GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

What Is The Future of The Worldwide Natural Gas Market?

The natural gas industry, together with the oil industry, together account for an estimated 24% of all anthropogenic methane emissions. According to for instance the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas is a fossil energy source consisting mainly of methane, which is a chemical compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. The chemical formula for methane is CH4. 

The United States of America currently leads the production of natural gas hydrocarbons, followed by Russia, Iran, Qatar, Canada, China, The European Union, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan. In World Oil Outlook 2040, OPEC estimates that the largest upcoming energy demand will come from natural gas, with an average annual growth of 0.4 % from 2015 to 2040. (Global Methane Initiative 2018; Central Intelligence Agency 2017; U.S. Energy Information Administration 2017; OPEC 2017).

In OPEC ́s forecast for the world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040, the demand for gas will increase by a rate of 1.8% p.a., with the majority of the increase coming from non-OECD countries and the most rapid economic growth in the developing world. OPEC projects the global economy in 2040 being 226% in comparison to 2016, with 3/4 of growth coming from developing countries. China and India alone are projected to account for almost 40% of the global GDP in 2040. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

The OPEC acknowledges the relation between population growth and energy demand, however, considering a number of variables for instance in consumer trends. It also states how energy markets are affected by government policies and recognizes the need to monitor these on a regular basis, taking into consideration for instance the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, with energy efficiency and clean energy now trending development. The OPEC is closely monitoring worldwide energy market and policy developments, mentioning the USA, the European Union, China, and India at the forefront.

Furthermore, OPEC estimates that total world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040 will see an increase of 3.6% for gas, 1,5% for nuclear energy, 0.3% for hydro energy, and 4% for other renewables, while the demand for oil would decrease by 4.2%, coal demand decreasing by 5.1%, and biomass demand decreasing by 0.1% during the time frame. The OPEC identifies energy efficiency as a critical uncertainty for the energy market with policies concentrating on reducing emissions through a number of measures related to financial and fiscal instruments. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020
Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

The U.S. Energy Information Administration presents natural gas as a proportionately clean burning fossil fuel, although exploration, drilling and production have direct impacts on the environment, in addition to the fact that natural gas consists mainly of methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Leaks from natural gas-related activities such as pipelines are causing toxic anthropogenic methane emissions. Despite the many environmental and health risks related to fossil fuels such as natural gas, the global energy market will continue to depend on these. 

The OPEC projects that oil and gas combined will supply for more than 50% of global energy needs between 2015-2040. Gas alone is estimated to have a share of 29% in OECD, 20.8% in developing countries, and 45.4% in Eurasia in 2040. In China, gas is forecast to account for 10.6% of energy demand in 2040, while coal is expected to drop down to 48.6% from 64.3% in 2015. 

The OPEC estimates that the highest growth in gas demand in the OECD region will be in OECD America, recognizing key influences related to the overall demand of natural gas and its dependency on multiple critical factors including gas supplies, competition,  regulations, and pricing.

For instance in Finland, the national Energy Authority reports that “The Finnish natural gas market has been under sector-specific regulatory supervision since the assertion of the Natural Gas Market Act in August 2000”. The natural gas market in Finland has currently no competition, with 100% of the natural gas is being imported through one pipeline from Russia and traded on the Finnish market by one single company. In Finland, the demand for natural gas has been in decline for several reasons, with natural gas accounting for six (6%) of total generation fuel mix in 2018, with the baseline for energy demand being market-based. 

In its World Gas Perspectives report (2017), the World Energy Council identifies four key findings concerning the development of the world gas market: 1) gas is expected to be the only source of fossil fuel with a growing share of the world energy market until 2050, although the long-term future for gas is insecure; 2) the global gas market will shift to Asia, with demand in Europe and North America stagnating or even decreasing; 3) by 2060, worldwide electricity demand will double, posing a possibility for the natural gas market to further grow, unless governments and regulators decide differently; 4) the natural gas sector must innovate and become a cleaner source of energy – policies and societal change will have an impact on the future of the worldwide gas market. Despite having lower emissions than both coal and oil, gas is a fossil fuel which emits greenhouse gases. 

Read one of my previous articles here: Why  Is Our World In A Freshwater Crisis?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Anne-Maria Yritys to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Is Our World In A Freshwater Crisis?

