Category Archives: Research and development

France names winners of anti-Trump climate change grants

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

US-based climate scientists to take research to France

By SYLVIE CORBET, ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 11, 2017 Updated: December 12, 2017 8:43am 
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the "Tech for Planet" event at the "Station F" start up campus ahead of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, Monday Dec. 11, 2017. It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP) Photo: Philippe Wojazer, AP / Pool Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the “Tech for Planet” event at the “Station F” start up campus ahead of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, Monday Dec. 11, 2017. It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP) Photo: Philippe Wojazer, AP / Pool Reuters

PARIS (AP) — It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say.

American scientist Camille Parmesan and British scientist Benjamin Sanderson are among the 18 initial winners, including 13 based in the U.S., of French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” climate grants.

Macron congratulated the winners during a brief ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, ahead of a climate summit that gathers more than 50 world leaders in the French capital Tuesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Parmesan expressed elation at the prospect of spending the next five years doing her research in France instead of the United States.

A scientist from the University of Texas at Austin, she is a leader in the field on how climate affects wildlife. She lived for a few years in Britain for family reasons and was considering returning to the U.S. until Trump’s election.

“He very, very rapidly has been actively trying to erode science in the U.S.A. and in particular climate science,” she said. “And it’s hard for two reasons: Funding is becoming almost impossible, and in a psychological sense.”

Parmesan answered with enthusiasm Macron’s appeal for climate researchers to come work in France, minutes after Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord. “It gave me such a psychological boost, it was so good to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do,” she said.

Parmesan, who said she is looking forward to improving her French, will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees mountains.

Sanderson, who also worked in the U.S., told the AP that he found it “very reassuring” that France is “openly encouraging climate research.”

He said his application was motivated by “the fact that France is making a stand on prioritizing climate change research, but also it’s increasingly hard to get research funding in the U.S.”

Sanderson used to work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, on risks and uncertainties under climate change. For the next few years, he will be living in Toulouse, in southern France, where the country’s national meteorological service is based.

France’s ministry of Research said the selection of the laureates focused on “scientific excellence and relevance to the call”.

“It’s very troubling,” that researchers feel they need to leave the United States to get needed support for their work, said Chris McEntee, chief executive officer of the American Geophysical Union, an organization of more than 60,000 Earth and space scientists. “Ever since the election there has been fear and anxiety among the scientific community.

“It’s not good for the U.S. but it’s not good for the world either,” McEntee said.

___

Science writer Seth Borenstein contributed from New Orleans.

    Why Airlines Keep Pushing Biofuels: They Have No Choice

    Repost from The New York Times

    Why Airlines Keep Pushing Biofuels: They Have No Choice

    By  Jonathan Fahey & Scott Mayerowitz, AP Business, July 21, 2015, 12:52 P.M. E.D.T.
    FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, a Japan Air Lines staffer checks the biofuel-loaded No. 3 engine of Japan Airlines Boeing 747-300 before a demo flight at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo. Using blend of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel, JAL conducted an hour-long demonstration flight. Many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, growth in air travel could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions. Photo: Itsuo Inouye, AP / AP
    FILE – In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, a Japan Air Lines staffer checks the biofuel-loaded No. 3 engine of Japan Airlines Boeing 747-300 before a demo flight at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo. Using blend of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel, JAL conducted an hour-long demonstration flight. Many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, growth in air travel could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions. Photo: Itsuo Inouye, AP / AP

    NEW YORK — The number of global fliers is expected to more than double in the next two decades. In order to carry all those extra passengers, airlines are turning to a technology very few can make work on a large scale: converting trash into fuel.

    They have no other choice.

    As people in countries such as China, India and Indonesia get wealthier they are increasingly turning to air travel for vacation or business, creating an enormous financial opportunity for the airlines. The number of passengers worldwide could more than double, to 7.3 billion a year, in the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association.

    But many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, that growth could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions.

    “It’s about retaining, as an industry, our license to grow,” says Julie Felgar, managing director for environmental strategy at plane maker Boeing, which is coordinating sustainable biofuel research programs in the U.S., Australia, China, Brazil, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

    Cars, trucks and trains can run on electricity, natural gas, or perhaps even hydrogen someday to meet emissions rules. But lifting a few hundred people, suitcases and cargo 35,000 feet into the sky and carrying them across a continent requires so much energy that only liquid fuels can do the trick. Fuel from corn, which is easy to make and supplies nearly 10 percent of U.S. auto fuel, doesn’t provide enough environmental benefit to help airlines meet emissions rules.

