Tag: renewable energy

Happy Global Wind Day

  • Global wind power has already crossed the 300 GW mark. Installed capacity now equals the capacity of all power plants in South and Central America!
  • The wind industry provides 650,000 jobs worldwide.
  • Wind power is cheap and ready to go. In Australia, power can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AU$80/MWh, compared to $143/MWh from a new coal plant.
  • EU citizens pay €2 every day for the EU’s fossil fuel imports. 
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Well done Germany, what about coal?

ECO was delighted to hear that Germany has decided to stop export credit guarantees for nuclear installations abroad. Well done to our hosts – but here’s our first question: why did it take 13 years to draw the logical consequence from the 2001 decision to phase-out nuclear power? Only three years ago, the conservative-liberal government tried to mobilise another €1.3 billion export guarantee for Areva to build the Angra-3 nuclear reactor in Brazil. Only a strong refusal by Parliament and civil society stopped this crazy plan.

Today, Germany has become the country of the Energiewende, and wants to be seen as the front-runner in clean energy. Renewable energy is speeding up and it has already reached a 27% share of electricity. Renewable energy is seen as the backbone of Germany’s efforts to reach its national GHG reduction targets of 40% by 2020 and 55% by 2030.  Energy efficiency also needs a similar emphasis.

So, dear German government, if you have decided that renewables are the way to go, here is ECO’s second question: Why are you stopping export guarantees for nuclear, but still giving export credits to coal power plants all over the planet?

Between 2007 and 2013, developed countries collectively provided US$36 billion to coal through their national export credit agencies. With export credits worth nearly $3 billion, Germany places third in this dirty league table. The state-owned development bank KfW is the driver of such coal support.

The US, UK, Netherlands and several Nordic countries, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have decided to end or strictly limit their support for coal overseas. Meanwhile, KfW continues to give credits to coal power plants and infrastructure worldwide, to the tune of at least €2 billion. This means that high emission infrastructure is locked in for decades, undermining the goal to decarbonise energy supply as fast as possible.

In October 2013, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría asked “every government” to question domestic and overseas support for coal. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September in New York is the perfect moment for Germany and other developed countries to announce the end of their support for coal power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Germany should not wait another 13 years to draw conclusions that can help to save the planet.

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Renewables save money, lives and jobs

ECO is excited about the many voices in favour of a future powered by renewable energy. On Thursday, it was UNEP’s turn to explore the role of renewables and energy efficiency (RE & EE) in achieving Sustainable Energy for All. Their side event presented, among other things, findings from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) REMAP 2030 study.

ECO finds some of the findings so cool that they should be printed on T-shirts, so we did:

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are the worlds best chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Or how would “If we use more renewable energy, we save money” work on a poster hanging in a minister’s wall?

Renewables are crucial in achieving modern energy access for all. According to IRENA, renewables are now the lowest-cost solution for new capacity in an increasing number of countries and regions. Many RE technologies are significantly cheaper than diesel- or kerosene-based systems, and cheaper than extending the grid into rural areas with low per capita energy demand. In addition, renewables offer more security and greater reliability than fossil fuels.

There are other benefits too. Doubling the share of RE in the global energy mix to 36% by 2030 could result in 900,000 additional direct jobs in the energy sector, and reduce health-related costs by up to US$200 billion annually. When taking the true costs of fossil fuel use into account, switching to renewables could deliver overall savings of up to $740bn per year by 2030.

If we really get going, renewables can be even bigger, like 40% by 2030, which is close to what, for example, Greenpeace and WWF scenarios show is needed to put us on a path to 100% RE by around mid century. So let’s rock!

But here’s the real take-home message, especially for all the developed country finance negotiators: to maximise renewable energy uptake and provide modern energy access for all, international cooperation is not just desirable, but absolutely essential, along with access to finance.

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Because I’m happy…

Ever since hearing so much support for action on renewable energy in Workstream 2, ECO has had an ear worm on our mind…

 

It’s totally not crazy what I’m ‘bout to say

Sunshine she’s here, fossil fuels can take a break

Solar power’s gonna fill this space

With the sunshine and wind power showing the way

 

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like a room with PV on the roof

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like Renewable Energy is the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you know what sustainability is to you

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like renewable energy’s what you wanna do

 

Here come fossil fuels talking CCS and crap,

Yeah,

Don’t give all you got, you gotta hold 80% back,

Yeah,

Don’t you worry ‘bout the economy we’ll be just fine,

Yeah,

No offence to you, don’t waste your time

Here’s why

 

Because I’m happy

Clap along in South Africa with 4 million solar roofs

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Uruguay’s 1.3% GDP investment in wind power that’s the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Mauritius, Costa Rica, South Africa, Nicaragua* and for you

