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But it is clear that achieving the total mitigation needed may require actions with net economic costs. Buildings will have to be more deeply retrofitted with energy efficiency measures than could be justified otherwise. Coal- and gas-fired power stations will have to be retired early, or fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology whose sole purpose is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial, agricultural and transport emissions will need stronger reductions. These costs will be the “pure” costs of reducing severe climate risk, justifiable only for that reason.
19, 2017 -- Synthesis Energy Systems, Inc
City governments can “lead by example” by setting targets to improve the energy efficiency of buildings that they own or operate (see Box 6.1 and Chapter 9). A local government might adopt and publicly announce an energy- or carbon-reduction goal for government-owned buildings, such as aiming to achieve a “30 percent reduction in energy consumption by the year 2030.” This efficiency target could be further divided into smaller, more tangible milestones, such as five-year incremental reductions toward the 2030 goal. Local governments often own and manage a considerable number of buildings, ranging from commercial buildings to schools, hospitals, and public housing, so establishing a target can significantly influence the market for efficient equipment or services. Targets can help build local technical capacity, expertise, and awareness, as well as provide business opportunities.
But the fact that in relation to the economy as a whole, the net employment impacts of low-carbon policies are small does not mean that they are unimportant. On the contrary, in some sectors, the impact on jobs is likely to be significant. Employment in the coal sector, which is still relatively labour-intensive in developing countries but already highly mechanised in developed economies, will almost certainly decline even beyond the job reductions that technological change would anyway cause. Employment in heavy and energy-intensive industrial sectors is also likely to be affected, as the shift to a low-carbon economy would probably shrink the relative share of these industries in the economy over the long term. At the same time, the relative value of companies involved in the fossil fuel sector in general (oil and gas as well as coal) is likely to decline over time, as future demand falls.
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The City of Buenos Aires aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2008 levels by 2030. In 2008, Buenos Aires Environmental Protection Agency launched the “Energy Efficiency Program in Public Buildings,” which analyzes and monitors energy consumption patterns from five different public buildings types in order to promote energy efficiency improvements. The program requires the implementation of a number of measures, including the development of energy management tools, employment of energy audits, and improvement of a building’s operation and maintenance procedures. As of early 2015, approximately 20 buildings have undergone an energy audit and are implementing recommended efficiency improvements. Additionally, new public buildings are required to meet certain minimum environmental sustainability criteria.
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Local governments that focus on improving the buildings they own or operate can hope to realize a number of benefits. Public agencies may save money on their energy or water bills, freeing resources for other public programs. Increased demand from local government buildings for efficient products and services will stimulate the market for such products and services and possibly lead to job creation. Further economic and social benefits can result in the form of lower utility bills for vulnerable populations living in public housing who depend on government support. And reduced overall energy consumption will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, thereby leading to improvements in public health (see Box 9.1).
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The Changwon City Government in South Korea governs the Carbon Mileage System—an energy efficiency point system, in which households or companies earn points for their water and energy savings. The government incentivizes the program by providing cashback, coupons for various goods, and Nubija rewards (Changwon’s bike share program). The more points a household or company earns, the more rewards it can receive. In 2013, 90,000 households participated in the program, contributing to an estimated CO2 reduction of 7,580 tons for that year.