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Big Fix: Sun and Wind Alter German Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind

Sat, 2014-09-13 20:55
Germany’s renewable-energy push has had an impact far beyond its shores, driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago.

Germany’s Grass-Roots Energy Revolution

Sat, 2014-09-13 20:14
A visit to the Aller-Leine-Tal, one of many energy cooperatives that have contributed to the success so far of Germany’s Energiewende, or energy transition.

Climate action will help the economy, report says

Thu, 2014-09-11 11:00

By Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office

A Cambridge Econometrics report released yesterday responds to the simple question: what would the economic implications be of meeting the UK’s carbon reduction goals to 2025 (the ‘fourth carbon budget’), compared to a scenario where they slow down their mitigation efforts?

The answer, of course, is not so simple to come up with, which is why the modellers’ expertise was necessary. The implications of cutting carbon are broad – more investment in low-carbon infrastructure and industry, increases in the associated employment, a faster shift from fossil to renewable energy, lower health costs due to reduced air pollution, and so on.

The net result is a major benefit to the economy, with household income rising £565 per year by 2030, heathcare costs down as much as £288m per year, a £5.7bn increase in government revenue, a 1.9% rise in production in energy-intensive sectors and a cut of £8.5bn in oil and gas import bills.

The biggest issues to contend with are, first, ensuring that energy efficiency measures are implemented even among the less well-off in society so that their fuel bills fall even as unit costs rise. This implies more robust programmes around fuel poverty. Secondly, a small number of energy intensive industries will similarly need to see enhanced investment in low-carbon technologies during a period in which they may need to be insulated from the full costs of transition, an approach already being undertaken through EU policy, though in a manner that requires considerable improvement.

As negotiators work behind the scenes to prepare for a European Council meeting later in October that will likely define the outlines of EU climate and energy policy through to 2030, this report adds to the stack of economic studies demonstrating the benefit of climate action and associated changes to industry and energy. At this point it’s clear that any failure or reluctance to reap the benefits of a low-carbon transition shows a singular inability to take the initiative needed to navigate change successfully.


Merging energy and climate change services under one Commissioner is an overdue change

Wed, 2014-09-10 13:50

The division of Commission services into one dealing with energy policy and another one with climate change policy has always been an artificial one: to influence climate change policy makers have to rely on energy policy.

It is therefore positive to recombine the two sides of the coin under a single command and put an end to internal disputes and overlapping created during the past 10 years.

European energy policy must serve foremost the interest of European citizens with energy security and sustainability of supply being the overwhelming targets.

But in a global and long-term perspective, European energy policy must also take climate developments into account. That is why it makes sense to aim at abolishing C02 emissions by the middle of century, which implies phasing out fossil energies, enhancing energy efficiency and switching to renewable energies and completing the network of long-distance power transmission and low-cost power storage .

A single command structure should therefore make the EU more effective. It will become operational just in time for the two main issues the EU will be confronted with very shortly: reducing the dependency on Russia as the single most important supplier of energy and contributing to a successful outcome of the climate conference in Paris in late 2015.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 10/9/2014

National Briefing | Washington: Federal Report Describes Trouble for Some Birds

Tue, 2014-09-09 23:32
After the National Audubon Society released a report saying 650 bird species will be threatened by climate change, a report released by other agencies concluded that nearly one-third of American birds are in trouble.

UK Conservatives shouldn’t abandon the green agenda

Tue, 2014-09-09 10:25

Whitehouse Consultancy Director Carl Thomson argues that the UK Conservative Party should continue to support investment in renewable energy in an article for the Huffington Post.

To read Carl’s article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s public affairs and communications agencies.

Charges Dropped Against Climate Activists

Mon, 2014-09-08 20:33
A Massachusetts district attorney said he shared two defendants’ concern about the hazards of climate change.

