorary, director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL). – See more about her http://www.swhf.sg/the-inductees/17-environment-conservation/138-koh-kheng-lian#sthash.ezaEFSmE.dpuf

Roland Leithenmayr VfV