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Photo: Stuff.
To meet methane goals, New Zealand must cut the number of sheep and cows by 15 per cent, the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation blueprint says.

Although I’m eating a vegetarian meal tonight, I’m disappointed in myself for not coming up with lots of interesting vegetarian recipes during lockdown. I had plenty of time to think about it. Part of my problem is that my Covid-era delivery services didn’t offer many prepared vegetarian meals, but it’s a weak excuse. Fortunately, my daughter-in-law knew I was interested in anything vegetarian and often added me to her shopping.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, they’re way ahead of everyone as usual — not only in terms of trying to cut back on livestock emissions but addressing many other aggressive climate-change goals.

Olivia Wannan writes at Stuff, “Whether you work on the land, in a factory, an office or are still in school, life in 2035 will look significantly different under the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation blueprint.

“[If] the Government follows it to the letter., by 2025, you’ll be eligible for a public transport card offering discounted fares until you’re 25, to encourage low-carbon transport habits that may last a lifetime. …

By 2023, the Government’s emissions standards will start to bring lower-carbon cars into the country. The ban on petrol and diesel cars will also be in place as early as 2030. By 2035, both restrictions will also be influencing the second-hand car market, so if you do become an owner, the vehicle will be a lot greener than the cars on the road today. …

“Between now and 2035, you may be one of the thousands of employees that will transition out of carbon-intensive industries and into new jobs. … If you work in an at-risk industry, you’ll be eligible for government support to be re-trained for other roles. If you’re tangata whenua, you’ll be able to opt for education and training developed by Māori. By 2035, many Māori workers will have already transitioned to new industries, with the job gains outweighing losses. …

“The renewable electricity sector will be busy – the country requires one new wind farm to be built almost every year to meet the increased demand for power, plus new transmission lines. …

“By 2035, most truck drivers will be behind the wheel of a low-emissions vehicle, after the battery technology has developed enough to cover longer distances. But there will be fewer trucking jobs, as more freight will travel by rail or sea. … You’ll be twice as likely to head to the office by bike or on public transport, compared to today. If you still want to drive to the CBD, you may have to pay a congestion charge, with your cash helping to fund lower-carbon forms of travel. …

“By 2035, your office must be a pleasant place to be in all seasons, courtesy of energy efficiency standards for new and existing buildings. Building owners will have ditched coal in all heating systems by 2030. Natural gas will be phased out after that. …

“Across the country, dairy and meat farmers will reduce animal numbers by 15 per cent between 2020 and 2030. However, this isn’t an across-the-board cut. The efficiency gains you’ll make on your farm will probably differ to what your neighbours achieve. It’s the collective effort that matters.

“This could mean changing your farm management. You’ll need to use the plans, advice and tools developed by the agricultural industry partnership with Government, He Waka Eke Noa – though this guidance won’t be finalised until 2022. You may require reliable internet to precision-manage your farm, so you should have access to broadband by 2023 at the latest. …

“A farm might take a look at the efficiency gains required and choose to replace its cows and sheep with horticulture. An additional 20,000 hectares of land will grow grain, fruit and vegetables by 2035.

“Farmers staying in the meat or dairy business will carefully manage their use of nitrogen fertiliser (which creates the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide) and supplementary feed, which will cut expenses. Some will try their hand at regenerative farming, which aims to create healthier soil and land.

“Sheep farms will select rams that carry the genes to produce less methane when food is digested. The widespread uptake of low-methane sheep breeds will cut the country’s agricultural methane by 3 per cent by 2035. …

“If you have unproductive land sitting around, you’ll be able to access public funding to plant it with native trees. Nearly 250,000 additional hectares of sheep and beef farmland will be afforested by 2035. Combined with a ban on native deforestation in 2025, you’ll more frequently spot native birds and lizards, particularly if you fence off your bush and undertake pest control.

“Collective action will allow New Zealand to continue to promote the comparatively low-carbon credentials of its dairy and meat to international markets. …

“Buildings will be increasingly constructed using timber, which is less emissions-intensive than concrete and steel. By 2025, new natural gas connections will be banned. A decade after that, remaining gas appliances for cooking or heating will be increasingly costly. Because the domestic carbon price will steadily rise, the average annual gas bill will cost $150 more in 2035 compared to 2020.

“In comparison, the price of electricity will drop during the 2020s, after the Tiwai smelter closes. It’ll gradually rise again towards the end of the decade but should stay lower than today’s costs. …

“Remote and Māori communities will be able to access funds to build their own solar generation.”

It will likely to be hard to achieve all that, even with the less environmentally friendly biomass use and burning of “renewable” wood. But I think they are taking this seriously.

More at Stuff, here. Hat tip: Svein Tveitdal, @tveitdal, on twitter.

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Photo: robertharding/Alamy.
Ripe oranges in the gardens of Seville’s Real Alcazar. The city council employs about 200 people to collect the fruit after it falls and starts to rot. It’s now being used to produce electricity.

In sunny Spain, a pilot project to covert methane from fermenting fruit into clean power for a city water plant is creating hope for supporters of sustainable energy.

Stephen Burgen writes at the Guardian, “In spring, the air in Seville is sweet with the scent of azahar, orange blossom, but the [bitter] fruit the city’s 48,000 trees deposit on the streets in winter are a hazard for pedestrians and a headache for the city’s cleaning department.

