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In the headlines: IPCC’s latest report can galvanise political action on climate and electric cars must make noise under new EU rules

Date
07 April 2014
In the headlines: IPCC’s latest report can galvanise political action on climate and electric cars must make noise under new EU rules

News snapshot for the w/c 07.04.14 is below, please click the links to read further.

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Global

IPCC’s latest report can galvanise political action on climate
Few in developing countries living on the front line of climate change will be surprised by the results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on climate impacts. Vulnerable communities are already facing the brunt of climate change impacts whether it’s changing rainfall patterns diminishing food security, small islands threatened by inundation from rising sea levels or entire developing country economies knocked back by increasing frequency and severity of extreme events. But the IPCC’s messages about food insecurity, negative economic impacts, urban impacts or biodiversity loss are stronger and have the potential to be used to galvanise action to build resilience at national and international levels. This is an impressive body of evidence: the IPCC‘s 2,000-page assessment based on over 12,000 scientific papers and other documents emphasise that our societies and economies are not as climate resilient as they could be. RTCC, April 4

Swiss RE calls for adaptation drive as extreme weather events rise
Insurance companies should emphasise the importance of boosting preparations for extreme weather events and other impacts from climate change, Swiss RE says in a report. The reinsurance giant says its industry is “highly exposed” to future changes in the earth’s weather systems, revealing insured losses from weather-related events rose from 0.018% of global GDP between 1974 to 1983 to 0.077% of global GDP from 2004-2013. It expects rising temperatures to lead to more frequent and severe extreme weather events in the future. The US Gulf coast alone could face an annual damage bill of $21.5 billion by 2030, it says. RTCC, March 30

Asia – Pacific

Unambitious Australia needs to do more to tackle climate change
Australia plays an important role as a leading economy within the international community, and host of this year’s summit of the G20 countries. How it tackles the threat of climate change is of global importance as developing countries look to rich countries to set an example because of their better technologies and history of high emissions of greenhouse gases. Australia’s current policy settings and institutions hold out prospects for doing its fair share in a global effort that has to increase over time. Repeal of these policies would be a setback for the Australian and international effort. The Canberra Times, April 3

Asia responding to future of climate change
Challenges such as extreme weather, rising seas and worsening scarcity of drinking water are forcing many Asian governments to confront the changes being wrought by a warming planet even as some point to rich Western nations as major culprits. Experts say Asia and the South Pacific, home to 4.3 billion people or 60 per cent of all humankind, faces rising risks from climate change that threaten food security, public health and social order. Just as colonialism determined much of Asia’s past, adapting to profound disruptions from climate change will determine the region’s future, said Rajendra Kuma Pachauri, a co-chairman of the climate panel who has spent the past 26 years working on the issue. Asia’s growing economic importance and rapidly urbanizing populations will give it a pivotal role in humanity’s handling of climate change, said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University in Bangladesh. Global News, April 2

China

China and EU pledge joint climate action
The EU and China have pledged to "strengthen cooperation" on climate action ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of next year. A joint statement issued after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Brussels outlines a commitment to "credible and verifiable domestic action" on emissions of greenhouse gases and HFCs, chemicals used in fridges and air conditioners with global warming potential 11,700 times that of CO2. Both parties also called on all countries to present their contributions to the international climate framework due to be agreed at Paris well in advance of the conference. Business Green, April 2

China may sell debt to combat climate change
China may sell debt and is considering other ways to raise funds for combating climate change, an official at the country's top economic planner said on Tuesday. "China is exploring and tapping bond markets," the official from the National Development and Reform Commission told a three-day climate conference in Beijing. It was sponsored by the United Nations Foundation. Resolving problems associated with climate change will be one of the government's "top priorities this year," he said. Other "innovative" methods to establish a financial market for climate change are being explored and the NDRC is in talks with the Finance Ministry to secure income for a special fund, the official, who declined to be named, said. China, the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gasses blamed by some scientists for climate change, is ahead of some nations in its promotion of a market-based system to reduce pollution, experts said. ECNS, April 3

Europe

Paris 2015 climate summit blow as key minister resigns
Preparations for next year’s make-or-break UN climate summit Paris next year have suffered a blow after the minister responsible for organising the event resigned from the French government. Pascal Canfin, the deputy minister for development, has been spearheading France’s plans for the Conference in 2015, where the UN hopes countries will sign off a long-awaited treaty on climate change. But on Monday night the Green Party minister announced that he would no longer serve in government due to political differences with France’s newly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls. RTCC, April 2

EC energy policy shift for 2030: a competitive low-carbon economy
The European Commission is championing a more “coherent and global approach” to energy policy in its 2030 package, says Dominique Ristori, director general at DG Energy. The priority now is to forge a more competitive low-carbon economy. “This is fundamental because it will influence the whole chain of decisions,” Ristori told Science Business. For starters, Europe needs a more market-based approach to renewable energies and this should include, “the progressive elimination of unjustified subsidies for mature technologies,” Ristori said. Other key elements of the Commission’s new systems-based approach to energy policy include a smart and interconnected electricity grid – and big gains in energy efficiency. “We should give high priority to the creation of a fully integrated and single European grid,” said Ristori. Science Business, April 3