Without water, there would be no life on our planet. A human being can survive without food or nutrition for months, but without clean, fresh water for only a couple of days. Lack of clean, fresh water is a worldwide disaster that already affects billions of people. Wastewater, on a global level, accounts for seven percent (7%) of all anthropogenic methane emissions. Not only is wastewater emitting large amounts of methane, but does contain many kinds of contaminants, bacteria and chemicals such as phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients, harmful for both our environment and for human beings. (Global Methane Initiative 2019; HSY 2019).

The European Union ́s water frame directive defines the minimum level of wastewater treatment in the European Union member states, including Finland. Finland, however, has its own stricter wastewater treatment regulation based upon Finnish legislation. In fact, Finland as a country ranks as having some of the cleanest waters worldwide: tap water is clean and safe to drink, since wastewater treatment uses advanced technologies allowing for wastewater treatment plants in Finland to process wastewater removing up to 95% of chemicals throughout the treatment process. For instance in Finland, dirt is being transformed into biogas and soil. (Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant 2019).

Why then, does wastewater treatment matter? Why is it important to purify both household and industrial water? If wastewater is not being treated, i.e. purified, it causes horrible odors. However, this is probably the smallest of all problems involved with dirty water, which unless treated, contains bacteria, chemicals and (other) toxins harmful both to our environment and to human health. Despite having some of the cleanest water and best water treatment facilities worldwide, Finland also experienced a water contamination crisis in Nokia in 2007. Through a single human mistake, hundreds of thousands of liters of wastewater at Nokia´s water treatment plant ended up mixed with purified water. Since the mistake was not immediately noticed, and communication failed, thousands of Nokia inhabitants ended up drinking the contaminated water and got sick – some for months, others still today have to deal with health problems that can be traced back to them having drunk contaminated water. The Nokia case led to improvements not only in crisis communication throughout Finland ́s municipalities, but also to all wastewater treatment plants in Finland being checked for any possible leakages and other risks. A decade after the Nokia contaminated water crisis the case was brought up again by media in Finland and acts as a reference case. 

Wastewater treatment is important both for the environment and for human health. The FAO states that wastewater treatment is necessary in order to avoid both environmental and health risks, and identifies the need for some degree of wastewater treatment before considering the usage of raw municipal wastewater to aquaculture, agriculture or landscape irrigation. In other words, dirty water should not be used directly anywhere. (FAO Corporate Document Repository – 3. Wastewater treatment). The Global Methane Initiative states that anaerobic decomposition of organic material during the treatment of wastewater leads to methane emissions. Moreover, in countries with less advanced technologies for wastewater treatment, methane emissions from wastewater are higher. (Global Methane Initiative. Municipal Wastewater Methane: Reducing Emissions, Advancing Recovery and Use Opportunities).

The United Nations identifies that the majority of human activity involving water also produces wastewater, followed by the fact that most wastewater worldwide is being released into our environment without any kind of treatment, with an exception to most highly developed countries. In its World Water Development Report 2017, the UN presents wastewater as an untapped resource, whereby wastewater treatment worldwide is necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the World Water Development Report, the UN discusses the various aspects directly related to wastewater and its treatment, including general governance, technical aspects of wastewater, wastewater in municipalities and urban areas, wastewater from industry, agriculture and in various ecosystems, followed by wastewater by geographical region. As a conclusion, the UN suggests several response options in terms of wastewater management.

In a world with continuously growing demands for freshwater, it is simultaneously becoming an increasingly much scarce resource. Billions of people worldwide also lack access to clean water. Unless resolved, it is a vicious circle leading to both environmental and health problems. The UN sees the potential for both business and sustainable development through wastewater management/treatment. (The United Nations World Water Development Report 2017).

The OECD (2015), Environment at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264235199-en highlights countries that have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, improved waste and water management processes, and have a higher usage of renewable energy sources. In this report, the OECD states how significant freshwater resources are both on social and economic levels, and for the environment. It also identifies that overall water quality is impacted by water abstraction, anthropogenic pollution loads, climate, and weather.

With majority of wastewater worldwide neither being collected, nor treated, the vast majority of the world population is exposed to wastewater. Moreover, at least 2/3 of world population live in areas where they are faced with water scarcity for at least one month each year. When wastewater is being directly dumped into the environment without any treatment, this only worsens the water scarcity that already affects much of the world ‘s population. 

