Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Can Canadian Cities Do to Mitigate Climate Change?

Low carbon futures in Canada – the role of urban climate change mitigation (22 page pdf, Ralph Torrie, Torrie Smith Associates, Sept. 2015)

Today we review a report by an authorities on carbon emissions and a Canadian, Ralph Torrie. Although Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world, over 80 % of Canadians are clustered into urban areas which make up 42% of the national GHG emissions. Community emissions from urban areas such as private transportation and residential heating are 40-50 times greater than those directly emitted from corporate operations such as public transit, waste processing and energy. While urban populations have increased over the last 25 years, urban GHG emissions have decreased by 20%. Future municipal reductions centre on energy efficiency in areas such as traffic and road lights and vehicle fleets while community reductions centre on lower emissions from improved building insolation and the use of geothermal energy and more efficient private transportation from improvements such as electric vehicles. urban pop  

Key Quotes:

“81% of the Canadian population live in urban centres. …. With 90-95% of the population growth occurring in urban areas, an additional 13 million urban dwellers are projected by 2060” “Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada totaled 715 Mt CO2e in 2012, or 20.6 t CO2e per capita1, making it among the most greenhouse gas intensive economies in the world…Urban GHG emissions make up 42% of Canada’s total emissions”

Municipal government emissions represent only 8% of total urban greenhouse gas emissions in Canada…Community greenhouse gas emissions are over ten times larger than emissions from corporate operations, and if only energy-related emissions are included then the community emissions are 40-50 times larger than those from municipal government’s own energy use.”

“Over the past 25 years, per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Canada’s urban areas have declined by about 20%, while the urban population has increased 30% over the same period.”

“Local governments have direct or indirect control over 40-50% of greenhouse gas emissions …the potential to reduce Canada’s urban GHG emissions by 5-12% by 2050 (13 – 35 Mt CO2e) through the implementation of integrated public policies that promote urban densification, transportation mode shift, utilization of waste heat for district heating and cooling, and renewable energy generation

 “Most of the municipal measures are for energy efficiency improvements, and most of these target the municipalities existing and new buildings, with street and traffic lights, vehicle fleets, and water and waste water treatment facilities also contributing. Although energy efficiency measures account for 80% of building related emission reduction measures, rooftop solar and geothermal heating systems are significant,”

“In British Columbia, communities that have signed the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) and committed to reducing their GHG emissions can receive up to 100% of the carbon tax they have directly paid for investment in emission reduction measures”.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What are the Impacts of Short-lived Air Pollutants on Climate Change and on Health?

Evaluating the climate and air quality impacts of short-lived pollutants (38 page pdf, A. Stohl, B. Aamaas, M. Amann, L. H. Baker, N. Bellouin, T. K. Berntsen, O. Boucher, R. Cherian, W. Collins, N. Daskalakis, M. Dusinska, S. Eckhardt, J. S. Fuglestvedt, M. Harju, C. Heyes, Ø. Hodnebrog, J. Hao, U. Im, M. Kanakidou, Z. Klimont, K. Kupiainen, K. S. Law, M. T. Lund, R. Maas, C. R. MacIntosh, G. Myhre, S. Myriokefalitakis, D. Olivié, J. Quaas, B. Quennehen, J.-C. Raut, S. T. Rumbold, B. H. Samset, M. Schulz, Ø. Seland, K. P. Shine, R. B. Skeie, S. Wang, K. E. Yttri, and T. Zhu, Atmos. Chem. Phys., Sep. 24, 2015)

Also discussed here: Curbing short-lived pollutants a win-win for climate and air quality (News, The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Sep. 24, 2015)

 Today we review research into the benefits of reducing air pollution in terms of reduced climate warming and on health. The lifetimes of air pollutants such as methane, SO2, NOx and black carbon are measured in months compared CO2 which lasts decades but their radiative impact on climate warming is much greater individually (as opposed to overall), given that their much lower concentration in the atmosphere than CO2. The impact on health of course is much greater with 223,000 deaths from lung cancer each year and shorter lifetimes of 7.5 years globally from air pollution. Short term reductions in air pollution (by 2050) were shown by climate models to reduce warming by 0.22C, while extending lifetimes by up to 11 months (in India). short lived aq  

Key Quotes:

“In the EU, the reduction in life expectancy due to air pollution was 7.5 months in 2010, and legislation already in place to improve air quality aims to reduce this loss to 5.2 months by 2030.”

