Energy in the News: Friday, June 9

Friday, June 09, 2017

To slow climate change, India joins the renewable energy revolution

The Conversation, feat. Arun Agrawal

On June 3, two days after President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged a hug with French President Emmanuel Macron during an official visit to Paris. Modi and Macron pledged to achieve emissions reductions beyond their nations’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, and Macron announced he will visit India later this year for a summit on solar power.

For observers who equate India’s energy production with a reliance on coal, this exchange came as a surprise. Modi’s internationally visible pledge would put India three years ahead of schedule to achieve its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to the Paris climate agreement. Instead of shifting to 40 percent renewables by 2030, India now expects to surpass this goal by 2027.

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As U.S. abandons Paris, institutes of sustainability take action on campus

Campus Technology, feat. Andrew Hoffman

Not even two years ago more than 300 colleges and universities had signed onto the White House-launched American Campuses Act on Climate, which supported the climate negotiations scheduled to take place in Paris in 2015. More recently, in the shadow of the United States turning its back on the latest Paris climate negotiations, many of those same institutions are doubling down on the pledge, which states, in part, "We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community's economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus."

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Column: State needs federal investment in science

The Detroit News, feat. Rosina Bierbaum

Science and technology affects almost every aspect of our lives. From the water we drink, to the lakes and forests that make Michigan a national attraction, to the innovation driving the automobile industry, we need investments in scientific research and development.

Across the country, U.S. investments in scientific and engineering R&D have created millions of jobs and improved state economies. According to a Congressional Research Service report, scientists and engineers only account for about five percent of the nation’s workforce, but they help create jobs across the rest of the economy. Scientists’ discoveries and products extend far beyond the research laboratory, affecting people across the business sector — from designers to builders to consumers.

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B-schools react to Paris Agreement

Poets & Quants, feat. Andrew Hoffman

It took less than a year for one of the world’s most powerful — and most polluting — countries to cause a major hitch in the Paris climate agreement, also known as the Paris Accord. Last year, 195 countries committed to the groundbreaking and revolutionary agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions in an effort to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But last Thursday (June 1), President Donald Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden that the United States would no longer participate in the agreement — a move that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as he repeatedly expressed his intention to withdraw from the accord while campaigning last year.

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4 things private businesses can do to lessen the impact of Trump’s climate decision

Fast Company, feat. Mark Barteau

President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement last week makes the U.S. one of just three countries the world over—the other two being Syria and Nicaragua—to opt out of the 31-page pact to take steps to reduce the effects of climate change. His decision puts the onus on state governments and the private sector to bridge the gap and take action on climate change.

But this is nothing new: As Michael Bloomberg stressed in a statement, the U.S. leading the charge in climate action had little to do with the federal government. He said:

“In the U.S., emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government,” he said. “Over the past decade, the U.S. has led the world in emission reductions—and our federal government had very little to do with it. It happened because of leadership from cities, public opposition to coal plants, and market forces that have made cleaner sources of energy—including solar and wind—cheaper than coal.”

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Exiting the Paris Accord, a useless and counterproductive Trump decision

El Economista America, feat. Mark Barteau

The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement against climate change is a decision of President Donald Trump basically counterproductive and with few consequences for the national economy, according to experts.

Trump, who in his announcement appealed to the nationalism, sovereignty and economic interests of the country to justify the withdrawal, has only followed the line of isolation the United States advocated in its campaign under the motto "United States First."

"The withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement is a victory symbolic of the arrogance and ignorance of the far right that has found its incarnation in Trump," Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, told Efe.

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Environmental studies don't support Trump's 'cleanest' claim

The New York Times, feat. Rosina Bierbaum

President Donald Trump said the United States "will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth" as he announced a U.S. pullout from an international accord designed to curb climate change.

But facts muddy that claim.

Data show that the U.S. is among the dirtiest countries when it comes to heat-trapping carbon pollution. One nation that has cleaner air in nearly every way is Sweden.

"The U.S. is well behind other countries in having the cleanest and most sustainable environment," University of Michigan environmental scientist Rosina Bierbaum said in an email.

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Michigan mayors vow to uphold Paris Agreement in wake of U.S. abandonment

Michigan Radio, feat. Richard Rood and Barry Rabe

In the wake of President Trump leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, several dozen mayors across the U.S. have created a coalition to uphold the goals of the accord in their own cities. Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City represent Michigan on the list.

The officials are calling themselves "U.S. Climate Mayors," and they are strongly opposed to the president's policies on conservation and climate change. Outside of Michigan, the mayors of large cities like Los Angeles, Boston, and New York have signed the coalition.

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EPA science advisory board member offers take on pulling out of Paris Climate Accord

Michigan Radio, feat. Joe Arvai

President Donald Trump announced the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement calls on participating countries to make efforts to limit global temperature rise.

The United States joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries who did not sign on to the accord.

Joe Arvai joined Stateside to break down what this move means for the country and the environment. Arvai is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. He is also a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chartered Science Advisory Board.  

