Architecture

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

Greg Beach

The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London, will soon switch to clean energy in a big way.

Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid.

Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world.

Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change.

In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools, social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space, at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement. “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.”

Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution

The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement, even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy ptargets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.”

Via CleanTechnica

Press link for more: Inhabitat.com

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Caroline Lucas “The Apocalypse is happening” #ClimateChange #Heathrow #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Caroline Lucas on Heathrow and climate change: ‘The apocalypse is happening’

Decca Aitkenhead

Caroline Lucas

The last time I met Caroline Lucas, she was about to stand trial. The Green party co-leader was prosecuted in 2014 following an anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, West Sussex, and was due in court the week after we met, yet her spirits that day were remarkably high.

If optimism has been the defining quality of Lucas’s political career, one might say it has served her well: in 2010, she became the first – and remains the only – Green politician elected to parliament and in 2014 she was cleared of all charges.

Her subdued demeanour when we meet this week, therefore, is unfamiliar.

The 57-year-old was more upbeat when facing a court case, it strikes me, than she is facing today’s political landscape.

Lucas’s mood may be due in part to the visit she had made earlier in the day to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.

When we meet, her expression has a sober, preoccupied air, as though she would rather be processing what she had seen in quiet solitude than giving a press interview. But the MP has always shown a talent for reconciling light and shade, having spent her career warning us of impending armageddon, while simultaneously assuring us we still have time to avert it.

Her capacity to sustain hope has always impressed me, so I begin by apologising if my questions sound defeatist to her. I put their gloom down to my state of general pessimism. In a barely audible murmur, Lucas admits: “Well, I’m not in such a different place, to be honest.”

The member for Brighton Pavilion had until recently thought the campaign against a third Heathrow runway had been won. “We’d been lulled into a bit of a false sense of security, thinking the government would do – or in this case, not do – what it said it wouldn’t do.” In 2009, the then prime minister, David Cameron, had promised: “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead – no ifs, no buts” – but in the Commons last week the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, announced it would be built after all and could be open by 2026. Tory MPs representing constituencies that will be ravaged by the new runway are up in arms; Boris Johnson and Justine Greening and others may yet thwart Grayling’s plan. But, for Lucas, the fight goes way beyond defending villages from bulldozers.

Grayling’s Commons speech did not even mention climate change, yet this omission attracted negligible attention until Lucas tweeted her incredulous dismay – which, I suggest, tells us that most people now think one more runway will make no difference to climate change, but a massive difference to the UK economy. Might they be right? Lucas addresses her reply to the carpet between our chairs, like a pop star performing an old hit she can’t believe anyone could still need to hear again.

“If you measured impact on climate change by each individual action then you’d never be able to talk about the cumulative impact of a set of actions on the climate.

We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.”

But we keep being told we must not concede a competitive advantage to rival European airports. She counters wearily: “If you were talking to campaigners in Charles de Gaulle [airport in Paris], they’d tell you they’re told exactly the same thing: don’t concede defeat to London! We’re all being pitted against one another in this incredibly dangerous race to the bottom. If we were to follow the logic of those people who think every time we build a runway our economy miraculously benefits, then why would you not just cover the whole country in concrete? That’s the logic of that argument. The bottom lines is that aviation is a very good example of why you can’t say: ‘We’ll have a demand-led approach’ – because the demand will go on. I think there needs to be a mature conversation about limits to growth. I think we need to ask: growth for what?”

Growth for jobs?

Growth for our kids to leave home and afford a mortgage and enjoy the living standards our parents took for granted? “Growth that is not tackling inequality,” she rejoins. “Growth that’s destroying the planet we depend on. Growth that we know, by simply measuring prosperity in terms of GDP growth, is an incredibly blunt instrument. GDP simply measures the circulation of money in the economy, not whether or not the outcome of using that money is positive or negative. A major pile up on the M5 is wonderful for growth, because it means people go out and buy more cars. But by any other measure of what’s useful or helpful, a pile up on the M5 is bad news.”

We’re in danger of losing something incredibly precious. If you don’t have an environment, you don’t have anything else

She does not blame MPs such as Johnson for objecting to the runway on local, self-interested grounds. But if, as is widely predicted, the foreign secretary absents himself from the parliamentary vote by contriving an excuse to be abroad, “I think it would be despicable. He’s promised to stand up for something; he’s gone to the polls and said: ‘This is what I stand for.’ And no one is going to believe that absence from the country was seriously unavoidable. I just think the cowardice of that is grotesque.”

For all Johnson’s ostentatiously theatrical opposition (he promised to “lie down in front of the bulldozers”), it is Jeremy Corbyn whom Lucas believes has the power to determine the third runway’s fate. With the support of Tory rebels, the Labour leader could defeat Grayling’s bill by imposing a three-line whip – and Lucas thinks he will. “There’s a good chance. What I’m hearing is that there’s a good chance Labour might come out against it.” As a long-time Corbyn enthusiast, could Lucas forgive him if he did not? “No. I think it would be unforgivable.”

Corbyn would make a convenient culprit, but should the blame not lie ultimately with her party? The Greens are forever predicting environmental catastrophe – if it is not Heathrow, it is plastic or diesel or eating meat – but when the world continues to turn, despite their apocalyptic warnings, does the environmental movement become a casualty of its own hyperbole?

“I don’t think so. I recognise the danger of crying wolf. But when you look at the data – or, indeed, just look around green spaces – the apocalypse is happening. You don’t hear the same birdsong any more. Not that long ago, if you drove at night through the countryside, your windscreen would become full of moths and now there are no moths any more.”

