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In the headlines: Obama announces action on renewable energy and Lloyd's call on insurers to account for climate-change risk

12 May 2014
In the headlines: Obama announces action on renewable energy and Lloyd's call on insurers to account for climate-change risk

News snapshot for the w/c 12 May is below, please click the links to read further.

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:


Pressure growing for OPEC countries to cut energy subsidies
Oil-rich countries can save billions of dollars by replacing domestic energy subsidies with programmes which hand cash to poor households, a US report found. Reforms are becoming more urgent as rising domestic demand in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) eats into a growing chunk of fossil fuel exports. Saudi Arabia was a case in point, where oil consumption has risen from about 3% of production in the 1970s to about a quarter of production now., May 9.

National proposals show huge work to do on climate deal
Wide, long-standing differences remain among national proposals from the world’s biggest carbon emitters for a global climate deal meant to be agreed next year. Countries have committed to agree a deal in Paris in 2015 which cuts carbon emissions and prepares for unavoidable climate change, for implementation from 2020. The scale of remaining differences shows that countries may fall short of a comprehensive deal, as they did five years ago at a UN conference in Copenhagen. The alternative, as emerged in Copenhagen, would be a deal based on voluntary pledges with no overarching global targets, and international rules to be resolved in subsequent years, if at all. Proposals submitted in the past three months by the United States, China, the European Union and Russia show how countries are split on the level of ambition of carbon cuts., May 9.

Asia – Pacific

UBS: Australian households could go off-grid by 2018
Global investment bank UBS has highlighted the challenges facing Australian energy utilities by suggesting that the falling cost of solar and battery storage means that the average Australian household could find it cost-competitive to go off-grid by 2018. The report by its Australian based analysts says the current cost of going off-grid for a households consuming the average of around 7 megawatt hours would be around $39,000. Renew Economy, May 9.

Axing of renewable energy agency would add to broken promises, clean energy industry says
The planned axing of the primary agency supporting clean energy in Australia by the Abbott government would break pre-election commitments and send investment in emerging technologies off-shore, an industry group says. Fairfax Media is among outlets reporting on Monday that the federal government will axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in Tuesday's budget as part of efforts to curb spending. Sydney Morning Herald, May 12


China's green drive could squeeze out coal before 2020
China, as the world's largest emitter, will without doubt have a huge bearing on the future direction of global climate change efforts. Any deal agreed at next year's Paris climate summit will have to get to grips with the impact of China's rapidly growing economy to have any chance of limiting warming to 2C. Critics of climate action have often said that the effect of European carbon cutting policies will be dwarfed by China's thirst for coal, rendering them worthless. And yet the signs are that China's coal consumption may be slowing, aided by the introduction of tough new environmental laws and pledges by Beijing and other cities to reduce coal burning following a series of air pollution incidents. BusinessGreen, May 12

New China-UNEP Agreement to Boost South-South Cooperation on Climate Change Adaptation
In a new high-level agreement – endorsed today in Nairobi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner – UNEP and China agree to harness their “strengths, capacities and resources” to assist countries of the Global South combat climate change. Since 2008, UNEP and China have collaborated with countries across Africa and Asia on climate adaptation projects with co-funding by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of China. African Brains, May 12


Tesco launches LED switchover with new €70m Irish fund
The Republic of Ireland is hoping to fuel €300m of investments in energy efficiency retrofits over the next three years, with a major new fund designed to aid economic recovery and slash carbon emissions. Tesco Ireland was yesterday confirmed as the first beneficiary of the new government-backed National Energy Efficiency Fund, which has already raised €35m. Energy minister Pat Rabbitte said the fund is expected raise a total of €70m over the next three years, which could in turn leverage €300m for retrofitting schemes across the country. BusinessGreen, May 9.

EU records fall in carbon emissions in 2013
Carbon emissions in the European Union decreased by 2.5% last year, the EU’s statistics agency has revealed. That’s in comparison to a 1.6% fall in 2012, according to early estimates of CO2 emissions from energy use by Eurostat. However, despite emissions decreasing across the 28-member bloc by an average of 2.5% in 2013, they rose in six countries. Germany was recorded as the worst polluter, with its production of CO2 gases from fossil fuels rising by 2% to 760 million tonnes, followed by the UK (455 million tonnes), France (346 million tonnes) and Italy (342 million tonnes). The strongest cuts in CO2, which account for around 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions, came from Cyprus, where it fell by 14.7%, followed by Romania and Spain. The EU produced a total of 3.35 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2013, down from a total of 3.4 billion tonnes the previous year. Energy Live News, May 8


GE sinks $24 million into first solar project in India
General Electric is expanding its renewable energy business as its Energy Financial Services unit has entered into a partnership with Welspun Renewables Energy to enlarge solar energy generation in India. The unit of Fairfield-based GE is making its first investment in a solar power project in India, funding $24 million for a 151-megawatt solar photovoltaic power project that Welspun, an Indian clean energy generating company, put into operation last year. The Neemuch project powers 624,000 homes and mitigates an estimated 216,372 tons of carbon emissions annually. Stamford Advocate, May 2.

