Claude Monet and his wife Camille were married on 28 June 1870, just before the onset of the Franco Prussian War on 19 July of the same year.
Their wedding trip (paid for by Édouard Manet and Frédéric Bazille) took them to the seaside resort town of Trouville, along the Normandy coast of the English Channel.
“Hôtel des roches noires. Trouville” (1870, oil on canvas) depicts the fashionable beachfront hotel, built in 1866 in the Second Empire Style (architects: Alphonse-Nicolas Crépinet and Robert Mallet-Stevens).
Monet and his family stayed further from the beach, at the Hotel Tivoli.
“Hôtel des roches noires. Trouville” was acquired by Jean Henry Laroche, Paris, in 1924.
By decree of 7 July 1947 the painting was accepted by the State of France from Jacques Laroches, a donation with life interest reserved.
In 1986 “Hôtel des roches noires. Trouville” was assigned to the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
The construction and demolition of buildings in China was responsible for nearly a fifth of the nation’s annual CO2 emissions in 2015, according to a new study.
The world’s largest emitter has seen building rates soar as existing structures are torn down and replaced with skyscrapers to house the nation’s rapidly urbanising population.
All of this comes with a significant carbon footprint, both to produce the cement, steel and other materials required and from the emissions produced once the project is underway.
The researchers behind the new study, published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, say this has not received enough attention in China, despite being an “unignorable and critical” component of the nation’s emissions.
However, other academics Carbon Brief talked to said that while China’s construction “boom” is undoubtedly carbon-intensive, there are “issues” with the methods used in this analysis.
A growing urban population and land scarcity have contributed to significant growth in construction – particularly of high-rise buildings – across China.
Since 2010, China has been responsible for around half of the world’s growth in construction, with many buildings only standing for around 30 years before being demolished.
Their construction, maintenance and demolition all come with a carbon cost. Previous studies have estimated that the energy consumption of China’s building sector has more than tripled since 2001.
Xinyi Shen from Greenpeace East Asia tells Carbon Brief that, given this, it is not surprising that China’s “construction fever” is a primary driver of its emissions.
Embodied CO2 is defined in the paper as total emissions from “building materials manufacturing and transportation, building construction, maintenance and demolition”. Operational emissions are those arising from day-to-day energy use – for example, lighting, heating and cooling.
The authors say that operational carbon is generally assumed to be the primary contributor to the sector’s emissions, meaning strategies have focused on improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
However, they say that if China is to hit its climate target of peaking emissions in 2030, it will need to make embodied emissions a priority.
Time lapse showing the development that has taken place in Shanghai between 1984-2018. Source: Google Earth Engine
Bottom-up and top-down
The researchers looked at building activity throughout 2015, a year when Chinese economic stimulus – and the construction it helps drive – was reportedly at relatively low levels.
To estimate the embodied CO2 for construction that year – excluding civil engineering projects, such as bridges and roads – the researchers used two different approaches.
First, they used a process-based assessment. This was a “bottom-up” method that involved working out the total emissions of all the processes feeding into Chinese construction, from chemical reactions in cement factories to machinery used on building sites.
For the second assessment they used an input-output model. This was a “top-down” approach for which the team took national data and isolated the relevant components.
One of the paper’s co-authors, Dr Wei Feng, tells Carbon Brief this is “the first systematic analysis” of China’s embodied CO2 emissions using both of these methods.
Results based on the process approach showed that the embodied carbon in the Chinese building sector for that year was 1,422m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2), while the input-output method settled on 1,600MtCO2.
Residential buildings had around twice the emissions cost of non-residential buildings. The study notes how China’s housing has shifted from brick and wood to reinforced concrete and steel high-rise structures.
Crucially, the researchers say their estimate puts embodied CO2 roughly on a par with past estimates of operational CO2.
“Previous assessments we have had suggested 20% embodied, 80% operational or less than that, whereas this study is pointing towards a more realistic picture – about half and half.”