“the new measures targeting short-lived pollutants could boost air quality and reduce loss of life expectancy even further: by a month in Europe, about two months in China and one year in India. The new mitigation measures would also bring climate benefits, reducing global temperatures by about 0.22°C by 2050, relative to a scenario without these measures”

“There are also other important measures to reduce methane emissions from coal mining, municipal waste treatment and gas distribution, for example, as well as black carbon emission reductions through elimination of high-emitting vehicles, use of cleaner biomass cooking and heating stoves, replacement of kerosene wick lamps with LED lamps and other measures,”

“the mitigation has only minor effects on CO2 emissions, but reduces most SLCPs strongly compared to the CLE scenario. By 2030, CH4 emissions are reduced by about 50% and BC emissions by nearly 80 %. OA is co-controlled with BC, causing a nearly 70% ..reduction of its emissions,”

 “In China, the ECLIPSE measures would in the year 2030 extend the life expectancy of the population by approximately 1.8 months and reduce the premature deaths attributable to PM2:5 by 150 000–200 000 cases per year….Using the loss in statistical life expectancy as an alternative metric, the ECLIPSE measures would gain 11–12 months in life expectancy for the Indian population”

“For the first time, ECLIPSE compared the temperature response to an SLCP mitigation scenario as it is given by climate metrics (using the ARTP method) and as it is simulated with transient ESM simulations…Both approaches give a global mean reduced warming of the surface temperatures by 0.22K (and similar uncertainty ranges) for the period 2041–2050.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Link between Air Pollution and Hypertension

English: Main complications of persistent high...
English: Main complications of persistent high blood pressure. Sources are found in main article: Wikipedia:Hypertension#Complications. To discuss image, please see Template_talk:Häggström diagrams. To edit, please use the svg version, convert to png and update both versions online. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Long-Term Air Pollution Exposure and Blood Pressure in the Sister Study (8 page pdf, Stephanie H. Chan, Victor C. Van Hee, Silas Bergen, Adam A. Szpiro, Lisa A. DeRoo, Stephanie J. London, Julian D. Marshall, Joel D. Kaufman, and Dale P. Sandler, Environ Health Perspect, Oct. 1, 2015) 

Today we review research conducted across a wide area with a large sample made up of sisters of women with breast cancer with the aim to find out the mechanisms between particulate and NO2 pollution and heart disease. The authors found that long term air pollution from PM2.5 and NO2 is closely associated with higher blood pressure and hypertension.

Key Quotes: 

“Increased BP [blood pressure]is a strong risk factor for CVD [cardiovascular disease] including increases in left ventricular mass, which have been associated with long-term air pollution exposures” 

“This is the first large national cohort studied with individual BP measurements and the use of advanced modeling methods to assess fine-scale intraurban gradients in major criteria air pollutants, PM2.5 and NO2” 

“Our study demonstrates an association between increases in long-term residential exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 and higher measures of blood pressure (SBP, PP, and MAP for PM2.5 and PP for NO2).” 

“Because air pollution exposure is experienced at a population level, even a small pro-hypertensive response to long-term air pollution exposures could contribute significantly to CVD.” 

“Our findings suggest that chronic PM2.5 exposure may lead to increases in both SBP [systolic BP ]and PP[pulse pressure], and that chronic NO2 exposure may increase PP. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis that air pollution leads to CVD through mechanisms involving increased BP, potentially via the long-term vascular remodeling that accompanies chronic autonomic dysfunction or inflammation and oxidative stress.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Not Apply the User Pay Principle to Road Users? A Case for Road Pricing

