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Dot Earth Blog: Charting Clean-Energy Paths in New York and Beyond

Wed, 2015-03-11 11:40
Digging in on ways to move the clean-energy discussion from menus to outcomes.






Rizhao aims for leading role in oil trade

Tue, 2015-03-10 22:21
Rizhao Port in the eastern province of Shandong aims to become the country's largest terminal for crude oil imports, and a key participant in the nation's energy security drive.

Sinopec to cut crude oil purchase costs

Tue, 2015-03-10 01:38
China's largest oil refiner is seeking to cut its crude-purchase costs as the world's biggest energy consumer looks to benefit from the collapse in benchmark prices.

DealBook: PNC Joins Banks Not Financing Mountaintop Coal Removal

Mon, 2015-03-09 21:23
PNC Financial joins a growing list of banks that no longer finance coal-mining companies that pursue the mountaintop removal of coal, an environmentally devastating practice.






Sinopec completes stake sale to diversify ownership

Fri, 2015-03-06 21:29
China's top oil refiner Sinopec announced on Friday that 25 companies have paid to buy stakes in the energy giant as part of an effort to diversify state company ownership.

McConnell Urges States to Defy U.S. Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas

Wed, 2015-03-04 21:14
Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is from Kentucky, a leading coal-producing state. He has vowed to fight President Obama on climate change issues like regulating coal-fired power plants.






The Economist explains: Why global warming does not necessarily result in warmer winters

Wed, 2015-03-04 18:50
ON FEBRUARY 26th James Inhofe, a senator from Oklahoma, threw a snowball at another senator inside America’s upper chamber. He did it to back up his contention that man-made climate change is not the threat President Barack Obama (and many others) say it is. Mr Inhofe is chairman of the Senate’s environment committee and his argument has a simple and persuasive logic: much of the United States has experienced four unusually freezing winters in succession. Surely that contradicts the notion that the Earth’s climate is warming up?Not necessarily, for two reasons. First, the climate and the weather are not the same: they are related, but weather patterns develop and change over hours, days and weeks; the climate changes over years and decades. And second, the American landmass is just one small part of the surface of the globe. While temperatures have been well below average across much of the United States, other parts of the world have been abnormally warm. And indeed, there may be a connection between climate change and colder winters in parts of the northern hemisphere. The link is the Arctic region.&nbsp;Because the poles are colder than the equator, air streams north and south in order to equalise temperatures. In the northern hemisphere, this flow is called the jet stream. Because of the rotation of the Earth, the stream turns right as the planet spins, and flows in ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

La France à la pointe de la mobilité intelligente

Wed, 2015-03-04 12:36

Les systèmes de transport intelligents (STI) sont une énième vitrine pour l’exportation française. Basés sur une communication et une information optimales, ils concourent à la mobilité de demain, pour des retombées environnementales et économiques positives.

L’heure est à l’intelligence ; pas celle des hommes – quoique – mais celle de l’objet. L’inanimé tend, depuis des dizaines d’années, à devenir un moyen alternatif à l’action de l’homme. La robotique industrielle se développe dès les années 2000 ; les villes du futur commencent à émerger à partir de réseaux électriques interconnectés grâce à l’informatique et au digital. Bientôt, c’est au service de la mobilité que se mettra l’intelligence technologique. La guerre larvée que se livrent les géants industriels – américains surtout – pour mettre en piste leur prototype de la voiture autonome est révélateur : dans un mode où se mouvoir est devenu une obligation, plus qu’une possibilité, les transports sont soumis à de profonds bouleversements. A la clé : une place de choix sur un marché économique balbutiant mais assurément prometteur. Une chance pour la France, plutôt en pointe sur les transports intelligents.

