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  • ENERGY AND WATER ARE TOO PERILOUSLY LINKED

    The high interdependence of water and power could soon lead to shortages and escalating costs for both.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the world in which we live, water needs power and power needs water. On the one hand, in fact, power is required to move and to clean water as well as to create it from brine through the desalination process, as has been shown, for example, by the construction of a desalination plant in San Diego to provide 7% of the city’s water, which will require about 38 megawatts of power – enough for more than 28,000 homes. On the other hand, water is required for hydropower, for oil, natural gas and coal extraction and for cooling power plants.

    Resource managers and environmental advocates are warning that – as populations grow and climate change and droughts are starting to seriously impact our world – this close interdependency could give rise to a negative feedback loop in protecting the environment and the impacts to the economy. According to the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research centre based in Oakland (California), this situation is the result of the spread of wrong assumptions about the abundance of water and power over the last century, which led to a reckless exploitation of these resources.

    Consequently, the concerns of those who fear that the link between water and energy could lead to shortages and higher costs of both are real and relevant. On this matter, two developments occurred in the last five years offer good and bad news: good news come from the rollout of renewable energies, which need little amounts of water; bad news, on the other hand, come from the fracking revolution, which caused the release of huge amounts of chemically infused water underground at high pressure. Also, even leaving aside the issues related to water pollution, fracking a single well requires 1.5 million to 5.7 million gallons of water.

    The goal now should be to use both power and energy as sparingly as possible, while ongoing researches are being carried out to find a way to rethink their use.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 23 April 2015

    (Source: New York Times International)

  • CANADA NEEDS TO TACKLE TAR SANDS POLLUTION

    Sweden has raised doubts over Canada’s strategy to cut emissions as tar sands drilling is set to cause a major increase in released CO2 within the next years.

    Through a UN portal, Sweden probed Canada’s plan to control tar sands drilling, asking the country to examine in depth its envisaged policies for reducing emissions from oil sand extraction. Sweden’s interrogation arises from the alarming outcome of new researches showing that Canada’s tar sand extraction activities will double by 2030, driving a 38% increase in CO2 emissions over the next 15 years. The North American country has two months to reply through the portal.

    While more and more countries are submitting their climate pledges under a UN deal due to be agreed in Paris in December, Canada hasn’t issued its contribution yet.

    Also, the country is very likely to break its promise to cut emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and indeed this has been one of the reasons that made it opt out of the Kyoto Protocol. The main obstacle for Canada to meet its goals is the rapidly-increasing amount of emissions coming from the tar sands industry, which – according to a government report – is set to grow four-fold between 2005 and 2030 and to reach 137 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

    Despite the government’s promises to regulate the sector, no concrete action has been taken, and now tar sands emissions make up a quarter of the Canadian total. Tar sands extraction and the whole process to turn bitumen into crude oil imply high energy and water consumption, and are putting at risk the county’s boreal forests and wetlands.

    Tar sands are also influencing the US political dynamics regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Alberta to Texas, and play a key role in supplying oil through the East Energy Pipeline, which is currently under review and would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canada.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 22 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • AUSTRALIA COULD MOVE TO A 100% GREEN ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BY 2050

    Australia could target a 100% carbon-free power supply by 2050 without massive costs or a braking in economic growth if effective policies are implemented.

    According to a new report produced by the WWF in collaboration with the Australian National University, Australia is one of the best placed countries in the world for moving to a completely renewable electricity supply, and could source 100% of its power from renewable energies by 2050 without suffering significant costs or depressing economic growth; to this end, however, clear and stable national policy provisions supporting investments in the renewable sector will be fundamental.

    The report highlights that lately it has become cheaper to cut carbon emissions, while the costs of fossil fuel technologies have remained static. Consequently, one of the major arguments used against decarbonisation during the last ten years – namely the high cost of a transition to renewables – is not persuasive anymore, as it has been proven that previous works have overestimated the costs associated with moving away from fossil fuels. As stated in the report, the costs would be further reduced if the government allowed the use of international permits.

    At the moment, Australia doesn’t have post-2020 emissions reduction targets, and many countries – including China and the United States - are challenging the country’s policy towards emissions cuts and renewable energies. The current commitment is to cut emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, but many doubt this target will be reached, also because the government decided to cut the existing Renewable Energy Target (RET), thus provoking an investment drought in the sector.

    Australia is expected to establish its post-2020 emissions reduction goals and, according to the national manager of WWF Kellie Caught, it will be crucial for the country to set an ambitious long-term target and to take decisive action to achieve it.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • THE WORLD BANK’S INCONSISTENT POLICY ON FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS

    The World Bank is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, but at the same is increasing its support for the development of polluting energies, thus mining its credibility as a global leader in sustainable development.

