Archive for the ‘Express 214’ Category

Dear Santa

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

Dear Santa

I’m sure you have good antennae to pick up the clear message from the Paris Global Climate Change Conference this month that the days of burning coal are numbered. So you, like the rest of us, have to mend your ways, come clean and switch to renewable energy to power the world. You must have noticed more and more roofs covered in solar panels. They’re all part of the change in the way we receive and use energy. Surely you’re ready to switch to an all-electric sleigh to give your hard working reindeers a rest. And while you’re delivering Christmas gifts around the world, you should spread the good word – in addition to peace and goodwill to all men, women and children – that a new age is dawning. There’s a cleaner, better future ahead for us all. The best Christmas gift is surely the gift of life and love. If we love family, friends and neighbours enough, we can make sure the decisions made in Paris – agreed to by 195 countries – take effect. We stop damaging our lives and the earth itself by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.Here’s to life on earth.

Here’s to a cleaner, brighter, safer future.

Happy Christmas and may the New Year – and all those years to come – be the best it can possibly be.

From the children of the world.

Adoption of the Paris Agreement (all 32 pages of it)

Global Kick-start for Energy Revolution

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

Global Kick-start for Energy Revolution

The climate change conference in Paris generated millions of words, but most significantly brought together for the first time in history, 195 countries to agree to a global pact together. The Economist summed it up this way: “The Paris agreement drew on impressive reserves of diplomatic savoir faire and international solidarity. But if it is to live up to its promise, countries will have to make full use of the mechanisms for ratcheting up emissions cuts and accelerating adaptation for decades to come.” David Fogarty reporting daily for the Straits Times over the two weeks of the Paris summit, reflected at the end this way: “The world has just signed one of the most important agreements in history. More than just an environmental pact, the Paris climate change agreement will kick-start a global energy revolution.” Read More

Note from the Editor: Besides the mainstream media, which has been giving unprecedented front page/headline news coverage to climate change and the Paris talks and outcome, the relevant online media has been maintaining its steady educational role and spreading the word effectively. Besides our own coverage over the months and years leading up to Paris (as this newsletter is now in its eight year), others keeping us well informed as well as commentating and advocating have been a number of standout newsletters, blogs and websites. Here’s some we’re regularly hearing from and dipping into. You should check them out if you are not already:;;;;


Kick-starting a global energy revolution

David Fogarty, Assistant Foreign Editor Straits Times (16 December 2015):

The world has just signed one of the most important agreements in history. More than just an environmental pact, the Paris climate change agreement will kick-start a global energy revolution.

Nearly 200 nations in Paris have signed on to an agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that the world has to go on a carbon diet, signalling an end to dirty fossil fuels and deforestation, and giving green energy a big boost.

Every year, we pump far more carbon dioxide into the air than the planet’s forests and oceans can absorb. Emissions from industry, cars, land clearing and agriculture are creating one giant carbon bubble which is heating up the planet, supercharging our weather and causing seas to rise.

We need to burst the carbon bubble by changing the way we produce energy to power our economies.

A coal-fired power plant in Beijing. China will have to halt building new coal-fired power plants. Coal produces the most carbon dioxide of all fossil fuels and China is the biggest coal producer and consumer, so what it does really matters. PHOTO: REUTERS

We must also become far more efficient in using that energy. This will help get nature back in balance and steadily bring carbon levels down, over decades, to less dangerous levels.

Crucially, Singapore’s industries will have to become more efficient. Aviation and shipping, collectively producing 5 per cent of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions and growing, will also have to step up and accelerate emission cuts.

For the targets in the Paris pact to be achieved, the world will have to decarbonise by the end of this century, with emissions peaking before 2030 and then falling sharply.

Sounds scary? Not really. We’re already making progress.

But what does this mean to all of us? What changes do we need to make, and what changes will be needed, to ensure the Paris pact isn’t another toothless treaty?

For the Paris Agreement to be effective, all nations must start implementing their climate action plans now. Nearly 190 countries submitted their plans, called INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, ahead of the Paris conference, spelling out their targets or goals to reduce emissions, some by 2025, most by 2030.

Collectively, these pledges still put the world on a path towards dangerous climate change. So, under the Paris Agreement, all parties will need to offer new and stronger INDCs at regular intervals.

For Singapore, the goal is to use less and less energy, while still growing the economy. This means, for example, getting more people on the nation’s growing public transport network and using fewer cars. For those who love their cars, the Government might introduce stronger incentives for electric vehicles.

In Paris, there are numerous streets lined with charging points. Singapore should have them, too, in Housing Board estates and office parking areas. Electric vehicles make perfect sense in Singapore.

As the building stock ages, it will be replaced with apartment and office buildings that use far less energy.

There will be more solar panels on rooftops and solar cells could eventually be embedded into the glass curtains of office buildings. Our lighting, air-conditioners and appliances will all use less power.

Crucially, Singapore’s industries will have to become more efficient. Aviation and shipping, collectively producing 5 per cent of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions and growing, will also have to step up and accelerate emission cuts. Both sectors are already taking action and the Paris Agreement will likely accelerate separate UN agreements on aviation and shipping emissions.

Nations with much larger land areas and greater renewable energy resources, such as Australia, will have to dramatically step up investment in wind, solar and even wave energy. Australia faces a major challenge because 75 per cent of its electricity comes from coal.

China has already been investing heavily in renewable energy and aims to cap coal consumption, in part to fight severe air pollution. But it will also have to halt building new coal-fired power plants. Coal produces the most CO2 of all fossil fuels and China is the biggest coal producer and consumer, so what it does really matters.

Fortunately, green energy investment keeps growing. Last year, installed wind capacity reached 370 gigawatts globally, including 51 GW of newly installed capacity that year. China is the world’s largest producer of wind energy, installing 23 GW of new wind capacity last year. By 2019, the Global Wind Energy Council forecasts total global installed capacity to reach 666 GW, a small but growing percentage of total global power production.

A price on carbon will really help drive investment towards renewables.

So, how much will this energy revolution cost? A lot – but banks, pension funds, university endowments and insurance firms are already shifting away from carbon-intensive assets and embracing cleaner energy.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says achieving the Paris Agreement targets will cost US$16.5 trillion (S$23 trillion) by 2030 – a bit smaller than the current size of the US economy.

The pact set the target of holding global warming to “well below 2 deg C” and urged nations to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 deg C. This year is already set to be the hottest in recorded history. We’re already at about 1 deg C warming from pre-industrial levels, so it’s time to get a move on.

Getting to the 1.5 deg C goal would cost even more, the IEA said, because it would mean an even steeper drop in carbon emissions. But that would be worth it to limit the growing impacts of climate change that are threatening food production, water resources as well as seafood supplies, with warmer and more acidic seas destroying coral reefs.

The Paris Agreement has reset the way we view our planet and our future. We already have the technology to create greener economies. But for the pact to succeed, all nations must get to work and steadily strengthen their efforts.

If we fail this time, it really will be too late.



Climate change

Hopelessness and determination


The Paris agreement will not stabilise the climate; but the efforts it makes possible could still achieve a lot


The Economist (19 December 2015):

“THE test of a first-rate intelligence”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, a sometime Parisian, once wrote, “is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time.” By this standard, the 195 countries that gathered outside Paris in the two weeks running up to December 12th to negotiate a new agreement on climate change have to be counted very bright indeed. It is vital, they declared, that the world’s temperature does not climb much more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; and yet they simultaneously celebrated a new climate agreement that got nowhere close to preventing such a rise.

The individual pledges that nations made going into the Paris talks—which they will now be expected, though not compelled, to honour—are estimated to put the world on course for something like 3°C of warming. In the non-linear universe of climate change, 3°C represents a lot more than twice as much risk and harm as 1.5°C; it could well, for instance, be the difference between the Greenland ice cap staying put and the sea-level rising, over centuries, by six metres.

For someone to propose means that fall so far short of their purported ends might seem like cynicism or stupidity. Sure enough, some of the keenest devotees to action on climate change have accused the Paris negotiators of both. In fact, the deal really did demonstrate collective intelligence.

The nations of the world know that they cannot suddenly force each other to stop emitting greenhouse gases, because fossil fuels are fundamental to the way that economies work. But many countries also want to reduce the risks posed by climate change and know that they need to find ways to work together. The Paris agreement offers a range of mechanisms to make this happen (see page 94).

Countries now have a framework to ensure that each is doing what it said it would; they have pledged more money to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change; they have a task force for looking at the issues raised by those who cannot adapt and need to find new places to live; and they have the basis for new carbon-pricing deals. They have also agreed that big developing countries, which were largely spared by earlier deals, should consider making a greater contribution.

The Paris agreement provides a timetable for increasing the ambition of countries’ emissions pledges as technology improves and experience accumulates. And, outside the main negotiations, Paris saw a commitment from rich countries and individuals to undertake a lot more research into new sources of clean energy. All this has signalled to investors that both developed and developing countries intend to act. This will not in itself bring about the end of the era of fossil fuels; it is, though, a step in that direction.

This side of paradise

But there are a daunting number of further steps. Some relate to administrative capacity. In many poor countries the ability to assess action on climate change and promulgate effective adaptation is inadequate; it must be nurtured.

Others relate to the use of private capital. If investors are discouraged from bankrolling fossil fuels, they are under no obligation to redirect their money to clean energy: they may prefer not to invest in energy at all. Governments will need to structure their power markets, and plan for their growth, in ways that make sense to long-term backers. Without the lure of profits in low-carbon energy, climate action could result in hundreds of millions of people who now lack modern energy services being left in the darkness for longer.