Le plan « mobilité 2.0 » : une volonté politique forte

Les avancées tricolores en la matière avaient d’ailleurs fait l’objet d’un rapport du ministère de l’Ecologie et du Développement Durable en août 2014 – « mobilité 2.0 : une stratégie nationale pour les transports intelligents ». Une directive européenne de 2010 – pour le déploiement des STI – enjoignait aux Etats membres de présenter leurs actions pour accélérer le déploiement des STI. Ces derniers sont à l’origine du développement de nouvelles formes de mobilité, fondées sur les technologies de l’information et de la communication (TIC). Plus cette information, qu’il s’agisse de l’origine ou de la destination d’un trajet, sera précise et intégrée, et plus le développement d’une politique de transport multimodale pourra se développer. Il s’agit, ce faisant, de privilégier des moyens alternatifs à la route ou aux véhicules particuliers, comme le train ou le covoiturage par exemple.

Les usagers des transports, quant à eux, sont appelés à jouer un grand rôle dans le développement de ces politiques multimodales : grâce à la communication de leurs besoins en temps réel, ils participent activement à la mise en place d’une nouvelle politique des transports. Celle-ci, basée sur les TIC de la mobilité, a entre autres pour vocation de préserver l’environnement des atteintes actuellement subies à cause des déplacements. Les STI doivent servir à collecter les données relatives aux impacts environnementaux de la mobilité, les transférer aux usagers qui adopteront en conséquence un comportement plus vertueux. Pour cette raison, Bruxelles impose aux Etats membres de rendre optimale l’utilisation des données relatives à la route, à la circulation et aux déplacements.

Un savoir-faire français reconnu à l’international

Mais les STI englobent également la gestion intelligente du trafic routier, les télépéages et les véhicules communicants ; tout un ensemble d’innovations qui appellent un potentiel économique certain et, in fine, une croissance espérée dans les prochaines années. La France, néanmoins, n’en est pas à son coup d’essai : ses entreprises développent la filière des STI depuis les années 1970 ; les feux de circulation et les premiers métros automatiques font partie des grandes innovations de l’époque. C’est d’ailleurs cette technologie que la Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP), pilotée par Pierre Mongin, exporte un peu partout dans le monde, de la Chine aux Etats-Unis, en passant par l’Arabie saoudite dernièrement. Aujourd’hui, la maitrise des technologies du transport intelligent par les acteurs français est reconnue à l’international. La France profite ainsi de sa renommée, mais également de la nécessaire modernisation de leurs équipements pas
certains pays, pour exporter son savoir-faire. C’est le cas en Russie, par exemple, où l’organisation de la prochaine coupe du monde de football oblige les autorités à mettre en place des infrastructures de transports efficientes. Sur les 38 milliards d’euros d’investissements prévus jusqu’à cette année, 55 % étaient dévolus aux STI.

Comme tout secteur d’avenir, celui de la mobilité intelligente promet ainsi des rentrées financières certaines pour les entreprises qui y prennent part. La France l’a compris et épaule depuis quelques années son tissu entrepreneurial – PME ou ETI – ; l’Agence française pour le développement international des entreprises (Ubifrance) et son réseau de 1 400 collaborateurs dans le monde, accompagnent les PME/ETI à l’export. En 2014, l’établissement public sortait une étude d’expertise sur les potentialités de six grands pays – dont le Brésil et la Russie – et donnait les clés nécessaires aux entreprises françaises pour les aborder.

De manière plus directe, la France a la volonté politique forte d’encourager le développement des STI – en interne et à l’international –, comme en témoigne le plan « mobilité 2.0 » du ministère de l’écologie. Celui-ci s’inscrit d’ailleurs parfaitement dans le grand chantier écologique qu’est la transition énergétique en devenir. Là aussi pour des retombées environnementales, mais également économiques, positives.

Goal to cut emissions can be met, official says

Mon, 2015-03-02 22:15
The recent landmark climate agreement with the United States is a win for both sides and will inject positive energy into the upcoming global climate change negotiations in Lima, Peru, early next month.

Study Links Syria Conflict to Drought Caused by Climate Change

Mon, 2015-03-02 15:13
Researchers said Monday that a recent extreme drought in Syria was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising there.






