TURN DOWN THE HEAT MARBURG!
We found the problem -- it's us! The scientific evidence is in: it's not only rich countries but largely our generation producing greenhouse gases galore. C0 2 concentrations having been growing since the industrial revolution, but with the "Generation of 1968" it accelerated. The inefficient use of energy and fossil fuels and the related greenhouse gases generated in the last 50 years (notably C0 2) are heating the planet and wrecking havoc.1 Unfairly it's mostly the poorer, less resilient countries that suffer most from our excesses as rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and extreme weather wreck havoc with infrastructure as well as food, health and social systems. Already socio-economically weak, adapting to the new conditions we create for them often means their best option is to migrate, although they are rarely welcome. In Germany, much of this seems distant. The most important local risks at present are (1) longer dry periods with heat waves, increased drought, forest fires, (2) more frequent storms with flood risk and (3) increased winter flooding and earlier snow melt.2 Increasingly, however, people are aware that the Mediterranean area and Alpine glaciers are heating up and posing risks to local populations, their natural environments and livelihoods. But it's not too late! We do in fact have "climate change appropriate" technology and progress is being made. For the 4th year since 2008, the G7 countries' energy demand shrank. 3 Germany has already surpassed its Kyoto Target. Between 1990 and 2011, energy related emissions (source of 80% of Germany's greenhouse gas) declined 25.5%. Industry (at 8%) sank during the same period by over 26% and agricuture (at 7%) sank its emissions roughly 20%.4 If we can mainstream, accelerate these successes, we can arrest the problem and even reverse some of the negative trends already begun. And where to start but at home! Although total energy consumption in Germany fell roughly 8% from 1990-2011, there was a 19.2% increase in electricity use for "information and communication", i.e., TVs, computers and fridges (twice the consumption as for lighting).5 In fact householdis a significant contributor to emissions, as shown in the graph, below, in green.
1 "Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4˚C Warmer World Must Be Avoided, World Bank, November 2012; International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports, e.g., "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis," and "Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature," James Hansen et al. December 03, 2013, 10.1371/journal.pone.0081648, "Carbon Footprint of Nations: A Global Trade-Linked Analysis." Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Center for International Climate and Environmental Research. Blog
2 "Integrated Climate Protection Concept for Marburg," Ministry of the Environmental, Nature, Reactor Security, 2009. 3 Enerdata, Global Statistical Yearbook 2013. Except for the UK and Germany, the 5 other countries reduced their consumption.
4 Website of the Environment Ministry, "Data," www.uba.de. Pink is energy generation, green is household and small users, purple is industrial processes, yellow,
C02 Emissions by source pink
household and small users
Marburg is on the right course. The city's "Climate Protection Strategy" targets a 50% emissions reduction in electricity and heat by 2030 compared with 2009 through energy savings, energy efficiency and increased use of renewables. Since 2008 all Marburg's household electricity is from 100% renewable sources. Still, household energy inefficiency is high. A "Preisvergleich" study (2011) ranked Marburg among the more "wasteful" German cities reviewed (the majority of energy savers were in fact in eastern Germany, likely due to massive infrastructure investments since the "fall of the wall").6 A study conducted in northern parts of Marburg city ("Biegenviertel" and "Nordstadt,") showed households (9/2012)7 there accounted for 24.6% of electricity use and 51.3% of heating. Hence, energy efficiency at home is a good place to start!
"Development of Electricity consumption in Marburg-Biedenkopf county" red
2010 Electricity consumption (MW)
2011 Electricity consumption (MW)
Industry is "getting it"
6 01. Februar 2012 | MYIMMO.DE "Studie: 20% der deutschen St채dte sind Stromverschwender / WestDeutsche verbrauchen mehr als Ost-Deutsche"
7 Modellvorhaben, "Energetische Stadterneuerung Marburg an der Lahn," Sept. 2012, TU Darmstadt. 8 http://www.energieportal-mittelhessen.de
Coca Cola recently announced that global warming was affecting its bottom line. 9 Intel's new factories in Asia use green technology because they want to save money. 10 But as the utility company in Marburg confirms,11 local export-oriented industries are price sensitive. With firms free to choose among public and private energy providers, the city does not require "green" energy for industry, as it does for households. Consequently, in 2012 Marburg's household electricity accounted for zero CO 2 emissions and industry generated 537 g/kWh. To accelerate the process, the government needs to use its power to regulate and tax. Companies should be taxed for all their trash disposal (not only the land fill, but atmosphere fill). This would impact prices, of course, and would lead to interesting consumption shifts. Yes, initially some export companies would face price competition problems, but sticker proclaiming: "lowering our CO2 emissions: saving your rainforests" could prove a selling point. "Climate change appropriate" regulation would shift market demand rather swiftly to energy efficient machines. The Power to embarrass So, knowing all this, why do I still drive to choir rehearsals? The peer pressure is missing. My choir doesn't care. The point is that people here are convinced, but changing habits is hard. It's time for motivation psychologists, social marketing campaigns, "CO2 reduction" parties instead of Tupperware parties. We need a new ethic. We need, together, to put place a higher value on quality than quantity, chose for durability, lengthen fashion cycles. Were it fashionable to save, the normal citizen would be quicker to turn down the heating, invest in high energy efficiency manufactured goods, buy fuelefficient cars, and reduce animal products in the diet. If it were fashionable (for example, anti-nuclear energy decisions made in the wake of Fukushima), the political will of our government to make hard decisions about energy sources would strengthen. We need to focus on opportunities an energy-industrial revolution would bring, not just the costs. Computers effectively wiped out the secretarial profession, but simultaneously created the IT profession; drones in Amazon may replace unskilled workers, but drone manufacturers will generate a whole new industry of jobs. Yes, there will be displacements, but human beings are awfully creative when given half a chance. Remove all those energy subsidies -- they aren't only expensive to manage, but renewables would actually be in a better competitive position -- and use the savings to invest in the mitigation and adaption we need to avoid a 2ËšC warmer world.
9 "Businesses add costs of climate to bottom line," International New York Times, 24.Jan.2014 pp. 1 & 14 10 "Slowly, Asia's Factories Begin to Turn Green: Choosing to Outdo Local Standards," Mike Ives, The New York Times, p 86. 11 Telephone interviews with Mr. Habiuk, Industry Office, and Mr. Jacoby, Household office, Stadtwerke Marburg (public utilities company), 18.Feb.2014.
Published on Feb 20, 2014