even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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In Parts Of The Mideast, Power Generators Spew Toxic Fumes 24/7

The pollutants caused by massive generators add to the many environmental woes of the Middle East.

They literally run the country. In parking lots, on flatbed trucks, hospital courtyards and rooftops, private generators are ubiquitous in parts of the Middle East, spewing hazardous fumes into homes and businesses 24 hours a day.

As the world looks for renewable energy to tackle climate change, millions of people around the region depend almost completely on diesel-powered private generators to keep the lights on because war or mismanagement have gutted electricity infrastructure.

Experts call it national suicide from an environmental and health perspective.

“Air pollution from diesel generators contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, including many known or suspected cancer-causing substances,” said Samy Kayed, managing director and co-founder of the Environment Academy at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Greater exposure to these pollutants likely increases respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease, he said. It also causes acid rain that harms plant growth and increases eutrophication — the excess build-up of nutrients in water that ultimately kills aquatic plants.

Since they usually use diesel, generators also produce far more climate change-inducing emissions than, for example, a natural gas power plant does, he said.

The pollutants caused by massive generators add to the many environmental woes of the Middle East, which is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change. The region already has high temperatures and limited water resources even without the growing impact of global warming.

The reliance on generators results from state failure. In Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, governments can’t maintain a functioning central power network, whether because of war, conflict or mismanagement and corruption.

Lebanon, for example, has not built a new power plant in decades. Multiple plans for new ones have run aground on politicians’ factionalism and conflicting patronage interests. The country’s few aging, heavy-fuel oil plants long ago became unable to meet demand.

Iraq, meanwhile, sits on some of the world’s biggest oil reserves. Yet scorching summer-time heat is always accompanied by the roar of neighborhood generators, as residents blast ACs around the clock to keep cool.

Repeated wars over the decades have wrecked Iraq’s electricity networks. Corruption has siphoned away billions of dollars meant to repair and upgrade it. Some 17 billion cubic meters of gas from Iraq’s wells are burned every year as waste, because it hasn’t built the infrastructure to capture it and convert it to electricity to power Iraqi homes.

In Libya, a country prized for its light and sweet crude oil, electricity networks have buckled under years of civil war and the lack of a central government.

“The power cuts last the greater part of the day, when electricity is mostly needed,” said Muataz Shobaik, the owner of a butcher shop in the city of Benghazi, in Libya’s east, who uses a noisy generator to keep his coolers running.

“Every business has to have a backup off-grid solution now,” he said. Diesel fumes from his and neighboring shops’ machines hung thick in the air amid the oppressive heat.

The Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people rely on around 700 neighborhood generators across the territory for their homes. Thousands of private generators keep businesses, government institutions, universities and health centers running. Running on diesel, they churn black smoke in the air, tarring walls around them.

Since Israel bombed the only power plant in the Hamas-ruled territory in 2014, the station has never reached full capacity. Gaza only gets about half the power it needs from the plant and directly from Israel. Cutoffs can last up to 16 hours a day.

WAY OF LIFE

Perhaps nowhere do generators rule people’s lives as much as in Lebanon, where the system is so entrenched and institutionalized that private generator owners have their own business association.

They are crammed into tight streets, parking lots, on roofs and balconies and in garages. Some are as large as storage containers, others small and blaring noise.

Lebanon’s 5 million people have long depended on them. The word “moteur,” French for generator, is one of the most often spoken words among Lebanese.

Reliance has only increased since Lebanon’s economy unraveled in late 2019 and central power cutoffs began lasting longer. At the same time, generator owners have had to ration use because of soaring diesel prices and high temperatures, turning them off several times a day for breaks.

So residents plan their lives around the gaps in electricity.

Those who can’t start the day without coffee set an alarm to make a cup before the generator turns off. The frail or elderly in apartment towers wait for the generator to switch on before leaving home so they don’t have to climb stairs. Hospitals must keep generators humming so life-saving machines can operate without disruption.

“We understand people’s frustration, but if it wasn’t for us, people would be living in darkness,” said Ihab, the Egyptian operator of a generator station north of Beirut.

“They say we are more powerful than the state, but it is the absence of the state that led us to exist,” he said, giving only his first name to avoid trouble with the authorities.

Siham Hanna, a 58-year-old translator in Beirut, said generator fumes exacerbate her elderly father’s lung condition. She wipes soot off her balcony and other surfaces several times a day.

“It’s the 21st century, but we live like in the stone ages. Who lives like this?” said Hanna, who does not recall her country ever having stable electricity in her life.

Some in Lebanon and elsewhere have begun to install solar power systems in their homes. But most use it only to fill in when the generator is off. Cost and space issues in urban areas have also limited solar use.

