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Fossil Free Sweden
History was made in December 2015 when almost 200 nations from around the world signed the Paris Agreement. This mission of the Agreement is to actively decrease global emissions of greenhouse gas in an effort to reverse the effects of global warming. Sweden, however, made a bold promise to end dependence on fossil fuel before the Paris Agreement had even been drafted.

While this may seem like a difficult feat, Sweden is confident — investing an extra $546 million in renewable energy as a first step towards achieving their goal. Renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and energy storage have existed in Sweden and many other countries long before the Fossil Free Sweden initiative began.

Now, with increased funding and a more concrete goal, these technologies have the opportunity to deter the use of not only fossil fuel but nuclear power as well. Multiple power plants generating nuclear power in the country have already been scheduled for closure with no replacements planned.

The Swedish people, seeing the numerous benefits in becoming a fossil-free Sweden, have all come together in support of the movement. On Feb. 8, 2016, over 150 groups, businesses and municipalities gathered at a workshop held by the Ministry of Environment and Energy in support of the Fossil Free Sweden Initiative.

In addition to creating a more sustainable country for future generations, Swedish businesses also hope to create both new economic and employment opportunities. Technology and research-related job positions become more crucial as will careers in the transportation industry, which needs reform in order to eliminate fossil fuel.

As greenhouse emissions have decreased by 22 percent since the 1990s, the Swedish GDP has grown 58 percent. The OECD sees continued growth in 2016 as well as a continued shrinking of the unemployment rate. Recent wage settlements are predicting that aid will increase the nation’s overall household income.

A bright future not only seems possible for Sweden but inevitable as the fossil-free initiative continues to progress. Goals such as making the country’s capital of Stockholm fossil fuel-free by 2050 are moving towards becoming a reality. The people of the country are coming together on a national and local level to plan and implement changes in how to power their country.

The rest of the world is following Sweden’s example now that the Paris Agreement has been adopted by so many nations. The world is choosing progress because of what it means for the planet and the higher quality of life it brings to the people living here.

Aaron Walsh
Photo: Flickr

Clean Coal Technology in Indonesia
Indonesia is one of many countries around the world wanting to do their part in reversing climate change and protecting the planet for years to come. Working with the World Coal Association (WCA), Indonesia hopes to implement clean coal technology in plants across the country. Clean coal technology in Indonesia works in a number of ways to burn coal more efficiently and with less adverse effects on the environment.

One method of making the coal burning process cleaner is known as coal washing. In this method, Indonesian facilities would remove unwanted mineral deposits by crushing the coal down and mixing it with a liquid that clears away the undesirables minerals.

Another tactic for cleaning coal involves the use of wet scrubbers to target sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and remove it before burning. In order to avoid burning coal altogether, gasification could be implemented to separate carbon molecules. This process creates what is known as syngas, which is an amalgam of carbon monoxide and hydrogen used in gas turbines to convert heat energy into electricity.

While use of this technology may be more expensive than the less efficient alternative, Indonesia wants to make good on the Paris Agreement, enacted earlier in 2016. Indonesia committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 29% alone by 2030 or up to 41% with help from foreign aid.

As the fourth-largest coal producer in the world, it is essential that Indonesia take the necessary steps to ensure the country becomes a positive example for coal burning nations around the world. Clean coal technology in Indonesia has more to offer its citizens than merely reducing the output of greenhouse gases. Switching to these technologies will require skilled Indonesian workers, therefore creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity conducted a study that supported a growth of 150,000 jobs by building 124 new clean coal power plants. Strategies like these could be implemented to achieve similarly positive results in Indonesia’s coal industry.

Initiatives like these bring the world together in order to achieve a common goal. Indonesia is working to support this global mission for job growth, cleaner energy, and a better planet for future generations.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Paris AgreementThe United States and China, the two biggest global carbon-emitting countries, have ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement. On Sep. 3, 2016 both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their plans to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ratification was announced in advance of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting being held in Hangzhou, China.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris was signed and adopted by 195 parties in December 2015. It asks the nations “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future.” This agreement has come to be known as the Paris Agreement.

The UNFCCC in December 2015 saw a global compact to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. However, with the U.N.’s weather agency reporting that 2016 is on course to be the warmest year on record since records have been kept; it is already being questioned whether this goal can be reached. With the U.S. and China ratifying their agreements, and the U.N. Climate week in late September, a surge of ratifications is hoped for and expected.