Who Pays for Roads? - How the “Users Pay” Myth Gets in the Way of Solving America’s Transportation Problems (45 page pdf, Tony Dutzik and Gideon Weissman, Phineas Baxandall, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Also discussed here: Report: 21st Century Transportation (Press Release, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of road costs in the USA (also applies to Canada) which shows increasingly that the tax on fuel for vehicles pays less and less of the overall costs for roads which include construction and maintenance, snow clearance, the health costs of air pollution from vehicle emissions, etc that amount to $10 to $40 B/ year attributable to driving. This is more than the costs of transit, passenger rail travel, cycling and walking combined. The balance of the costs not funded from gas taxes is borne by property taxes and general tax revenue which, in cities such as Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is more than the cost of police services or public transit. This is a clear call for road pricing which would relieve the tax burden of those who do not use roads and go beyond flat and partially subsidized road tolls. user pay for roads  

Key Quotes:

“Gas taxes and other fees paid by drivers now cover less than half of road construction and maintenance costs nationally – down from more than 70 percent in the 1960s – with the balance coming chiefly from income, sales and property taxes and other levies on general taxpayers.”

“General taxpayers at all levels of government now subsidize highway construction and maintenance to the tune of $69 billion per year – an amount exceeding the expenditure of general tax funds to support transit, bicycling, walking and passenger rail combined.”

“the average American household bears an annual financial burden of more than $1,100 in taxes and indirect costs from driving – over and above any gas taxes or other fees they pay that are connected with driving.”

“An estimated $597 per U.S. household per year in general tax revenue dedicated to road construction and repair.”

“Approximately $93 to $360 per household in costs related to air pollution-induced health damage…pollutants from road transportation contribute to approximately 50,000 premature deaths each year.. with associated costs for health care, lost productivity and lost lives. …the cost of annual cost of damage imposed by air pollutants nationwide (not including carbon dioxide) to be $71 billion to $277 billion in 2002, with automobiles, light-duty trucks and SUVs responsible for about 16 percent of those damages. The damage attributable to driving, therefore can be estimated at $10.7 billion to $41.6 billion per year,”

“Governments spend more non-user tax dollars on highways than on transit, bicycling, walking and passenger rail travel, combined.”

“Today, more than 5,400 miles of roads require tolls, 15 percent more than a decade ago.” “Congestion pricing, parking pricing, pollution-based charges and similar charges can encourage transportation choices that deliver the greatest benefits to or impose the least costs on society—even if every penny of revenue from those fees is returned to taxpayers or used for purposes other than transportation.”

 “the general public pays approximately $69 billion in taxes and fees each year toward the cost of building and operating the highway system, with hundreds of billions more in indirect subsidies and unpriced external costs.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Does it Matter How You Measure Atmospheric Particulate Matter?

English: Preindustrial and contemporary PM2.5 ...
English: Preindustrial and contemporary PM2.5 emissions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Overview of Particulate Matter Measurement Instruments (Simone Simões Amaral , João Andrade de Carvalho Jr., Maria Angélica Martins Costa and Cleverson Pinheiro, Atmosphere, Sep. 9, 2015)

Key Quotes:

“People can be exposed to particulate matter in indoor or outdoor environments…particulate levels can vary from 5000 to 10,000 particles/cm3 in outdoor air. This number can increase to 300,000 particles/cm3 or even 1,000,000 particles/cm3 on streets with high traffic volumes.”

“measurements of particles can vary widely, even those made for the same material and in the same place. This variation is mainly caused by the equipment used for measuring particles and the sampling procedures.”

“Primary particles are directly emitted into the atmosphere. Primary particles are composed of fine particles, with diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5), and by ultrafine particles, with diameters smaller than 0.1 μm”

“Particles generated by mechanical or chemical reactions in the atmosphere are classified as secondary particles. Secondary particles are coarse. They have diameters greater than 2.5 μm. Coarse particles include particulate matter smaller than 10 μm in diameter (PM10) and total Suspended Particle Matter (TSP)”

 “The Spotmeter, which is used to measure concentration of BC through absorption of light, has been reported as being capable of measuring all the particle size ranges. Detection limit of this piece of equipment is 25 μg/m3.”

“The device with highest accuracy …was the Scattering Photometer (30%). On the other hand, the measurement methods based on filters were the least accurate (5%).”