As a comparison, a report from last year by the World Green Building Council concluded 11% of annual global emissions were from carbon embodied in building construction processes. Nearly three times as much came from operational building emissions.
While around 10% of European states’ annual emissions can be traced to embodied building carbon, Pomponi says a value of roughly double this seems accurate for an economy such as China.
“I go every year so I see the difference year after year in how much built stock was added in 12 months,” he says.
However, Dr Jannik Giesekam, an industrial climate policy researcher at the University of Leeds who has worked extensively in this area but was not involved in the study, tells Carbon Brief he identified numerous “red flags” in the research.
While he thinks the researchers probably arrived at the right “ballpark figure”, he has “major” issues with the paper that he thinks compromise the results.
One of the key points he identified was that the paper overlooked a lot of pre-existing work on embodied carbon, including databases prepared by industry “in favour of a selective set of case studies”.
While acknowledging some of these points as valid, Feng says they chose case studies that reflect current Chinese common practices and that they could not retrieve the relevant emissions data from the industry databases Giesekam suggests.
“Overall, it would be different and unrealistic to use international emission data and best practices to represent China’s emission in 2015,” he tells Carbon Brief.
For his part, Pomponi says that while Giesekam’s criticism is valid, he sees things “slightly differently”. He says: “I think it’s impossible that a study incorporates everything that’s out there.”
Giesekam also notes what he sees as some unusual choices in the way the researchers carried out the study, including a lack of detail in both their “bottom-up” and “top down” calculations – for example, giving all steel the same “carbon factor”.
Feng says that while they would “love this study to go deeper” and describes his team’s work in this area as on-going, he notes they used a “simple approach” that involved taking averages of steel and cement data:
“That is why we also employ a top-down method to cross-validate the bottom-up method calculation to make sure the total emission results match with each other.”
To this point, Pomponi tells Carbon Brief it is “inevitable to sacrifice depth for breadth in academic research” and says that, while there are certainly issues with the paper, he thinks it is valuable to see different methods being used to assess embodied carbon:
“It’s really good they used two [approaches] and compared them. They are extremely different methods so it’s good that they seem to point to the same number.”
Cutting embodied CO2
The researchers say that on a global scale, the relatively limited attention paid to embodied carbon is preventing an accurate assessment of the building sector’s environmental impacts.
Dr Danielle Densley Tingley, an architectural engineer at the University of Sheffield who was not involved in the work, says these emissions are generally not given sufficient attention by nations setting climate targets. She tells Carbon Brief this is partly due to the way they are reported:
“They’re often lumped into ‘industrial emissions’. This focuses on the production of the materials – where there are only small efficiencies left to gain – but doesn’t really look at how the materials are then used, what is driving their consumption etc.”
She says better design and a focus on “deep retrofits” instead of demolition would help cut embodied emissions in buildings. Pomponi agrees that design lies at the heart of this issue:
“At the moment we are inefficient in the sense that we put more material than is actually needed into buildings … Firms tend to go with ‘rules of thumb’ or things that worked in the past rather than starting from scratch.”
Measures have been proposed to cut these emissions in some countries. The World Green Building Council has set a target of 40% less embodied carbon in all new buildings, infrastructure and renovations by 2030.
The authors of the new study estimate that, despite a focus on operational carbon emissions in China, the annual potential for reductions in the building sector could actually be larger for embodied than operational CO2.
Greenpeace East Asia’s Shen says that after years of intensive construction the situation is shifting and, going forward, the Chinese authorities are going to have to be “extremely careful” about what they build:
“The country has entered into a new stage of development in that blindly putting up more infrastructure is not only environmentally unsustainable but also will not keep the same investment return the country yielded in the last decades.”
The amount of CO2 being released by human activity each day fell by as much as 17% during the height of the coronavirus crisis in early April, a new study shows.
