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Cool Pavements Solve Street Heat

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The new street seal gushed from a downpipe Saturday onto Jordan Avenue, Canoga Park, California and then spread like paint to turn a half block of black into a sea of gray.

The morning temperature of the black asphalt in the middle of a nearby intersection read 93 degrees. The new light gray surface on Jordan Avenue read a cool 70 – on what would turn out to be the first heat wave of the year.

“It’s awesome. It’s very cool – both literally and figuratively,” exclaimed Councilman Bob Blumenfield, whose Los Angeles district includes Canoga Park, squinting into the laser handheld thermometer. “We are trying to control ‘the heat island effect’?” – or hotter temperatures caused by urban sprawl.

“The downside: we won’t be able to fry eggs on the streets.”

Los Angeles, which had pioneered the use of compressed natural gas trash trucks and other vehicles, is now at the forefront of developing a “cool pavement” to lower temperatures along its thousands of miles of baking asphalt streets.

For the first time in the Golden State, it is testing a reflective street surface officials say could cut public road temperatures, cool the insides of nearby buildings, lessen air pollution and reduce the threat of deaths linked to increasingly hotter heat waves.

Before afternoon temperatures could push 100, city street workers spread a thin gray coating of CoolSeal into the heart of one of its hottest neighborhoods.

“The city’s going to get hotter because of climate change, particularly this neighborhood of the west San Fernando Valley,” said Greg Spotts, assistant director of the Bureau of Street Services, who doubles as its acting chief sustainability officer. “The phenomenon called the heat island effect means the city is hotter than the surrounding countryside.

 


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“We’re exploring ways to reduce the heat island effect by reducing the absorption of heat in the built environment.”

Street Services, working in conjunction with GuardTop LLC, an asphalt coating manufacturer based in Dana Point, had first tested the cool pavement seal in the Sepulveda Basin.

Asphalt at a parking lot at the Balboa Sports Complex once averaged 160 degrees in summer. After the seal was applied two years ago, company officials say, surface temperatures dropped to between 135 to 140 degrees.

Now, after rigorous testing for durability and wet skid potential, the CoolSeal coating was being slathered across a half block of Jordan Avenue just north of Hart Street near the headwaters of the Los Angeles River.

If the new seal could boost solar reflectivity -and dramatically cool a street lined with two-story apartments in the hottest region of the San Fernando Valley – it could do it anywhere, city officials said.

The experiment will soon be duplicated in 14 other council districts before the end of June. If successful, city officials hope to encourage manufacturers to help develop cool pavement that could be incorporated into a multimillion-dollar drive to fix a backlog of L.A.’s failing streets.

“I’m thrilled to be here. This is a great day for all of us. We look forward to seeing what the results will be,” said Kevin James, president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.

A CoolSeal coating could cost an estimated $40,000 per mile and last seven years, city officials said. But that’s subject to change pending pavement innovation.

“We’re going to try to make Los Angeles as cool as possible,” said Jeff Luzar, national sales director for GuardTop, a privately owned firm that has covered coated mostly playgrounds and parking lots. “We’re going to be the coolest island in Southern California.”

Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 5 degrees in the past 100 years on account of the heat island effect produced by miles of asphalt freeways, roads, parking lots, roofs and more, climatologists say. In summer, temperatures have risen an average 10 degrees.

In addition, extreme heat days near 100 degrees have risen from two a year in 1906 to 24, while their duration has increased from a few days in a row to heat waves of two weeks, said climatologist Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“I’m all for it,” Patzert said of the cooler pavement. “We could certainly stop the rise – and perhaps reverse it.”

Unfortunately, he added, the urban forest across Los Angeles is dying because of insufficient watering during the recent drought. “They can paint the streets gray,” he said, “but when all these trees die, you’ll see a dramatic increase in the heat island effect in the whole Basin.”

The residents of Canoga Park were astonished, even thrilled, to see black asphalt turn a light shade of gray within 30 minutes.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Partha Ghosh, 30, who lives at an apartment at Jordan Avenue and Hart Street, staring at the battleship-like surface. “Not too bright. Just perfect.

“I hope it could cool off my apartment.”

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Editorials

The Green Jobs Advantage: How Climate-friendly Investments Are Better Job Creators

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This paper compares job creation per dollar from various types of green investments vs. unsustainable investments. It also explores how to promote good jobs that have fair wages, job security, opportunities for career growth, safe working conditions, and are accessible for all.

Source: World Resource Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of jobs to be lost globally and has exacerbated inequality. At the same time, addressing climate change is an urgent challenge. Too many governments have funneled money to unsustainable sectors as part of their COVID-19 recovery efforts even though this is not the best job creator and will exacerbate climate change.

This analysis of studies from around the world finds that green investments generally create more jobs per US$1 million than unsustainable investments. It compares near-term job creation effects from clean energy vs. fossil fuels, public transportation vs. roads, electric vehicles vs. internal combustion engine vehicles, and nature-based solutions vs. oil and gas production.