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Efeito de saída de EUA de Acordo de Paris nas empresas pode ser menor que o esperado

Portal Do Holanda, feat. Mark Barteau

O impacto (de saída dos EUA do Acordo de Paris) na economia americana tende a ser pequeno. As fábricas estão avançadas em seus planos de abandonar a energia do carvão nas próximas duas décadas e trocar por energia renovável e gás natural. Trump não pode reverter isso. Muitas das tendências de consumo de energia e emissões que vão levar aos objetivos de Paris estão firmemente em curso. A saída (do acordo) não vai afetar isso e terá pouco benefício para a economia -- afirma o diretor do Instituto de Energia da Universidade de Michigan, Mark Barteau.

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States, cities pledge action on climate even without Trump

ABC News, feat. Barry Rabe

If President Donald Trump withdraws support for the Paris climate change accord, will efforts in the U.S. to fight global warming dry up?

Hardly. Dozens of states and many cities have policies intended to reduce emissions of greenhouses gases and deal with the effects of rising temperatures. And plans for more are in the works. In left-leaning locales, it's good politics. Even in red states where resistance is strong to the idea that humans are causing the planet to heat up, flood prevention and renewable energy are considered smart business.

Yet much remains uncertain about how a dramatic shift in federal policy would affect state and local initiatives — particularly if Congress slashes funding for them, as Trump wants.

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Feds in Detroit to hone self-driving pitch

The Detroit News, feat. Huei Peng and Jim Sayer

When self-driving vehicles become the norm, they will represent the greatest change in everyday transportation since horses were traded in for cars. Experts say the transition will be a gradual process over decades as some embrace the new technology, and others remain behind the wheels of their less-sophisticated cars.

A recent study by INRIX Research showed that just over 40 percent of people in five countries surveyed believe autonomous vehicles will be safer than today’s cars, even though one estimate says more than 29,000 traffic fatalities annually could be prevented in the U.S. by self-driving cars. To put that number in perspective, 40,200 Americans died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016, according to the National Safety Council.

How to build consumer confidence in the safety of technology most are unfamiliar with? That will be part of the discussion this week in Detroit as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosts a technical conference on enhanced safety of vehicles. The four-day conference begins Monday at Cobo Center.

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Team launches initiative to develop viable market for waste carbon dioxide

ASU Now

How do you create a way to take carbon out of the air and make money doing it?

It’s a wicked problem that will take decades to solve. One member of a team tasked with tackling it compared it to creating agriculture.

The Center for Carbon Removal, in partnership with Arizona State University and several other research institutions, launched an audacious initiative this week with the goal of developing solutions that transform waste carbon dioxide in the air into valuable products and services.

“Solving a problem with a solution that doesn’t exist” is how Julio Friedmann described it.

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After Trump's withdrawal from Paris, nukes are more crucial than ever

Scientific American

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the international climate agreement, governors from over a dozen states immediately announced they would take climate action on their own.

There is much that governors and state legislators can do, but study after study finds that keeping existing nuclear plants—our largest and most reliable source of clean energy—operating is one of the most important and cost-effective ways to prevent carbon emissions from increasing.

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Ann Arbor urges residents to use solar energy

The Detroit Free Press

Ann Arbor is encouraging residents to go solar to help meet the city’s community-wide goals of significantly reducing carbon emissions.

The city council unanimously adopted a new policy last month requiring all renovations of city facilities that are included in the city’s Capital Improvements Plan to comply with current Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria for existing buildings and to incorporate solar power and other renewable energy sources to the greatest extent possible.

In January, the city partnered with nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition in Ann Arbor for the launch of a solar group-purchase program, A2 Solar Club, to encourage more residents to go solar. At least six solar panel installations have been completed and at least 12 more are in the works since its launch.

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PRESS RELEASE: City of Ypsilanti Awarded Top National Solar Recognition

City of Ypsilanti

The City of Ypsilanti is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a Gold designation for supporting solar energy development by SolSmart, a national organization dedicated to helping communities reduce barriers to solar energy growth. To achieve the Gold designation, a community must take steps to streamline solar panel installation permitting, track key metrics regarding solar installation, and commit to encouraging local solar installations. Ypsilanti is the only community in Michigan to achieve this award, and one of only 58 communities nationwide.

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Canada’s strategy on climate change: Work with American states

The New York Times

The timing was coincidental, but the meeting had a new urgency.

One day after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord — saying he was elected to serve Pittsburgh, not Paris — the transport minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet visited with the mayor of Pittsburgh to discuss climate change.

The meeting was part of a broad strategy by the Canadian federal government to work directly with American states and cities on global warming, and to become a leader on the issue. Though the effort began several months ago, Mr. Trump’s rejection last week of the Paris agreement has energized it.

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Robot cars can’t count on us in an emergency

The New York Times

Three years ago, Google’s self-driving car project abruptly shifted from designing a vehicle that would drive autonomously most of the time while occasionally requiring human oversight, to a slow-speed robot without a brake pedal, accelerator or steering wheel. In other words, human driving was no longer permitted.

The company made the decision after giving self-driving cars to Google employees for their work commutes and recording what the passengers did while the autonomous system did the driving. In-car cameras recorded employees climbing into the back seat, climbing out of an open car window, and even smooching while the car was in motion, according to two former Google engineers.

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