Climate change: Why the EU wants to accelerate Earth observation from space

Earth from space

Air pollution, sea level, land artificialisation… Since 2014, the European Union has been acquiring a fleet of satellites to observe the state of the Earth. This is the Copernicus program, whose future will be discussed in Toulouse on Wednesday and Thursday

One thousand eight hundred plumes of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, including 1,200 observed over oil and gas extraction sites. This is what an international team of researchers, led by the French Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE) and associated with the company Kayrros, has managed to identify across the globe. “These releases may be accidental or related to maintenance operations,” the scientists said. And yet, these 1,800 methane leaks have an impact comparable to that of the traffic of 20 million vehicles for one year,” they calculate.

This work was published in the scientific journal Science on February 4. To achieve this mapping, the researchers systematically analyzed thousands of images produced daily for two years by the Sentinel-5 SP satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA).


A valuable support for the ecological transition?

This is a concrete application of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth monitoring program. Since 2014, eight satellites have been placed in orbit around the Earth to observe it from every angle. This is phase “one” of the program, which ended last year. The second phase has already been approved by the EU and will see the launch of six new Sentinels between 2025 and 2029. And on Wednesday and Thursday, in Toulouse, during a high-level symposium on the sidelines of the informal meeting of European space ministers, the future of Copernicus up to 2035 will be discussed.

This is proof that the European Union is not planning to stop Copernicus any time soon. Quite the contrary. We are entering a critical period in which we will have to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and to do so, we will have to be accompanied,” says climatologist Robert Vautard, director of research at the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute (LPSL). However, “the majority of climate change indicators can only be monitored correctly from space”.

Air quality, sea level rise, ground temperature

In addition to locating methane leaks, the Sentinel-5SP, with its spectrometer*, “can analyze air quality by measuring components such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) [an indicator of automobile pollution], ozone, sulfur dioxide and aerosols,” reports H. Laur, head of the space mission. Laur, head of Earth observation missions at the European Space Agency (ESA).

Henri Laur also cites “Sentinel-2”, “probably the best known and which gives images of the entire surface of the Earth every five days and in high resolution (with a precision of ten meters). A valuable instrument for monitoring the state of vegetation – particularly forests – and land artificialisation. Other Copernicus satellites, through the various instruments they carry, will measure the rise in sea level, ground temperatures on the surface of the oceans, monitor sea ice, identify local pollution such as oil slicks … Sentinel 3 even has on board a water color sensor that can monitor the levels of microalgae in our waters, both carbon sinks and the basis of the marine food chain.

Concrete applications, from agriculture to urban planning

The new generation of satellites expected from 2025 should improve the observation of parameters already monitored by Copernicus and add new ones. “We are currently developing CO2M [Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring Mission], a satellite that will specialize in measuring the quantities of CO2 (the main greenhouse gas) released into the atmosphere, which should be launched around 2026.

But the challenge of Copernicus is not only to monitor the health of the Earth. It is also to find concrete applications for these satellite data,” adds Vautard, who is working on the downstream part of the Copernicus program. “By combining them with forecasting models, we can make climate projections for very short and much longer periods,” explains the climatologist. Agriculture is probably the market that should benefit the most from Copernicus, allowing projections on agricultural yields, risks of drought, especially allowing better management of water and planting periods. “But we have also recently worked with the city of Paris and the Ile-de-France region on urban planning scenarios to adapt to climate change and expected heat waves. And on its website, Copernicus lists, on 26 pages, concrete applications or planned applications based on its satellite data. From the “blue economy” to health, forest management, optimization of renewable energy production … All over the world.


Copernicus, future policeman of the Paris agreements?

This is one of the strengths of Copernicus: “The EU does not charge for the program’s data,” he says. Anyone, including private actors, can use them to imagine climate services and generate economic activity. These two days of symposium in Toulouse should allow us to project even further by setting priorities for the third generation of Copernicus satellites – the one that should be put into orbit by 2035. The challenge is to improve the accuracy of the indicators already monitored by Copernicus and to identify new ones to be observed and to imagine future applications.

