Green Building – More Than Just a Trend

In the MENA countries, some concerns about sustainability started to be heard of, back in the 1970s. it was in fact more of a follow-on trend than anything else.

European consultants however started ringing the bell about the 4 factors that lie behind the lack of progress but that have to be addressed at the earliest.  These are:

  • Lack of adequate legislation to enforce change towards incorporating sustainability
  • Absence of any discernible incentive towards sustainability
  • Unbalanced subsidies on energy, water, etc. leading to wastage
  • Limited awareness of environmental issues.

Nevertheless some legislation that was sporadically taken in certain countries, apart from not being regionally coordinated, did not also confront the real issues and for lack of not taking account fully the reality as it stands on the ground was across the board fairly ineffective.

The truth is that people slowly come to realise that we are having a devastating impact on the planet that we live on. In less than 2,000 years, human kind has led to the extinction to more species from the face of the earth than its entire existence. Considering that this is just a tiny bit of the overall time for which our planet exists, this is something that raises a lot of concerns. It’s obvious that people start to take initiatives through different LEED programs, sustainable development and through prioritising investments in different green initiatives. One of the most impactful fields is the construction. With this in mind, some things need to be pointed out.

 

Green Building – The Things to Consider

 

The truth is that green building, especially in Europe, has become something far more than just a simple development trend. And, of course, this is quite logical. It has paved the way for an approach which entails building homes and commercial constructions tailored to the demands of their time – not just to the demands of the occupants. And this is something that has to be particularly appreciated. The advantages are multiple.

Water Conservation

It’s worth mentioning that it’s estimated that the lack of fresh drinking water is going to be one of the tremendous burdens for future generations, should we keep wasting it with the temps we are right now. Recycling rainwater, for example, can preserve potable water and yield tremendous amounts of water savings which is definitely to be considered.

Emission Reduction

Fossil fuel emissions contribute to development and furthering of the biggest environmental burden of our times – global warming. Harmful emissions directly impact the quality of the breathable air and bring in a lot of different threats to human’s health such as lung cancer and other respiratory issues.

Storm water Management

This is also something that you might want to account for. Green building as defined in the majority of the LEED Programs can help manage storm water runoff. The latter can cause waterway erosion as well as flooding. The most troublesome thing, however, is that it could introduce potentially dangerous pollutants to water sources, hence incentivising potential diseases outbreaks.

In any case, Europe is definitely riding the wave when it comes to sustainable development, and you can easily observe this in a range of national and multinational projects. What is more, the Union is leading active policies, and it is actively funding initiatives in this particular regard through a range of different grants targeting both individuals and corporations. This is something particularly important. However, the same needs to be employed throughout the rest of the world as well. We can observe companies pioneering the field of sustainable development, and the examples here become more and more. This is definitely something particularly important, and it needs to be taken into proper consideration when it comes to it.

The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

Year 2016 Review using 12 Charts

 

The World Bank produced the following article on Year 2016 Review using 12 Charts.  It is written by  Tariq Khokhar  with co-author: Donna Barne on December 22nd, 2016.  We republish the first 7 items of the article here and would seriously recommend reading the rest in its original publication by clicking the article title below.  One would also notice that the video in question in the article can be visualised only in its original bedding.  

Tariq Khokhar

Year in Review: 2016 in 12 Charts (and a video)

 

Between the social, political, and economic upheavals affecting our lives, and the violence and forced displacement making headlines, you’d be forgiven for feeling gloomy about 2016. A look at the data reveals some of the challenges we face but also the progress we’ve made toward a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable future. Here are 12 charts that help tell the stories of the year.

1.The number of refugees in the world increased.

At the start of 2016, 65 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes, up from 60 million the year before. More than 21 million were classified as refugees. Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, most refugees live in cities and towns, where they seek safety, better access to services, and job opportunities. A recent report on the “Forcibly Displaced” offers a new perspective on the role of development in helping refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities, working together with humanitarian partners. Among the initiatives is new financial assistance for countries such as Lebanon and Jordan that host large numbers of refugees.

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  1. The global climate change agreement entered into force.

