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In the headlines: 16 stories you may have missed

Date
19 November 2012
In the headlines: 16 stories you may have missed

Here's a global snapshot of some of the biggest clean technology, economy and policy headlines, from the week commencing November 19, 2012.

Australia

The Australian government said it will phase out a solar incentive program in January, six months earlier than scheduled, to cut electricity bills for homes and businesses next year by as much as A$100 million ($103 million). The decision “will strike the appropriate balance between easing upward pressure on electricity prices and supporting households and suppliers who install solar” systems, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said in a statement. Bloomberg Businessweek, November 16.

Australia will back the second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol but wants a better global deal on climate change signed by 2015. Australia will sign up to a second commitment to the Kyoto protocol, ahead of what the Gillard government expects will be a comprehensive global emissions agreement taking effect in 2020. SBS, November 9.

China

The United Nations climate chief has called on China’s new leadership to ensure the country remains committed to a low-carbon future and engaged in the next round of negotiations later this month. In an interview with RTCC, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN climate change secretariat, the UNFCCC, said it was “absolutely critical” that China’s new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping maintained levels of investment in renewable technologies and energy efficiency measures. RTCC, November 15.

Europe

Trials have begun in Germany to test whether kites can be used to generate renewable energy to power homes and businesses. Kites could in future compete with wind turbines as a form of renewable energy, according to a Germany company developing the aerial technology. NTS said the benefits of using kites over wind turbines is that they can harness the power of winds at altitudes of up to 500 metres, where they exceed 20 meters a second. Such systems can also cost considerably less to build than wind turbines, which require towers each weighing hundreds of tons. GreenWise, November 13.

The Nordic region's investment in renewable energy will give it a large surplus of power to export by 2020, pushing down regional electricity prices and raising the need for new export links, Norwegian energy firm Statkraft said on Monday. Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have linked their power markets into one electricity region, meaning all will see the benefit of Norway and Sweden's plan to add 26.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) of wind, hydro and biomass generation by 2020. Reuters, November 12.

Global

The $866 billion global environmental market managed four percent growth in 2011, according to research by Environmental Business Journal. This growth puts it fractionally ahead of global GDP growth of 3.9 percent and up from the 1 percent decline recorded in the worldwide global environmental market in 2009, according to EBJ’s Global Environmental Markets 2012. EBJ forecasts the same global growth rate for the industry in 2012. Environmental Leader, November 15.

The International Energy Agency plans to publish an annual report on energy efficiency, starting next year, to bolster its efforts to promote fuel saving technologies in businesses, buildings and houses. The IEA publishes a report each month on supply and demand in the oil market, and annual studies on other markets. Bloomberg, November 14.

More than 100 of the world's largest companies are calling for governments to bring in a global carbon price to drive the huge investment needed to deliver substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Shell, Unilever, EDF Energy, Statoil, Swiss Re, and Skanska are among those that have endorsed the Carbon Price Communiqué, coordinated by the Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, ahead of the Doha climate summit at the end of the month. BusinessGreen, November 19.

India

India has demanded that environment ministers gathering in Doha for climate talks in November-end discuss not just greenhouse gas emission reductions but finance, technology and other issues closer to developing countries' interest too. In its latest submission to the UN, the government has demanded that ministerial round-tables being organized must be comprehensive in nature and should not focus on a particular issue to the exclusion of others. The Times of India, November 12.

India will see a pickup in the economy in the third and fourth quarters of the financial year that ends in March, 2013, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday. India is confident that it can still meet its fiscal deficit target of 5.3 per cent of gross domestic product for the current financial year, the finance minister said. The Economic Times, November 16.

North America

Barack Obama claimed climate change as a personal mission of his second term on Wednesday, offering for the first time to take charge of the effort to find a bipartisan solution to the existential crisis. Obama, speaking in the first White House press conference since his re-election, acknowledged his first term had made only limited progress on climate change. But he promised to remain personally engaged in getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on a course of action. The Guardian, November 14.

New report; Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies in September 2012, finds that a growing majority of Americans say the President and Congress should make global warming a priority and that corporations, industry, and citizens themselves should do more to address the issue. More than 9 out of 10 Americans also say developing clean energy should be a national priority. In addition, a majority of Americans Рacross party lines Рsay the U.S. should increase its use of renewable
energy immediately. Report in full.

A poll conducted by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) found that voters in the swing states of Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Virginia – all of which helped determine the election outcome – considered renewable energy to be an election issue as important as foreign policy and more so than abortion. The poll found these same voters want to see cleaner energy encouraged in their state, ranking solar, wind, and natural gas higher than all other energy sources. PV Tech, November 15.

UK

Lark Energy has won planning permission to develop a 32-megawatt solar park that will become the U.K.’s largest photovoltaic plant. The company intends to complete the 35 million-pound ($55 million) plant before April, when subsidies are due to be reduced. It will install 125,000 solar panels on 150 acres between the runways of a former military airfield in Wymeswold. The project covering the equivalent to about 87 soccer fields has more than six times more capacity than any U.K. solar park in operation. Its development is an indication that the cost of solar panels has fallen so much that developers are working on utility-scale plants too big to qualify for the most lucrative subsidies in Britain. Bloomberg, November 15.

Electric Vehicles

General Motors Co. plans to build 500,000 electric vehicles a year by 2017, a company official said. GM plans to meet that goal through a variety of technology including plug-in electrics, pure electrics and hybrids that use the company's eAssist technology. IBN Live, November 16.

LED Lighting

Work has started on a project to replace all 68,000 of Sheffield's street lights with white LED lights, which authorities say will make the streets brighter and safer. – short two minute video about the project on BBC News, 13 November.

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