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In the headlines: New EU rules on energy funding and IPCC Working Group 3 round up

14 April 2014
In the headlines: New EU rules on energy funding and IPCC Working Group 3 round up

News snapshot for the w/c 14th April is below, please click the links to read further.

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:


UN climate study: still time to save the world
Disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided, the world’s leading climate scientists say, but only by making a concerted international effort to cut carbon emissions through heavy investment in renewable and nuclear energy sources. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third report of a trio on global warming, released on Sunday, focuses on “mitigation” – how to fight rising temperatures by limiting the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “This is a message of hope,” Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the group that wrote the report, told the Financial Times. “It can be done, but it means moving away from business as usual to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system.” The key objective is to keep the average worldwide temperature rise below 2C, the internationally agreed target that would avoid catastrophic global change. The report, based on 1,200 scenarios from scientific papers analysed by 31 modelling teams around the world, concludes that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by between 40 and 70 per cent compared with 2010 by mid-century. By 2100 there should be minimal net emissions – or even “negative emissions”, which means extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by growing trees on a large scale or scaling up technology still in the early stages of research today. Large changes in investment patterns, particularly in the energy industries, will be required to achieve the 2C goal. The report estimates that investment in power generation from conventional fossil fuels should fall $30bn a year, while investment in low-carbon plants (nuclear, renewables and carbon capture) rises $147bn a year. Total global annual investment in the energy system is about $1,200bn today. Financial Times, April 13

Corporate lobbying on climate change: silence is not neutrality
Questions are rising about how companies should lobby on environmental issues, and the ways in which their lobbying is reported. In the US, for example, companies must disclose the subject of their lobbying, but do not have to disclose the position that they are lobbying for. This incomplete reporting opens them to concerns from consumers and investors. In an age of increasing transparency, business leaders can expect more scrutiny, especially as concerns about the climate grow. While the politics and policies of climate change may be complicated, the message to a CEO is simple: there should be no question about where your company stands on climate policy. Ikea Group has gotten the message, and is moving toward a transparent climate change policy. Thanks to internal leadership and partnerships with NGOs like WWF and the Climate Group, IKEA can now explain why climate change is relevant to its business interests and which policy actions it supports. Most importantly, it is taking these messages directly to policymakers throughout Europe, lobbying for ambitious, legally-binding 2030 targets for carbon dioxide emissions, renewable power and energy efficiency. The Guardian, April 9


Clean technology – Silver lining to China's smog
When they launched their dust control company, Wuvio, with Dutch partners in 2012, Albert van Lawick van Pabst and Rob te Braake arrived at the gates of coal-fueled power plants in China's sooty Hebei Province lugging buckets of their products, giving demos and doing their best to drum up demand. Sometimes they applied a biodegradable substance that bonded the upper layers of coal heaps into a rubbery cover, creating a barrier between the coal and winds that otherwise funnel it east into Beijing and the port city of Tianjin. Last spring, Premier Li Keqiang announced plans to restructure the economy around cleaner, more efficient industries, advocating what he called an "eco-civilization." A year later, he declared "war on pollution," allocating more than $800 billion to cleaning up air, water and soil over five years. The weapons in this war? Innovative technologies. Two weeks or so after Premier Li's declaration of war, unusually balmy weather left Beijing sunk in a fog of toxic air. The meteorological office issued a heavy smog warning and the Ministry of Environmental Protection admonished leaders to move more quickly. CNBC, April 9

Beijing aims to clean up air during APEC meeting
Beijing is considering stricter traffic controls and suspension of polluting enterprises during meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that are scheduled to take place later this year in the city's Huairou district. To prevent the smog from enshrouding the capital during the APEC event, the city vowed to reprise measures taken during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including traffic control to cut emissions based on vehicles' license plate numbers, suspension of certain industrial operations around the city's suburbs and halting work at construction sites. Zhuang Zhidong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, said the capital will undertake the measures together with neighboring cities and provinces., April 10

Asia – Pacific

Australian CSPV developer Raygen signs $60m deal in China
Australian concentrated solar PV (CSPV) developer RayGen Resources says it has signed a $60 million investment and distribution agreement with Chinese company ZhouZhou Intense Solar. Raygen, a Melbourne-based solar start-up that predicted in 2012 that it could bring the costs of utility-scale solar down to $60/MWH, says the agreement will see Intense Solar inject $2 million into the company and assemble Australian made components of the technology. The deal was signed during the Australian government’s trade mission to China. Trade minister Andrew Robb, said it was a “tremendous example of Australian innovation finding a market in China which results in jobs, investment and trade for Australia.” Re New Economy, April 11


New EU rules on energy funding phase out subsidies for renewables
Funding green energy will become harder under EU rules published on Wednesday designed to replace subsidies with market-based schemes, just when the Ukraine crisis has heightened the need for alternatives to imported fossil fuel. The executive European Commission said the guidelines, which will be gradually phased in, strike a necessary balance after fierce political debate about the cost of green subsidies. "Politically, it's the best balance possible. We were obliged to establish a lot of trade-offs," the Commission's competition chief, Joaquin Almunia, told reporters. But green energy campaigners, who protested outside the Commission headquarters in Brussels, said the rules were a victory for industry and a blow to the renewables sector as well as ordinary consumers. Reuters, April 9