    During the World Bank’s Spring Meeting held in Washington DC in April, the Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim announced a five-point plan to cut fossil fuel subsidies and guarantee a sustainable growth.

    However, a new report by Oil Change International (OCI) reveals that the World Bank’s institutions have spent US$3.4 billion last year to support the development of fossil fuels, 22% more than in 2013. The report also shows that they are still subsidising coal-fired power plants – even though they pledged not to do so unless there was no alternative – and funding further exploration for fossil fuels. This proves a serious inconsistency in the financial institution’s approach towards energy supply, and comes as a massive blow in its credibility as a global leader in sustainable development.  

    It is crucial that the World Bank’s activities match its statements on climate action, especially when it comes to climate finance for developing countries, but rather than keeping its promises the Bank is behaving irresponsibly by allowing fossil fuel subsidies to be tagged as climate finance. In fact, given the lack of a definition for climate finance within the UN, this month the Bank issued a series of “common principles” for climate finance to explain what kind of investments can be considered climate friendly, and also investments in “efficient” coal power and carbon capture and storage are included in the list, thus risking to set a dangerous precedent.

    The World Bank plays a critical role in shaping the energy sectors of developing countries, and should therefore lead by example and eliminate its back up for fossil fuel investments instead of using its power to encourage investments in stranded assets.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • CARBON IN PRIVATE-OWNED COMPANIES’ RESERVES KEEPS INCREASING

    The amount of carbon kept in coal, oil and gas reserves owned by the most important fossil fuel companies is close to the global safe emissions limit.

    According to a list of the top 100 traded coal companies and the top 100 oil and gas companies produced by Fossil Free Indexes (FFI), a US firm, in the last five years there has been a 10% rise in carbon reserves owned by the world’s biggest fossil fuel private companies, which now have 555 gigatonnes of CO2 at their disposal, and are carrying on further investments to search for and develop new reserves. Gazprom tops the oil and gas list, while Coal India heads the coal list; in the top 10 there are some of the most important Western fossil fuel companies, such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, BHP Billiton and Anglo American.

    The 555 gigatonnes figure alone is very close to the global safe emissions limit that is the total amount of emissions the world can afford without bringing global warming beyond the danger limit of 2C. It should also be kept in mind that far more fossil fuels – about 2650 gigatonnes – are held by public companies, which means that overall the existing reserves contain four to five times the amount of fossil fuels that can be safely burned.

    Both the World Bank and the Bank of England have warned that international measures against climate change could deprive many fossil fuels assets of their value, possibly losing investors trillions of dollars. This is why, according to James Leaton at the Carbon Tracker Initiative, it is critical for investors to determine where their capital is spent, otherwise they will devote money on the develop of fossil fuel reserves that can’t be burnt.

    The UN is carrying on a fast-growing divestment campaign to convince investors to dump their fossil fuel holdings, and recent researches prove that by doing so investors wouldn’t lose money; in fact, an analysis by MSCI shows that by selling off their coal, oil and gas shares over the past five years, investors have earned 1.2% a year more than by keeping them.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 20 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • THE DEBATED ROLE OF CITIES IN INFLUENCING GLOBAL CLIMATE TALKS

    Even though they are not formally recognised by the UN as participants in the on-going climate talks, cities can still make an impact.

    In early April, the ICLEI World Summit, a network of local governments for sustainability, was held in Seoul, and mayors stressed out the need to give more consideration to cities on an international level, given that they are responsible for most of the world’s people, money and greenhouse gas emissions, and could therefore play a significant role in tackling climate change and helping to reach a global deal in Paris at the end of the year.

    The most relevant statement if intent released hitherto is the Compact of Mayors, an agreement initially signed by 228 member cities that pledged to complete a climate action plan within three years and report their progress. The Compact of Mayors has been announced at UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit in New York in September 2014, and 35 new cities joined it in Seoul. However, it is often hard for cities to get official acknowledgement of their role as sub-national governments, and even within the agreement’s Climate Registry, which has been set up for Members to report their progress, commitments are measured against different baselines, making it difficult to compare the results.

    Regarding the importance of cities’ participation in climate talks, the UN adopts an ambivalent approach: Ahmed Djoghlaf, who will co-chair the Paris talks, stated that cities would be brought “from the side events to the core”, but also reaffirmed that only national climate plans will “form the backbone of the agreement”, and the UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged mayors to demand strong climate action from their country, but didn’t promise cities any greater influence.