This means daily emissions temporarily fell to levels last seen in 2006, the study says. In the first four months of the year, it estimates that global emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production were cut by 1,048m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2), or 8.6%, compared with 2019 levels.
The research projects a decline of up to 2,729MtCO2 (7.5%) in 2020 as a whole, depending on how the crisis plays out. It is the first to have been through the peer-review process and is broadly in line with an early estimate for China published by Carbon Brief in February, as well as separate global estimates published last month by Carbon Brief and the International Energy Agency.
Today’s study also marks the first-ever attempt to quantify CO2 emissions on a daily basis, for the world and for 69 individual countries, in close to real time. Until now, annual CO2 emissions data has typically been published months or even years later.
A publicly available daily estimate of global or national CO2 emissions would be “incredibly useful, particularly for motivating policy action and pressure”, another researcher tells Carbon Brief.
The ongoing coronavirus crisis has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world and seen the introduction of severe restrictions on movement in many countries.
These lockdowns have included “stay at home” orders, border closures and other measures that have had direct effects on the use of energy and, consequently, on the release of CO2 emissions.
As the crisis has unfolded, so too have attempts to quantify its impact on CO2 emissions. These efforts have been challenging, however, because real-time CO2 emissions data does not exist.
The annual emissions inventories that countries submit to the UN take years to compile – and even these are estimates rather than direct measurements.
Greenhouse gas emissions are estimated using a variety of methods, often based on “activity data”. This might be the number of miles being driven, the amount of electricity generated or even – in the case of nitrous oxide, which is used as a propellant – via cream consumption.
Today’s study, published in Nature Climate Change, combines activity data for six sectors with a “confinement index” of lockdown measures in each country or region over time.
This allows for an estimate of changes in daily global CO2 emissions in January-April 2020, relative to the 100MtCO2 released on an average day in 2019.
During peak confinement in individual countries, daily CO2 emissions fell by 26% on average, the paper says. However, the size of this effect is reduced at a global level, because not all countries were under the most severe type of lockdown at the same time.
At the peak of the crisis in early April, regions responsible for 89% of daily CO2 emissions were under some form of lockdown, the paper says. Daily global CO2 emissions fell to 83MtCO2 (-17%, with a range of -11 to -25%) on 7 April, equivalent to levels last seen in 2006.
“Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions. These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary, however, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems.”
In order to estimate daily global CO2 emissions, the researchers use a novel approach that combines sectoral activity data with a country-by-country confinement index.
The paper looks at six sectors, shown in the chart below according to their share of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement. These are electricity and heat (44%); industry (22%); surface transport (20%); homes (6%); public buildings and commerce (4%); and aviation (3%).
Notably, this split highlights the limited potential for individual actions to radically reduce global emissions, in contrast to the societal choices that govern CO2 from electricity and industry.
The split in global CO2 emissions, shown above, is then broken down further for each of 69 countries, 50 US states and 30 Chinese provinces, which account for 97% of the global total. This gives industrial CO2 emissions in Italy, for example, on an average day in 2019.
The paper then uses 669 datasets, covering each of these sectors over time, and classified according to the level of confinement in place at each point. For example, this might be daily reports on mobility, traffic and congestion to measure “activity” for surface transport.
This daily data is then adjusted to remove effects unrelated to coronavirus, such as the mild northern hemisphere winter or the day of the week.
Under the highest level of confinement, surface transport “activity” fell by 50% on average, the paper finds. This is shown in green in the chart, below, where each dot represents a single data point, open circles show the average and the horizontal lines show the variability between datasets. The chart also shows changes in activity for electricity, industry, homes and aviation.
For electricity, the paper looks at total daily demand in Europe, the US and India, finding an average 15% reduction in demand under strict lockdown. In industry, the paper looks at daily coal use in China reported by Carbon Brief and weekly reports on steel production in the US.
For homes, the paper draws on figures from UK smart meters. And for aviation – the most strongly affected sector – it uses data on domestic and international departures around the world.