In Iraq, the typical middle-income household uses generator power for 10 hours a day on average and pays $240 per Megawatt/hour, among the highest rates in the region, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

The need for generators has become ingrained in people’s minds. At a recent concert in the capital, famed singer Umm Ali al-Malla made sure to thank not only the audience but also the venue’s technical director “for keeping the generator going” while her admirers danced.

TOXIC CONTAMINANTS

As opposed to power plants outside urban areas, generators are in the heart of neighborhoods, pumping toxins directly to residents.

This is catastrophic, said Najat Saliba, a chemist at the American University of Beirut who recently won a seat in Parliament.

“This is extremely taxing on the environment, especially the amount of black carbon and particles that they emit,” she said. There are almost no regulations and no filtering of particles, she added.

Researchers at AUB found that the level of toxic emissions may have quadrupled since Lebanon’s financial crisis began because of increased reliance on generators.

In Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, miles of wires crisscross streets connecting thousands of private generators. Each produces 600 kilograms of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per 8 hours working time, according to Mohammed al Hazem, an environmental activist.

Similarly, a 2020 study on the environmental impact of using large generators in the University of Technology in Baghdad found very high concentrations of pollutants exceeding limits set by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.

That was particularly because Iraqi diesel fuel has a high sulphur content — “one of the worst in the world,” the study said. The emissions include “sulphate, nitrate materials, atoms of soot carbon, ash” and pollutants that are considered carcinogens, it warned.

“The pollutants emitted from these generators exert a remarkable impact on the overall health of students and university staff, it said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Farmers Experimenting With Solar Panels To Generate More Revenue

If this sort of farming succeeds, it could help ease competition for land between renewable energy production and agriculture.

It’s apple picking season at an organic orchard in Western Germany.

The crop is red Elstar apples.

But there’s a second harvest at Christian Nachtwey’s orchard:  electricity.

Many of his apple trees are growing beneath solar panels.    

“The idea is simple to protect the plantation without reducing the available growing surface and in particular maintaining production. On top of that there’s the solar electricity being generated in the same area,” said Nachtwey.

Getting the right combination of sun and shade is a challenge.

So, Nachtwey is collaborating with researchers on which apple varieties can thrive under solar canopies.

“This is an experimental harvest. It’s not conclusive yet. But we’re hoping to get some insights over the years to see if it can work the way we want it to,” said Nachtwey.

One benefit Nachtwey found was hardly any of the apples underneath the solar panels were damaged by the intense sun that hit the region one day in July.

“We need at least two to three full years to record all the weather conditions that might occur and look at the yield and colour that the different varieties of tree produce,” said Nachtwey.

The hope is if this sort of farming succeeds, it could help ease competition for land between renewable energy production and agriculture.

Nachtwey says eventually he could use the energy to power his facility and machines, but for now, he plans to provide electricity to dozens of nearby homes.

Source: newsy.com

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Pace of Climate Change Sends Economists Back to Drawing Board

Economists have been examining the impact of climate change for almost as long as it’s been known to science.

In the 1970s, the Yale economist William Nordhaus began constructing a model meant to gauge the effect of warming on economic growth. The work, first published in 1992, gave rise to a field of scholarship assessing the cost to society of each ton of emitted carbon offset by the benefits of cheap power — and thus how much it was worth paying to avert it.

Dr. Nordhaus became a leading voice for a nationwide carbon tax that would discourage the use of fossil fuels and propel a transition toward more sustainable forms of energy. It remained the preferred choice of economists and business interests for decades. And in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus was honored with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Inflation Reduction Act with its $392 billion in climate-related subsidies, one thing became very clear: The nation’s biggest initiative to address climate change is built on a different foundation from the one Dr. Nordhaus proposed.

offers tax credits, loans and grants — technology-specific carrots that have historically been seen as less efficient than the stick of penalizing carbon emissions more broadly.

The outcome reflects a larger trend in public policy, one that is prompting economists to ponder why the profession was so focused on a solution that ultimately went nowhere in Congress — and how economists could be more useful as the damage from extreme weather mounts.

A central shift in thinking, many say, is that climate change has moved faster than foreseen, and in less predictable ways, raising the urgency of government intervention. In addition, technologies like solar panels and batteries are cheap and abundant enough to enable a fuller shift away from fossil fuels, rather than slightly decreasing their use.

Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, worked on developing carbon pricing methods at the Department of Energy. He thinks the relentless focus on prices, with little attention paid to direct investments, lasted too long.

California. But a federal measure in the United States, setting a cap on carbon emissions and letting companies trade their allotments, failed in 2010.

