Quote of the Day

“This could be a crunch year. This could be the year when we see whether this is really ready to go mainstream or the public just aren’t interested.

Ed Hellwig of Edmunds.com in The Guardian’s “All these electric cars – who’s going to buy them?”

Lead Stories

Carbon tax introduced in China
Sky News
News that China will introduce a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse emissions is an important development, but there’s little sign other large carbon emitters will soon join it, and China’s low starting carbon price will still see Australia out of step with global action on climate change, The Australian says in its editorial today. http://jlne.ws/AcR5oW
**JK – Editorial in Asia

California to net $1 bln from CO2 permit sales: budget
Point Carbon
The sale of CO2 allowances to manufacturers and oil refineries will generate $1 billion during the first year of California’s cap-and-trade program, according to Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2012-13 budget.

EU Carbon Market May Be Due for Change
Denmark has just taken over the EU presidency for six months. Martin Lidegaard, the country’s energy and climate minister, in December threw his weight behind efforts to sustain carbon-emissions prices, a sharp change from his Polish predecessor.

Elections, trade battles to pose risks to green economy this year- HSBC
Environmental Finance
Political uncertainty and trade disputes pose the greatest risks to the green economy this year, according to analysts at HSBC.

European Commission looks forward to ‘constructive’ ETS talks with US
The European Commission (EC) will not modify its regulation that includes aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and “looks forward to constructive discussions with our US partners on the need to take bold action to curb growing aviation carbon pollution,” Isaac Valero-Ladron,spokesman for Climate Action commissioner Connie Hedegaard told ATW.

Jake Schmidt: How the European Program to Reduce Carbon Pollution From Aviation Works
Huffington Post
It is a very simple program that has unfortunately generated opposition from some airlines and countries. But it is a common-sense approach which will spur airlines to invest in solutions that will deploy new aircraft technologies that are already being produced, while reducing global warming pollution from this growing source. Here is how it works.

CCS legal and policy
Carbon Capture Journal
At the EU level, the Directive on the Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide (the CCS Directive) continues to be the central piece of legislation of interest to the CCS industry and the transposition of its requirements is ongoing. The Directive, in the main, deals with the permitting of CO2 storage and the measures that are to be taken by, and the obligations on, the storage site operator.

Subsidy pullback to hit wind, biomass harder than solar, say experts
Environmental Finance
The expiration of the 1603 US cash grant programme is likely to slow but not stop the solar industry’s fast march toward grid parity, as solar costs continue to decline rapidly, said industry experts.
**JK – Article says solar will be cost competitive with other energy in 2014 to 2016.

Study finds a better way to gauge the climate costs of land use changes
Those making land use decisions to reduce the harmful effects of climate change have focused almost exclusively on greenhouse gases – analyzing, for example, how much carbon dioxide is released when a forest is cleared to grow crops. A new study in Nature Climate Change aims to present a more complete picture – to incorporate other characteristics of ecosystems that also influence climate.

America’s sad love affair with the electric car
MSN Money
Electric cars started 2011 with a lot of hype and ended the year with a big face-plant. Combined sales for the plug-in electric movement’s marquee names, General Motors’ (GM +3.38%) Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, clocked in at fewer than 20,000 units. IDC Energy Insights predicted that half a million plug-ins would sell in 2011, which now seems downright silly.

All these electric cars – who’s going to buy them?
The Guardian
Once again the world’s top car firms are showcasing electric cars and hybrid vehicles. BMW, General Motors, Lexus, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo – all have new electric or hybrid cars to show off. As usual they will garner huge amounts of coverage. But will anyone buy them?

Buffett’s MidAmerican Utility Buys Three Iowa Wind Farm Projects
A unit of Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. (329802Q) acquired three wind-energy projects in Iowa that will have a combined generating capacity of 404.8 megawatts at completion.
**JK – What’s next for Warren, solar panels on his house?


California Appeals Ruling Blocking Low-Carbon Fuel Standard
California appealed a ruling by a federal judge who blocked the state’s low-carbon fuel standard after finding that it discriminates against out-of-state corn ethanol and crude oil and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Constellation Energy Coal Company Urges Stricter Pollution Rules
As operators of coal-fired power plants around the country welcome a court-ordered delay on tighter pollution rules, the owner of a retrofitted plant here says that the rules cannot come too soon.

Delisting of March 2012 CSAPR Futures contracts
Due to the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit’s Order on December 30, 2011 to stay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s CSAPR program until further notice, GreenX will delist the March 2012 expiration months for two CSAPR Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and two Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) contracts effective close of business January 6, 2012.

Justices to Hear Battle Against EPA Orders Under Clean Water Act
In a case watched closely by energy companies and manufacturers, the Supreme Court is set to consider Monday whether to blunt one of the government’s chief tools for enforcing the Clean Water Act.

U.S. Settles With Exxon, Statoil Over Huge Oil Find
Federal officials have settled a dispute with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Statoil ASA over one of the largest offshore oil discoveries ever made in the Gulf of Mexico because the companies had failed to come up with a plan to begin producing oil.
Under the settlement, filed Friday, Exxon Mobil and Statoil will get to keep their leases in the Julia deepwater field—which Exxon estimates could hold one billion barrels of recoverable oil.

