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In the headlines: renewable energy systems to be trialled on Necker Island and Quebec orders hybrid buses

Date
18 February 2013
In the headlines: renewable energy systems to be trialled on Necker Island and Quebec orders hybrid buses

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Global

The president of the World Bank says global warming is a real risk to the planet and is already affecting the world’s economy. Speaking to the G20 finance ministers at their meeting in Moscow the president, Dr Jim Yong Kim, urged governments to “tackle the serious challenges presented by climate change. These are not just risks. They represent real consequences.” Dr Kim said failing to tackle these challenges risked “serious consequences for the economic outlook… Damages and losses from natural disasters have more than tripled over the past 30 years,” he said. RTCC.org, February 18.

Virgin chief Richard Branson plans to use the tiny Caribbean island he owns to test the effectiveness of renewable energy systems for small island states. The project forms the centrepiece of the ’10 island challenge’ UN climate chief Christiana Figueres set Branson at last year’s Rio+20 talks. The aim is to install 100% renewable systems in ten locations around the world, part of a larger plan to catalyse US $1 billion of private investment to reduce carbon emissions. RTCC.org, February 12.

Australia

Australia has been re-rated on international reinsurance markets after another summer of flooding and extreme weather raised the country's peril profile, said Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Rob Whelan. As a result of the re-rating, Australian insurers have to pay more for reinsurance, costs they will pass on to customers. ''Those [reinsurance] premiums have increased in some cases by as much 50 per cent,'' Mr Whelan said. Flood coverage premiums have soared, with increases of 300 per cent or more prompting holders in flood-risk areas to drop the option. Sydney Morning Herald, February 18.

Solar and wind-power generation are soaring at home and abroad as falling costs combine with rising prices for fossil-fuel alternatives to reshape electricity markets. Australians installed about 1 gigawatt of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs last year, increasing the existing capacity by more than two-thirds, according to the Australian Solar Council. The rush to take advantage of generous feed-in tariffs before they were cut saw Queensland more than double its PV sales, adding almost 400 megawatts of capacity in 2012. Victorians also came close to doubling PV capacity, while New South Wales increased capacity by about one-third. Sydney Morning Herald, February 13.

China

China Gogreen Assets Investment Ltd., a Hong Kong-based investment company, plans to invest 720 million yuan ($115 million) to develop solar power projects in the Xuchang city in China’s Henan province. Unit Beijing Jun Yang Investment Co. agreed with the Xuchang government to develop and operate the 60 megawatts of solar power plants on the rooftops of buildings, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday. Bloomberg, February 18.

Europe

By 2030, Europe could be generating more than 40% of its energy from renewables, using 38% less energy than in 2005 and emitting 50% less greenhouse gases than it did in 1990, a new WWF report shows. “Achieving such levels would put the EU on track to deliver a 100% renewably powered energy system by 2050 at the latest,” says the report, Re-energising Europe, prepared for WWF by the Ecofys consultancy. EurActiv.com, February 13.

India

"India is planning a major programme on impact of changes in polar regions on the Indian monsoon," Ministry of Earth Sciences secretary Shailesh Nayak said in an interview. He said a concept note has been prepared and will be discussed during the Belmont Forum meeting in New Delhi Feb 27-28. The forum is a group of the world's major and emerging economies and funders of global environmental change research and international science councils. "Changes in the Arctic region do impact Indian monsoon and it is important to study how it impacts the Asian subcontinent, especially India," Nayak said. ZeeNews.com, February 10.

Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking and poor nutrition, with about 620,000 premature deaths occurring from air pollution-related diseases. Like China, India faces an unprecedented public health crisis due to air pollution, the Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE) analysis of government data and the Global Burden of Disease report's data on India has shown. The green think tank released its own assessment and the global study's India specific data on Wednesday warning that the number of premature deaths due to air pollution had increased six fold over the last 10 years. The Times of India, February 14.

North America

America will only achieve the ambitious climate change goals outlined by President Barack Obama last week by encouraging wide-scale fracking for natural gas over the next few years. That is the advice of one of the nation's senior scientists, Professor William Press, a member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Press, who is president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said last week that natural gas obtained through fracking had potential to help mitigate climate change. "Coal is burnt to provide the US with almost half its electricity. This is done in huge central power plants and the process is very dirty. By contrast, the burning of natural gas is clean and can be done in smaller, local, more efficient power station," said Press. The Guardian, February 16.

The debate over a US carbon tax was reignited when Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders revealed plans for a new comprehensive climate bill that they hope to move to a Senate vote by the summer. The bill, which aims to build on the momentum created by President Obama's calls in the State of the Union address for Congressional action on climate change, proposes the introduction of a $20 a ton carbon tax that would be introduced on emissions above a set level. The levy would be imposed on 2,869 power plants, refineries and industrial facilities, and would rise by 5.6 per cent a year over 10-year periods, raising a total of $1.2trn. BusinessGreen, February 15.

Electric Vehicles

Volvo Buses’ North American subsidiary, Nova Bus, has received an order for 475 hybrid buses from Quebec, Canada, with an option for a further 1,200 vehicles. The customer, ATUQ, is a consortium consisting of the province’s nine transit authorities. Delivery of the 475 LFS HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) buses will start in 2014. Environmental Leader, February 15.

Green groups have welcomed plans by the mayor of London to create an ultra low emissions zone in the centre of the capital, arguing the move would cut pollution and help the UK avoid hefty fines from the EU for failing to meet air quality standards. "Creating the world's first big city ultra low emission zone has the potential to be a game changing moment in the quality of life of our great capital," said Johnson. "My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low emission technology." BusinessGreen, February 13.

LED Lighting

The NanoLight is claimed to be the most efficient LED bulb, according to its creators. It’s also omni-direction, turns on instantly, doesn’t get very hot, doesn’t get worn out when turned on and off frequently, and has a unique look. “The NanoLight has been extensively tested using professional lighting bulb test equipment in order to ensure brightness distribution, sufficient luminous output and color temperature,” the company writes on its website. And on its Kickstarter page, it notes: “Using only 12 watts of electricity, the NanoLight generates over 1600 lumens, equivalent to a 100W incandescent lightbulb.” Clean Technica, February 4.

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