For example, on average:

  • Investing in solar PV creates 1.5 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Building efficiency creates 2.8 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per $1 million.
  • Mass transit creates 1.4 times as many jobs as road construction per $1 million.
  • Ecosystem restoration creates 3.7 times as many jobs as oil & gas production per $1 million.

The paper also explores job quality in green sectors. In developing countries, green jobs can offer good wages when they are formal, but too many are informal and temporary, limiting access to work security, safety and social protections. In developed countries, new green jobs can provide avenues to the middle class, but may have wages and benefits that aren’t as high as those in traditional sectors where, in many cases, workers have been able to fight for job quality through decades of collective action.

Government investment should come with conditions that ensure fair wages and benefits, work security, safe working conditions, opportunities for training and advancement, the right to organize, and accessibility to all.

This paper is jointly published by WRI, the International Trade Union Confederation, and New Climate Economy.

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“If there is gas collusion in Chile, then distribution should be done by a public company”: Sector workers

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Chile. “If there is gas collusion, then distribution should be done by a public company”: Sector workers

This post is also available in: Spanish

Patricio Tapia and Solange Bustos (Image by Andrés Figueroa Cornejo)

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), as well as Natural Gas (NG) is imported to Chile mainly from Argentina and the United States through the sea. It arrives in the country at two regasification plants: the one in Quintero and the one in Mejillones, where it is processed and introduced into cylinders for domestic consumption. However, only three companies monopolise gas distribution, of which Metrogas, owned by Gasco S.A., has more than half of the market.

By Andrés Figueroa Cornejo

After recently issuing a study of high social impact, the Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) detected serious irregularities in the gas distribution industry, among whose assertions is that the retail price of each cylinder of liquefied gas should be 15% lower than the current one, and the price of natural gas paid by Metrogas users should be 20% cheaper.

The National Economic Prosecutor, Ricardo Riesco, said, “This study confirms that the gas market is not sufficiently competitive and our recommendations seek to change this situation as soon as possible for the benefit of consumers, because we are convinced that prices can be significantly lower in the future if regulation is adjusted”.

The Preliminary Report of its sixth Market Study, where the FNE addressed the gas market in Chile in the period between 2010 and 2020, focused on the social groups that use liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas.

To develop the study, the FNE collected unpublished data on the gas market in the country and was advised by academics Juan Pablo Montero, from the Catholic University of Chile, and Eduardo Saavedra, from the Alberto Hurtado University, as well as Oxford University economist Christopher Decker.

The FNE calculated that, due to the concentration of the LPG market, private wholesale distributors of this energy increased their annual profits by up to 55% more than those obtained in 2014, which is equivalent to US$ 261 million “extra” annual profits.

On the other hand, the Prosecutor’s Office detected that an exception contained in the last reform to the Gas Services Law, in June 2017, allowed Metrogas, through Agesa, a company not subject to regulation, to increase the price of its NG distribution service to consumers.

This resulted, since February 2017, in an increase of up to 20% in the price of residential natural gas paid by Metrogas customers, equivalent to US$ 87 million per year.

The case of Gasco S.A.

The Gasco corporation, harshly treated by the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office along with Lipigas and Abastible, and company that takes the majority share of the business, said that the proposal of the entity, “could end up seriously damaging the quality of service and also the price of gas in the country”, without offering any explanation of how and why it shot up prices.

On the other hand, Patricio Tapia Gómez and Solange Bustos, leaders of the Sindicato Nacional Interempresa de Trabajadores del Gas, were the ones who led the 21-day strike of the Gasco LPG Workers’ Union, from 19 December 2017 to 8 January 2018. It was a historic strike because it was the first and only one so far in the more than 160 years of existence of the company.

The president of the company, then and now, is Matías Pérez Cruz, a staunch pinochetista, anti-unionist, fan of the neo-fascist presidential candidate José Antonio Kast, and who became infamous on 6 February 2019 when a video went viral showing him expelling three women in an arrogant and violent manner from what he called “his garden”, on the shores of Lake Ranco.

Now, the leaders pointed out that, “Unlike the state’s public health system, when a person stops paying the gas bill, the company immediately shuts off the supply. What happens then? When private gas corporations cut off the gas for non-payment, they simply cease to be “strategic companies”. In other words, they lose their status as an “essential company” that provides a “basic service of public utility”. Where the market rules, there are no more “strategic basic services”, because in the case of gas, it is a product that only those who have the means to buy it can buy. Its supply is not guaranteed as a social right. Moreover, if someone cannot buy gas from a private company “A”, they can buy it from company “B”, because in Chile there is supposed to be free competition”.

Patricio Tapia and Solange Bustos, who come from Gasco, explained that, “Gasco is divided into two companies: Gasco S.A., which corresponds to the administrative body, and Gasco GLP, which is the operational or production part. Chile lacks its own gas to supply the domestic market. The productive part is the workers who mix the raw materials coming from abroad via ships arriving at the Quintero plant, fill the cylinders with this mixture, and distribute the cylinders to customers in trucks and vehicles. The cost of the gas that arrives at the port in frozen form, Gasco S.A. buys at a price infinitely lower than the gas it then sells to other firms and to consumers in general”.