One of these is to make Copernicus the future policeman of the Paris Agreement on climate change? It would not be the first time that we monitor compliance with international treaties from space,” says Oliver Sanguy. This is already the case, for example, with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The stakes are just as high on climate change. “We must now ensure that countries fulfill their part of the contract and drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Relying only on their declarations will not be enough. This is one of the goals of the CO2M satellite, which will measure the quantities of CO2 produced by human activity. In the same way, we could very well imagine that this mapping of the 1,800 methane plumes would be followed by a rebuke of countries and companies that do not make sufficient efforts to avoid these leaks.

Why did glacial cycles intensify a million years ago?

glacial cycles intensify

A major event seems to have impacted our Planet about one million years ago, during an episode called “mid-Pleistocene transition”: before this period, the cycles between glacial (colder) and interglacial (warmer) periods followed each other every 41,000 years, but they then intensified, sometimes giving rise to glacial periods lasting over 100,000 years. Paleoclimatologists have long debated the precise origin of this abrupt climate change.

Extending from 2.58 million years to 11,700 years before the present, the Pleistocene is a geological period covering the majority of recent known glaciations. The climate is characterized by intense cycles of glaciation, allowing the ice to cover more than 30% of the Earth’s surface during the maximum of glaciation: we find imposing glaciers in New Zealand, in the Ethiopian mountains or in the Atlas Mountains, in North Africa.

But these glacial cycles, characterized by a period of 41,000 years more than a million years ago, seem to have been largely impacted by a still unknown phenomenon to give the longer cycles we observe today.

Milankovitch cycles at the origin of these variations?

Scientists have been hesitating for a long time about the origin of this phenomenon. The most likely reason currently accepted is the Milankovitch cycles, cyclical variations in the Earth’s orbit that affect the amount of energy absorbed by the Earth.

On a geological scale, this is indeed the main natural driver for the alternation of warm and cold periods over several million years. However, some researchers argue that if the Milankovitch cycles did not undergo major changes a million years ago, another internal phenomenon was probably at work.

The role of the North Atlantic

Researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute analyzed sediment cores from the North and South Atlantic, looking specifically at the concentrations of the isotope Neodymium, a chemical element used as a tool for studying past ocean currents.

They found that a major Atlantic current system, the AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Circulation), underwent a severe weakening at a time coinciding with the “Mid-Pleistocene Transition” in the northern ocean. The researchers in the study link this change in ocean current to the greater presence of glaciers in the northern hemisphere, creating a more intense global cooling.

This discovery sheds light on the origin of a recent climate transition that is still unknown, and highlights the importance of the North Atlantic and ocean currents in past and future climate variations.

The main benefits of increased cannabis culture in the world

cannabis culture trending

From time immemorial, humanity has used the multiple properties of cannabis for clothing, health care, food, and the production of many foodstuffs used in sectors as diverse as construction and retail.

But beyond its valuable resources for humanity, cannabis is also a precious ally in our time’s severe ecological crisis. Here are a few examples.

Cannabis helps forests generate oxygen and reduce global warming.

The growing needs of humanity for the products resulting from logging have led to endemic deforestation responsible for many ecological disasters. A simple solution exists. However, cannabis can easily be used as a substitute for most of the elements produced by woodworking.

By preserving the planet’s ecosystem, the cycle of flora and fauna is not only protected from the harmful effects of human activity, but the forests thus continue to produce oxygen, thus combating global warming. Another example is the natural biodegradable cannabis-based plastic that significantly reduces our ecological footprint.

Cannabis to help fight starvation in the world.

Cannabis seeds contain amino acids and fatty acids essential for the proper functioning of the human body. It is the plant source with the most edible variants for the digestive system and the adequate fatty acid ratio for our nutritional needs.

Unfortunately, its lousy reputation prevents its massive use, which would be very useful in regions of the world affected by famine.

Cannabis as a natural medicine

The demonization surrounding the use of cannabis as natural medicine has finally retreated in the face of the considerable amount of scientific research conducted on the subject in recent years.

One of the most convincing examples is the set of studies carried out on CBD Oil. This non-psychoactive substance of cannabis (which does not provide the plant’s recreational effects) can be used as a supplement in the treatment of many diseases and other afflictions (arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, etc…).

