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Climate Change Could Ramp Up Electricity Use in China

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(Credit: Sunday Stock/Shutterstock)

As the Earth heats up thanks to climate change, people are cranking up the air conditioning. Pumping in that cooled air also increases electricity use, and especially so in countries where people are just beginning to make heavy use of the electrical grid. Case in point: China, where researchers find that climate change will significantly escalate electricity consumption.

“China is now the largest economy in the world, and their electricity sector is probably the largest single place where policy changes will affect greenhouse gas emissions,” said William Pizer, an expert in public and environmental policy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who led the new research.

Their goal, in addition to pointing out another risk of a warming globe, is to explore the ways societies will need to adapt to climate change. Beefing up electrical grids could be one of them.

Climbing Consumption

Pizer and colleagues wanted to know whether climate change impacts on electricity consumption would be similar to estimates in other countries such as the United States. Previous research from other teams showed electrical needs in the U.S. would increase by about three percent by the end of the century with peak loads rising as much as 18 percent. But few studies assessed electrical demands outside of the U.S. and Europe. Yet, China’s electrical consumption is projected to double by 2040.

In the first study of its kind for China, Pizer and colleagues obtained daily, household electricity data from the State Grid Corporation of China, the state-owned electric company. Altogether, the researchers analyzed more than 800,000 residential customers’ electrical use in the city of Shanghai from 2014 to 2016.

The team used this huge dataset to estimate how daily temperature changes influenced electricity consumption in the region. For daily temps above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a 1.8 degree F (or 1 degree Celsius) increase translated to a 14.5 percent increase in daily household electricity consumption, the team found.

Electrical Explosion

The team then combined these consumer behavior estimates with climate models to determine how the projected global mean surface temperature might impact the area’s electrical consumption. By the end of the century, every 1.8 degree F increase in global surface temps would ramp up residential electricity use by about nine percent, the researchers reported December 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More than this, peak electrical demand would explode by more than 36 percent for every 1.8 degree F increase in global mean surface temperature by 2099, Pizer and colleagues determined. The discovery holds implications for planners anticipating future demands and argues for investments in electrical grid expansion. It’s also another reminder that our responses to climate change may sometimes make the situation worse, and it’s important information for future modeling.

“This is critical to cost-benefit analysis used to support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Pizer said.

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Ecology

Globe Climate: Canada’s resource reckoning is coming

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

This afternoon, the Alberta government announced that it is restoring a coal mining policy it revoked last spring. At the time, the move provoked a widespread public backlash detailed by The Globe. The original decision, which opened up more than 1.4 million hectares to exploration, was made without public consultation. Premier Jason Kenney previously defended the changes.

Lots more on coal and Canada’s resources industry in this week’s newsletter edition.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

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Ecology

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change

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As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. recently found 2020 was earth’s second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

“(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said.

Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn’t be farmable anymore,” he said.

According to the federal government, in 2018 Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of “challenging weather.”

“People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged,” he said. “And we’re still at the beginning of this.”

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Insect-based dog food aims to cut your pet’s carbon pawprint

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Meat has an enormous carbon footprint, with livestock liable for about 15 per cent of worldwide emissions, as we have beforehand mentioned on this e-newsletter. That is prompted specialists to suggest consuming much less meat for sustainability (and well being) causes.

However what about your pet? One research discovered that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated by canine and cat meals within the U.S. alone had been equal to about 64 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly the quantity produced by 13.6 million automobiles. And it might be getting worse, with a development towards feeding pets “human-grade” meat.

That is prompted some pet meals makers to look to lower-carbon protein sources — together with bugs.

Research present that producing insect-based meals requires far much less feed, land and water and generates far fewer greenhouse fuel emissions per kilogram than meats comparable to beef, pork or rooster.

That is one of many causes increasingly more pet meals containing insect protein are hitting the market. Purina, a model owned by multinational Nestlé, launched a line of canine and cat meals containing black soldier fly larvae in Switzerland in November.

In Canada, Montreal-based Wilder Harrier began promoting canine treats made with cricket protein in 2015 and pet food made with black soldier fly larvae in 2019. It plans to broaden to launch a line of insect-based cat treats later this yr and cat meals in 2022 due to “a ton of demand,” mentioned firm co-founder Philippe Poirier.

Wilder Harrier initially labored with animal nutritionists on insect-based merchandise to unravel a unique downside — specifically, the founders’ canines had allergy symptoms to frequent meats utilized in canine meals. Poirier mentioned now about half its prospects hunt down the product due to their pets’ allergy symptoms and about half for environmental causes.

Dr. Cailin Heinze, a U.S.-based veterinary nutritionist licensed by the American School of Veterinary Vitamin, has written concerning the environmental influence of pet meals. She mentioned we’re typically “not as involved as we probably ought to [be]” concerning the environmental footprint of pets.

Alternatively, she famous that the longer-term influence of newer diets, comparable to vegan meals and people containing bugs, hasn’t been nicely examined in comparison with conventional pet meals.

Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor of animal sciences on the College of Illinois who research novel proteins for pet meals (together with bugs, yeast and plant-based substances), mentioned such substances are rigorously examined to find out their security and diet earlier than being added to pet meals. 

“This can be a very extremely regulated trade,” she mentioned, however admitted it is also evolving.

Relating to bugs, she mentioned constructive information “reveals promise in direction of utilizing them increasingly more in pet meals.” Insect-based proteins have additionally earned the endorsement of the British Veterinary Affiliation, which says some insect-based meals could also be higher for pets than prime steak.

However Godoy famous that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution, and pet homeowners ought to take into consideration the wants of their very own particular person pet and analysis whether or not a specific weight loss plan can be appropriate.

She mentioned that other than the kind of protein, issues like packaging and manufacturing strategies may also make a distinction. For instance, utilizing meat byproducts that may in any other case turn into waste would not drive elevated meat manufacturing the identical approach as utilizing human-grade meat.

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