If and when we know how harmful it is to both animals, the environment, and human beings to use contaminated water, then why do we allow this to continue on a global scale? 

According to the Finnish Red Cross, every single hour 33 children worldwide die due to lack of fresh, clean water. That makes 792 dead children every day. 289.080 unnecessary deaths every year, only due to the lack of clean and fresh water. If we managed our freshwater resources better, this could all be avoided. For instance, the Red Cross distributes 500.000 litres of clean water  every day at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, a country that has suffered severely from a war that has been going on for more than eight (8) years by now. Some sources claim that the origin of the Syrian war can be traced back to climate change issues, and environmental problems. 

Freshwater is also a basic human right, which should not be privatized or seen as a luxury product available only for the privileged. Why then, is for instance India facing its worst freshwater crisis ever? Where people living in slums hardly get any clean water and if they do, it is a constant battle. In countries like Tadzhikistan, where people depend on freshwater from the mountain glaciers, the battle for access to clean water is equally hard. These people can spend the vast majority of their days just to find clean water since they lack the resources to build even the simplest engineered systems to bring them some of the clean freshwater melting from the glaciers. The 21st century will be significant in the history of homo sapiens in terms of (the lack of) clean freshwater. In the Middle East, an effort to tackle the lack of freshwater is to import an entire iceberg from Antarctica. Can we afford to experiment with the environment and nature this way? Time will tell, and until then let us find out intelligent ways to solve the freshwater crisis, starting with (improved) wastewater management practices. 

Please share your thoughts and ideas concerning this article. If you found this helpful and/or interesting, do also share it with your social media networks. Access one of my previous articles here: Why Are Landfills Significant Sources Of Global Methane Emissions?

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Highlights From The UN Climate Action Summit 2019

Some of the many highlights, and a few positive news, from the UN Climate Action Summit that took place in New York on September 21st to September 23rd 2019:

  • 2015-2019 have been the five hottest years ever. According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, nature is angry, and nature is striking back: “Seas are rising, and oceans are acidifying. Glaciers are melting, and corals are bleaching. Droughts are spreading, and wildfires are burning. Deserts are expanding, and access to water is dwindling. Heat waves are scorching, and natural disasters are multiplying. Storms everywhere are more intense, more frequent, more deadly. I ́ve seen it with my own eyes.” 
  • New Zealand ́s gross emissions peaked in 2006. Over 80% of New Zealand’s electricity already comes from renewable hydro and wind. New Zealand has begun an ambitious agenda according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Furthermore, New Zealand is strengthening its ETS (emissions trading scheme) and aims to plant one billion (1.000.000.000) trees by 2028, and has a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2023 along with many other ambitious actions. 
  • Marshall Islands is one of the world ́s most ambitious countries in the world when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. The Marshall Islands has declared a national climate crisis. President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, wants to empower girls and women in the fight for climate justice. 
  • Iceland already runs 100% on renewable energy.
  • Finland targets at becoming carbon neutral by 2033, and carbon negative by 2035. The climate program of Finland ́s new government (2019-2023) is one of the most ambitious in the world.
  • Pakistan has planted 1 BILLION trees within a short time period, and is about to plant another 10 BILLION trees in the near future, although the country is responsible for “only” 1% of total global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.
  • The businesses, states and cities that are targeting net zero emissions and combating climate change in the United States together form the 4th largest economy in the world. According to Michael Bloomberg, since Beyond Coal was launched in 2011, more than half of coal plants in the U.S. have been closed: 297 out of 530. Net zero emissions is an ambitious but achievable goal, states Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies targets at phasing out coal in the whole world for instance by working together with countries around the world to accelerate new clean energy projects and by bringing together public and private sector leaders. 
  • The Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, states that the city targets net zero emissions through ambitious climate action, for instance by reducing emissions by 55% by 2030. Montreal has also launched a project called “Zero Carbon Building”. Furthermore, when combating climate change it is important to keep in mind the interconnection between climate change and social injustice, and problems that need to be taken care of.  
  • Germany announces new climate protection package: “Germany’s coalition government plans to invest 54 BILLION euros to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new climate protection package includes incentives for buying electric cars and measures to help households transition from using heating oil”. Currently, Germany alone accounts for 2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Watch the whole UN Climate Action Summit 2019 here:

Guardian News: World leaders attend 2019 UN climate action summit – watch live

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Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Are Landfills Significant Sources of Global Methane Emissions?