Easy to produce, economical, and ecological, it represents a perfect substitute for the heavy medication of certain toxic pharmaceutical products such as painkillers and tranquilizers that every year leads thousands of people to fight against forms of dependence with sometimes tragic outcomes.

Cannabis contributes to the rehabilitation of contaminated soils.

One aspect of cannabis’s properties that is still little known is its contribution to the rehabilitation of areas contaminated by heavy metals or sewage residues. An instructive example took place at the end of the 1990s when cannabis was tested at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site.

Here is a plant that adapts to most climates on our planet. Most of its non-polluting and perfectly biodegradable products are palliatives to a wide range of contemporary industrial equivalents. A plant that could help humanity in what may well represent the greatest challenge of its existence, the fight against excessive pollution and the resulting climate change.

You can find a list of some of the best cannabis seeds available on the market on this French website

Do renewable energies have an impact on biodiversity?

Wind turbines, dams, and solar farms are essential in the fight against climate change. But they should not be built just anywhere because these infrastructures generate the development of roads and infrastructure that impact biodiversity in an often uncontrolled manner.

Is it necessary to choose between global warming and the preservation of biodiversity? It is the question raised by renewable energies.They  reduce greenhouse gas emissions by producing “clean” energy.They generate an artificialization of natural areas with a significant loss of habitat and biodiversity. A study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, reviewed nearly 3,000 renewable energy installations worldwide (solar, wind and hydroelectric power plants) and calculated that they encroach on or degrade 886 protected natural areas and more than 800 critical sites for biodiversity, as defined by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Wind energy, 100 times more space-consuming than nuclear power

It must be said that renewable energies are particularly space-intensive. According to the calculations of a study by The Nature Conservancy (focusing only on installations in the United States), wind energy impacts an area equivalent to 126.9 km2 per TWh produced, compared with 15.1 km2 for solar photovoltaic and 16.9 km2 for dams. By comparison, coal generates an impact of 0.64 km2, and a nuclear power plant requires an area of just 0.13 km2. The installation of a single wind turbine requires, for example, a crane area, a permanent parking area, an area around the foundations and above the dam, an access road, etc. Between the concreting and clearing of the land, some dams emit even more greenhouse gases than coal power plants, reports another 2019 study.

An anarchic development of renewable energies “incompatible with efforts to preserve biodiversity.”

“More than 2,200 renewable energy units are in operation worldwide, and 900 are under construction. These infrastructures, as well as all those they generate such as roads and associated human activities, have a devastating impact on natural areas and are totally incompatible with efforts to preserve biodiversity,” says José Rehbein, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia. It is particularly evident in Western Europe, where more than 1,200 power plants (nearly one in four) are built on sensitive or protected areas.

Examples of this nonsense are legion. In the Amazon, the Balbina dam, north of Manaus, has submerged more than 312,000 hectares of primary tropical forest and created an artificial archipelago of 3,546 islands, of which only 0.7 percent are still capable of sheltering the species previously present. In Russia, the Volgograd Dam forms a barrier to the passage of sturgeon migrating up the Caspian Sea.

Reaching 1,000°C with solar energy is the crazy bet of this start-up

On November 18, the top investors from Silicon Valley gathered at an industrial site near Lancaster, California, to witness a demonstration of a revolutionary technology: reaching temperatures of 1,000°C with the sun. It is enough to decarbonize the world’s most polluting industries and generate green electricity on a large scale.

Heliogen is based on a technology known since ancient times, namely thermodynamically concentrated solar energy. This system uses thousands of parabolic mirrors (called heliostats) to converge the sun’s rays into a tower containing a heat transfer fluid (usually water) that will turn a turbine using heat. There are already several such plants in Andalusia, Dubai, and California.

Decarbonize concrete and steel manufacturing

Reaching temperatures as high as 1,000°C naturally provides an advantage for electricity production: the more water is heated, the higher the power injected into the turbine. The stored heat could also be used as a night storage device. But the start-up is mainly aimed at industrial uses, in particular, the production of steel and concrete. These two activities are very greenhouse gas emitters because they require temperatures close to 1,500 °C to heat coke or the mixture of clay and limestone. Concrete production alone is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. According to the start-up, these companies could reduce their fossil fuel consumption by 60% by using the electricity supplied by its system.

