2020-06 02
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UPS to offset carbon footprint of its June shipments



UPS announced the company will commemorate World Environment Day on June 5 by matching the carbon offsets of all packages shipped via its carbon neutral program during the month of June. UPS carbon neutral counterbalances the estimated carbon impact of each shipment by purchasing certified carbon offsets. To participate, shippers pay a small fee to offset the carbon footprint of shipping their packages then UPS will match these offsets throughout June. This is essentially doubling the shipper’s impact thereby allowing the shipper to potentially net out “carbon negative” in June. The per package flat rate price for the optional service is $0.05 for UPS® ground services and $0.20 for UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS 3 Day Select® services. “There is truly no better way to honor World Environment Day than to facilitate actions that will help the planet,” said Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, UPS chief sustainability officer (CSO) and vice president of environmental affairs. “UPS hopes to create more awareness about our carbon neutral shipping option so additional customers will take advantage of it, thus helping to fund large-scale carbon reduction programs and reduce the total carbon impact of shipping on the environment.” UPS started its carbon neutral program in 2010 and offsets more than 60 million packages annually for customers, which equates to more than 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon offset each year. UPS has supported projects worldwide that include forestation, landfill gas destruction, and wastewater treatment. UPS carbon neutral option is verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), an inspection, testing, and verification company. Additionally, UPS’s carbon offset process adheres to The CarbonNeutral Protocol from Natural Capital Partners. UPS’s carbon neutral offering is just one way the company is helping shippers reduce their impact on the environment. Customers can also choose more sustainable last mile delivery options and solutions designed for more efficient returns. One option is to direct packages to UPS Access Point® locations(such as The UPS Store, CVS pharmacy, Michaels or Advance Auto Parts) whereconsolidated deliveries can take place for multiple consumers preventing several delivery attempts to a single residence. On the returns front, UPS works with a company called Optoro, using its returns optimization platform that helps shippers maximize recovery value and reduce items going to landfills. Additionally, customers can participate in UPS’s Eco Responsible Packaging Program or UPS can conduct a carbon impact analysis on their shipping. Furthermore, customers benefit from the carbon reduction efforts UPS undertakes in its own operations. During the last decade, UPS has invested more than $1 billion on alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles as well as supporting infrastructure. The company is now the largest user of renewable natural gas in the transportation industry and has a specialized alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet of more than 10,300 vehicles. Recently, UPS announced plans to purchase more than 6,000 natural gas trucks through 2022.  And, in January, UPS announced an investment in the UK-based technology startup firm Arrival and committed to buy 10,000 of their electric vehicles. UPS is an important part of its customers’ supply chains and continues to offer sustainability solutions that impact their value chains. Source:STAT Author:STAT Date:June 2, 2020

2020-06 01
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Climate change: May was sunniest calendar month on record in UK



May was the sunniest calendar month on record, and spring was the sunniest spring, the Met Office has said. The UK enjoyed 266 hours of sunshine in May - surpassing the previous record of 265 hours in June 1957. And it is even more extraordinary following a drenching winter, with record rain in February. Meteorologists say they are amazed at the sudden switch from extreme wet to extreme dry – it is not "British" weather. Big turnaround for UK weather in 2020 UK's sunniest spring since records began Climate concerns grow amid wettest February on record On average the UK gets 436 hours of sunshine between March and the end of May. Since 1929, only 10 years have had more than 500 hours. And none has got more than 555 hours. Scientists say the recent weather in the UK has been unprecedented and astounding. This year we've bathed in an extraordinary 626 hours - smashing the previous record by a “staggering” amount, one Met Office worker said. It is because the jet stream has locked the fine weather in place, just as it locked the previous winter rainfall in place. The Met Office declared February 2020 as the wettest February on record Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, told BBC News: “We’ve swung from a really unsettled spell with weather systems coming in off the Atlantic to a very, very settled spell. “It’s unprecedented to see such a swing from one extreme to the other in such a short space of time. That’s what concerns me. We don’t see these things normally happening with our seasons. “It’s part of a pattern where we’re experiencing increasingly extreme weather as the climate changes.” Mark McCarthy, from the Met Office, said: “If we look at the difference in rainfall that’s fallen over the winter compared to spring it is the largest difference in rainfall amount in our national series from 1862. “The sunshine statistics are really astounding. “The stand out is by how much sunshine has broken the previous record - set in 1948. There’s been more sunshine than most of our past summer seasons. It's quite remarkable." One of his colleagues described the figures as "absolutely staggering". Crowds flocked to the beach at Bournemouth, to enjoy the soaring temperatures on bank holiday Monday last month The Met Office says this year is not an indicator of the future, because the jet stream might behave differently. Scientists suspect man-made climate change may be implicated, but it is too soon to tell. Some of them believe the rapid man-made heating of the Arctic, which has led to record temperatures and wildfires in Siberia, may be influencing the jet stream, although that is not proven. Professor Joe Smith, chief executive of the Royal Geographical Society, told BBC News: "For many people, the recent long sunny spell is simply 'nice weather'. "In a wider context it’s a signal of the increasing unpredictability of the UK’s climate. Planning for the growing season is starting to resemble a night at the gambling tables. “The fact remains that bold early actions to slash emissions can still cut the larger risks associated with climate change in the UK and around the world”. Source:BBC NEWS Author:Roger Harrabin Date:1 June 2020

