China’s energy needs are being blamed for global carbon emissions rising for the first time in four years

China’s growing energy needs have been blamed for global carbon emissions rising in 2017, following three years of them remaining constant.

Research conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project has suggested emissions in China are projected to grow by approximately 3.5% in 2017.

Even though there has been an increased effort to use green energy within the nation, coal use is up an estimated 3%, oil use is up 5% and natural gas use is up nearly 12% in China.

“The green economy is booming in China and elsewhere, but growing energy demands are also being met with new oil, coal and natural gas infrastructure,” said Stanford University scientist Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project.

Image courtesy of University of East Anglia

In their paper, published in in the journals Nature Climate ChangeEarth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, the researchers forecast that global fossil fuel emissions will reach a record 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2017, with total emissions reaching a record 41 billion tons, including deforestation.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said lead researcher Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA

“With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2ºC let alone 1.5ºC.

“This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with more intense rainfall, higher sea levels and warmer ocean conditions favouring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future. We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts.”

Image courtesy of University of East Anglia

While emissions are predicated to rise in China, the researchers expect CO2 emissions to decline by 0.4% in the US and 0.2% in the EU; although, these are smaller declines than during the previous decade.

Renewable energy has also increased rapidly, and 2017 should see another record set for the amount of renewable generating capacity being installed.

“This year’s result is discouraging, but I remain hopeful,” said Jackson. “In the US, cities, states and companies have seized leadership on energy efficiency and low-carbon renewables that the federal government has abdicated.”

Igloo Vision brings large-scale shared VR experience to the US

A shared virtual reality experience that sees users view VR content together inside a large geodesic dome is coming to the US.

Shropshire, the UK, based company Igloo Vision is opening operations in both New York and Los Angeles, aiming to bring their ‘shared VR experiences’ to the US commercial VR market. According to the founder, in terms of content and commercial application, the US is at least three years behind the UK, making it the perfect market for British expansion.

The company itself is the creator of an immersive VR experience called the Igloo. Rather than relying on a headset, multiple users sit together inside a dome or cylindrical pod that then provides a 360 degree VR experience. The dome itself is available in four sizes, ranging from the smallest, a 6m, 12 person Igloo, to the largest, which, with a 21m diameter can house an incredible 750 people.

A dome being used as a recruitment tool by the UK’s army. Image and featured image courtesy of Igloo Vision

The Igloo is principally used for three different commercial applications: ‘experiences’ (to engage, inspire or entertain), ‘simulation’ (to immerse teams in a given scenario) and ‘visualisation’ (to bring design concepts to life).

“While the headset market is perfect for consumers and individuals, the commercial VR market needs something different and is changing rapidly from being an awkward and isolated experience to one where a business’ potential customers, partners or employees can sit relaxed or stand together and view and interact with it,” said Colin Yellowley, founder and MD of Igloo Vision, who will head up the US operations.

“Shared experience makes VR more engaging and more powerful – especially in commercial environments. We have a real opportunity here to be a home-grown UK business who exports innovation and takes a leadership position in an exploding global market.”

Importantly, Igloo Vision has created an advantage by using the principle of what it refers to as ‘frugal innovation’. Rather than taking a top-down approach to create bespoke 360 degree VR projection environments with expensive projectors and screens, the company instead uses off-the-shelf components to build simple, reusable igloos. Taking this approach has allowed the company to reduce the entry level cost of a shared VR experience from millions to less than £100,000.

Igloo domes have already been used at a number of exhibitions and events, including the Giorgio Armani‏ exhibition at this year’s SXSW. Image courtesy of Giorgio Armani‏

Already employed by consumer and retail brands to bring a new product experience to customers, Igloo Vision has also been employed by the armed forces and oil companies to run simulations and training for personnel. With the US already accounting for more than 50% of the company’s revenue, and leading VR spending globally, Igloo Vision is hoping that the region’s heavy investment into the tech, versus the UK’s greater caution in adoption, will help to take them to new heights.

Igloo Vision’s CEO, Dennis Wright, believes that the UK is at risk of losing its technological lead in VR.

“The US market is investing heavily into VR technology, and as a leading supplier of VR projection technology we need to ensure that we’re at the heart of that investment,” he said. “The UK has the best skills and content developers in the world. As a nation we need to adopt a US mentality and attitude to growth and success or risk losing out as the VR market develops further State side.”