Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Carbon Visuals, a UK-based firm (brought to EDF’s attention by Power Angels) dedicated to “communicating carbon data more effectively,” were honored by American Clean Air Skies Foundation at their awards gala to commemorate videographers and web-based innovators for works that bring climate change and energy resources to mainstream media. Carbon Visuals produced a video, funded by EDF, which encapsulates, literally, New York City’s (NYC) carbon emissions in a year’s time. The video shows blue bubbles as they multiply and expand to cover NYC’s skyline over the course of an hour, day and year. It was designed to engage everyday people who use energy (which is everyone!), helping them to visualize the magnitude of carbon emissions emitted in order to better understand why we must act NOW to accelerate the transition to the clean, low-carbon energy economy we need to avoid climate catastrophe.
This visually impactful video was made possible with the support of NYC and its exemplary effort to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City of New York provided a report from September 2011, Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, documenting the 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the principal contributor to man-made climate change – NYC added to the atmosphere that year. The building sector alone contributed approximately 75 percent of the emissions, with the bulk of the remainder attributed to the transportation sector. While these figures may seem irreversible, NYC and Mayor Bloomberg have made considerable strides to reduce emissions in one of the most energy-intensive cities in the world. For instance, emissions in 2010 were 12 percent less than 2005 emissions, and NYC continues to stay on track to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2017 – a commendable target.
Much of this reduction was achieved through city-wide clean energy efforts, such as PlaNYC 2030 and NYC Clean Heat. Because buildings consume 70% of electricity in the U.S. and emit more than a third of greenhouse gases, energy efficiency represents an enormous opportunity to cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions. And EDF is striving to reduce policy and market barriers that prevent the building sector from realizing the full potential of energy efficiency. We’ve been working on identifying market opportunities and driving new financing models for clean energy through programs such as “On-Bill Repayment” (OBR) and our “Investor Confidence Project” (ICP). Bringing these solutions and approaches to scale will drastically reduce emissions or, as Carbon Visuals sees it, burst a ton of blue bubbles.