At the same time, Dr. Nordhaus’s model was drawing criticism for underestimating the havoc that climate change would wreak. Like other models, it has been revised several times, but it still relies on broad assumptions and places less value on harm to future generations than it places on harm to those today. It also doesn’t fully incorporate the risk of less likely but substantially worse trajectories of warming.

Dr. Nordhaus dismissed the criticisms. “They are all subjective and based on selective interpretation of science and economics,” he wrote in an email. “Some people hold these views, as would be expected in any controversial subject, but many others do not.”

Heather Boushey, a member of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers who handles climate issues, says the field is learning that simply tinkering with prices won’t be enough as the climate nears catastrophic tipping points, like the evaporation of rivers, choking off whole regions and setting off a cascade of economic effects.

“So much of economics is about marginal changes,” Dr. Boushey said. “With climate, that no longer makes sense, because you have these systemic risks.” She sees her current assignment as similar to her previous work, running a think tank focused on inequality: “It profoundly alters the way people think about economics.”

To many economists, the approach pioneered by Dr. Nordhaus was increasingly out of step with the urgency that climate scientists were trying to communicate to policymakers. But a carbon tax remained at the center of a bipartisan effort on climate change, supported by a panoply of large corporations and more than 3,600 economists, that also called for removing “cumbersome regulations.”

speech in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus pegged the “optimal” carbon price — that is, the shared economic burden caused by each ton of emissions — at $43 in 2020. Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at Columbia Business School, called it a “woeful underestimate of the true cost” — noting that the prize committee’s home country already taxed carbon at $120 per ton.

another tack. Carbon prices, they reasoned, tend to hit lower-income people hardest. Even if the proceeds funded rebates to taxpayers, as many proponents recommended, similar promises by supporters of trade liberalization — that people whose jobs went offshore would get help finding new ones in a faster-growing economy — proved illusory. Besides, without government investment in low-carbon infrastructure, many people would have no alternative to continued carbon use.

“You’re saying, ‘Things are going to cost more, but we aren’t going to give you help to live with that transition,’” said Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute and an architect of the Green New Deal. “Gas prices can go up, but the fact is, most people are locked into how much they have to travel each day.”

At the same time, the cost of technologies like solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles — in part because of huge investments by the Chinese government — was dropping within the range that would allow them to be deployed at scale.

For Ryan Kellogg, an energy economist who worked as an analyst for the oil giant BP before getting his Ph.D., that was a key realization. Leaving an economics department for the public policy school at the University of Chicago, and working with an interdisciplinary consortium including climate scientists, impressed on him two things: that fossil fuels needed to be phased out much faster than previously thought, and that it could be done at lower cost.

Just in the utility sector, for example, Dr. Kellogg recently found that carbon taxes aren’t meaningfully more efficient than subsidies or clean electricity standards in driving a full transition to wind and solar power. And as more essential devices can be powered by batteries, affordable electricity becomes paramount.

more useful for policymakers than broad, top-down economic models.

begun to look at the relationship between extreme weather and federal revenue. But because it’s still not clear how best to do that, other institutions are trying as well.

Carter Price, a mathematician at the nonprofit RAND Corporation, is working on a budget model that will incorporate the latest social science research, as well as climate science, to inform long-term policy decisions.

“This is a space where having more models early on would be better,” Dr. Price said. “Rather than someone has an assumption, that assumption goes into a model, nobody questions it and, 10 years later, we realize that assumption is pretty powerful and maybe not right.”

The larger lesson is that modern climate policy is a complex endeavor that calls for large, interdisciplinary teams — which is not historically how the economics field has operated.

“You can only do so much by writing things down on a single sheet of paper from your office at Yale,” said Dr. Kopp, of Rutgers. “That’s not how science gets done. That’s how a lot of economics gets done. But you run into limits.”

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Expansion of Clean Energy Loans Is ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Climate Bill

Tucked into the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed last week is a major expansion of federal loan programs that could help the fight against climate change by channeling more money to clean energy and converting plants that run on fossil fuels to nuclear or renewable energy.

The law authorizes as much as $350 billion in additional federal loans and loan guarantees for energy and automotive projects and businesses. The money, which will be disbursed by the Energy Department, is in addition to the more well-known provisions of the law that offer incentives for the likes of electric cars, solar panels, batteries and heat pumps.

The aid could breathe life into futuristic technologies that banks might find too risky to lend to or into projects that are just short of the money they need to get going.

failure of Solyndra, a solar company that had borrowed about $500 million from the Energy Department, to criticize the Obama administration’s climate and energy policies.

Backers of the program have argued that despite defaults like Solyndra, the program has been sustainable overall. Of the $31 billion the department has disbursed, about 40 percent has been repaid and interest payments in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2021, totaled $533 million — more money than the failed Solyndra loan.