Mirrors that constantly adjust their position

But where current thermodynamic power plants reach a maximum temperature of 560°, Heliogen promises to exceed 1,000°C or even 1,500°C. Rather than building more and more mirrors, the start-up is betting on artificial intelligence to optimize heat concentration by changing the orientation of the panels in real-time.

 To solve this problem, Heliotrop has installed cameras that precisely measure the position of each mirror by taking equidistant points around it (the camera cannot directly observe the mirror without which it would melt due to the intensity of the light). Thus, the alignment of each mirror allows the light to converge more efficiently on a given point, about 50 cm in diameter.

Green “hydrogen” at will

Another promising market is hydrogen, a potential fuel for the cars of the future. Currently, hydrogen production is mainly based on the reforming of natural gas with water vapor, a process that is not very environmentally friendly. It is also possible to use electrolysis to obtain hydrogen, but this method is very inefficient and requires a lot of energy. The very high temperatures of Heliogen’s thermodynamic solar energy would theoretically make it possible to obtain from this famous “green” hydrogen, the Grail of industrialists.

A reduced version of this solar concentration system with 70 mirrors has apparently been successfully tested. A “normal” scale deployment would cover about 8,000 square meters, about the equivalent of a football field. Much less than these conventional power plants, the largest of which, in the Mojave Desert in the United States, extends over 14 km2 with its 173,500 heliostat mirrors.

How San Fernando in the Philippines is transforming into a waste-free city

Until six years ago, the streets were littered with garbage, but citizens decided to take action.

San Fernando hopes to become a waste-free city. Between 2012 and 2018, the town north of Manila, Philippines, increased the percentage of waste diverted from landfills from 12 to 80%. Instead of going to landfills or, even worse, to watercourses, most of the waste collected in the city is composted or offered for recycling.

According to a World Bank report from 2018, nearly two billion tonnes of solid waste were generated worldwide in 2016, which could reach 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050.

The Philippines, which contributes significantly to plastic pollution in the oceans, produced more than 14 million tonnes of waste in 2016. Only 28% were recycled.

Almost two decades after the country’s adoption of the law on the ecological management of solid waste, which required the installation of material recovery facilities (MRIs) in each village, the practice is still far from established.

The MRIs were to receive mixed waste for sorting, separation, composting and recycling. Residual waste is transferred to storage areas or incineration. However, some public officials argued that the law was not economically viable, particularly for low-income municipalities.

A tiring but necessary job

In addition to the significant policies, which include a total ban on plastic and polystyrene, the city has also launched short-term programmes, such as collective clean-ups, to keep the initiative at the forefront of public concerns.

From now on, all households follow waste sorting policies in three categories: biodegradable, recyclable and residual. Some houses even have their compost pits.

Around San Fernando, imagining that that solid waste once littered its streets is difficult.

Across the country, other local governments have begun to follow the city’s example, working with groups such as MEF to improve their waste management.

Garbage on the streets

 In 2012, San Fernando’s local government called on MEF to implement a zero waste strategy in the city. It was a long and exhausting effort.

In 2018, the city of San Fernando was considered one of the world’s model cities for waste management.

Froilan Grate attributes the success of this initiative to a combination of support from local authorities, strict implementation of policies and an active household education campaign.

The city now has more than one hundred waste treatment facilities in its 35 villages, far more than the minimum number required by law.

Rene Lasca, president of a local landowners’ association, explains that the decision to create his management center in the neighborhood contributes to the city’s waste management efforts. It also allows them to sell recyclables and compost, as well as to foster camaraderie between neighbors.

Looking At Bitcoin And The Environment

bitcoin and environmental impacts

While Bitcoin has received quite a bit of attention over the last few years, there are a few things that people haven’t looked at closely. For example, there are a lot of people that haven’t considered the impact that Bitcoin has on the environment. If you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint, this is a subject that you won’t want to learn more about.