By the same token, increased R&D on its own is a necessary condition for progress, but not a sufficient one. Backers need to ensure that it leads to innovative solutions which can be installed on a commercial scale, rather than becoming a self-perpetuating academic exercise (as with international efforts on nuclear fusion).


The worst risk is that a justified sense of accomplishment will engender a debilitating complacency. The Paris agreement drew on impressive reserves of diplomatic savoir faire and international solidarity. But if it is to live up to its promise, countries will have to make full use of the mechanisms for ratcheting up emissions cuts and accelerating adaptation for decades to come. Fitzgerald’s example of opposing ideas was the ability “to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise”. Sustained determination could be the difference between an agreement that deals with climate change and one that turns out to be another wasted opportunity.


IEA: Radical Shift Away from Coal Towards Renewable Energy

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

IEA: Radical Shift Away from Coal Towards Renewable Energy

On the eve of Paris, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its annual World Energy Outlook had this to say: The next 25 years will see a radical shift towards renewables and away from coal, a global energy centre of gravity pivoting towards India and the prospect of Africa leapfrogging dirty energy.” Renewable energy will replace coal as the world’s largest source of electricity around 2030, led by solar energy. By 2040, over 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of solar will be installed worldwide.  By 2040, renewables will supply 50% of electricity in the EU, 30% in China and Japan, and above 25% in the US and India. Read More


IEA and world energy change: Expect a Radical Shift Towards Renewables, Says IEA News (13 November 2015):

In advance of this month’s UN Climate Summit in Paris, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual report, World Energy Outlook 2015 – that will help leaders bolster the argument for a quick transition to renewable energy.

While IEA “sees clear signs that the energy transition is underway,” it “warns strong direction is needed from the Paris Climate Summit.” The report presents projections to 2040 for how the world’s energy system will evolve.

“The next 25 years will see a radical shift towards renewables and away from coal, a global energy center of gravity pivoting towards India and the prospect of Africa leapfrogging dirty energy.”

IEA 2015

The main points are:

Renewable energy will replace coal as the world’s largest source of electricity around 2030, led by solar energy. By 2040, over 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of solar will be installed worldwide.

By 2040, renewables will supply 50% of electricity in the EU, 30% in China and Japan, and above 25% in the US and India.

Last year, almost half of new generating capacity was renewable energy worldwide, and mandatory energy efficiency policies apply to more than 25% of global consumption.

Subsidies still favor fossil fuels over renewable energy, however, at $490 billion and $112 billion respectively in 2014.

With sharply lower oil prices, however, countries like India and Indonesia have started to phase out fossil subsidies.

China will hand the baton for out-sized energy demand to India. Worldwide, energy demand will grow by nearly a third, driven by developing countries, and Africa could be the first to leapfrog fossil fuels to power economic development with renewable energy.

The connection between economic growth and emissions will continue to weaken as all countries become more energy efficient, and as China transforms to a more service-oriented economy.

“A prolonged period of lower oil prices could undercut this crucial pillar of the energy transition; diminished incentives and longer payback periods mean that 15% of the energy savings are lost in a low oil price scenario. Lower prices alone would not have a large impact on the deployment of renewables, but only if policymakers remain steadfast in providing the necessary market rules, policies and subsidies,” notes IEA.

Because the current emissions trajectory leads to temperature rise of 2.7°C, “A major course correction is still required to achieve the world’s agreed climate goal.”

Underestimating the Future?

While this is true, keep in mind that IEA has historically underestimated the growth of renewable energy. From 2000-2007, for example, IEA projected 20 GW of solar would be installed worldwide – yet, as of 2014, there’s almost 180 GW. IEA couldn’t have known how much solar costs would decline, and now they can’t predict the fast transition that’s possible if we finally get the will.

According to the World Resources Institute, renewable energy will collectively more than double by 2030 in 8 of 10 of the world’s biggest emitters: US, EU, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, China, Indonesia and India – because of their national climate pledges.



French Influence on North American Attitudes to Change

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

French Influence on North American Attitudes to Change

Canadian advocate for the environment and writer of many books on the subject, David Suzuki summed up the Paris outcome this way: “When our children’s children look back to what we did to keep our planet liveable, they may see this year’s United Nations climate conference in Paris as a turning point.” But even before Paris, there was a lot of work going on around the world, even in the US, where Anna Clarke reported on the rather unique gatherings in Texas (and elsewhere) called the French Ameri-Can Climate Talks (FACTS). Read More

From David Suzuki:

When our children’s children look back to what we did to keep our planet liveable, they may see this year’s United Nations climate conference in Paris as a turning point.

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) may have been our last chance for a meaningful agreement to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy before ongoing damage to the world’s climate becomes irreversible and devastating. Government ministers, negotiators and world leaders spent the first two weeks of December creating a guide for the next stage of humanity’s action on climate change.

Nations that met in Paris are responsible for over 95 per cent of global emissions. On December 12, following multiple rounds of long meetings, they revealed the final text of the Paris Agreement.

Though far from perfect, it’s a significant achievement. When nations last attempted a global climate pact — in 2009 at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark — negotiations broke down and the resulting declaration was considered a failure. The Paris Agreement, in process and outcome, is a dramatic improvement — a product of the growing urgency to act on the defining issue of our time. It’s the first universal accord to spell out ways to confront climate change, with Canada and other industrialized nations required to transition from fossil fuels to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 and developing nations by about 2080.

Before meeting in Paris, governments drafted plans to reduce national carbon emissions beginning in 2020. One COP21 negotiation goal — a review mechanism to encourage countries to improve targets over time — was achieved, giving hope that reductions will keep global temperature rise below the 2 C limit beyond which science indicates the consequences of burning fossil fuels will become catastrophic. Present commitments won’t quite get us there, but the called-for improving of targets every five years will get us closer. Past experience shows that once a commitment is made to address a crisis, many unexpected opportunities and solutions result. The agreement also acknowledges that limiting temperature rise to 1.5 C should drive future goal-setting.

Canada’s delegation had the added goal of rebuilding the country’s reputation as an environmental leader. For years, we received countless “Fossil of the Day” awards for short-sightedness and stonewalling negotiations.

Responding to calls from citizens countrywide, our delegation returned to a more co-operative approach, advocating for inclusion of human rights and indigenous knowledge, along with recognition of the critical importance of the 1.5 C goal. Canada still received two “Fossil” awards, for lacking emissions-goals ambition and limiting availability of funds for “loss and damage”, but compared to some nations, our country was a positive force.

The world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, China, was criticized for trying to water down requirements for a common emissions-and-targets reporting system and opposing a process to require countries to update emissions-reductions goals every five years, advocating instead for voluntary updates.

Compromises produced a final product that falls short of assigning liability for past emissions and providing dependable “loss and damage” payments to nations already suffering from the effects of climate change. Ongoing pressure is also needed to ensure targets are met and become more ambitious over time. Despite these shortcomings, the Paris Agreement is a leap forward in the fight against climate change. Funding for vulnerable and developing nations, plans to ratchet up ambition at regular intervals and recognition of the role of indigenous knowledge will play major roles in future action.

The first step in realizing stronger goals for Canada begins now. Our government promised more ambitious targets and a framework for cutting carbon pollution and expanding renewable energy within 90 days of the conference, by March 11, 2016. We’ve learned Canadian leaders will stand up for important issues, but we need to push them to be as ambitious as possible. I believe Canada’s commitment will inspire people at all levels of society to propose ways to speed up our shift to clean, renewable energy, and reduce waste through greater energy efficiency.

The global community has taken a big step to get human civilization back on track. It’s up to us to ensure that the planet we want — with clean air, safe water, fertile soil and a stable climate — stays within reach, for our sake and the sake of our descendants.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Climate and Clean Energy Communications and Research Specialist Steve Kux.


French-American Climate Talks on Texan Soil

Huffington Post/Blog (19 November 2015)

As the world mourns the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place last Friday in Paris, plans for the upcoming United Nations COP21 climate talks have shifted into crisis mode. The disaster will not stop the event from going on, but the atrocity underscores the need for an alternative strategy for galvanizing consistent climate action.

One approach: more effectively bridging the local and the global.

As a precursor to COP21, the French embassy developed the French Ameri-Can Climate Talks (FACTS) to raise awareness on global climate issues in North American cities. The talks brought public authorities at the federal, state and city levels together with academic, business and civic leaders to dialogue across sectors, compare approaches and identify ways forward.

The success of the talks highlights the value of city-level diplomacy for spurring climate commitments, with the benefits of a localized approach and on-the-ground leadership.

“FACTS are taking place all over America and Canada,” said French Consul General Sujiro Seam, who presented at events in Dallas (Sept. 17), Houston (Oct. 22) and Austin (Nov. 13).

With three out of the 12 cities on the program roster in Texas, my home state has become a FACTS focal point. As a top producer of fossil fuels and renewables, Texas is a stronghold of energy production, but the state is also the nation’s top emitter of energy-related CO2 emissions. These distinctions put Texas in a risky position when it comes to climate change.

According to the Risky Business Project, unmitigated climate change could accelerate the impact of floods, heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes and water scarcity in Texas, leading to economic losses as well as loss of lives.

The Risky Business Project’s findings include the following impacts:

•             Texas is likely to have among the nation’s highest increases in heat-related deaths due to a changing climate.

•             Extreme heat will also likely decrease labor productivity for the 38% of state workers in high-risk, outdoor industries such as farming, manufacturing, and construction.

•             Without changes in agricultural practices and technologies, staple Texas crops like corn and cotton will likely face significant declines in yields.

•             Consumers will likely face higher electricity bills due to increased demand for air conditioning. Electricity system performance will also suffer declines from the impact of extreme heat on power lines and related grid infrastructure.

