Here’s some more clean energy, climate change, and policy news from the past couple weeks:
Clean Energy (In General) & Climate Change Policy
Iowa Scientists Warn of Need for Climate Change Action: “A group of scientists in the top U.S. grain-growing state of Iowa said on Monday that this year’s harsh drought was a sign of things to come and should spur more action to prepare for the challenges of a warming climate,” Reuters reports.
“We don’t face a choice between our economy and the planet. The choice is between addressing the causes and effects of climate change or spending ever more money cleaning up from events like we’ve seen in the past several years,” said Dave Courard-Hauri, chairman of Drake University’s Environmental Science and Policy Program, at a press briefing.
Learning from the Hurricane Sandy (Global Investors Call for Climate Action): “The fallout from Hurricane Sandy will be with us for years, and it will extend far beyond the devastation in New York City, New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast.
“The immediate cleanup costs and economic losses are alarming. Current estimates are $33 billion in New York alone. But a far bigger challenge lies ahead: preparing for a future in which storms like Sandy and Irene are likely to occur more frequently. It is gargantuan task with no parallels, and there are millions of people and trillions of dollars worth of property sitting in harm’s way.”
California Hails Cap-and-Trade a Roaring Success: California now has the second-largest carbon market in the world. (Yes, California is a green giant.) And the results from the first auction are in: “California has hailed its first ever carbon auction as an unqualified success, even though the permits sold at a level barely above the asking price following an 11th hour lawsuit from businesses to block the sale…. According to ARB, the state sold all 23.1 million V2013 CCAs at $10.09 each, the vast majority of which went to utilities and large industrial polluters that must comply with the scheme during its first two years.”
How Germany Is Getting to 100% Renewable Energy: Much of what is covered in this post has been covered by CleanTechnica many times, but I still think it’s worth a read, and there are some fun stats in there, like the following:
- “Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass.”
- “The architects of the clean energy movement Energiewende, which translates to “energy transformation,” estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.”
- “Individuals and cooperatives own 65 percent of Germany’s renewable energy capacity. In the U.S. they own 2 percent. The rest is privately controlled.”
Also, notably, it seems the Germans are very thankful to Jimmy Carter for their energy revolution. “This is a very American idea,” Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a press conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C. “We got this from Jimmy Carter.”
GreenStart’s Fall 2012 Demo Day Launches 4 Cleantech Companies: If you just love learning about the latest and most promising cleantech startups, this is a post for you. As a teaser, here’s the great intro from Pattie Kettle: “GreenStart is a force to be reckoned with – a digital technology force for good, that is. Good which disrupts, democratizes and improves nearly every aspect of life on earth. With a focus on energy and transforming the way humans generate, transport, consume, and buy energy is the challenge GreenStart has chosen to tackle.”
How Energy Efficiency and Renewables Can Save the Planet (If We Hurry): Do we have time still? Hard question, but the IEA think so. “The International Energy Agency has raised hopes that time can be bought for the world to finally get its act together on climate change – as long as it implements a rapid uptake of energy efficiency measures.” One can only hope. “In its latest World Energy Outlook, the IEA says energy efficiency could buy the world an extra five years to reach conclusive and effective climate change policies. Without such measures, it says, the world by 2017 will have exhausted its carbon budget to try and keep the world to an average rise in global temperatures of 2C. It says 81 per cent of that budget has already been used.”
Big Coal’s Trillion-Dollar Fear of Climate Policies Un-Masked by IEA: “So, here’s the problem. If you’ve ever wondered exactly why the global coal industry has argued so vehemently – first against the science of climate change and secondly against doing anything about it – the International Energy Agency lays it all out in its latest World Energy Outlook.
“Basically, the WEO data suggests, there are a trillion reasons for the global coal lobby to resist change. That’s one trillion dollars each and every year – the loss in annual revenue for the coal industry if the world takes serious action to prevent global warming, rather than just continuing on in business-as-usual.
“The WEO is considered to be the annual reference point for the global energy industry, and has been since the IEA was first created in the 1970s in response to the global oil crisis. In the last few years, however, the conservative agency has expressed growing alarm about how the world’s energy policies are hurtling the world toward’s catastrophic climate change.”
Fraunhofer Calculates that Energiewende Is Affordable: Surprise, surprise — renewable energy really is affordable. (Who knew?… other than CleanTechnica readers.) “Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems has looked into which technology (PDF in German) combinations will provide the least expensive outcome, and they not only looked at the power sector, but also at the heat sectors (process heat for industry was not included, however); the transport sector was not dealt with. The main finding is that a complete switch to renewables would not be more expensive than Germany’s current energy supply even assuming that the cost of fossil fuel remains stable. And the assumptions for the cost of new technologies are based on the IEA’s assessments – not an organization known to be friendly to renewables.”
