Are we headed for near-term human extinction? #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Time2Choose

Are we headed for near-term human extinction?

Recent studies suggest it is irresponsible to rule out the possibility after last week’s “warning to humanity” from more than 15,000 climate change scientists

Zach RuiterNovember 22, 2017 3:34 PM

MartinMachnowski Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shifts in climate can be exponential, abrupt and massive due to “feedbacks,” which can amplify and diminish the effects of global warming.

“warning to humanity” raising the spectre “of potentially catastrophic climate change… from burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural production – particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption,” was published in the journal BioScience last week.

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries endorsed the caution, which comes on the 25th anniversary of a letter released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992, advising that “a great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”

A quarter century on, what gets lost in the dichotomy between climate change believers and deniers is that inaction and avoidance in our daily lives are forms of denial, too.

And what most of us are collectively denying is the mounting evidence that points to a worst-case scenario unfolding of near-term human extinction.

Exponential climate change

In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to limit the rise in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius to avoid dangerous climate change. But none of the major industrialized countries that signed the agreement are currently on track to meet the non-binding targets. The Trump administration has indicated the United States will withdraw from the agreement entirely.

In July, a study in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, claimed “biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction” is underway. And that “all signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life,” the study states.

According to scientists, the majority of previous mass extinctions in the geologic record were characterized by abrupt warming between 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. As recently as 2009, British government scientists warned of a possible catastrophic 4 degrees Celsius global temperature increase by 2060.

As Howard Lee wrote in the Guardian in August, “Geologically fast build-up of greenhouse gas linked to warming, rising sea-levels, widespread oxygen-starved ocean dead zones and ocean acidification are fairly consistent across the mass extinction events, and those same symptoms are happening today as a result of human-driven climate change.”

Runaway climate change is non-linear. Shifts can be exponential, abrupt and massive due to climate change “feedbacks,” which can amplify and diminish the effects of climate change.

Here are five you need to know about:

1. Climate lag

Temperature increases lag by about a decade, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. “Just as a speeding car can take some time to stop after the driver hits the brakes, the earth’s climate systems may take a while to reflect the change in its energy balance.”

According to a NASA-led study released in July 2016, “Almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how temperatures were recorded.”

Adding the climate lag to the current level of global temperature increase would take us past the 2 degree Paris Agreement climate target within a decade.

2. Ice-free Arctic

Dr. Peter Wadhams of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University told The Independent more than a year ago that the central part of the Arctic and the North Pole could be ice-free within one to two years.

Not only will melting Arctic sea ice raise global sea levels, it will also allow the earth to absorb more heat from the sun because ice reflects the sun’s rays while blue open water absorbs it.

One study in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America estimates the extra heat absorbed by the dark waters of the Arctic in summer would add the equivalent of another 25 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions.

3. The 50 gigaton methane “burp”

Dr. Natalia Shakhova, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center has warned that a 50-gigaton burp, or “pulse,” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is “highly possible at any time.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. A 50 gigaton burp would be the equivalent of roughly two-thirds of the total carbon dioxide released since the beginning of the industrial era.

4. Accelerated ocean acidification

The world’s oceans are carbon sinks that sequester a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide emitted in addition to that which is produced naturally has changed the chemistry of seawater. The carbon in the oceans converts into carbonic acid, which lowers pH levels and makes the water acidic.

As of 2010, the global population of phytoplankton, the microscopic organisms that form the basis of the ocean’s food web, has fallen by about 40 per cent since 1950. Phytoplankton also absorb carbon dioxide and produce half of the world’s oxygen output.

The accelerating loss of ocean biodiversity and continued overfishing may result in a collapse of all species of wild seafood by 2048, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Science.

5. From global warming to global dimming

The Canadian government recently announced plans to phase out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030. But at the same time as warming the planet, pollution from coal power plants, airplanes and other sources of industrial soot, aerosols and sulfates are artificially cooling the planet by filling the atmosphere with reflective particles, a process known as global dimming.

Airplanes, for example, release condensation trails (or contrails) that form cloud cover that reflects the sun. The effects of global dimming are best evidenced by a 2 degree Celsius temperature increase in North America after all commercial flights were grounded for three days following the attacks of 9/11.

