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The world’s leading mayors have doubled climate action since COP15 in Copenhagen, and set an example for cooperative action between nations ahead of COP21. 

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World leaders opened pivotal climate talks Monday in Paris, saying the stakes are too high to end the conference without achieving a binding agreement to help slow the pace of global climate change.

“A political moment like this may not come again,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told leaders gathered for the conference. “We have never faced such a test. But neither have we encountered such great opportunity.”

The talks began with a moment of silence for victims of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, and the tragedy served as a touchstone for world leaders urging unity and action.

“What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it,” President Barack Obama said in his speech.

French President Francois Hollande noted that “never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life.”

“And yet two weeks ago, here in Paris itself, a group of fanatics was sowing the seeds of death in the streets,” he said.

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On the eve of the COP21 talks in Paris, FRANCE 24 brings you a special night of programming dedicated to the climate, with previously unseen reports and interviews, interspersed with some of the best moments from “Down to Earth”, our weekly show exploring innovations by people around the world committed to sustainable development. Renewable energy, agriculture and climate change, pollution in cities, climate refugees, reducing CO2 emissions… expect all this and more.

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Just over a year ago, Microsoft announced its largest wind purchase to date: a 175 megawatt (MW) wind facility outside of Chicago that would generate more than enough energy to fully power Microsoft’s Chicago data center.

Today, we’re proud to announce that the Pilot Hill Wind Project is up and running—delivering clean, renewable energy that will power that facility for the next 20 years. This project will allow our Chicago data center to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, today and into the future. EDF Renewable Energy, owner and operator of Pilot Hill, estimates that the new energy coming onto the grid will prevent approximately 328,000 metric tons of new greenhouse gas emissions per year.

I’m excited to see renewable energy from Pilot Hill coming on line. Power purchase agreements like this one ensure that our nearby data center will have a reliable source of renewable energy for years to come. We know that our data centers have a substantial energy footprint, so working to power them directly through local renewable energy projects is an important strategy to mitigate our impact on the environment.

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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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