Oil Lobby and Koch-Backed Groups Spent $270 Million on Anti-Obama Ads: One of the most surprising questions I get from time to time here on CleanTechnica is why we are so “lopsided” in our promotion of Democrats over Republicans. It’s surprising because I think it’s completely obvious: almost all Democrats (politicians) support renewable energy over fossil fuels, while the huge majority of Republicans (at least, in Congress and presidential races) support fossil fuels over renewable energy. Really, this is something anyone following the sector should be aware of. There’s a reason why the oil lobby and Koch-backed groups spent $270 million attacking Obama in ads in the final weeks of the presidential race. There’s a reason why over 80% of the oil industry’s and mining industry’s Congressional donations go to the GOP. It’s pretty obvious that fossil fuel industries are investing in retaining their absurdly high, society-busting profits.
How Would We Implement A Carbon Tax? (Almost) Everything You Need To Know: A carbon tax, though politically unlikely, is something we’ve been giving a bit of attention to lately (partly because conservatives have been giving some positive attention to it… and then sometimes backtracking when called out by fossil fuel giants). If you’re curious to learn more, Richard Caperton of The Center for American Progress has “everything you need to know” about implementing a carbon tax, after attending a conference on the matter that hosted “over 200 attendees, many of whom stood for half the day.”
10 Reasons a Carbon Tax is Trickier than You Think: As the title implicates, David Roberts of Grist runs down a good “top 10 list” of what makes a carbon tax much trickier than it sounds. If you’re interested at all in climate policy, have a read.
The EU’s Energy Chief Has Come Out In Support Of A Stronger 2020 EU Renewable Energy Goal: “The European Union needs new binding goals on renewable energy and on cutting carbon emissions to succeed green policy targets that expire in 2020, the EU’s energy chief said, omitting any mention of replacing the current energy savings target.”
RFPs Make Renewables Artificially Expensive: “Europeans call them ‘calls for tenders’; Americans, ‘requests for proposals’ (RFPs). The generic term is ‘competitions’ – and the word suggests that the best project wins. Proponents of RFPs therefore claim that this policy option is better than feed-in tariffs, though the statistics for the cost of deployment have never backed up the theoretical claim. Now, an industry insider who long denigrated feed-in tariffs confirms what proponents of feed-in tariffs have said all along – RPFs are manipulated.”
Poll: More Americans Than Ever Demand Climate, Energy Action: “Pre-election, Pre-Sandy polling shows the tide continuing to shift strongly in favor of renewable energy, and climate action.”
Dust Bowl Revisited?: “On October 18, 2012, the Associated Press reported that ‘a massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma triggered a multi-vehicle accident along a major interstate…forcing police to shut down the heavily traveled roadway amid near blackout conditions.’ Farmers in the region had recently plowed fields to plant winter wheat. The bare soil — desiccated by the relentless drought that smothered nearly two-thirds of the continental United States during the summer and still persists over the Great Plains — was easily lifted by the passing strong winds, darkening skies from southern Nebraska, through Kansas, and into Oklahoma.
“Observers could not help but harken back to the 1930s Dust Bowl that ultimately covered 100 million acres in western Kansas, the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles, northeastern New Mexico, and southeastern Colorado.”
US Military Warned to Prepare for Consequences of Climate Change: “An expert report, prepared for the intelligence community by the National Academy of Sciences, warns that the security establishment is going to have start planning for natural disasters, sea-level rise, drought, epidemics and the other consequences of climate change.
“The Pentagon already ranks climate change as a national security threat, putting US troops in danger around the world and adding fuel to existing conflicts. More than 30 US bases are threatened by sea level rise.”
Do The Math: Mr. McKibben Goes To Washington: “Joined by other leaders of the climate activism movement, McKibben was at the Warner Theater yesterday — just blocks from the White House — discussing his new “Do The Math” campaign, which lays out the case for divesting from fossil fuel companies. It’s a no-nonsense, make-no-apologies approach to limiting carbon emissions by attempting to weaken the finances of companies responsible for climate change.”
Symphony of Science: Al Gore on Climate Reality: If you’re not familiar with the “Symphony of Science” video series, it’s the words/speeches/lectures of a bunch of scientists turned into music videos. It’s quote fun. The latest video in the series (I think) is this one of Al Gore on the topic of “Climate Reality” (worth a watch… & share):
Darwin Tidal Energy Plan Gains Momentum with New MoU: “Tenax Energy’s plan to power Darwin with tidal energy generated in Clarence Strait has been given another boost… after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Tenax and the Charles Darwin University.”
Permaculture – Ecological Engineering Modeled on Nature: “Permaculture consultant Geoff Lawton speaks at a TEDx event in San Francisco about the importance of permaculture, the interconnectedness of all biological and ecological systems, and the need for ‘eco-systemic. design to advance human culture and sustainability for future generations.” Video:
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