The take-away

Out of control climate change means feedback mechanisms may accelerate beyond any capacity of human control. The occurrences  discussed in this article are five of some 60 known weather-related phenomenon, which can lead to what climate scientist James Hansen has termed the “Venus Syndrome,” where oceans would boil and the surface temperature of earth could reach 462 degrees Celsius. Along the way humans could expect to die in resource wars, starvation due to food systems collapse or lethal heat exposure.

Given all that remains unknown and what is at stake with climate change, is it irresponsible to rule out the possibility of human extinction in the coming decades or sooner? | @nowtoronto

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Top economists call for an end to fossil fuel investment! #StopAdani #Auspol #BeatPollution

Declaration on Climate Finance

In advance of French President Macron’s climate and finance summit, we call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.


We the undersigned, call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.

We are issuing this call to action in the lead up to the climate summit hosted by President Macron in Paris this December. President Macron and other world leaders, have already spoken out about the need for an increase in finance for climate solutions, but they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production and infrastructure.

Ongoing global climate change and environmental destructions are happening at an unprecedented scale, and it will take unprecedented actions to limit the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas.

Equally as critical as drastically curbing the carbon intensity of our economic systems is the need for immediate and ambitious actions to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits. Thus, not only are new exploration and new production incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC (and as close to 1.5ºC as possible), but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline. Simply put: there is no more room for new fossil fuel infrastructure and therefore no case for ongoing investment.

It is time for the community of global economic actors to fully embrace, safe, and renewable energies and phase out fossil fuels. This letter affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of public and private investors and development institutions to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development.

A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway and we recognize that a full transition away from fossil fuels is an opportunity for a new economic paradigm of prosperity and equity. Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable countries and communities.

Energy access and demand can and must now be met fully through the renewable energies of the 21st century. Assertions that new fossil fuels, such the current push for gas, are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of renewable energy.

The global investment community has the power to create the conditions under which this shift is possible. Current and future investments in fossil fuel production are at odds with a safe and equitable transition away from ever stronger climate disasters.

Global investor and international development actors and institutions must recognize that continued investments in fossil fuel production supply-side is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action. Instead, let us all prioritize the tremendous investment opportunities for a 100% renewable future that support healthy economies while protecting workers, communities, and the ecological limits of a finite planet.

Signers of the Declaration on Climate Finance:

• Alain Grandjean

• Economist, Scientific advisor to the Foundation for Nature and Mankind

• Alain Karsenty

• Research Director at CIRAD, Montpellier

• Ann Pettifor

• Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, Prime

• Anu Muhammad

• Professor of Economics, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

• Aurore Lalucq

• Economist and Director of the Veblen Institute

Camilla Toulmin
Professor, Dr

• Carolina Burle Schmidt Dubeux

• Environemental Economist, PhD and teacher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro · COPPE/Centro Clima

• Cédric Durand

• Maître de conférences en Économie, université Paris 13

• Claudia Kemfert

• Head of the department of energy, transportation and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin

• Co-Pierre Georg

• Associate Professor, University of Cape Town. Research Economist – Deutsche Bundesbank , Policy Associate – Economic Research Southern Africa

Denis Dupré
Professor of finance and ethics

• Dominique Plihon

• Professor Emeritus of Economics, Paris-Nord University Director, Center of Economics of the University of Paris Nord

• Dr Ben Groom

• Associate Professor of Environment & Development Economics, LSE

• Dr Michael Mason

• Associate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, LSE

Dr. Alaa Al Khourdajie
Teaching Fellow in Environmental Economics, School of Economics, University of Edinburgh

• Dr. Ashok Khosla

• Chairman, Development Alternatives

• Dr. Charles Palmer

• Associate Professor of Environment and Development, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE),

• Dr. Ron Milcarek

• UMASS Economics Department

• Dr. Simplice Asongu

• Lead Research Economist, African Governance and Development Institute

• Emilio Padilla Rosa

• Associate Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Autonomous University of Barcelona

• Frank Ackerman

• Principal Economist, Synapse Energy Economics

• Gail Whiteman

• Professor

• Gautam Sethi

• Associate Professor of Economics and Econometrics, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

