Environmental Policy

Accelerating Low-Carbon Innovation through Policy
February 13, 2017 09:51 AM - ETH Zurich / Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Global climate change is affecting our planet and mankind; climate science is thus instrumental in informing policy makers about its dangers, and in suggesting emission limits. Science also shows that staying within limits, while meeting the aspirations of a growing global population requires fundamental changes in energy conversion and storage. The majority of low-carbon technology innovation observed in the last decades, such as the 85% cost reduction in photovoltaic cell production since 2000, was driven by largely uncoordinated national policies. These included research incentives in Japan and the U.S., feed-in tariffs in Germany, and tax breaks in the U.S.

Trump's wall puts wildlife at risk
February 9, 2017 07:10 AM - Lucina Melesio, SciDevNet

Building the wall that Donald Trump has ordered on January 25th, as one of his first actions as US president, will put on risk more than 50 animal species that share the ecosystem along the border between the United States and Mexico, scientists from various countries have warned.
 
Since 2006, 1,100 kilometers of barriers covering more than 30 per cent of the border between the countries have been built. The newest executive order commands the “immediate construction of a physical wall”, stating that ‘wall’ means “a physical barrier, continuous and impassable”.

Fiscal incentives may reduce emissions in developing countries
February 7, 2017 09:32 AM - University of East Anglia

A study has found that fiscal policies introduced by governments in developing countries can have a significant effect on lowering harmful carbon emissions and help countries with fulfilling their commitments under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.

Protected Nature Areas Protect People, Too
February 3, 2017 08:04 AM - Michigan State University

A group of scientists is recommending giving the world’s nature reserves a makeover to defend not only flora and fauna, but people, too.

Scientists in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argue that the world’s protected areas such as nature reserves, traditionally havens for endangered animals and plants, can be made better if they ratchet up benefits that directly help people. The world’s nature reserves not only defend nature for nature’s sake, but also can curb erosion, prevent sandstorms, retain water and prevent flooding and sequester carbon. The authors include more of a place for people – judiciously.

Protected Nature Areas Protect People, Too
February 3, 2017 08:04 AM - Michigan State University

A group of scientists is recommending giving the world’s nature reserves a makeover to defend not only flora and fauna, but people, too.

Scientists in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argue that the world’s protected areas such as nature reserves, traditionally havens for endangered animals and plants, can be made better if they ratchet up benefits that directly help people. The world’s nature reserves not only defend nature for nature’s sake, but also can curb erosion, prevent sandstorms, retain water and prevent flooding and sequester carbon. The authors include more of a place for people – judiciously.

Scientists Report on Latest Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impacts
February 2, 2017 02:39 PM - Louisiana State University

LSU scientists will present new research at the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans next week. These experts will be among hundreds of oil spill-related researchers from academia, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and industry, who will share the latest oil spill and ecosystem scientific discoveries, innovations, technologies and policies on Feb. 6-9.

Plan to Reduce Air Pollution Chokes in Mexico City
February 2, 2017 02:30 PM - University of California - Berkeley Haas School of Business

Decades ago Mexico City’s air pollution was so poor, birds would fall out of the sky—dead. Locals said living there was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, according to one report.  In response, Mexico City took several steps to try to improve air quality including restricting driving one or two days during the weekdays. The program has had negligible results.

In 2008, the city added driving restrictions on Saturdays in hopes of moving the needle but according to new research by Lucas W. Davis, an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, extending the program one more day also isn’t working.

“Saturday driving restrictions are a flawed policy. It’s a big hassle for people and does not improve air quality,” says Davis, who is also the faculty director at the Energy Institute at Haas.

Decarbonising the UK economy
January 26, 2017 10:24 AM - Joe Ware, Ecologist

This week the UK Government published its long awaited industrial strategy, marking a distinctive break from the previous Conservative regime. Gone is David Cameron's more laissez faire attitude to managing the economy.  In its place is a more proactive approach, which seeks to stimulate industry with targeted investment.  Taking advantage of the greater flexibility afforded by freedom from the EU's state aid rules the plan sees some exciting developments in the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

New map shows way to reducing roads' destruction of nature
January 20, 2017 12:57 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Scientists are calling for the urgent protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas, writes Tim Radford, as a new global map shows that roads lead to loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystems by fragmenting habitat and providing access to exploiters.

Mapping out a low-carbon future
January 20, 2017 09:26 AM - Mark Dwortzan

Fulfilling the promise of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change — most notably the goal of limiting the rise in mean global surface temperature since preindustrial times to 2 degrees Celsius — will require a dramatic transition away from fossil fuels and toward low-carbon energy sources. To map out that transition, decision-makers routinely turn to energy scenarios, which use computational models to project changes to the energy mix that will be needed to meet climate and environmental targets. These models account for not only technological, economic, demographic, political, and institutional developments, but also the scope, timing, and stringency of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

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