•             Rising seas and storm surges along the Texas coast are likely to cause substantial damage.

Talking climate in Texas

Investors and corporations in Texas are taking notice. In Dallas, the SMU Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity hosted Climate Extremes with support from Earth Day Texas, Schneider Electric and Air Liquide.

The half-day program featured opening remarks by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who insisted that climate change should not be a controversial or partisan issue. Great leaders solve difficult problems “not by pontificating but looking at reality the way it is, understanding what you have to work with and figuring out how to do it,” he said.

“For business, the added cost of cooling our buildings and protecting our workers from excess heat impacts the bottom line. The cost of getting raw materials through storm-ravaged areas can hold up production and cut into profit margins … and the fluctuating cost of a carbon-based transit system can impact the ability to forecast future growth.”

Two panels of experts whose scholarship and work are focused on climate issues reinforced the mayor’s message that climate action is good for business.

In keeping with the local-global connection, a unique feature of the event, Patrick Caron, CIRAD director general in charge of research and strategy, delivered the keynote while Earth Day Texas founder Trammell S. Crow gave remarks. Garrett Boone, co-founder of The Container Store and Chairman of the Board of TreeHouse, was also among the panelists. (The two business leaders have been teaming up for a greener state since launching the Texas Business for Clean Air coalition in 2006.)

“I’m very happy with how the Climate Extremes event turned out. I’m told that it was the single largest event on climate change ever organized in Dallas, with 300 participants from public figures to high school students and live-streaming,” Seam said.

The Houston event at Baker Institute at Rice University explored ways that climate change responses can provide business opportunities, including speakers from ENGIE, a multinational utility, as well as from power companies EDF and Edison Electric.

Panelists agreed that climate change presents substantial opportunities, particularly in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate-smart technologies.


“We set out to mobilize stakeholders and organize events that would enable high-quality dialogue and debate about global climate change, and we accomplished this,” Seam said.

“Through these conversations, we discovered that climate change can be addressed at the local level so that people can decide on a course of action for themselves.”

Finding middle ground

That climate change adaptation can be business-friendly and localized is particularly important in states that resist federal mandates. Organizing a legislative briefing, Seam acknowledged that some Texan representatives and senators are “not very forthcoming on climate views.”

But he did find interest from a few individuals, including Sen. Rodney Ellis and Rep. Rafael Anchia, who told the Texas Tribune that “Texas businesses actually are far ahead of state lawmakers when it comes to acknowledging the warming trend.”

Seam also conveyed that there was also “a good level of responsiveness” from the Texas Renewable Energy Industry Alliance.

Fortunately, Texas has a number of pioneers in market-based solutions at its disposal. SMU Hunt Institute Director Eva Csaky, who hosted the Dallas event, spent 18 years at the World Bank forging private sector solutions for sustainable development.

“I have experienced the power of market-based solutions in many countries around the world,” said Csaky. “They have the potential to result in transformational impact by solving pressing environmental and social problems simultaneously.”

She added that the most successful examples all required multi-sector collaboration and social innovation. To that end, Csaky announced the launch of the Inclusive DFW Consortium, an initiative to enable stakeholders to collectively contribute to the development of market-based solutions for climate change adaptation and inclusive economic development in Texas.

Among the collaborators in the consortium is atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and leader of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech.

Bringing together faculty from top universities including Texas A&M, SMU, Rice, UT Austin and St. Edwards, FACTS events have helped spur initiatives whose effects will continue to reverberate long after COP21 is over.

“Texas definitely has a competitive edge. The state is extremely strong on research in energy and water,” said Seam.

I asked what the French government hoped to see come out of COP21. According to Seam, the French government expects:

1)            A new international agreement that would be universal, legally binding and ambitious enough to achieve the goal of maintaining global warming below 2 degrees Celsius

2)            Commitments from countries to act on climate at the national level. At least 158 counties have made commitments thus far. For example, the U.S. has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2025.

3)            Approval of financial and technology package. It will take a lot of money to implement these solutions, in particular in developing countries.

4)            Recognition that climate action is not only a matter to be addressed through national governments, but also one that non-state actors can address.

In the meantime, non-state actors can address climate change. We don’t have to wait for a global conference to do it.

The FACTS conferences have activated this process in cities across America. Now, it’s up to citizens to keep the momentum going by holding leaders at every level accountable.

“Climate change is here for the long run. We’re mobilizing people to reduce global emissions,” said Seam. “Cities have a tremendous role they can play. I hope we end up with some strong commitments.”


At the coalface: Coal is dead in the ground! Or is it?

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

At the coalface: Coal is dead in the ground! Or is it?

It is fighting to survive, but here’s the word from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres which shows the lengths coal is going to remain a global power source. But if there was one word from Paris that came out ahead of all others it was “COAL” (in capitals) and if we don’t stop digging it up and burning it, there is no way the world can attain the 2° rise in temperature, let alone the much more ambitious  1.5°. So coal, stay right where you are. Dead and buried! Read more

Adani’s Galilee Basin mine unlikely to go ahead, says International Energy Agency

By ABC national environment reporter Sara Phillips (18 December 2015):

Alpha Coal project in Galilee Basin in central Queensland

The latest Global Coal Outlook from the world’s peak energy agency says mining projects worth nearly $40 billion in Queensland’s Galilee Basin are unlikely to go ahead.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) forecast for the coal industry predicts demand for the fossil fuel will grow by less than 1 per cent a year for the next five years.

The fall-off in demand is largely a result of a declining Chinese market, with air pollution and climate change regulations reducing development of coal-fired electricity.

China currently accounts for around half of the global demand for coal.

The Minerals Council of Australia says Chinese demand will decline, particularly for low-quality coal.

But it says Australia’s best coal exports are not likely to be affected.

“China’s coal use overall may flatten out, but demand for high quality coal for high-efficiency, low emissions plants is likely to grow,” the council’s chief executive Brendan Pearson said.

“We know that there is 420 gigawatts of new, high efficiency, low emissions coal-fired power generation planned or under construction in China.”

An oversupply of coal has led to rock-bottom prices, meaning the economics for new mines are not favourable.

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“Just at the moment there will be a pause in investment in new mines,” Mr Pearson said.

“We’re still hopeful about the Adani mine [in the Galilee Basin]“.

However the coal quality in the Galilee Basin is not premium. And IEA says it has doubts about the viability of the huge development planned for Queensland.

“The projects … are highly dependent on availability of financing and adequate infrastructure. Despite support from Queensland’s Government, there is also public opposition to the projects, and hence, the approval process is being challenged, with inevitable delays,” the report says.

“In conclusion, it is not likely that the above listed projects will be operational in 2020, if ever.”

Coal industry ‘in denial’ and ‘drowning in debt’

Tim Buckley, an industry analyst for international energy think tank IEEFA, says that sends an important signal.

“The IEA has made a very important statement, that new greenfield capacity is not needed.

“You’ve got demand declining. You’ve got oversupply in the industry. You’ve got zero or negative profit margin and you’ve got an industry drowning in debt.

“In all of that how does adding more investment in more capacity to flood the market help anyone?”

Mr Buckley said the coal industry was entering structural decline and was not being realistic about its future.

“The first step is acknowledging they have a problem. The industry says it’s all cyclical.

“That’s just illogical, irrational, not supported by the facts. Effectively it’s a coal industry in denial.”

Benjamin Sporton from the World Coal Association said he remained optimistic that the industry will recover.

He also pointed to Australia’s COAL21 fund which researches clean coal technology such as modern electricity plants and carbon capture and storage.

Capital flowing toward wind, solar, energy efficiency

In Australia, the industry has sunk more than $300 million into COAL21.

This investment has been more than matched by a $544 million contribution from government and other industry partners.

Over the same period, the coal industry has spent more than $4 billion in exploration for new coal reserves.

Mr Sporton said governments should be doing more to support the industry’s attempts to become cleaner.

“I think there is social value in investment in these technologies because it means we continue to get the benefits of affordable and reliable fuels like coal,” he said.

However Mr Buckley said carbon capture and storage is so far off widespread adoption, the IEA does not even factor it into its predictions for the future.

“The capital is just not going to be deployed in these technologies to make them viable,” he said.

“In contrast the capital is flowing at an ever faster rate towards wind, solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, and that is a permanent game changer in my view.”




Australia Conservation Foundation report (15 December 2015):

Land Court decision leaves Palaszczuk government with crucial coal test

With the conclusion of the Queensland Land Court case relating to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine the Palaszczuk Government now faces a stark choice: protect the Great Barrier Reef or approve the biggest coal mine in Australia.

“Just days after the historic Paris climate agreement was signed by 196 nations the Queensland Government faces a crucial test,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Basha Stasak.

“Today’s recommendation puts the ball back in the court of the Palaszczuk Government, which must now decide whether it will give the green light to a mine that will undo the climate pollution cuts of several nations.

“Research by Energy Resources Insights shows if the Carmichael mine goes ahead it will increase global climate pollution  by more than the combined planned emissions cuts of Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico and Canada between 2012 and 2025,” she said.

In a separate case in the Federal Court ACF is challenging environment minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the Carmichael project.  ACF will argue the Minister did not consider whether the damage to the Great Barrier Reef resulting from burning the mine’s coal would be inconsistent with Australia’s obligation to protect the World Heritage site.

Last week in Paris the world-renowned coral reef biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg told the Australian government it could not open one of the world’s largest coal mines and continue to claim to be protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“If it proceeds this would be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia,” Ms Stasak said.

“Australia’s Paris commitments and World Heritage responsibilities cannot be met if governments keep approving massive new coal mines – Adani’s Carmichael project simply must not proceed,” she said.