The Energy Department’s loan programs began in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration but expanded significantly in the Obama era. The department provided a crucial loan that helped Tesla expand when it only sold expensive two-door electric sports cars; the company is now the world’s most valuable automaker.

Under the Trump administration, which played down the risks of climate change, the department’s loan office was much less active. The Biden team has been working to change that. Last month, the department said it planned to loan $2.5 billion to General Motors and LG Energy Solution to build electric-car battery factories in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

complicate the qualification process.

  • Plug-In Hybrids: After falling behind all-electric cars, U.S. sales of plug-in hybrids have been surging. The high cost of electric cars and gasoline have given them an opening.
  • Car Crashes: Tesla and other automakers capture data from their vehicles to operate their products. Experts say the collected information could also improve road safety.
  • A Frustrating Hassle: The electric vehicle revolution is nearly here, but its arrival is being slowed by a fundamental problem: The chargers where people refuel these cars are often broken.
  • One beneficiary of the new loan money could be the Palisades Power Plant, a nuclear facility on Lake Michigan near Kalamazoo, Mich., that closed in May. The plant had struggled to compete in the PJM energy market, which serves homes and businesses in 13 states, including Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

    The Biden administration has made nuclear power a focal point of its efforts to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 2035. The administration has offered billions of dollars to help existing facilities like the Diablo Canyon Power Plant — a nuclear operation on California’s coast that is set to close by the end of 2025 — stay open longer. It is also backing new technologies like small modular reactors that the industry has long said would be cheaper, safer and easier to build than conventional large nuclear reactors.

    The owner of the Palisades facility, Holtec International, said it was reviewing the loan program and other opportunities for its own small reactors as well as bringing the shuttered plant back online.

    “There are a number of hurdles to restarting the facility that would need to be bridged,” the company said in a statement, “but we will work with the state, federal government, and a yet to be identified third-party operator to see if this is a viable option.”

    Rye Development, a company based in West Palm Beach, Fla., that is working on several projects in the Pacific Northwest.

    geothermal power; old coal power plants as sites for large batteries; and old coal mines for solar farms. Such conversions could reduce the need to build projects on undeveloped land, which often takes longer because they require extensive environmental review and can face significant local opposition.

    “We’re in a heap of trouble in siting the many millions of acres of solar we need,” Mr. Reicher said. “It’s six to 10 million acres of land we’ve got to find to site the projected build out of utility scale solar in the United States. That’s huge.”

    Other developers are hoping the government will help finance technologies and business plans that are still in their infancy.

    Timothy Latimer is the chief executive and co-founder of Fervo Energy, a Houston company that uses the same horizontal drilling techniques as oil and gas producers to develop geothermal energy. He said that his firm can produce clean energy 24 hours a day or produce more or less energy over the course of a day to balance out the intermittent nature of wind and solar power and spikes in demand.

    Mr. Latimer claims that the techniques his firm has developed will lower the cost for geothermal power, which in many cases is more expensive than electricity generated from natural gas or solar panels. He has projects under development in Nevada, Utah, Idaho and California and said that the new loan authority could help the geothermal business expand much more quickly.

    “It’s been the talk of the geothermal industry,” Mr. Latimer said. “I don’t think we were expecting good news a month ago, but we’re getting more ready for prime time. We have barely scratched the surface with the amount of geothermal that we can develop in the United States.”

    For all the potential of the new law, critics say that a significant expansion of government loans and loan guarantees could invite more waste and fraud. In addition to Solyndra, the Energy Department has acknowledged that several solar projects that received its loans or loan guarantees have failed or never got off the ground.

    A large nuclear plant under construction in Georgia, Vogtle, has also received $11.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. The plant has been widely criticized for years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns.

    “Many of these projects are funded based on political whim rather than project quality,” said Gary Ackerman, founder and former executive director of the Western Power Trading Forum, a coalition of more than 100 utilities and other businesses that trade in energy markets. “That leads to many stranded assets that never live up to their promises and become examples of government waste.”

    But Jamie Carlson, who was a senior adviser to the energy secretary during the Obama administration, said the department learned from its mistakes and developed a better approach to reviewing and approving loan applications. It also worked more closely with businesses seeking money to ensure that they were successful.

    “It used to be this black box,” said Ms. Carlson, who is now an executive at SoftBank Energy. “You just sat in purgatory for like 18 months and sometimes up to two years.”

    Ms. Carlson said the department’s loans serve a vital function because they can help technologies and companies that have demonstrated some commercial success but need more money to become financially viable. “It’s there to finance technologies that are proven but perhaps to banks that are perceived as more risky,” she said.