Bitcoins Are Mined

New Bitcoins are introduced to the market through a process called mining. This process takes quite a bit of computing power. Mining Bitcoin can consume a great deal of energy. This rapid energy consumption can take a toll on the planet.

If you’re merely purchasing Bitcoin through a website, it’s easy to forget where that coin came from. You should learn more about Bitcoin mining at the toll that it takes. As people mine more and more Bitcoin, the damage to the environment will increase.

There Is A Limit To How Much Bitcoin Can Be Mined

bitcoin and environmental impactsIf an infinite amount of Bitcoin could be mined, then people would keep on generating more and more Bitcoin. It would cause the overall value of this cryptocurrency to drop. Because of this, there are strict limits on how much Bitcoin can actually be mined. In many ways, Bitcoin operates in the same way that paper money does.

Because there are limits on Bitcoin, there are also limits on the damage that it can cause. You may want to learn more about mining and the restrictions surrounding it. That way, you’ll be able to make an educated decision about whether or not you’d like to purchase Bitcoin.

There Are Other Types Of Cryptocurrencies

Even though Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency, it isn’t the only option out there. There are many other cryptocurrencies available. These currencies are often referred to as “altcoins.” Purchasing bitcoin is easy, if you are looking to d’acheter du bitcoin en france, there are many bitcoin brokers out there!

There are different rules and restrictions on different currencies. Some currencies are far more environmentally-friendly than Bitcoin is. If you have an interest in crypto, but also have concerns about the environment, then you’ll want to look at some of your other choices.

It’s Best To Weigh Your Options

Before you make any decisions about what you do or don’t want to do, you’ll want to look at your options. Do you feel like you can use Bitcoin in an environmentally responsible way? How do you feel about some of the other currencies that are on the crypto market?

You should take a good look at every choice you have and decide how you would like to proceed from there. Examine every option you have and find a decision that you are comfortable with. No matter what you wind up doing, you’ll want to know that the option you’ve selected works for you.

Pay attention to Bitcoin and the environment. If you’re aware of the impact that Bitcoin has on the world around us, you can make sure that you use it responsibly. You may also want to look into altcoins to see how environmentally friendly they are.

Genetics: Yes, the environment can influence our DNA

Epigenetic research discovers how the environment communicates with genes and educates their activity. This communication includes a system that uses specific molecules produced by cellular metabolism to modify the histone proteins that organize DNA chemically. An international collaboration has just highlighted a new way of communicating with genes by characterizing the function of chemical modifications of histones unknown until now.

Our cells organize the DNA carrying our genes into a compact structure within the nucleus of our cells using specific proteins, histones. Intense research over the last few decades has revealed chemical changes in histones that constitute a real language instructing the function of associated genes.

Specific molecular systems have been identified that implement, recognize, interpret and remove these changes. All these systems cooperate to direct the functioning of genes according to their molecular environment. However, cellular metabolism strongly conditions this environment.

One of the first chemical modifications identified and intensely studied is acetylation. It is placed by enzymes, histones-acetyltransferases (HAT), and is recognized by proteins with a particular domain, bromodomain: it is removed by other enzymes, histones-deacetylases (HDAC). HATs use acetyl-CoA, a small molecule produced by metabolism, to direct the acetylation of histones. It can directly modify the packaging of genes by histones or signal the action of other proteins on genes. This system therefore directly links the functioning of genes to the production of acetyl-CoA in cells and, as a result, relates gene activity to metabolism.


Modification of histones, these specific proteins


Collaborative research by French, American and Chinese scientists shows that histone acetylation has a competitor, butyrylation, a modification that also has its source in metabolism. Surprisingly, it has been observed that the most active genes are not only marked by acetylation of histones, but also by butyrylation of the same histones. They also show that the enzyme that acetyls histones also directs butyrylation.

Butyrylation, like acetylation of histones, directly activates gene expression, but on the other hand, prevents proteins that recognize acetylation from binding to histones. As a result, the researchers discovered an aspect of active gene expression that is based on a successive alternation of different chemical modifications of histones with opposite functional consequences. This system creates a dynamic state of return of factors at the gene level, necessary to maintain their active expression.


Better understand the control of gene expression.


