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In the headlines: China aims for 70GW of solar in race to ditch coal and Dutch wind turbines power electric trains

Date
27 May 2014
In the headlines: China aims for 70GW of solar in race to ditch coal and Dutch wind turbines power electric trains

News snapshot for the w/c 27 May is below, please click the links to read further.

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Global

EU calls for clean energy focus at UN climate talks
Technical discussions on topics such as energy efficiency and renewables should form the basis of global efforts to tackle climate change more ambitiously between now and 2020, the EU has said. In a submission to the UN’s climate body ahead of the next round of talks in June, the EU said that technical discussions among experts were the best way to boost climate ambition over the next six years, rather than political discussions among policymakers. This approach was trialled at the last round of talks in March, where experts discussed areas of with high mitigation potential in Technical Expert Meetings. RTCC.org, May 23

Unilever Named #1 in 20th Annual Sustainability Leaders Report
A survey released this week of expert stakeholders from business, government, NGOs and academia across 87 countries shows that Unilever, Patagonia, Interface and M&S are viewed as leaders in corporate sustainability. For the fourth year in a row, and by the largest margin yet, Unilever is regarded as the number-one corporate sustainability leader, with 33 percent of expert respondents identifying the company (up 8 points from 2013) as a “leader in integrating sustainability into its business strategy.” Nearly one in ten (9 percent, down 5 points) mention Patagonia, 7 percent mention Interface (down 4 points) and 6 percent point to M&S. Other companies named to the top 12 include: Nestlé, Natura, Nike, GE, Walmart (down 5 points), Puma, IKEA (first time in the top 12 list since 2004) and Coca-Cola. Sustainable Brands, May 19

Asia – Pacific

Australia’s Pollution U-Turn Threatening UN Climate Talks
Australia’s program to rein in pollution is losing momentum, the latest in a series of setbacks for the international effort to tackle global warming. With the highest per-capita fossil fuel emissions among industrial countries, Australia’s participation in United Nations-led climate talks is seen as crucial to sway China and India to step up pollution controls even as developed nations backslide. Now, Australia’s environmental stance is undergoing an about-face as the country’s new government and its political opponents haggle over the best way to dismantle earlier regulations. The shift in Australia comes just ahead of a series of global climate talks set for later this year. The UN is aiming to craft an agreement in 2015 that would include 190 nations. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 23

Climate change in Pakistan: innovation in the absence of government support
"There is nothing left here. We don't have electricity, we don't have gas, we have an acute shortage of water, so what is left for us?" This is how a woman in Lahore, Pakistan, expressed her frustration to researchers for Climate Asia, the largest study in Asia on people's perceptions of changes in climate. Pakistan stood out from the other countries included in the study – India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and China – because of this strong sense of despair. It was the only country of all seven in which more people thought life had become worse in the past five years, both in rural areas and big cities. Climate Asia, which surveyed more than 4,000 people across the country, found that lack of electricity, not having enough food and not having enough clean water were people's biggest worries. High inflation was also mentioned as putting a lot of pressure on their lives. The Guardian, May 21

China

China policymakers test radical cuts in carbon emissions
China’s policymakers are testing the potential for radical cuts in carbon emissions from the energy and industrial sectors, using an energy analysis tool developed in collaboration with Britain. Britain developed its own “2050 Pathways” calculator in 2010, to allow academics and policymakers to test the potential for radical national carbon cuts in the wake of the UK’s ambitious Climate Change Act. The country has now helped China develop its own version, in collaboration with the Energy Research Institute (ERI). ERI is based within and provides advice to the country’s powerful energy policymaking body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). RTCC.org, May 22

China aims for 70GW of solar in race to ditch coal
China intends to accelerate its deployment of solar power, after setting a new target to more than triple installed capacity to 70GW by 2017 as part of its drive to cut its reliance on coal. The new solar target is double the previous one set for 2015, according to a statement posted last week on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission. China, currently the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, already has about 20GW of solar capacity. But it has emerged as the world's largest renewable energy market in recent years, as the government has stepped up investment in clean energy in a move designed to curb its soaring carbon emissions and tackle the deadly air pollution that has blighted many of its cities. BusinessGreen, May 20

Europe

Europe Wheat Yields Forecast to Fall on Climate Warming
Wheat and barley yields in Europe may fall more than 20 percent by 2040 due to expected climate warming of about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a study from Stanford University found. Projected yield losses for corn are about 10 percent, Stanford wrote in an online report, citing a study by researchers Frances Moore and David Lobell published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The European Union grows about 20 percent of the world’s wheat. The researchers compared yields in warmer and cooler parts of Europe to estimate how expected warming will affect the region’s farmers in coming decades. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 22

Dutch wind turbines to power electric trains
Dutch trains will start running on wind energy from next year and the country's entire rail network could be fully powered by green electricity by 2018. Under the terms of a new contract announced last week, utility Eneco is set to supply the Netherlands' train system with 1.4TWh of electricity from domestic wind farms, as well as installations in Belgium and Scandinavia. The prospective supplies are equivalent to the amount of electricity used by Amsterdam residents in a year. BusinessGreen, May 19