Kellingley colliery closure: ‘shabby end’ for a once mighty industry

The last deep coal mine in Britain closes today, drawing to an end a series of closures in an industry once known as King Coal

Terry Macalister Energy editor Guardian (18 December 2015):

When the last shift of underground miners emerges at Kellingley colliery in North Yorkshire on Friday, it will bring down the final curtain on one of Britain’s most successful and enduring industries.

Coal has been dug out of the ground since pre-Roman times. It fuelled the Industrial Revolution and was still providing 40% of power for electricity generation as little as three years ago.

But deep mining and its workplace culture of hard graft, comradeship and danger has been killed off by a mixture of cheap imports, low-carbon energy alternatives and government indifference.

“Its a sad, sad day,” said Stuart Oliver, a veteran coal executive of 40 years. “It took around 30m years to create the geology that has produced coal and yet we have burned most of it off in a little less than 100 years.”

Dennis Skinner, who as MP for Bolsover has represented coal communities for more than 45 years and is himself a former miner, said the closure of Kellingley was a shabby end for an industry that had once been the lifeblood of the UK economy.

“We are still importing 40m tonnes of coal and have the capacity to operate 20 or 30 pits in this country while using coal cleanly with carbon capture,” said Skinner. “It is disgraceful to throw 450 miners out of work in this way before Christmas.”

Kellingley, the last of Britain’s deep mines, has not run out of coal seams to plunder, but has lost a final supply contract in the face of fierce competition with global prices at their lowest level since 2008 and forecast to slump a further 25% by 2020.

A small amount of British surface mining will continue, but Kellingley is the last in a series of closures, including Maltby in April, Hatfield in June and Thoresby in July.

A once-swaggering industry dubbed King Coal has finally lost its crown, ending a glorious reign that had its genesis in rocks of the Carboniferous age first mined using Bronze age flints.

Coal production increased dramatically with the development of steam engines in Victorian times and peak output was reached just before the first world war. In 1947, along with many other industries including steel and shipbuilding, coal was nationalised.

At that time the collieries were producing 187m tonnes from 958 deep mines and employed 718,000 workers. By 1965 output was 177m tonnes, but from a far smaller number of mines and with only half a million staff on the books of what was then called the National Coal Board (NCB).

Then decline set in, as the railways moved from coal to diesel and electric power. Competition from North Sea gas and then cheap imports put the UK industry into a steep downward spiral in the 1970s and 1980s, which helped trigger conflict between the NCB and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) over pay restraint and pit closures.

A miners walkout in 1972, the first since the General Strike of 1926, led to electricity rationing and the three-day week. A second confrontation followed 24 months later.

But both of those strikes were dwarfed by the calamitous clash between miners and their employers – not to mention with police and ministers – 30 years ago, described by the BBC as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”.

A Conservative government, led by Margaret Thatcher, showed itself determined not to be humiliated as she perceived her predecessor, Ted Heath, had been in earlier confrontations with the NUM.

She found herself up against the most determined opponent in Arthur Scargill, the then president of the NUM, who accused the Tories of trying to destroy the union and the coal mining industry

A brutal victory was seen as pivotal in the transfer of wider power from unions to employers. It paved the way for coal privatisation in 1994 and helped build the reputation of Thatcher as an Iron Lady and union buster.

By 1995 the number of deep mines had sunk to just 16, employing barely 1,300 miners with the government happy to embark on a “dash for gas” using the newfound hydrocarbon wealth of the North Sea.

Mine workers had a lot to lose. Pit towns and villages were often completely dominated by the coal industry, with employers providing everything from houses to sports grounds and even milk deliveries.

These locations tended to be bastions of Labour party power – although the current transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, is – like Skinner – a former miner.

The mainly white, working-class coal communities were long a magnet for film makers, artists and playwrights. Pride, a film depicting the real life story of how gay men and women supported the 1984 miners strike, won a Bafta at this year’s ceremony .

There has been a new and growing threat to coal over the last 20 years: action to counter global warming. Increasing evidence that the burning of carbon-heavy fuels was exacerbating climate change led to increasing calls for controls on coal use.

Despite evidence that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could successfully be deployed for a new “clean coal” future, a series of expensive prototypes have never won the public funding they require and had been promised.

George Osborne pulled the plug on a Shell-proposed CCS scheme using gas at Peterhead in his autumn statement while Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, promised to phase out all coal-burning power stations by 2025.

In the intervening years, Britain will now use production from a series of above-ground open-cast mines, and the low-cost imports it has been using from countries such as Russia and Poland where labour is cheap.

What will not be missed from the deep mines will be the ongoing dangers of rock falls or fires, although safety has dramatically improved since the dark days of 1913– when 439 men and boys were killed by an explosion at a Glamorgan site.

Redundancy terms were often relatively generous, but job prospects for ex-miners have never been great. The regeneration of former pit areas often depended on low-paid jobs in call centres or warehouses – such as the now-infamous Shirebrook facility in Derbyshire run by Sports Direct.

Lisa Nandy, the Wigan MP and shadow energy and climate change secretary, said it was vital Kellingley workers employed by UK Coal and leaving on Friday are properly compensated.

“Britain’s miners built the prosperity of this country through dangerous, difficult and dirty work in our coal mines,” she said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude, a fair redundancy settlement and a real plan that can help young people in coalfield communities get into new clean energy industries so that they can power Britain’s future just as their parents and grandparents did in the past.”


Global Business Leadership: Coming Through Loud and Clear

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

Global Business Leadership: Coming Through Loud and Clear

Business is putting its money where its mouth is! Philippe Joubert, Chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the climate champion for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, had this to say prior to Paris: “We expect world leaders to demonstrate their leadership in finalising the agreement required and we urge them to listen to the voice of business.” Bill Gates announced an initiative called Mission Innovation, as “a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy.” Public private partnerships, investments in clean energy and business innovations are all part of the solution. Read More


By We Mean Business (9 December 2015):

With just 48 hours to go before the end of the COP21 UN climate conference, business organisations working with thousands of corporations and investors urged world leaders to ensure that a clear and specific long-term emissions goal is included in the final Paris agreement.

Business is looking to the UN climate talks in Paris as an opportunity to receive a clear signal that governments are committed to the transition to a low-carbon economy, members of the We Mean Business coalition said, in a letter to Heads of State and Government coordinated by the The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.

The letter states: “To deliver such a signal, we need to see an agreement that provides a clear direction of travel and confidence that we will advance to meet it. This requires a clear and specific long-term emissions goal well before the end of the century coupled with a five-year ambition mechanism that begins around 2020.

“With such a signal business and investors will be able to scale up the already considerable investments and actions they are making and deliver trillions of dollars of investment over the next decade. We urge you to bear in mind the benefits of these trillions of dollars that will be unlocked, which will far outweigh the costs of contributing to and mobilising the $100 billion discussed in the negotiations.”

Philippe Joubert, Chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, which brings together 23 European companies employing 2 million people in 170 countries, with combined revenues of $170 billion, said: “We expect world leaders to demonstrate their leadership in finalising the agreement required and we urge them to listen to the voice of business. We need a clear vision of the world we’re shaping for tomorrow, a direction of travel. This means a specific long-term zero emissions goal well before the end of the century. The impetus from a strong Paris outcome will enable us to speed up and scale up our solutions.”

Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business, said: “We believe that, under the very capable leadership of the French Presidency, the majority of ministers are working well towards an historic outcome – a robust, transparent, enduring, dynamic and legally binding climate regime containing all major emitters that has the potential to keep the 2°C target within reach.”

About We Mean Business

We Mean Business is a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors. These businesses recognize that the transition to a low carbon economy is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all. To accelerate this transition, we have formed a common platform to amplify the business voice, catalyze bold climate action by all, and promote smart policy frameworks.

Founding partners of the coalition are: BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, and WBCSD.

About The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) brings together 23 European business leaders who work under the patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to advocate solutions on climate change to policymakers and business peers within the EU and globally. CLG members are committed to playing a leadership role in securing a just, low-carbon transition, both in terms of changing their own businesses and sectors, and advocating change in the wider economic and political context. At a minimum the CLG supports the goal of achieving net zero emissions globally well before 2100. CLG members are: 3M, Acciona, Anglian Water Group, BT, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Doosan, DSM, EDF Energy, Ferrovial, GlaxoSmithKline, Heathrow, Iberdrola, Interface, Jaguar Land Rover, Kingfisher, Lloyds Banking Group, Philips, Skanska, Sky, Tesco, Thames Water, Unilever, United Technologies. The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) provides the secretariat to the CLG.

Source:  and


Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg & More Than 20 Other Billionaires Launch Coalition To Invest In Clean Energy

Kerry A. Dolan for FORBES (29 November 2015):

I track the world’s wealthiest people and their philanthropy. A day before the start of the United Nations climate talks in Paris, Bill Gates is announcing the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of more than 20 billionaires who have agreed to invest in innovative clean energy. “Our primary goal with the Coalition is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit,” Gates says in a post on his website.

Gates and world leaders will also be announcing an initiative called Mission Innovation, which Gates describes as “a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy.” The 20 countries include the U.S., Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and many others. Each country pledges to double government investment in clean energy innovation and to be transparent about its clean energy research and development efforts.

Bill Gates has invested in clean energy in the past, but this is his most public statement to date. He is joined in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition by some billionaires who have been outspoken and committed to clean energy, including former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and venture capitalists Vinod Khosla  and John Doerr; all three men live in California.  The coalition also includes members not closely tied to clean energy, including Nigerian cement titan Aliko Dangote (who is also Africa’s richest man), Indian industrialist Mukesh Ambani and Chinese e-commerce mogul Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba.

