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International Climate Update Oct '13: Chile to have 20% renewables by 2025, US to vote no on int'l coal projects, & more

Jake Schmidt

Posted November 5, 2013 in Solving Global Warming

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Below is a compilation of climate change and clean energy news from around the world. This compilation includes stories from October 2013. You can sign-up to receive these compilations in your email inbox.

CHILE COMMITS TO MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Chilean government has just passed a new bill requiring 20 percent of national energy generation to come from renewable sources by 2025. Renewables have currently generated around 6 percent of the national total so this bill could help the growing renewable energy sector in the country. Several years ago NRDC found that renewables were cheaper than the traditional sources of energy in the country. And now we conducted a study with key Chilean partners that found a future with greater renewables deployment would add $1.6 billion more to the Chilean economy and 7,769 more jobs than a baseline scenario over the next 15 years.

The study – “The Economic Benefits of Non-Conventional Renewable Energy in Chile”—was conducted by international and Chilean experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by NRDC and the Chilean Renewable Energy Association.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT TO VOTE NO ON COAL PROJECTS

The Treasury Department has released revised “coal guidelines” that will direct the U.S. to vote no on most coal projects proposed by the international development banks. These development banks have funded more than $13 billion in coal projects since 2007 so these steps mark an important shift for the banks. These guidelines respond to the call by President Obama in the U.S. Climate Action Plan to stop using U.S. funding for overseas coal projects. These guidelines contain 5 key provisions that will test any coal project proposed by the development banks. Unfortunately, there was some missed opportunities to make them even stronger.

STATUS OF US POWER PLANT STANDARDS

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected last-ditch efforts by industry and conservative states to block EPA from setting standards to curb the carbon pollution.  The Court’s ruling clears the way for EPA to issue carbon pollution standards for power plants under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. And in this Q&A my colleague explains what the Supreme Court will review and what it won’t – hint it won’t review the legal ability to set carbon pollution limits on power plants.

Opponents of EPA’s effort to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants under Clean Air Act have recently been peddling a nonsensical argument based upon some drafting language in the CAA. My colleagues discuss why they are grasping at straws.

SUPER GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS – HFCs

After a summer of diplomatic progress, expectations were high that countries would launch negotiations on phasing down HFCs at meetings of the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok last month. Unfortunately, there were mixed signals and missed opportunities as India put the brakes on HFC phase-down talks.

Leading civil society groups in India came out in support of efforts to phase-down HFCs. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) – a leading Indian environmental group – has urged India to take a lead under the Montreal Protocol. And, the Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW) – a leading Delhi-based think tank—stressed that India should take advantage of the technical and financial assistance provided by the Montreal Protocol by agreeing to negotiate a phase-down.

GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY DEPLOYMENT

A new study from the World Energy Council found that renewable energy capacity would increase significantly in the coming decades. They state that that: “wind (on and offshore) is projected to rise from 5% in 2012 to 17% of installed capacity by 2030…solar PV capacity should grow from 2% in 2012 to16% by 2030.”

The International Energy Agency released a new report that found that savings from energy efficiency was greater than the output from any other single fuel source – including coal, oil, nuclear and gas. This finding is true in the U.S. as a recent report from NRDC found.

Deutsche Bank has a new report that estimates that the solar PV market could reach 50 GW in 2014 (CleanTechnica).

America’s most well-known businesses continue to install solar power at their facilities at an amazing clip. The California Public Utilities Commission set a target for California investor owned utilities to procure 1.325 GW of cost effective energy storage by 2020 (SacBee).

CHINA CLIMATE, CLEAN ENERGY, & AIR POLLUTION

China suffers from major air pollution that has shutdown a city of 11 million people as PM2.5 reaches over 1,000 ppm (Reuters). An image circulated on China Weibo that tracks the “blue sky” days in Beijing – hint there are more grey days than blue days. As my colleague from our Beijing office points out: “China has quite good power plant emissions standards but are they really being monitored, are they being enforced and are violators being punished? Without those things, it’s hard to drive the market for pollution removal equipment” (China Economic Review).

