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In the headlines: Africa and Asia could overtake Europe in renewable energy production, UK and China forge a low carbon deal

Date
10 March 2014
In the headlines: Africa and Asia could overtake Europe in renewable energy production, UK and China forge a low carbon deal

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:               

Global

Scientists have detected four new man-made gases that damage the Earth's protective ozone layer, despite bans on almost all production of similar gases under a 1987 treaty, a new study shows. The experts were trying to pinpoint industrial sources of tiny traces of the new gases, perhaps used in making pesticides or refrigerants that were found in Greenland's ice and in air samples in Tasmania, Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald, March 10.

A new report has revealed that in the coming years, Africa and Asia will gradually overtake Europe as one of the key areas of growth in the production and use of renewable energy technologies. The EY report shows that Germany, which is one of Europe’s leaders in renewable energy technology, suffered with its general election taking place last September, meaning a delay on discussions on how to reduce the cost of green energy. PC Tech Magazine, March 10.

Warmer temperatures caused by climate change could significantly increase cases of malaria in parts of Africa and South America, researchers have warned today. A team of ecologists at the University of Michigan and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine claim to have the first hard evidence that incidences of malaria move to higher altitudes during warmer years and back down to lower regions when temperatures cool. BusinessGreen, March 7.

Asia – Pacific 

Australia has endured another summer of searing temperatures, with more than 150 weather records broken, a new report shows. The Climate Council's latest Angry Summer report analyses climate data from across the country for the 2013-2014 summer. The report says Adelaide experienced 13 days above 40 degrees Celsius, including five days in a row above 42C. ABC, March 10.

Japan plans to reduce incentives for solar power and introduce a higher tariff for offshore wind than onshore turbines to encourage installations. The offshore wind tariff would be set at 36 yen (35 cents) a kilowatt-hour for 20 years, according to a report by a panel advising the trade ministry. Onshore wind would get a separate rate, of 22 yen, unchanged from fiscal 2013. The solar tariff would decline 11 percent to 32 yen. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, March 7. 

China

China’s government says industrialised countries should commit to new 2020 emission reduction targets of 40% on 1990 levels by the end of next month. In a strongly worded submission to the UN’s climate body China also says developed countries must provide $40 billion of low carbon finance in 2014, rising by $10 billion a year to 2020. “The pre-2020 mitigation gap would not even have existed if developed country Parties had committed to an emission reduction of 40% below their 1990 levels by 2020,” the document reads. Responding to Climate Change, March 7.

The UK and China have inked a £20m research deal to develop new low carbon manufacturing processes and technologies, and support the development of low carbon cities and offshore renewables. Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Wednesday both countries will commit £10m of matched funds over the next three years with around £6.6m made available each year. BusinessGreen, March 7.

Europe 

Investors that ditch coal and gas for lower carbon energy will avoid big losses down the line, according to two new studies released today, further grist for the mill in a growing global campaign to shun financing for fuels blamed for climate change. The first of the studies, which was released today in Brussels, said financial institutions including banks and pension funds could see $1 trillion of assets in fossil fuels at risk if the world agrees to slash emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid runaway climate change. The most vulnerable financial institutions include two of Europe’s largest banks in France and a number of sizeable pension funds in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Yet again for other Member States, such as Germany, a lack of transparency has hidden their carbon exposure,” said the report, which was commissioned by Green Party MEPs. Responding to Climate Change, March 5.

India

India approved 3 billion rupees ($49 million) in subsidies to help farmers install solar-powered water pumps to boost agricultural yields and reduce expensive diesel fuel use. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will provide grants to install 17,500 irrigation pumping systems to 2016 funded by a carbon tax on coal, according to a notice posted today on its website. Bloomberg, March 6.
For six years in a row, India’s monopoly coal producer has missed its production targets, leading to chronic electricity shortages and sending power producers scrambling for pricier imports. But what looks like a looming crisis could turn out to be an almost accidental energy overhaul. Like many other developing nations, India has relied for decades on cheap coal to provide electricity for burgeoning industry and fast-expanding cities, putting aside worries about pollution and global warming. But from three years ago when solar capacity was almost zero, the country has added 2.2 gigawatts of solar to its electricity grid, enough to power 20 million Indian homes. The Journal Gazette, March 9.

North America

From roads and bridges to power plants and gas pipelines, American infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a pair of government reports released Thursday. The reports are technical documents supporting the National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is expected to release in April. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports, which warn that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause "cascading system failures" unless there are changes made to minimize those effects. Island Press has published the full-length version of the reports, which focus on energy and infrastructure more broadly. Huff Post Green, March 6.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that climate change is a really big deal - the biggest, in fact. "Climate change is the worst problem facing the world today," said the Nevada Democrat at a roundtable with reporters. Reid has been growing ever more assertive on climate change. Last June, he said in a speech on the Senate floor that "we have no more important issue in the world than this issue, period." Huff Post Green, March 6.

UK

Green businesses will drive a third of UK economic growth this year, a UK diplomat has predicted. Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner to Chennai, said climate-friendly growth "represents one of the biggest opportunities since the industrial revolution" at an industry conference in Chennai. He highlighted the UK as a "pioneer" in the low carbon market, enacting policies such as targets for renewable energy and emissions reductions, as well as mandating listed companies to include emissions data in annual reports. BusinessGreen, March 7. 

More than a quarter of employees in the renewable energy sector are women – a larger proportion than in the oil and gas or nuclear sectors, a new survey claims. It suggests 28% of the workforce in the renewable energy industry in Scotland are female compared to 21% in the UK oil and gas sector and 18% in nuclear. Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy for Scottish Renewables, which commissioned the survey said: “These findings would seem to suggest that renewable energy is attracting more women than other more established energy sectors.” Energy Live News, March 9.

Innovation

Norbert Reithofer, the chief executive of BMW, said in Geneva this week that initial orders were strong for the company’s i3 battery-powered sedan, which is already available in Europe and will be in American and Asian dealerships by mid-year. BMW has not yet disclosed detailed sales figures for the i3, but, Mr. Reithofer told a small group of journalists in Geneva, “I am optimistic, really optimistic.” He also added, “At the moment it looks like the challenge will be that we have more orders than production capacity.” International New York Times, March 7.

Everything at Tesla seems to be full steam ahead, and its European front is no exception. Recently at the Geneva Motor Show it announced that it will open over 30 new service centers and stores throughout the continent. Elon Musk noted that they want their Tesla customers to be supported by Superchargers wherever they are in Europe, “By the end of this year, we expect you will be able to travel almost anywhere in Europe using only Superchargers.” So, in about ten months, Tesla may have installed enough Superchargers that you could drive a Model S all over Europe and not run out of electricity. That’s an ambitious goal, but Tesla seems to be hitting all its marks, so it just may come to be. If you are skeptical that they can do this at all, consider that the Model S has already been driven across the United States using their Supercharger network there. CleanTechnica, March 8.

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