    However, cities could acquire a more significant role in the enforcement of climate policies only with a different finance management; in fact, they are currently highly dependent on funds from national governments and ad hoc grants to fund climate-friendly infrastructure, and are facing a major cash shortfall.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 20 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • ENERGY CRISIS MAKES BRAZIL TURN TO SOLAR POWER

    Solar power could help Brazil avoid the catastrophic effects of its imminent energy crisis.

    Brazilis currently facing a devastating drought, which is causing a tragic drop in the levels of the reservoirs that supply many hydroelectric dams situated in the country’s industrial powerhouse and major population centre. What’s more, with the seven-month dry period coming up, the reservoirs could fall to 10% of their capacity, and this would have “catastrophic” effects on energy security.

    The perspective of a severe energy crisis, together with the recent appointment of a more open-minded Minister of Energy, Eduardo Braga, is leading Brazil to rethink its previous aversion towards solar power. In fact, given the present situation, the country – which currently relies on hydroelectric dams for up to 80% of its energy - needs to diversify its energy sources, and the Minister announced his plans to turn many hydroelectric dams into solar energy farms by attaching solar panels to buoys and making them float on the surface of the diminishing reservoirs. This, according to calculations made by ministry officials, could generate up to 15,000 MegaWatts (MW) of power.

    The solar panels will firstly be tested on two dams owned by state companies, and if the project is successful it will be extended to other dams in the southeast and centre west of the country.

    Braga wants to introduce new rules to foster the installation of solar panels on buildings with large roofs, and has also promised tax breaks for the production of photovoltaic panels. Moreover, two auctions for solar power will be held later this year, and many foreign companies are longing to get a share in this market, as it is likely to grow rapidly in the coming years thanks to its incredible potential (equivalent to 20 times the total of all the present installed capacity of electrical energy).

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 16 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • FLYWHEEL PLANT WILL STORE EXCESS CLEAN ENERGY IN IRELAND

    Ireland has announced Europe’s first flywheel project, which could “revolutionise” the renewable sector thanks to its unlimited storage capability.

    Ireland’s Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has recently announced that a flywheel plant with potentially unlimited storage capability will be built in the country, and the foundations for the project – which is expected to launch commercially in 2017 – will be laid within weeks.

    A motor-generated flywheel will use energy from the grid at times of over-supply and will release the energy from underwater turbines at times of supply deficit, thus solving the problem of clean energy supply shortfalls when there is insufficient sun or wind.

    In fact, the system could “revolutionise” the integration of renewable power into electricity supplies and will operate at a capacity of 20MW at upwards of 85-90% efficiency, while at the moment energy shortages are compensated for with fossil fuel generators – such as coal or gas-fired power plants – which have an efficiency ratio of only 35-40%.

    This project goes in the direction of an overall revision of Europe’s last-century grid networks, as has been wished for by the EU’s vice president for energy union Maroš Šefčovič.

    In fact, Šefčovič believes that smart grids could “do for Europe what shale gas did for the United States”, and they will be able to carry energy, data, products and services, also allowing people to sell back surplus electricity to the electricity network; however, in order to do so, they will need a major overhaul.

    The flywheel project is founded by the European Commission and the Irish government, and is likely to create 50 new jobs.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 14 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • VANCOUVER PLEDGES A COMPLETE SHIFT TO RENEWABLES

    Following a unanimous vote by the City Council, Vancouver joins the growing number of cities aiming to run only on renewable energies.

    Vancouver’s City Council voted unanimously to shift the city’s energy use to 100% renewable energy sources within 20 years. Specifically, the Canadian city of 600,000 people will use only green energy sources for electricity, transportation, heating and air conditioning.

    The announcement was made at the 2015 International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) World Congress, a triennial sustainability summit of local governments, and makes Vancouver the latest – within a growing number of cities – to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. In fact, more than 50 cities have already disclosed their intention to go green, including San Diego and San Francisco, Sidney and Copenhagen; some of them, like Reykjavik in the electricity production and heating field, have already reached the target.

    The goal could be achieved in a few years in the electricity sector, but heating, cooling and transportation will take longer, so Vancouver is likely to set its goal for a target year of 2030 or 2035. According to the city’s deputy mayor Andrea Reimer “there’s a compelling moral imperative but also a fantastic economic case to be a green city”, and the ambition for Vancouver is to become one of the world’s greenest cities by 2020 despite the counter-productive environmental policy enforced by the Canadian government over the last 10 years.