The discovery of this system brings new concepts to understand better how genes work and how the environment communicates with them. Indeed, a change in the ratio of acetylation and butyrylation of histones, both from metabolism, could durably affect the state of gene expression. It could explain how a metabolic disorder could drastically alter genome expression.

The prospects for a thorough understanding of the control of gene expression, the effect of the environment on gene expression and the occurrence of diseases, as well as the identification of mechanisms for the transgenerational transmission of information from the environment, stem from this work published in the journal Molecular Cell.

Oceans: the effects of plastics on animals and the environment

The first effect of plastic waste is a visual impact: debris washed up on the banks of rivers, beaches, piles of floating objects at sea. But some less directly apparent effects are also more severe.

Every second, hundreds of tons of waste (out of the 4 billion generated annually) ends up at sea, much of it plastic. Floating objects or microparticles, this plastic waste is deposited on beaches, dispersed at sea and found on the seabed. What effects do they have on man and his environment?

Highly resistant, abandoned or accidentally lost nets constitute a significant cause of mortality in animals; associations estimate that 100,000 marine mammals and one million birds die from strangulation or choking in these traps around the world each year. 

Transport of invasive species via plastic

Not many studies have been conducted, but the risk is there, with its environmental, health and economic consequences (invasive algae, bacteria in oyster or fish farming areas).
The recent discovery of the insect Halobates sericeus living on floating plastics in the Pacific is a perfect illustration. A 2007 study showed that the spread of species in subtropical waters has almost doubled due to debris. It tripled in temperate waters.

The real danger is the alteration of ecosystem balance caused by the transport of invasive species over long distances. Some wastes are useful floating supports for bacteria (specific pathogens for marine organisms such as humans, vibrios for example), unicellular or invertebrates, worms, insects, capable of acclimatizing in an area other than their original biotope, especially concerning climate change 

Ingestion of plastic waste by animals

The ingestion of plastic waste is another cause of mortality, affecting about 660 species. Seabirds sting floating pieces of plastic, and turtles confuse them with jellyfish.

Due to their components (plasticizers, additives) and the possible release of adsorbed contaminants, plastics are also suspected to be a source of water contamination. But in reality, the measured concentrations are too low for the substances released during their degradation to constitute a significant toxicity risk. The level of chemical contaminants remains limited but more dangerous for the filtering of marine organisms that accumulate them.

Large whales filter seawater, ingesting large quantities of microplastics. Molluscs, such as mussels, filter m3 of water containing microparticles. Plankton, invertebrates or small fish can also ingest Microwaste. However, the rate of ingestion remains very anecdotal for the species consumed (less than 0.01% of commercial fish), and there is no trace of it on our plates. Although micro waste can block the digestive and respiratory systems of some individuals, it is not digested due to the lack of suitable enzymatic equipment.

Water management and the objective of sustainable development

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Water is a vital and yet so scarce resource.

More than 65% of the earth’s water covers the planet earth in various forms: fresh or salt water, liquid or ice, green water. 30% of the world’s population does not have access to drinking water. Because on the blue planet, only fresh water is viable.
However “being unevenly distributed across the globe and its use being sometimes inadequately managed, some regions are characterised by water scarcity or are already in short supply.

Water scarcity will be one of the most critical problems of the 21st century. Droughts, water stress, desertification, polluted water and climate change exacerbate this situation. The lake Chad, which is supposed to supply nearly 20 million people, has seen its level so dangerously reduced (from 22,000 km2 to 2,500 km2), that it should benefit from a filling project to preserve its social and economic role.

Recent disasters could also cast doubt on this scarcity. The quantity of water that appears, combined with an inadequate piping system and anarchic constructions, transforms the water source of life into a means of destruction. In the rainy season, Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, is underwater. And for a good reason, Cotonou, or the swamp of death in the local language, is a natural reservoir of water. In Côte d’ Ivoire, the populations have renamed their commune Koumassi “Koum-Beach,” ironically masking their distress. In Sierra Leone, floods and mudslides killed nearly 400 people. The pattern is repeated around the world: Miami, Saint Martin, Haiti, etc.

afnancnxbaxxcxccccccFaced with a situation that seems to persist from generation to generation, the population remains helpless. This abundant water that accumulates in neighbourhoods and houses could at least partly be reused for other uses.