2020-05 21
View 197
World can likely capture and store enough carbon dioxide to meet climate targets



The world is currently on track to fulfil scenarios on diverting atmospheric CO2 to underground reservoirs, according to a new study by Imperial. The capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) underground is one of the key components of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) reports keeping global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be used alongside other interventions such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification of the transportation sector. The IPCC used models to create around 1,200 technology scenarios whereby climate change targets are met using a mix of these interventions, most of which require the use of CCS. Their reports are available here and here.  Now a new analysis from Imperial College London suggests that just 2,700 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) would be sufficient to meet the IPCC’s global warming targets. This is far less than leading estimates by academic and industry groups of what is available, which suggest there is more than 10,000 Gt of CO2 storage space globally. It also found that that the current rate of growth in the installed capacity of CCS is on track to meet some of the targets identified in IPCC reports, and that research and commercial efforts should focus on maintaining this growth while identifying enough underground space to store this much CO2. The findings are published in Energy & Environmental Science. Capturing carbon CCS involves trapping CO2 at its emission source, such as fossil-fuel power stations, and storing it underground to keep it from entering the atmosphere. Together with other climate change mitigation strategies, CCS could help the world reach the climate change mitigation goals set out by the IPCC. The study has shown for the first time that the maximum storage space needed is only around 2,700 Gt, but that this amount will grow if CCS deployment is delayed. The researchers worked this out by combining data on the past 20 years of growth in CCS, information on historical rates of growth in energy infrastructure, and models commonly used to monitor the depletion of natural resources. The researchers say that the rate at which CO2 is stored is important in its success in climate change mitigation. The faster CO2 is stored, the less total subsurface storage resource is needed to meet storage targets. This is because it becomes harder to find new reservoirs or make further use of existing reservoirs as they become full. They found that storing faster and sooner than current deployment might be needed to help governments meet the most ambitious climate change mitigation scenarios identified by the IPCC. The study also demonstrates how using growth models, a common tool in resource assessment, can help industry and governments to monitor short-term CCS deployment progress and long-term resource requirements. However, the researchers point out that meeting CCS storage requirements will not be sufficient on its own to meet the IPCC climate change mitigation targets. Dr Krevor said: “Our analysis shows good news for CCS if we keep up with this trajectory - but there are many other factors in mitigating climate change and its catastrophic effects, like using cleaner energy and transport as well as significantly increasing the efficiency of energy use.” Funding for this work was provided by ACT ELEGANCY, DETEC (CH), BMWi (DE), RVO (NL), Gassnova (NO), BEIS (UK), Gassco, Equinor and Total, the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme, the UK CCS Research Centre and EPSRC. “Global geologic carbon storage requirements of climate change mitigation scenarios” by Christopher Zahasky and Samuel Krevor, published 21 May 2020 in Energy & Environmental Science. Source: Imperial College London Author: Caroline Brogan Date: 21 May 2020

2020-05 20
View 445
Climate change may be turning the Antarctic green



Antarctica conjures images of an unbroken white wilderness, but blooms of algae are giving parts of the frozen continent an increasingly green tinge. Warming temperatures due to climate change are helping the formation and spread of "green snow" and it is becoming so prolific in places that it is even visible from space, according to new research published on Wednesday. While the presence of algae in Antarctica was noted by long-ago expeditions, such as the one undertaken by British explorer Ernest Shackleton, its full extent was unknown. Now, using data collected over two years by the European Space Agency's Sentinel 2 satellite, together with on the ground observations, a research team from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey have created the first map of the algae blooms on the Antarctic Peninsula coast. "We now have a baseline of where the algal blooms are and we can see whether the blooms will start increasing as the models suggest in the future," Matt Davey of the University of Cambridge's Department of Plant Sciences told Reuters. Mosses and lichens are considered the dominant photosynthetic organisms in Antarctica - but the new mapping found 1,679 separate algal blooms that are a key component in the continent's ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. "The algal blooms in Antarctica are equivalent to about the amount of carbon that's being omitted by 875,000 average UK petrol car journeys," Davey said. "That seems a lot but in terms of the global carbon budget, it's insignificant. "It does take up carbon from the atmosphere but it won't make any serious dent in the amount of carbon dioxide being put in the atmosphere at the moment." Green is not the only splash of colour in Antarctica. Researchers are now planning similar studies on red and orange algae, although that is proving harder to map from space. Source:the national Author:Reuters Date: May 20, 2020

2020-05 12
View 194
Longer growing seasons have a limited effect on combating climate change