Landfills around the world contribute to an estimated eleven percent (11%) of all global methane emissions, with methane being a climate amplifier and up to 25 times stronger than CO2 (carbon dioxide) as a greenhouse gas on a longer term. In the first decades of being emitted into Earth’s atmosphere, methane is more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, causing it to actually warm Earth’s climate more than carbon dioxide. 

The fact that landfills are such a large source of anthropogenic methane emissions on a global scale suggests that there is a need and potential to a) reduce the amount of overall waste b) improved waste management practices, including recycling and transforming waste into energy. Recycling and energy production from waste of course have to be in line with national policies, whereby communities and governments are responsible for creating and maintaining sustainable waste management policies and procedures, allowing for completely new kinds of businesses to emerge and to thrive in a world where waste can today be regarded as a currency.

While some countries have decided to completely ban plastic bags in order to reduce plastic waste and it ending up especially in our oceans, for instance in Finland plastic recycling was not set up until 2016. Today, around one fifth (20%) of all plastic waste in Finland is being recycled, with a target of increasing the amount of recycled plastic within the upcoming few years. 

I first ran into Plastic Bank on Twitter a few years ago. Plastic Bank is an organization dedicated to stopping ocean plastic ending up in our oceans by turning waste into currency, killing two birds with one stone by contributing both to ending poverty and preventing harmful plastic waste ending up in our oceans. 

Of course, plastic is not the only kind of waste on our planet, but it is one of the worst: it can take up to one thousand (1.000) years for plastic bottles to biodegrade, with the average time being 450 years. Think about that before throwing plastic garbage (or, any garbage at all) into the nature!

The average decomposition rates of debris/garbage varies largely: glass bottles thrown into water sources or nature in general is undefined, or can take up to one million (1.000.000) years to decompose, followed by fishing lines (600 years), plastic beverage bottles (450 years), disposable diapers (450 years), aluminium cans (up to 200 years), foamed plastic buoys (80 years), foamed plastic cups (50 years), rubber-boot soles (up to 80 years), tin cans (50 years), leather (50 years), nylon fabric (up to 40 years), plastic bags (up to 20 years), cigarette butts (up to five years), wool socks (up to five years), and plywood (up to three years). (NOAA Marine Debris Program 2019; U.S. National Park Service 2019). It is estimated that more than eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans alone each year, and cleaning all the waste from our oceans is not as simple as from elsewhere in our environment. 

Nevertheless, The Ocean CleanUp is an ambitious project determined to clean up our world’s oceans from all the waste through advanced technologies. It will definitely be exciting to see how this demanding project turns out.

The World Bank estimates that urban solid waste will increase by 70% by 2025, from some 1.3 billion tonnes currently to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, increasing the global costs of waste (management) significantly. This huge increase in overall waste worldwide does include a number of risks, both for health and the environment, but it also gives us the opportunity to create and develop improved waste management practices, recycling, and an effort to create better solutions for instance in terms of packaging materials and overall design.

The complete report published by The World Bank in March 2012, “What a Waste – A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” can be downloaded here. In brief, the report highlights key issues such as municipal solid waste management being the most important service any city provides, with poorly managed waste having immense impacts on health, the environment overall, and the economy. It identifies non-sustainable development including water and wastewater (treatment), greenhouse gas emissions, poverty and slums, social unrest, air pollution, and solid waste. Landfilling in low-income countries/low-technology sites, according to the report, is usually open dumping of wastes, leading to high pollution in nearby aquifers and water bodies, waste regularly being burned, with significant health consequences for local residents and staff. 

High-income OECD countries alone account for almost half (44-46%) of total worldwide waste generation, with high-income OECD countries also having the highest waste collection rates. What ends up in landfills worldwide has large impacts on our environment, as a result of which advanced recycling and waste management are significant factors for minimizing both environmental and health concerns.

Learn more by watching “Landfill Methane Emissions and Oxidation”, published by Illinois Sustainable Technology Center:

What conclusions can we draw from this? 

