Mothers of Invention

Climate change often feels like an insurmountable problem. But there are a lot of truly amazing people working on solutions. One of the great places bringing stories of hope and inspiration is the podcast of former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins. Over the course of two seasons worth of episodes (and counting), they interview remarkable women who are undertaking powerful actions in the pursuit of climate justice. From Christina Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 2010-2016) to Dalee Sambo Dorough (Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and former chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights), their guests have powerful insights to offer.

It’s hard to pick out a single episode, but S02E04 “A Second Chance at Life” is a great place to start. “What will it take to transition to renewable energy, and what can we learn from both indigenous peoples and new technology?” Listen to find out.

Mothers of Invention: A Second Chance at Life

Fiscal policy to save the planet

Photo by Tommyking751/Wikimedia Commons

A key component in driving responses to the climate crisis is making sure that its risks and costs, as well as the opportunities and benefits of its solutions, are accurately reflected in our financial frameworks, be they a company’s accounting system or a government’s budget. In an effort to improve the latter, the International Monetary Fund has published a paper that explores the role of fiscal policies in climate change strategies. This is part of a broader range of initiatives that the IMF is undertaking to ensure that macro-fiscal and financial frameworks reflect climate resilience, that the fiscal and financial impacts of climate policy choices are properly assessed, and that climate risk is mainstreamed into its country assessments.

Discussing the role of fiscal policy on the IMF podcast, The World Resources Institute’s President and CEO Dr. Andrew Steer said: “Done smartly, there will be an economic gain of $26 trillion in GDP between now and 2030, and there would be another 67 million jobs created”. Listen to the whole interview by following the link below.

WRI – PODCAST: How Green Fiscal Policy Can Help Save the Planet

Imagine no emissions

Imagine no emissions
I wonder if you can
No need for mines or pipelines
A fossil fuel ban
Imagine all the people living carbon free

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
(credits: Yale F&ES Class of 2019)

A majority of Belgians also dream of this future and all political parties agree that we have to do something.

It is definitely possible in Belgium by 2050, according to these two studies:
Sign for my future
Klimaatpanel (in Dutch)

So let’s start today! (and keep the climate crisis in mind when you vote)

Battery cost is plummeting

Batteries are often considered as the holy grail in the energy transition. We need them in electric vehicles and we’ll need them to store electricity from wind and sun. A recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research organization, shows that the cost of lithium-ion batteries is decreasing quickly. We are not yet at cost levels that batteries will pop up everywhere, but we are heading in the right direction.

EN – Greentech Media: “Levelized cost of energy for lithium-ion batteries is plummeting.”

NL – Duurzaam Bedrijfsleven: “Prijs opslagbatterijen 35% goedkoper dan in 2018.

Bloomberg NEF @ Twitter

Worldwide energy demand still rising

The International Energy Agency has released a report on worldwide energy demand in 2018. Energy demand has grown by 2.3%, which is the fastest pace of this decade, and the enormous growth in renewable energy is not enough to satisfy this increasing demand. This also resulted in an increase of energy-releated CO2 emissions by 1.7%, most of which comes from fairly new coal power plants in Asia. But also the US is responsible, with the largest growth in oil and gas demand worldwide.

We can see that these other countries are responsible but the truth is that our own consumption also matters. If we decide that we don’t buy products from companies that do not care about their carbon footprint, they will have to adjust (or disappear). Be a conscious consumer and let them hear your voice.

Ice cream in February?

Remember the weather a few weeks ago? This week’s pick looks deeper into the exceptionally warm European weather in February. According to the Royal Netherlands Meteorolgical Institute this was a one-in-200-year event with temperatures reaching 18.3 °C in Scotland, and 21.2 °C in London.

Previous studies already showed that summer heatwaves are 30 times more likely and heat extremes will occur more often than cold extremes, we have seen this happening a few weeks ago as well as last summer.

The more normal weather of the last weeks with a lot of rain should be more than welcome, as in Belgium, the stock of groundwater has still not recovered from the extremely dry weather last year.

Stay grounded, take the train

Source: To Europe And Beyond

As the pressure on climate from the growth of the airlines and air travel increases, more and more European countries are opening up for a tax on flights. The Netherlands have already planned for a tax of €7 per flight and Belgium’s Ministers of Environment will propose a European-wide tax on flights, in order to prevent commercial disadvantages between countries within the EU. This should also make green alternatives for travel, such as trains, more competitive as currently, flights are not subject to VAT and there is no tax on kerosine.

It is difficult to say what kind of impact these taxes will have. But you don’t have to wait to change your travel behaviour, train travel has more advantages than you think. No hassle from checking-in, waiting for boarding or luggage reclaims and more time-friendly than most people think as you can enter the train 5 minutes before departure and you arrive in the city center, not at a remote airport.

It does require a bit more planning but that just adds to the travel experience. Our link this week will help you with your next train travel. The Man in Seat 61 has information on everything related to train travel. Not just timetables but also how and where to transfer between trains, alternative routes for long-distance travel and methods for booking the tickets. The site is mostly focussed on Europe but Africa and Asia are also represented. Definitely worth checking out for your next travel plans!

The Man in Seat 61