    Energy executives said they were excited because more federal loans and loan guarantees could turbocharge their plans.

    “The projects that can be done will go faster,” said William W. Funderburk Jr., a former commissioner at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power who now runs a water and energy company. “This is a tectonic plate shift for the industry — in a good way.”

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    TV And Film Companies Are Working Toward A More Sustainable Industry

    By Newsy Staff
    August 16, 2022

    Film and TV companies can leave a large carbon footprint, but some large companies are working to improve their sustainability efforts.

    From materials to labor and other equipment, TV and film production can often have a huge carbon footprint.

    A recent report found that big-budget feature films had a carbon footprint of over 3,000 metric tons each, which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is equal to more than 7 million miles driven by a regular car. On the other end, small films have a carbon footprint of nearly 400 metric tons, equivalent to about 1 million miles driven.

    That report comes from the Sustainable Production Alliance, a group of TV and film companies committed to making the industry more sustainable. Their report factors in housing, air travel, fuel and utilities to reach the overall carbon emissions total. For all sizes of films, the biggest contributor to emissions was fuel, mainly used for vehicles and generators.

    This is true for TV series, too. It accounts for nearly 60% of emissions for one-hour scripted dramas and half hour single-camera scripted shows.

    Since the Sustainable Production Alliance report was released, the organization has prioritized transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, including electric and hybrid cars and battery powered generator technology. There are some limitations though; it may be hard to find charging stations, for example, but it’s a work in progress.

    Earth Angel is a company that helps make TV and film production more sustainable by providing a strategy and the staffing needed to help crews reach their environmental protection goals.

    “There’s a lot of different actions that you can take, and I think it can feel overwhelming to people,” said Emellie O’Brien, Earth Angel CEO. “But really dialing in on: Okay for this project, we want to focus on eliminating single use plastics for this project. We want to focus on getting as many hybrid and [electric] vehicles as we can onto this project, like really zoning in on what’s available to your project.”

    Companies like Amazon studios, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix and Sony Pictures Entertainment are part of the Sustainable Production Alliance, and they’re working on these efforts as they bring us more of our favorite content.

    Netflix has set a goal to reduce internal emissions by 45% below 2019 levels by next year, NBCUniversal has a plan that will make them carbon neutral by 2035 and Sony is working to have no environmental footprint throughout the life cycle of their products and activities by 2050.

    “We’re guests in the communities that we’re filming in, and I think that there’s a real responsibility for our industry to leave these communities better than how we found them as well,” O’Brien said. “So, not just a do less harm, but also a do more good component.”

    Production companies are also taking steps to cut back on travel by using virtual reality to create production studios and sound stages. They use LED walls and green screens to bring different locations to a set and help replace physical props.

    “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a good example of a film that was applauded for its sustainability efforts. Earth Angel worked on that set, and the movie won a Green Seal award from the Environmental Media Association in 2014.

    The movie’s production team had 49 tons of materials that could be donated or reused, avoided using plastic water bottles on set and gathered materials for the costumes from farmer’s markets — keeping 52% of production waste from going to the landfill. They were also able to give back to the community by donating nearly 6,000 meals to shelters.

    All of this saved over $400,000, proving that sustainable productions don’t have to be expensive.

    “I think that in terms of like barriers to acceleration here, there’s a few different factors at play,” O’Brien said. “One of which is that there are no fiscal incentives that are encouraging people to take these actions currently. The other thing is we don’t have the consumer demand factor, unlike the fashion industry for example or food industry, where people are demanding more sustainable. And then I think lastly, it’s just a conversation around like how is who whose job is this like? And that’s always been something that I think the industry has really struggled with.”

    Source: newsy.com

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    Scientists Say New Climate Law Is Likely To Reduce Warming

    By Associated Press
    August 16, 2022

    Scientists say new climate investment will have some beneficial effect on global warming, but the U.S. has a way to go.

    Massive incentives for clean energy in the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden should reduce future global warming “not a lot, but not insignificantly either,” according to a climate scientist who led an independent analysis of the package.

    Even with nearly $375 billion in tax credits and other financial enticements for renewable energy in the law, the United States still isn’t doing its share to help the world stay within another few tenths of a degree of warming, a new analysis by Climate Action Tracker says. The group of scientists examines and rates each country’s climate goals and actions. It still rates American action as “insufficient” but hailed some progress.

    “This is the biggest thing to happen to the U.S. on climate policy,” said Bill Hare, the Australia-based director of Climate Analytics which puts out the tracker. “When you think back over the last decades, you know, not wanting to be impolite, there’s a lot of talk, but not much action.”

    This is action, he said. Not as much as Europe, and Americans still spew twice as much heat-trapping gases per person as Europeans, Hare said. The U.S. has also put more heat-trapping gas into the air over time than any other nation.