  • Your consumption habits matter and have an impact! Demand better products, and reduce your amount of waste. 
  • Packaging materials make a significant difference. Businesses/producers/retailers and consumers can influence what kinds of packaging materials are being used. 
  • With a constantly growing world population, it is essential to start limiting the amount of waste produced per capita in different countries. Otherwise, one option would be to charge for any additional waste through either waste collection costs per household/business or higher taxation on non-environmentally friendly packaging materials/products.
  • Improved recycling and overall waste management practices around the world. 

What else can you think of? Please share your ideas and thoughts by commenting on this article! You may also want to read my previous article “How Environmentally Friendly Is Biomass Production?” to find out more about how waste is being managed in for instance a country like Sweden. Today, we do have similar waste management practices in Finland as well. 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

 

 

 

 

 

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

How Environmentally Friendly is Biomass Production?

Biomass production, which is classified as a renewable source of energy, today accounts for 10.5% of the world’s total energy mix. Biomass is a term covering all non-fossil organic material and organic waste, such as forestry and agricultural residues, both from animal and non-animal farming, but also garbage and sewage sludge. With some concerns about biomass production on land replacing food production, this is an exception to the rule. Biomass is usually residue, waste or a by-product. Only biofuel production is known to utilize ethanol from corn: wheat, corn or sugar-beet. (Eurostat 2017; REN21 2017; Victoria State Government 2017; World Energy Council 2016).

According to the World Energy Council (2016), straw as a residue from food production is an example of biomass. Each year, billions of tons of straw, stalk, and foliage remain unused for biomass production. Instead, these are either allowed to rotten or burned freely, emitting considerable amounts of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. All of this organic waste, when correctly processed, could instead be utilized as a source of bio energy.

Biomass as a source of energy production is supported by policies in many countries despite of ongoing discussion about the sustainability of certain bioenergy sources. This has led to uncertainties in some markets and affected the willingness to invest into bioenergy. Due to these risk factors, the bioenergy sector has adopted a number of standards, Sustainability Criteria for Bioenergy, known as ISO 13065. In 2016, primary energy supply for biomass was around 62.5 exajoules (one EJ = 1018 J; one J per second = one watt). While worldwide energy demand in the past decade alone has grown by 21%, bioenergy demand has within the same time frame, on average, grown by 2.5% annually and persistently held its 10.5% share of the total worldwide energy mix. (ECOS 2017; REN21 2017).

In its Global Futures Report 2017 the REN21 states that while biofuels have most commonly replaced fossil fuels in the transport sector, it is not the only technology available. Electric vehicles are another option, with markets such as Norway pioneering the electric vehicle industry. It is largely a question of national policies and new investments into research and development that determine how well various fossil fuel-replacing options can penetrate into a specific market. A world powered with 100% renewable energy is possible, although current infrastructures limit and slow down the pace of renewables replacing fossil fuels, mainly due to socio-economic impacts. (REN21 2017).

Greenhouse gas mitigation and carbon taxes are the main drivers for developing the bioenergy market, while drastically dropping oil prices in the past few years have both led to advancements and increased risks for the overall bioenergy market. In markets with zero competition from the fossil fuel industry, such as Sweden, bioenergy has gained significant foothold. Sweden ́s pioneering development within the bioenergy sector has led to the fact that more than one-third of the country’s total energy use comes from bioenergy. Sweden is so efficient with bioenergy usage and recycling that the country has to import waste to meet its energy demand. The country aims at becoming 100% renewable in terms of energy. (World Energy Council 2016).

In comparison to for instance solar energy and wind energy, bioenergy production consumes considerable amounts of water, requires large areas of land and forests, possibly contributing to increased deforestation, unless managed sustainably. Despite risks like deforestation, countries like Sweden and Finland are known to manage their forest resources in a sustainable manner on a global level, following the directives set by the European Union. (EUbioenergy 2017; European Commission/EU 2017; World Energy Council 2016).

Learn more about the topic by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101 | Biofuels”:

Although biomass is being classified as a renewable energy source, it accounts for some  3% (three per cent) of total global methane emissions (with methane being a powerful greenhouse gas and anthropogenic methane emissions contributing to the warming of Earth’s climate). According to Vattenfall, which is one of the largest European retailers for electricity and fully owned (100%) by the Swedish state, biomass is at this time the largest single renewable energy source in the European Union.

