Editor’s Note: Due to technical issues, we were unable to deliver the newsletter yesterday. Please see today’s edition, which includes yesterday’s articles as well.
UN climate change talks: pressure is on to reach legally-binding, global agreement
Katie Kouchakji – International Bar Association
When climate change negotiators from more than 190 countries gather in Bonn, Germany on 10 March, the pressure will be on: time is running out to meet a deadline to complete a draft negotiating text by December 2014. The deadline has been set to allow a few more months of negotiation in early 2015, before finalising the text by mid-year. This timeframe is in line with the rules of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which stipulate that any protocols must be communicated to all parties six months before a planned Conference of the Parties (COP) to adopt it.
**JK – Recycle Copenhagen, Bali, Rio, Cancun, stories here.
European Union Carbon Trading Fix Goes Into Effect
Next week, the EU’s fix to its flagging cap-and-trade program finally goes into effect.
For years, the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (cap-and-trade) has been under attack because the supply versus demand for pollution permits was so out of whack.
China’s choking smog places carbon trading schemes in shade
John McGarrity -RTCC
China’s pilot emissions trading schemes are being put into the shade by direct measures to cut smog, which if enforced properly would be much more effective in slowing growth in C02 as the central government says it is getting tough on coal.
Natural gas, climate fund winners in budget
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
President Obama released his budget proposal for 2015 on Tuesday, which aims to increase investments in natural-gas research and fossil fuel developments.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a press conference on Tuesday that it’s the first time the administration has moved to demonstrate the importance of natural gas and the use of carbon capture technology in gas systems.
**JK – Doesn’t make environmentalists happy, but is consistent with Obama Administration goals all along.
EPA would get $7.9 billion under 2015 budget
Lenny Bernstein – The Washington Post
President Obama on Thursday proposed a $7.9 billion fiscal 2015 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, a spending plan that focuses on reducing carbon output from vehicles and power plants and preparing the country “for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”
House mounts attack on Obama’s climate rules
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
The House is set to vote on a bill Thursday that would scale back the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions rules for new coal-fired power plants.
But if the bill somehow reaches President Obama’s desk, he will veto it, the White House said on Tuesday.
***JB: Surprising absolutely no one.
Begich doesn’t support a carbon tax.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says he does not support a tax on greenhouse gas emissions known as a carbon tax. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity last month announced an ad buy in Alaska in which it says Begich is on record supporting a carbon tax and urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make it a priority.
**JK – Always nice to see Americans For Prosperity caring for Alaska.
Guacamole at Chipotle could be climate change’s next casualty
Ruth Tam – PBS Newshour
What do the Arctic’s ice cap, America’s bee population and Chipotle’s guacamole have in common? They’re all potential casualties of global climate change.
In Chipotle’s 2013 annual report, the company noted that increasing weather volatility, changes in weather patterns and global climate change “could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients.”
Germany: Decline of fossil fuel generation is irreversible
Giles Parkinson – RenewEconomy
German energy giant RWE has taken a massive loss of €2.8 billion – it’s first loss in 60 years – after admitting it got its strategy wrong, and should have focused more on renewable and distributed energy rather than conventional fossil fuels.
RWE, like other major German utilities, has spent much of the past decade fighting against the country’s “energiewende”, the energy transition that is seeing it dump nuclear energy and transform the electricity system of Europe’s biggest manufacturing economy to one dominated by renewables.
***JB: They make it sound like a bad thing.
Scottish Investment Bank backs electric vehicle optimisation technology
James Murray – Business Green
Edinburgh-based Dukosi announced yesterday that it has secured a £320,000 equity investment from Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank to support the development of its Electric Vehicle Optimisation Integrated Circuit (EVoIC) system, which aims to use a chip technology to automatically improve the flow of power to and from electric vehicles’ rechargeable batteries.
Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment to acquire GACSO
The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has strengthened its position as one of the world’s leading trade associations for sustainability professionals, announcing that it is to acquire the Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers (GACSO).