“Now a scheme has been launched to produce an entirely different kind of juice from the unwanted oranges: electricity. The southern Spanish city has begun a pilot scheme to use the methane produced as the fruit ferments to generate clean electricity.

“The initial scheme launched by Emasesa, the municipal water company, will use 35 tonnes of fruit to generate clean energy to run one of the city’s water purification plants. The oranges will go into an existing facility that already generates electricity from organic matter. As the oranges ferment, the methane captured will be used to drive the generator.

“ ‘We hope that soon we will be able to recycle all the city’s oranges,’ said Benigno López, the head of Emasesa’s environmental department. …

‘It’s not just about saving money. The oranges are a problem for the city and we’re producing added value from waste.’

“While the aim for now is to use the energy to run the water purification plants, the eventual plan is to put surplus electricity back into the grid. The team behind the project argues that, given the vast quantity of fruit that would otherwise go into landfill or be used as fertiliser, the potential is huge. They say trials have shown that [2,000 pounds will] provide electricity to five homes for one day, and calculate that if all the city’s oranges were recycled and the energy put back into the grid, 73,000 homes could be powered

” ‘Emasesa is now a role model in Spain for sustainability and the fight against climate change,’ Juan Espadas Cejas, the mayor of Seville, told a press conference at the launch of the project. ‘New investment is especially directed at the water purification plants that consume almost 40% of the energy needed to provide the city with drinking water and sanitation.’ …

“The oranges look pretty while on the tree but once they fall and are squashed under the wheels of cars the streets become sticky with juice and black with flies. … The bitter oranges, which originate in Asia, were introduced by the Arabs around 1,000 years ago and have adapted well to the southern Spanish climate.

” ‘They have taken root here, they’re resistant to pollution and have adapted well to the region,’ said Fernando Mora Figueroa, the head of the city’s parks department. …

“The region produces about 15,000 tonnes of the oranges but the Spanish don’t eat them and most of the fruit from the surrounding region is exported to Britain, where it is made into marmalade. Seville oranges are also the key ingredient of Cointreau and Grand Marnier. …

“A handwritten recipe for marmalade dating from 1683 was found in Dunrobin castle in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. Legend has it that a ship carrying oranges from Spain took refuge in Dundee harbour and local confectionery maker James Keiller was the first to find a use for the otherwise inedible fruit. This may be a myth, but in 1797 Keiller did produce the first commercial brand of marmalade.”

More at the Guardian, here.

When I was a child, we saved all our Dundee Seville marmalade jars. Clay ones like these are now collectors’ items.

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Erik’s running buddy passed along a BBC story suggesting that cutting back on meat could have value for the planet.

Interestingly, that was the premise of Frances Moore Lappé‘s 1971 bestseller, Diet for a Small Planet, which my sister got me interested in when she was a vegetarian.

At the BBC, environment analyst Roger Harrabin notes research that confirms some of Lappé’s predictions.

“Research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities estimates greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate. That will make it harder to meet global targets on limiting emissions.

“The study urges eating two portions of red meat and seven of poultry per week. However that call comes as the world’s cities are seeing a boom in burger restaurants. …

“If [the trend] continues, more and more forest land or fields currently used for arable crops will be converted for use by livestock as the world’s farmers battle to keep up with demand.

“Deforestation will increase carbon emissions, and increased livestock production will raise methane levels and wider fertiliser use will further accelerate climate change. The lead researcher, Bojana Bajzelj from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There are basic laws of biophysics that we cannot evade.’

“The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3%, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans.” Read more here. And consider going in for mushroom burgers.

I only ever made the eggplant casserole Diet for a Small Planet, but it sure was yummy.

Photo: CiteLighter-Cards
In 1971, Frances Moore Lappé wrote that raising animals for food takes resources better used elsewhere. It can also put too much methane into the atmosphere.

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At the radio show Living on Earth, Steve Curwood recently interviewed Gary Cook of Greenpeace about an effort to get tech companies to be greener.

CURWOOD: “Back in 2012, you criticized Apple for using carbon-intensive energy from coal plants to power its servers. …

COOK: “Just after we spoke, they made a commitment to be 100 percent renewably powered, and as the end of last year, they even made that goal. So, it’s been quite a big shift.

CURWOOD: “100 percent renewable energy. How’s that possible?

COOK: “It requires some effort. Apple has done a lot in North Carolina where they have their largest data center in terms of deploying two different solar farms and an onsite fuel cell that’s powered with biogas energy, so it’s all renewable. They have several other data centers. … In Oregon they’re using wind; in Nevada they’re using solar.

“So they’ve actually shown a commitment from the top, been very aggressive, probably the most aggressive of any of the brands to make sure as they grow, they’re using clean energy.

CURWOOD: “Biogas. Where are they getting that from?’

COOK:” Currently, they’re getting that from landfill and some other renewable sources. The landfill is methane capture in the southeast, and they’re having that piped to where their data center is in North Carolina.”

The radio interview covers several other efforts tech companies are making. It’s a good thing, too, when you consider, as Living on Earth points out, “If the Internet were a country, it would be the sixth largest consumer of electricity in the world.” More here.

Photo: George Nikitin, Greenpeace
The Greenpeace Airship A.E. Bates flies over Facebook headquarters with a banners reading “Building a Greener Internet” and “Who’s The Next To Go Green?” Apple, Facebook and Google have committed to powering their data centers with renewable energy.

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