I wonder how she explains why this does not translate into votes for her party. Which half of her message does the public not buy – that we are heading for armageddon or that we still have time to save the planet? “I think for the past 10 years the public has been struggling just to get by. They’ve been hit by a wall of austerity: struggling to get their kids into school, to get a doctor’s appointment, to keep their job. So, the environment feels like a luxury to be discussed on another day. And I understand that. But, at the same time, we’re in danger of losing something incredibly precious and that ultimately all this other stuff is built on. If you don’t have an environment then you don’t have anything else.”

No one could doubt the sincerity of her commitment. The daughter of Tory-voting, small-business-owning parents, she was converted to environmental politics in adolescence and has devoted herself to the Green party for most of her adult life. And yet last month Lucas announced that she will not be standing for re-election this summer.

“Well, it’s not ‘And yet’,” she objects. Having dedicated her leadership energy to overdue structural reform, she insists she is standing aside in order to allow fresh talent to flourish. This will give her more time to “campaign around nature”, but she adds: “The overarching context right now is Brexit.”

Lucas is a passionate campaigner for what she calls a “people’s vote” – a referendum on the terms the government agrees with the EU for Brexit. Earlier this year, she put the odds of such a vote at 50/50 – and, to my surprise, she believes they have since shortened.

“I do. I think it’s very significant that Labour have refused to rule it out. They have been careful to leave the door open. I think they might well find it would be an elegant way for them to resolve the very uncomfortable position they’re in with so many of their constituencies, particularly in the north, being pro-leave while having a very strong remain support as well.” For the PM, too, “it’s one way of getting herself off a very awkward hook. And the number of people supporting a people’s poll is absolutely growing. It is.”

Her worry is that remain MPs are so focused on the parliamentary mechanics of securing such a vote that “they’re forgetting that, were we to get it, we’d still need to win it. Which is not a given.” Liberated from leadership, she plans to use her time to visit leave areas and “start listening to them, instead of telling them they’re wrong”.

The question this plan does not answer is why the electorate would decide a former leader of the Green party was right about anything. Ever since my childhood, the environmental movement has been celebrating alleged breakthrough victories, from the election of German Greens post-Chernobyl in the 80s, right up to Lucas’s electoral triumph in Brighton. As each has proved premature, is it time to conclude that the cause, no matter how right, is hopeless?

The public has been struggling just to get by. So, the environment feels like a luxury to be discussed on another day

She shakes her head. “It is a long slog. But not hopeless. If we could change the electoral system …” Perhaps, I suggest, the problem is not our electoral system, but human nature. Turkeys don’t want to vote for Christmas.

“No. It’s not human nature. There are Greens in many other countries, in government.” But the US elected Donald Trump! “They’ve got a crap electoral system, too. And Trump didn’t win by the popular vote. So I never think the game is up. But I do think it’s a bloody long slog. And I certainly didn’t think, when I joined the party back in 1986, that by 2018 we’d have one MP. I didn’t think that. But I still passionately believe there’s a massively important role for the Green party. Even within our hopeless system.”

Lucas thinks a Corbyn-led Labour government might introduce a proportional representation system that would translate their 1.1m votes in 2015 into 20 MPs. And yet, I say again, she has chosen not to be their leader.

“I’m not going to be very far away. I’m still going to be sounding off, I hope.”

Does she think she can defeat the Heathrow runway? “I think there’s a perfectly good chance we’ll defeat it.” As I am not sure if this is a prediction or ambition, I ask which way she would bet if she had to gamble £1,000 of her own money.

“Bet £1K on it?” Lucas laughs nervously, buying time, but in the end her old optimism wins.

“Because I’m a bit of a risk-taker, I’ll put my thousand pounds on it not happening.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

We’re underestimating the economic risk of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change

The models that inform climate policymaking are fatally flawed.

David RobertsJun 9, 2018, 7:24am EDT

With some stories, you just can’t avoid stock art.

Getty Images/EyeEm

One of the more vexing aspects of climate change politics and policy is the longstanding gap between the models that project the physical effects of global warming and those that project the economic impacts. In a nutshell, even as the former deliver worse and worse news, especially about a temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius or more, the latter remain placid.

The famous DICE model created by Yale’s William Nordhaus shows that a 6-degree rise in global average temperature — which the physical sciences characterize as an unlivable hellscape — would only dent global GDP by 10 percent.

Projections of modest economic impacts from even the most severe climate change affect climate politics in a number of ways. For one thing, they inform policy goals like those President Obama offered in Paris, restraining their ambition. For another, they fuel the arguments of “lukewarmers,” those who say that the climate is warming but it’s not that big a problem. (Lukewarmism is the public stance of most Trump Cabinet members.)

Climate hawks have long had the strong instinct that it’s the economic models, not the physical-science models, that are missing something — that the current expert consensus about climate economic damages is far too sanguine — but they often lack the vocabulary to do any more than insist.

As it happens, that vocabulary exists. At this point, there is a fairly rich literature on the shortcomings of the climate-economic models upon which so much political weight rests. (Here’s an old post of mine from 2015 bashing them.)

Two recent papers help simplify and summarize that literature. They are addressed to different audiences (one the US, one the international community), but both stress the importance of improving these lagging models before the next round of policymaking. I’ll touch on the US-focused one first, the international one second.

