Lead Stories

Reducing Europe’s carbon: set bold targets and aim for the impossible
Rob Boogaard  – The Guardian
There has been much discussion and debate since the EU Commission recently unveiled its proposed 2030 carbon targets. While the energy lobbies argue the targets are too ambitious, the green lobbies assert they’re not ambitious enough.
**JB: Just talking about carbon targets is probably too ambitious a goal for the energy lobbies.

Coal to the Rescue, but Maybe Not Next Winter
Matthew L. Wald – The New York Times
As the end of the harshest winter in recent memory approaches, the bill is coming due for millions of consumers who are not only using more electricity and natural gas but also paying more for whatever they use. And there might not be relief in future winters, as the coal-fired power plants that utilities have relied on to meet the surge in demand are shuttered for environmental reasons.

Emissions Pioneer Losing Clout as EU Ban Looms: Carbon & Climate
Alessandro Vitelli – Bloomberg
Thirteen years after the United Nations set up the first carbon emissions market, the global trading system’s influence is waning as it gives way to local and regional plans to combat climate change.
Fewer markets are accepting UN Certified Emissions Reductions, credits created from investment in carbon-reduction programs, as nations from China to California adopt their own standards.

Natural gas industry struggles to keep promises
Jonathan Fahey – Chicago Sun Times
America’s plan to use more natural gas to run power plants, make chemicals, drive vehicles and heat homes may not go as smoothly as expected.
There’s plenty of natural gas in the ground, everyone seems to agree. But the harsh weather this winter shows there are obstacles to producing it, and more pipelines have to be built.

McConnell dares Democrats on carbon tax
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday morning responded to Democrats’ climate change all-nighter by daring them to bring legislation to the Senate floor….
…“Maybe, as some speculate, Senate Democrats were just trying to please the Left Coast billionaire who plans to finance so many of their campaigns,” McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Because the talking senators didn’t really introduce new legislation.”
“I didn’t hear the talking senators announce votes on bills already pending before the Senate,” he said.


“Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Regulations: Lessons Learned”
Richard D. Morgenstern, Ph.D. Resources for the Future (RFF)
March 14, 2014
12:00 Noon, PDT (WEBCAST) Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd Floor, Cal/EPA Building 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California

Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014
March 26-28, 2014
San Francisco, California

GLOBE 2014
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia


Companies holding carbon credits stare at ‘real loss’
Namrata Singh – The Times of India
MUMBAI: Indian companies, which had invested in clean development mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol to claim certified emission reduction units (CER) or carbon credits, now stand to face a “real loss” on unsold credits, as opposed to a notional loss which was earlier being talked about, with prices falling below one euro. Industry estimates peg the notional loss at Rs 10,500 crore.

The Carbon Price Floor and the UK’s industrial energy strategy
Tim Rotheray – BusinessGreen
In his blog on the 5th March, James Murray raised some very interesting challenges about how industry can support decarbonisation whilst opposing the flagship UK carbon tax. In visiting industrial sites and meeting with investors there is strong support a robust, long-term strategy for decarbonising British industry. Indeed, this is vital if we are to meet binding emissions targets. However, the Carbon Price Floor does not play the role that he envisions.

Bank of England warned over “carbon bubble”. Should you be worried?
Sami Grover – TreeHugger
Last week I posted that the Norwegian government was considering divesting from fossil fuels. Not long after, I read over at The Guardian that influential members of British Parliament have issued a warning to the Bank of England that fossil fuel companies may be grossly overvalued:

Value of worlds forest carbon could be undervalued by $800bn
Edinburgh University’s Carbomap, an environmental survey company, has announced the completion of a three-dimensional carbon map of a forested region in Costa Rica and it reveals that the actual carbon content is 22% higher than published values using traditional satellite methods of measuring forest carbon.

Quebec’s Carbon Market Rebounds After California Hook Up
Gloria Gonzalez – Ecosystem Marketplace
After a relatively silent auction of carbon allowances in December 2013, demand for carbon allowances in Quebec soared in the first auction after it officially linked its cap-and-trade program to California’s system.
Quebec sold 98.7% of the more than one million 2014 vintage allowances available for sale in the March 4 auction, with allowances clearing at the CAN$11.39 per metric ton floor price. In addition, 84.2% of the 1.5 million 2017 vintage allowances also sold at the floor price.

Tokyo’s Carbon Market for Office Buildings Is All ‘Cap’ and Not Much ‘Trade’
Maya Kaneko – The Atlantic
If you want to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in Tokyo, it makes a lot of sense to look at office buildings.
The city’s skyline is filled with hundreds of glass-covered skyscrapers that devour electricity to keep lights and computers on and to run heating and cooling systems. There isn’t much heavy industry in Tokyo. So the city’s commercial sector alone accounts for almost 40 percent of the city’s overall carbon dioxide output.

Natural Gas/Coal

Deal of the century: buyout the US coal industry for $50bn
Felix Kramer and Gil Friend  – The Guardian
Would you make a one time $50 (£31) investment to save $100-500 each year? Sound good? Add nine zeros to each of those numbers. In other words, invest $50bn once over the next decade, and generate $100-$500bn in benefits every year.
That’s the surprisingly low price to buy up and shut down all the private and public coal companies in the US, breaking the centuries-old grip of an obsolete, destructive technology that threatens our present and our future.
***JB: This is a bit optimistic.