On his Facebook page, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg writes, “Priscilla and I are joining Bill Gates in launching the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to invest in new clean energy technologies.”

Update Nov. 30, 6pm ET: Bill Gates told CNN that some of the coalition members will invest directly in energy technologies and others will invest through a fund that the coalition will create. Gates said that other people will likely join the coalition. Gates expects the coalition to fund over 100 companies over the next decade.

Other prominent members of the coalition include founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, former hedge fund manager John Arnold, founder Marc Benioff, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, investor George Soros, HP CEO Meg Whitman, Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Japanese telecom investor Masayoshi Son. In addition to Virgin Group’s Branson, coalition members from Europe include Hasso Plattner of Germany, who cofounded software firm SAP; Xavier Niel of France, founder of the telecom-focused Iliad Group; and Chris Hohn of the U.K., founder of The Children’s Investment Fund, a hedge fund.

The operating principle of the coalition is that “the world needs widely available energy that is reliable, affordable, and does not produce carbon,” according to the coalition’s website.  “The only way to accomplish that goal is by developing new tools to power the world.” The coalition is working with the countries that have agreed to the Mission Innovation initiative.

Gates and the other coalition members make it clear that the need for clean, affordable energy is not being met currently. “The urgency of climate change and the energy needs in the poorest parts of the world require an aggressive global program for zero-emission energy innovation,” they say on the Breakthrough Energy Coalition website. “The new model will be a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions, and investors.”

The coalition emphasizes that government-funded research has been successful in the past in space, defense, technology and medical research. But there is a hurdle to achieving the same level of success with clean energy, the coalition points out: “current governmental funding levels for clean energy are simply insufficient to meet the challenges before us.”

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition site does not state the dollar amount that the private investors plan to put behind their new commitment, nor the time period over which they plan to invest. It does state that they will invest early, invest broadly, invest wisely, invest boldly and invest together.

Update Dec. 1, 2015: A spokesman for Bill Gates confirmed that Gates plans to invest $1 billion in clean energy companies over the next five years. The other billionaires and members of the coalition, which includes the University of California, are expected to invest at least a combined $1 billion over that same time period.

Source: and

IMF: Putting the Case for a Real Price on Carbon

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

IMF: Putting the Case for a Real Price on Carbon

One of the most prominent women in a global leadership position is Christine Lagarde. As head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), she is a strong advocate for “setting the right price for fossil fuels” which means taking into account their true environmental costs. Prices should pass on to end users the full cost not only of production and acquisition, but also of the damage – including air pollution and climate change – caused by intensive reliance on fossil fuels. Prior to Paris she put the case for a real price on carbon. What did we hear from G20, APEC and CHOGM? Read More

Project Syndicate (30 November 2015):

The Right Price for Preserving Our Climate

Christine Lagarde

WASHINGTON, DC – When world leaders convene in Paris this week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, their task will be to reach a global agreement on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. A successful outcome, demonstrating that countries can work together for the good of the planet, would send a powerful message of hope to the world – and to the people of Paris, who remain unbowed after the recent terrorist attacks.

Climate pledges will be made on the basis of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), or commitments to the reduction of emissions worldwide. I believe that the price of emissions should be at the center of these pledges.

Achieving a decline in greenhouse-gas emissions at the lowest possible cost requires a revolution in energy use and production. Gradual, predictable, and reliable increases in energy prices would provide strong incentives for consumers to reduce their energy bills. At the same time, the right carbon price would enable a smooth transition away from fossil fuels by encouraging investments in technological innovation.

That is why the International Monetary Fund’s staff have recommended a three-part strategy on carbon fuel: “price it right, tax it smart, and do it now.” Each component is essential.

First, setting the right price for fossil fuels means taking into account their true environmental costs. Prices should pass on to end users the full cost not only of production and acquisition, but also of the damage – including air pollution and climate change – caused by intensive reliance on fossil fuels. A fairer carbon price will drive energy savings and boost demand for cleaner fuels and “greener” investments.

Second, the necessary change in prices would be achieved by taxing energy, using tools that are both practical and efficient. The best option is to build a carbon charge into existing fuel taxes and apply similar charges to coal, natural gas, and other petroleum products.

The revenue implications would be significant. If large emitting countries were to impose carbon prices of $30 per ton of CO2, they could generate fiscal revenues amounting to about 1% of their GDP. These revenues could be used to manage the overall fiscal burden of climate action, as well as to finance cuts in taxes on labor and capital that distort economic activity and harm growth, or to reduce deficits where needed.

In short, carbon pricing is about “smart” taxes, not higher taxes. Smart taxes should be phased in gradually to allow households and firms time to adjust and for new technologies to come on stream. Gradual and tailored adjustment is particularly important for developing economies, many of which make little contribution to global emissions. Time may be necessary, in many cases, to ensure that social safety nets are in place to protect low-income households and to provide retraining programs for workers in energy-intensive industries. This approach would also allow for climate investments to be financed through private capital flows.

Third, there is no time to lose: policymakers need to act immediately. Given the slump in energy prices, there has never been a better time to undertake the transition to smart, credible, and effective carbon pricing. Nor should countries wait for others to move first. Work at the IMF has shown that a fair amount of carbon pricing is in many countries’ national interest – even ignoring adverse climate effects on other countries – because it would help resolve major domestic environmental problems. According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution causes more than three million premature deaths a year. And early action is essential to avoid the need for much more drastic – and costly – efforts later.

Ahead of the Paris summit, more than 160 countries submitted emissions mitigation pledges. By implementing these commitments, countries will substantially reduce projected future global warming.

The challenge now is to deliver on these pledges. This is why we need a concerted push for carbon pricing. In Paris, a select group of leaders who are true champions of carbon pricing will issue a call for action. The Carbon Pricing Panel, led by the IMF and World Bank, will further increase the policy momentum at the national, regional, and municipal levels.

In addition to public-sector efforts, we also need the robust engagement of financial institutions and markets. Hedging instruments such as so-called catastrophe bonds can help insure against the increasing risk posed by natural disasters. Other financial instruments, such as “green” stock indices and “green” bonds, can help reallocate investment to sectors that support environmentally sustainable growth. Here, too, carbon prices that are predictable and sufficiently high will be essential to guide investment choices.

There is a lot at stake this week in the City of Light. Paris recently experienced humanity at its worst. The climate summit will be an opportunity to show it at its best.



Countries vow billions in aid for green issue

Straits Times and Agencies report (29 November 2015)

Commonwealth bloc to start green finance facility, Canada promises $2.8b funding as climate change marches begin

PARIS • Billions of dollars in environmental aid are being pledged as the first of marches worldwide began yesterday to pressure leaders heading for Paris to negotiate a historic pact to tame global warming.

In Ottawa, the Canadian government announced climate funding of 2.65 billion Canadian dollars (S$2.8 billion) over the next five years, while the 53-nation Commonwealth bloc agreed last Friday to set up a billion-dollar “Green Finance Facility” for environmental projects.

French President Francois Hollande, addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) summit in Malta as head of the climate conference’s host nation, called for humanity to unite in the fight against global warming.

“Man is the worst enemy of man. We can see it with terrorism,” said Mr Hollande, who spoke after leading ceremonies in Paris to mourn the 130 dead victims of the Nov 13 terror attacks in the French capital.

“But we can say the same when it comes to climate. Human beings are destroying nature, damaging the environment. It is therefore for human beings to face up to their responsibilities for the good of future generations,” he added.

Looking to the UN talks opening in Paris tomorrow, he called for “a binding agreement, a universal agreement, one that is ambitious”.

But he also spoke of fears that a handful of countries – which he did not name – may stymie consensus if they felt the deal lacked guarantees.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who also attended the meeting in the Maltese capital Valletta, said he was encouraged “by such a strong commitment” from Commonwealth leaders. “This is virtually the last political milestone before we meet in Paris,” he noted.

Under heightened security two weeks after France’s worst terror attack, some 150 heads of state and government will launch tomorrow a highly anticipated UN conference tasked with inking a 195-nation climate rescue pact.

The French authorities cancelled two rallies following the terror attacks. Activists now plan to create a 2km human chain along the original march route today.

Yesterday, thousands turned out for climate change marches across the Asia-Pacific region, part of a weekend of action across the globe to demand results from the Paris summit.

Rallies in Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, New Zealand and the Philippines illustrated the broad array of concerns over the impact of climate change, from calls for renewable energy to the plight of Pacific islanders as sea levels rise.

“Protect our common home,” declared placards held aloft as thousands gathered in Melbourne and Manila. “We want to send a message to the rest of the world, especially the world leaders at the climate talks, to say our survival is not negotiable,” said Ms Denise Fontanilla, spokesman for the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, in the Philippine capital.

Similar marches are set for today in Seoul, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Mexico City.

Some 150 leaders including US President Barack Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the start of the Paris conference, which is tasked with reaching the first truly universal climate pact, binding 195 nations to new emission limits from 2020. The goal is to limit average global warming to 2 deg C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by curbing fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change.

If they fail to do so, scientists warn of a world that is increasingly inhospitable to human life, with superstorms, drought and rising sea levels swamping the land.

Last week, the UN’s weather body said the average global temperature for this year is set to touch the halfway mark at 1 deg C.



Commonwealth summit concludes with agreement on climate change

CHOGM report (29 November 2015):

Commonwealth Heads of Government ended their summit in Malta today with an agreement on new measures to tackle climate change and combat radicalisation.

The final communiqué also reflected commitments on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; seeking solutions to global migration challenges; and empowering young people as partners and agents of change, amongst others.