Biomass and waste currently account for 2/3 (two-thirds) of renewable energy production worldwide, stated by Vattenfall. The state of Sweden has learned how to utilize waste to such an extent that it today is obliged to IMPORT waste in order to keep up with its (biomass) energy production. What a genius idea to turn waste into energy! Of course, the most optimal solution would be not to create any waste at all, but at the current state of the world, many countries are facing problems with for instance recycling, not to mention how these countries manage waste. Why destroy the environment and our soils by dumping all kinds of waste to landfills without any recycling, when there are much better options, such as biomass production and recycling available? If Sweden can do it, why not other countries as well? 

These questions are very important in terms of both environmental and human well-being. Moreover, recycling, waste management, human health, animal health, planetary health, and the creation of sustainable business models can be lucrative income sources for businesses in societies around the globe, while improving the state of the planet. Biomass can of course not be created from any kind of waste. Today, biomass is being created and used mainly in countries focused on forest industries and agriculture, whereby waste from these can be utilized to produce biomass energy from (renewable) sources.

Although biomass is today regarded to be a renewable energy source, and definitely more environmentally friendly than the burning of and production of fossil fuels coal, gas and oil, the production of biomass involves both agriculture and forestry. If other renewable source of energy are at hand, there should be no need to excessively cut down forests or grow crops in order to produce biomass, if and when there are more environmentally friendly options available.

It is estimated that the demand for biomass will at least double in the upcoming decades, with scenarios up to 2050. According to the World Energy Council’s report World Energy Resources – Bioenergy | 2016, bioenergy currently accounts for one tenth of global energy supply, with biofuels being a sustainable option in the replacement of oil dependency. Moreover, with growing concerns for environmental well-being even in terms of biomass production, bioenergy is framed by sustainability standards such as ISO, only to mention one of many. The World Energy Council states that the use of waste and residues as raw material to produce bioenergy is most optimal.

Following video, “What is Biomass”, published by FairEnergy, briefly explains what biomass (production) is:

 

Thank you for reading and commenting! 

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Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Is Coal Mining Environmentally Damaging?

Coal, which is primarily used as a liquid fuel, in cement manufacturing, steel production and electricity generation, accounts for an estimated nine per cent (9%) of total methane emissions worldwide. (Global Methane Initiative 2018; World Coal Association 2017). The top 10 coal producers worldwide account for 90% of total coal emissions: China, India, USA,  Australia, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, Germany, Poland, and Kazakhstan. (IEA. 2017.) 

According to the International Energy Agency, total coal production declined more than ever since the IEA began its recordings in 1971, with a drop of 458 Mt down to 7.268.6 Mt in comparison to 2015, despite the fact that India, Russia, and Indonesia increased production in 2016.

The World Coal Association states that around 15 percent of all hard coal production is  destined for the international coal market, with the largest exporters being Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Colombia, South Africa, USA, Netherlands, Canada, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. China is the leading importer of coal, followed by India, Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Malaysia and the Russian Federation. (IEA 2017.)

Furthermore, the World Coal Association states that coal is a fossil fuel, i.e. the transformed residues of prehistoric vegetation, developed and formed throughout millions of years into energy containing coal. Greenpeace lists strip mines as the most harmful since it leaves permanent scars on the environment, including soil erosion and ruination of agricultural land, leading to the pollution of waterways when topsoil is being washed by rain, mixing up natural landscapes. 

Another environmental problem caused by coal, estimated by Greenpeace, are coal fires that can burn for decades, or even centuries, polluting our environment with chemicals and toxins that are invisible to the human eye. Greenpeace, which is campaigning to stop investments to any fossil fuel projects, has witnessed and published a case study/full report about Coal Mines Polluting South Kalimantan ́s Water. (Greenpeace, December 2014.) The report summarizes and reveals that intensive coal mining activities in this Indonesian region has led to the release of toxic pollution from coal mining into rivers while violating national standards for wastewater releases from coal mines.

While the damaging nature and risks of coal mining for the overall environment is well-known, the World Coal Association aims to develop and lead the global coal mining industry into a “pathway of zero emissions from coal” with advanced clean technologies allowing for the coal mining industry to minimize its impacts on the environment. The World Coal Association suggests that HELE power generation could reduce CO2 emissions from coal mining by more than a third. 