• Helene Ollivier

• Research fellow of the CNRS and Associate Professor at Paris School of Economics

• Herman Daly

• Emeritus Professor, University of Maryland

• Ian Kinniburgh

• Former Director of Department of Policy and Analysis Division, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

• Ilan Noy

• Chair in the Economics of Disasters, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

• Ivar Ekeland

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Former President, the University of Paris-Dauphine

• Jaime De Melo

• Scientific Director at Ferdi (Emeritus Professor, University of Geneva)

• James Kenneth Galbraith

• Economist

• Jean Gadrey

• Jean Gadrey, former Professor of economics, University of Lille

• Jean-Pierre Ponssard,

• Senior Research Fellow CNRS France

• Jeffrey Sachs

• Economist, Senior UN Advisor

• John C. Quiggin

• Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and professor at the School of Economics, University of Queensland

• John Hewson

• Former Leader of the Federal Opposition, Australia

Jon D. Erickson
David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy

• José Almeida de Souza Jr.

• Economist

• Jusen Asuka

• Professor Tohoku University

• Kate Pickett

• Professor, University of York Research Champion for Justice & Equality

• Kate Raworth

• Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University

• Katheline Schubert

• Associate Professor at the Paris School of Economics and researcher at the Sorbonne Center for Economics.

• Katrin Millock

• Associate Professor, Paris School of Economics & Research Fellow at CNRS

• Lionel Fontagné

• Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics – University Paris 1

• Maria rosa ravelli abreu

• Prof. Universidade Brasilia

• Mariana Mazzucato

• Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, Director, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

• Mark Campanale

• Founder & Executive Director, Carbon Tracker Initiative

• Marzio Galeotti, Ph.D.

• Professor of Environmental and Energy Economics, University of Milan – Milan, Italy

• Maxime Combes

• Maxime Combes, economist for ATTAC

• Michael Jacobs

• Visiting Professor, School of Public Policy, University College London

• Michael Pirson

• Professor, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

• Mohammad A Jabbar

• Agricultural Economist, International Livestock Research Institute

• Mouez FODHA

• Professor of Economics, Paris School of Economics & University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne.

• Mutsuyoshi Nishimura

• Former Ambassador of Japan to the UNFCCC negotiations Research Fellow, The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIAA)

• Neva Rockefeller Goodwin

• Co-Director, Global Development And Environment Institute, Tufts University

• Nicolas Bouleau

• Mathematician, Economist

• Oliver Sartor, PhD

• Senior Research Fellow Climate and Energy, IDDRI

• Patrick Criqui

• Research Director, CNRS

• Peter A. Victor Ph.D.,FRSC

• Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

• Pierre-Richard Agenor

• Professor of International Macroeconomics and Development Economics, University of Manchester

pirax didier

• Prof Ross Garnaut

• Professorial Research Fellow in Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne

• Prof. James Renwick (Victoria University of Wellington

• Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

• Prof. Michael Finus

• Chair in Environmental Economics

• Prof. Phoebe Koundouri

• Athens University of Economics and Business, Director of International Center for Research on the Environment and the Economy, Chair Sustainable Development SOlutions Network Greece

• Prof. Simone Borghesi

• President Elect IAERE – Italian Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

• Ramon E. Lopez

• Professor at the University of Chile , Santiago · Departamento de Economía

• Ramón López

• Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile


• Professor, Centre Sèvres-Jesuit University of Paris and researcher, ESSEC Business School

• Reyer Gerlagh

• Professor of Economics, Tilburg University, Netherlands

• Richard Denniss

• Chief Economist, The Australia Institute

• Richard Wilkinson

• Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology University of Nottingham.