India

Solar ATMs changing the face of banking in India
A small startup, a frugal mindset and a disruptive technology are shaking up the rural banking scene in India, giving 300 million dwellers a chance to get a bank account. India's rural economy has been growing with disposable incomes rising, especially in rural areas where spending power accounts for 57 percent of the $780 billion spent annually compared to 43 percent in urban areas. However, 60 percent of India's rural population, compared with 40 percent overall, does not have a bank account. In spite of a robust banking infrastructure and a government aim to include the rural economy into the mainstream, only 5 percent of 600,000 villages have a commercial bank branch and just 2 percent of people living in rural India have a credit card. CNBC, April 1

Suzlon retains fifth spot among global wind turbine makers
Suzlon Group has retained its 5th place among global wind turbine makers in 2013, according to MAKE Consulting. In its annual Global Wind Turbine OEM Market Share report, MAKE said Suzlon had a global market share of 6.3 per cent, as measured by newly installed generating capacity. In America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, Suzlon featured among top four OEMs with a market share of 13.5 per cent and 10.7 per cent respectively, it said, adding that in terms of cumulative capacity, Suzlon - with 23.5 GW of installed capacity - was again ranked fifth globally. MAKE Consulting considers actual grid connected data (except for Chinese OEMs) when arriving at the rankings. Given the size of the Chinese wind market and limited data transparency in grid-connected installations, MAKE calculates market share in China on the basis of installed wind turbines by both Chinese and non-Chinese OEMs. Sustainability Outlook, April 7

North America

Exxon warns global warming targets ‘unlikely’ to be met
ExxonMobil, the US oil group, said it was “highly unlikely” that the world would cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to keep global warming within the internationally agreed limit of 2C. In two reports on the implications of climate change for its business published on Monday, Exxon rejected suggestions that policies to cut emissions would leave many of its oil and gas assets “stranded” – incapable of being profitably developed. It accepted that carbon dioxide emissions created by burning fossil fuels were raising global temperatures, and that warming created risks, but argued that the threat needed to be weighed against other objectives, including the need for energy in developing countries. Financial Times, March 31

US energy imports hit two-decade low in 2013
Total US energy imports plunged to its lowest level last year in more than 20 years, it has been revealed. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy imports were down 19% in 2013 from 2012. while total crude oil production grew 15% last year, leading to a 12% decrease in imports. “Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline,” the EIA stated in its latest monthly report. In 2013, net gas imports were 1,311 billion cubic feet (Bcf), down from 1,519 Bcf in 2012 and 1,963 Bcf in 2011. Total US primary energy usage also rose 2.4% last year after declining in 2011 and 2012, with renewables providing the largest percentage increase. The highest increase was seen in the residential sector while the transportation sector consumed the lowest, it said. Energy Live News, April 3

UK

IPCC scientists: UK leading world on climate adaptation
It might not have felt like it as authorities battled once again this winter to deal with the fallout from extreme weather and flooding, but the UK is at the forefront of developing policies and business strategies that factor in the long-term impacts of climate change. The Environment Agency may have been slammed for its response to the floods that devastated parts of the south of the country and ministers may have been forced to answer questions as to why they cut spending on flood management in the face of increased flood risks. But many other countries have so far failed to develop the kind of over-arching climate adaptation strategies that are now being pursued in the UK. That is the claim of leading climate scientist Nigel Arnell, a key author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's comprehensive analysis on the global consequences of climate change, who this week argued the UK was taking some encouraging steps to enhance its climate resilience in the face of worsening climate risks. Business Green, April 1

Bournemouth begins £7m LED street light upgrade
A £7m project is under way to upgrade Bournemouth's 16,500 street lights with low-energy LEDs in a bid to save the borough council more than £30m. The authority said using bright white lights instead of traditional orange sodium lamps would cuts costs and reduce energy consumption. It hopes to save £32.2m against projected costs over 20 years. The council currently spends £1.1m a year on street lighting energy. The work will take some months to complete. Conservative councillor Michael Filer, portfolio holder for transport, said the town's lighting network was "in need of modernising. Once installed the new lights will lead to a 73% energy saving in current street lighting consumption which equates to large environmental and financial savings," he added. BBC News, April 4

Innovation

Electric cars must make noise under new EU rules
Electric and hybrid cars will have to generate noise to make them safer for pedestrians, especially the visually impaired, the European Parliament says. MEPs agreed that in future the vehicles must be fitted with devices to make them "sound similar" to cars with combustion engines. The move has been welcomed by campaigners. MEPs also voted to tighten noise emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses over the next decade. The new law is expected to be rubber-stamped by the European Council. Under the revised rules, new models of electric and hybrid vehicles will have to make a noise by 2019 and all new electric and hybrid cars must be audible by 2021. The BBC's Ben Wright in Brussels says the move has been welcomed by UK charity Guide Dogs for the Blind - which campaigned for the change. However, with the number of quiet cars increasing all the time, it said the 2021 deadline was too late. BBC News, April 2

LED makers get smart to rise above price war and growth cliff
Lighting companies like Philips and Osram are scrambling to develop more advanced technology as a price war for LED bulbs threatens to eat into profits and bring on a period of low growth as the long-life bulbs become more common. The market for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is growing rapidly as companies, hotels and shops switch from incandescent light bulbs, which are being banned in countries around the world, to these more efficient and durable lights. But the initial cost of buying LED bulbs for home use, while falling rapidly, is still higher than alternatives such as compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) or halogen, leaving consumers hesitant to adopt the new technology. Reuters, April 3

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