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How clean energy innovation, a methane pledge and getting China and India on board for net-zero can deliver progress at; COP26

How clean energy innovation, a methane pledge and getting China and India on board for net-zero can deliver progress at COP26

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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Much of the news coming out of the U.N. climate conference has focused on the spectacle, and how countries’ pledges aren’t on track to prevent dangerous climate change. But behind the scenes, there is reason for hope.

In many countries, the energy transition is already underway as falling costs make renewable energy ubiquitous and more affordable than fossil fuels.

The challenge for government officials now is figuring out how to help scale up clean energy dramatically while reducing fossil fuel emissions, and still meeting the rapidly growing energy demands of billions of people in developing and emerging economies. With an ongoing energy crisis creating shortages and record high prices in several countries, navigating this early stage of the energy transition requires thoughtful policies and well-prioritized plans.

As climate policy experts with decades of experience in international energy policy, we identified six strategic priorities that could help countries navigate this tricky terrain.

Illustration showing where to cut emissions soonest most efficiently

1) Deploy carbon pricing and markets more widely

Only a few countries, states and regions currently have a carbon price that is high enough to push polluters to cut their emissions.

A price on carbon, often created through a tax or carbon market system, captures the cost of harms caused by greenhouse gas emissions that companies don’t currently pay for, such as climate change, damage to crops and rising health care costs. It is particularly critical for power production and energy-intensive industries.

One goal of the Glasgow negotiations is to write rules to help carbon markets function well and transparently. That’s essential for effectively meeting the many net-zero climate goals that have been announced by countries from Japan and South Korea to the U.S., China and those in the European Union. It includes rules on the use of carbon offsets, which allow individuals or companies to invest in projects elsewhere to offset their own emissions. Carbon offsets are currently highly contentious and not delivering trustworthy emissions credits.

2) Focus attention on the hard-to-decarbonize sectors

Shipping, road freight and industries like aluminum, cement and steel are all difficult places for cutting emissions, in part because they don’t yet have tested, affordable replacements for fossil fuels. While there are some innovative ideas, competitiveness concerns – such as companies moving production out of the country to avoid regulations – have been a key barrier to progress.

Europe is trying to overcome this barrier by establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which would tax imports of goods that didn’t face the same level of carbon taxes at home.

The United States and the European Union also announced at the summit that they would work to negotiate a global agreement to reduce the high emissions in steel production.

3) Get China and other emerging economies on board

It is clear that coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, needs to be phased out fast, and doing so is critical to both the U.N.‘s energy and climate agendas. Given that more than half of global coal is consumed in China, its actions stand out, although other emerging economies such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam are also critical.

This will not be easy. Notably half of the Chinese coal plants are less than a decade old, a fraction of a coal plant’s typical life span. China has raised its climate commitments, including pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 and agreeing to end financing of coal power plants in other countries, but its current pathway will not yield substantial reductions this decade.

A major announcement by India’s prime minister at the COP around a net-zero goal for his country by 2070, with interim targets for ratcheting down emissions before then, is an early win.

4) Focus on innovation

Support for innovation has brought cutting-edge renewable power and electric vehicles much faster than anticipated. More is possible. For example, offshore wind, geothermal, carbon capture and green hydrogen are new developments that can make a big difference in years to come.

At the climate conference, a coalition of world leaders launched what they call the “Breakthrough Agenda” – a framework for bringing governments and businesses together to collaborate on clean energy and technology. The Glasgow Breakthroughs include making electric vehicles the affordable norm, bringing down clean energy costs, scaling up hydrogen energy storage and getting steel production to near-zero emissions, all by 2030.

The countries and companies that lead in developing these new technologies will reap economic benefits, including jobs and economic growth. More opportunities exist in market design, social acceptance, equity, regulatory frameworks and business models. Energy systems are deeply interconnected to social issues, so changing them will be successful only if the solutions look beyond the technology to societal needs.

5) Prioritize green financing

Over 160 banks and investment groups are involved in another coalition that has agreed to put pressure on high-emissions industries by tying lending decisions to the goal of global net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ramping up green financing will require transparent taxonomies, or guidelines, for defining green and clean investments; science-based transition plans for companies and financial institutions; and a hard look at portfolios of financial institutions given the risk of substantial stranded fossil fuel assets, such as coal power plants that haven’t reached the end of their life spans but can no longer be used.

6) Reduce short-lived greenhouse gases

The Biden administration announced a sweeping set of rules on Nov. 2, 2021, for reducing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide that comes from leaking oil and gas infrastructure, coal mines, agriculture and landfills. Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long, so stopping emissions can have faster climate benefits while carbon emissions are reduced.