U.N. Chief Ban said in a ceremony for the two countries: “With China and the United States making this historic step, we now have 26 countries who have ratified and 39% of global emissions accounted for…” It is hoped that with these two countries leading the way, more countries will follow suit. For the agreement to take effect, 29 more countries, which represent 16% of worldwide emissions, need to ratify their agreements. Once 55 countries that account for 55% of the greenhouse gases emitted have signed ratifications and filed them with the U.N., the agreement will go into force within 30 days.

The four countries with the highest emissions are China with 20.09%, the U.S. with 17.9%, Russia with 7.5% and India with 4.1%. The signing of the agreement was convened by U.N. Chief Ban in New York in April 2016. Country representatives signed the agreement before ratification. Once a country has signed the Paris Agreement, “it is obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat its object and purpose. The next step, ratification, signifies a country’s intent to be legally bound to the terms of the treaty at the international level.”

Before China and the U.S. ratified the Paris Agreement, only 24 other countries had done so and their emission impact on the globe represented only one percent. Now that these two large countries and large carbon emitters have ratified their agreements with the U.N., there is a bigger likelihood that the Paris Agreement will be set into place before the end of the year which is when it was expected. The agreement may even be enacted before November’s U.N. Climate Summit in Marrakesh.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

Wind Turbines: New Direction for Paris Agreement
With the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and fostering sustainable development, the Paris Agreement was developed to reduce carbon emission levels globally. The agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 where 175 countries signed the global action plan at a ceremony in New York.

However, countries must engage in ratification to complete the pledge. Only 19 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement. Ratification involves undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets and enhancing their mitigating efforts to reduce carbon emission.

The agreement moved forward after 55 countries that account for approximately 55 percent of global emissions ratified it. U.S. and China have both agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement this year. Underdeveloped countries and small islands qualify for ratification by developing and preparing strategies for low greenhouse emissions reflecting their circumstances.

With the latest hopes to replace oil with wind turbines to lower greenhouse gasses, John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club’s federal and international climate campaigns, declared that the Paris agreement included “all the core elements that the environmental community wanted.” Countries that have pledged to the agreement are solely responsible for their emission level as the agreement seeks to limit global warming to 2°C by the year 2020.

The Paris Agreement has also contributed to the boost in wind turbine sales which has proven to be a lucrative venture. “The COP21 agreement will provide the basis for additional public support and financing in growth regions, which should offset this development in the longer term,” said Moody’s Managing Director of Corporate Finance, Matthias Hellstern

The EU and other developing countries have agreed to continue to support environmentally friendly practices and positive impacts on climate change. The Paris Agreement has paved the way for wind turbines to be the main source of energy for developing countries and the solution to curbing high urban pollution levels.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

Health and Climate
The Second Global Conference on Health and Climate met to set a new agenda for tackling health problems arising as a result of climate change. As the global state of climate shifts over the coming decades, this pantheon of experts, hosted by the government of France, hopes to address the way public health professionals deal with the resulting complications.

The objective of this conference was to demonstrate the commitment of the public health community to implementing the Paris Agreement, a historic treatise whose goals are to better treatment of the world and create a sustainable future.

With the Paris Agreement in mind, the countries committed to it should see a change in their public policy. The aim of the agreement is to make tangible changes through proper legal channels as quickly as possible. The right to health is at stake for many people, and this is precisely what the conference hoped to address in its talks of health and climate.

In response to the seven million people per year who die of pollution-related ailments such as strokes or lung cancer, the conference made it a goal to encourage countries to curb their pollution output. Thankfully, this recommendation aligns with the global goal to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.

Among other topics, the panel discussed how to best implement and use renewable and safe energy sources to improve health and climate. Additionally, to assist in best-promoting these difficult changes to countries, attendees of the conference made it a goal to calculate the economic benefits of switching to cleaner energy.

To further these aims, the WHO announced a focus on developing a new approach to health economics and climate change. They hope that by closely monitoring the changes in the policy of each country every five years, the world will begin to see health and climate improvements for not only the seven million affected by pollution-borne diseases, but by all earthly inhabitants.

Connor Borden

Photo: Zimbio