I’m told Germans have little respect for politicians, rating them at the bottom of the pile. Generally, though, they are said to be courteous, even boring in how they conduct their politics, although it doesn’t altogether look that way from the outside.
Coal India, the largest coal mining company in the world, has announced it will close 37 mines because they are no longer economically viable. That’s around 9 per cent of the state-run firm’s mines.
The government has announced it will not build any more coal plants after 2022 and predicts renewables will generate 57 per cent of its power by 2027 – a pledge far outstripping its commitment in the Paris climate change agreement.
A Deutsche Welle report I heard on NewsRadio began along these lines:
She was pulled to the ground by her long blond hair, then a man laid down on top of her.
An extensive investigation by Der Spiegel tells us that groups of men humiliated, sexually assaulted and robbed women around the main railway station in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. What happened was not new and was not limited to Cologne. What was different was the scale, the presumed predominance of men from North Africa amongst the perpetrators, and the timing in relation to the dilemmas faced by the influx of refugees from Syria. Continue reading Cologne: what happened and where to from here?→
The report warns climate change is the biggest long-term threat facing the reef, while the immediate pressures include water quality, which has declined due to nutrient and sediment runoff from agricultural production.
Previously, a draft version of the report was criticised by some scientists as being a plan for sustainable development rather than protecting and conserving the reef.
The Queensland Government also sought urgent changes to the draft, to include its $100 million election commitment to improve water quality.
It has been shown that “preserving more than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below +1.5°C (atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) range: 1.3–1.8°C) relative to pre-industrial levels”.
According to a new French law approved on Thursday, rooftops on new buildings in commercial zones across France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels.
France has lagged behind other major European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain in solar power development. As of last summer, France had just over five gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity, accounting for around one percent of total energy consumption. Germany has nearly 40 GWs installed.
Traditional emissions accounting only considers the greenhouse gases generated within a country’s own borders. In other words, emissions produced in the UK are allocated to the UK. On this measure, UK emissions have fallen dramatically to around 25% below 1990 levels.
But when the source of emissions generated by products consumed within the UK are counted, emissions have only fallen by 7%. This is the pattern over time:
The UK’s production emissions have fallen fast (dark blue area), but imports have offset much of the gain (lighter blues, purples and grey area). Clearly things changed after the GFC in 2008.
Germany plans to force operators of coal plants to curb production at their oldest and most-polluting power stations, as part of efforts to achieve its climate targets, senior government sources said yesterday. Under the measures, the government plans to allow coal plants to produce 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt of installed capacity, but any produced above that level would be subject to a fine of 18 to 20 euros per ton.
However, if you took the emissions generated from the products they produce, a very different picture would emerge. Rio, for example comes fourth with emissions of 18 million tonnes of CO2 last year. Yet Rio’s customers burning coal produce a further 129 million tonnes.
“Higher surface temperatures can mean that you have higher wind speed and more damaging rainfall,” Amanda McKenzie from the Council said.
“And what we saw in Vanuatu was in the lead-up to the cyclone, sea surface temperatures were well above average.”
Ms McKenzie said rising sea levels would multiply the damaging effects of cyclone storm surges.
Cyclone Pam, a category-5 storm with wind gusts reaching 300 km/h, struck Vanuatu on 13 March 2015 leaving twenty-four people dead, 100,000 people homeless and up to 70% of the nation’s 69,000 households damaged.
My take is, quite possibly, but we can’t know for sure.
The basic problem is that the satellite record only goes back to around 1980, which is not long enough, and only in the North Atlantic are cyclones surveyed by aircraft and then only if they threaten populated regions within a few days.
A study by Kossin et al (2013) looked at the satellite data record from 1982 to 2009 and found an increase of 2.5 m/s per decade for high intensity events (Pam appears to have reached an intensity of around 75 m/s).
Other factors to look out for include the amount of rain delivered, changes in genesis locations and tracks, and diameters, all of which should be affected by climate change.
Haiyan and Pam, two of the most severe tropical cyclones on record, have struck the western Pacific in the past 16 months.
The world’s first power-to-liquids (PtL) demonstration production plant was opened in Dresden on 14 November. The new rig uses PtL technology to transform water and CO2 to high-purity synthetic fuels (petrol, diesel, kerosene) with the aid of renewable electricity.
The article does not say how efficient the process is, but presumably less so than using the electricity directly.
Hope has been injected into the Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, scheduled to run from 1 to 12 December by the recent US/China agreement. The optimism stems as much from the fact that the two largest emitters in the world are finally working together as the level of ambition. The EU has also recently pledged to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
Countries will be working on the text of the draft agreement for Paris in 2015.
Countries are expected to put forward their contributions towards the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the end of March . These will then be used to craft the Paris treaty. The Lima gathering will help provide guidelines and clarity for what these INDCs must entail, especially for developing countries still reliant on fossil fuels to meet fast-growing energy demand needed to achieve developmental goals. These options could range from sector-wide emissions cuts to energy intensity goals to renewable energy targets.