Poland should phase out its ailing coal industry by 2035

Mon, 2015-03-02 12:23

Coal is the most polluting fossil energy. It emits roughly twice as much CO2 as gas. From a climate point of view mankind should therefore urgently get rid of coal. This will not be easy as coal is the cheapest fossil energy, which reflects its ample resources in major coal producing countries like Australia, South Africa, Russia, India,USA and Indonesia.

In the EU, Poland remains the single biggest coal producer, followed by Germany which is set to close its last coal mines by 2018, but still leaving it with highly polluting lignite.

For Poland closure of its coal plants, which still employ some 50,000 people, is not only a climate necessity but also an economic one, as most mines need to be subsidised by the government.

The new government has started a clean-up process by closing the biggest loss makers and combining the profitable mines in a single state-owned company. As the recent strikes have shown this requires political courage.

Still, Poland has an economic and ecological interest in closing all mines in the next 20 years and replacing them by wind energy and imported gas.

Considering its substantial wind power potential this should be doable. Poland will also be able to import wind power from other member states, especially through the future Baltic grid and rely on LNG imports from third countries, as the three Baltic countries have decided to do.

This energy mix will be cheaper and much more climate-friendly than the present one depending overwhelmingly on coal.

The price of coal-fired power is bound to rise in the EU, while technical progress will reduce the cost of wind power below that of coal.

Through such a long-term strategy Poland will be able to reduce its C02 emissions by 40% until 2030, as it will to have to in conformity with the EU energy and climate policy.

In the present political situation in Poland with a powerful coal lobby this scenario appears revolutionary. But by 2035 such an energy transformation should be quite realistic. In order to throw more light on the long-term energy perspectives, the Polish government should produce a “Green Book on Polish Energy Supply and Demand by 2035”.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 28/02/2015

California Beach Community Prepares for High-Stakes Vote on Oil Drilling

Mon, 2015-03-02 10:08
Hermosa Beach will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to follow through on a longstanding contract for drilling rights or pay millions to kill the deal.

Energy and climate: Can it be simply rethinking mainstream growth strategies?

Thu, 2015-02-26 16:53

This week could be a turning point for climate and energy policy in Europe. The Commissioner for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic announced the strategy for Energy Union alongside a Climate communication from the European Commission on the ‘road to Paris’ and a Communication reporting on the electricity interconnection target of 10 percent.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy accounts for two thirds of global emissions so when we are talking about climate change, its effects and how to deal with this, energy policy is fundamental to these debates and inextricably linked. The announcements seem to put citizens first and aim to enhance solidarity in EU energy policy and incorporates the need for social dialogue, thereby ensuring a ‘Just Transition’. However the implementation of this will be the most difficult part. National Member States still show deep divisions on how we should go about renewing our energy policies. Yet it should not only be a question of security, which the crisis in Ukraine is currently highlighting but moreover on how not to harm our environment and the only planet we are living on and about how to build a sustainable future.

The fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published last year stating that humans are a cause of climate change was perhaps foreseen but nevertheless alarming. Yet the same report identified that the technology for a clean transition exists, but it needs to be harnessed.

The climate and energy decisions that Europe will make over the next 12 months, reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme for instance will shape how we use and generate energy for decades to come. They have huge implications for our fuel bills, the security of our energy supplies, our industrial opportunities, and global efforts to manage the risks posed by climate change. If our leaders take this emergency seriously, we can avoid being ‘locked-into’ fossil fuels for another several decades. Significant changes to the structure of some energy companies such as E.On illustrates their business awareness to move away from fossil fuels if they are to respect the climate agenda.

The reality is that we can do so much more in energy policy if we act together as Europeans. We have the political tools and a favourable geographical landscape to do so.  What is even more needed is a mutual commitment to climate change action and thus also to enhance our energy consumption and supply in line with sustainability in social and economic terms.