US climate policy is moribund; it’s a good time to update models

The first paper is “Time to refine key climate policy models,” a commentary in Nature Climate Change by Alexander Barron, a former Environmental Protection Agency and congressional staffer (on the Waxman-Markey bill) who is now at Smith College.

He notes that a relatively small set of models — “a handful of computational general equilibrium (CGE) models, sector-specific models, or hybrids like the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS)” — tends to set expectations and policymaking in the US. And there are reasons to believe those models are systematically underestimating climate change’s economic impacts and overstating the costs of mitigating it.

Barron summarizes the areas where current modeling falls short.

Technology costs: When it comes to clean energy technology, economics and policy are moving quickly, and because of the vicissitudes of academic review, the cost data used in official models is often years old and well out of date. Plus, models assume learning curves that renewables have exceeded again and again. “Work to incorporate empirically supported learning rates and induced innovation is challenging but possible,” Barron writes, “and research suggests that including innovation can significantly lower required carbon prices for a given target.”

Opportunities outside the electricity sector: As I’ve written recently, climate policy urgently needs to broaden its gaze from the power sector and start taking on other sectors. But models inhibit that. In models, the transportation sector and especially the industrial sector are resistant to carbon prices.

Research is needed to disaggregate those sectors into subsectors and find the places where policy can gain traction, and to explore the effects of electrification, widespread behavioral changes, cutting-edge technologies (like autonomous vehicles), and other things to which models remain largely blind.

Electrification is coming.

Shutterstock

Demand and energy efficiency: Though virtually all decarbonization scenarios involve massive amounts of energy efficiency, we remain unable to model it very well. It is often “forced” into models as an exogenous variable, but at a flat per-kWh cost that allows little differentiation between the different potentials of different subsectors. Data on efficiency is not sophisticated enough to allow models to intelligently allocate resources to it and within it.

“All models would benefit from sustained investment in improved efficiency cost estimates, more publicly available data, updated information on adoption behaviors, and careful examination of model responses,” Barron writes.

Social benefits: Models often omit or undercount social benefits like health improvements and reductions in premature mortality from lower air pollution, reductions in disaster management costs, and the, uh, “use value” of a clean environment (hiking and stuff). “In fact,” Barron writes, “none of the modeling platforms historically used to analyze US climate policy produce direct estimates of the economy-wide reductions in air pollutants, let alone their economic impacts.”

(In late 2017, EPA’s Science Advisory Board released detailed recommendations for how to improve cost-benefit analyses along these lines. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is currently working to neuter the board and make cost-benefit analysis even worse.)

Uncertainty: To “reduce fixation on a single scenario,” Barron says, policymakers should be presented with a range of projections emphasizing how outcomes vary with assumptions and sensitivities. Modelers should strain to ensure that journalists and policymakers understand that models are not predictions and that outcomes depend entirely on our choices.

These are fairly technical problems, but solutions are within the grasp of the research community. US climate policy is likely on hold for (at least) four years, as Trump madness is worked out, but this is an area where improvement is both possible and achievable.

“Shortcomings in existing policy models represent barriers to climate policy that could be reduced with modest resources and limited political capital,” Barron writes. It would be nice for better models to be available when the US returns to sane climate policymaking.

The IPCC is working on its next big report and still using models that underestimate economic damages

The second paper, in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, makes the same point — commonly used models are underestimating the economic impacts of climate change — in a slightly different way, to a different audience.

The audience in this case is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is preparing to pull together its Sixth Assessment Report, to be released over 2021 and 2022. IPCC assessment reports are hugely influential in global policymaking.

The models typically used to estimate effects are integrated assessment models (IAMs), using an “expected utility function” — that is, they add up effects based on their probability of occurring. Such models are “integrated” in that they include economic and climate models in interaction. The economy produces emissions, which feed into the climate models, which produce effects, which are applied as a “damage function” to the economic models.

The problems with IAMs are well-explored at this point (see this collection of papers from the National Academy of Sciences; or, see above), but the paper’s authors — Thomas Stoerk of the Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science — focus on one in particular.

The expected utility function does not allow modelers to indicate their subjective confidence in various sources of input data. And many difficult-to-quantify effects are omitted entirely; “physical impacts are often not translated into monetary terms and they have largely been ignored by climate economists,” the authors write.

In other words, IAMs have the effect of undercounting risks and masking uncertainty, which is unfortunate since risks and uncertainties are the signal features of climate policymaking.

The heart of the critique is that IAMs do not properly account for “tipping points,” levels of atmospheric change “beyond which impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible.” We do not have a great understanding of tipping points or exactly when they might occur. But we know that they become more likely as temperature climbs and become almost certain as temperatures rise more than 4, 5, or 6 degrees.

Such high temperatures are not the most likely outcome, but they are, shall we say, less unlikely than one might like. The distribution of climate outcomes has a “fat tail,” which means even on the far end of extreme possibilities, a 6-degree apocalypse, the chances are still between 5 and 10 percent.

Wagner & Weitzman

IAMs do not account well for fat-tail risks. Nor do they account for “ambiguity aversion,” the authors write, “a widely held preference to avoid uncertainty.” If they properly understood it, people probably wouldn’t like the idea of betting millions of lives and possibly the future of the species on avoiding an outcome with 5 to 10 percent probability.

The most straightforward way to better integrate tipping points into IAMs would be to increase the steepness of the damage function. In a 2012 paper, famed Harvard climate economist Martin Weitzman “proposes a steeper damage function that relies on input from an expert panel that explicitly considered physical tipping points,” the authors write. “This damage function leads to a loss of global output of around 50 percent for a temperature increase of 6°C.”

