Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Global Calculator: Crunching the numbers for a low-emission future

By Paul Young, Generation Zero

Paul Young is a co-founder of the youth climate change organisation Generation Zero and remains involved as a member of the national executive. He is also a trustee of the National Energy Research Institute, the modelling team leader for the NZ 2050 Pathways project, and a participant in the Motu Low-Emission Future Dialogue.

“Hate wind farms? Eat chicken, not beef” - The Telegraph, 28 January 2015

Despite the baiting headline from a newspaper known for its doubtful position on man-made climate change and antagonism towards wind power, the team behind the newly-launched Global Calculator marked this coverage as a success.

The Telegraph had picked up on one (rather surprising) conclusion from the Global Calculator: cutting global beef consumption by 100 grams per week per person and eating chicken instead would “do more to tackle climate change than building two million onshore wind turbines and 2,000 nuclear reactors.” This results not just from the direct reductions in farming emissions, but also the implications for land use which are captured in the Calculator model. It’s one great example of the kind of choices and trade-offs this remarkable tool allows us to explore and gain insight into.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Energy-efficiency rules fail US academic's test

Note: The following article recently appeared on Carbon News, and has been cross-posted (with minor changes) with their permission. Arik Levinson spoke to audiences in Wellington in February 2015 as part of the Motu Public Policy Seminar Series, where his talk was co-hosted by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. His presentation will be made available on Motu's website. To hear more from Arik Levinson, check out his recent interview on the Freakonomics podcast here.  His working paper "How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California" is available here.

Energy efficiency rules in California have failed to cut energy consumption, suggesting that direct action is less effective than carbon pricing in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a visiting economist says.

Georgetown University professor Arik Levinson – a former White House adviser on energy efficiency – is speaking in Wellington today. [Note: The presentation was on 16 February 2015.]

He told Carbon News that while it appeared that energy efficiency rules for new houses, imposed in California from the mid-70s, had cut electricity consumption, his research showed this wasn’t true.

“There is no evidence that homes constructed since California instituted its building energy codes use less electricity today than homes built before the codes came into effect,” he said.