Last October, the EU Council decision on the EU 2030 climate and energy package, left many feeling very disappointed. Although the European Union is recognised for being a role-model on climate action, the emergence of new clean energy policies in the US and China and the bilateral agreement signed in November now means that an international climate change agreement is more likely to be reached at the UNFCCC summit in Paris this December. The EU has to step-up and show commitment to convince those leading countries that Copenhagen cannot be repeated.

The first priority for Energy Union needs to be energy efficiency. It is the fastest, cleanest and safest way to save energy. It’s a crucial way to meet our energy needs and has multiple benefits. Also a credible European energy strategy would encourage the continued growth of the renewables industry, given the potential for its proven, affordable clean technologies to generate new industrial opportunities and help reduce gas dependency.

The deep flaws in the Emissions Trading Scheme, Europe’s flagship scheme for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, require urgent reform. The Market Stability Reserve needs to take effect as soon as possible. It is perhaps unrealistic to say we need it be reformed before the UN climate summit in Paris this year but it is an issue that requires urgent action as the low carbon price is having a knock-on effect for other climate and energy issues.

Interconnection is also a vital part of renewing European cooperation and solidarity through linked energy supplies whilst lowering dependence on Russia and other third countries. Furthermore, investment is key to this. A discussion should be started for a ‘super-fund’ for energy investment.

At the moment, with funding spread out in separate budgets, its not easy to see the clear long-term investment set-out for our overall, long-term energy and climate goals. There are economic alternatives. The crisis proved this and FEPS, with many other progressive researchers have been publishing the findings on this and showing alternative policy solutions.

We need to seriously re-think our economic models and the way we think about ‘growth’. It should be clearly linked to our climate and environment with as the ‘circular economy’ or the ‘blue economy’ suggest. Europe’s industrial strategies need to not only have regards to ‘growth’ but to assess first how this impacts the environment.

Scientific research tells us that we have to change our approach concerning the way we produce and how we influence nature. The ‘anthropocene’  concept discussed in FEPS Queries magazine issue 5 is based on evidence that proves that human-driven impacts are now significant at the level of the Earth’s deep geological time (such as the changes in carbon and nitrogen cycles, global warming, sea level change etc.)

Without radical action to avoid a 4°c rise in global temperatures, more extreme heatwaves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea-level rises are likely.

Hopefully this week’s announcements will provide the turning point we urgently need towards a sustainable transition. COP 21 in December can be too if there is the political willingness to take urgent measures.

Energy controversies: A frack too far

Thu, 2015-02-26 10:44
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; Planet of the phones Fly Title:&nbsp; Energy controversies Rubric:&nbsp; Yearnings to tap gas threaten to split a state in two Location:&nbsp; WINDSOR, NEW YORK “I HONESTLY thought it was a joke,” says Sandy Pinney. She means the threat that Windsor, her hometown, along with 14 other towns along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, may secede and join Pennsylvania. But it is deadly serious. The towns are in New York’s Southern Tier. They sit on top of the Marcellus Shale, which is full of natural gas. New Yorkers, unlike their Pennsylvanian neighbours, are not allowed to tap the gas because of a state ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) announced by Andrew Cuomo, the governor, on December 17th. Hours later on the same day, a state panel rejected a bid to build a casino in the Southern Tier. That was the last straw. A state lawmaker sent a survey to constituents asking about secession, and the idea began to take hold.&nbsp; The Southern Tier used to be called the ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Food Waste Is Becoming Serious Economic and Environmental Issue, Report Says

Wed, 2015-02-25 18:17
A report released Wednesday shows that about 60 million metric tons of food is wasted a year in the United States, a problem that contributes to climate change and to the loss of natural resources like water and land.






Head of U.N. Climate Panel Resigns Amid Harassment Accusations

Tue, 2015-02-24 15:55
Rajendra Pachauri’s 13 years as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made him one of the world’s leading voices on climate change.






Duke Energy Is Charged in Huge Coal Ash Leak

Fri, 2015-02-20 22:03
Federal prosecutors accused the nation’s largest electric utility of violating the federal Clean Water Act in a spill last year in North Carolina.






