Good News #1

Photo: Geiranger Ffiord Norway ~dailyshoot by Les Haines (CC BY 2.0)

Norway, Norway, Norway

Norway sure have been busy this month. We’ve got three great news stories for the price of one. First off, the country became the first in the world to commit to zero deforestation. With substantial areas of rainforest being lost at the current rate, it’s good to see Norway leading the way in preserving this valuable carbon sink.

Less than two weeks later Norway’s parliament approved a proposal to further offset and cut carbon emissions in the country. Furthermore, the aim is to become completely climate neutral by 2030, twenty years earlier than originally planned.

The good news kept on flooding in, when Norway announced that they had ratified the Paris Agreement. In doing so, they became the first western country to officially endorse the document. So far, a total of 15 countries and island states (representing 0.18% of global emissions) have ratified the agreement. 55 are needed before the agreement is enforced.

An End to Subsidies

At the end of last month, we heard that the G7 nations had pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. This is of course good news; the extent of support for the fossil fuel industry doesn’t really fit in with the vision set out by the Paris Agreement.

You have to wonder about the UK though. The government would say that they do not subside fossil fuels, which is obviously not really the truth. They’ve skewed the definition of what fossil fuel subsidies are. The reality is that the UK government gives £6bn a year to the industry – roughly double what they provide the renewable energy sector.

Given the evidence that economic growth is decoupling from greenhouse emissions, it seems only logical to scale back the monetary support for the industry. I’m sure the providers of renewable energy would welcome an extra £6bn…

CO2 to Stone

In order to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, some form of carbon capture is required. There are still questions over the best way to do this, but a team of researchers may have found one possible solution.

By injecting carbon dioxide into Icelandic wells that pass through underground basaltic lavas, they managed to achieve conversion to carbonate minerals in less than two years. To put it another way, they managed to turn carbon dioxide into stone in a fraction of the time that was previously thought possible.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) by conversion to carbonates appears to be a relatively safe form of decarbonisation, given the rapid formation and the (essentially) permanent storage of the carbon dioxide.

Of course, the method cannot be used to reverse climate change – only reduce warming – so the method would need to be combined with other mitigation techniques as well as deployment of renewable power.


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Jack Nokes Written by:

Environmentalist and engineering student.