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There’s wind, there are photovoltaic cells, but we need a way to store the energy. Could artificial photosynthesis – turning the sun’s energy into a fuel, such as hydrogen – one day replace dirty coal and other fossil fuels as a plentiful source of green, clean energy We analyse how far this technology has come.

“If the leaf can do it, we can do it even better.”

It was a valiant statement, made six years ago at the opening of the ‘Solar to Fuels and Back Again’ symposium at Imperial College London. Numerous conferences and symposiums and plenty of research later, however, we are still not able to mimic the most efficient power station created by nature, the humble leaf.

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The Earth’s climate will enter a new “permanent reality” from next year when concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are likely to pass a historic milestone, the head of the UN’s weather agency has warned.

The record concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere were up 43% since pre-industrial times, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), prompting its secretary general Michel Jarraud to say immediate action was needed to cut CO2 emissions.

The WMO’s latest greenhouse gas bulletin comes just three weeks before world leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping and David Cameron meet in Paris in a bid to reach a new deal on cutting emissions.

 

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Energy efficiency and climate Protection

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German aviation is reducing its specific energy consumption from year to year. In 2014, the airlines achieved an all-time record by reducing fuel consumption to an average of 3.64 litres of kerosene per 100 passenger-kilometres. In this Aviation Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection Report 2015, the German Aviation Association (BDL) presents the key indicators as well as the strategies and measures that lead to improved energy efficiency and climate protection.

  • Aviation energy efficiency in key indicators 2015
  • Disconnecting kerosene consumption from traffic growth
  • Traffic growth refers to the air transport services of all departures from airports in Germany.
  • A new efficiency record in passenger transport Average consumption of the German air fleet: 3.64 litres
    Average consumption of the German air fleet: 3.64 litres

This statistic takes into account all BDL passenger airlines, including their subsidiaries. Source: BDL based on company data
and more…

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Native people in Alaska and Russia store their whale meat and other traditional foods in permafrost. But their underground freezers are thawing, causing food problems.

 

Building an underground ice cellar to store bowhead whale and other meat in Barrow, Alaska, is no small task. Even in the summertime, permafrost is hard as a rock a foot or so below the surface.

 

Last year Herman Ahsoak employed a jackhammer and drill to construct a cellar for the whaling crew he has captained for more than a decade. But in the spring, melting snow penetrated the hatch, and the 14-foot deep cellar “filled all the way to the top with water,” Ahsoak says.

 

Maintaining ice cellars has always been hard work for subsistence hunters in Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States. But warming temperatures have now rendered many of these underground freezers unusable.

 

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International firm Penda Architecture and Design has designed a meadow with sunken pathways for China’s International Garden Expo 2015.

As part of China’s International Garden Expo, Beijing– and Vienna–based firm Penda Architecture and Design has designed a temporary meadow, named “Where the River Runs,” sited for Wuhan, China. The installation, which contains sunken pathways and hidden meeting places, allows visitors to walk along a winding trail through the meadow, mimicking an imaginary river. With this installation, the architects hope to highlight that clean water is not an endless resource. 

The pathways lead towards a central, sheltered plaza below the landscaped surface. As visitors wind towards the plaza, they are invited to sprinkle seeds over the grass to encourage the growth of new plants and flowers…

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Nissan Leaf-based autonomous prototypes have been sighted on Japanese city roads earlier in the week.

While the Nissan IDS concept at the Tokyo Motor Show is a far more comprehensive look at what the future may bring for the automaker’s self-driving initiatives, the company is working on slowly but surely getting the technology out to production models, as Leaf-based autonomous driving prototypes have been sighted on Japanese city roads earlier in the week.

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For decades, scientists and policymakers have focused on changing human behavior to address climate change. Regulations have mandated reduced carbon emissions, subsidies have supported the development of renewable energy and individuals have worked to make their lifestyles more sustainable.

But, while addressing global warming will inevitably require humans to change behavior, a growing body of research supports the need for solutions rooted in nature: ensuring biodiversity, revitalizing forests and supporting other natural environments. A new study in the journal Nature offers the strongest evidence yet that biodiversity strengthens ecosystems, increasing their resistance to extreme climate events and improving their capacity to stem climate change.

 

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A new method to identify unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide could let those at risk take control of their health with cheap, personalised sensors, according to new research by Australian and Chinese scientists.

Nitrogen dioxide contributes to the dangerous smog that lurks over many of the world’s cities, causing serious respiratory problems, among other health issues.

Australian scientist Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, a professor at RMIT’s Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors, told Mashable Australia he helped discover a new use for the material tin disulphide, which could be used as a sensor to read the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air.

 

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Don’t count Jim Gordon out just yet.

The president of Cape Wind developer Energy Management Inc. has not given up on the controversial wind farm project in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind suffered what many saw as a death blow in January when Gordon and his team missed a crucial financing deadline and lost major contracts from utilities Eversource Energy and National Grid as a result, making it nearly impossible to attract the investment needed to start construction

But developments in recent weeks have made Gordon more hopeful that the project, which he worked on for more than a decade, can be revived.

There’s increased support on Beacon Hill for legislation that would prompt utilities to enter into more long-term contracts for clean energy, including a potential requirement that some of it comes from offshore wind sources. Gordon, whose firm is also working on solar and biomass projects, said he’s hoping to position Cape Wind to bid on those long-term contracts.

The recently announced closing of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant by 2019, meanwhile, is putting additional pressure on lawmakers and policy makers to find new sources of power that don’t produce greenhouse gases that result from burning fossil fuels such as natural gas and contribute to climate change.

 

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Chief Sustainability Officer Role in Corporations

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Study of 1200 organization investigating what you need to know before your hire a Chief Sustainability Officer for your company.

Healthy organizationshave always looked for ways to reduce costs in the near term, appeal to customers and employees, and ensure the long term viability of the organization.

The current trend toward sustainability in organizations is exciting because it supports all of these business objectives. Hudson Gain Corporation, the leadership solutions firm, has conducted a comprehensive study on sustainability and leadership. Specifically we reviewed the role of the head of sustainability in organi- zations. The study includes research on over 1200 companies, and leverages interviews with over 60 sustainability executives. This document provides insight on the key responsibilities and challenges of the sustainability boss, as well as guidance for creating and filling the role. We hope this study will prove useful to any organization seeking to fill the role of chief sustainability officer, whether creating the role for the first time or upgrading the function, or whether filling the role with an internal candi- date or conducting an external search for the right sustainability leader.

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