Subsequent research has supported the contention that proper consideration of tipping points raises both expected economic impacts and the optimal size of a carbon price.

The authors summarize their conclusions about the state of climate economics:

First, the expected utility framework fails to capture important dimensions of the climate decision problem. Second, when uncertainty is explicitly considered within the expected utility framework, estimates of the economic damages from climate change generally increase, often by as much as an order of magnitude. [my emphasis]

The authors urge the IPCC to look beyond the expected utility framework and explore other models of decision-making under uncertainty. “Instead of the technical expert calculus that is currently used,” the authors write, “decisions concerning optimal climate policy should ideally move to public debates about the ethical choices that underlie different decision frameworks.” (Amen to that.)

And they urge the IPCC to better account for tipping points, which will have the effect of raising economic impact estimates and reducing estimated policy costs.

Model talk is kind of boring, but models underlie everything

There’s a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo flying around in these conversations about models, so it’s important to step back and recall the point of all this.

Policymakers want to know how much climate change will hurt the economy. They want to know how much policies to fight climate change will cost. Models provide them with answers. Right now, models are (inaccurately) telling them that damage costs will be low and policy costs will be high.

Political mobilization on climate change is going to fight a headwind as long as policymakers are getting those answers from models.

We need models that negatively weigh uncertainty, properly account for tipping points, incorporate more robust and current technology cost data, better differentiate sectors outside electricity, rigorously price energy efficiency, and include the social and health benefits of decarbonization.

One, such models would be more accurate, better at their task of informing policymakers. And two, they would justify far more policy and investment to fight climate change than has been seen to date in the US or any other major economy. We shouldn’t let the blind spots and shortcomings of current models undermine political ambition.

Save the models, save the world.

Press link for more: Vox.com

It’s cheaper to reduce global warming than to adapt to it. #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Nature study shows it’s cheaper to reduce global warming than to adapt to it.

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class stalls in Maryland flash flood

One of the main objections that critics of global warming mitigation measures often cite is that they cost too much.

A new study in the journal Nature takes issue with that conclusion.

Several studies since 1991 have concluded that it is cheaper to develop new technologies to mitigate climate change than it will be to adapt to it. What those studies weren’t able to do was estimate the amount of the savings.

CHECK OUT: Most-accurate climate-change models suggest worst effects on global weather

Now a new study in the journal Nature, published last month, has put a price tag on it. The study concludes that it will cost about $20 trillion less to work toward mitigating global warming ahead of time—for example, by providing incentives to sell electric cars and solar installations—than it will to adapt to the effects of global warming later.

Like other studies that came before it, the Nature study uses gross domestic product to measure both the costs of mitigating global warming and the cost of adapting to it.

The study modeled the impact of historical temperature changes on GDP in 165 countries from 1960 to 2010, and extrapolated the results out to 2100, and found that the more temperature changes can be limited, the greater the economic benefits will be.

Global carbon dioxide emissions, 1850-2030 [CO2 Information Analysis Center, World Energy Outlook]

The $20 trillion figure is the difference in cost between limiting global temperatures increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of 2 degrees. The cost is a little more than one year of U.S. GDP, or a little more than a quarter of the world’s annual GDP.

The study estimates that 71 percent of countries—those which contain 90 percent of the world’s population—are likely to be better off economically by mitigating climate change than by having to adapt to it. Those countries generally are poorer than those that would have lower benefits.

At current projections of global warming, based on existing national commitments to mitigation efforts, the study’s authors find that GDP would fall 15 to 25 percent in real (2010) dollars by 2100, if global temperatures were allowed to rise 2 degrees Celsius.

DON’T MISS: Clean energy won’t happen, climate change will be bad: a contrarian perspective

“My gut feeling is that our numbers—as large as they are—could even be a lower bound on the overall damages,” said Marshall Burke, a climate scientist at Stanford, and the study’s main author.

GDP does not account for so-called “external” economic effects such as the health costs of air pollution from burning fossil fuels, so the savings from mitigating global warming could be even higher.

READ THIS: Is ‘Drawdown’ the climate-change action map the world needs?

Among the new assumptions in the study are that adverse weather effects from global warming, such as flooding, don’t just affect the economy in a given year. Their effects linger and push down GDP for years afterward. Storms such as Hurricanes Andrew, Irma, and Katrina exemplify how major weather events magnified by global warming can have long-lasting effects on the economy.

In a counterpoint to the article other researchers note that savings from increasing energy efficiency and expansion of renewables is also not baked into the GDP numbers. Whether those are attributable to mitigation or adaptation might be a question open to debate.

Press link for more: Green Car Report

Richard Branson: #ClimateChange is the greatest business opportunity #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Richard Branson

I remember December 2015 well. The UN Climate Conference in Paris (COP 21) marked one of those rare occasions when humanity rose above its divisions and found common ground knowing it is facing a challenge so momentous no country can tackle it on its own. I cannot think of many threats to our survival on this planet that require a greater degree of collaboration than climate change. But as a relentless optimist, I also cannot imagine a greater opportunity for growth and prosperity, if we get things right.

To be honest, our mission has only just begun, and meeting the Paris goal of stabilising global average temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius will take much courage and bold decision-making. But back then, during those long Paris evenings, I sensed a spirit of people coming together in ways that I had rarely seen before.