Measurements related to UFP[ultra fine particles] are important, particularly in health-related studies. In this case, the most recommended equipment is measures the numerical concentration of particles, as in the case of SMPS[Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer] , FMPS[Fast Mobility Particle Sizer], ELPI[Electrical Low Pressure Impactor], and OPC[Optical Particle Counter].”

“17 institutes were interviewed about the equipment that they used to measure particulate matter. SMPS and ELPI were used by 50% of all institutes… and the ELPI works in real time”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Six Principles to Implement Carbon Pricing Quickly, Fairly and Cost-Effectively

The FASTER Principles for Successful Carbon Pricing: An approach based on initial experience (49 page pdf, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group (WBG), Sep. 20, 2015)

Also discussed here: New Principles to Move on a Low Carbon Path, amid Growing Momentum for Carbon Pricing (Press Release, World Bank, Sep. 20, 2015)

 Today we review proposals from the World Bank and OECD to implement carbon pricing around the world based on experiences from 40 nations and 23 cities. Wider adoption by other countries has the potential to both reduce carbon emissions and to raise significant revenue that could accelerate emission reductions and climate adaptation: up to $400 B by 2030 and $2.2 trillion by 2050. FASTER  

Key Quotes:

“the FASTER principles:
  • fair; Successful carbon pricing policies reflect the“polluter pays” principle and contribute to distributing costs and benefits equitably,
  • aligned with other policies measures that facilitate competition and openness, ensure equal opportunities for low-carbon alternatives, and interact with a broader set of climate and non-climate policies.
  • stable and predictable, gives a consistent, credible, and strong investment signal, the intensity of which should increase over time.
  • transparent, Successful carbon pricing policies are clear in design and implementation.
  • efficient Successful carbon pricing improves economic efficiency and reduces the costs of emission reduction.
  • cost-effective and reliable Successful carbon pricing schemes result in a measurable reduction in environmentally harmful behavior.”
“40 nations and 23 cities, states or regions are using a carbon price. This represents the equivalent of about 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or 12 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.”

“cooperation between countries, compared to domestic action alone, could significantly lower the cost of achieving a 2°C goal, … can result in up to $400 billion by 2030 and up to $2.2 trillion by 2050 in net annual flows of financial resources.”

“California and Québec, which together with British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario, form part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), linked their emissions trading systems from January 1, 2014. Together, they form the largest carbon market in North America.”

 “British Columbia’s carbon tax design includes a tax credit for low-income households to offset the financial burden of more expensive fuel. The credit was last increased in 2011, when it rose to Can$115.50 per adult and Can$34.50 per child. A study found that low-income households were better off after 2010 because the Low Income Climate Action tax credit was more than the amount paid in carbon tax”

“Counterproductive policies undermine the environmental benefits of carbon pricing and should be scaled back….when domestic retail fuel prices are held down below international prices .. or when domestic prices are below cost-recovery prices (for electricity).. climate-harmful subsidies include those for company cars, parking, livestock production and crop production using fertilizers that release nitrogen oxides.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Priorities Needed to Achieve a Low Carbon World

World Energy Trilemma - Priority actions on climate change and how to balance the trilemma (57 page pdf, World Energy Council, 2015)

world energy councilAlso discussed here: Paris, give us carbon pricing, but give us market mechanisms too! (Joan MacNaughton, World Energy Trilemma, World Energy Council, Sep. 23, 2015)

Today we review a report and recommendations from the World Energy Council, aimed at the COP21 climate conference to take place in Paris in December 2015. Among the important factors that need to be considered in setting a global goal to remain below 2 C warming target is the need to recognize different energy dependencies in various countries and sub-regions, the need to have carbon pricing in place, in order to allow the successful implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) without which achievement of the goal is impossible and the major role for the private sector, especially in controlling emissions from the supply chain. For example, the differences between the carbon pricing strategies of fossil fuel provinces in Canada ( Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland) and low carbon energy producing provinces (British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec) and the mix of carbon tax and cap and trade approaches show how local situations lead to different low carbon solutions.  

Key Quotes:

“it is vital that policymakers in Paris don’t just put a price on carbon, but also allow for market mechanisms as part of any international climate agreement. Preferably, these mechanisms should be linked to each other and allow for forms of offsetting, so that companies can buy credits if they can’t reduce emissions.”