Climate change key issue as sea threatens Sundarbans
In an election being fought on issues ranging from the local to the national, voters in Sundarbans are urging candidates to focus on the menace of global warming which is threatening to swallow up these islands, famous for being home to the Royal Bengal tiger. The Sundarbans region has three Lok Sabha constituencies under it — Mathurapur, Jaynagar, Basirhat — all of which go to polls tomorrow in the last phase of voting. In this delta region hard hit by increasing floods, storms, salinity and erosion, there are lakhs of farmers and fishermen who want their next MPs to fight against climate change, which is responsible for eating away their land and livelihoods. Times of India, May 11

North America

Obama announces actions on renewable energy
President Barack Obama announced steps on Friday to increase the use of solar panels, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and train more people to work in the renewable energy field. "It's the right thing to do for the planet," Obama said, standing in the outdoor lighting display section of a WalMart store that features roof-top solar panels and a charging station for electric vehicles, among other energy-saving retrofits. The president used the stop to show how major corporations have committed to increasing the generation of solar power at their facilities. Wal-Mart, Apple, Yahoo, Googleand Ikea were among the companies that have made such commitments. Business Spectator, May 11

US awards $141m to innovative offshore wind farm projects
The US Department of Energy (DoE) has handed out $141m to three developers planning wind farms off the coasts of New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia. The three projects are set to add 67MW of offshore wind capacity in US waters by 2017 and make use of new technologies designed to drive down costs for future wind farms, the DoE said in a statement. "Offshore wind offers a large, untapped energy resource for the United States that can create thousands of manufacturing, construction and supply chain jobs across the country and drive billions of dollars in local economic investment," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a statement. BusinessGreen, May 8


House of Lords urges government to ‘go all out for shale’
A House of Lords report has supported the government’s commitment to “go all out for shale” and has urged fracking to be made a “national priority”, despite public opposition to the practice and concerns around its impacts. The House of Lords economic affairs committee argues that the UK has “substantial” shale gas and oil reserves and further exploration is “urgently” needed, in order to assess the industry’s “economic prize, which the UK should grasp without further delay”. Blue and Green Tomorrow, May 8.

Lloyd's calls on insurers to take into account climate-change risk
Lloyd's of London, the world's oldest and biggest insurance market, has for the first time called on insurers to incorporate climate change into their models. The call to action comes a day after a landmark US report, named the National Climate Assessment, which has warned that climate change is wreaking havoc across the US. Lloyd's says damage and weather-related losses around the world have increased from an annual average of $50bn in the 1980s to close to $200bn over the last 10 years. The 326-year-old insurance market, whose members write insurance business worldwide, believes the time has come for a formal call on the industry to take into account various climate-change scenarios to avoid unpredictable losses to businesses. The Guardian, May 8


Tesla's $5bn 'Gigafactory' could break ground next month
Work at one of two sites earmarked by Tesla for the world's largest ever lithium-ion battery manufacturing and reprocessing facility could start as early as next month. A week after revealing Tesla would be picking two locations to develop as "Gigafactory" sites in order to maximise production of the company's new battery technology and minimise delays as it seeks to meet soaring demand for its electric vehicles, chief executive Elon Musk told reporters that ground-breaking would "probably" occur next month, with construction at the second site following a month or two later. BusinessGreen, May 9.

Electric cars clock up half a million miles on Ecotricity’s Electric Highway
Renewable energy supplier Ecotricity have revealed that drivers have clocked up half a million miles in 12 months using its Electric Highway – a network of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints spread across Britain’s motorways. EV motorists used the network to collectively power 571,877 miles of travel using 100% renewable electricity over the last year, figures reveal. Ecotricity says that by the end of the year, the free-to-use network, already the largest in the UK, will have a pump at every motorway service station in the country. Blue & Green Tomorrow, May 5

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