    During the ICLEI World Congress, the mayor of Seoul Park Won-Soon delivered a remarkable speech, and declared cities and urban areas responsible for 70-75% of global CO2 emissions; he also committed to reduce Seoul’s energy use and increase renewable generation, hoping that by 2030 the city – which now has a population of 11 million people and is growing fast – will be able to cut its emissions by 40%.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 13 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • CLIMATE ACTION MAY REQUIRE COERCIVE SOLUTIONS

    Being climate change a serious threat to human lives, it’s time to think about measures to coerce climate action.

    Environmentalists are usually against the use of force in international politics, but the pressing need to tackle climate change is urging countries to think about using coercive solutions to prevent nations and groups from carrying out actions that could endanger the environment.

    One of the main issues related to such measures is the targeting of climate “aggressors”, as behaviours are usually diffuse in both space and time and it is impossible to blame just one country or one action for causing a damage. This is why the UN Security Council is the only body that can authorise the use of force, but the chance that no one of the five veto-wielding members will stop the enforcement of these measures is very unlikely to happen, as these countries are precisely the ones that contribute the most to climate change; also, any use of force – in order to be legitimate – has to be substantially more effective than cooperative efforts to solve the problem.

    The first kind of viable measures could be the endorsement of minimally coercive forms of “climate conditionality”, which would allow a country to push others to enhance their climate-friendly policies by denying economic, military or other advantages. This is already happening – for instance – in Norway, where health funds can impose lower investment ratings on countries with worse mitigation record, or within the EU, where the Emissions Trading System’s border tax adjustments in the aviation field can force other countries to improve their emissions record.

    When minimally coercive solutions are not doable, high-level coercive measures can be implemented, for example in the form of military attacks and blockades. However, this is usually the least likely approach to employ, as it is the least effective one, but it can be efficient when countries can clearly identify the aggressor and the danger to the environment; for instance, this is the case of the measures implemented by Brazil in 2012 to combat illegal logging in the Amazon.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 6 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • GLOBAL WARMING MAKING CALIFORNIA DROUGHT WORSE

    According to scientists, even if California’s drought hasn’t been triggered by climate change, global warming is certainly worsening the situation.

    Californiais currently going through a drought so severe that the state had to command reductions in water consumption, and scientists all agree on the fact that global warming is worsening the whole situation.

    As Princeton’s climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer has explained, “the drought is made of two components: not enough rain and too much heat”; even though it hasn’t been proved yet that the lack of rain is linked to climate change, the planetary warming has surely made it more likely that temperatures would rise in California, and higher temperatures cause more evaporation from reservoirs, rivers and soil.

    Warmer temperatures are also reducing the snowpack, which normally works as a natural water store and gradually melts into reservoirs and canals over the spring and summer; this means that, until the start of the next rainy season, the only amount of water available will be the one stored in the reservoirs.

    The current drought, which started in 2011, is the worst in 120 years of climate record-keeping in California and probably the worst in more than 1000 years, but scientists believe that the situation is likely to grow worse in the future; for instance, Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh has highlighted the alarming data that in the past years dry periods have more often overlapped with warm periods than in previous decades.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 3 April 2015

    (Source: New York Times)

  • UK COAL PLANTS RISK TO BE TAKEN OFFLINE AFTER CARBON FLOOR PRICE INCREASE

    According to market analysts, some UK coal-fired power plants could be switched off this year after the doubling of a carbon emissions levy.

    In the UK, the carbon floor price went up from £9.54 to £18.08 per tonne of CO2, leading the cost of a tonne of carbon for British power plants to £23 when allowances on the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) are considered. The carbon floor price was introduced in 2013, and was created to encourage utilities to switch to burning natural gas or generating power from renewable sources by raising annually the cost of carbon from British power generators above the price of EU allowances; according to market experts, unless gas prices now rise substantially this policy will be enough to trigger a switch from coal to gas, with up to 20 TerraWatt hours (TWh) of coal generation being replaced by gas.

    New figuresreleased by the European Commission on Wednesday, April 1 show that greenhouse gas emissions within the ETS dropped by 21% in 2014 compared to 2005 levels, allowing Europe to meet six years in advance the emissions cut goal set for 2020; what is more, this result has been achieved despite Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rise of 1.3% last year.

    The ETS has been established to incentivize emissions cuts by setting a cap on carbon emissions from industrial facilities and allowing companies to sell their spare allowances to more polluting enterprises; this system now covers around two-thirds of Europe’s industrial facilities, and data suggest that the all-encompassing target of a 20% cut in emissions on 1990 levels will soon be met.

    Moreover, Sandbag, a campaigning organization focused on emissions trading, has forecast a 29% drop in carbon emissions by 2020 and a surplus of 2 billion allowances, which would bring Europe closer to reaching its goal of a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030.