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like renewable energy’s what you wanna do

 

Pollution has to go down

Looking at emissions goin’ down

The level’s too high

Bring it down

Need policies to bring pollution down

I said

Let me tell you ‘bout

Solar brings pollution down

Can’t help but

Bring it down

The levels too high

Wind brings emissions down

Can’t help but

Bring emissions down

 

I said

 

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Uruguay with a 90% (RE) 2015 target as the proof

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Mauritius for 60% (RE) by 2025 and that‘s the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Nicaragua for 90% (RE) by 2020 if you know what happiness is to you

Because I’m happy

Clap along with Costa Rica for 100% (RE) by 2021 if you feel like that’s what we ought to do!

 

*Top five investors in RE based on per GDP ranking. 

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Taking Stock: Over 60 countries in favour of phasing out emissions!

Today, the ADP will meet to take stock of the progress made so far. When this session started, ECO announced its vision: in Paris countries have to commit to phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in a 100% renewable energy future for all by mid-century.  In addition to really ambitious mitigation and financial commitments for the 2020-2025 period, of course! 

ECO has been listening closely to Ministerial statements and interventions in the ADP.  By ECO’s count, over 60 countries have expressed support for the idea of a phase out. These include the LDCs (all 48 of them), AILAC (another 6 Parties), Marshall Islands, Grenada, Switzerland, Mexico, Norway, Germany as well as other European countries. 

For example, Denmark spoke of their commitment to completely decarbonise by 2050, while Bhutan reiterated its commitment to remain carbon neutral. Nicaragua will already have reached 90% renewable energy use in power by 2020. South Africa supported the phase out of emissions for developed countries by 2050.

Now there may be some differences in terminology, (what with decarbonisation, carbon neutrality, net zero and phase out), as well as in the timeline (mid- or latter part of the century) and scope. But the message is undeniable: support for phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in a 100% renewable energy future for all is growing rapidly. It goes without saying that this should be reflected in any Chairs’ summary of the session or revised landscape document.

ECO looks forward to hearing from other Parties during the rest of this session, at the Petersburg meeting next month and, of course, the Climate Summit in September. ECO won’t rest until all 196 Parties to the Convention are on board.

 

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Refreshing winds of change from Mexico

Ministers failed to deliver climate action on Thursday and Friday, and the planet treated us to stifling heat yesterday in Bonn. Fortunately, a cooling breeze from Mexico has reached ECO to remind us that the warming can be stopped and that the heat in Bonn (and in the UNFCCC negotiations) can be reversed.

This breeze started off a few months ago in Mexico, as the government there published its Climate Change Special Program 2014-2018 that commits to unilaterally reduce emissions by 90 MT CO2e by 2018. Additionally, a 2018 Renewable Energy Special Program was agreed to, which sets a goal of increasing renewable energy’s share of electricity generation from the present 15% to 25% in 2018 and 35% in 2024. These renewable power increases would be coming from wind and solar.

Based on energy demand projections, this target actually represents a doubling of present renewable energy generation to 80 TWh per year. The monopolised electricity grid is opening up to more clean and distributed power by independent producers, and provides options for customers to specifically purchase renewables. There is a whisper floating around that there is more of this to come, and it must, especially if funding from the Green Climate Fund is made available to Mexico and if energy reforms are implemented sustainably. ECO, of course, acknowledges that all of these changes are based on the Climate Change General Law, which aims to reduce emissions in 2020 by 30% compared to projected business as usual levels, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.

More than 50% of Mexico’s population is below the poverty line due to deep inequalities. Its per capita GDP is on par with the global average and per capita CO2 emissions are below the global average. Yet, Mexico is doing more to confront climate change than many wealthier nations because it realises that its own interest isto take action. This is a critical first step towards achieving the phase out of GHG emissions that Mexico called for in its intervention on Sunday in the ADP.

ECO pleads with Parties that they allow this fresh breeze into the ADP Workstream 2 engagements so that more Parties can be inspired to follow suit. If Mexico can achieve a 10% increase in the share of renewables in its electricity grid over the next four years, surely other high-emitting nations can do the same — or more — to close the pre-2020 emissions gap.

Just imagine how much more could be accomplished if wealthier countries ramped up their support for efforts like those being taken in Mexico and other developing countries. Developed countries need to harvest their own low-hanging fruit by stepping up energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment. Mexico is showing that we don’t need to let the heat build and build until 2020 – we can (and must) act now to stop the warming!

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Two Sides of the Climate Protection Coin: Phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100% renewable energy!