• Rick Van der Ploeg

• Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies at Oxford University, former Chief Financial Spokesperson in the Dutch Parliament

• Robert Costanza

• VC’s Chair in Public Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

• Robert M. Freund

• Theresa Seley Professor in Management Science, Sloan School of Management, MIT

• Serge Reliant

• Economiste

• Seyhun Orcan Sakalli

• Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Lausanne

• Shahriar Shahida

• Co-Chief Investment Officer Constellation Capital Management LLC

• Shuzo Nishioka

• Counsellor, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

• Slim Ben Youssef

• Professor, ESC de Tunis

• Suzi Kerr

• Senior Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

• Takeshi Mizuguchi

• Professor Takasaki City University Of Economics

• Terra Lawson-Remer

• Fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences

• Thomas Porcher

• Associate Professor, Paris School of Business, member of “Les économistes attérrés

• Thomas Sterner

• Chair LOC World Conference of Environmental Economics

• Tim Jackson

• Professor, University of Surrey, UK

• Tom Sanzillo

• Director of Finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

• Tom Steyer

• Founder and former co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of OneCalifornia Bank

• Valentina Bosetti

• Associate professor at the Department of Economics, Bocconi University, President of the Italian Association of Environmental Economists

• Véronique Seltz

• PhD in Economics

• Yanis Varoufakis

• Greek Economist, Academic and Politician

• Yifat Reuveni

• Head of social-finance innovation JDC College of Management business school, Faculty of Management – Tel Aviv University

Press link for more: Not a penny more

Women, Gender Equality & #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol

Women, gender equality and climate change: driving forward!

Fanny-Benedetti & Celine Mas

French President Emmanuel Macron again sounded the alarm at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the summit, which took place from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn, he warned that the planet is under threat and that if we continue on our current trajectory, we risk “tacitly, collectively accepting the disappearance of a significant number of populations by 2100.”

Furthermore, a group of over 15,000 scientists from more than 184 countries have issued a notice highlighting our moral imperative to current and future generations to take action to reverse the vicious cycles that have been created by the overexploitation of the planet’s natural resources and through our unsustainable modes of production and consumption, which represent a risk for the future of all of humanity.

As the primary users of new agricultural techniques, as green energy entrepreneurs, or simply as those who decide on modes of consumption and behaviour within the family, women are key actors in bringing about change and developing solutions that secure our transition to a sustainable future.

While climate negotiations are failing to give us news that’s sufficiently heartening, the increasing attention given to the specific role of women in the fight against climate disruption and the ecological transition is a reason to feel encouraged.

Again this year, at the COP23 in Bonn, the role of women took the spotlight thanks to the activism of the feminist associations present, such as Care France, Adéquations and Women in Europe for a Common Future, which alongside UN Women have tirelessly brought the subject to attention, at every stage in the negotiation process.

These advocacy efforts are starting to pay off, as the states have just adopted a gender-focused action plan, a first within the framework of these negotiations. The plan obliges states to make commitments that go beyond making observations on the differentiated impact that climate change has on men and women, by ensuring that all of their climate mitigation efforts are designed to decrease this gender gap, whereby women are disproportionately affected.

In fact, each change to the climate affects women in a specific way, especially in the Global South, because female populations in these countries provide an essential contribution to food security, agriculture, health and energy sectors. Every consequence of climate change which impacts on natural resources — such as drought, flooding and other extreme meteorological events—will exacerbate the poverty of these women who generally carry out household tasks unaided.

The risk of death as a result of natural disasters linked to climate change is 14 times higher for women and children, essentially because they are not the primary beneficiaries of catastrophe alert and prevention programmes.

If women have often been considered as secondary actors, it’s time for a thorough review, appreciation and endorsement of their vital role. This inevitably means reassessing the way that financing is attributed.

Studies show that taking gender into account in policies focused on development, transport, sustainable forest management, water management and renewable energy strengthens their impact and increases their socio-economic return on investment. Taking action in favour of women and for equality therefore means contributing to the fight against climate change.

UN Women notably supports women’s action on climate change through its International Day of Rural Women on 15 October, and its flagship programme which promotes women’s empowerment through climate-smart agriculture. This programme aims to improve African women’s access to technology and information by managing digital platforms for women and providing agricultural data in real time such as information on farming technology, market prices and weather forecasts, as well as increasing women’s access to financing, credit and investment.

In France, women are already at the forefront of activities in the social and solidarity economy sector, in agribusiness, health, social integration and recycling.