    Before the law, Climate Action Tracker calculated that if every other nation made efforts similar to those of the U.S., it would lead to a world with catastrophic warming — 5.4 to 7.2 degrees (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial times. Now in the best case scenario, which Hare said is reasonable and likely, U.S. actions, if mimicked, would lead to only 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) of warming. If things don’t work quite as optimistically as Hare thinks, it would be 5.4 degrees (3 degrees Celsius) of warming, the analysis said.

    Even that best case scenario falls short of the overarching internationally accepted goal of limiting warming to 2.7 degrees warming (1.5 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times. And the world has already warmed 2 degrees (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the mid-19th century.

    Other nations “who we know have been holding back on coming forward with more ambitious policies and targets” are now more likely to take action in a “significant spillover effect globally,” Hare said. He said officials from Chile and a few Southeast Asian countries, which he would not name, told him this summer that they were waiting for U.S. action first.

    And China “won’t say this out loud, but I think will see the U.S. move as something they need to match,” Hare said.

    Scientists at the Climate Action Tracker calculated that without any other new climate policies, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 will shrink to 26% to 42% below 2005 levels, which is still short of the country’s goal of cutting emissions in half. Analysts at the think tank Rhodium Group calculated pollution cuts of 31% to 44% from the new law.

    Other analysts and scientists said the Climate Action Tracker numbers makes sense.

    “The contributions from the U.S. to greenhouse gas emissions are huge,” said Princeton University climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi. “So reducing that is definitely going to have a global impact.”

    Samantha Gross, director of climate and energy at the Brookings Institution, called the new law a down payment on U.S. emission reductions.

    “Now that this is done, the U.S. can celebrate a little, then focus on implementation and what needs to happen next,” Gross said.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    President Biden Signs Massive Climate And Health Care Legislation

    President Joe Biden signed Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday.

    President Joe Biden signed Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill into law on Tuesday, delivering what he has called the “final piece” of his pared-down domestic agenda, as he aims to boost his party’s standing with voters less than three months before the midterm elections.

    The legislation includes the most substantial federal investment in history to fight climate change — some $375 billion over the decade — and would cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 out-of-pocket annually for Medicare recipients. It also would help an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health care insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The measure is paid for by new taxes on large companies and stepped-up IRS enforcement of wealthy individuals and entities, with additional funds going to reduce the federal deficit.

    In a triumphant signing event at the White House, President Biden pointed to the law as proof that democracy — no matter how long or messy the process — can still deliver for voters in America as he road-tested a line he will likely repeat later this fall ahead of the midterms: “The American people won, and the special interests lost.”

    “In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote,” President Biden said, repeatedly seizing on the contrast between his party and the GOP. “Every single one.”

    The House on Friday approved the measure on a party-line 220-207 vote. It passed the Senate days earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie in that chamber.

    “In normal times, getting these bills done would be a huge achievement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during the White House ceremony. “But to do it now, with only 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, over an intransigent Republican minority, is nothing short of amazing.”

    President Biden signed the bill into law during a small ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, sandwiched between his return from a six-day beachside vacation in South Carolina and his departure for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He plans to hold a larger “celebration” for the legislation on Sept. 6 once lawmakers return to Washington.

    The signing caps a spurt of legislative productivity for President Biden and Congress, who in three months have approved legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry and gun checks for young buyers. The president and lawmakers have also responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and overwhelmingly supported NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.

    With President Biden’s approval rating lagging, Democrats are hoping that the string of successes will jump-start their chances of maintaining control in Washington in the November midterms. The 79-year-old president aims to restore his own standing with voters as he contemplates a reelection bid.

    The White House announced Monday that it was going to deploy President Biden and members of his Cabinet on a “Building a Better America Tour” to promote the recent victories. One of President Biden’s trips will be to Ohio, where he’ll view the groundbreaking of a semiconductor plant that will benefit from the recent law to bolster production of such computer chips. He will also stop in Pennsylvania to promote his administration’s plan for safer communities, a visit that had been planned the same day he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

    “In the coming weeks, the President will host a Cabinet meeting focused on implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, will travel across the country to highlight how the bill will help the American people, and will host an event to celebrate the enactment of the bill at the White House on September 6th,” the White House said in a statement.

    Republicans say the legislation’s new business taxes will increase prices, worsening the nation’s bout with its highest inflation since 1981. Though Democrats have labeled the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, nonpartisan analysts say it will have a barely perceptible impact on prices.

    Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., on Tuesday continued those same criticisms, although he acknowledged there would be “benefit” through extensions on tax credits for renewable energy projects like solar and wind.