How about methane emissions from coal mining? The United States Environmental Protection Agency EPA estimates that methane emissions from coal mining will continue to increase and be responsible for nine per cent (9%) of total global methane emissions by 2020, whereby methane is many times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. According to various estimations, methane (CH4) is up to 25 times as powerful as a greenhouse gas in comparison with carbon dioxide (CO2). 

Are zero methane emissions from coal mining a possibility? Learn more by watching ICE-CMM Poland ́s video “Clark Talkington – Achieving nea zero methane emissions from coal mine mining”:

 

Note from author: I originally wrote and published this article on December 4th 2017 on my website annemariayritys.com and on LinkedIn as a part of my climate change research. USGS states that in addition to peat, which is a precursor to coal, the four actual types of coal are anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite. According to Leonard, Michaelides, and Michaelides (Energy Conversion and Management Volume 164, 2018), the substitution of coal with renewables can be optimized but not fully replaced. The World Coal Association lists electricity generation, steel production, cement manufacturing and the usage of coal as a liquid fuel as the four most significant purposes of the global coal industry. Moreover, the construction industry worldwide accounts for the vast majority of the need for steel and cement, which are used as building blocks in most of construction, unless cement and steel are being replaced with other options.  

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to my newsletter at annemariayritys.com to receive my latest posts delivered directly to you. 

Anne-Maria Yritys 2019. All rights reserved.

 

 

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Does The Global Oil Industry Remain One of The Largest Anthropogenic Methane Emitters Worldwide?

The oil/petroleum industry, together with the gas industry, account for a significant 24% of all anthropogenic methane emissions on a global average. In the United States, for instance, natural gas and petroleum systems currently are the cause of 31% of all methane emissions, although there has been a decrease of 16% in total methane emissions in the United States between 1990 and 2015. (Global Methane Initiative 2010; Environmental Protection Agency 2015.)

OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela), recently published World Oil Outlook 2040, a comprehensive analytical report on the current developments in the global petroleum industry and its outlooks for the upcoming two decades, up to 2040. OPEC states in World Oil Outlook 2040 the current major changes and extreme volatility within the oil industry, with OECD commercial oil inventories dropping by more than 50% within less than a year, from the beginning of 2017 up to September 2017. OPEC estimates that sustainable market stability within the industry is necessary to avoid long-term negative consequences for all stakeholders and the overall global economy.

Secretary General of OPEC, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, states that all 14 OPEC member countries have signed the Paris Agreement, and recognize the need for energy efficiency and the development of cleaner energy technologies. OPEC estimates global energy demand increasing by 35% from 2015 to 2040, with India and China leading the demand. Moreover, regardless of the rapid average annual growth (6.8%) of renewable energy sources (wind, photovoltaic, solar and geothermal energy), the total share of renewable energy sources is estimated to be rather low yet by 2040 on a global level. While overall global oil demand is projected to increase, oil demand in OECD countries will drop significantly. Total oil demand will slow down in the long-term with the oil industry being challenged by other sources of energy, such as renewables. OPEC also states that advancements in energy efficiency is known to have a central role in emission reduction policies, whereby government policies have a significant impact on the development of energy markets.

The OPEC member countries are identifying energy efficiency and climate change mitigation as a top priority, having signed the Paris Agreement and many of the OPEC member countries investing heavily in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Despite OPEC ́s projections in its World Oil Outlook 2040 for oil accounting for more than half of total energy demand in 2040, estimating that the importance of gas and nuclear will continue to grow regardless of growth in other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, OPEC identifies a number of uncertainties within the global energy sector, especially in regard to the worldwide oil market. These uncertainties are identified by the OPEC including: pace of technological advancements, including big data, climate change and environmental regulations, policy developments, and economic factors such as costs, fiscal conditions, and speculative financial activities.

Overall, the outlook and future of the worldwide oil industry depends largely upon governmental policies and developments within alternative energy sources, including renewables. Many countries worldwide are investing heavily in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, having ambitious targets not only to adhere to the Paris Agreement but in fact to take all necessary and possible actions to surpass the average targets of the Paris Agreement. The more efficiently countries are capable of switching over to alternative energy sources, the faster will the demand for petroleum products decreased. This allows for the oil and petroleum industry to continue developing cleaner technologies and investing in improved renewable energy technologies.