However, the means allocated to gender concerns in the climate sphere remain largely insufficient. In 2015, only 0.01 percent of international funding was being used to support projects that incorporate both climate and women’s rights elements. This lack of access to funding is a serious impediment to the development of projects led by women that accelerate the ecological transition. The question of financing is undeniably one that states must address — by making real commitments — in order to create climate resilience, and to prevent humanity from suffering the worst consequences of its own imprudence.

Press link for more: The Hindu

Solar & Wind cheaper than Coal. #StopAdani #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal

New study reaches a stunning conclusion about the cost of solar and wind energy

Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.

Nov 20, 2017, 11:34 am

CREDIT: Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP file

In one of the fastest and most astonishing turnarounds in the history of energy, building and running new renewable energy is now cheaper than just running existing coal and nuclear plants in many areas.

A widely-used yearly benchmarking study — the Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) from the financial firm Lazard Ltd. — reached this stunning conclusion: In many regions “the full-lifecycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear.”

Lazard focused on the cost of a power for a plant over its entire lifetime in North America, and how the “increasing economic advantage of renewables in the U.S.” will drive even deeper penetration of solar and wind here.

But Lazard also makes a key global point: It’s more expensive to operate conventional energy sources in the developing world than it is in the United States. So the advantage renewables have over conventional sources is even larger in the rapidly growing electricity markets like India and China.

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power

Renewables to capture three-fourths of the $10 trillion the world will invest in new generation through 2040.

Since power from new renewables is cheaper than power from existing coal and nuclear, it’s no surprise that the lifetime cost of new renewables is much cheaper than new coal and nuclear power. And that gap is growing.

Lazard notes that in North America, the cost for utility scale solar and wind power dropped 6 percent last year, while the price for coal remained flat and the cost of nuclear soared. “The estimated levelized cost of energy for nuclear generation increased ~35 percent versus prior estimates, reflecting increased capital costs at various nuclear facilities currently in development,” the analysis found.

Indeed, as Lazard shows in this remarkable chart, while solar and wind have dropped dramatically in price since 2009, nuclear power has simply priced itself out of the market for new power.

The lifecycle cost of electricity from new nuclear plants is now $148 per megawatt-hour, or 14.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, while it is 5 c/kwh for utility scale solar and 4.5 c/kwh for wind. By comparison, the average price for electricity in United States is 11 cents per kWh.

So it’s no big shock that there’s only one new nuclear power plant still being built in the United States — or that even existing power plants are struggling to stay competitive.

Indeed, over half of all existing U.S. nuclear power plants are “bleeding cash,” according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released earlier this summer. Even the draft report from the U.S. Department of Energy staff for Secretary Rick Perry conceded that coal and nuclear are simply no longer economic.

Coal and nuclear are uneconomic — more bombshells from Perry’s draft grid study

“High levels of wind penetration can be integrated into the grid without harming reliability.”

Right now, as the chart above shows, new solar and wind are actually cheaper than new gas plants. The variability of solar and wind still give new gas power an edge in some markets. But with the price of electricity storage, especially lithium-ion batteries, coming down sharply, the future of renewable energy is sunnier than ever.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Renewables will give more people access to electricity than coal #StopAdani 

Renewables will give more people access to electricity than coal, says IEA

D7A75P Mother with a solar panel in Lira District, Uganda, East Africa.
Around the world, more than a billion people still lack access to electricity.
This number is shrinking, down by one third since 2000, despite rising population levels, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) special report on energy access, published today.
The report says that while coal has supplied nearly half of the progress from 2000 to date, its role is set to decline “dramatically”. This is because renewables are becoming cheaper and because the hardest-to-reach people are in remote, rural areas where off-grid solutions offer the lowest cost.
The report shows the number of people without access to electricity will shrink by another third by 2030, with 60% of these gains supplied by renewables. Furthermore, if the world commits to providing universal access by 2030, then renewables would bridge 90% of the remaining gap, the IEA says.
Recent progress
There have been spectacular gains in providing access to electricity this century, cutting the number without it from 1.7 billion in 2000 to 1.1 billion in 2016, the IEA says. 

Most of this progress has been in Asia, as the charts below show (blue, yellow and green lines and columns).

Population without electricity access, by region, 2000-2016. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
India has led the way, with 500 million gaining access to electricity.