Water, therefore, becomes scarce. Not because there are fewer, but because needs are increasing and the quality of the resource is deteriorating, and potential effects of climate change could change its availability. This scarcity is mostly the result of poor management: management that does not provide incentives to use water sparingly; that does not systematically allocate water where it is most useful, and that does not contain sufficient incentives to preserve the quality of the resource.

In Cotonou, a project hopes to soon contribute to channeling this water so that it no longer acts as a brake on the economic and social development of the city.

The Sehomi Group hopes to take up the first level of challenge by developing a solar pumping solution that would make it possible to clean up flooded areas, and then recycle rainwater for non-hygienic uses such as urban tidying and industrial cleaning. Thus, water resulting from floods and perceived so far as a threat can be transformed into an opportunity for people.

How Europe’s biggest cities fight pollution

massive cloud

Despite all the anti-climate change enthusiasts out there, pollution is a major deal in most of the European cities these days.

London Urban Tollbooth

In London, polluting vehicles can still access the centre if they pay for it. 11.50 pounds per day (12.9 euros). This urban toll, introduced in 2003, is in effect between 7 a. m. and 6 p. m., Monday to Friday. Drivers can pay by phone, SMS, Internet or in a fully equipped shop. Some of them are exempt, such as motorcycles, taxis, those running on alternative fuels…

Surveillance cameras are automatically reading license plates. Any delay will result in an increase.
The British capital is also developing bicycle paths. The public transit authority, Transport for London (TfL), is working on an urban development plan and in June released a map of 25 lanes in the capital for cyclists based on potential demand. The country will ban diesel cars by 2040.

european map of pollution

The centre of Madrid is pedestrianised

The mayor, Manuela Carmena, promised at the end of 2016 the near-pedestrianisation by May 2019 of the Gran Via, one of the city’s symbols. This central avenue will only be accessible to cyclists, buses and taxis. This decision is part of the plan to ban cars from part of its city centre, 2 km², by 2020. Urban planners are working on the transformation of 24 busy streets into pedestrian areas. Drivers who break the rules will pay at least 90 euros in fines and the most polluting drivers will have to pay more to park in car parks.

Cycling is king in Copenhagen

The city has set itself the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. It targets 50% of cycling by 2025. The Danish capital has planned to invest 134 million euros in ten years. In particular, it has drawn up a plan for bicycle superhighways, which will extend to the nearby suburbs. The first of the 28 planned routes opened in 2014, with a further 11 roads expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

New street furniture is also being designed – railings to avoid putting your feet on the ground at the fire, bins tilted towards the slopes… Intermodality is encouraged: bicycles are transported free of charge in regional trains. The generalisation of the speed limit to 40 km/h and the disappearance of car parks completes the system, in order to dissuade motorists.

Oslo tackles parking lots

paris under the fogThe Norwegian capital had announced in 2015 that it would ban cars from its city centre by 2019. This ban is accompanied by a public transport investment plan and the replacement of 56 kilometres of roads with cycle paths. In June, the city council planned to dissuade motorists by closing parking spaces.

Oxford relies on electricity

Oxford, the first British city to ban all non-electric vehicles, wants to create a zero-emission zone in part of the city centre. Six streets will be closed to combustion-powered vehicles by 2020, including buses and taxis. The area will be gradually extended to the entire city centre and all vehicles by 2035. In addition, users of electric cars will pay less for parking. Total cost of the measure: approximately £7 million (EUR 7,9 million) for the city, county, bus, taxi and other companies. An equivalent amount of money will be spent on infrastructure, including surveillance cameras capable of reading license plates. Fines will be automatically sent to offenders.

Brussels, giant pedestrian zone

It is the largest pedestrian zone in Europe, covering more than 50 hectares. Since June 2015, from Place De Brouckère to Place Fontainas, the boulevards and adjacent streets have been permanently closed to traffic. The city continues to expand its pedestrian zones. The Belgian capital launched its first “Mobility Week” in 2002, to encourage residents to take public or alternative transport.

