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Shifting Subsidies to Renewable Energy Instead of Propping Up Fossil Fuel Giants Would Prompt ‘Clean Energy Revolution’, Study Shows

A new report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) showed that if just 10 to 30 percent of the annual coal, oil, and gas subsidies were given to the renewable energy sector instead, the world could see a prompt reduction of fossil fuel emissions by nearly 20 percent.

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

After two Democratic candidates in this week’s presidential primary debates called for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuel companies, a new study revealed that even reducing those subsidies—as the world’s wealthiest countries pledged to a decade ago—would kick-start “clean energy revolution.”

As The Guardian reported Thursday, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a report showing that if just 10 to 30 percent of the annual coal, oil, and gas subsidies were given to the renewable energy sector, the world could see a prompt reduction of fossil fuel emissions by nearly 20 percent.

“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry. All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”
—Richard Bridle, IISD
Fossil fuel companies receive more than $370 billion per year in subsidies from world governments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculates the amount given to extractive industries as $5.2 trillion, including the cost of the yearly damage done by fossil fuel companies. In the U.S. in 2015, the government spent 10 times more on the fossil fuel industry than it did on education.

Renewable energy companies providing solar, wind, and hydropower electricity are given only $100 billion yearly.

“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry,” said Richard Bridle, senior policy adviser for IISD, in a statement. “All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”

In 2009, countries at the G20 summit agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but 10 years later, the economies have made little progress.

In the Democratic primary debates on Tuesday and Wednesday, both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden called for an end to the subsidies.

On social media on Thursday, the global climate action group 350.org highlighted recent comments from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said in May, “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money—which means our money—to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world.”

Contrary to the claims of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the U.S. and other leaders aligned with fossil fuel industries abroad, even with less financial assistance from governments, the renewable energy sector is growing.

Renewable energy sources are expected to provide nearly 30 percent of electricity by 2023, up from 24 percent in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that natural gas and coal power fell by 7.7 and 2.5 percent, respectively, between 2016 and 2017, while solar, wind, and hydropower saw gradual growth.

Swapping subsidies for extractive industries for assistance that would go to sustainable energy companies would quickly “tip the balance,” Bridle told The Guardian.

The switch would turn renewables “from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation. It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer.”

The IMF estimates that completely ending fossil fuel subsidies would cut global emissions by a quarter while reducing the number of premature deaths due to pollution by half.

“The reform of subsidies alone is not enough to meet global emissions targets, but it is a good first step,” Bridle said. “Ultimately, the cost of each energy source should reflect its social and environmental impacts. That means increasing taxes on dirty energy and redirecting subsidies to align with government priorities.”

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America’s First Hemp House Pulls CO2 From the Air

Amanda Froelich | Humans Are Free

The gorgeous, eco-friendly home costs only $133 per square foot to build. Hemp is making a major comeback around the world. In the US, five states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, and hemp-based building materials are now gaining in popularity.

The first house built in America with hemcrete was constructed in Asheville, North Carolina, and the 3,400 square foot Push House boasts a number of eco-friendly features.

To create a solid – yet breathable – wall system, hemp hurds were mixed with lime and water on-site an poured in-between the exterior supporting studs in lift.

As USA Today notes, Hempcrete is actually less like concrete and more like infill straw bale, as it is non-structural. The insulating quality is r-2.5 per inch, and it has the unique ability to capture airborne pollutants over time – absorbing carbon when it is grown and in place.

In addition, the material’s high thermal mass helps keep a steady interior temperature, rather than allowing it to fluctuate.

The interior walls of this gorgeous, eco-friendly house are made from Purepanel, a unique product made from recycled paper. It consists of a rigid skin with a corrugated paper core, similar to cardboard. (Below)

As CNN reports, the house also features 30 salvaged window frames that have been fitted with high tech glass. They were placed to allow the most daylighting without overheating the space. An open floor plans also allows the light to pervade deep into the home.

Read the rest of the article on Humans Are Free.