The pact negotiated in Paris in 2015 was ratified by 118 of the 194 countries that signed it, triggering new commitments to combat global warming. One of the agreement’s major goals is to promote a shift to low-carbon energy. Demand for renewable energy is picking up in developing countries as prices decline. In May, Africa saw its lowest solar price to date when the winning bid to develop large-scale photovoltaic solar plants in Zambia came in at 6 cents per kilowatt hour – or 4.7 cents/kwh, spread over 20 years.  That followed bids as low as 3 cents in the United Arab Emirates and 4.5 cents in Mexico. Renewables are now cost competitive in many markets and increasingly seen as mainstream sources of energy, according to REN21.

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3.Global trade weakened.

In 2016, global trade growth recorded its weakest performance since the global financial crisis. Trade volumes stagnated for most of the year, with weak global investment playing an important role, as capital goods account for about one third of world goods trade. Trade has been a major engine of growth for the global economy and has helped cut global poverty in half since 1990. A trade slowdown, therefore, could have implications for growth, development, and the fight against poverty.

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  1. More people had access to mobile phones than to electricity or clean water.

Access to mobile phones has surged in low- and middle-income countries, but many of the other benefits of the digital revolution – such as greater productivity, more opportunity for the poor and middle class, and more accountable governments and companies — have not yet spread as far and wide as anticipated, according to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report on the Internet, “Digital Dividends.” The report says greater efforts must be made to connect more people to the Internet and to create an environment that unleashes the benefits of digital technologies for everyone.

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  1. A third of all people were under the age of 20.

In around 40 African countries, over 50% of the population is under 20. By contrast, in 30 richer countries, less than 20% of the population is under 20. As the 2015/2016 Global Monitoring Reports notes, the world is on the cusp of a major demographic transition that will affect countries along the development spectrum.

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  1. 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 10 years.

One third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are currently neither in employment, education nor training. Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist. The future of work is changing, and the global economy will need to create 600 million jobs over the next 10 years to keep pace with projected youth employment rates.

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  1. 1 in 3 people did not have access to a toilet.

The UN estimates that 2.4 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities, nearly one billion of whom practice open defecation. Good sanitation is a foundation for development – conditions such as diarrhea are associated with poor sanitation, and left untreated, can lead to malnutrition and stunting in children. This year’s first High-Level Panel on Water brought together world leaders with a core commitment to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

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White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria

 

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara as expressed in Indian Express of December 23, 2016.  It could be interpreted as White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria.

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara

On December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

In 1984, charitable supergroup Band Aid sang, ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’.

Had it been this year, they’d have got it wrong — on December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

Also Read | Parts of Saudi Arabia covered in snow, temperatures plunge

The snow — the result of a combination of atmospheric factors — stayed for about a day before melting.

 

The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the USGS/NASA Landsat 7 satellite acquired a natural-colour image of snow in an area near the Morocco-Algeria border, south of Bouarfa and southwest of Aïn Séfra. The rare snowfall generated excitement after local photographer Karim Bouchetata posted several stunning pictures of rolling dunes covered in white on his Facebook page. “Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata told The Independent. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand.”

WHY

The Washington Post reported that a weather map analysis from the day of the snowfall shows that temperatures in the area, at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, were about 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal when the event occurred. Also, a very strong patch of low pressure had been created at a high altitude, which rapidly sucked up air and cooled it, creating conditions for the extremely rare snowfall.

Ain Sefra –  Algeria

EARLIER

Aïn Séfra, which is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the northern fringes of the Sahara, saw a half-hour snowstorm earlier in February 1979. This region receives only a few centimetres of precipitation every year. In July 2011, the world’s driest desert, the Atacama in Chile, received 80 cm of snow. This week’s event could be another sign of climate change.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. Other information: NASA & ENS

 

Merry Xmas and Best Wishes to Each and Everyone.

 

Global Development’s Winners 2016

 

Devex posted this article written by Michael Igoe @AlterIgoe on its online site on December 22nd, 2016.  We are happy to republish excerpts of the global development’s winners 2016 part only and would definitely encourage all to visit and read the whole article by clicking the title below.

Global development’s winners and losers of 2016

2016 has been a tumultuous year. Man-made crises, natural disasters, rising temperatures, and political hostility tested the global development community’s commitment and creativity to forge new solutions for a world in transition. On social media, 2016 has acquired a plethora of memes declaring it the worst year ever, and indeed, at times it has been trying.