    All these data prove that the emissions reduction targets Europe has set are achievable, and urge European leaders to raise the stakes ahead of the Paris climate summit in December.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 3 April 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • AUSTRALIA CLOSED WORST POLLUTING COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS

    Due to the large amount of emissions, the Australian government has been urged to shut down the country’s most polluting coal-fired power plants.

    According to a study from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), 10 companies emitted – directly and indirectly – 158m tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2013-2014, and are therefore responsible for a third of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The list is headed by Energy Australia, while Macquarie Generation and AGL Energy are in second and third position.

    Following the analysis’ outcome – which highlights the large scale of greenhouse gas emitted by the country’s most polluting industries – many criticise the lack of incentives for companies to stop using fossil fuels, and are urging the Australian government to introduce new regulations on coal-fired power plants to ensure that the largest carbon dioxide polluters shut down.

    ACF’s president Geoff Cousins believes the best solution would be to issue a US-style regulation, similar to the US administration’s direct regulations that made coal-fired plants impossible to maintain without high-priced carbon capture technology.

    The ACF also says that – in order to phase out fossil fuels – Australia should switch to wind and solar energy, and reports data from the Energy Supply Association of Australia that shows how already allocated wind and solar energy projects could provide a quarter of Australia’s electricity demand by 2023-2024. A switch to renewable energies would also help Australia’s achievement of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) target of pashing out fossil fuel energy without largely unproven carbon capture technology by the end of the century.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • WIND POWER: A CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE FUTURE OF US ENERGY SUPPLY

    Wind power could supply 35% of US energy demand by 2050, according to a new report.

    A new report from the United States’ Department of Energy (DoE) says wind energy could supply 10% of electricity by 2020 and 20% by 2030 and fill 35% of energy demand by 2050, becoming “directly competitive” with fossil fuels and supporting more than 600.000 jobs across the country; also, generating electricity from wind would help avoid 12.3 gigatonnes of emissions and US$400 billion in global damage from climate change by 2050, and would ensure a 23% reduction in water consumption in the electricity sector by the same year.

    However, wind’s growth over the past years hailed from wind technology cost reductions and federal and state policy support, so it is essential that the government keeps backing wind’s competitive position in the market, for example by putting plans to increase US clean energy production at the centre of the country’s contribution to the imminent UN Paris climate deal.

    At the end of 2014 the US government withdrew the Production Tax Credits (PTCs), a form of support that guaranteed an incentive for the first 10 years of a facility’s operating life in the wind energy production sector, and a bill to extend PTCs for 5 years was defeated in the Senate in January. This, according to the report’s authors, could jeopardise growth chances in the sector.

    Major investments are needed in the transmission infrastructure field as well, given the poor state of the US national grid; in fact, renewable technologies would work better if they had access to a grid that could send power over long distances, as this could compensate for low wind or sun levels in some states.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • DELHI: NO PLAN TU CUT EMISSIONS AND SAFEGUARD CITIZENS’ LIVES

    The Indian capital is now Earth’s most polluted city, and its smog levels are so high they could affect its people’s lifespan.

    New Delhiis now rated as the most polluted city in the world, being air pollution 60 times higher than the safe level, and a recent joint study by the universities of Chicago, Yale and Harvard found that, because of this, half of the Indian population could lose up to three years’ lifespan.

    Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, admitted that the level of particulate matter (PM10) has exceeded required limits over Delhi and five bordering cities, and, as this could cause serious health problems, he asked the Delhi government to develop an action implementation plan.

    A recent survey carried out by Greenpeace India revealed that in Delhi fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were four times the Indian safety limits and ten times that of the World Health Organization’s, and what is most alarming is that India doesn’t have any health advisory measures in place for Delhiites on heavy pollution days.

    Another study issued in 2014 by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) showed that Delhi’s air is filled with cancer-causing particles, and that the levels of pollution could provoke more than 47.000 premature deaths per million populations within the city.

    Also, data on 2014 PM2.5 levels from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s monitoring stations reveals that Delhi had several days with poor air quality compared to that of Beijing. However, unlike India, in the last years China has implemented emergency action plans to deal with heavy pollution episodes, and has issued innovative measures to provide its citizens cleaner air to breathe as well; in fact, in less than eight years Beijing reduced its air pollution by about 4%, especially by introducing cleaner fuels, putting restrictions on buying new vehicles and setting incentives for adopting electric vehicles.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 17 March 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENTS RISE WORLDWIDE

    New researches show renewables are close to supplying 10% of global electricity supply, with some of the most notable investment increases coming from developing countries.