As the chart above shows, the analysis relies on relatively sparse information for industry, whereas activity levels in transport draw on a wider range of datasets.
The team then uses the average change in activity, for each sector and level of confinement, to build up an estimate of daily CO2 emissions around the world.
For example, on days when Turkey is under the strictest lockdown, the analysis assumes that its power-sector CO2 emissions would fall by 15% compared with the average in 2019 – and those from surface transport by 50%.
When Turkey shifts from “confinement index three”, the strictest controls, down to level two, its power-sector emissions would be 5% below usual levels and transport 40% lower. For each confinement level, the same percentage reductions are assumed to apply to all countries.
This approach means that the team only needed to know when each country, state or province changed its coronavirus lockdown from one “confinement level” to another, as well as the daily average level of CO2 emissions from each sector in 2019.
Putting all of these countries and lockdown levels together, the paper finds that the cut in daily global CO2 emissions peaked at -17% on 7 April, shown in the figure, below. Across the first four months of 2020, emissions fell by 1,048MtCO2 (8.6%), compared with 2019 levels.
Within this global total, the largest impacts were in China, where emissions fell by an estimated 242MtCO2 in the first four months of the year, followed by the US (-207MtCO2), Europe (-123MtCO2) and India (-98MtCO2).
Dr Glen Peters, research director at Norwegian climate institute Cicero and one of the study authors, tells Carbon Brief that while the approach was designed around the current crisis, the team has gathered the “raw material” to make daily CO2 estimates on an ongoing basis. He says:
“We have discussed more ‘real-time’ estimates for sometime and there are many advantages. We are illustrating one advantage with our paper to see the consequences of particular policy interventions in near real time.”
But Peters notes that some of the daily data they used – the urban congestion index series from satnav maker TomTom, for example – is only being made publicly available during the current crisis and might be made private again in the future. He also asks whether daily data is truly needed, or whether weekly or even monthly estimates might be sufficient for scientists and policymakers.
“I think daily CO2 estimates would be incredibly useful, particularly for motivating policy action and pressure…Climate change already has the classic long-termism problem, but this is exacerbated by the fact that we get a figure on CO2 emissions published once a year, as a marker of how each country is doing.”
If daily CO2 estimates were publicly available for all countries, it would become possible to actively track progress, she says, adding: “You can have a counter on the news, or an app or dashboard on your phone – just like we do with other metrics like stock markets.”
Today’s research is not the first to analyse the CO2 impacts of the coronavirus crisis, although it is the first to have completed its passage through peer review.
Another paper, which is currently in review, also attempts to estimate daily global CO2 emissions in close to real time. This work finds the coronavirus crisis cut global emissions by -542MtCO2 below 2019 levels in the first quarter of 2020, similar to the -530MtCO2 figure from today’s paper.
In mid-February, Carbon Brief published an analysis showing that emissions in China were temporarily cut by 200MtCO2 (25%) over a four-week period, during the height of the restrictions. The new study finds that the cut in Chinese emissions peaked at 24%.
Today’s research also includes estimates of the emissions impact in 2020 as a whole, based on three scenarios for the length of lockdowns around the world. These entail CO2 emissions falling by between -4% and -8%, depending on how the crisis plays out. This range is consistent with estimates published in April byCarbon Brief (-6%) and the International Energy Agency (-8%).
“‘Because we believe its physical products are going to be in increasing demand in the global economy over the coming decades,”
Harvard Management Co., the Harvard University endowment manager, likes the natural-resources asset class.
“In a warming planet, few resources will be more affected than water, as droughts, storms and changes in evaporation alter a flow critical for drinking, farming, and industry.
“Even though there aren’t many ways to make financial investments in water, investors are starting to place bets.
“Buying arable land with access to it is one way.
