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Weekly Highlights | From the EU labels controversies to AI pollution tracking

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By illuminem

· 6 min read

1. To Fight Climate Change, First You Need to Measure It

By Wired

  • Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, South West London, are using precise monitoring equipment to measure pollutants and track our impact on the planet more accurately than ever before
  • The lab's latest tool is Boreas, a laser spectrometer designed to collect and analyze methane. The tool works 24 hours a day in all weather conditions to sample large volumes of air
  • Methane is a molecule composed of one carbon atom surrounded by four hydrogen atoms (its chemical formula is CH4). There are, however, different types of methane in the air, called methane isotopologues. These are able to give evidences of where does the methane come from, hence who/what was responsible for its emission

2. Fury As EU Moves Ahead With Plans to Label Gas and Nuclear As ‘Green’

By The Guardian

  • The EU executive was accused of trying to bury the proposals by releasing long-delayed technical rules on its green investment guidebook to diplomats on New Year’s Eve, hours before a deadline expired
  • The draft proposals seen by the Guardian would allow gas and nuclear to be included in the EU “taxonomy of environmentally sustainable economic activities”, subject to certain conditions
  • Austria’s government repeated its threat to sue the commission if the plans go ahead. Leonore Gewessler, the country’s climate action minister, said neither gas nor nuclear belonged in the taxonomy “because they are harmful to the climate and the environment and destroy the future of our children”

3. Did We Just Blow Our Last, Best Chance to Tackle Climate Change?


  • “I am loath to say it, but I am deeply skeptical that we will reduce emissions fast enough to keep global temperature from rising 1.5°C ” said Rob Jackson, an earth system science professor at Stanford University
  • Only around 3% of the nearly $17 trillion countries have spent on recovery measures have been allocated to clean energy and sustainable recovery, according to the IEA
  • Countries committed to “phasing down” coal and eliminating “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and perhaps more importantly, countries said they would return next year once again with new policies to bring the world even closer to the 1.5°C target

4. The 2022 Energy Quiz

By Forbes 

  • Open the link, try to answer the questions and send us your score!
  • You can contact us on LinkedIn or at the following e-mail:

5. Fossil Fuels Matter As Much As Renewables

By Energy Monitor

  • It is what happens to fossil fuels as much as what happens to renewables that will decide the energy transition, and it is oil and gas as much as electric vehicles and heat pumps that interests to readers, according to Energy Monitor
  • Average flaring intensity per barrel is at its highest in five years, reports data journalist Nick Ferris - even as the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario says it must fall 90% by 2025
  • On July 2021 more than one-fifth of the cars produced by German car manufacturers were electric vehicles, shows a chart from the German Association of the Automotive Industry

6. The Challenges Posed By Rising Lithium Prices

By Forbes

  • It isn’t just oil and gasoline prices that have soared. Other commodity prices have soared as well. However, few commodities have surged this year quite like lithium
  • Lithium is one of the most important elements for our transition to a lower-carbon future. Lithium batteries are replacing the fuel in combustion engines in a variety of applications. As the penetration of electric vehicles rapidly grows, demand for lithium has grown exponentially
  • This is where lithium growth differs from the recent surge of fossil fuels. Demand for oil & gas is not growing exponentially. The surge in oil prices was simply due to a return to normal demand, with a return to normal supplies lagging behind. Lithium, on the other hand, has seen a Covid-19 disruption — plus explosive demand

7. 5 Environmental Victories From 2021 That Offer Hope

By National Geographic

  • One of the main victories in 2021, obtained during November’s COP26 - held in Glasgow - has been welcoming back the U.S. to the negotiation table, after four years of inaction on climate change
  • The last 12 months saw a raft of legislation to reduce growing plastic pollution, with the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who announced that the U.S. would back a global treaty to tackle plastic pollution
  • Other fronts where  important victories were  achieved in 2021 are deforestation - with the COP26 pledge to end deforestation by 2030 - the restoration of habitats, and the support for wildlife

8. Germany Shuts Three Of its Last Six Nuclear Plants

By Reuters

  • Germany has pulled the plug on three of its last six nuclear power stations as it moves towards completing its withdrawal from nuclear power as it turns its focus to renewables
  • The government decided to speed up the phasing out of nuclear power following Japan's Fukushima reactor meltdown in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the coastal plant in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986
  • The last three nuclear power plants - Isar 2, Emsland and Neckarwestheim II - will be turned off by the end of 2022

9. Tracking the Whole World's Carbon Emissions - With Satellites and AI


  • A serious fight against climate change can be undertaken only with the help of tools that doesn’t rely on asking the polluters, providing real-time, detailed, open and transparent   informations
  • Computer vision AI algorithms can be trained to look at thousands of satellite photos to recognize what a power plant looks like when it is polluting a certain amount of pollution into space
  • CLIMATE TRACE is a giant database - free and available for everybody - that shows emissions for every country, every sector, and every year on the planet

10. Extreme Weather in South-East Asia Is a Harbinger of Worse to Come

By The Economist

  • On December 16th Typhoon Rai made landfall in Siargao in the south-eastern Philippines. By December 29th, it had disrupted the lives of 4.2m people, spurred more than 720,000 people to flee their homes, and 560,000 were still displaced. Nearly 400 people had been killed and more than 1,100 injured. Official estimates put the cost of damage to infrastructure at 16.7bn pesos (about $330m) and to agriculture at 5.3bn pesos
  • Meanwhile, Malaysia is experiencing its worst flooding in decades. Torrential rain since December 16th has caused rivers to overflow their banks, leaving vast tracts submerged, houses damaged and people stranded without food, medical attention or, ironically, water
  • Philippine typhoons and Malaysian floods are connected in that both are likely to become more intense. As climate change causes temperatures to rise, the warming atmosphere will hold more moisture, leading to more rain and making floods more common. Typhoons, which draw their strength from energy stored as heat in the oceans below them, will intensify too

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