Climate warming is leading to early springs and delayed autumns in colder environments, allowing plants to grow for a longer period of time during each growing season. Plants are absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of this longer growing season. The earlier arrival of spring is fighting climate change by allowing plants to absorb CO2 over a longer period of time and thus slowing the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is rising. What we don't know is how long can we count on earlier springs and longer growing seasons. I am a remote sensing scientist who studies the impact of climate change on seasonal cycle of plant activity. Using satellite observations, long-term ground measurements and mechanistic computer models, I also study the impacts of climate change and variability on global land ecosystems and related feedbacks to the atmosphere through carbon cycle. Changing growing seasons Spring leaf-out—when the first leaves start to appear on plants—is arriving earlier for many temperate, boreal and Arctic plants. Thirty-four years of satellite records reveal not only an earlier leaf-out, but also a shift in peak plant growth timing towards spring for plants growing north of the tropics. In Canada, PlantWatch enables citizen scientists to record leaf-out and flowering times in all provinces and territories. The PlantWatch data show the average date the first flower blooms in 19 plant species has advanced by about nine days for each corresponding rise of one degree Celsius in air temperature. The bloom dates of the earliest-blooming species—such as trembling aspen and prairie crocus—advanced by two weeks during the past seven decades of the past century. As a consequence of warming temperatures, leaf senescence (leaf colouring and leaf fall) in autumn is also delayed. Researchers using 54 years data records in Japan and South Korea found that autumn leaf fall is occurring later. Long-term satellite data also show delayed leaf senescence for the majority of temperate and boreal plants. The combination of earlier spring and delayed autumn means a longer growing season. The resulting longer growing season contributes to combating climate change by decreasing atmospheric CO2 buildup. Prairie crocuses, already one of the earliest-blooming plants, are showing up earlier in the year due to global warming. Credit: Alemu Gonsamu, Author provided Carbon dioxide absorption The increased removal of atmospheric CO2 by plants as a result of longer growing seasons and warming-induced increase in vegetation cover in northern ecosystems has been widely reported. As plants absorb atmospheric CO2 in spring and summer, levels of atmospheric CO2 drop in the high latitudes. As plants decompose after the growing season ends, the atmospheric CO2 levels climb up again. This creates a strong seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at higher latitudes. The amount of CO2 absorbed by plants, indicated by the difference between early spring and late summer atmospheric CO2 concentration, is increasing. The increase in seasonal cycle is a clear indicator of increasing removal of atmospheric CO2 by plants as a result of earlier and increased plant growth and longer growing season. Carbon dioxide release A longer growing season may also increase CO2 release from ecosystems by prolonging the period during which soils decompose. In order for the land to remain a strong carbon sink, the balance of CO2 gain from the lengthening growing season must outweigh the associated increase in CO2 release. In northern ecosystems, including Canada, a large proportion of ecosystem carbon is stored in soils, while a small fraction is stored in plants. Warming in autumn delays senescence and, as a result, increases CO2 absorption by plants. However, plant growth in autumn is restricted by shorter day length regardless of warming, thus limiting the potential amount of CO2 absorption. This figure shows the relationship between growing season length and atmospheric CO2 concentration. A longer growing season removes more CO2 from the atmosphere. Credit: Alemu Gonsamo Conversely, the increase in soil CO2 release from decomposition due to autumn warming is not restricted by shorter day length. CO2 loss from soil decomposition from autumn warming may be greater than the increased CO2 absorption by delayed senescence. In other words, the delayed autumn brings little or no benefit to ecosystem CO2 storage. In addition, in many northern ecosystems, the benefits of warmer springs on increased CO2 absorption is offset by the accumulation of seasonal water deficits. New evidence shows that the increased spring plant growth and earlier start of the growing season actually deplete summer soil moisture and decrease the overall summer time plant growth in boreal and tundra ecosystems. With increasing warming throughout the growing season, summer moisture stress may be exacerbated in the future in temperate, boreal and Arctic ecosystems. Climate change is leading to warmer and longer growing seasons, reduced snow pack in winter, earlier spring snow melt and soil water depletion. This in turn increases moisture stress on plants and makes forests more susceptible to severe wildfire, which already becoming increasingly frequent and severe in large parts of Canada. Severe fires can release huge amounts of CO2, not only from the burning plant tissues but also from top soils and peat lands. Combating climate change If plant growth keeps increasing as a result of warmer growing seasons, the increasing growing season length could help remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. On the other hand, if plant growth actually decreases or if CO2 loss actually increases, then the carbon absorption capacity of northern ecosystems would decline and climate warming could further accelerate. For now, the net impact of a longer growing season is that plants are absorbing more CO2. However, with increasing moisture stress in summer time expected in future, high-latitude ecosystems may not benefit from the lengthening growing season for very long. There is no question that the lengthening growing season is a fundamental part of the portfolio in nature's ability to combat climate change. However, policies that rely on nature's ability to combat climate change should not count on the benefits of the lengthening growing season for very long. Source: phys.org Author: Alemu Gonsamo, The Conversation Date:MAY 12, 2020