Earthquake Dangers in Dutch Gas Field Were Ignored for Years, Safety Board Says

Wed, 2015-02-18 10:07
Shell, ExxonMobil and the Dutch government put revenue and energy supply from the Groningen field ahead of safety, an independent panel found.






EU renewables shortfall to be put out to tender?

Mon, 2015-02-16 14:54

How can you make sure you hit an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy, if you don’t have binding targets at the national level?

It’s a problem Commission officials have struggled with since the 2030 climate and energy targets were agreed by EU leaders last October.

Heard in Europe hears tell that one renewable energy company has come up with a solution – putting the shortfall out to tender.

Imagine the EU doesn’t look like making the binding 27% of renewables across the Union because member states aren’t being forced to hit their non-binding national target of at least 27%.

In that case, a body – most likely the Commission – will open up the remaining percentage to bids from renewable companies across the EU.

It will select the best offers, and through that process make sure the EU meets its green commitments.

We understand that this idea is being looked at by officials, but our sources tell us “it is extremely early days”.

Indeed, no one at the Commission was prepared to go on the record about the plan at this stage.

Confidence in the Commission’s ability to fight climate change through market mechanisms remains shaky, following the failure of its EU’s Emissions Trading System.

ETS was meant to be a cornerstone of the fight against climate change. But the market for emissions allowances collapsed after a huge surplus of the permits was handed out.

 

Photograph courtesy of Russell Smith. Published under a Creative Commons license.

The emissions abyss (and the climate action the world can take now)

Sun, 2015-02-15 13:03

By Tasneem Essop, head of low carbon frameworks for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative

While all eyes are focusing on the negotiations for a new climate agreement that will form the basis of the climate regime after 2020, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our actions on climate in the current period up to 2020.

The issue of addressing pre-2020 ambition was placed on the agenda at COP 17 in Durban. But after three years of discussions, sharing ideas and listening to experts, we are yet to see any real concrete actions that can address the low level of ambition in this period.

Today, we’re launching a report, which is a compilation of views from WWF climate specialists around the world on how some key countries could help close the ‘gigatonne gap’ in emissions over the next five years.

The gap we’re witnessing, which is more of an abyss, is caused by low levels of climate commitments from governments in the current period.

At the moment the pre-2020 period does not seem to be on the political radar in most countries, despite the fact that the IPCC science says emissions must peak within this decade to keep average global warming below 2°C to limit dangerous climate change.

With current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario.

For us, science and equity have to be at the heart of any climate agreement. In other words actions need to be based on scientific facts and requirements, but also carried out in a fair and people-focused way.

We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate at a national level.
But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The proposals for closing the emissions gap go a long way in addressing economic and developmental challenges in many countries.

The arguments that action on climate will slow down growth or affect objectives to address poverty no longer hold water. There is enough evidence showing that climate action is good for jobs, health poverty eradication and economic growth. Governments can use this period up to 2020 to begin the just transition to a zero-carbon future.

Those countries that have the responsibility and capacity to do more should lead this transition as well as support others that can do much more if there is financial, technology and capacity building collaboration and support.

We need to see commitments at national level, as well as multilateral commitments – and crucially they need to be turned into concrete actions. Citizens and businesses around the world are ready to do their bit.

Now governments must act.

Climate action is urgent and the planet and its people cannot wait any longer.

We’ve asked 10 WWF colleagues from various countries to analyse and sum up what concrete things their governments could and should be doing now.

From scrapping coal-fi red power stations and increasing renewables to improving energy efficiency, strengthening emissions targets and addressing deforestation, you will see that there are plenty of ways governments around the world can limit their pre-2020 emissions – and urgently close the gigatonne gap.

Read the report here.

Tweet this and help us share the message!

What can countries like South Africa, Mexico and India do right now to cut their emissions? @climatewwf explains: http://bit.ly/17eYMsQ

Our planet can’t wait for #climateaction that starts in 2020. What countries can do NOW (via @climatewwf): http://bit.ly/17eYMsQ


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