    A newly published research from the UN Environment Programme (2015 UNEP Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments) shows that US$270 billion was invested in green technologies in 2014, with 103GW of power generation capacity added around the world; of that amount, $139 billion was directed towards developed countries and $131 billion towards developing countries.

    The 2014 figure marks a 17% jump from the 2013 figure of $232 billion, and researchers registered a strong growth in wind and solar technologies, which last year accounted for 92% of the investment in renewable energies; in fact, wind and solar energy, along with biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power, contributed 9.1% of the global electricity supply in 2014, up from 8.5% in 2013.

    Also, according to the Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner, one of the most encouraging aspects of the report is the “growing penetration of renewable generation in the world’s developing economies”: for example, Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey witnessed investments above the billion dollar mark, and in India the sector regained 14%, with $7.4 billion of investment. Among developed countries the US is currently leading, with solar power driving 7% of renewables growth with $36.3 billion of new funds entering the market.

    The falling of technology costs probably represents the main reason behind this development, as well as the increased urgency to tackle curb emissions and the awareness of the fact that renewables and efficiency measures are reducing greenhouse gas emissions levels.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • NEW STUDY REPORTS LEAKS REDUCTION FROM US GAS UTILITIES

    According to a new study, many US gas utilities are managing to reduce methane leakages from their natural gas distribution networks, but more work is needed.

    A new study conducted by the Washington State University’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Research with the cooperation of and partial funding from industry has been published on Tuesday, March 31 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, and confirms that methane leakages from American natural gas systems have dropped sharply in the past 20 years.

    Researches involved direct measurements at 13 gas distribution centres across the US, and the report found that the amount of methane released now is 36% to 70% lower than estimates published in 2011 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which were based on data from the 1990s. According to the researchers, such a limitation of methane emissions can largely be attributed to equipment upgrades – including the replacement of leaky old steel pipes – and improved leak detection and maintenance.

    However, the amount of methane leaking each year from these local natural gas systems is still alarming, as it is comparable to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by 19 coal-fired power plants; nevertheless, experts declared themselves to be impressed by the study’s results.

    The Obama administration has promoted the use of natural gas as a power source as it produces less carbon dioxide than burning coal, but methane, which is a major component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas and causes nearly 85 times the effect of carbon dioxide on climate change over a 20-year period, so the government has also insisted on the need to measure and reduce leaks.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 April 2015

    (Source: New York Times)

  • RUSSIA PLEDGES GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS CUTS

    Russia has submitted to the UN its plan to reduce carbon emissions, but concerns have been raised regarding the plan’s ambition.

    Russiahas joined the US in delivering its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for a UN global climate deal due to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year. In its plan, the Russian government has committed to the objective of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% by 2030 on 1990 levels, even though it said its engagement will depend on other countries’ commitments.

    According to the Kremlin, this target is compatible with the long-term goal of keeping global temperatures’ increase below 2C and will allow the endorsement of a low-carbon development in the country, but the WWF-Russia spokesperson Alexey Kokorin believes the plan is “too conservative” and should be reviewed as soon as the national economic crisis is past.

    Also, many have criticised the obscurity of the Russian policy in relation to the role of the country’s forests – which act as vast carbon sinks – in achieving the mitigation targets; in fact, according to the Finnish climate negotiator Matti Kahra “unlimited forest sink use would wipe away 24% of their total emissions instantly”.

    The UN had set a deadline of 31st March for countries “ready to do so” to submit their national plans, but at the moment only the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Mexico, the US and Russia have issued their pledges, covering 29% of global emissions. China is still doing researches and is expected to release its offer by June, while its yet unclear when other major economies such as Japan or Canada will do so.

    However, researchers with the Climate Action Tracker organization have analysed the INDCs filed to the UN so far, and believe that the targets they set will not ensure the world avoids warming of above 2C. Similar analysis will be conduced by the UN in October, when hopefully most of the countries will have issued their plans.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREENproject

    Wednesday, 1 April 2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • US ANNOUNCES ITS CONTRIBUTION TO A GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE PACT

    The White House has officially submitted its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN Paris climate talks in December.

    The US government outlined its plan to tackle climate change, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28% by 2025 relative to 2005 levels and aiming to an 80% cut in emissions by 2050. Being the US one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases, this commitment will certainly contribute to the success of the UN Paris climate talks in December, increasing the chances of reaching a global climate agreement.

    According to the White House climate adviser Brian Deese, “the United States’ target is ambitious and achievable”, and the state department climate envoy Todd Stern believes that a future Republican President or Republicans in Congress will not be able to undone this regulation easily; on the other hand, Republicans say Obama will not be able to fulfil its commitment to the UN.