If the findings of the IPCC’s AR5 were not enough of a call to action, the melting of a major section of the West Antarctic ice sheet now appears irreversible. This is yet another reminder about the extent of climate impacts to which society is already committed and that critical tipping points are now being crossed. 

Enough is enough already! ECO thinks it is high time to start phasing out all fossil fuel emissions and phasing in a 100% renewable energy future with sustainable energy access for all. It is not enough to stabilise emissions or to slow down their growth.  Eventually, all emissions have to be brought to zero.  The sooner this happens the better, however the science is clear that it must be before 2050 if we want to limit warming to the lowest levels.

ECO can see no alternative but to transition to a world free from fossil fuels. Much of the known reserves will simply have to stay in the ground. This just transition must and can be achieved while ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable energy that would enable all people on the planet to achieve a decent standard of living. The agreement in Paris must acknowledge this fact and send a transformational message to investors, business leaders and decision-makers around the world.

Achieving this goal will require immense transformational changes in all countries and everyone has a role to play. Frequent readers of ECO will not be surprised to hear that developed countries should take the lead on reducing emissions – achieving a phase out much earlier than others. Developed countries must also lead on providing considerable financial, technological and capacity building support to those countries that need it to make their own energy revolution happen. 

Phasing out fossil fuel emissions benefits everyone; whether it is the local community currently ravaged by the health impacts of coal use or the global community suffering from the compound impacts of climate change. The co-benefits of climate protection are significant, and so are the benefits of shifting to 100% renewable energy, regardless of a country’s development level. At the end of the day, protecting the climate, achieving sustainable development, eliminating poverty and ensuring energy access for all are not mutually exclusive, but part of the same winning strategy.   

Dear ECO reader, do not think that because these ‘phase out/phase in’ goals are long-term that we have plenty of time to achieve them (and thus that you can spend this session soaking up the sun at a German beer garden). Au contraire. Creating a carbon-free world tomorrow will only be made possible by the decisions governments make today. Any delay in peaking emissions will make achieving the lowest levels of warming even more challenging, substantially increase costs of mitigation and adaptation efforts, and may necessitate the need for deployment of environmentally and socially questionable technologies in order to reduce emissions.

While near-term emission reductions are necessary to keep the door open to limiting warming to below 1.5°C, long-term emission pathways are critical to its achievement. ECO is looking forward to hearing about the more ambitious actions taking place or planned in countries across the world at the Ministerial sessions here in Bonn as well as at the Climate Summit in New York in September. We also expect concrete decisions in Lima under Workstream 2. 

Like addicts, we need to come to the point where we recognise we need to go cold turkey on carbon.  There is no better time than the present, at this Bonn session, to kick the habit!

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Renewable energy, let’s do better

ECO spent yesterday, excitedly, following the renewable energy (RE) workshop. There’s a lot of activity in different countries and a global recognition about RE’s current and future potential. 

Presentations from various experts made it clear that this potential is not being fully utilised though. We can double the realisation of RE globally by 2030, as pointed out by IRENA, but there is lack of will. Social gains from RE, like jobs and increased access to electricity, make the need to deploy it at scale an obvious approach. 

What was missing yesterday were the concrete actions and decisions that the UNFCCC can take to act on this this potential. Maybe this lack of discussion came down to a scheduling issue, but with limited time ahead Parties should always bear this question in mind. We await the support of UNFCCC-led action is needed to accelerate the deployment of RE if we’re to close the gap.

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Intervention: Opening ADP Plenary by Vositha Wijenayake, Bonn ADP2-4, 10 March 2014

Thank you Co-Chairs,

I am speaking on behalf of Climate Action Network.

The ADP has three crucial tasks this week. 

First: Ambition, ambition, ambition within finance and mitigation is key.  The focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency under Workstream 2 is a positive start. Combined together, these areas have potential to decrease 5 Gt of the emissions gap and the UNFCCC process must produce specific actions to make that happen on the ground.

Second: Agree on the structure and process for developing a draft negotiating text by COP20 during this year and move into contact groups asap.  We all know the deal in Paris will encompass mitigation, adaptation, finance, etc, but we must get into the specifics of exactly how.  It is also imperative that critical elements like compliance and a separate loss and damage mechanism not fall off the table. 

Third:  Determine the information that should be included when countries table their proposed commitments. For developed countries, this is rather straightforward as there can be NO backtracking from Kyoto style commitments in terms of a common base year and accounting rules, short multi-year commitment periods and ever deepening reductions.  Such information will also need to include financial commitments where appropriate, while all countries must justify their proposed commitments and actions drawing from an Equity Reference Framework. 

Thank you.

 

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