The three-day meeting was attended by leaders from all 53 Commonwealth countries, including 31 heads of government. The theme was Adding Global Value.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French President François Hollande joined heads for a special session on climate change ahead of the COP21 talks in Paris. Commonwealth leaders issued a statement on climate action in which they committed to working towards an ambitious, equitable, inclusive, balanced, rules-based and durable outcome at COP21.

At the summit, leaders also selected the Commonwealth’s sixth Secretary-General, Dominican-born Baroness Patricia Scotland. The former UK Attorney General, who is the Commonwealth’s first woman Secretary-General, will take office on 1 April 2016.

CHOGM was preceded by four forums, which included an inaugural Women’s Forum, addressed by Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri. It concluded with a call for quotas and targets to get more women into leadership positions.

The Youth Forum highlighted the important role that young people can play in preventing violence and conflict. A new unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat will be established to counter violent extremism and advance the Commonwealth’s role in international efforts in this regard.

The Business Forum was attended by more than 1,300 delegates from 75 countries. The Forum identified a number of areas where the Commonwealth can increase trade and investment across financial services, technology, infrastructure, healthcare, tourism and sustainability. Five new initiatives were launched to facilitate this.

For the first-time ever, LGBTQI rights were discussed at the Commonwealth People’s Forum and recommendations on this subject, amongst others, were included in the final outcome document, the Malta Declaration on Governance for Resilience.



India slows progress on ambitious climate change accord

Alex Barker in Antalya and Pilita Clark for Financial Times (16 November 2015):

India has blocked G20 efforts to pave the way for an ambitious climate change accord in a sign of deep divisions just two weeks before delegates from almost 200 nations meet in Paris.

Through almost 20 hours of talks at the G20 gathering in Turkey officials struggled to bridge a political chasm even over language suggesting a common problem required a collective solution.

A senior EU official at the meeting of world leaders in Antalya said: “At certain times I was feeling that we’re not living on the same planet.”

Most significantly India and Saudi Arabia opposed the inclusion of a reference in the G20 statement to the need to discuss a “review mechanism” that the EU and many economies say must be a central feature of the accord. The accord is supposed to require all countries to volunteer pledges to cut their greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 or take other measures to tackle climate change.

The EU and others say it must also contain measures requiring assessment every five years of commitments made by signatories and upgrade them if progress is deemed insufficient.

India said it did not want the G20 to interfere in the Paris talks and blocked even a general reference to discussions on “periodic monitoring”.

If other big economies follow suit, the weakening of the final accord would raise doubts about the UN’s ability to do anything to combat climate change.

More than 160 countries have published their initial climate pledges ahead of the two-week Paris summit that starts on November 30.

However, it is clear they will not add up to enough to meet the target agreed almost five years ago at UN talks that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C from pre-industrial times.

Some countries want a lower threshold of 1.5C set in Paris. India and Saudi Arabia were initially among a group of countries in Antalya resisting the inclusion of a reference to the 2C targets in the G20 conclusions, saying they did not want to prejudge Paris. “I was a bit surprised,” said the senior EU official, adding it did not bode well for Paris.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said that “after long talks overnight” the world leaders agreed to include the 2C target in the G20 statement.

“But it is clear that a whole host of talks will still be necessary to make sure that we can make progress in Paris,” she said. “This has to be a success.”

India has long opposed efforts to oblige all countries, not just wealthy ones, to share the burden of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that have risen steadily since UN climate talks started more than 20 years ago.

New Delhi’s opposition nearly sank the 2011 UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, that laid the groundwork for the Paris summit.

On Sunday night Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is at the summit, said the “declaration was too weak” and had been rejected by the US and some EU countries.

After talks that stretched to 3am on Monday — rare for G20 meetings — the draft was amended to make mention of targets and some broader goals for Paris.

All year countries have been publishing their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions ahead of December’s UN meeting in Paris but are they enough to prevent damaging changes to the climate?

“We recognise that 2015 is a critical year that requires effective, strong and collective action on climate change and its effects,” the final communique said. “We reaffirm the below 2C goal.”

However a caveat was inserted stating that negotiators would have to engage “flexibly” in Paris, which some officials saw as watering down even the general G20 statement of intent made in Antalya.

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, agreed in a joint statement with France this month that there should be a five-year stocktaking assessment of national climate pledges.

President François Hollande of France, who is hosting the Paris talks, hailed a “major step” forward that boosted chances of success at the summit.

But the statement said the results of this stocktake would only “inform” governments about enhancing their emissions reduction plans. It did not spell out any requirement for the plans to be strengthened.



APEC Targets Climate Change Agreement, Capacity Building

Issued by the APEC Secretariat (4 December 2015)

The 21 APEC members, the world’s largest regional economic group, are firmly committed to achieving a breakthrough at the Paris Climate Conference while ramping up efforts to build economic and technical capacity across their diverse Asia-Pacific economies to reduce emissions and mitigate the escalating threat of climate change.

APEC members set the tone at the opening of the Conference of Parties, also known as COP21, by articulating their views on the elements needed to realize a breakthrough in Paris and the implementation of measures in support of its goal of avoiding more than a two degree Celsius increase in the world’s average temperature compared to pre-industrial levels.

“Our collective security depends on our ability to act,” declared Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, after hosting APEC Leaders in Manila who together called for a fair, balanced, ambitious, durable and dynamic agreement on climate change in Paris—following the China-United States climate change deal that was clinched alongside the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing in 2014. “The real challenge begins with an accounting of capacities: How do we ask everyone to contribute, and how do we ask those with more to help out those with less.”

APEC economies account for about three billion people, half of global trade, 60 per cent of total GDP and much of the world’s growth. They also experience more than 70 per cent of all natural disasters and incurred over USD 100 billion annually in related losses over the last decade, exacerbated by the rising frequency and severity of disasters due to climate change.

To mitigate this risk, the region’s Leaders have committed APEC member economies to double their renewable energy use by 2030 compared to 2010 levels—it currently accounts for about ten per cent of their energy mix. They have furthermore committed APEC members to reduce their aggregate energy intensity by 45 per cent, facilitated by improved energy efficiency, by 2045.

Overall, APEC economies account for 55 per cent of energy production and 60 per cent of energy consumption globally. APEC also includes seven of the top ten greenhouse gas emitters who together produce around 70 per cent of the world’s total, according to the World Resources Institute.

“We are very proud that since COP20 we have contributed to laying the foundations of what will be, we are sure, the crucial Paris Agreement,” said Peru President Ollanta Humala, host of the preceding climate conference in Lima — where APEC Senior Officials will meet next week to flesh out member economies’ priorities for greater joint action during Peru’s year as APEC 2016 chair. “Of course, this must be balanced and must put in practice a real domestic and international cooperation action process to improve climate adjustment and global resilience.”

As negotiators work to reach a deal in Paris, APEC members are fast approaching their year-end deadline to reduce their tariffs to five per cent or less on 54 environmental goods like solar panels, wind turbines and air pollution control equipment, which could enhance their accessibility and offer momentum to the Environmental Goods Agreement talks under the World Trade Organization.

APEC members are also poised to step up their efforts to develop, test and deploy new technologies and approaches for bolstering their renewable energy, efficiency and emissions reduction capacity. Focus is on the promotion of next generation transport, building and grid development as well as green industries, jobs and public consumption under a multi-year APEC Energy Smart Communities Initiative. A growing network of APEC Low Carbon Model Towns is serving as a real world testing ground, with feasibility studies of carbon-reducing measures being piloted set to move forward.

At the same time, APEC members will seek to take new steps towards their goal of increasing forest cover between them by at least 20 million hectares by 2020, promote sustainable forest management, conservation and rehabilitation, and combat illegal logging and associated trade. Additional focus is on advancing initiatives to deal with the increased risk of disasters such as typhoons, flooding and drought as temperatures swing and limit their impact on communities and supply chains critical to trade, jobs and growth, including vulnerable small businesses.


US$16.5 Trillion Needed for Clean Energy Investment

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

US$16.5 Trillion Needed for Clean Energy Investment

Assaad Razzouk, CEO of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, knows what he’s talking about, so while he welcomes the outcome of Paris, now real work must begin: “We must imperatively turn our attention to the immense implementation gap between what’s going on in the real world and the broadly aspirational objectives of Paris.”  $16.5 trillion is needed to ensure we don’t exceed the 2 degrees milestone and “how do we unlock this money from the capital markets when clean energy is operating in a confusing, uncertain environment?” There’s more on renewable energy opportunities and investments in South East Asia from Armstrong Asset Management, The Blue Circle and ADB, plus a report on what’s holding back Vietnam’s wind energy.  Read more

Clean energy investments in South East Asia

Assaad W Razzouk, CEO of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources

From Huffington Post (16 December 2015):

Show Me the Climate Money: UN Climate Deal Is a Triumph, now Onto Bridging a Huge Investment Gap

The Paris Agreement reached on 12 December is a triumph of the human spirit, built around the world class diplomacy of France, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon. Faced with an existential threat driven by climate change, 195 nations signalled a fundamental shift in the trajectory of growth of fossil fuels.

We must imperatively turn our attention to the immense implementation gap between what’s going on in the real world and the broadly aspirational objectives of Paris: Indeed there is a stark disconnect between what the world says it needs and wants (de-carbonization as soon as possible, through massive deployment of renewable energy worldwide and the electrification of everything), and where the $150 trillion financial markets (in other words, the money) are at.

Renewables Mess

We will need to invest $16.5 trillion to ensure we don’t exceed the 2 degrees milestone now enshrined in the Paris Agreement. How do we unlock this money from the capital markets when clean energy is operating in a confusing, uncertain environment?

Here are a few examples of the mess we are in.

