CALL FOR PHD SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS
DUE: 27 SEPTEMBER 2015
The Australian-German Climate and Energy College is now accepting applications for PhD scholarships from domestic and international students who work in the field of climate and energy transitions.
The Australian-German Climate and Energy College is an international Graduate College jointly instituted by the University of Melbourne and a partnership of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and other German universities. The College provides a cohort-based environment for students working across the Faculties of Arts, Science, Agricultural Science, Engineering and Business and Economics. Students must commence study prior to 18 December 2015. Students also spend six months in Germany as part of their PhD program.
Application deadline: 27 September 2015
Apply here: http://climatecollege.unimelb.edu.au/call-phd-scholarship-applications
I searched for data on global greenhouse gas emissions by country and was disappointed with what I found. Data in AR5 WG3 are from 2010. The Wikipedia site’s data are from 2010. It says they are from World Resources Institute (WRI), but WRI just gets their data from the UNFCCC. By the way, WRI’s new Climate Data Explore (CAIT), provides some interesting graphic output. However, it uses 2012 data.
Under the United Nations’s Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty (which was ratified by the US Senate), Annex I countries to the treaty (the more industrialized nations) are required to report their annual emissions of greenhouse gasses. The UNFCCC established and maintains the technical guidelines for doing this, and compiles the data. However, this process is disappointingly slow. While a note on the homepage reports that the data have been updated with 2013 numbers, all the downloads on the Annex I time-series data page only extend only to 2012. The same goes for the country GHG profiles (which are very useful). The only place I could find 2013 data on the UNFCCC site was in the national reports, which are here. Apparently the 2013 have not been organized by UNFCCC, or at least, I could not find it on their website.
UNFCCC exports data to numerous sites and that list is available here. It includes the USEPA, but the most current data on the USEPA site is from 2012. It also includes the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The best report on that site was the Trends in Global CO2 Emissions. This is a 2014 report that includes 2013 data. It notes in the report that the data are somewhat preliminary, however they have good confidence in the overall accuracy. If you are concerned about the high accuracy numbers for an individual country, you will have difficulty finding data that are newer than 2012.
The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Lab (US Department of Energy), also estimates CO2 emissions. The estimates for 2011-2013 are preliminary. It is these estimates that are used by the Global Carbon Atlas. It's important to realize that the Atlas is using DOE estimates rather than UNFCCC data.
It’s incredible to me that, in an age when we are so used to having data quickly available, that it would be so difficult to get current data on an issue of this importance.
The Clean Power Plan will reduce USA greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generation sector by 32% off of 2005 levels by 2030. This is about 800 million tonnes of CO2 gas.
Some people argue that 800 million tonnes is a small number, in the global context. Global CO2 emissions in 2013 were 34,082 million tonnes. 800 is a mere 2.3% of 34,082. There are those who argue that the Clean Power Plan will hurt the American economy and only reduce global emissions a tiny amount. Their conclusion is that it doesn’t make sense for the USA to reduce pollution such as small amount, because the global effect will be slight.
This is an old argument and it’s long been recognized as a way of thinking that leads to collective destruction. It leads to what is called “the tragedy of the commons.” Consider a common resource that is owned by no one, but which everyone can use. It is completely logical (from an individual point of view) for each person to exploit that resource as much as possible believing that, if I don’t use it, someone else will. But what makes perfect sense from an individual perspective, ends up harming everyone. This kind of thinking has led to over grazing, over fishing, and, now, the changing of the Earth’s climate.
800 million tonnes of CO2 is a significant number. It’s more than the entire yearly emissions of Germany, the world’s 3rd largest economy. Moreover, there are many European countries that are taking extraordinary steps to reduce their emissions, and at high cost to residents and tax payers. If the logic of individual thinking has weight in the USA, which is the 2nd largest polluter, how much more compelling should that logic be in smaller countries? And if those smaller countries don’t act, and we don’t act, we are surely on the path of global tragedy.
It is important we don’t let the logic of individual thinking shape how we make national or state environmental and energy policy.
The final rule for EPA’s Clean Power Plan came out today. This is the strongest action the Federal Government has taken to reduce the drivers of climate change. The draft rule was put out in June 2014. It proposed targets for CO2 emissions from power plants for each state. The final rule made some adjustments to the proposed rule. (A summary of the changes is available here.)
Each state’s target is expressed as a rate of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated (pounds of CO2 per MWh). EPA computes the present rate (using 2012 data) and the targeted rate for the year 2030. Stepwise targets are also set beginning in 2022. The targets are different for each state because each state has different energy histories and capacities. Washington, for example, has only one coal-fired power station while Ohio has many. In the interest of fairness, EPA has come up with a formula and applied it to each state.
The formula takes into account four different things.
1. Fuel efficiency of coal-fired power stations.
2. Unused capacity at existing natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants.
3. Reliance on nuclear and renewable energy sources.
4. [Demand side conservation was included under the draft rule, but this was dropped in the final rule.]
To compute future CO2 emissions targets, the formula assumes the following policy targets:
1. Coal-fired power station efficiency should increase between 2-4% by 2030.
2. The use of NGCC power plants should increase to 75% of “net summer capacity” by 2030.
3. Increase nuclear and renewables to 13% of supply by 2030.
Washington State’s emissions of CO2 from the electricity sector were 7 million tons. These come almost totally from the Centralia coal power plant. Washington’s rate of CO2 emissions was 763 lb/MWh. The goal EPA set for WA in 2030 is 215 lb/MWh. That is a drop of 72%.
The Centralia plant is scheduled to switch over to natural gas by 2030. This fuel-switching should produce about a 44% drop in the state’s CO2 emissions rate (because natural gas emits less CO2 than coal per unit of electricity generated). Since Washington will have no coal-fired power stations after 2030 and it has no plans to build more nuclear power stations, the additional required reduction in CO2 emission rate will have to come about by:
· increasing the amount of time natural gas plants are run or
· installation of new renewable energy such as wind or solar.
Reduction of demand through energy efficiency improvements, such as switching out incandescent light bulbs for LEDs, was part of the draft rule, but this was removed in the final rule. Nonetheless, EPA expects that states will incorporate energy conservation and efficiency into their plans simply because it is cost-effective to do so.
Additionally, the Clean Power Plan allows for states to combine their state goals and achieve collective targets through emissions trading, or setting a price on carbon. This is quite new as existing carbon trading scheme involve polluters trading with each other, but under the Clean Power Plan states could trade with states.
States have until September 2016 to propose a plan or obtain an extension.
directs research at the Energy Trans Lab