The U.S. and the European Union are urging the entire world to cut methane emissions by nearly one-third by 2030. According to the White House, more than 90 countries are on board.

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This type of coalition, based on a tightly focused issue, can bring meaningful emissions reductions in places that are less likely to support broader climate agreements.

Not one solution

It is likely that U.N. energy and climate deliberations will continue to move in fits and starts. The real work needs to take place at a more practical implementation level, such as in states, provinces and municipalities.

If there is one thing we have learned, it is that mitigating climate change will be a long slog. While it’s uncontested that the benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation far exceed the costs, politicians need to show that the many energy transitions emerging are good for economies and communities, and can create long-lasting jobs and tax revenue.

All work and no play makes Mac a dull school

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

Homework keeps teens up late at night, preventing them from getting enough rest, which leaves students exhausted and susceptible to depression and a defeatist attitude.

Amaya Collier, staff reporter
October 31, 2021

McCallum students are burnt out. As teens make the rough adjustment from a year and a half of online school to in-person, many are struggling with managing their homework loads.

As in-person provided more flexibility with due dates and a lessened workload many students felt in control of their academic success; however, since in-person schooling has resumed students (particularly those in many honors classes) are struggling to get grounded in this new and rigid environment. According to a MacJ Instagram poll, 83% of student respondents said that they felt burnt out by their homework load.

The nearly 9-5 school days, extracurricular activities, and family responsibilities are more than enough on a 14-18 year old’s plate, but with the addition of a heaping homework load many students are drowning.

Homework keeps teens up late at night, making them susceptible to exhaustion the next day. This cycle during the school week and the repetition of this lifestyle can invoke depressive feelings, fatigue, and defeat.”

Apart from school hours, teens involved in clubs or other extracurriculars devote additional time after school. Some students also have jobs after school to help support themselves or their families. This leaves them with little time to keep up with their schoolwork. According to a MacJ poll, students spend between 1-3 hours on homework each night. By that time, it’s late and students feel an immense amount of stress to complete their homework on time.

This extreme schedule leads students to a breaking point where they face anxiety, stress, fatigue, and fear. The amount of homework assigned displays a lack of consideration and care for student’s mental, social, personal and physical health. Achieving academic success in the eyes of the school means sacrificing your mental health. Many students in search of a successful future or academic validation struggle with this impossible decision.

Throughout students’ education, they have heard the recurring concept that academic success is achieved by taking many honors classes and by being involved in several extracurriculars and in the community. I find this concept to be one of the greatest misconceptions within the education system.

Many students strive for this goal but realize it’s unattainable because of what is already expected from them in their classes. This infeasible goal is frustrating as it keeps students isolated in their rooms hunched over, working long hours, not exercising, skipping meals and chasing a rainbow.

The bar is set at an impossible level yet educators emphasize that it is a realistic target, and it leaves students feeling like they just aren’t good enough if they can’t meet those unrealistic expectations. Students are left feeling not smart enough, or like they aren’t putting in enough effort when they are already sacrificing themselves and every ounce of energy they have into this brutal and unforgiving environment.

According to a MacJ Instagram poll, 83% of student respondents said that they felt burnt out by their homework load.”

Many students seeking academic validation are experiencing immense pressure, leaving far too many with deteriorating mental health. Their incessant anxiety over finishing their homework each night enables and establishes unhealthy behaviors within teens’ lifestyles. For example, when stressed by work many students don’t take care of themselves; they end up not getting enough sleep, exercise or breaks. Additionally, this can lead to students becoming alienated and isolated from friends as family as their homework doesn’t account for quality time with loved ones. Sometimes dinner is the little to only substantial socialization they have with their family all day before returning to the grind in which most are shut off from the world, trapped in their rooms.

Educators claim this is the optimal pathway to a successful future and getting accepted into a good college. Although being well-rounded is important and universities do evaluate your GPA when applying, it is untrue to claim that your acceptance to a college is dependent upon your involvement in as much as possible. Rather, college admission officers want to identify your passion and the efforts you put forth in pursuing that passion because it gives them a glimpse into what your academic pathway will look like. Therefore, don’t feel the need to overwork yourself. Do what you can, pursue your passions, and you will be taken care of.

Although some teachers and administrators would claim homework is essential to a student’s mastery of a subject, one could argue that if a student’s homework load wasn’t staggering every night, they would be able to be more attentive when it comes to the material they learn in school.

If teachers and administrators made the collective effort to lessen the homework load there would be immense positive outcomes.”

In my mind, there is one clear solution, which is to find the root of this dilemma. Homework. Homework keeps teens up late at night, making them susceptible to exhaustion the next day. This cycle during the school week and the repetition of this lifestyle can invoke depressive feelings, fatigue, and defeat. This fatigue limits the comprehensive ability, attention span, and productivity of students.