Of course, the climate treaty didn’t happen over night. Year after year, previous climate conferences had raised high expectations and hopes for a political breakthrough. I remember travelling to COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, thinking that this might be the moment when government leaders finally rise to the challenge, set aside their disagreements and chart a course forward. But Copenhagen didn’t live up to its ambitions; negotiators didn’t seal the deal; and subsequent UN Climate Conferences didn’t do any better. It was a toxic stew of misinformation, misaligned priorities, political posturing and outright denial that seemed to push a solution farther and farther out of reach.

So what made Paris so different and unique? For one, the outcome showed what humanity can achieve with the right mindset and the will to collaborate. I will never forget the sense of urgency that had gripped everyone I met in those hallways and conference rooms. From Presidents to diplomats, from ministers to activists and business leaders – everyone rolled up their sleeves, not resting until a solution had been found and agreed on. It felt as if the frustrations of previous years had triggered an untiring determination not to fail this time. Not again.

Reaching consensus on the proper course of action was not a trivial undertaking. The Paris Agreement was the culmination of decades of research, one of the most comprehensive scientific projects the international community had ever undertaken. The Inter-governmental Panel of Climate Change, also known as the IPCC, had produced study after study, assessment after assessment underscoring the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans were at the centre of greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet. Science had given us clear and irrefutable evidence. We all knew what was at stake. We also had a pretty clear idea of what needed to be done – by governments, by businesses, by people across the world.

The political challenge was a complex one. How do you balance the interests of developed and industrialised economies with those who are growing at rapid pace, hoping to lift their populations out of poverty and into prosperity? How do you mediate between top carbon emitters and those countries where the impacts of our emissions are felt the most? I had to think of the Maldives and other island nations that face an existential threat from rising sea levels. I was reminded of the beautiful African nations suffering from soil erosion, water scarcity or rapidly progressing desertification. Millions of people live on the frontlines of climate impacts threatening their livelihoods and their lives. And yet most of them contribute only marginally to global emissions. Would their interests be protected? Could their communities be saved?

As I see it, the Paris Agreement is a masterpiece in international diplomacy, and much credit is due to the brilliant Christiana Figueres, who led UNFCCC and many of these complex negotiations with such instinct, acuity and a good dose of humour, too. I don’t think we would have seen quite the same outcome, if it hadn’t been for Christiana’s quiet diplomacy and her not-so-quiet advocacy. She truly was the North Star guiding the process. She was also a master at collaboration. She had worked closely with the B Team leaders every step of the way to ensure that it was not just political voices at the table, but also business leaders who could help encourage and give ground cover to courageous country leaders. It will be years before we come to fully appreciate the key role she has played in this, setting a shining example for generations to come about the importance of collaboration in our increasingly interconnected and complex world.

Could the outcome have been bolder, more ambitious? Of course. Some have pointed out that climate change is progressing far more rapidly than we thought just two years ago. But the political and economic race against climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. Change is incremental. Paris accomplished what seemed impossible just a decade ago. It’s a giant leap from the Kyoto Protocol. Who is to say we cannot make another leap soon?

But there’s another outcome of Paris that gives me hope. If the global community can reach a consensus on an issue as complex as climate, however fragile that consensus may be, it surely says a lot about our capacity to tackle other issues. In this sense, the Paris Agreement was a wonderful source of inspiration and uplift. I spend a good amount of my time these days lobbying and advocating for positive change on issues I feel deeply about. One of those issues is drug policy reform, where progress has been sluggish, as governments around the world drag their feet while continuing to support the so-called war on drugs – an epic, multi-decade failure that has killed millions and wasted billions in taxpayer funds. While the issue is not quite the same as climate change, the dynamics of the international debate feel similar: biases, short-term obsessions, populism and confrontation on one side; evidence, long-term thinking, rational debate and cooperation on the other. That’s perhaps the greatest lesson I take away from Paris: where the latter prevails, everything is possible.

One final thought: The US withdrawal from the Paris agreement doesn’t worry me even half as much as it might worry others. As an investor and entrepreneur, I know that climate action in its multiple forms represents one of the greatest business opportunities the world has ever seen. In other words, the clean energy revolution is well underway, and President Trump’s announcement won’t stop this train.

May 2018

Press link for more: Profiles of Paris

Solar shines in global shift to renewables. #StopAdani #auspol #Qldpol

Solar shines in global shift to renewables

By Tim Buckley on 22 May 2018

A 70 MW floating PV plant in construction in Anhui province, China

Solar energy is taking an increasingly prominent role in driving the ongoing transformation of global electricity generation markets alongside gains in storage, wind, hydroelectricity and energy efficiency.

IEEFA has today released a new report examining the global solar market and the ever-increasing scale of investment, the speed of implementation and the rapidly broadening range of applications that are becoming commercially viable e.g. concentrated solar power, floating solar, solar fish farms, commercial behind the meter applications, hybrid wind-solar-battery projects and in India, even solar-coal hybrid structures.

As readers of Renew Economy hear repeatedly, corporates, policy makers and regulators are all finding the speed of transformation hard to grasp, particularly in the crucial China and India markets, but the results of the past year are a good indicator of the trend.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports that 98 gigawatts (GW) of solar was installed globally in 2017, a 31% increase from the prior year.

Meanwhile – and just as important – BNEF estimates the levelized cost of solar dropped 15% year-on-year to US$86/MWh for capacity installed in 2017.

Leading the charge, China accounted for more than half the newly installed solar capacity, or some 53 GW, a figure that as recently as 2014 would have eclipsed the global total of solar installations.