Natural Gas Near Flat Ahead of Supply Forecast
Nicole Friedman – The Wall Street Journal
Natural-gas prices wavered Tuesday ahead of a monthly government report expected to show that supplies of the heating fuel will be scarcer at the end of winter than previously expected.
Natural gas for April delivery recently traded down 0.9 cent, or 0.2%, at $4.642 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

China’s coal burnout
Detroit Free Press
A whopping 60 to 80 percent of the world’s fuel reserves will have to stay underground if current carbon reduction targets are going to be met.
Environmentalists around the world were predictably outraged when Australia approved the dumping of 3 million cubic meters of sand in the Barrier Reef Marine Park as part of a coal port expansion plan. One would expect cheers from banks and investors in response to such moves, but when it comes to the expansion of coal infrastructure, typically conservative banking institutions and credit rating agencies are siding with the so-called tree huggers. That’s because today, for the first time since the industrial revolution, coal is actually an increasingly risky investment.

Japan to study natural gas exchanges to boost transparency in wholesale market
Japan will start talks on the possibility of creating natural gas exchanges to vitalize the wholesale market and increase transparency as part of efforts to further deregulate the country’s gas market, a government official said Tuesday.

​Duke Energy CEO: Customers will foot bill to clean up toxic coal lagoons
Duke Energy faces a $1 billion price tag to clean its coal ash waste pits in North Carolina after the company leaked around 35 million gallons of toxic coal slurry into the Dan River last month. Who will pay the bill? Customers, says Duke’s CEO.

EIA ups price forecasts for natural gas, propane
Myra Saefong – MarketWatch
The Energy Information Administration raised its 2014 and 2015 forecasts for natural gas in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook report released on Tuesday and said prices for propane are likely to see a much bigger spike than previously expected for the winter season.

Natural Gas Storage: End Of Season Storage Projections, Spring And Summer Injection Season Analysis And The Impact On Natural Gas Prices
The coldest temperatures of the new millennium have prompted record-setting volatility in the natural gas sector as storage levels have dwindled to 10-year lows, more than 30% below historical averages. The commodity reached a 4-year high of nearly 6.50/MMBTU on February 24 before staging a sharp 25% correction over the next 5-days, the largest 1-week swan dive in the last 16 years.

Republicans push natural gas exports
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
Republicans are pushing more natural gas exports, and in doing so could find a weak spot to hit the administration and fellow Democrats on when it comes to foreign policy and energy.
European countries are calling for more U.S. natural gas and Republicans are picking up the plea, claiming the administration has exhibited weakness in the current Ukrainian crisis.

Natural gas output rising in five of six biggest US shale plays in April: EIA
Natural gas production is expected to increase in five of six significant US shale and unconventional plays in April compared with March levels, according to the US Energy Information Administration.


California sets solar power generation record
PV Magazine
The Golden State of California broke all solar power generation records last weekend when 4,093 MW of solar-fuelled power reached the grid on Saturday, smashing the day-earlier record of 3,926 MW.
The data, which was revealed by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), represents an almost 50% increase in nearly two years, when June 2012 recorded 2,071 MW of peak solar power production.

Is Natural Gas-Fired Electricity An Intermittent Resource?
William Pentland – Forbes
Wind power is only available when the wind is blowing. Similarly, cloudy skies means less solar power.
The use of renewable energy resources for generating electric power is limited by the fact that renewable resources are not always available.
This is why renewable energy is commonly described as an “intermittent” energy resource.
Intermittency, or “ variability,” is renewable energy’s Achilles heel.

Local generation, better data boost energy security
Mike Ballard – Greenbang
There is little doubt that utilities today face a major challenge in maintaining sustained access to energy and in safeguarding its long-term delivery to consumers. In light of this inescapable reality, it is encouraging to see the Technology Strategy Board show support for local clean energy generation with its latest program, through which it will invest up to £11 million to support research and development to stimulate innovation in localized energy systems.

The future of solar power [VIDEO]
The Economist
AS THE world’s largest solar-thermal plant opens in the Mojave desert, our correspondent explains that the future of solar in America may look a lot smaller.

4.58 GW Of Solar PV Added In Japan
In just the first eight months of the fiscal year in 2013, 4.58 GW of solar photovoltaics were added in Japan, continuing the solar power surge taking place there. Government incentives have been driving it primarily – mainly a favorable feed in tariff scheme. This scheme was implemented in 2009, which was just five years ago, but seems much longer in terms of the amount of change that has taken place in Japan’s renewable energy expansion.


Why do I need to conserve while farms use the most water?
Phillip Reese – The Sacramento Bee
Q: What percentage of water use is for residential use? What percentage is used for agriculture, and what percentage is used for industrial purposes? It seems that the heaviest users should be called to task for the greatest conservation. – Jean Thompson, Antelope, CA
A: Farms use about 75 percent of the water consumed by residences and businesses in California. Most of the rest is used by homes, with industries consuming a relatively small portion.

Desert Sun symposium to focus on drought and water scarcity in the West
Ian James – The Desert Sun
As California confronts a historic drought and water scarcity increasingly affects life across the West, The Desert Sun is preparing to lead a symposium next week to encourage discussion of the region’s water dilemmas and potential solutions.
The symposium, titled Running Dry, is being co-sponsored by the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and Harold Matzner, executive vice president of the Palm Springs Art Museum Board.

California authorities struggle to impose water conservation measures amid drought
Suzanne Goldenberg – The Guardian (via The Raw Story)
Communities across California are begging – and in some cases ordering – people to save water as the region experiences a historic drought. But it’s not easy to get people to turn off the taps, especially when so many Californians have no idea how much water they are using.
About 225,000 homes and businesses across the state still do not charge customers for the water they are using, according to an analysis by the San Jose Mercury News.

Fukushima FAQ: 5 things you should know about water from the disaster
Sanden Totten – Southern California Public Radio
It’s been three years since an earthquake and resulting tsunami caused a partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
The first traces of sea water contaminated by that disaster are expected to reach California sometime this year.

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