In the United States, renewable energy champions are being brutally punished. Their stock prices are down 50 to 90 per cent this year and they are unable to raise funds to accelerate deployment. Utilities like NRG attempting to change with the times through rapid solar deployment are suffering the same fate, their visionary leaders shown the door. Regulatory uncertainty abounds: The tax benefits for solar investments in the US are up in the air from 2017, even though these merely level the playing field vis a vis oil and gas investments.

Meanwhile in the UK, the government seems to relish surprising the markets by suddenly shifting support from clean energy back to oil and gas. In Spain, Abengoa, the renewables champion, collapsed. In Italy and Spain, investors are still getting over the harm caused by retroactive regulatory changes.

In India and China, thousands of projects are chasing capital but can’t find it.

It does get worse.

According to an analysis by Climate Action Tracker, there are 2,440 new coal plants currently being planned worldwide, more or less guaranteeing we will all fry.

These planned coal plants are, as we speak, being financed by many of the same Governments and banks present at the Paris climate talks. Four countries whose citizens are at the forefront of suffering from the impacts of climate change – China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines – together account for three quarters of the planned 2,440 coal plants.

“Where is my $16.5 Trillion?”

The mess I describe above has consequences.

A large chunk of the $16.5 trillion will have to be invested in the form of equity capital, and the balance borrowed from banks.

But equity investors, rattled by too many conflicting signals, add a risk premium to invest in the infrastructure required to de-carbonize the world. This is the exact opposite of the direction of travel set by the Paris Agreement.

Many banks and other debt providers are talking climate but financing coal. A report by Bank Track shows banks supported coal with a whopping $257 billion between 2009 and 2014.

In practical terms, both the equity and debt necessary to finance the de-carbonization of everything is missing in action.

So how do we unlock the $16.5 trillion required to de-carbonize?

Here’s the “ABC” of what’s needed.

The “ABC” of Bridging the Implementation Gap

First, the Paris Agreement needs much more work to ensure it is tightened over time. At the moment, the signal it is sending to the financial markets is inconsistent and therefore in practice inaudible.

For example, fossil fuel subsidies must decrease over the next twelve months (instead of increasing as they have in the UK), while banks financing coal need to be stridently named and shamed.

Second, both developed and developing countries need to put in place financial-grade regulatory environments: Flip-flopping on policies, retroactive changes, inconsistencies and the lack of stable, long-term regulatory frameworks will maintain the current high risk premium for clean energy investments.

Third, we need a carbon price everywhere, of $40 a ton of CO2 or higher ($100 by 2020), embedded in the terms of trade between nations. While carbon pricing is talking about a lot, an effective one remains unlikely in the next few years.

In the meantime, our best hope is a worldwide push to ensure investors understand that their fiduciary duty includes analysing the long term risks caused by the exploration and production of fossil fuels. This can shift a mountain of investments from dirty to clean energy through the process of re-allocating risk premiums to fossil fuel investments instead of clean energy.


South East Asia’s Year End Push

By Andrew Affleck in AMM EnergEyes November 2015 issue

The renewable energy sector in South East Asia is showing few signs of a year-end slow down as projects race to meet deadlines to secure their PPAs. In Thailand, solar developers are starting to tie up loose ends as the 31 December 2015 deadline draws near while in the Philippines, projects are ramping up construction to meet both the 15 March 2016 deadline and the 500MW quota.

As developers busy themselves with construction, government bodies have been hard at work crafting the next phase of their renewable energy policy. Thailand has announced its government and Agricultural Co-op scheme where up to 600MW of solar projects will be up for bids in Phase 1. Eligible projects submitted under this scheme will be selected through a lottery system and results will be announced on the 24 December 2015. PPAs issued under this scheme will again face a deadline to complete construction by 30 September 2016.

The flurry of activity has built up strong momentum in this sector and we believe that the successful completion of projects will further catalyze more renewable energy opportunities in 2016.

Symbior Solar completes financing of 29MW of solar projects in Central Thailand

Symbior Solar (“Symbior”), a leading developer of solar PV power plants in Asia, announced today the closing of a project financing totaling THB 1.45 billion (US$ 40.5 million) with Krung Thai Bank Public Co. Ltd. (“KTB”), Thailand’s largest lender by assets. Arranged through Symbior’s subsidiary ATC Enviro Co. Ltd. the debt instrument completes the full financing of Symbior’s 29MW portfolio of solar power plants in central Thailand.

The latest set of solar PV power plants by Symbior span five sites in the Prachinburi and Samut Sakhon Provinces, with each individual plant’s capacity ranging between 3MW and 8MW. Construction began in June 2015 and commercial operation is planned for December 2015. The Provincial Electricity Authority will buy power from the plants under 25-year power purchase agreements at a tariff of THB 5.66 per kWh (approximately US$ 0.16/kWh) as part of the Very Small Power Producer Program. The solar PV power plants will collectively power approximately 18,000households with clean solar-generated electricity in the first year of operations and offset 483,650 tons of CO2 equivalent over their lifetime.

“The closing of this latest project financing with KTB is proof of the strong relationship with the bank who has already funded Symbior’s first project in Thailand in 2013. Despite the challenges of an extremely short implementation timeline of only six month, the Symbior team was able to drive the implementation forward and rely on KTB’s support to finance its solar PV pipeline in Thailand”, stated Florian Bennhold, CEO of Symbior Solar. “Together with our experienced EPC partners and our local team, construction progress of our projects remain on budget and on target to achieve commercial operation by the end of the year”, added Mr. Bennhold.

Proceeds of the financing will be used to pay for the projects ’ continuing construction and development costs. Together with investments and commitments from the Armstrong S.E. Asia Clean Energy Fund and Dragon Capital’s Mekong Brahmaputra Clean Development Fund, Symbior’s central Thailand projects are fully financed.

About Symbior Solar

Established in 2010, Symbior Solar is a graduate of Symbior Energy, the Hong Kong-based incubator of energy ventures. Symbior Solar has grown into a leading regional solar PV developer with a focus on frontier solar PV markets in Asia. Symbior Solar continues to expand its solar PV generation platform in Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mongolia, supporting the region’s drive towards environmentally and economically sound energ supplies for a sustainable future. Symbior Solar’s current Thai projects are jointly funded by Armstrong Asset Management, Dragon Capital’s Mekong Brahmaputra Clean Development Fund and Symbior Solar.

See the December issue of EnergEyes for a wrap up of Paris and renewable energy.


By the Editor:

The Blue Circle – the Singapore based wind energy developer – is pushing for wind energy as hard as it can in Mekong area, setting up meteorological masts in three locations in Vietnam to ascertain the best places and joining forces with Vesta to drive investment in wind energy projects in the region.

Barriers to Vietnam wind energy remain. Olivier Duguet is strongly advocating more investment and more development. What’s holding things up? The following article in Reve points to issues.

Are there similar constraints in getting renewable energy projects underway elsewhere in South East Asia. Solar is moving in leaps and bounds in Thailand and Philippines.

Singapore has grasped solar by the PV and started on an ambitious programme with Government working with the private sector players.

Indonesia  seems to be dragging the clean energy chain, as there’s money ready to invest but it seems that bureaucratic delays are holding it back.

ASEAN, APEC and ADB must push harder to eliminate the bottlenecks, introduce green tape to get rid of red tape and by-pass those who want to dip their greedy fingers in the clean energy funds.

At the Singapore International Energy Week, this question was put to a panel and it was pointed out to senior people in the energy business and those who should be facilitating investments.

Will Assaad’s plea and Paris’s good intentions be enough to get things moving in South East Asia? Along with the enthusiasm of private sector investors through Armstrong’s Clean Energy Fund for South East Asia and The Blue Circle you would hope to see things happening. But we suspect there is an inbuilt resistance in some Government quarters when it comes to allowing renewable energy on a scale that threatens some of the Government-owned utilities.

See the photo story from the Asian Development Bank and this quote from Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development: “With an abundance of almost every renewable energy source — including 40 percent of the world’s geothermal reserves — Indonesia can be a global clean energy leader. By tapping this stockpile, it can also avert a looming energy crisis and realize its huge economic potential.”



From REVE – Wind Energy and Electric Vehicle Magazine (4 October 2015):

Vietnam has significant potential for the development of wind power but it has captured only a small part of the country’s potential.

Only three of 42 wind power projects have been put into the national grid, according to a report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Energy Institute.

According to experts’ opinion, there are several reasons for the delay of wind energy deployment in Viet Nam, such as lack of policies, purchasing price, limited co-ordination between central and local governments in the formulation of wind power development plants and a paucity of knowledge and technical capabilities required to carry out a wind power project.


The main obstacle for investment in wind power was the electricity purchasing price, Vu Duy Hung, a representative of Energy Institute, said at a workshop on promoting the development of wind energy recently.

The fact that the price was lower than the wind power price in other countries had not attracted investors, he said.

Meanwhile, imported equipment was still expensive, which kept the production cost of wind energy high.

Having the same opinion, a representative of Quang Trung International Energy Consultancy Ltd Co, Vu Quang Dang, said the wind power price had not matched the investment value.

The current electric buying price is at 7.8 US cent/kWh. The suitable price should be $10.4 US cent/kWh, Dang said.

In addition, limited database assessment of wind energy was another challenge for the development of renewable energy, he said.

He added that the country still lacked land for building plants, large ports to store wind turbines and big equipment as well as transporting vehicles.

To fully exploit this energy, new incentive policies should be created to promote investment in the field, participants said.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Cam Tu said the strengthening of research, exploitation and taking full advantage of energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass was necessary, in order to limit exhausted exploitation of natural resources which are not renewable, and serves the goal of sustainable development.

“The advantage of wind energy is that it is an available source, abundant, renewable, sustainable, and environmentally friendlier than other traditional energy sources, and has a competitive price if produced on a large scale,” he said.