We’ll be represented during the second week by Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb, a climate change denier. Seems Bishop went bananas when she found out, and Robb doesn’t want to be there anyway.
Giles Parkinson reports that we’ve sent a delegation of 14, the smallest in 20 years and probably not enough to be actively obstructive as we were in Warsaw last year.
On Sunday, Germany’s biggest utility E.ON announced plans to split into two companies and focus on renewables in a major shift that could be an indicator of broader changes to come across the utility sector. E.ON will spin off its nuclear, oil, coal, and gas operations in an effort to confront a drastically altered energy market, especially under the pressure of Germany’s Energiewende — the country’s move away from nuclear to renewables. The company told shareholders that it will place “a particular emphasis on expanding its wind business in Europe and in other selected target markets,” and that it will also “strengthen its solar business.”
E.ON will also focus on smart grids and distributed generation in an effort to improve energy efficiency and increase customer engagement and opportunity.
“With its decision, E.ON is the first company to take the necessary steps from the completely changed world of energy supply,” German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said Monday.
The Commission and European Environment Agency’s Progress Report on climate action says:
according to latest estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 fell by 1.8% compared to 2012 and reached the lowest levels since 1990. So not only is the EU well on track to reach the 2020 target, it is also well on track to overachieve it.
Kevin Anderson is not impressed:
The consumption-based emissions (i.e. where emissions associated with imports and exports are considered) of the EU 28 were 2% higher in 2008 than in 1990. By 2013 emissions had marginally reduced to 4% lower than 1990 – but not as a consequence of judicious climate change strategies, but rather the financial fallout of the bankers’ reckless greed – egged on by complicit governments and pliant regulation.
Then he really gets stuck in:
In the quarter of a century since the first IPCC report we have achieved nothing of any significant merit relative to the scale of the climate challenge. All we have to show for our ongoing oratory is a burgeoning industry of bureaucrats, well meaning NGOs, academics and naysayers who collectively have overseen a 60+% rise in global emissions.
It’s interesting not so much for 2013, but as an overview of how the global system works.
4. Half new energy is green
Fully 44% of all generating capacity installed last year around the world was renewable, says the latest UNEP Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment, despite a 14% decline in renewables investment, and in new electricity generally.
Europe has cut investment in renewables by 44%. China now leads with $56 billion invested last year.
Shares in clean energy companies rose 54% last year.
5. Germany turns to brown coal
Germany has more wind turbines and solar panels than any other industrialised country, but it also burns more brown coal (lignite) than any other.
As Germany turns off its nuclear power, gas is expensive and a third of it comes from Russia. In these circumstances Germany is turning to lignite to solve the intermittency problem. Because lignite takes 8 hours to fire up plants are run at 40% whether needed or not.
There are three options:
storage systems, such as pumped water or hydrogen
improving and extending electricity grids so that surpluses can be moved to areas of need
organising tariffs to manage demand from big energy users that have intermittent demand.
None of these is being implemented so far to the extent that makes a real difference.
This graph shows the source of Germany’s power generation for the first quarter of 2014:
Nuclear, being phased out over a decade, is a considerable source. Biomass is larger than gas.
Renewable energy is expected to be the main source of electricity generation in Germany by 2030, but policy in both countries is a concern:
In the UK, the Conservative party has recently announced that it will put a cap on onshore wind expansion if it gets into power in 2015. Subsidies for solar power are also likely to be cut, according to media reports – suggesting that Conservatives are increasingly hostile to plans to expand renewables.
In Germany, the government’s putting in place a new renewables plan – possibly in response to concern about rising energy prices. The new rules mean from 2017 energy providers will no longer get guaranteed prices for their power, according to media reports. The effects are unclear, but could slow the growth of German green energy.
In Germany governments attempt to control markets, it seems.
Germany’s energy transition – the Energiewende – has largely been a bottom-up grassroots movement over the past 25 years. Citizens and energy cooperatives account for roughly half the investments. Large utilities are only just now getting on board.
Current changes in policy are aimed at tipping the balance back towards the large corporates, while keeping renewable energy development on track. Policy is also favouring offshore rather than onshore wind.
The article mentions that discussion will now turn to “capacity payments”. I suspect such payments will be necessary to provide backup capacity for intermittency problems, especially if weather forecasts are wrong. For continuity of supply the corporates may have to be paid for unused reserve capacity.
Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition is completely about implementation issues and is largely based on a number of links drawn to my attention by John D, for which gratitude and thanks. I’ve restricted the offering to six items to make it more digestible.
1. The battery storage system that could close down coal power
It says that these systems can substitute 10 times the capacity from conventional generation – coal, nuclear and gas – and at a fraction of the cost. According to Younicos spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel, each battery park can be installed at around € 15 million, which means that for an investment of €3 billion, conventional generation in Germany’s 80GW would no longer be needed – at least for frequency and stability purposes. Continue reading Climate clippings 88→