While India’s current installation numbers aren’t as dramatic as China’s, the country is clearly embarking on a massive transformation of its electricity sector as well.

The country’s National Electricity Plan, released in March 2018, affirms national intentions to increase renewable energy capacity to 275 GW by 2027, with solar representing two-thirds of this total.

As renewables rise in India, thermal power capacity is forecast to decline to just 43% of the nation’s total in 2027, down from 66% today.

Major solar energy tenders are occurring every week in India (for May 2018 so far 1,000MW,500MW,750MW,200MWand 50MW) at prices now consistently 10-20% below the cost of existing domestic thermal power generation (and 50% below new imported coal fired power).

There is a remarkable buy-in across the country from the government through to the largest corporate incumbents like NTPC, Adani and Tata, each of whom are now amongst the largest and most aggressively ambitious investors in Indian renewables.

Only last week Tata Power committed to invest US$5bn to reach 12GW of renewables by 2028, such that more than half their capacity will be zero emissions sourced (up from zero in 2014 and 30% today).

Our report tracks the largest solar projects operational in the world, and the lead keeps changing. Adani commissioned the then world’s largest solar project at 648MW in Tamil Nadu in mid-2017, but it has slipped to the sixth position in less than a year – refer table.

By 2019 Rajasthan’s 2,225MW Bhadla industrial park is due for full commissioning; three times the size.

And Gujarat is now exploring a 5GW solar park ;double again.

Fourteen of the World’s Largest Operating Solar Projects

Source: Company & Press reports, IEEFA estimates

China and India are hardly alone on this front, as scores of other countries embrace solar.

Saudi Arabia, for one, announced in March 2018 a plan to build 200 GW of solar capacity by 2030, yet another marker in the transition under way across global energy markets. The uptake of solar is gathering momentum too in Europe and the Americas.

As highlighted in The Climate Council’s new report “Renewables & Business: Cutting Prices & Pollution”, the rise of Australian commercial and industrial solar (particularly rooftop) is really starting to boom.

With record high electricity prices crippling businesses, this is expected to keep accelerating, such that even the deliberately flawed NEG is unlikely to to slow this trend.

Not-withstanding this lack of a central policy to sensibly transition our electricity system, Australia remains a world leader in the uptake of solar.

This month cumulative solar installs passed through 7GW. Every week we are reading about new solar investments each of A$100-200m or more for regional Australia, with the speed of construction and uptake clearly evident.

Last week saw the partial commissioning of Australia’s largest to-date solar plant under construction, that being Enel of Italy’s 220MW Bungala solar farm in Port Augusta.

The same week we saw Lighthouse Solar’s 100MW Clare solar farm grid connected – the biggest to date in Queensland.

But the list of projects underway is changing so fast it is impossible to keep up with the latest largest so far solar development. The Queensland government is trying, with a useful reference map.

Solar Reserve’sAurora150MW CSP with 1,100MWh storage is a leading example of Australia’s global leadership in deploying new solar technologies, with this development’s price for peaking electricity setting a new global benchmark low.

And following the brilliant success of Tesla’s South Australian lithium ion battery development, Victoria is now replicating this with two more distributed utility scale battery projects by Tesla and Fluence, one linked to a solar project.

Having shown the way in Australia, Tesla has now commissioned a 18MW Belgium storage system for grid stabilisation, with a 30-40MW virtual peaking solar power plant to come.

And having installed the U.K.’s largest to-date unsubsidised solar with storage power plant(10MW solar, 6MW of storage), Anesco is looking to install 380MW of UK solar and storage by 2020.

Floating solar – another innovation with multiple advantages – is rapidly scaling up.

While Australia is still just trialing this, having commissioned a 100kWsystem in January 2018 at Lismore’s sewage treatment plant, China commissioned a 40MW project in 2017 and has two 150MW projects nearing completion in 2018.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra has announced requests for proposals for 1,000MW of floating solar, with India’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) having issued an expression of interest in support of a national target of 10GWof floating solar being released back in December 2017.

Looking at the combination of our coking and thermal coal plus liquid natural gas (LNG) positions, Australia is one of the three largest exporters of fossil fuels globally.

We have major industries at clear stranded asset risk and potentially terminal decline over the very long term. Even our 64% global share of seaborne coking coal is threatened longer term by the combination of technology innovation and carbon emissions policies.

But there-in lies the need to pursue opportunities in industries of the future. Renew Economy provided a glimpse of what could be possible in terms of Australia with CWP’s $20bn 6GW of wind and 3GW of solar Pilbara mega-project for renewable energy exports at world scale.

A vision that might take a couple of decades to come to full fruition, but in doing so it could transform world energy markets entirely.

More immediately, the West Australian budget is a beneficiary of our growing position as a world leader in lithium ion processing.

Technology innovation, deflation, ever-larger scale and the constant breaking of records are the clear lessons of solar led energy transformation now underway.

Australia should be pursing the opportunities for investment, jobs and export industries of the future as a top national priority.

Authors: Tim Buckley / Kashish Shah – IEEFA

Tim Buckley is IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australasia.

Press link for more: Renew Economy

Why you don’t need to worry about robots stealing your future job #auspol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Innovation expert reveals the biggest challenges that will soon hit cities around the globe

BIG changes are coming to the world’s cities in the not-too-distant future — and not all of them will be pleasant, an expert predicts.

Alexis Carey

WITHIN a few short years, the world’s cities will be plagued by common problems including climate change, exploding populations and housing affordability crises.