When you view the issue from this perspective it displays a win-win situation: teachers gain more engaged students, students gain a healthier lifestyle through the lessening or elimination of homework.

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Some may argue that homework serves as a practice to engage students in the content, but in the seven hours and 45 minutes that teachers have with their pupils every day, they engage in plenty of classwork that provides practice. Further, if that isn’t substantial enough students have the opportunity to go in for morning, lunch, after-school, and weekend tutoring for additional support.

In order for young adults to academically succeed they must be able to relate to their work with an open mind and with a curiosity and motivation to learn, but the excessive amount of homework received by students creates a negative energy and stigma surrounding learning as teens begin to associate it with their exhaustion, lack of free time, and unstable mental health. If teachers and administrators made the collective effort to lessen the homework load there would be immense positive outcomes.

The unacceptably high cost of homework

It’s no secret that kids don’t exactly like homework, but it’s more than just a hassle. The burden of homework can detrimental to young people�.

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Hillcrest Elementary School teacher followed her heart back to TCSS

Published 10:00 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is writing a profile on all 25 teachers of the year in the Troup County School System. This is the second installment in the series.

Alicia Bilbo always knew that she wanted to return to teach with the Troup County School System even since she was getting her undergraduate degree from Columbus State University.

“I always wanted to come back home,” Bilbo said. “I felt like Troup County was my home. We lived here. I had family here. I had relationships within the school system. And I just felt like that’s where home was.”

She said the teachers that she had growing up in the school system inspired her to be a teacher herself.

After a brief stint in Muscogee County, she was able to make that reality her own, first at Hogansville Elementary and now at Hillcrest Elementary School. It was at Hillcrest this year that she was chosen as the school’s teacher of the year, making her a candidate for the district-wide honor.

“It’s really a combination of all the teachers that I’ve come in contact with that have helped me with an answer to a question, ignited my love for learning with a science experiment, (or) read that book that opened up doors for me,” Bilbo said.

However, Bilbo said she knew she wanted to be a teacher from a very young age and remembers it inspiring how she played with her two sisters.

“I remember in my childhood years going home from school and playing teacher, so I feel like teaching has always been in my blood,” Bilbo said.

Christy Keeth, the principal for Hillcrest Elementary, said Bilbo immediately jumped in to help their school when the pandemic hit last March.

“With COVID, we had to rely on technology heavily, especially when kids went out. She was a big part of helping other teachers with technology and things like that,” Keeth said.

Bilbo said that it was a learning adjustment last year for everyone trying to learn how to use Canvas, the online platform for learning, and Google Meet. She wanted more than anything to help her fellow teachers where she could during the difficult time.

“I created a Screencastify, which basically shows my screen and I had a voiceover. It was able to show them directions (and) visually how to do that, and also created step-by-step directions,” Bilbo said. “I’ve had teachers come into my room. I’m an open door. We need to come in, you need to ask me a question, and I’ll be happy to help.”

This open communication policy extends to her students as well as Bilbo will meet with each student one-on-one to help them get where they need to be in her class.

“We just have academic conversations, and I have a spreadsheet chart that kind of shows, OK, this is where you are, this is where you need to be, how are we going to get you there?” she said.

Keeth mentions that this aspect of Bilbo’s teaching is unique to her and she has seen the impact of it firsthand.

“There is nothing more powerful as far as student motivation than letting them set their own goals and pushing them to meet their own goals that they’ve set,” Keeth said.

A 10-year-old student, Molly Phelps, said she appreciates the individual meetings, saying they help her in class.

“Whenever I go back there with her, I feel happy because I’m more confident that I’m going to get the questions right and not wrong whenever I need help with it. Because she helps you a lot with the question,” Phelps said.

However, these meetings are not the only aspect that makes Bilbo’s teaching unique. Her 3- year-old son, Weston, is featured heavily in her class.

“I love to share stories of my son. I feel like they know him,” Bilbo said. “I feel like that’s so important for them to realize I’m a human.”

She said that her job as a teacher informs her role as a mother as well.

“I feel like my teaching role and mommy role kind of blend together at home. Because I want him to be the best person he can be,” she said.

Another student, Jake Jeong, appreciates how Bilbo brings Weston into their classroom with her stories.

“I just like that Mrs. Bilbo doesn’t keep a secret by herself and (she) shares it with all of us. Mrs. Bilbo just likes to do things with Weston and (for us),” Jeong said.

Bilbo, also, extends an invitation to each of her students to allow them to share about their life.