    “I think it’s too much spending, too much taxing, and in my view wrong priorities, and a super-charged, super-sized IRS that is going to be going after a lot of not just high-income taxpayers but a lot of mid-income taxpayers,” said Thune, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Sioux Falls. The administration has disputed that anyone but high earners will face increased tax scrutiny, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen directing the tax agency to focus solely on businesses and people earning more than $400,000 per year for the new audits.

    The measure is a slimmed-down version of the more ambitious plan to supercharge environment and social programs that President Biden and his party unveiled early last year.

    President Biden’s initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion proposal also envisioned free prekindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and eased immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it was too costly, using the leverage every Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.

    During the signing event, President Biden addressed Manchin, who struck the critical deal with Schumer on the package last month, saying, “Joe, I never had a doubt” as the crowd chuckled.

    Though the law is considerably smaller than their initial ambitions, President Biden and Democrats are hailing the legislation as a once-in-a-generation investment in addressing the long-term effects of climate change, as well as drought in the nation’s West.

    The bill will direct spending, tax credits and loans to bolster technology like solar panels, consumer efforts to improve home energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal- and gas-powered power plants, and air pollution controls for farms, ports and low-income communities.

    Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay premiums over the next three years for privately bought health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Medicare would gain the power to negotiate its costs for pharmaceuticals, initially in 2026 for only 10 drugs. Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket prescription costs would be limited to $2,000 annually starting in 2025, and beginning next year would pay no more than $35 monthly for insulin, the costly diabetes drug.

    Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., a powerful political ally to President Biden, noted during the White House ceremony that his late wife, Emily, who battled diabetes for three decades, would be “beyond joy” if she were alive today because of the insulin cap.

    “Many seem surprised at your successes,” Clyburn told President Biden. “I am not. I know you.”

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    What’s In, And Out, Of Democrats’ Inflation-Fighting Package

    The new measure has inflation-fighting strategies aimed at health care, climate change and deficit reduction.

    What started as a $4 trillion effort during President Joe Biden’s first months in office to rebuild America’s public infrastructure and family support systems has ended up a much slimmer, but not unsubstantial, compromise package of inflation-fighting health care, climate change and deficit reduction strategies that appears headed toward quick votes in Congress.

    Lawmakers are poring over the $739 billion proposal struck by two top negotiators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and holdout Sen. Joe Manchin, the conservative West Virginia Democrat who rejected President Biden’s earlier drafts but surprised colleagues late Wednesday with a new one.

    What’s in, and out, of the Democrats’ 725-page Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 as it stands now:

    LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS

    Launching a long-sought goal, the bill would allow the Medicare program to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, saving the federal government some $288 billion over the 10-year budget window.

    Those new revenues would be put back into lower costs for seniors on medications, including a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap for older adults buying prescriptions from pharmacies.

    Money would also be used to provide free vaccinations for seniors, who now are among the few not guaranteed free access, according to a summary document.

    HELP PAY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE

    The bill would extend the subsidies provided during the COVID-19 pandemic to help some Americans who buy health insurance on their own.

    Under earlier pandemic relief, the extra help was set to expire this year. But the bill would allow the assistance to keep going for three more years, lowering insurance premiums for people who are purchasing their own health care policies.

    ‘SINGLE BIGGEST INVESTMENT IN CLIMATE CHANGE IN U.S. HISTORY’

    The bill would invest $369 billion over the decade in climate change-fighting strategies including investments in renewable energy production and tax rebates for consumers to buy new or used electric vehicles.

    It’s broken down to include $60 billion for a clean energy manufacturing tax credit and $30 billion for a production tax credit for wind and solar, seen as ways to boost and support the industries that can help curb the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

    For consumers, there are tax breaks as incentives to go green. One is a 10-year consumer tax credit for renewable energy investments in wind and solar. There are tax breaks for buying electric vehicles, including a $4,000 tax credit for purchase of used electric vehicles and $7,500 for new ones.

    In all, Democrats believe the strategy could put the country on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, and “would represent the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history, by far.”

    HOW TO PAY FOR ALL OF THIS?

    The biggest revenue-raiser in the bill is a new 15% minimum tax on corporations that earn more than $1 billion in annual profits.

    It’s a way to clamp down on some 200 U.S. companies that avoid paying the standard 21% corporate tax rate, including some that end up paying no taxes at all.

    The new corporate minimum tax would kick in after the 2022 tax year and raise some $313 billion over the decade.

    Money is also raised by boosting the IRS to go after tax cheats. The bill proposes an $80 billion investment in taxpayer services, enforcement and modernization, which is projected to raise $203 billion in new revenue — a net gain of $124 billion over the decade.