“In California’s Central Coast, ‘the best property with the best water will sell for record-breaking prices,’ says JoAnn Wall, a real-estate appraiser specializing in vineyards, ‘and properties without adequate water will suffer in value.'”
The Harvard Management Co. has, since 2012, been buying agricultural land, with rights to sources of water, on California’s Central Coast. The idea was pitched to Harvard by agricultural investment advisory firm Grapevine Capital Partners LLC, founded by Matt Turrentine, formerly of his family’s Central Coast grape-brokerage business, and James Ontiveros, a local vineyard manager.
“Harvard’s investing guidelines say respecting local resource rights are of increasing importance ‘in the coming decades as competition for scarce resources, such as arable land and water, intensifies due to increasing global population, climate change, and food consumption.’”
“Investors who see agriculture as a proxy for betting on water include Michael Burry, a hedge-fund investor who wager against the U.S. housing market was chronicled in the book and movie ‘The Big Short.’ In a 2015 New York Magazine interview, Mr. Burry was quoted as saying: ‘What became clear to me is that food is the way to invest in water. That is, grow food in water-rich areas and transport it for sale in water-poor areas.'”
“In California vineyards, the water-proxy math is compelling. When grapes are harvested, about 75% of their weight is water. Owning vineyards effectively turns water into revenue.”
“Kat Taylor, an environmentalist and wife of hedge-fund billionaire and liberal activist Tom Steyer, resigned earlier this year from Harvard’s board of overseers in protest of the endowment’s investments in things such as fossil fuels and water holdings she says threaten the human right to water.
“‘It may, in the short run, be about developing vineyard properties,’ she says of Harvard’s California investments. ‘In the long run, it was a claim on water.'”
Gerhard Richter’s “Schädel” (oil on canvas), the first of a series of eight skull paintings painted in 1983, was held in the same collection for 30 years after a last public exhibition in 1988.
Based on a photograph taken by Richter himself, the painting demonstrates a “dialogue between painterly abstraction and photo-realist representation that had been simmering across separate stands of Richter’s practice for nearly two decades.”
This painting led the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale held at Christie’s London on 4 October 2018.
With an unpublished estimate, the painting was expected to sell for between £12 and £18 million (US$15 – US$23 million).
Bidding reached £11.5 million. The painting was not allowed to change hands.
Note also the instance of Edward Hopper’s 1972 painting, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” that sold at Christie’s in New York on 15 November. It closed narrowly, at what may have been a precisely agreed threshold of $80 million – with what appeared to be Christie’s bidding against itself to reach the sales price.
As the markets for works of art, collections care, and engineered resilience in the built environment (private collections, museums – public and private, galleries, fairs, corporate and university collections, etc.) converge, renewable energy will be a factor.
“Underlying property increases in value by virtue of the fact that positive externalities associated with the performance of the resilience investments represents a superior outcome to the status quo – even when netted out by any costs.” (Keenan et.al.)
Companies have signed long-term contracts to purchase solar and wind energy in 28 markets.
Cost declines and efficiency improvements are making renewables cost-competitive with wholesale power prices of more traditional sources of electricity.
While larger corporations are entering into corporate power purchase agreements (PPA),
smaller companies are increasingly pooling electricity demand together to access economies of scale achieved through solar and wind projects.
This is called “aggregation.”
“Aggregation” might be a workable model for entities in the art market concerned about the long-term resilience of structures and care and value of works and collections.
London-based Alexandre Carel, former Christie’s Paris wunderkind, Stanford MBA, summer intern in real estate at New York-based, global investment firm KKR (Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts; KKR manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit and, through its strategic partners, hedge funds),
exploring post-war Asian and European abstraction.
Carel and Seroussi’s catalogue “Lands of Abstraction,” prepared for their Art Basel joint exhibition, explores abstract movements that arose almost simultaneously in Asia, Europe, and the United States – all of which “matured in parallel to one another.”
