Image from Urban Bike web
Recently I met an acquaintance in his new business: Urban Bikes . It is a business around electric bicycles, he sells them rents and repairs. It is not the only shop in Bilbao but certainly it is well located and collaborating with some other small businesses for alternative tourism offers. He told me that he hoped a great future for electric bikes in cities and even if it is not boasting in Bilbao for now it could be in any moment.
I do not know anything about this business but it seems he is doing a great job and I really hope he is successful because this would mean we are advancing in transport transformation towards lower carbon footprint. Because I have the feeling (someday I should put data in that feeling) that transportation is among the main carbon emissions activities the one that is advancing less or has less current possibilities to advance. Maybe this “small” electric vehicles will play a significant role in that transformation and not everything will be a technology substitution in cars.
It is a known fact for anyone reading scientific news that there is much concern and research in renewable energies, energy storage, low C transportation and some other subjects closely related to climate change. This means that there are many scientists warned by our climate future and they have convinced investors from politics or private sector to research in those areas. This fact is not frequently displayed in the news but there are exceptions as this list of 10 emerging technologies of the world economic forum.
5 out of 10 of the proposed technologies are related to energy or transportation, so, to climate change mitigation. These kind of speculative analysis are just that, but as in the case of a previous one in the BBC, show mainly our worries and hopes for the future, and in both of them climate change is present (in this one more clearly in fact)
In a previous post, I mentioned the rough figure of 42% of the energy in the world devoted to electricity production, sometimes, when we talk about energy and climate change we only think in electricity. It is a mistake I do frequently. So, OK it is just 42%, it is not all but it is almost half of the problem. So it seems a good starting point for the solution as well. And though the situation is not wonderful and we are in a hurry, there are some sings for hope just in the electricity production data by country. They are in the following figures:
Share of renewable electricity by country, divided in the top consumers (80% of world electricity) and the rest
Share of Hydro power in the total renewable electricity by country, divided in the top consumers (80% of world electricity) and the rest
The so-called top producers correspond to the 16 countries that concentrate the 80% of consumption, the data come from the Wikipedia and are from 2009-2010, in this moment they should be better for many places.
Anyway, my hope comes from those facts:
- The top producers are less renewable than the rest. But even there, there are 2 countries with most electricity from renewables, so it is possible to maintain a “big” electricity system this way.
- “The rest” show a lot of countries very renewable. It is hopeful because they should be the ones needing more new energy, so they can install it renewable. In th other hand this confirms that the problem and solution is concentrated in a few bunch of countries.
- Among “the rest” hydro power is their main source of renewable energy, among top consumers too, but with significant amount of others as wind, solar or even Geothermal. This is interesting as the future and present should come from them.
- Finally, electricity can be the way to decarbonize other sectors as transport (the road is the most important contributor there)
In the world the CO2 emissions corresponding to the transport sector sum a 22% of the total.
Nonetheless this percentage varies seriously from country to country. Among the top emitters (next table), China and India do not reach the 10% emissions by transport, Germany and Japan are close to 18%, the USA are around 26% and some like Mexico or Brazil are above 35%. So transport is very important depending on the location.
|People’s Rep. of China
|Islamic Rep. of Iran
Next histogram includes the distribution of these topo emitters but also the whole world, and in this case the panorama is even more complex with a range from less than 10% of the share until more than 90%.
Histogram of the transport share in country CO2 emissions for two populatios: All the world and the top 20 emitters, source of data IEA
Anyway, one thing is quite regular for all of them road is the main transport emission source, a 16% around the world but up to 80% in Congo or 35% in Mexico.
Meanwhile, americans are driving less, (reducing that 26%) some also talk about peak car there. One thing is clear, if we want to mitigate climate change, we will have to drive less (mas transit, bicycle, or just walk), do it more efficiently or change cars technology or all at the same time. In some cases it is not difficult to start saving CO2.
CO2 Emission percentage by production sector in the world, source of data IEA.
I frequently think that the climate change solution is in transforming the power production sector and consumers mentality somehow. However, many times remember too that transportation is important and I got in mind the simple figure that one out of three CO2 tons comes from transport. Rough numbers help but it is always better to be more precise, and the two figures in this blog follow this purpose. They have been obtained with the open data from the Internationa Egergy Agency (IEA) and show total emissions in 2010.
The first one, at the beginning, displays the emission proportions by emission production sectors. In some cases, these divisions are not easy to understand but the main conclusion can be that electricity production is responsible for more than 40% of emissions and this is good news in my opinion because the progress in low-carbon electricity production has been much fester than in other factors and because in fact there are many countries producing most of their electricity without fossil fuels. Transport and industry account for other more or less 20% each (in industry excluding electricity use). Transport is a bit lower that the 33% that I expected and it is mainly road transport. Residential sector is surprisingly low.
CO2 Emission percentaje by consuming sector in the world, source of data IEA.
In the other hand, the last figure classifies the same data by consuming sector. So roughly, industry is the objects we use, transport is transport and residential our houses. In this case, industry leads the figure with 36%, and transport and residential follow close to 20%.