    The bill sticks with President Biden’s original pledge not to raise taxes on families or businesses making less than $400,000 a year.

    The lower drug prices for seniors are paid for with savings from Medicare’s negotiations with the drug companies.

    EXTRA MONEY TO PAY DOWN DEFICITS

    With $739 billion in new revenue and some $433 billion in new investments, the bill promises to put the difference toward deficit reduction.

    Federal deficits have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic when federal spending soared and tax revenues fell as the nation’s economy churned through shutdowns, closed offices and other massive changes.

    The nation has seen deficits rise and fall in recent years. But overall federal budgeting is on an unsustainable path, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which put out a new report this week on long-term projections.

    WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND

    This latest package after 18 months of start-stop negotiations leaves behind many of President Biden’s more ambitious goals.

    While Congress did pass a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill of highway, broadband and other investments that President Biden signed into law last year, the president’s and the party’s other priorities have slipped away.

    Among them, a continuation of a $300 monthly child tax credit that was sending money directly to families during the pandemic and is believed to have widely reduced child poverty.

    Also gone, for now, are plans for free pre-kindergarten and free community college, as well as the nation’s first paid family leave program that would have provided up to $4,000 a month for births, deaths and other pivotal needs.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    President Biden Announces Steps To Tackle Climate ‘Emergency’

    Pres. Biden made a speech at an ex-coal plant, which embodies the transition to clean energy that he is seeking but has struggled to realize thus far.

    President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced modest new steps to combat climate change and promised more robust action to come, saying, “This is an emergency and I will look at it that way.”

    The president stopped short, though, of declaring a formal climate emergency, which Democrats and environmental groups have been seeking after an influential Democratic senator quashed hopes for sweeping legislation to address global warming. President Biden hinted such a step could be coming.

    “Let me be clear,” President Biden said. “Climate change is an emergency, and in the coming weeks I’m going to use the power I have as president to turn these words into formal, official government actions through the appropriate proclamations, executive orders and regulatory power that a president possesses.”

    President Biden delivered his pledge at a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts. The former Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, is shifting to offshore wind power manufacturing, and President Biden chose it as the embodiment of the transition to clean energy that he is seeking but has struggled to realize in the first 18 months of his presidency.

    Executive actions announced Wednesday will bolster the domestic offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast, as well as expand efforts to help communities cope with soaring temperatures through programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

    The trip comes as historic temperatures bake Europe and the United States. Temperatures reached 115 degrees in Portugal as wildfires raged in Spain and France, and Britain on Tuesday shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered. At least 60 million Americans could experience triple-digit temperatures over the next several days as cities around the U.S. sweat through more intense and longer-lasting heat waves that scientists blame on global warming.

    Calls for a national emergency declaration to address the climate crisis have been rising among activists and Democratic lawmakers after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., last week scuttled talks on a long-delayed legislative package.

    White House officials have said the option remains under consideration. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday declined to outline a timetable for a decision aside from saying no such order would be issued this week.

    Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s climate adviser, said President Biden is not “shying away” from treating climate as an emergency.

    “The president wants to make sure that we’re doing it right, that we’re laying it out, and that we have the time we need to get this worked out,” she told reporters on Air Force One.

    Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said he was “confident that the president is ultimately ready to do whatever it takes in order to deal with this crisis.”

    “I think that he’s made that clear in his statement last Friday, and I think coming to Massachusetts is a further articulation of that goal,” Markey told reporters Tuesday.

    An emergency declaration on climate would allow the president to redirect federal resources to bolster renewable energy programs that would help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. The declaration also could be used as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, although such actions would likely be challenged in court by energy companies or Republican-led states.

    Such a declaration would be similar to the one issued by President Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who declared a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border when lawmakers refused to allocate money for that effort.

    President Biden pledged last week to take significant executive actions on climate after monthslong discussions between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., came to a standstill. The West Virginia senator cited stubbornly high inflation as the reason for his hesitation, although he has long protected energy interests in his coal- and gas-producing state.

    For now, Manchin has said he will only agree to a legislative package that shores up subsidies to help people buy insurance under the 2010 health care law and allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices that will ultimately lower the cost of pharmaceuticals for consumers.

    The White House has indicated it wants Congress to take that deal, and President Biden will address the climate issue on his own.

    The former Brayton Point power plant closed in 2017 after burning coal for more than five decades. The plant will now become an offshore wind energy site.

    A new report says the U.S. and other major carbon-polluting nations are falling short on pledges to fight climate change. Among the 10 biggest carbon emitters, only the European Union has enacted polices close to or consistent with international goals of limiting warming to just a few more tenths of a degree, according to scientists and experts who track climate action in countries.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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