The union representatives, given the situation of the collusion of gas prices, which operates as a true monopoly, indicated that they are preparing a proposal at the national level, “where they seriously study and according to the criteria of basic services as social rights, the establishment of a public company in the area that transfers specialised workers who today work for private companies in terrible conditions, to this eventual public industry; and that representatives of users’ committees, who can be elected and revocable, supervise any possible irregularities that may arise, always under the principle of the common good”.

Likewise, the leaders expressed that the Gasco company is a scandalous part of the gas collusion, as made visible by the investigation carried out by the FNE, exposing the illegal and fraudulent ways it uses to obtain its multi-million profits at the expense of the social majorities and consumers, in the midst of an unprecedented economic, social and health crisis. Likewise, the company headed by Pérez Cruz has made a large part of its profits by exploiting workers and systematically destroying trade union organisation, they said.

Tapia and Bustos said that after their historic strike, and as an exemplary punishment, the company took away the most important benefits they had won, such as “the Gas Workers’ Welfare Corporation (Cobegas), which had two funds: a pension fund that granted former employees a pension complementary to the legal pension, and a Medical Service Fund that functioned as Medical Insurance, which was not conditioned by pre-existing conditions, was not deductible and to which retirees could belong until their death and their widows could continue with the insurance”. They added that, “today, members who are Gasco workers are obliged to join the company’s complementary insurance, which does have deductibles and age limits, and some of its coverage is lower, and retirees cannot belong to it. The president of Cobegas, Lorena Matamala, who is a leader of Gasco’s Union 3, personally called on workers to switch to the company’s health insurance in order to exterminate Cobegas’ insurance. Both insurances were financed by a contribution from the company and a contribution from the worker-member. For example, the company contributed 1.4% of the taxable remuneration to the health insurance. All of this ended.

“Gasco’s anti-union practices add up to a whole chapter of infamy against the interests of the workers”, the leaders declared.

Source: Pressenza

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Energy and Transportation

Greens leader slams Green infighting

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The former leader of the Green party in British Columbia has endorsed the federal Liberals’ plan for combatting climate change.

Andrew Weaver says the Liberal plan is “both bold and thoughtful” and is the only credible plan put forward by any federal party.

The endorsement is another blow for federal Green Leader Annamie Paul, who has struggled with internecine feuding and a lack of financial resources to run a national campaign.

Paul admitted earlier this week that the party will not field a full slate of 338 candidates across the country.

She’s not commenting directly on Weaver’s endorsement but insists the Liberal climate plan is “smoke and mirrors.”

Weaver posted his video endorsement of the Liberal climate plan on social media Thursday; it was eagerly circulated by Liberals, including Leader Justin Trudeau, who made much of the fact that Weaver is a climate scientist.

In the video, Weaver lauds the Liberal plan for including, among other measures, “a world-leading price on carbon pollution” and rapid zero-emissions vehicle deployment “which is even strong policy that one we developed here in B.C.”

“This is a plan that reflects the urgency and scale of the crisis,” he says.

“I’m extremely impressed at how ambitious the Liberal Party of Canada’s plan is and I’m confident that this is the right path for Canada.”

Trudeau retweeted Weaver’s video, saying it “means a lot” given all he’s accomplished as a climate scientist and former Green leader in B.C.

Before joining the B.C. legislature in 2013, Weaver was the Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis at the University of Victoria and a lead author on several United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific assessments. He didn’t run for re-election last year.

At a news conference Thursday in the Toronto Centre riding where she’s trying for the third time to win a seat for herself in the House of Commons, Paul said she hadn’t seen Weaver’s video and couldn’t comment on it.

But she argued that even if the Liberals were to implement every measure in their climate plan, Canada would not meet the Liberals’ original target to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, much less their new, more ambitious target of 40 to 45 per cent.

“The fact of the matter is that you cannot continue to build new pipelines like TMX, support other pipeline projects like Coastal GasLink, greenlight project after project for new oil and gas exploration, continue to support fracking of gas in this country and continue to support the fossil fuel industry to the tune of billions of dollars and hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

Paul muddled her message, however, misspeaking as she declared: “If you want a real plan the only option in this election for you is the Liberals.”

Weaver stressed in an interview that he’s not endorsing the Liberal party per se, he’s endorsing the Liberal climate plan which he called “first rate” and “absolutely exceptional.”

“I’ve always been focused on policy, not partisanship,” he said.

Weaver said he hopes Paul wins a seat and believes she’s “the best thing to happen” to the federal Green party. But he said he doesn’t believe her party grasps the seriousness of the climate crisis.

“The federal Greens do not have a climate plan, to be perfectly blunt,” Weaver said.

“If the federal Greens truly believe that climate change was the defining issue of our time then they wouldn’t be imploding over infighting over views of a Mideast crisis for which nobody really cares what the views of one or two MPs in a Canadian Parliament are,” he added.

In June, Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin crossed the floor to the Liberals after criticizing Paul’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That triggered weeks of infighting and attempts by the party’s executive to put Paul’s leadership to a confidence vote by grassroots members.

Source: The Globe and Mail, Canada

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