The Chinese central government is offering $818 million in financial rewards to Beijing and its neighboring provinces to fuel their fight against air pollution (China Daily).

China's capital has committed to replace four coal-fired heating plants with gas. The four plants burned 40 percent of the coal that the city consumed in 2012 (Reuters).

China has set a new goal for solar power – install 20 GW of distributed solar by 2015 (CleanTechnica).

INDIA CLIMATE, SOLAR ENERGY, & ENERGY EFFICIENCY

India’s solar market heats up this month as the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released its Phase 2 guidelines to govern the next batch of project bids for funding through the National Solar Mission (the Mission). The long anticipated guidelines will invite solar bids for the first time in two years, for a total of 750 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar plants. New guidelines could help spur India's solar mission forward , but financing solutions still needed to scale up. This comes at a critical time as India has just reached the 2 GW solar barrier (CleanTechnica).

With green buildings making up less than five percent of the booming Indian building market, developers, governments and experts reiterated the tremendous opportunity for expanding energy efficiency construction in India during the Green Building Congress 2013. 

India and the US announced a joint working group on climate change (Business Standard). The agreement outlines a commitment to advance action on HFCs and  launched a new initiative --  Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE).

Kolkata and Delhi have been ranked as two most polluted mega cities in India, according to reports by the Centre for Science and Environment (Hindustan Times).

LATIN AMERICAN CLEAN ENERGY DEPLOYMENT

Mexican sun lures cash to solar as panel prices plunge with the Mexican Energy Ministry forecasting solar capacity of as much as 2,170 megawatts and 14,000 megawatts of wind by the end of the decade (Bloomberg). The Inter-American Development Bank will contribute over $34 million to the development of geothermal energy in Mexico.

The upcoming energy auction in Brazil will feature more than 16.42 GW of wind energy and 3.6 GW of solar energy (CleanTechnica). Japan installed another 1.8 GW of solar PV projects in the second quarter of 2013 (CleanTechnica).

The Mexican President has proposed a bill that would introduce a carbon tax to help the country meet its emissions reduction target of 30% below business as usual levels by 2020 under the General Law on Climate Change.

MORE US CLIMATE & CLEAN ENERGY NEWS

California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia announced a groundbreaking climate change & clean energy agreement. The region would be the 5th largest economy in the world if it were a country so the policies it implements can have a significant impact. The states/province agreed to put a price on carbon, harmonize their mid and long-term climate targets, work with other subnational governments to help secure a strong international agreement in 2015, transition the region to low-carbon modes of transportation, and invest in clean energy and climate-resilient infrastructure (the pact language). 

The auto industry is exceeding the standards in 10 states to have 3.3. million electric cars on the road by 2025. 

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline fails President's climate test – new NRDC infographics document the many reasons it fails this test. And prominent Canadians visit Washington DC to share the truth about Canada's record.

DEFORESTATION

NRDC has just launched a new report highlighting significant progress on many of the key “voluntary commitments” made at the June 2012 Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The report includes analysis of the progress on a number of the key actions including the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 – the partnership between major companies, countries, and NGOs to have their products be “deforestation-free” by 2020.

CLIMATE SCIENCE – IPCC & MORE

Climate change will have severe implications for the world’s food supply, leading to potential shortags and increased prices (NY Times). Carbon pollution is creating a new world – and not in a good way – as a new study says that 2047 will be the year that every subsequent year will be warmer than any year in the historical record (1860 to 2005) for more than half the locations on earth. 

My colleague points out how the IPCC report underscores need to address ocean acidification

South America's glaciers could be going the way of the dinosaurs a new study found that they have shrunk 30-50% since the late 1970s, and could disappear altogether in the 21st century. 

And my NRDC colleagues provide reflections one year after Sandy with a series of blogs.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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