Learn more by watching Global Methane Initiative ́s video “Methane Mitigation Matters: Oil and Gas Sector”:

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank.

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Note from author: I originally published this analysis on my website https://www.annemariayritys.com and on LinkedIn on December 6th, 2017, as part of my research about factors causing anthropogenic climate change and to find out more about the current state and the projections of the global energy sector. My conclusions based on the sources that I used were that despite heavy investments into the renewable sector in many countries worldwide, the need for oil as a source of energy still remains due to a number of reasons, including the fact that when world population continues to grow rapidly, the need for energy increases as well, although a vast part of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population still lives fully without electricity. The expansion of renewables and the usage of traditional energy sources currently go hand in hand. Government policies have a major impact on any country’s energy market. Anne-Maria Yritys, September 2nd, 2019.  

 

GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

Why Do We Urgently Need Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production?

According to both the FAO and the IPCC, global food production alone is responsible for a major proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Not only are millions of hectares of forests being cut down annually in order to create space for more land to be cultivated, much of which is being wasted in many ways: crops are being grown to produce biofuels, or to feed cattle and other domesticated animals which ultimately end up on the human plate when those animals are being slaughtered.

 

Sustainable agriculture signifies that with a rapidly growing world population, we can no longer afford to waste essential natural resources. Moreover, poorly managed soils can take up to a century to recover and impoverished soils lead to impoverished nutritional values in any crop, or any food grown and produced.

 

What alternatives do we have?

 

  1. Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to improve production methods in agriculture and farming.
  2. Radically reduce food waste, everywhere on this planet. Currently, much of crop/food is being thrown away.
  3. End (or at least reduce) animal farming drastically.
  4. Stop growing crops for the sake of, and stop wasting land, to produce biofuels.
  5. Transform the global agriculture and food sectors into increasingly much plant-based diets for human beings.
  6. Start valuing forests and trees as an essential source of food and nutrition not only for human beings, but also for animals.
  7. Innovate completely new food products, including food grown in laboratories ethically.

A-M. Yritys August 9, 2019

 

 

GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

What if You Had Only One Minute?

If you had only 1 minute to take action to save the world from the environmental catastrophe that we are heading towards, what would your actions be? What would you be willing to give up on/sacrifice for the cause of saving flora & fauna, and perhaps even human beings?

 

  1. Would you support a sustainable economy based on putting the global ecology before greedy capitalism?

 

  1. Would you reduce or stop flying at all?

 

  1. Would you be willing to stop driving a car, and start using other means of transport (cycling, public transport)?

 

  1. Would you eat less meat? Become a vegetarian? Become a vegan?

 

  1. Would you consume more biological, organic, and fair trade products? And, consume more local and seasonal food products?

 

  1. Would you stop blaming governments, politicians and businesses for being responsible, and be willing to take personal responsibility for your consumption habits?

 

  1. Would you agree that the era of fossil fuels has to be replaced with renewable energy sources as soon as possible, and support renewables by choosing to consume renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels?

 

What else would you be willing to do?

 

Feel free to comment.

 

Anne-Maria Yritys, August 1st 2019

 

 

Dry Chanterelles

Why Raping Forests Leads to Climate Change and Losses in Biodiversity

This is what chanterelles look like when the forest is dry and it hasn’t been raining for a while. In 2018, there were no chanterelles at all before August due to drought in Finland. Normally you can find chanterelles in June already. Last year’s mushroom crop was quite poor all in all. And when forests are being cut down, biodiversity suffers. No mushrooms grow in a cut down forest. Climate change and raping our local and global forests leads to huge losses in biodiversity and forest animals have less and less space to live.

 

We can also not start irrigating all forests of the world when and where there is lack of rain or freshwater (and groundwater). Too many unnecessary fresh water resources are already being wasted by irrigating cultivated land, including rice fields and vineyards.

 

Nor can we afford to experiment with activities such as importing whole icebergs due to lack of fresh water. Read more about importing icebergs by googling UAE and a lack of fresh water resources.

 

Life on planet Earth should not have to be an attempted imitation or reconstruction of the Frankenstein story.

 

#biodiversity #climatechange #foodsecurity #forestfood