Among the many masterpieces on view will be Sadamasa Motonaga’s almost nine-foot “Work 145” of 1964. Asking price: $5 million.
Sadamasa Motonaga (元永 定正, 1922-2011) was a founding member of Japan’s Gutai Art Association (1954-1972).
His “Work 145” of 1964, last shown in New York at the Guggenheim Museum during the 2013 exhibition “Gutai: Splendid Playground,” reflects Gutai’s deep connection to nature, the process of art making, and life-affirming rationale
Carel and Seroussi write:
“Literally translated as ‘concreteness,’ Gutai’s intention was to impart life to matter and reach pure creativity.
“To artists such as Sadamasa Motonaga …, this goal could only be attained by way of a deep connection between the artist’s hand and his spirit.”
Dear to the heart and collection of Frankfurt, Germany’s Städel Museum, Henri Matisse painted “Flowers and Ceramic Plate” (“Blumen und Keramik”) using oil on canvas in 1913.
While lovely to our eyes now, Matisse was then not only enjoying color but also experimenting with radically new, in the European aesthetic, perspectives, some well-practiced and well-received in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Japan, and making their way into Europe via trade.
Like Picasso and Braque and their contemporaneous alignment of reduced objects into a shallow space using multiple vantage points (“cubism”), Matisse renders objects placed in close proximity to each other from different vantage points and perspectives.
The flowers are painted as viewed from a side perspective. The ceramic plate is painted as viewed from above.
As the Städel Museum points out:
“This new form of beauty gives preference to the surface over spatial depth and was highly controversial at the time.
“That means the end of the spatial illusionism European painters had worked so hard to perfect over many centuries.”
“The history of the Chrysler Museum includes stories of 19th century feminist visionaries & a mid-20th century penny drive by schoolchildren to buy a single Renoir that was about the size of a paperback book.
“Clearly, everything moved to a new level when Walter Chrysler, Jr. came to town.”
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., born in 1909 and the son of the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, met, as a young man, leading avant-garde artists in Paris. Retiring from active business in 1956 (he served as President of New York’s Chrysler Building from 1935 to 1953), he devoted himself to the arts.
Mr. Chrysler’s wife, Jean Outland Chrysler, was born and raised in Norfolk. In part influenced by her, Walter Chrysler agreed in 1971 with the City of Norfolk to gift thousands of his works of art to the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, to be re-named the Chrysler Museum of Art.
Before he relocated his collection, however, Mr. Chrysler, “who once owned a couple hundred Picassos,” traded works – some good trades, some not so good.
The grand and bold “29.01.64” (the date of its completion; oil on canvas) sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in May 2017 for $19.7 million, then an auction record for the artist, “to bidders who clearly wanted this picture.”
Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013) moved to Paris from Beijing, where he was born, in 1948, began working with New York dealer Samuel Koontz (who encouraged him to experiment with larger formats) in 1956, and took a larger studio in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris in 1961.
Christie’s Paris’ specialist Clara Rivollet highlights the very complex composition:
“There’s actually a structure of very deep, black brushstrokes an then you can see around a kind of dilute-ink-wash-like oil around it and then on top of it he adds a whole network of intricate lines.
“You have very controlled sinuous lines that remind us of Chinese calligraphy. But also this very kind of loose movement in white paint is very inspired by Jackson Pollock’s painting.
“The painting could be a Western painting because it’s abstract. But actually in its essence it remains very Chinese because for Zao Wou-ki abstraction always represents a kind of inner imaginary landscape like the Chinese literati painting would do.”
“29.09.64”, at 230 x 345 cm. (90 1/2 x 135 7/8 in.), is one of the two largest that Zao painted in the 1960s.
It was purchased directly from the artist in 1969 by a French architect who built hospitals, research centers, and administrative buildings throughout France and Algeria in the years of rapid modernization following World War II.
“29.09.64” remained in the family’s collection for 48 years. The original owner’s son consigned the painting to Christie’s.