ICE U.K. NBP Natural Gas Futures Set Daily Volume Record
IntercontinentalExchange (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global regulated futures exchanges, clearing houses and over-the-counter (OTC) markets, announced today that ICE U.K. National Balancing Point (NBP) Natural Gas futures achieved a daily volume record of 118,145 contracts (equivalent to 3.65 billion therms) on March 3, 2014. The previous record of 70,690 contracts was set on January 13, 2014.
**JK – ICE should call this the Ukraine rally.
Ukraine reshapes US debate on gas exports
By Barney Jopson in Washington
The US should make it easier for Europeans to buy American natural gas in order to reduce its allies’ dependence on Russian energy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives has said.
**JK – Where nat gas and geopolitics intersect.
Charles Koch: business giant, bogeyman, benefactor and elusive (until now) — exclusive interview
Wichita Business Journal
To the American business world, he’s a giant — head of the nation’s second largest private company.
To the political world, he is, by turns, the country’s No. 1 bogeyman and benefactor.
**JK – All good or all bad, or somet
hing in between.
Apple, eBay, Gap, Intel throw weight behind Climate Declaration
A group of 140 California firms have reiterated calls for legislators to deliver ambitious action on climate change with the release of a new declaration signaling their support for policies that serve to cut emissions and drive investment in clean tech.
Wind farm plans in tatters after subsidy rethink
Plans to build wind farms in England and Scotland are being scrapped in the first sign that the Government’s proposed cut to subsidies is taking effect
Developers are abandoning plans for new wind farms in Britain because they are “no longer financially viable”.
The decision to scrap the wind farms is the first evidence that the spread of turbines across the country is being halted. It follows a radical overhaul by the Government of the consumer subsidy, worth more than £1 billion a year to wind farm owners.
“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
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia
EU rows back on aviation emissions charges
Will Nichols – Business Green
Green campaigners have urged MEPs to reject a proposal to limit carbon charges to flights between EU airports until 2016, arguing the move would amount to “dismantling a European climate law”.
EU member states yesterday backed down on Commission plans to force carriers to purchase allowances in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) for carbon emitted from all flights in EU airspace, which in turn marked a weakening of the original regulation that would cover the entire length of all flights in and out of EU airports.
Germany Presses Airlines to Pay Carbon Permits or Risk Sanctions
Birgit Jennen and Ewa Krukowska – Bloomberg Businessweek
Germany has urged nine airlines in China, Russia, the U.S., Egypt, Switzerland and Moldova to comply with European Union emissions-trading rules or face the threat of sanctions, two German government officials said.
Statkraft Awarded Tender to Sell UN Carbon Credits to Flanders
Alessandro Vitelli – Bloomberg
Statkraft AS won a tender to sell United Nations carbon credits to Belgium’s region of Flanders, according to a spokeswoman for Norway’s biggest utility.
“We have been awarded three lots in the tender,” Ursula John, a communications adviser at Statkraft Markets GmbH, said by phone today from Dusseldorf, Germany without commenting on the amount or price of the deal. Bart Naessens, an official at the Flemish department of environment, declined to comment on the award.
Reports clash on Keystone’s carbon impact
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
The State Department’s environmental analysis of Keystone XL drastically underestimated the project’s impact on carbon emissions, according to a report by a British environmental group.
The group Carbon Tracker Initiative said in its report that State fell into a “significance trap” when concluding that the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would not “significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands.”
Ukraine Seen Building Support for U.S. Natural Gas Export
Brian Wingfield and Christine Buurma – Bloomberg
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine is bolstering the case for easing restrictions on exports of the U.S.’s booming natural gas production, according to energy analysts and industry groups.
Bangladesh’s Coal Delusion.