“We take a few minutes to share their stories and let them share about their laughs because it’s so important that they understand that I’m here for them,” Bilbo said. “And I think sharing makes that community feel, makes that sense of family.”

These conversations help students in both their school and personal life. Ten-year-old, Laniyah Johnson, said Bilbo has given words of advice when she needed them.

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“Sometimes I will be sad or by myself. She would tell me like to always pick my head up,” Johnson said. “I would think about all the words and stuff that she said to us about, like, friends or anything like that. And I would put that to mind. And try to be around the people that I can be around.”

Carter Harrill, a 10-year-old in her class, said that there are many things that make Bilbo unique for students.

“She’s one of a kind and she’s super duper unique by walking in the morning, having a smile on her face and getting right to it,” Harrill said. “And you’re not really going to see a teacher like that.”

Who observes daylight saving time and is it close to ending permanently? Here’s what to know

Every year, twice a year, most Americans switch all the clocks forward, or backward, one hour for daylight saving time (DST) beginning and ending.

While at least 19 states have attempted to put an end to this cumbersome practice in recent years according to the National Conference of State Legislators, so far only two states do not follow daylight saving.

However, momentum is building for an effort to end DST with pending legislation at both the federal and state levels.

33 states file DST legislation in 2021

In 2021 alone, 33 states have introduced 80 pieces of legislation addressing DST. There remains 22 states with 60 pieces of pending legislation. Five states – Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana, have passed DST legislation, pending federal law authorization, according to NCSL.

For 2021, daylight saving (not savings) time will end 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 7. At that time, the time will “fall back” to 1 a.m. and people can enjoy an extra hour of sleep.

Why do we even have DST?

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first introducing the idea of a seasonal time change in 1784, but there was no laws made for the change at that time.

The history of DST goes back as early as 1918 in the U.S. when it was begun, following Germany’s 1916 effort to conserve fuel during World War I. There have been two periods of time when the United States had year-round DST – 1942-1945 and 1974-1975.

The designated dates for DST were put into federal law in 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson set daylight saving to run from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November, except for the areas that desired to remain on standard time.

Which states have DST, which don’t?

The two states that do not follow DST are Arizona and Hawaii. The territories of American Samoa, Guam, The Northern Mariana Island, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also do not observe DST.

According to the NCSL, the states that have attempted to do away with DST are:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Alabama
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana

Georgia has made the attempt twice in both 2020 and 2021.

Florida was the first state to enact legislation permanently ending DST, but it cannot be enforced yet without federal precedent.

In California as well, voters authorized the end of DST in 2018, but likewise they are awaiting federal action.

The issue has gone back and forth in Texas over whether to change daylight saving time, but so far no action has been taken in the state.

These days, most phones and computers automatically change with DST, but regular clocks, kitchen equipment and many car clocks still require a manual adjustment.

Safety experts say the DST is a good reminder to also check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

For decades, Americans have complained about the confusion DST brings, and even potential health and safety problems. Problems with concentration in work and school have been noted, along with a jolt to individuals’ circadian rhythms.

Sunshine Protection Act introduced in 2021

Federal lawmakers are in the process of proposing that DST be made the permanent time. The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 would set the time of “saving” daylight as the standard time. The act would essentially do away with the falling back time period that occurs in the autumn.

Of course, DST does not change when the sun shines, but merely the time on our clocks.

Some of the benefits noted in Sen. Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act fact sheet for ending DST include:

  • The American Journal of Public Health said better alignment of daylight hours with drivers’ standard work hours will increase visibility and may reduce car crashes and also car accidents involving pedestrians or wildlife. This was also supported by information from the Department of Transportation.
  • The change could reduce risk of cardiac issues, stroke and seasonal depression due to disruption of circadian rhythms .
  • A 2015 Brooking Institute study said the end of DST could lead to a decrease in robberies by up to 27 percent because of additional daylight in the evenings.
  • A study by JP Morgan Chase found there is an economic activity drop of 2-5 percent when clocks are moved back.
  • The International Journal Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and the Journal of Physical Activity and Health said there could be a reduction of childhood obesity and increased physical fitness for all Americans due to more hours of sunshine in which to be active. Adding to this idea, the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that during DST, pedestrian traffic increases by 62 percent and cyclist activity increases by 38 percent.
  • A U.S. Department of Energy report in 2008 showed that the end of DST could mean a savings of 0.5 percent in electricity per day, a total of 1.3 trillion watt-hours. However other studies have shown mixed results in actual savings.

If passed, this federal law would be a boon to states creating their own regulations to end DST. For states to pass such a rule, there would need to be a federal statute in place, such as the Sunshine Protection Act.

For now, it seems like most Americans will still be setting those clocks back this year on November 7.

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