More Renewables Than Fossil Fuels: The U.K. Reaches an Energy Milestone

Renewable energy has made a breakthrough in the U.K. The third quarter of this year was the first where more electricity was generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels.

According to new analysis by the climate change analysis site Carbon Brief, Q3 saw 40% of power come from renewables such as wind, biomass and solar, while fossil fuels—almost all gas, as coal and oil now have a negligible share of the U.K. energy scene—accounted for 39% of generation. (The remaining 21% largely came from nuclear.) Continue reading “More Renewables Than Fossil Fuels: The U.K. Reaches an Energy Milestone”

Europe can meet energy demand just through renewables, study finds

Europe has enough resources to meet its energy demand solely through renewable sources, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany have found that regions across Europe could likely satisfy their electricity needs by using systems based entirely on solar and wind power.

However, scientists warned that developing these systems would increase pressure on land use around large cities and towns. Continue reading “Europe can meet energy demand just through renewables, study finds”

100 U.S. cities commit to 100% renewable energy

On December 5, Cincinnati, Ohio became the 100th city in the nation to establish this goal when its City Council approved a resolution committing to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Cincinnati’s community-wide commitment builds upon its Green Cincinnati Plan from May, which commits the city to powering its municipal operations with 100% renewable energy and advances other aggressive climate measures aimed at creating an equitable energy system.

“It has become clear that cities will lead the effort to fight climate change, and Cincinnati is on the front lines,” said Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, Ohio. “I am encouraged by the changes we are making, but we have a lot of work left to do.”

Recently, Cincinnati was announced as a winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. Cincinnati is the second city in Ohio to commit to an equitable and just transition to 100% clean energy, after Cleveland.

In addition to the 100 cities, the states of California and Hawaii have adopted goals to be powered entirely by renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar. The full list of commitments can be found here. Continue reading “100 U.S. cities commit to 100% renewable energy”

The missing maths: the human cost of fossil fuels

Buildings and houses are covered with a thick haze in Seoul, South Korea in February 2014. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/AP

While the climate policy world is littered with numbers, three of them have dominated recent discourse: 2, 1000, and 66.

At the 2015 U.N. climate summit in Paris, world leaders agreed to limit warming below 2°C to avoid catastrophic impacts of human-caused climate change. The science consequently dictates that, for a 50% chance of staying below 2°C, around 1,000 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (or 300 billion tonnes of carbon) can be emitted between now and 2050, and close to zero thereafter. We’re currently emitting 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. However, the potential greenhouse gas emissions contained in known, extractable fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this carbon budget, meaning that 66% must be kept in the ground.

The debate du jour thus centers on which emissions reduction pathway is most optimal for staying below 2°C. The calculus of many policymakers, economists, fossil fuel companies, and indeed scientists, is that the most economical way to stay below 2°C is to delay most emissions reductions for decades to come, and then to play catch up by relying heavily on as-yet technically and economically unviable negative-emissions technologies. However, a crucial number has been neglected in this mainstream calculation: 6.1 million.

Each year, 6.1 million lives are lost prematurely due to air pollution. Though most acutely and visibly hampering megacities of the developing world, air pollution is a growing public health emergency that affects almost all of us in our daily lives, whether or not we are aware of it. The Health Effects Institute estimates that only 5% of the population are lucky enough to live in areas with air pollution levels below safe guidelines. Though recent studies suggest there may in fact be no risk-free level of air pollution. Continue reading “The missing maths: the human cost of fossil fuels”

What Energy Sources Power the World?

There are many types of maps out there, but one of the most telling ones is a simple satellite image of the Earth at night.

On these powerful images, the darkness is a blank canvas for the bright city lights that represent the vast extent of human geography. The bright spots help us understand the distribution of population, as well as what areas of the world are generally wealthier and more urban. Meanwhile, the big dark spots – such as over the wilderness in northern Canada, the Amazon basin, or in Niger – show areas that are not densely populated or more rural.

How Are These Lights Powered?

But what if we could differentiate, by “shutting off” lights that are powered by certain electricity sources?

Today’s visualizations come from a nifty interactive website put together by, and they breakdown the world’s electricity by source: fossil fuels, renewables, or nuclear fission. Continue reading “What Energy Sources Power the World?”