Berlin monitors its emissions

In 2008, the German capital created an 88 km² low-emission urban area in the centre of the city, which affects about a third of its inhabitants. All gasoline and diesel vehicles that do not meet the established criteria are prohibited. Berlin also announced in March a plan to build a dozen “superhighway” roads for cyclists, which will be launched at the end of the year.

Urbanization in Africa: Veolia pleads for co-creation


The Continent is transforming itself in giant steps, and the number of its inhabitants is increasing. This demographic development, which has led to rapid urbanization, poses the public authorities with a huge challenge: to offer populations the best possible access to resources while preserving the environment.

Veolia, the world leader in optimised resource management, is one of the most important partners of the African public authorities in helping them meet this challenge.

Africa is changing speed and changing at a high rate. In just ten years, it has established itself as the continent of growth, investment, and attractiveness. By gaining 1 billion people by 2050 to reach 2 billion people, the continent is poised to experience an unprecedented urban revolution. The figures are edifying. Two out of three Africans will live in one city, while today already 52 African cities have more than 1 million inhabitants. This demographic growth favors the emergence of new connected middle classes that boost economic growth.

Over the last ten years, Africa has recorded a growth rate of almost 5%. It is expected to grow at similarly high levels in the coming years. But this growth brings with it significant challenges that must be met.

Growth that must be helped

Urban expansion and population growth inevitably lead to tensions over municipal resources. Tensions are first of all over drinking water, and then over the consequences of the discharge of wastewater, which increases in proportion to the number of inhabitants and the water consumed, but also over energy sources, which are becoming increasingly scarce and whose exploitation becomes insufficient to meet the needs of a growing population.

There is, therefore, no need to emphasize the importance of investing in these strategic sectors. Investment needs in sub-Saharan Africa’s cities are estimated at more than $35 billion per year. African cities, which have the highest growth rate in the world, need to catch up in this area because there is a delay and its consequences can be catastrophic.

When urban growth occurs without infrastructure and uncontrolled, it creates friendly neighborhoods that are not connected to essential services and become sources of inequality, soil pollution, and social tensions. Cities without solid and well-thought-out infrastructure are time-delayed health and environmental bombs.


Tailor-made to serve Africa

The construction of tomorrow’s metropolises requires not only the establishment of real urban infrastructures for transport, waste collection, access to energy and drinking water in particular, but also the clarification of land rights to facilitate the emergence of a formal real estate market. How to meet the challenge?

There is no miracle recipe in Africa or abroad. Several conditions must be met: stable and robust governance of countries; decentralization of responsibilities for the management and piloting of infrastructures; access to international financing; and local responses to local problems. More than that, it is necessary to innovate by proposing tailor-made offers in response to domestic challenges and above all by developing pragmatic and agile solutions.

Forty or so mayors from around the world in Paris for climate change forums

Paris will host eight closed-door forums on Sunday and Monday dedicated to the environment, bringing together some forty mayors from around the world, under the aegis of Anne Hidalgo.

Some forty mayors including those of London, Bogota, Cape Town, Tokyo or Los Angeles, will gather Sunday and Monday in Paris for forums devoted to the environment and the fight for air quality, said Tuesday, the organizers.

Organized by the C40, the international network of mayors, chaired by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a forum,”Together4Climate” (Together for Climate) will bring together mayors and leaders of large companies on Sunday in camera to “forge the necessary alliance” to accelerate the ecological transition.

Energy, mobility and urban planning are on the agenda. The aim will be to exchange and highlight the solutions to be proposed, with a particular focus on energy, mobility, and urban planning. One-third of greenhouse gas emissions in C40 cities come from transport, and traffic is the most important source of air pollution, recalls this organization, which will bring together public and private innovators working in the city of tomorrow on Monday, with new technologies at the service of urban innovation.

Commitments announced Monday. On Monday, mayors will announce commitments from their cities to fight air pollution and climate change. At the same time, again at the initiative of the C40, Paris is hosting an annual summit of innovators from all over the world on Sunday and Monday Citylab, meeting this year on the theme of “urban solutions for global challenges.”