    “Unlike the ground transport sector, they don’t have a lot of alternatives,” says Debbie Hammel, a bioenergy policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    That leaves so-called advanced biofuels made from agricultural waste, trash, or specialty crops that humans don’t eat. United Airlines last month announced a $30 million stake in Fulcrum Bioenergy, the biggest investment yet by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels. Fulcrum hopes to build facilities that turn household trash into diesel and jet fuel.

    FedEx, which burns 1.1 billion gallons of jet fuel a year, promised Tuesday to buy 3 million gallons per year of fuel that a company called Red Rock Biofuels hopes to make out of wood waste in Oregon. Southwest Airlines had already agreed to also buy some of Red Rock’s planned output.

    These efforts are tiny next to airlines’ enormous fuel consumption. U.S. airlines burn through 45 million gallons every day. But airlines have little choice but to push biofuels because the industry is already in danger of missing its own emissions goals, and that’s before any regulations now being considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international agencies.

    The industry’s international trade group has pledged to stop increasing emissions by 2020 even as the number of flights balloons. By 2050, it wants carbon dioxide emissions to be half of what they were in 2005.

    Like airlines, the U.S. military is also supporting development of these fuels for strategic and financial reasons. For biofuels makers, it is a potentially enormous customer: The military is the biggest single energy consumer in the country.

    Making biofuels at large, commercial scale is difficult and dozens of companies have gone belly up trying. The logistics of securing a steady, cheap supply of whatever the fuel is to be made from can take years. Financing a plant is expensive because lenders know the risks and demand generous terms. A sharp drop in the price of crude oil has made competing with traditional fuels on price more difficult.

    The airlines are now seeing some of these difficulties up close. A United program to power regular flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with fuels made from agricultural waste was delayed when the fuel producer, AltAir, had trouble retrofitting the existing refinery. The companies now say the flights should begin in August. Red Rock’s planned deliveries to Southwest have also been pushed back, to 2017 from 2016, and construction of the plant has not yet started.

    But many in the industry say they are not surprised, or daunted, by the time and effort it will take to bring large amounts of biofuels, at competitive prices, to market.

    “We really are trying to create a brand new fuel industry,” says Boeing’s Felgar. “We’ve always known this is a long term play, and our industry is long term.”

    And if any industry is going to crack fuel from waste on a big scale, the airline industry might be the best bet.

    Instead of having to build the infrastructure to distribute and sell these fuels at hundreds of thousands of gas stations, jet fuel only has to be delivered to a small number of major airports. For example, nearly half of United’s passengers fly through its five hubs in Houston, Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Denver.

    Still, after the many disappointments that have plagued biofuel development, few want to promise an imminent biofuel revolution. “I’m not Pollyannaish about this,” says Felgar. “I’m not optimistic, I’m not pessimistic, but I’m determined.”

      US House approves $279 million renewable energy cut; raises funding for fossil fuel research by $34 million

      Press Release from Friends of the Earth
      [Editor:  As you might expect, this travesty was passed on a nearly complete party line vote, with 230 Republicans and 10 Dems in favor.  Dems voting FOR the bill included:  A. Dutch Ruppersberger MD, Ami Bera CA, Brad Ashford NE, Collin Peterson MN, Doris Matsui CA, Filemon Vela TX, Gene Green TX, Henry Cuellar TX, Jim Costa CA, and William Keating MA.  Republicans voting AGAINST the bill included: Christopher Gibson NY, James Sensenbrenner Jr. WI, Joseph Heck NV, Justin Amash MI, Mo Brooks AL, Thomas Massie KY, Walter Jones Jr. NC.   Track the bill here.  – RS]

      House approves $279 million renewable energy cut

      By: Kate Colwell, May. 1, 2015

      WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2028, “The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016,” by a vote of 240-177.

      The bill sets funding levels for important programs within the U.S. Departments of Energy, Interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers. While staying within the limits set by the sequester, the bill manages to raise funding for fossil fuel research by $34 million from 2015 levels while cutting renewable energy and efficiency research by $279 million. Simultaneously, it is packed with policy riders that undermine bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to study the dangers of hydraulic fracturing.

      Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy Campaigner Lukas Ross issued the following statement in response:

      Shoveling more of our tax dollars into the pockets of ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers while defunding clean energy is climate denial at its worst. Fossil fuel interests don’t need more money. Solutions to the climate crisis do.

      From hobbling the Clean Water Act to limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to even study fracking, House Speaker John Boehner is continuing his assault on the air we breathe and the water we drink.

      ###

      Expert contact: Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, lross@foe.org
      Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org