That’s the view of Toronto-based innovation leader Ramtin Attar, who is in Brisbane ahead of his appearance at the city’s Myriad Festival, which brings together the globe’s most influential thinkers, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Mr Attar, the head of design and social impact at software corporation Autodesk, told news.com.au leaders needed to start planning for the future now.

He said while it was “hard to predict” exactly what the cities of the future will look like, most will grapple with rapid urbanisation, mass migration as a result of climate change, citizen engagement issues and housing affordability and availability for a booming population.

“It is hard to predict what the future of cities is going to look like in today’s world, because there is so much volatility and the unique challenges we face will shape cities,” he said.

“But there is a huge trend towards urbanisation … more than 50 per cent of us are city dwellers, and that trend will continue into the future with more and more people living in cities that are more and more urbanised.”

Mr Attar said 5000 new buildings would need to be built per day across the globe to meet the needs of this influx of people.

On top of that, Mr Attar said existing buildings and infrastructure will need to be maintained and updated — and the challenge will only be exacerbated as the number of people joining the ranks of the middle class continues to expand.

But he said technology would be essential to help cities cope with all these new demands.

“There will be a lot more densification and greater urbanisation and so cities will be a lot more vertical,” Mr Attar said.

“As they become more and more vertical we will have to think about how we innovate and make them energy efficient and more comfortable in the long-term.”

Mr Attar said road networks would soon need a rethink once autonomous vehicles took off, and that the sharing economy would continue to change the way we live.

“With ridesharing apps and public transport, not everyone will need to have a car so we will have to rethink the road system,” he said.

“Whether the changes happen in the next 10 or 20 years, what we have today is not sustainable.”

He said another challenge would be to make sure cities of the future had enough public green spaces and to ensure “we don’t lose sight of biodiversity” as we urbanise.

The rise of automation will also drive older, more repetitive roles into extinction — and the explosion of technology will mean some members of the community might be left behind.

“We create jobs in the centre of the city which gentrifies and we then gradually push people out,” Mr Attar said.

“We have to make bold decisions and take steps to prepare for the future and prepare for disruption.”

Mr Attar said climate change would have a big impact on cities in future, especially those located on the coast, which will struggle to cope with rising water levels.

He said the future would see mass ecological migration, with populations affected by climate change forced to move elsewhere.

“More than ever, as citizens, no matter what we do, we all have something at stake,” he said.

“People are starting to make a connection … between what they do on a daily basis and how that contributes to the greater good — or the greater bad.”

But Mr Attar said technology also meant we will have the best tools at hand to meet these unique challenges, with traditional city planners set to be replaced by AI which can offer almost unlimited options for how to better build and design cities.

The 2018 Myriad Festival kicks off today at Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds, and runs until May 18.

This year’s event features seven themes that will explore the future of food, health, culture, play, work, cities and money.

Press link for more: News.com.au

Worst-case climate change scenario is even worse than we thought #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

These lignite-fired power plants are among the largest in Europe

Thomas Corzelius / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Michael Le Page

The phrase “worse than we thought” is a cliché when it comes to climate change. There are lots of studies suggesting we’re in for more warming and worse consequences than thought, and few saying it won’t be as bad. But guess what: it’s worse than we thought.

A study of the future global economy has concluded that the standard worst-case scenario used by climate scientists is actually not the worst case.

How much the climate will change depends on how much greenhouse gas we emit, which in turn depends on the choices we make as a society – including how the global economy behaves.

To handle this, climatologists use four scenarios called RCPs, each of which describes a different possible future.

The RCP8.5 scenario is the worst for the climate.

It assumes rapid, unfettered economic growth and rampant burning of fossil fuels.

It now seems RCP8.5 may have underestimated the emissions that would result if we follow the economic path it describes.

More money, more emissions

“Our estimates indicate that, due to higher than assumed economic growth rates, there is a greater than 35 per cent probability that year 2100 emissions concentrations will exceed those given by RCP8.5,” says Peter Christensen of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

In one sense, it is not quite that bad. RCP8.5 assumes no action is taken to limit warming, which is unlikely. “We’ve already locked in a certain amount of climate policy,” says Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate Research in Norway.

But the worrying implication is that emissions could be much higher than expected even if climate action continues and is ramped up. “The results will also affect estimates of emissions pathways under a variety of policy scenarios,” says Christensen.

While some claim the link between economic growth and greenhouse emissions has been broken – or “decoupled” – it’s only been weakened. Carbon emissions have risen in the European Union over the past four years as economic growth has picked up, Peters points out. In 2017, EU emissions rose 1.8 per cent.

Press link for more: New Scientist

Renewables Account For Most New U.S. Power Capacity #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Renewable Sources Account For Most New U.S. Power Capacity

Robert Rapier

Electricity-generating wind turbines are seen on a wind farm in the San Gorgonio Pass area on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, near Palm Springs, California. Photo credit DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images.

The history of power production through the early part of the 21st century was very much a tale of nonrenewable energy resources. Power was produced primarily by coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy at large power plants at central locations and distributed to customers via the electrical grid.

But a revolution is underway in the world’s power markets.

The Rise of Renewables

The world’s energy mix has evolved substantially over the past 20 years. Since 1997, global cumulative installed solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power have climbed from less than 8 GW to nearly 800 GW, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewables were responsible for almost 165 GW of new global power capacity in 2016—nearly two-thirds of the global total.