Merkel Cabinet Backs Clean-Energy Revamp to Slow Price Gains
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet backed changes to Germany’s clean-energy law to try to slow gains in power prices already the second-highest in the European Union and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. State support for wind and solar power will be reduced with the overhaul of the 14-year-old law. Heavy users like ThyssenKrupp AG, Linde AG and Bayer AG will also keep 5 billion euros ($7 billion) of tax rebates after a reduced list of eligible companies was cleared with the European Commission, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. Rising prices because of excessive clean-energy subsidies “have become the biggest problem by straining our economy and industry,” Gabriel told reporters in Berlin. “We urgently need this fresh start to the energy switch.” The list of businesses cleared by Europe for rebates was cut by about 400, he said. Bloomberg, April 8


Climate Change: India Advised To Take Necessary Measures
While India may be one of the top seven contributors to global temperature change, the South Asian country is not as big a villain as it is projected when one takes into account its population. However, India does need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, if it does not want to end up at pole position of notoriety. In its latest report, the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessed impacts of the climate change on human health, settlements and natural resources. According to the report, Asia is facing the brunt of climate change and the continent will experience severe stress on water resources and food-grain production in the coming years. As a result, the UN warned, there would be an increase in the risk of armed conflict among four Asian countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. In Serbia, April 9

The sustainability primer for Congress, BJP and AAP policies
The recently released manifestos for all parties are supportive but devoid of exact details for their vision of a resource efficient India. While BJP broadly commits to a ‘clean energy revolution to end blackouts and revive economic growth’, the party has been tight-lipped about providing details. Similarly, while the AAP outlined specific measures for deploying solar leading up to the Delhi elections, its manifesto shies from providing specific details for how it will support a transition to renewables. Congress intends to maintain a status quo direction by pledging to support the national schemes rolled out far. Sustainability Outlook, April 9

North America

Catalyzing the Oil and Gas Industry to Clean Up its Act
The oil and gas industry leaks a significant amount of natural gas into the atmosphere. Most of this leaked gas is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant. This leaked gas also represents lost product for the oil and gas industry, so capturing the gas allows the companies to either sell it or put it to good use on-site. In fact, between 40 percent and up to as much as 60-80 percent of the leaked gas can be captured cost-effectively. While natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it is nonetheless a fossil fuel and not a clean energy source. In fact, its development—from methane leakage to other threats from air quality and drinking water—has sometimes been dirty. In order to stop climate change we must move away from all fossil fuels as soon as possible, by building a future based on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources like wind and solar. That said, we cannot ignore the fact that natural gas development still exists in this country and has been spreading. The Energy Collective, April 7

U.S. Navy Has Found A Way To Turn Seawater Into Fuel
Scientists with the United States Navy say they have successfully developed a way to convert seawater into jet fuel, calling it a potentially revolutionary advancement. Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed technology to extract carbon dioxide from seawater while simultaneously producing hydrogen, and then converted the gasses into hydrocarbon liquid fuel. The system could potentially shave hours off the at-sea refueling process and eliminate time spent away from missions. Huffington Post, April 9


Renewable heat incentive offers homeowners money to switch from oil
Homeowners relying on expensive, dirty oil for heating will be offered payments of thousands of pounds from Wednesday to switch to renewable energy alternatives in a government drive to cut carbon emissions from heat. The domestic renewable heat incentive, which was meant to launch in 2012 but has been repeatedly delayed, is the first scheme of its kind in the world, offering financial incentives for low carbon heating technologies including boilers that burn wood pellets. Around 18,000 households who have installed the technologies in recent years are already eligible to start receiving the payments, which will be made quarterly from public money over seven years. Although the scheme is open to people with gas-fired boilers, the upfront and running costs of the technologies means they will be most attractive to homes off the gas grid reliant on oil or electricity for heating. The Guardian, April 9

Britain, Germany extend funding for foreign CO2-cutting projects
Britain and Germany have pledged a further 50 million euros towards a joint initiative to fund projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world, after an initial 70 million euros was heavily oversubscribed. The cash represents some of the first funding under a new United Nations initiative tipped to overtake existing U.N. carbon markets to become the largest global driver of emission cuts by the end of the decade. The money will go towards the two nations' NAMA Facility, which aims to help countries cut emissions through so-called "Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)." Trust, April 8


Accenture and Siemens join rush to seize smart grid opportunity
The fast-expanding smart grid market has enjoyed a busy few days as two of the world's largest corporate giants have underlined their commitment to the sector, market consolidation has gathered fresh momentum, and a leading US firm has pulled off a multi-million dollar IPO. Long-standing predictions that smart grid technologies are destined for the mainstream are starting to look more prescient than ever. The thinking behind the new venture, in which Siemens holds a small majority stake, is obvious. Recent figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggested that the global smart grid market rose from $14.2bn in 2012 to $14.9bn last year, while the company has tipped the European and Asian market for rapid growth in the years ahead. This mounting confidence was underlined last month by a report from Morgan Stanley that argued that the plummeting cost of solar power and energy storage technologies raised the prospect of a tipping point where it would become more cost effective for many homes and businesses to move ‘off-grid'. Business Green, April 9

New smartphone battery fully charges in 30 seconds, was inspired by nature
A new fast-charging battery for everyone's favorite gadget, the smartphone, can fully charge in 30 seconds flat. It was inspired by natural processes and the makers claim that the technology can make our smartphones more eco-friendly and could ultimate lead to a super-fast charging electric car. Israeli nanotechnology company StoreDot Ltd unveiled its new battery tech yesterday at Microsoft's Think Next Symposium in Tel Aviv. The battery utilizes nano dots that originate naturally and self-assemble. Gizmag reports that these dots are, "chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules that, thanks to their small size, improve electrode capacitance and electrolyte performance. The end result is batteries that can be fully charged in seconds rather than hours." Tree Hugger, April 9

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