“To be truly carbon neutral, companies must address their supply chains. In the UK it is estimated that 80% of a company’s carbon footprint resides in its supply chain which is likely made up of companies of a variety of different sizes.”

“Produce an agreement: keep it simple, keep it measurable” “Until we get the environment, energy and commerce ministers in one room we won’t get good climate decisions” “Policymakers must drive a sense of ambition by setting a courageous target that allows people to become creative”

 “Don’t go backwards and make sure that if you are ambitious, you understand the consequences”

“A fossil-fuel oriented economy may choose to focus on energy efficiency and demand management measures, and expanding research and development on building efficiency, clean vehicles and advanced coal technology. In contrast, a country that relies on fossil-fuel imports may choose to focus on a combination of energy-efficiency and demand-management measures. Carbon pricing could also be a means to levelling the playing field among different technologies and increasing the share of renewable energy sources.”

 “Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and a significant producer of conventional and unconventional oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity. On a sub-national level, the country is very diverse. Large oil and gas resources drive the economies of Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador whereas in British Columbia, Québec, and Ontario, hydroelectric power is an abundant, cheap energy source that has enabled the creation of several important industries. These differences on a sub-national level lead to very different GHG emission profiles on a provincial level and strategies to reduce them.”

“If we don't have CCS [carbon capture and storage] commercial in the next five years, we will not reach the 2 degrees goal…It is estimated that 30 large-scale projects would be needed by 2020, capturing and storing 50 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 per year, to achieve the 2 degree target agreed on the Copenhagen Accord at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009…”

“Unless there is a meaningful price on carbon, CCS will not happen, except if government RD&D really steps up.” “It would be important to have a long-term process that you do not have to renegotiate every few years.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is there a Link between Childhood Leukemia and Roadside Emissions from Traffic?

BONE MARROW: ACUTE MYELOBLASTIC LEUKEMIA WITH MATURATION (AML-M2) Bone marrow smear from a patient with acute myeloblastic leukemia with maturation showing several blasts with prominent nucleoli, a promyelocyte, and a myelocyte. Two of the blasts contain prominent Auer rods. (Wright-Giemsa stain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Residential Proximity to Heavy-Traffic Roads, Benzene Exposure, and Childhood Leukemia—The GEOCAP Study, 2002–2007 (Abstract, Jennifer Houot, Fabienne Marquant, Stéphanie Goujon, Laure Faure, Cécile Honoré, Marie-Hélène Roth, Denis Hémon and Jacqueline Clavel, Am. J. Epidemiol., Sep. 15, 2015) 

Also discussed here: Study of leukemias in children living close to heavily used roads. (ScienceDaily, Sep. 17, 2015) 

Today we review research conducted in France with 5 years of data to explore the incidence of leukemia for children exposed to roadside emissions. Results indicate that while there is no significant link with nitrogen dioxide, there is a 30% greater frequency of myeloblastic type leukemia for children living within 150 m of heavy traffic when there is also a higher concentration of benzene in the emissions. 

Key Quotes: 

“With 470 new cases each year, leukemias (blood cancers) are the most common childhood cancers, and are mainly acute lymphoblastic leukemias.” «

 "The frequency of myeloblastic type leukemias was 30% higher in children living within a 150 m radius of heavily used roads, and where the combined length of road sections within this radius exceeded 260 m," 

“there was no association between acute lymphoblastic leukemias -- the most common -- and the atmospheric concentration of nitrogen dioxide, distance or combined length of heavily used roads in the vicinity of dwellings” 

“the risk of childhood acute myeloblastic leukemia was double in Île-de-France children whose residences were the most exposed to traffic, i.e. when, simultaneously, the combined length of road sections within a 150 m radius of the residence exceeded 300 m, and the estimated mean annual concentration of benzene in the vicinity of the residence was above the median value observed in Île-de-France (1.3 µg/m3).” 

“These results, which were free from any participation bias and based on objectively determined indices of exposure, showed an increased incidence of AML associated with heavy-traffic road density near a child's home. The results support a role for traffic-related benzene exposure in the etiology of childhood AML”