However, to put wind energy projects in use on a mass scale, the country is still facing many difficulties such as the natural environmental condition, geographic location, high cost in investment, and equipment maintenance, as well as obstacles on commercial development, according to Tu.

He said the Government had implemented many support policies to remove difficulties for businesses in scaling up the renewable energy industry.

Enterprises should actively propose initiatives and invest more capital to develop this potential energy, he said.

The Government has set a target for wind power development at 1,000WM by 2020 and about 6,200MW by 2030.


Facing up to the facts: Billions go up in smoke in Indonesia’s worst ever burning season

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

Facing up to the facts: Billions go up in smoke in Indonesia’s worst ever burning season

Indonesia’s economy took a US$16-billion (S$22.5 billion) hit this year from forest fires that cloaked Southeast Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, the World Bank said Tuesday, meanwhile the Economist reports that previously forest-clearing accounted for most anthropogenic carbon emissions. Now it causes around 10%—a decline that led many at the UN climate summit in Paris to focus their efforts elsewhere. But halting deforestation is very important. Indonesia has, in effect, downgraded the REDD+ agency it set up in a deal with Norway, and failed to spend most of the billion dollars that the Norwegians provided. Read more

Fires cost Indonesia $22billion, twice the tsunami bill: World Bank

Straits Times and AFP reports (15 December 2015):

JAKARTA – Indonesia’s economy took a US$16-billion (S$22.5 billion) hit this year from forest fires that cloaked Southeast Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The fires and resulting haze are an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. But the blazes in 2015 were the worst for some years, causing air quality to worsen dramatically and many to fall ill across the region.

In a quarterly update on the Indonesian economy, the World Bank said the fires had devastated 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of forest and farmland across the archipelago from June to October.

The cost to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is estimated at 221 trillion rupiah (S$22.1 billion), equivalent to 1.9 per cent of predicted GDP this year, it said.

In contrast, it cost US$7 billion to rebuild Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh after it was engulfed 11 years ago by a quake-triggered tsunami, with the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the bank said.

Haze hits the region again in 2015

“The economic impact of the fires has been immense,” said World Bank Indonesia country director Rodrigo Chaves.

Fire has long been a popular way of quickly and cheaply clearing land on Indonesia’s Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations.

But the fires burn out of control and produce noxious haze during the months-long dry season, particularly when started on carbon-rich peatland.

The World Bank said that if every hectare burned in 2015 were converted to palm oil, the value would be about US$8 billion. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of the oil, used in numerous everyday goods from biscuits to shampoo.

“So on the one hand 16 billion dollars cost to the public, on the other hand, eight billion dollars – lots of money – to a handful of individuals,” said World Bank environmental specialist Ann Jeannette Glauber.

The estimated costs are based on an analysis of the types of land burned and take into account the impact on agriculture, forestry, trade, tourism and transportation, as well as short-term effects of the haze such as school closures and on health.

More than half a million people suffered acute respiratory infections in Indonesia, while many in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia also fell ill.



Forests and climate change

Hope for the trees

Modest progress has been made on saving forests—it needs to accelerate

The Economist (19 December 2015):

Rays of light in the forest

UNTIL the 1960s, forest-clearing accounted for most anthropogenic carbon emissions. Now it causes around 10%—a decline that led many at the UN climate summit in Paris to focus their efforts elsewhere. Though Norway, Germany and Britain said they would make a billion dollars a year available for averting tropical deforestation until 2020, America, France and Japan refused to chip in. Australia trumpeted a pro-tree plan of its own, but has not pledged more money for it. There was little mention of Indonesia’s devastating wildfires, or of a 16% uptick in deforestation in Brazil.

Yet the 10% share hugely understates the importance of forests to the fight against climate change. Just as shrinking forests contribute to global warming, growing ones can counter it. During the 2000s tropical forests are estimated to have sopped up and stored carbon equivalent to 22-26% of carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity. Ending tropical deforestation and letting damaged forests recover could cut net emissions by almost a third, creating a space for industrial emissions to fall more slowly.

The Paris agreement failed to create mechanisms, such as carbon markets, that could generate the much larger sums necessary for conservation on that scale. That was expected; on a more realistic measure of progress, forests did pretty well. Reducing deforestation and forest degradation—REDD+, in the jargon—has finally been enshrined as a mainstream climate policy. Over 60 countries included it in their commitments. It got its own clause in the final deal, with an approving nod to ways of designing and running REDD+ schemes agreed on in previous climate talks. Schemes can be funded publicly or privately, with payment for success in leaving trees standing.

Whether REDD+ can fulfil its potential remains unclear. By one measure, the net global deforestation rate has fallen in recent years. Yet, despite improvements in monitoring tropical deforestation and establishing baselines against which it can be measured, REDD+ probably played a minor part. Brazil dislikes the idea of “offsetting”—letting other countries or even firms emit more in return for paying to keep its trees standing. Indonesia has, in effect, downgraded the REDD+ agency it set up in a deal with Norway, and failed to spend most of the billion dollars that the Norwegians provided.

Rich countries say this shows that what is mainly lacking is political will. Those with tropical forests retort that the failure to cough up the large sums they were once promised vindicates their wariness. Both are right: for now, REDD+ is almost as notional as it is necessary.


Taiwan boosts solar, storage, recycling, waste & energy efficiency

Posted by Ken on December 24, 2015
Posted under Express 214

Taiwan boosts solar, storage, recycling, waste &  energy efficiency

Taiwan has come up with an Eco Power Station (EPS) which could challenge other solar/storage projects around the world, including Elon Musk’s Power Wall. The EPS (pictured at right) is scheduled to be shipped to Liberty State Park, New Jersey, US, in March of 2016, to be used as one of the area’s bicycle rental stations run by Bike and Roll. For a nation which is denied participation in the United Nations process and global climate change negotiations, Taiwan continues to show innovative and enterprising solutions, showing leadership in not only reducing its own emissions but producing products for other countries to come clean and go green. It is also one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to energy efficiency and waste management and recycling. Photo on left shows the ultimate in recycling – a car made in Taiwan from old mobile phones! Read More

From PRNewswire (4 October 2015)

Taiwan Eco Power station

The Eco-Power Station (EPS) is a revolutionary, totally off-the-grid system that is entirely self-powered by solar energy. It features a 5 kW thin-film photovoltaic module as well as a 5kW lithium-ion battery. The EPS was designed by the Green Trade Project Office, which is Taiwan’s leader in promoting and integrating green products and services. Altogether, the Eco-Power Station has brought together ten innovative Taiwanese green-technology producers in order to demonstrate the viability of a green solution to the crisis of climate change.

Basically, the EPS has been created out of a 40 by 8 foot shipping container that will actually serve as an electric-bicycle station. In addition, the entire rooftop area of the station is covered with GEAC’s thin-film solar panels. These panels feed the station’s smart grid with electricity, with any excess electricity then stored in the station’s batteries.

The energy-producing solutions implemented in the EPS are incredibly efficient. For starters, a compact chamber in the lithium-ion battery from TD HiTech and Ecolohas Energy Tech enables the station to store energy for times when the demand exceeds the current energy production. With the help of Billion Electric’s smart-energy-management system, cloud monitoring technologies have been implemented to help ease administrators on the challenges of the central control of scattered equipment.

This helps to create fast and more efficient workflows between devices, which boosts productivity and save energy. In addition, while the renewable energy systems that power the station are reliable and continuously monitored, the station has also installed M-Field’s hydrogen fuel cell to provide reliable backup power, in case of blackouts. Under normal conditions, this hydrogen fuel cell self-refuels, when a supply is maintained through the solar-power source. In total, this fuel cell can provide more than 8 hours of back-up power while operating at its maximum output.

In addition to consuming zero-energy from the grid, the EPS also features various innovative green products of note.

Heatax’s insulation coating, for example, has been widely hailed for having the highest cost-to-performance value of all thermal insulation paints in Taiwan. In specific, it can reflect up to 88 percent of solar heat; it is easy to use for DIY-projects; it is made to be long-lasting; and, most importantly, it is very affordable. Nustone provides another noteworthy coating. This coating is actually a one-of-a-kind building material that can completely transform ordinary surfaces by giving them the look and feel of stone, with less difficulty and less expense. It is, essentially, a new generation of spray paint that creates a genuine stone-like surface of granite, marble, or quartzite, among many others.

In addition, the designers at Renato-lab have long enjoyed turning recycled goods into fashion products, since they believe that great design and recycling technology can be integrated with more sustainable lifestyle choices. For example, inside the EPS, Renato-lab’s eye-catching RE/Luminance incorporates reclaimed brightness enhancement films, which are usually found inside LED panels. These recycled films have been reformed and rearranged to create different artistic optical effects.

The Eco-Power Station also features Jia-Qian Rubber Tech’s rubber flooring tiles, which are made of 100 percent recycled tires. This company has been producing durable and flexible tiles for a variety of applications since 1996. What’s more, in addition to being eco-friendly, Jia-Qian Rubber Tech’s tiles have been widely praised for delivering aesthetic and performance excellence in the full range of tile categories.

Finally, a solar pillar from SunValue is another type of functional artwork in the EPS that enables cell phones to be charged with the power generated by the pillar’s bricks. To explain, this solar pillar is made of solar-power bricks, which have been embedded with a light-guilding material that is capable of absorbing solar energy from various angles. These bricks can also be integrated into existing buildings and are ideal for vertical installation.

The EPS is scheduled to be shipped to Liberty State Park, New Jersey, in the United States of America, in March of 2016, to be used as one of the area’s bicycle rental stations run by Bike and Roll.

Source:  and