The low-carbon revolution: Around the world in numbers

With the dust settling on a memorable Earth Day which saw 175 global heads of state from around the world officially sign the Paris Agreement, individual nations have been busy introducing a variety of green policy drivers aimed at curbing climate change.

While the UK has been busy making recommendations for its fifth carbon budget, countries big and small; rich and poor are introducing innovative measures, in an effort to drastically reduce carbon emissions as agreed in their INDCs and drive towards that “safe” 2C target for global warming levels.

So, in celebration of the 175 nations that have officially signed the Paris Agreement, edie brings you this special ‘week in numbers’ round-up of the innovative measures being introduced to curb climate change and promote a more sustainable future for the planet.

Not content with being the envy of the rest of Europe in regards to its emissions trading scheme, Germany has introduced a new €1bn subsidy to boost the uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country.

Despite the launch of a commercially “affordable” Tesla Model 3 last month, much has been made about the lack of competitive pricing within the EV market. In a bid to shift public perceptions on EVs, car buyers will receive €4,000 when they purchase an EV or €3,000 for a plug-in hybrid.

The scheme, which launches next month, is aimed at putting one million EVs on German roads by 2020 – up from nearly 50,000 currently.

Staying in Europe for the time-being, Denmark has just unveiled a potential tax on beef which could see the country slash carbon emissions by around 35% if passed. Initially focusing on beef – with a view to extending the tax to all red meats in the future – the Danish Council of Ethics has urged the Government to adopt this new tax.

The council noted that cattle alone accounts for around 10% of global GHG emissions, while the production of food accounts for around 20-30%. Estimates also suggest that around 43,000 litres of water is needed to produce one kilo of beef.

In total, 14 of the Council’s 17 members recommended the beef tax, noting that at the very least it could reduce emissions in the Danish food sector by 20%.

While Danes ponder a future consisting of more expensive ‘frikadeller’, Venezuelan’s plying their trade in the country’s public sector are now being restricted to just two working days a week, as a severe national drought takes water levels – and therefore hydro-powered energy – to dramatic lows.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced that the new working schedule would be in effect for at least two weeks. This also follows on from the country’s 2.8 million government workers working staggered shifts with Friday’s off.

Alongside a slump in oil prices, which is affecting the country’s economy, an inability to produce electricity has also seen the Venezuela Government shutting off power for up to four hours each day.

In a frantic attempt to distance itself from the title of the world’s largest emitter, China has emerged as one of the front-runners of the low-carbon movement in recent years. Surging ahead with renewable installations, China has now postponed the developments of 200 coal-fired power plants – both operational and planned – until at least 2018.

Announced this week by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration, this postponement is a follow-up to the welcome decision to shut around 1,000 coal mines later this year.

The 200 coal plants were expected to produce more than 105 GW in power – which is four times higher than the expected power demand for the UK this summer.

Australia is currently suffering from an encumbered agricultural system, and replenishing the carbon stores of the land has been described as “a real issue in the face of climate change”, according to the Carbon Farmers of Australia.

But with a third emissions reduction fund auction set to take place, farmers are now being encouraged to store CO2 in landmass and prevent additional emissions from animal waste.

So far, there are more than 580 projects on the register for the next auction, and around half of those are under contract to potentially deliver around 93 million tonnes of carbon to the empty “sinks”.

The equivalent of around £350m looks set to be pumped into the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro each year through oil and gas taxes, in an attempt to reinvigorate a struggling economy and encourage the uptake of clean energy sources.

A 53p “environmental levy” has been passed in the state, which is responsible for two-thirds of Brazil’s oil output and 40% of its natural gas. But while this may sound like good news for fossil fuel opposition, the country’s oil industry association the IBF is challenging the decision.

From San Diego to Alcatraz prison – and via Google – 29 projects have been announced in the US which will see municipalities agree to either majorly or completely switch to renewable energy.

Mayors from San Diego and San Francisco have already begun implementing their city-wide pledges to introduce low-carbon technology as part of the Go 100% initiative.

San Diego has been making particularly impressive strides. The city ranks second in the US for electricity sourced from solar energy, and in total develops 40% of its power from clean sources.

Matt Mace

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