The U.S. has been a leader in this transition. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) “Energy Infrastructure Update” (EIU), renewable power sources accounted for half (49.9%) of the 24.6 gigawatts (GW) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service in 2017. Nearly all of the rest, 48.7%, was new natural gas capacity.

At the end of 2017, all renewables (including hydropower) accounted for more 20% of the nation’s installed generating capacity — up from 15.4% in 2021. Renewables accounted for 17.6% of total electrical generation in 2017, compared to 15.3% in 2016. The discrepancy between the 20% installed capacity and 17.6% of generation is attributable to the intermittency of renewable sources.

The Revolution Accelerates

But the first quarter of this year resulted in almost exclusively new renewable capacity. FERC’s most recent EIU showed that in the first three months of this year, renewables comprised nearly 95% of new power-generating capacity.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Does your city have a plan to tackle #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We examined 885 European cities’ plans to tackle climate change – here’s what we found

Oliver Heidrich

Around the world, cities endeavour to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while adapting to the threats – and opportunities – presented by climate change. It’s no easy task, but the first step is to make a plan outlining how to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, and help limit the world’s mean temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

About 74% of Europe’s population lives in cities, and urban settlements account for 60-80% of carbon emissions – so it makes sense to plan at an urban level. Working to meet carbon reduction targets can also reduce local pollution and increase energy efficiency – which benefits both businesses and residents.

But it’s just as important for cities to adapt to climate change – even if the human race were to cut emissions entirely, we would still be facing the extreme effects of climate change for decades to come, because of the increased carbon input that has already taken place since the industrial revolution.

In the most comprehensive survey to date, we collaborated with 30 researchers across Europe to investigate the availability and content of local climate plans for 885 European cities, across all 28 EU member states. The inventory provides a big-picture overview of where EU cities stand, in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change

Map of cities with local climate plans (LPCs). The countries in dark orange make it compulsory to have local climate plans. Oliver Heidrich/University of Newcastle., Author provided

The leaderboard

The good news is that 66% of EU cities have a mitigation or adaptation plan in place. The top countries were Poland – where 97% of cities have mitigation plans – Germany (81%), Ireland (80%), Finland (78%) and Sweden (77%). In Finland, 78% of cities also had a plan for adapting to climate change.

But only a minority of EU countries – including Denmark, France, Slovakia and the UK – have made it compulsory for cities to develop local climate plans. In these countries, cities are nearly twice as likely to have a mitigation plan and five times as likely to have an adaptation plan. Throughout the rest of the EU, it is mainly large cities that have local climate plans.

There were some shortcomings worth noting: 33% of EU cities (that’s 288 cities) have no standalone climate plans whatsoever – including Athens (Greece), Salzburg (Austria), and Palma de Mallorca (Spain). And not one city in Bulgaria or Hungary has a standalone climate plan. Only 16% of cities – that’s a total of 144 – have joined-up mitigation and adaptation plans, and most of these were in France and the UK – though cities such as Brussels (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland) and Bonn (Germany) had joined-up plans as well.

Where’s the plan, Palma de Mallorca? Shutterstock

Some cities have made climate initiatives a common feature in planning activities, often aiming for broader environmental goals, such as resilience and sustainability. Some of these forward-looking cities – Rotterdam and Gouda in the Netherlands, for example – may not have standalone climate change mitigation or adaptation plans, per se. Instead, climate issues are integrated into broader development strategies, as also seen in Norwich, Swansea, Plymouth and Doncaster in the UK.

Mitigation, adaptation – or both?

Plans for mitigating the effects of climate change are generally straightforward: they look at ways to increase efficiency, transition to clean energy and improve heating, insulation and transport. In doing so, they are likely to result in financial savings or health benefits for the municipality, and the public. For example, more low-emission vehicles on the road doesn’t just mean less carbon emissions – it also means better air quality for the city’s residents.

Adapting to climate change is not always so simple. Each area will need to adapt in different ways. Some adaptations – such as flood defences – can require huge investment to build, and only rarely prove their effectiveness. Yet there are plans and measures that cities can take, to both mitigate the threats from climate change and adapt to the changes that are already coming.

One way for cities to become more resilient to climate change is to integrate infrastructures for energy, transport, water and food, and allow them to combine their resources. A sensors become more commonplace across European cities, it’s easier to monitor the impacts of local plans to reduce emissions and stay on top of extreme weather. The University of Newcastle in the UK is home to the Urban Observatory, which provides one of the largest open-source digital urban sensing networks in the world.

Spot the sensor. University of Newcastle., Author provided

Across the board, cities need to improve the way they manage water at the surface and below ground. Installing more green features in city centres or strategic locations can help urban areas adapt to heatwaves, extreme rainfall and droughts all at once. To find out what works and what doesn’t, it’s essential for cities to network and share knowledge, to create and improve on their local climate plans.

There is simply too much at stake for the world’s cities to go their separate ways when it comes to climate change.

We have found that international climate networks make a big difference to countries and cities, as they develop and implement their climate plans.

For instance, 333 EU cities of our sample are signatories of the Covenant of Mayors and through that are given support and encouragement as they engage in climate change planning and action.

Our study shows that cities are taking climate change threats seriously, but there is clearly more work to be done.

It is a near certainty that if cities do not plan and act now to address climate change, they could find themselves in a far more precarious position in the future.

While there is plenty that cities can do, national governments must still take the lead – providing legal and regulatory frameworks and guidance. Our study has demonstrated that this is one of the most effective ways to make sure that cities – and their citizens – are well prepared for the threats and opportunities that climate change will bring.

Press link for more: The Conversation