    With the US joining the EU, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland, the countries accounting for nearly 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from energy have issued their proposals for fighting climate change in the 2020s and beyond, and hopefully more countries will outline their plans over the next few months, creating a solid basis for a global agreement to limit global warming to 2C. However, most countries missed the 31 March deadline for submitting their so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN, and many of them – including big polluters such as Japan, Brazil or India – probably will not issue their commitments until October.

    Campaignershailed the US plan, but believe that its effectiveness will depend on the forthcoming enhancement of strong rules to cut carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

    The pledges made ahead of the Paris summit are unlikely to guarantee a satisfying reduction in greenhouse gas emissions levels, but many are hoping that in Paris States will agree on a review mechanism to raise the ambitions of countries’ planned emissions cuts.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project
    Wednesday, 1 April 2015
    (Source: Guardian)

  • UN GREEN CLIMATE FUND CAN FINANCE FOSSIL FUEL PROJECTS

    Campaigners are dissatisfied with the Songdo talks’ outcome, as the Green Climate Fund didn’t put any ban on coal finance.

    The ninth Green Climate Fund meeting in Songdo (South Korea) ended on Thursday, March 26 with an agreement on seven intermediaries to pay out funds to tackle climate change and support low carbon activities in developing countries, and the first projects are expected to be funded within the next months, before the Paris climate summit starts this December.

    However, the effectiveness of the fund’s activity is yet to be determined, as the 30 April deadline is getting closer and at the moment only 1% of donor governments have given their contribution, making it hard to imagine that all the pledged US$10.2 billion will actually be donated in time.

    Also, environmentalists are disappointed with the absence of progress made with the definition of clear criteria to determine how the money will be spent; in fact, the Green Climate Fund board didn’t endorse any rule that guarantees that coal power will be excluded from the funding, and this raises actual concerns, as it’s been revealed that Japan is using “climate finance” to support coal plants in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

    The fund agreed to set a minimum standard the greenhouse gas emissions cut projects must reach, but not until 2016, while during this time an “assessment scale”, which is due to be approved in October, will be applied to the first projects.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 31 March  2015

    (Source: RTCC)

  • GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS COMING FROM URBAN HOMES SURPASS INDUSTRIES’ IN INDIA

    New study shows that the domestic sector is accountable for the highest emission of greenhouse gases in seven Indian cities.

    A recently issued research from the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science revealed that the domestic sector is one of the highest contributing elements to the emission of hazardous gases in seven Indian cities: it is the main contributor in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, and the second higher contributor – after the transport sector – in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The study’s alarming results are based on data gathered from 2009 to 2010, but the situation is now probably worsened due to the increase in electricity consumption over the last years.

    Researchers quantified greenhouse gas emissions after considering some sectors: electricity generation or consumption, domestic and commercial, transportation, industrial, agricultural, livestock and waste. Also, it resulted that the major sources of energy consumption in the domestic sector were electricity for lighting and household appliances and fuel for cooking.

    However, it is not only from the domestic sector that worrisome levels of hazardous gases emissions are reported, but also from the transport sector. Due to high transport emissions Delhi and Bengaluru have witnessed a rise in respiratory disorders, and this state will not improve until Indian cities are provided with good urban planning and transportation.

    India plays an important role in the total global emission of greenhouse gases, as it contributes more than 5%, and Delhi has the highest impact on this figure with 39 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015

    (Source: Times of India)

  • MEXICO ISSUES PLAN TO CUT EMISSIONS FOR UN CLIMATE TALKS

    The Mexican government has submitted its national climate plan to the UN, promising a 22% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

    Following the European Union, Norway and Switzerland, Mexico became one of the first countries – and the first developing country – to submit its so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations ahead of the Paris climate talks in December. In fact, the UN has asked member states that are “ready to do so” to present their plans with the aim to compare and reinforce them before the summit.

    The national climate plan has been presented in Mexico City by the country’s foreign and environment ministries, and foresees emissions peaking in 2026, leading to a greenhouse gas emissions 22% decrease below business-as-usual levels by 2030 and to a 40% reduction in emissions intensity per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2013 and 2030. According to the submission, Mexico will also cut emissions of “short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP)”, such as methane and soot, by 25% below business-as-usual levels by 2030.

    Despite being a developing country, Mexico has set its plan unconditionally, without demanding any kind of financial support; however, it said it could raise its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal from 22% to 36% and its SLCP goal from 25% to 40% if there were a global carbon price or if it was supported by climate funds or gained access to technology.

