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In the headlines: China makes new electric cars tax-free and UN proposes building blocks of new global climate deal

14 July 2014
In the headlines: China makes new electric cars tax-free and UN proposes building blocks of new global climate deal

News snapshot for the week commencing 14/07/14 is below, please click the links to read further.

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:               


Over 200 cities worldwide are now actively reporting their climate risks
A report released today by the London-based carbon reporting NGO CDP said that a 100% increase on the number of cities reporting on climate adaptation activities last year, indicating the seriousness with which local governments are approaching the dangers posed by rising sea levels, heat waves and resource scarcity. Cities reporting on their vulnerability to climate change include London, Moscow and Johannesburg. “Local governments are storming ahead to protect their citizens and businesses from the impacts of climate change, but further collaboration with business is needed to increase city resilience,” said Larissa Bulla, head of CDP’s cities program., July 10

UN Proposes Building Blocks of New Global Climate Deal
The United Nations left open the option for rich and poor nations to remain divided in their obligations on climate change, setting up a conflict over exactly who should cut greenhouse gases. In a policy paper setting out possible language to include in a global warming agreement envoys from 190 nations are drawing up for next year, the UN set out an option for maintaining a divide between developed and developing nations. Bloomberg, July 8

Asia – Pacific

Abbott blow as Senate votes to delay carbon tax axe
Tony Abbott’s attempts to scrap Australia’s carbon tax have been delayed for a week after Senators rejected an amendment to the legislation. In chaotic scenes before and after the vote, mining millionaire Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party (PUP) withdrew support, branding government proposals as a “whitewash.” The PUP, which holds the balance of power in the Senate, had submitted an amendment to the new laws meaning power companies not passing on carbon tax price reductions to consumers would be fined., July 9

Singapore gears up for climate change
Details on getting the Republic’s roads, drains, airport and other infrastructure ready for climate change will be firmed up from 2016, as government agencies examine how public infrastructure must adapt to higher temperatures, more intense rainfall, rise in sea level and stronger winds. The extent of rises in sea level that roads can withstand and the type of adaptation measures needed will be studied, for example. The exercise will take place under a resilience framework that puts climate change risks and adaptation under sharper focus than before. It will take into account findings such as those of Singapore’s second National Climate Change Study, which will project climate parameters in greater detail. Channel News Asia, July 8


China and U.S. Sign Pacts on Climate Change
The world’s two largest carbon emitters have signed pacts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The deals—actually eight projects demonstrating smart grids and carbon capture, utilization and storage—were made through the China-U.S. Climate Change Working Group and will involve companies and research bodies. “The significance of these two nations coming together can’t be understated,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the sixth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. “We are working hard to find a solution together that can have an impact on the rest of the world.” National Geographic, July 10

2014 Eco Forum Global opens in Guiyang on Thursday
The annual Eco Forum Global Conference will take place on Thursday. It aims to engage leaders in business, politics, academia and other areas to highlight concerns in ecology and the environment. One key highlight of the forum is investment into clean energy. Solar power is one of the most widely used forms of clean energies. China Western Holdings has invested 4 billion RMB in this area, a bullish move on solar’s future prospects for the market world-wide. “The thermal conversion efficiency is more than 30 percent, more than double that of photovoltaic conversion efficiency.” said Li Jiasheng, Executive Director, China Western Holdings. CCTV, July 10


Europe uses €1 billion of polluters' revenues to fund clean energy project
The European Commission today awarded €1 billion funding to 19 projects to fight climate change under the second call of the so-called NER 300 funding programme.  The funding for the projects comes from revenuesresulting from the sale of emission allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System. This makes the polluters the driving force behind developing new low-carbon initiatives. ClickGreen, July 8

France and India pledge to cooperate at UN climate talks
France and India will work closely together on a proposed UN climate deal, according to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius. Speaking after a meeting with new Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Fabius said they had explored ways of deepening cooperation ahead of the 2015 Paris summit. “We discussed climate change and have been positively impressed by the approach of prime minister Modi and his ministers,” he said., July 7


Industry welcomes boost to renewable energy in Budget 2014
The power industry today welcomed the Budget's emphasis on renewable energy and coal-based project, saying it will give an impetus to the sector which is reeling under a crisis. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his maiden budget today, announced allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the solar power sector. The government has set aside Rs 500 crore for new and renewable energy, Rs 400 crore for launching a scheme for solar power-driven agricultural pump sets and water pumping stations for energising one lakh pumps, and Rs 100 crore for the development of one-MW solar parks on the banks of canals. Economic Times, July 11

Duty imposed on coking coal; steel production cost to go up
The government today imposed 2.5 per cent duty on coking coal import, evoking reaction from the industry which said this could lead to increase in cost of steel production by Rs 200 a tonne. Manufacturers, however, are not sure whether to pass it on to consumers given the subdued demand scenario. The government also raised import duty on flat-rolled stainless steel products to 7.5 per cent from 5 per cent earlier and reduced customs duty for steel-grade limestone and dolomite, giving some relief to the industry. Economic Times, July 11

North America

Canada Struggles with Melting Permafrost as Climate Warms
In 2006, reduced thickness of ice roads forced the Diavik Diamond Mine in Northern Canada to fly in fuel rather than try to transport cargo across melted pathways, at an extra cost of $11.25 million. The mountain pine beetle outbreak in British Columbia—fueled by higher winter temperatures that allow insects to survive—expanded in recent years to be 10 times greater than any previously recorded outbreak in the province. Mortality rates of sockeye salmon, meanwhile, have increased because of higher water temperatures in the Fraser River. Scientific American, July 7


UK admits that air quality targets will be missed by 20 years
The air quality in some of the UK's biggest cities is unlikely to meet EU standards before 2030, according to the government. Member states were supposed to meet targets on pollutants from diesel cars and trucks by 2010. The nitrogen dioxide (NO2) they produce is linked to a range of respiratory ailments. But the European Court of Justice heard that London, Leeds and Birmingham could still be above these goals in 2030. The court has been hearing evidence in a civil case brought by air quality activist group Client Earth. It has already been successful in the UK Supreme Court, winning a judgement that the government was breaching its legal duty on NO2. BBC News, July 10

Solar panel firms win High Court compensation ruling
Fourteen solar panel companies are entitled to compensation from the government over cuts in subsidies for solar electricity, a High Court judge has ruled. The firms are seeking more than £130m in damages from the UK government over changes to feed-in tariffs in 2011. The government plans to appeal against Mr Justice Coulson's decision. The judge said the amount of compensation "will ultimately depend on the facts. As a matter of general principle, the claimants have demonstrated an entitlement to damages," he said. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it will appeal against the ruling. "We are unhappy about this judgement and will be appealing against it," a DECC spokesperson said. BBC News, July 9


China makes new electric cars tax-free
China will exempt electric cars and other types of "new energy" vehicles from purchase tax, the government said, as it seeks to reduce pollution and conserve resources. The State Council, or cabinet, said that buyers of new energy vehicles – fully electric, hybrid and fuel cell cars –would not have to pay the levy from September to the end of 2017, according to a statement. The tax is 10% of the net value of the vehicle, according to state media. "For achieving industrial development and environmental protection, this is a win-win," the state council said in a statement on Wednesday. The Guardian, July 10

Smart electric cars to measure air pollution 
British scientists are using smart electric vehicles fitted with specialised air monitoring sensors to measure the city pollution levels. The University of Leicester researchers have designed and installed special sensors into electric vehicles (EVs) that can measure pollutant concentrations around the city. The information from these sensors will provide insight into the quality of the air people inhale in polluted urban areas, researchers said.  Economic Times, July 13

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