Imagine planting 100 million trees a week, every week

A forested valley
A forested valley
Image courtesy Nathan Stephenson, USGS

Globally, a trillion tree campaign is underway, but only 63 million trees have been planted by all of the contributors to date. That’s not amazing performance, but what if it were ramped up to 100 million trees a week? What would that start to look like for the environment and the climate over various timeframes?

That sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? 100 million is the definition of “a lot,” most people would say. …


Including CO2 emissions from burning the petroleum products dwarfs global CCUS market

Alberta and its oil and gas sector are betting big on carbon capture, sequestration, and use to cut their carbon emissions. Too bad the emissions are more than the current global commodity market for CO2 today.

Let’s start with that commodity market. Carbon dioxide is actually used for a bunch of things today. The global market for bulk CO2 is about 230 million tons a year, which sounds like a lot, except that it’s vastly smaller than the excess CO2 we emit annually and even smaller than the excess in the atmosphere. About 130 million tons is used in fertilizer…


Instead of Atoms for Peace, renewables would have received the massive global policy push

Recently someone asked me to do a thought exercise: what if we’d built renewables instead of nuclear generation? They were curious about the implications. I thought it was an interesting question, and didn’t have a great answer at hand, so I thought I’d work out what might have been.

Remember, of course, that this is a thought exercise, and hence like asking how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. …


Heat pumps avoid a lot more greenhouse gases than insulation

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about this subject with architect Paul Dowsett of Sustainable about this subject on Project Save the World’s Youtube tv channel.

It was a great conversation, and drew on the following work I’ve bee publishing over the past months.

— — — — —

For well over a year, I’ve been pulling on a specific thread of CO2e emissions reductions related to existing building stock. …


Hydrogen isn’t a natural gas, gasoline or diesel replacement, but the fossil fuel industry wants you to think it is

Canadian and EU hydrogen roadmap cover pages
Canadian and EU hydrogen roadmap cover pages
Covers courtesy EU and Government of Canada

There’s been a recent emergence of the ‘hydrogen economy’ nonsense globally. Governments globally have been creating roadmaps and budgets. Lobbyists from legacy energy businesses have been all over politicians and the media, trying to get a set of policies which support fossil-fuel sourced hydrogen.

This assessment emerged from the recent Columbia University Sustainable Finance Seminar I was asked to provide as part of its series on the subject. Mark Townsend Cox of New Energy Fund II, LP in Manhattan is co-chair of the series, and he asked me to contribute. The title of my 90-minute talk, which turned into closer…


Replace your gas furnace and air conditioner with a heat pump

As part of my ongoing exploration of heat pumps as a wedge on climate change, I thought I’d assess the fiscal impacts of Canada’s 2030 carbon price of $170 CAD per ton of CO2 on annual heating costs for them compared to gas furnaces.

Recently, I built a province-by-province model which showed that at today’s grid emissions intensities, every province but the two main oil and gas provinces, with their coal and gas heavy grids, would see significant benefits from heat pumps on the worst commercial buildings. Those buildings were defined as median 5,000 square foot (465 square meter) older…


Alberta’s grid will decarbonize much faster with Canada’s new $170 price on carbon

Alberta Canada has close to the worst emissions in Canada as a province from both a grid and a per capita perspective. Along with Saskatchewan’s, its absolute, per capita, and per GDP emissions have risen over the past 20 years. The two provinces have increased emissions as much as the rest of the provinces have decreased them, leaving Canada with no progress to show on national climate targets.

Green house gas emissions per province of Canada
Green house gas emissions per province of Canada
Map courtesy Canada Energy Regulator

That’s mostly due to ‘industrial’ sector emissions and energy use, which is to say oil and gas extraction, refinement, and distribution. Oil sands extraction is an energy intensive process with steam injected…


Fuel changes will be difficult, and operational changes to avoid contrails harder still

Zero emission airplane concepts
Zero emission airplane concepts

Recently, someone asked me if methanol were a viable fuel replacement for aviation kerosene. I explored the question to assess the potential value of it. In doing so, I went down the rabbit hole of high-altitude, long-haul aviation challenges related to global warming.

There are several points to make. To start with, it’s entirely possible to synthesize methanol from biological or molecular sources. I assessed that as part of my deep dive on the Carbon Engineering air-to-fuel nonsense. [1] Synthesizing methanol has a long history, so there’s no magic there. Oddly, I’ve also been in the head office of Methanex…


Let’s not rule out politicians and executives being imprisoned for fraud quite yet however

It’s unclear why South Korea has fallen for the current hydrogen nonsense, but the country does have a history of governmental alignment with its megacorporations over both good and bad ideas. Hydrogen is one of the bad ones, for the most part. Hyundai, the chaebol in question this time, will undoubtedly not lose money and South Korean citizens will subsidize the folly, but there is a potential silver lining.[1]

Hyundai fuel cell vehicle
Hyundai fuel cell vehicle
Hyundai fuel cell vehicle

An example of this inappropriate alignment that springs to mind is nuclear generation. The government was cozily in bed with KEPCO over its buildout of nuclear plants in densely populated areas…


Oil and gas continued their multi-year decline while renewables among others surge massively

Image courtesy Washington State Dept of Financial Institutions

On February 10th 2020, I published my assessment of the cleantech ETF space, Not All Cleantech ETFS Are Worth Investing In. I was wrong, kind of. Mea culpa.

First, let’s look at the list of ETFs I assessed. Specifically, let’s assess what the value of an $10,000 investment in them on February would have been in December of 2020.

Michael Barnard

Chief Strategist, TFIE Strategy Inc. Business and technical future-proofing. Top Writer Quora since 2013. CleanTechnica, Forbes, Quartz+ more. In 4 books.

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