    The plan’s unveiling has been followed by the announcement of a new joint climate policy task force by the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the US President Barack Obama; this task force will help to “further deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas”, such a vehicle fuel efficiency and electricity grid modernisation. The United States also applauded Mexico for being the first major emerging economy to submit its contribution, and believe that this will set an example for the rest of the world.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 30 March 2015

    (Source: Guardian)

  • LATIN AMERICA WORKS ON PLANS FOR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

    A series of successful summits between Latin American business and political leaders in early 2015 creates real opportunities to actualise sustainability-related microfinance schemes in Latin America.

    Building on the Lima Call for Climate Action, and in sight of the Paris climate summit that will be held at the end of 2015, a series of meetings between Latin American leaders has started with the aim of creating functional and market-based mechanisms to accomplish “intended nationally determined contributions” of emissions reductions. In fact, one of the UNFCCC’s targets for the Paris summit is precisely to create sustainable finance and investment networks for businesses in developing countries and to agree a legally binding global agreement on emissions reductions.

    From February 24 to 26, in Mexico City was held the fourth annual Latin American Impact Investment Forum (FLII). Within this meeting, participant environmental enterprise ventures are offered the chance to compete for the finances coming from the $10 billion UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund and for the $3.5 billions the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has made available for environmental sustainability and renewable energy projects in the private sector.

    Finance networks that focus on sustainable development ensure long-term financial viability, and are therefore advantageous for small enterprises and risky ventures that normally couldn’t compete for financing in open capital markets, as they don’t have demonstrable credit-worthiness or collateral sable assets.

    It is yet to be seen whether these investment commitments will sufficiently speed up sustainability entrepreneurship and environmental impact, but what is sure is that Latin American businesses will require a lot more financing than the current contribution of investment networks in order to achieve actual results in tackling climate change, especially considering that lately Latin America has developed solid trade and investment relationships for non-renewable energy sources with China.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 30 March 2015

    (Source: Renewable Energy World)

  • OBAMA ORDERS FEDERAL AGENCIES TO CUT CARBON EMISSIONS 40% BY 2025

    President Obama commanded the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared with 2008 levels and to increase the use renewable energy by 30%.

    US President Barack Obama endorsed an executive order that sets new targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions coming from federal agencies. According to the President’s directive, federal agencies will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2008 levels over the next decade by shifting to renewable energy sources and increasing the use of “green” electricity by 30%.

    This order could allow the government to save up to $18 billion over the next ten years, and widens the goal Obama set in 2008 to cut federal emissions by 28% by 2020, which have already brought some results: since then, federal agencies have reduced emissions by 17% and increased electricity production from renewable sources from 3% to 9%.

    During the last two years Obama has frequently used his presidential authority to bypass the Congress’ strong opposition on measures to tackle climate change, and the goals set with this new directive are in line with the commitments to reduce US emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 that the President made in November 2014 as part of a climate agreement with China.

    Actually, this executive order by itself probably won’t influence much the President’s target to cut emissions in the country, as the federal government’s quota of greenhouse gas emissions in the US is tiny (less than 1% in 2013), but, because the federal government is the main energy user in the US economy, it is likely to influence private companies to improve their emissions-cutting plans.

    Obama also disclosed an ambitious target to tackle climate change ahead of the UN Paris summit in December, and will soon release an agenda for reaching this goal.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 23 March 2015

    (Source: International New York Times)

  • UN DISASTER RISK REDUCTION DEAL AGREED IN SENDAI

    187 countries have agreed a deal to reduce deaths and damages from natural disasters, but aid agencies are disappointed with it.

    187 countries agreed a UN disaster risk reduction plan in Sendai. The deal set seven targets and four priorities for the coming fifteen years, especially establishing plans to “substantially reduce” loss o life from 2005-2015 levels in 2020-2030 and to reduce economic losses as a proportion of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.

    The Sendai Framework anticipates December climate talks, and putting its principles into action will be essential to the achievement of new agreements on climate change and sustainable development. In fact, it is estimated that 87% of disasters in 2014 were climate-linked, so an efficient disaster planning is considered to be a fundamental part of adapting to the effects of climate change.

    However, aid agencies have criticised Sendai conference’s outcome for the vague expression of the targets and for the lack of finance, and stated that – being the deal non-binding – it could have set the bar higher. This, according to Harjeet Singh of Action Aid, will put more pressure on governments to take daring decisions at the UN Paris climate talks later this year.

    Particularly, developing countries settled on the achievement of “adequate and sustainable support”, while at the beginning they were asking for “additional and predictable” finance, and the US also refused to back a section on sharing technology with poorer countries.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    (Source: RTCC)