Yale Fund Takes Aim at Climate Change

Sun, 2014-09-07 22:00
Yale’s chief investment officer asked its money managers to talk with company managers about “the financial risks of climate change” and the implications of government policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Something rotten in Denmark? Why road transport in the ETS is a bad idea

Thu, 2014-09-04 14:19

By Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office

A couple of years ago I went to an event at which gas enthusiast Dieter Helm browbeat climate DG Jos Delbeke about the insufficiencies of the current EU Emissions Trading System (in typical economist-speak the answer according to Helm is, assuming the political will to pass an adequate carbon tax, we’d have the money we need for innovation). Delbeke invited Helm to walk a mile in his shoes and see how much political will he could assume then. They agreed to disagree on the ETS, but happily converged in their common praise for the EU’s approach to vehicle efficiency standards, which are steadily driving down CO2emissions from cars.

So here’s an idea: mess up the one policy everyone agrees is effective, and put a greater burden on the one policy everyone agrees isn’t working properly. By putting road transport into the EU ETS, for example. That’s the position taken by the car industry and some countries, notably Denmark, which is showing themselves to be uncharacteristically short-sighted and self-interested on this point. The idea has crept its way into the Council’s 2030 negotiations as an option for national opt-in, according to the document leaked this Monday,

Fortunately, today Transport and Environment has released a timely and well-argued paper with the self-explanatory title ‘Why putting road transport in the ETS is a bad idea.’ Three main arguments follow: the ETS won’t deliver carbon savings in transport, inclusion of transport will damage the ETS and increase costs, and inclusion in the ETS jeopardises more effective policies.

WWF took a similar position in 2007 prior to the last major ETS review, which resulted in primarily sensible reforms, but without preventing the twin causes of the ETS’ current woes: insufficiently stringent allocations, and too-generous access to offsets for compliance. The basics, in other words. Adding road transport to the ETS is a bad idea generally, but positively reckless while simultaneously failing to tackle the ETS’ main problems head-on.



The two-party system: Pandering and other sins

Wed, 2014-09-03 18:39
AMERICA'S two-party system is a creaking monstrosity that has helped bring its politics to a grinding halt. The country urgently needs a nationally competitive third party (if not a fourth and a fifth) to crack up its frozen ideological landscape, and to shift incentives away from the politics of total resistance and towards deal-making and compromise. That said, it is not entirely clear just how big a role the two-party system plays in creating America's policy paralysis. Many factors have combined to hobble American governance. How important is the two-party system, specifically?Salomon Orellana, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, thinks it plays a big role. In a post at the Monkey Cage, Mr Orellana argues that in two-party systems, politicians tend to "pander", promising voters easy material gains without corresponding costs. He applies this theory to the issue of climate change. In two-party systems, when one party panders on material comfort (e.g., “gasoline prices have risen under the current government”) or even survival (e.g., “carbon taxes will cost jobs”) versus doing something about climate change, the other party feels great pressure to follow suit. This dynamic also tends to reduce dissent on issues like carbon taxes....In multiparty systems, smaller parties can take the risk of promoting dissenting ideas, including suggestions that ...

Green Column: Interest in Solar Water Heating Spreads Globally

Wed, 2014-09-03 08:57
Many developing countries, which struggle with high energy prices relative to income, have embraced the technology.

Vice premier expects Chinese, Russian energy giants to expand co-op

Mon, 2014-09-01 07:11
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli expressed the hope here Saturday that oil and gas giants from China and Russia will further expand bilateral energy cooperation for even greater successes on the basis of achievements already made.

System on way to cap carbon output

Sun, 2014-08-31 21:09
China will gradually set up a mechanism for limiting its overall carbon emissions and accelerate development of a national carbon market, according to the country's chief climate change negotiator.

Dot Earth Blog: Accounting for the Expanding Carbon Shadow from Coal-Burning Plants

Thu, 2014-08-28 15:05
A pitch for considering a lifetime’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions when examining power plants in the context of climate change.