 Sub-Saharan Africa now has the majority of people still without access, at 600 million, an increase over the past 15 years due to rising populations. 

Recently, this number peaked and started to fall (red line and columns).
Fuelling gains
The rate of progress has been accelerating, the IEA says, rising from 62 million people gaining electricity access each year during 2000-2012 to 103 million during 2012-2015.
Coal has been the main source of this new supply, generating 45% of the electricity used by people gaining access for the first time between 2000 and 2016 (purple pictograms in the chart, below).
There has also been a growing role for renewable sources of electricity, the IEA notes, with particularly rapid growth in decentralised off-grid access (dark green pictograms).

 From 2000-2012, renewables provided 28% of new access to electricity.

 This figure rose to 34% during 2012-2016.

Annual number of people gaining access to electricity by fuel type. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
There are regional differences in the sources of new electricity connections.

 In India, for example, coal generated 75% of new supplies, against 20% for renewables. (This pattern is expected to reverse, see below.)
Sub-Saharan Africa has had the most rapid recent improvement in providing electricity access, rising from 9m new connections per year during 2000-2012 to 26m per year during 2012-2016. 

Most of this acceleration is due to renewables, responsible for 70% of new access since 2012, whereas coal has not supplied any new connections in this period.
Future growth
Looking ahead, the IEA says the number of people without access to electricity will fall to around 700 million by 2030, under its central scenario.
Asia will reach close to 100% access to electricity by 2030 (lilac, yellow and green lines and columns, below) and India will meet its aim of universal access in the early 2020s (blue). 

The vast majority of the 700 million still without electricity in 2030 will be in sub-Saharan Africa.

Electricity access rate and population without electricity, by region, under the IEA’s central scenario to 2030. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
Note that this chart reflects the IEA’s central “New Policies Scenario”. 

This includes existing policies plus announced policies and intentions.

 It also reflects assumptions about the costs of different technologies and the rates of population and electricity demand growth.
Growing grid
Around the world, the share of new electricity access supplied by renewables will nearly double to 60%, up from 34% over the past five years (green, blue and yellow columns, below). 

This pattern is even more extreme in India, where the share of new electricity from renewables will triple to 60%
Coal’s role in providing electricity access “declines dramatically”, the IEA says, providing power to 16% of those who gain access over the next 14 years. 

This compares to 45% during 2000-2016.

Population gaining access and cumulative investments, by type, under the central scenario. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
Note that the IEA has been criticised for repeatedly underestimating the rate of growth of renewables, particularly solar. 

This makes its outlook, in which renewables supply most new electricity access, even more striking.
Role of renewables
If the world wants to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of providing universal energy access for all by 2030, then 90% of the additional electricity connections over and above the IEA’s central scenario will come from renewables, its report suggests.
This reflects the fact that the hardest-to-reach populations are those least likely to benefit from grid expansion. 

For these people, decentralised systems, predominantly supplied by solar (yellow columns, below), offer the “lowest cost pathway” to electricity access.

Additional population gaining access and cumulative investments, by type, under the “Energy for All” scenario, compared to the central scenario. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
The report, for the first time, uses geospatial analysis, at a resolution of one square kilometre, to assess the most cost-effective ways to deliver electricity access to sub-Saharan Africa, whether through grid or off-grid solutions. 

This analysis takes into account existing and planned infrastructure, technology developments, local resources, population density and likely demand.
It is this new analysis that suggests decentralised renewables will be the cheapest way to provide electricity access for sub-Saharan Africa’s rural poor. 

Note that research suggests Africa could more than meet its electricity needs, with renewable sources alone.
The IEA puts the cost of providing electricity access to everyone on the planet at an additional $391bn over the period to 2030. 

This would nearly double total spending, adding to the $324bn already expected to be spent under the IEA’s central scenario.
The energy access-focused SDG also includes provision of clean cooking services. 

The IEA says this can best be met using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). As a result, providing universal energy access would increase CO2 emissions by 70m tonnes. 

This would be more than offset by savings of 165MtCO2 equivalent due to reduced methane and nitrous oxide from biomass used for cooking. 