The main reference is that we should reach 10-20% of current emissions to be on the safe side, so we have to make important effort in all areas.
Vegetables for the week, or just “the bag”, Image from Wikipedia
2 months ago I wrote about a personal/familiar experience I was happy about, now I know how it is called in english: Community-Supported Agriculture. To write in English is many times a challenge for me.
I learnt the term from this post that explains the concept better than me. This is the kind of small great things that can really make a difference for the two great objectives of climate change:
- Mitigation: The reduction of transport requirement will certainly help, as transport is roughly the source of one-third of CO2 emissions. But even more, local production can make better choices regarding land usage, another 10% of emissions
- Adaptation: Some of the most terrible consequences of climate change in a world approaching 10 billion will be the pressure in food production and distribution: another word; food security. Making it profitable to produce near home will be a warranty of some food production, and, even more, a comprehensive supply chain will avoid disagreeable surprises from markets we do not understand.
Of course, I do not think this is the ultimate solution for climate change nor the only possible source of food for me or anyone close to me, it’s just a good idea, reasonable, and helps and works.
Chevrolet Volt Image from Wikipedia
A recent article in a general media mentioned the virtues of Chevrolet Volt, Open Ampera in the european version. Its numbers are astonishing as combines the comfort and autonomy of a Hybird car (or a fuel driven one) with the big batteries of many electric ones. The result can be a very low fuel expense of 1-2 lt per 100 Km. And the amazing thing, at least for me, is that it is not just a car in the exhibitions, it is in the streets and anyone can buy it, if you can afford to. It is more real than I expected.
No doubt, this is another step forward, as it was my beloved Prius. Regrettably it is still too expensive, (twice the standard Prius), still far from the possibilities of most. I hope it will be getting more and more affordable, our future and a third part of global CO2 emissions depend on transportation. So we need several kind of approaches to improve in this area and we need them fast.
At home, we take part in a local group of vegetable and egg buy/sell. The idea is good and simple. A local producer grows vegetables (in this case ecological ones but it is not compulsory for this idea), it packs some bags every week with some variety of them depending on the season and leaves them on monday in one place. During that day the ten customers take the bags and discover the surprise of that week in form of fresh, healthy and local food. The payments are done for three months periods and the producer gets a fixed customer group that visit him/her every year.
There are many advantages as promoting local jobs in primary sector, avoiding complex intermediate markets, the confidence between customer and producer,… and the reduction of Kms for the vegetables and the associated CO2, I always consider funny that the lettuce I am eating has traveled more than me in the last year.
This possibility is possible, it is reasonable and it is growing!
A pair of weeks ago I bought a parcel from Ljubliana (Slovenia) with tracking number and the possibility of checking the status of the parcel via web. It was a big parcel and everything arrived well and in a reasonable time. Nevertheless, my big surprise was to check the incredible route followed by it.
Following google maps the straight way is 1796 Km, quite long. I understand that shipping company cannot follow the direct way in every parcel, they have to use their intermediate transport centers. But the route of this one challenges any logistics considerations. It was this one: LJUBLJANA – LINZ – BRUSSELS – NUERNBERG- FRANKFURT – MANNHEIM – BRUSSELS – VITORIA – BRUSSELS – VITORIA – BARCELONA – VITORIA- and finally: Bilbao. More than 7100 Km, for times the minimum by road. The two routes are displayed in the figure below. Some aspects are really striking, as the three times it was in Brussels or in Vitoria, it had to get dizzy moving around this way.
Transportation is responsible of more or less a third of the CO2 emissions in most of the world and certainly there is room for improvement, as stated in this case. Because transport is not only ourself moving, it is also the movement of the things we buy and use. This web: sourcemap is a great resource to learn about it, I have to check it more.
Maybe a key point is that the fuel is not as expensive as we consider it or that the minute is considered more expensive or costly than the Km, at least for the moment. One way for improvement is to change this considerations and align cost to climate change effects. In my opinion this will become more widespread and accepted with the time, I hope it is not to late by then.
Two screenshots from Google Maps displaying the direct way recommended by maps and the actual way followed by the parcel.
As I recently commented I think the the success of wind mills is one of the greatest driving forces for the frequent skeptical criticism. I want to study it more thoroguhtly but today I will just mention a good example: This post in a portuguese skeptical blog really surpases most of the others.
Wind turbines are suposedly killers because there was a terrible car accident in Brazil in which a bus driver made a horrible mistake and crashed against the truck bringing a part of the wind mill. Almost 20 people were killed. The question is that the suposed killed could have been a big rock, a building, another bus, a truck with swines or even a gas truck, any big thing in the way of that poor bus. Because the bus invaded the other way.
Indeed, the blogger could have thought that the problem was the trafic and that a new transport concept with lower carbon footprint could help to avoid this fatal accidents, or that any other big energy structure could have been involved (a nuclear plant, a carbon power plant, hydro power,…). But, no it was the wind turbine, just because it was big and was there.
What really surprises me is how the get to know this kind of news. I sincerelly admire this research capability. Not so the later interpretation of the facts.