Though today’s edition focuses on the unescapable, the State of the Union speech by President Obama, in which he may make a few proposals concerning climate change, we also wanted to give you news on the solar business, on the rise, with players like China’s Kong Sun adding $1.1 billion of solar power projects this year (in the Power section). One thing is missing, though, in this evolving landscape and green growth puzzle: finance.

Quote of the day

“I do think that the president will sketch out his vision of climate on a global scale and that is why we believe it will focus on the methane issue.”

Jack Gerrard, chief executive, American Petroleum Industry, in The Guardian’s story Obama’s State of the Union could ramp up climate fight with Republicans  

Lead stories 

Obama’s State of the Union could ramp up climate fight with Republicans 
By Suzanne Goldenberg – The Guardian
Despite the new Republican majority and the oil industry gunning for the president’s agenda on emissions cuts and the Keystone XL pipeline, Barack Obama will show he’s no lame duck on climate change, White House officials insisted ahead of his second-to-last State of the Union Address.

Senate kicks off Keystone showdown
By Laura Barron-Lopez and Timothy Cama – The Hill
If at first you don’t succeed: Senate Republicans are pushing forward with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

State Department sets Feb. deadline for Keystone assessment
By Vicki Needham – The Hill
The State Department has asked eight federal agencies to wrap up their assessments of the Keystone XL pipeline by Feb. 2.

Industry: Obama sending mixed messages on natural gas
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
The natural gas industry has a question for President Obama: Are you for us or against us?

Capping the Other Greenhouse Gas
Bloomberg News (Editorial) 
In President Barack Obama’s fight against climate-changing emissions, carbon dioxide has so far been the chief target — and methane has been given a pass.

Finance – the missing piece in green growth puzzle
By Vaidehi Shah – Eco- Business 
Achim Steiner may run the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its various efforts to tackle climate change, ecosystem loss and promote green growth. But when it comes to solving the world’s challenges, he says the key lies not within the environmental sphere, but outside – in the financial world.

Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists
By Oliver Milman – The Guardian
Humans are “eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years by degrading land and freshwater systems, emitting greenhouse gases and releasing vast amounts of agricultural chemicals into the environment, new research has found.

Green-Energy Inspiration Off the Coast of Denmark  
By Diane Cardwell – The New York Times 
Before dawn one morning in October, a handful of Americans gathered at a lonely pier on Samso, a small Danish island about four hours from Copenhagen.


2015 Climate Leadership Conference
ACCO, EPA, The Climate Registry, C2ES
February 23-25, 2015
Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (Arlington, VA) 


Keep off the grass: Research confirms that highly manicured lawns produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up 
By Ian Johnston – The Independent  
A well-kept lawn has a special place in the hearts of many a house-proud gardener.

Costing the climate: Four ways to price carbon
By Will Evison and Jonathan Grant – RTCC 
Two Stanford academics caused a stir last week suggesting that the true social cost of carbon is $220.  
***LB: Also in this story “A recent study put the social cost of emitting a tonne of CO2 at US$220. An EU allowance costs $8. Why the gap?”

Study: Renewables as cheap as fossil fuels, despite plummeting oil price
By Jessica Shankleman – BusinessGreen
Maturing clean energy technologies, such as onshore wind, solar power and biomass, are reaching grid parity in many parts of the world regardless of whether or not they receive subsidies, a major new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has revealed.

Carbon offsets awarded in South Carolina 
Today’s energy solutions 
Carbon offsets company Green Assets Inc. has been awarded carbon offset credits for its forest conservation project of more than 4,400 acres of land owned and managed by world-renowned Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.

Natural gas / coal

Threat to NY’s fracking ban could come from Congress
By John Ferro – Poughkeepsie Journal 
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month that the state would soon ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing, those who had opposed the controversial method of extracting oil and gas rejoiced.

Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to crack down on Texas coal plant emissions draws support in Oklahoma
By Paul Monies – The Oklahoman
A federal plan to control emissions from Texas coal plants affecting visibility at national parks and wilderness areas in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas was backed by most of the participants Thursday evening at a public hearing in Oklahoma City.

Report: Nordea Asset Management plans to ditch coal investments
Nordea Asset Management is set to blacklist around 40 coal mining companies from its investment portfolio, as the company joins a growing trend of investors cutting their exposure to fossil fuel assets.

ArcelorMittal sells its Kuzbass coal mines 
Thomson Reuters
ArcelorMittal today announces the sale of its interest in the Kuzbass coal mines in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, Russia, to Russia’s National Fuel Company (NTK).

UK’s shale gas revolution falls flat with just 11 new wells planned for 2015
By Adam Vaughan – The Guardian 
The UK government’s planned shale gas revolution has barely got out of the starting blocks with just 11 new exploratory wells for shale gas and oil due to be drilled this year even before the impact of plunging oil prices has fully begun to impact on the industry.

(Uk’s) Fracking job creation ‘overstated’, Friends of the Earth report claims
Claims fracking will create thousands of jobs are overstated and fail to state the short-term natures of those jobs that the industry brings, according to a new report by green campaigners, trade unions and skills councils.


Solar energy on the rise
As the cost of solar energy production continues to fall, the market is experiencing something of a boom. In many parts of the world, it has become cheaper to produce solar power than diesel oil, gas, coal or nuclear energy. 
***LB: Also in this story “Global investment in solar energy is on the rise. In 2014, sales of solar panels increased by 20 percent. Although German solar producers are struggling with Asian competitors, they remain optimistic.” 

Kong Sun to Add $1.1 Billion of Solar Power Projects This Year
Bloomberg News 
Kong Sun Holdings Ltd., the solar power generator whose shares surged more than sevenfold last year, plans to develop or buy new projects worth as much as 7 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in 2015.

Saudi Arabia Delays $109 Billion Solar Plant by 8 Years
By Anthony DiPaola  – Bloomberg News
Saudi Arabia is delaying the completion date of a $109 billion solar energy project by eight years to 2040 as the world’s largest oil exporter continues work on plans to build renewable and nuclear power plants.

Solar Panels Floating on Water Will Power Japan’s Homes 
By Bryan Lufkin – National Geographic 
Nowadays, bodies of water aren’t necessarily something to build around—they’re something to build on. 

Britain needs 14 fewer power stations thanks to energy efficiency gains
By Jessica Shankleman- BusinessGreen
Britain would need 14 extra power stations today if it had not invested in energy efficiency and decentralised generation over the past 30 years, a new industry-backed report will claim today.

France celebrates 1GW surge in wind farm capacity
By James Murray – BusinessGreen
France has become the latest European country to celebrate a strong performance by its wind energy industry during 2014, as new figures revealed over 1GW of new capacity was added last year.

Clean tech

Will the Chevrolet Bolt EV Push Electric Vehicles to the Mainstream? 
By Leon Kaye – Triple Pundit 
Concept cars at automobile shows generally offer the following: great opps for selfies, dreams over driving a vehicle that will never exist and, of course, the occasional eye roll. 
***LB: Also in this story “General Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Bolt EV, which could hit the market as soon as 2017.”

Nissan Leaf enjoys 33 per cent European sales boost
Nissan has this week released encouraging sales figures for its trailblazing Leaf electric car, reporting that European sales for the zero emission vehicle jumped 33 per cent last year to 14,650 units.


Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says
By Carl Zimmer – The New York Times  
A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.


The self-serving myth of Chipotle: Why fast-food meat can never truly be sustainable
By Lindsay Abrams – Salon 
The cynically minded can’t help noticing that Chipotle, despite suffering a potential blow to its first-quarter results, came out of this week’s pork-opolypse looking quite virtuous.

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