BP and Other Firms Will Contest Spill Charges
Charges were expected for BP, but the “incidents of noncompliance” given to Halliburton and Transocean surprised the oil industry. Contractors hired by a well’s owner typically escape liability in such situations.

Philly, Oakland Among Cities Winning Advice on Green Development
Philadelphia, Oakland and six other U.S. cities will get free help this coming year from sustainable building and development experts who’ll take a fresh look at the towns through a green lens.

Texas has driest year
Environmental News Network
It’s official: 2011 was the driest year on record in Texas, according to the National Weather Service. It was also the second-hottest ever.

Supreme Court to Rule Monday on EPA Water Policy
Ecosystem Marketplace
Michael and Chantell Sackett say they had no intention of making a federal case out of anything when they started building a house on a half-acre lot near Priest Lake, Idaho, in 2007. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, says the couple dredged and filled in a patch of wetland without a permit – a clear violation of the Clean Water Act.


Conserve, and the world will follow
Calgary Sun
Instead, why not start with what the public already agrees with? The true public consensus is that we need to tackle pollution, protect endangered species and preserve wilderness. The public is frustrated with smog days, polluted water, fished-out oceans and drained wetlands. They are already onside with conservation. In fact, millions of people already belong to conservation organizations of one kind or another.
The happy coincidence is that if we do a better job of conserving, then we inevitably tackle greenhouse gas emissions as a byproduct of those efforts.

Goldstein: Canada’s carbon catastrophe begins
Toronto Sun
There, the provincial government is forcing the transfer of millions of tax dollars from cash-strapped schools, hospitals and other public institutions, by requiring them to buy carbon offsets.
Money which then benefits hugely profitable energy companies like Encana.

Hamilton: Air Canada’s snub of EU carbon tax governed by ego, not eco concerns
The airline — as well as other members of the National Airlines Council of Canada — has no problem arbitrarily adding $50 to the price of a 2,500-kilometre round trip to the United States.
But it won’t tolerate the European Union slapping on a carbon tax that would only add $1.45 to a $500 round-trip ticket between Toronto and Frankfurt, Germany, a journey that covers five times the distance. How did I come to $1.45?


At Risk, the Core of a Car’s Identity
WITH so much of a car’s production having moved beyond the walls of the automaker’s final assembly plant, the engine has become one of the few distinguishing items left in a brand’s portfolio. But even this core asset seems to be slipping away, especially among European makers who are rushing to meet stringent carbon dioxide targets and to gain footholds in the electric vehicle market.

IBM Earns Kudos for 27 Green Data Centers in Europe
The European Commission has honored 27 IBM data centers for their energy efficiency under the European Union’s Code of Conduct for the facilities.

Stand under my green umbrella: supplier first to sign up to RHI
The government today announced that Sheffield-based umbrella supplier Booth Brothers and Broadgate Farm Cottages in Beverley, East Yorkshire, will both receive RHI payments of 4.5p per kWh for the next 20 years. Both businesses have installed green heating devices that qualify for the pioneering incentive scheme.

Solar Subsidy Cuts Sought by German Minister as Demand Wanes
Clean-energy subsidies should be cut in Germany, the second-biggest solar market in 2011, even as the industry struggles to cope with falling demand and prices, Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said.
Subsidies for wind, solar and biomass installations need to be brought in line with market realities, Roesler, of the Free Democratic Party, said today in Stuttgart. http://jlne.ws/wKYYnU

CEZ May Spin Off, Sell Stake in Renewable Energy Assets in 2012
CEZ AS (CEZ), the Czech Republic’s largest power producer, may spin off its renewable energy operations and sell a minority stake to investors this year, raising money as the company seeks to expand into Poland, Romania and Germany.

China Three Gorges stake in EDP set to boost renewables – analyst
Environmental Finance
On 22 December, the Portuguese government announced that China Three Gorges (CTG) would pay 2.69 billion euros ($3.45 billion) for a 21.35% stake in EDP-Energias de Portugal. China’s largest hydropower operator beat competition from German rival E.ON to the deal – the first privatisation under the 78 billion euros bailout agreement between Portugal and the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Portuguese government still holds a 4% stake in EDP.
**Also in Asia


China’s carbon tax is not alone a climate solution
The Australian
THE announcement that China — the world’s largest carbon polluting economy — is planning to introduce a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse emissions is an important development.

Chinese Firms Prefer Dying to Being Bought, JinkoSolar Says
Chinese solar-panel makers, which supply more than half the world market, will respond to the supply glut by shutting factories or their entire businesses rather than merging, a JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS) official said.

China Three Gorges stake in EDP set to boost renewables – analyst
Environmental Finance
On 22 December, the Portuguese government announced that China Three Gorges (CTG) would pay 2.69 billion euros ($3.45 billion) for a 21.35% stake in EDP-Energias de Portugal. China’s largest hydropower operator beat competition from German rival E.ON to the deal – the first privatisation under the 78 billion euros bailout agreement between Portugal and the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Portuguese government still holds a 4% stake in EDP.
**Also in Europe

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