The report says:
Achieving universal energy access is not in conflict with achieving climate objectives. 

The relatively small increase in total primary energy demand and the central role of renewables in our Energy for All Case means that global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increase by just 70 million tonnes (Mt) relative to the New Policies Scenario in 2030 (0.2% of the global level).
The large numbers of people without access to electricity are a frequent point of contention in debates over how to address climate change.
Some proponents cite China and India’s reliance on coal to bring electricity to their populations. 

They argue that coal is cheap and must be part of the solution for the remaining 1.1 billion people that still lack access to electricity.
Not everyone agrees on how best to meet the needs of these people, who are mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

 In a November 2016 interview, Dan Kammen, professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley and a former science envoy to the US State Department, told Carbon Brief that coal has been given too much credit as a solution to extreme poverty in Africa.
Coal doesn’t even deliver the thing for which it’s really been touted for, and that is, bringing people out of poverty because somehow it’s this least-cost fossil fuel source…I really cringe a bit when I see people touting mega fossil fuel projects as the obvious, first thing to look at…Distributed clean energy, time and time again today, has proven to be better, cheaper, more socially and environmentally positive.
As a July 2017 World Bank blog explains: “In many rural areas in Africa, impacts on economic development of grid extension in the near term may be very modest, while off-grid technologies can be more cost-effective for meeting the most highly-valued basic household needs.”
In further support of the benefits of off-grid systems, it says:
The major downside of off-grid solar is that the relatively low amount of supplied electricity limits what those systems can do for the productive use of electricity. However, electricity usage patterns in newly electrified areas in rural Africa are often such that solar is able to meet those demands. Even in grid-covered rural areas, households and micro-enterprises use electricity mostly for lighting, phone charging, and entertainment – which can easily be provided by solar panels.
Regardless of these details, today’s new IEA report shows that coal’s role in expanding electricity access is set to decline dramatically. Renewables, both on and off the grid, will provide most new connections, as the population without access falls by another third to 700 million.
If the world hopes to meet its goal of universal electricity access by 2030, then the IEA report suggests it is solar – not coal – that will bridge the gap.
Note on definitions
The IEA report defines electricity access as a minimum of 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) per rural household per year. This excludes the more than 23m “pico solar” units sold since 2010. The report explains:
People relying on ‘pico solar’ products, mainly solar lanterns which may include mobile phone chargers, are considered to be below the minimum threshold to count as having [electricity] access. Nevertheless, there are significant benefits for the poor associated with pico solar products.
You can see the range of solutions it considers in its report in the graphic, below.

Illustrative technology options for providing electricity access and the range of uses they can supply. Source: IEA special report on energy access.
The IEA says there is a “general paucity” of data on access to electricity. Its report is based on its own statistics, national statistical agencies, other publicly available data and a network of contacts in government, multilateral development banks and elsewhere.

Press link for more: Carbon Brief

China’s Surprise Viral Hit: An Environmental Documentary.

On Saturday, Chai Jing, a former television journalist from China, released a feature-length documentary film that, unusually for China, took the government to task. Titled Under the Dome, the video featured Chai giving a presentation on stage, using both photographs and slides to examine how China’s notorious air pollution got so extreme—and why the Communist Party has failed to fix it. Jing’s interest was personal: Her daughter underwent surgery soon after her birth to remove a tumor that, Chai claims, was caused by pollution.

Press link for more: 

Matt Schiavenza |

Is the sun rising on an African solar revolution?

Is the sun the answer to Africa’s energy problems? Analysts believe solar power could be the world’s largest source of power by 2050.

Deep in northern Kenya, above Napuu Village, there is only the brightest of full moons to light the way.

You can hear the chatter as villagers sit around open fires but with the nearest mains power station more than 200km (124 miles) away, there is nothing else to light up the village.

Here power is a precious thing and only a few can enjoy what many take for granted.

But inside David Lodio’s small home – two rooms made of breeze blocks and mud – there is light.

His family watch television, his six children do their homework without candles. There is no need for expensive kerosene lamps – all because of a single solar panel on his tin roof.

“When we started using the solar panels, life changed in a good way,” says Mr Lodio.

Press link for more: Ed Thomas :