Natural gas in China: Shale game

Thu, 2014-08-28 10:55
UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  That sinking feeling (again) Fly Title:  Natural gas in China Rubric:  China drastically reduces its ambitions to be a big shale-gas producer IN 2012 China’s main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, declared that the country would produce 60 billion-100 billion cubic metres of shale gas a year in 2020. It needed those forecasts to be accurate. They weren’t. Wu Xinxiong, the director of China’s National Energy Administration, recently predicted that only 30 billion cubic metres a year will come on stream by 2020. That would barely meet 1% of China’s energy needs now, let alone in 2020. This is profoundly disappointing. With more than 30 trillion cubic metres of recoverable shale gas, China has the largest reserves in the world, almost 70% more than in America, home of the shale-gas revolution. It is also a setback to the country’s efforts to reduce pollution. Dirty coal now makes up about 70% of energy consumption and, despite fast growth in renewable energy, gas is the only cleanish energy source ...

National Briefing | Washington: 20 Types of Coral Listed as Threatened

Wed, 2014-08-27 21:29
The federal government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species, partly because of climate change.

Oceans and the climate: Davy Jones’s heat locker

Wed, 2014-08-20 15:48
UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  What China wants Fly Title:  Oceans and the climate Rubric:  The mystery of the pause in global warming may have been solved. The answer seems to lie at the bottom of the sea Main image:  20140823_STD001.jpg OVER the past few years one of the biggest questions in climate science has been why, since the turn of the century, average surface-air temperatures on Earth have not risen, even though the concentration in the atmosphere of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has continued to go up. This “pause” in global warming has been seized on by those sceptical that humanity needs to act to curb greenhouse-gas emissions or even (in the case of some extreme sceptics) who think that man-made global warming itself is a fantasy. People with a grasp of the law of conservation of energy are, however, sceptical in their turn of these positions and doubt that the pause is such good news. They would rather understand where the missing heat has gone, and why—and thus whether ...

Pittsburgh International Airport: One way to save a dying airport

Tue, 2014-08-19 09:11
PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is in trouble. Nearly a fifth of its gates are shuttered, many more are vacant, and it has been over a decade since US Airways decided to stop using it as a hub. A terminal that was built for 30m passengers a year now serves about 8m. On July 31st, United Airlines announced—despite the wailing of local politicians—that it would end its daily non-stop service between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles International.Now the New York Times reports that the airport's executives have found a solution to its woes—hydraulic fracturing, better know as fracking:[Pittsburgh International's] quiet runways, it turns out, are sitting on enough natural gas to run the whole state of Pennsylvania for a year and a half, and this month, Consol Energy will drill its first well here to tap the gas, which county officials say will bring them nearly half a billion dollars over the next 20 years.The well is outside the airport fence but, with horizontal drilling, will extract the rich deposits that lie under the terminals and runways.The airport needs the money; it currently devotes nearly half its budget to servicing its enormous debts. But flyers shouldn't necessarily worry. As the Times notes, Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver, two huge international airports, have both had oil and gas wells on their grounds for years without big safety issues. There are, of course, ...

Geothermal energy: Hot rocks

Thu, 2014-08-14 10:59
UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Back to Iraq Fly Title:  Geothermal energy Rubric:  Why geothermal is the new fracking Location:  WASHINGTON, DC Main image:  The zigzag route to success The zigzag route to success DEPENDING on your point of view, hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—is either the future of clean, natural gas or an environmental apocalypse. Fracking liberates gas trapped underground by drilling sideways from vertical well-shafts into horizontal layers of shale rock. Millions of gallons of a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals are injected into the horizontal wells at high pressure, fracturing the shale, releasing the gas—and causing violent protests in Europe and parts of America. Geothermal energy, by contrast, has yet to stir much controversy. Most geothermal plants are located where water has seeped down into the Earth’s crust, been heated and forced back up through permeable rock. Drill a well to ...

Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear?

Thu, 2014-08-14 05:00
As climate change alters habitats, once-disparate animals are shacking up, creating hybrids that challenge our notion of what it means to be a species.