Joseph Allchin – The New York Times
Like most poor countries, Bangladesh needs a lot of energy to develop its economy, the cheaper the better. About 80 percent of its electricity now comes from natural gas. But with gas resources waning and an entrenched, inefficient subsidy system, the government has decided to promote coal instead.
***JB: While one can understand the impulse to embrace coal for their power needs it will almost certainly exacerbate an already existing and dire pollution problem in Bangladesh.
Fracking Question Looms Over California Congressional Race
New America Media
While California’s Central Valley is known for being a top producer of agricultural goods in the state, that reputation could one day be surpassed by the mass production of another valuable commodity: energy.
UK wind beats storms to supply 11 per cent of power in February
Jessica Shankleman – Business Green
The UK’s wind power industry is smashing records on a monthly basis in what is perhaps one of the few upsides from the storms that have battered Britain this winter.
According to the latest National Grid figures, wind energy met 11 per cent of total electricity demand in February, breaking the previous 10 per cent record set in December 2013.
Greening China’s power brings down cost of renewable energy for all
Derrick Penner – Vancouver Sun
It is not quite like the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in Asia causing a hurricane on the West Coast of North America, but the impetus for China to clean up the pollution-choked skylines of cities such as Beijing and Shanghai is making waves in surprising ways on this continent.
Japan caught up in energy dilemma
David Cyranoski – Nature
Three years after a tsunami led to reactor meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the country is at a crossroads in terms of energy policy. A draft law released last week suggests that, despite the previous government’s promise of a ‘zero-nuclear’ future in the wake of the disaster, the current administration is ready to re-embrace the technology. Yet the announcement came just weeks before the opening of a ¥10-billion (US$98-million) renewable-energy research centre in Fukushima prefecture that aims to be at the forefront of green technology. Which way will Japan turn?
Colorado’s largest solar power facility coming to Pueblo
Dennis Darrow – The pueblo Chieftain
Sun-drenched Pueblo’s quest for a large solar farm has finally paid off.
Xcel Energy and renewable energy developer Community Energy of Boulder on Tuesday announced plans to build the state’s largest solar farm — and the largest east of the Rockies — near Xcel’s Comanche power plant and substation.
The solar farm will cover 900 acres of privately owned land.
Americans use twice as much water as they think they do, study says.
Monte Morin – Los Angeles Times
Americans use twice the amount of water they think they do, and appear to be particularly oblivious about how much H2O they flush down the toilet on a daily basis, according to new research.
U.S. Judge Finds Corruption in Ecuador’s Decision on Chevron Water Pollution Case
Circle of Blue
A federal judge in the United States ruled that actions by lawyers representing plaintiffs in a decades-long Ecuador water pollution case were corrupt, making it less likely that Chevron—the oil company accused of pollution—will end up paying the $US 9.5 billion fine ordered last year by Ecuador’s highest court, The New York Times reported. Ecuadorean farmers, the plaintiffs in the case, say that the Texaco oil company purchased by Chevron spilled toxic wastewater into rivers in the Amazon basin in the 1970s and 1980s.
Climate engineering ideas no longer considered pie in the sky
Evan Halper – Los Angeles Times
As international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stall, schemes to slow global warming using fantastical technologies once dismissed as a sideshow are getting serious consideration in Washington.
***JB: Unfortunately these ideas may do more harm than good (and do little good at that). See next story.
Climate Engineering: minor potential, major side effects
Geomar/Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
With global greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase proposals to limit the effects of climate change through the large-scale manipulation of the Earth system are increasingly being discussed. Researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel have now studied with computer simulations the long-term global consequences of several “climate engineering” methods. They show that all the proposed methods would either be unable to significantly reduce global warming if CO2 emissions remain high, or they could not be stopped without causing dangerous climate disruption.
Petition launched for UK Climate Change Impacts Fund
Environmentalists across the UK are today being asked to support a new e-petition designed to highlight the need for a dedicated Climate Change Impacts Fund to help the country cope with escalating climate threats, such as the recent floods that devastated much of the south of the country.