But while it is true that real people have suffered and important causes have seen setbacks, the challenges have also reaffirmed the aid community’s commitment to keep moving forward. The tumult imparted costs and uncertainty — but it also provoked leadership and resolve to ensure that decades of progress in combating poverty and disease aren’t lost to the winds of change.

The Syrian conflict continues to produce images and accounts of humanity at its worst. Yet it has also drawn the sharp edge of heroism — health workers who continue to administer care despite the knowledge that the hospitals where they work have been painted with targets; teachers who fight to keep classrooms open amid the bombing.

The global development community will grapple with a new and evolving geopolitical landscape in 2017, but the new year is also a time to take stock. Here are a few of the actors, ideas, and priorities that emerged from 2016 as winners — or losers.

Global development’s 2016 winners:

  1. Cities.

While national and international institutions around the world struggled to keep pace with change, the world’s cities and their leaders took more steps to solidify their status as centers of action for sustainable development. The first Habitat summit in 20 years — Habitat III — brought urban leaders to Quito, Ecuador in October to launch a New Urban Agenda, which endorses an “urban paradigm shift” that “readdresses the way governments plan, finance, develop, govern and manage cities.”

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Mayors and local leaders proved critical to sustaining climate momentum at COP22 in Marrakech, after Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory cast doubts over U.S. national climate policy. “Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded … that doing so is in their own self-interest,” said U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In 2017 Devex will convene a global conversation about the future of smart cities for global development. Stay tuned.

  1. Solar power.

The cost of solar panels has fallen 80 percent since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar energy has gotten increasingly cheaper and is now the lowest-priced option for new electricity production in many developing countries.

The last few years witnessed a turning point, with more new energy production happening in renewables than in fossil fuels. New payment and distribution models — such as pay as you go solar panels — have emerged to help enable access to renewable power at the bottom of the pyramid. These trends have led to some bold and hopeful predictions.

The Indian government, for example, said it will exceed its — already very ambitious — Paris climate agreement target for renewable energy by half, generating 57 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2027.

At COP22, the Climate Vulnerable Forum — a group of 48 countries expected to experience the harshest impacts of climate change — adopted a vision to meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production by 2050.

  1. National development finance institutions.

Development finance institutions received top billing in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called on donors to leverage aid resources into private sector investment in order to reach the precipitous $2.5 trillion target. Donors across Europe are responding enthusiastically. Finland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France are recapitalizing their DFIs, many increasing budgets by more than 100 percent. The United Kingdom’s investment arm, the CDC, is on track to quadruple its ceiling for investment early next year to $8 billion.

Questions remain about whether DFI capacity for impact evaluation and accountability is keeping pace, but the critiques don’t appear to be slowing growth in the sector. Also in question are DFIs’ frequent use of more obscure financial environments, including tax havens, as revealed in the so-called Panama Papers leaks. Still, private investment is on the rise, and donors are keen to make it work. The Overseas Development Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in 2016 that private investment funds are on track to outstrip official development assistance in as little as 10 years.

  1. Disaster response and preparedness.

Cyclone Winston, Hurricane Matthew and the Aceh earthquake were just some of the natural disasters that devastated some of the poorest economies in 2016. According to the World Disasters Report, released by the Red Cross in October, climate change will increase the numbers of natural disasters worldwide, with the Asia-Pacific region suffering the greatest impacts in terms of cost and lives lost. But this year also saw strong funding and increased programmatic focus on building communities that will be better equipped to prepare and respond to future natural disasters.

The Asian Development Bank, for example, told Devex about its increased funding to tackle climate-related impacts in the Asia-Pacific: funding for more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, innovative technologies, preparedness for weather-related disasters and mitigation programs will be key investments in the coming years.

In Australia, emergency and humanitarian response was among the few winners to garner more financing in the 2016 aid budget. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave almost $13 million in grants to emergency response programs in 2016. As Peter Walton, international director for Red Cross Australia, explained to Devex, NGOs are making “pretty significant” shifts toward disaster-related programs particularly in the Asia-Pacific.