India

India needs $834 billion to implement low carbon growth plans
India will need to invest US$ 834 billion to place its economy on a low carbon trajectory by 2030, a report published in April by the national Planning Commission reveals. It says the country will require “massive” changes to the energy mix to lower the carbon intensity per unit of GDP by 42%, as opposed to 22%, which is its ‘business as usual’ scenario. Coal and oil use will need to decline 20%, while gas demand will rise 10%. Solar capacity will need to be increased from 2GW to 11GW, wind from under 1GW to 118GW. “This diverts resources from other needs, and may not be possible to sustain if the growth is not fast enough,” says the document, which was signed off by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Commission. RTCC.org, May 23

Modi to Use Solar to Bring Power to Every Home by 2019
India’s new government led by Narendra Modi plans to harness solar power to enable every home to run at least one light bulb by 2019, a party official said. “We look upon solar as having the potential to completely transform the way we look at the energy space,” said Narendra Taneja, convener of the energy division at Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept to power on May 16 in the biggest electoral win in three decades. About 400 million people in India lack access to electricity, more than the combined population of the U.S. and Canada. The outgoing government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh missed a 2012 target to provide electricity to all households. Bloomberg, May 20


North America

Tom Steyer mounts $100m midterm attack on climate-change deniers
The billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer said on Thursday he would spend up to $100m to attack climate-change deniers in seven key Senate and gubernatorial races. Steyer's seven picks – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania – are among the most competitive contests in this year's mid-terms. But crucially for Steyer, who will spend $50m of his own money, the races feature Republicans who have denied that climate change is occurring, or who oppose cutting the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. “The debate on climate change is settled: it is here, it is human-caused and it is already having a devastating impact on our communities,” Steyer said in a statement. “But we need to accelerate the level of political support to address this critical issue before it’s too late. The Guardian, May 22

First shipment of Canadian tar sands heads towards EU shores
A shipment of oil from Canadian tar sands is due to arrive in Europe next week – the first time that the highly polluting fossil fuel has made its way into the continent. The delivery will give rise to fears that Europe is now gearing up to take advantage of Canada’s oil reserves, creating a crucial market for the polluting fuel in the face of declining US demand and providing an incentive for Canadian companies to scale up production of the oil. On 29 May, between 500,000 to 600,000 barrels of this Canadian crude oil are scheduled to arrive in the Bilbao port of Spain, which will then be transported into refineries owned by Spanish oil company Repsol. RTCC.org, May 22

UK

British fracking support falls below 50%, poll shows
Public support for fracking for shale gas in the UK has fallen below 50% for the first time, new polling suggests. Just 49.7% of people now say they think the controversial process should be allowed in the UK, marking the third fall in support since high-profile protests last summer in West Sussex which saw dozens of arrests including that of Green MP, Caroline Lucas and ongoing protests at a site in Salford. Support for shale gas was at a high of 58% in July 2012, which slumped to 54% last September and 53.3% this January, the long-running survey by YouGov for the University of Nottingham shows. The Guardian, May 20

UK Will Be Largest Solar PV Market In Europe In 2014, According To New Report
The UK will very likely be the biggest solar photovoltaic market in Europe in 2014, according to the new NPD Solarbuzz UK Deal Tracker report, with over 120 large-scale projects approved for construction. The dominance will be largely fueled by big growth in ground-mounted solar PV projects this year — over 120 large-scale solar PV projects in the region have been approved, many of which will be completed before the end of the year. Clean Technica, May 19

Innovation

“FOLKVÄNLIG” — IKEA Electric Bike
Swedish furniture maker IKEA has grown to include solar panels in select stores, and now it is adding electric bikes to its maze-like aisles as well. Two IKEA stores in Vienna, Austria will begin selling the FOLKVÄNLIG electric bicycle at a cost of €749, or about $1,023 dollars at today’s exchange rate. The FOLKVÄNLIG is being offered in both male and female flavors, with an aluminum frame weighing about 60 pounds and a range of about 37 to 45 miles of pedal-assisted power between charges of the lithium-ion battery pack. Charging takes about five hours, but the 250 watt motor is hooked to a Shimano transmission with six different driving modes. IKEA Family members also get a €100 discount, making this IKEA e-bike that much more affordable. Clean Technica, May 23

Nissan prices e-NV200 electric van at £13,400
Nissan has confirmed its new 100 per cent electric e-NV200 van will cost £13,393, in a move designed to accelerate the low carbon commercial vehicle and taxi market.
The Japanese automaker yesterday revealed the full price range for its nine e-NV200 models, which will be available as a van or combi-five seater from July. Each model qualifies for a government grant worth up to £8,000 for the van or up to £5,000 for cars, under the Plug-in Car Grant scheme that is designed to drive uptake of all-electric vehicles. BusinessGreen, May 22

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