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BHP confirms exit from world coal body over climate stance
The world`s biggest miner BHP said Thursday it was following through on a decision to leave the World Coal Association over climate change policy differences, but would remain a member of the US Chamber of Commerce. The Anglo-Australian giant announced in December it was reviewing industry group memberships to ensure they aligned with its climate and energy stance, which includes tackling global warming through emission reductions. "In light of the material difference identified by the review and the narrow range of activities of benefit to BHP from membership, BHP has reached a final view that it will cease membership of the WCA," it said in a statement. The global lobby group had favoured the dumping of a clean energy target, which in Australia involves investment in renewables, as it supported the use of cleaner coal technologies instead. BHP has said its policy was to tackle climate change by encouraging the use of all technologies. The WCA said it was disappointed in the decision and stressed its support for an "approach that integrates climate and energy policy that works towards a low-emission future". "We believe a balanced approach should not exclude high efficiency, low emissions power generation and carbon capture and storage," the coal association said in a statement. BHP had also considered leaving the US Chamber of Commerce over its rejection of the Paris Agreement and a carbon-pricing policy, but said it would remain a member to benefit from the body`s advocacy on free trade and tax reform. "In particular BHP notes the position the chamber has taken on issues of policy significance including its commentary on the issue of steel and aluminium tariffs in the United States," the statement said. Australia is among several key US trade partners exempted from President Donald Trump`s controversial tariffs on steel and aluminium imports announced last month. Brynn O`Brien, executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said BHP`s decision to stay with the US Chamber of Commerce ran contrary to its economic interest. "As long as powerful companies like BHP continue to financially back fossil fuels lobbyists, these lobbyists will continue to jeopardise efforts to protect companies from climate risk," O`Brien said. BHP rival Rio Tinto made a full exit from the coal industry last month after offloading its last Australian assets, a mine in Queensland state, to private equity manager EMR and Indonesian coal group Adaro for US$2.25 billion. Rio`s divestment drive and BHP`s exit from the WCA come as some governments look to move away from coal-fired power, a key driver of global warming and air pollution.
Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2017
April 1, 2018 Sunday 10:21 PM By Reuters
Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons last year, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. Global energy demand rose by 2.1 percent last year to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice the previous year’s rate, boosted by strong economic growth, according to preliminary estimates from the IEA. Energy demand rose by 0.9 percent in 2016 and 0.9 percent on average over the previous five years. Over 70 percent of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest, the IEA said in a report. Improvements in energy efficiency slowed last year. As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4 percent in 2017 to 32.5 gigatons, a record high. “The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area.” Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global average temperature rise, which countries are seeking to curb to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. At talks in Germany late last year among almost 200 nations about details of a global climate accord, scientists presented data showing that world carbon emissions were set to rise 2 percent in 2017 to a new record. EMISSIONS “Global emissions need to peak soon and decline steeply to 2020; this decline will now need to be even greater given the increase in emissions in 2017,” the IEA said in its report. The IEA said Asian countries accounted for two thirds of the global increase in emissions. China’s emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 9.1 gigatons, limited by renewables deployment and more rapid switching to gas from coal. Most major economies saw an increase in carbon emissions, though Britain, the United States, Mexico and Japan experienced declines. The biggest drop came from the United States, where they were down 0.5 percent to 4.8 gigatons due to higher renewables deployment. The IEA said oil demand grew by 1.6 percent, or 1.5 million barrels a day, more than twice the average annual rate over the past decade, driven by the transport sector and rising petrochemical demand. Natural gas consumption grew by 3 percent - the most of all fossil fuels - with China alone accounting for nearly a third of the growth. This was largely due to abundant and relatively low-cost supplies, the IEA said. Coal demand was 1 percent higher last year, reversing declines over the previous two years, due to rises in coal-fired electricity generation, mostly in Asia. However, renewables-based electricity generation rose by 6.3 percent, due to the expansion of wind, solar and hydropower. Renewables had the highest growth rate of any energy source, meeting a quarter of world energy demand growth, the IEA said.
Category: Environment
Plans for coal-fired power plants drop by almost half in 2016
March 23, 2017 Thursday 1:31 PM By BBC News
Twenty-sixteen saw a "dramatic" decline in the number of coal-fired power stations in pre-construction globally. The authors of a new study say there was a 48% fall in planned coal units, with a 62% drop in construction starts. The report, from several green campaign groups, claims changing policies and economic conditions in China and India were behind the decline. However, the coal industry argues the fuel will remain essential to economic growth in Asia for decades to come. Rapid swing Between 2006 and 2016, India and China together accounted for 85% of the coal plants built around the world. But according to the Boom and Bust 2017 report, put together by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, there has been a huge swing away from coal in these two countries in just 12 months. The main causes of the decline are the imposition of restrictive measures by China`s central government - with the equivalent of 600 coal-fired units being put on hold until at least 2020. The Indian go-slow was prompted, according to the authors, by the reluctance of banks to provide funds. Work at 13 locations is currently not going ahead. However, there have also been significant retirements of coal plants in Europe and the US over the past two years, with roughly 120 large units being taken out of commission. "This has been a messy year, and an unusual one," said Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm. "It`s not normal to see construction frozen at scores of locations, but central authorities in China and bankers in India have come to recognize overbuilding of coal plants as a major waste of resources. "However abrupt, the shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security, and jobs. And by all indications, the shift is unstoppable." The study comes as other groups analyse the potential for investments in coal to become stranded assets if governments continue to restrict CO2 emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that hundreds of billions of dollars could be at risk. "The decline in new coal plants in Asian countries is truly dramatic, and shows how a perfect storm of factors is simply making coal a bad investment," said Paul Massara, now of North Star Solar but a former CEO of RWE npower. "Growing awareness of the air pollution problems coal causes, the impact of policies to tackle climate change, and the rapid growth and cost-competitiveness of renewable sources of energy, along with emerging battery technologies, are making new coal plants redundant before they are even built," he said. However, the World Coal Association vehemently disagrees. It says the complexity of large infrastructure projects means that until they break ground, it`s no surprise if they don`t go ahead. "Yes, China, is reducing the number of coal-stations but not because it`s transitioning away from coal. Instead, the new dynamics is a signal of a more developed economy," said Benjamin Sporton. "Contrary to the picture being portrayed by certain quarters, China`s climate pledge suggests that coal will continue to be central to its energy solutions, albeit through efficiencies including the use of new coal technologies. "In India`s case, it`s simply not true that renewables are displacing coal. The International Energy Agency has said that India`s coal demand will see the biggest growth over next five years with an annual average growth rate of 5% by 2021. "For these countries, excluding coal from the energy mix is not an option; it is essential for economic growth and critical in securing energy access." According to the authors of the study, the slowdown brings the possibility of keeping global warming under 2 degrees C since pre-industrial times "within feasible reach." However, the study says that much more progress needs to be made to reduce the number of coal-fired plants under development in Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan and elsewhere.
Category: Environment
Global energy CO2 emissions could be cut by 70 percent by 2050
March 20, 2017 Monday 10:20 PM By Reuters
Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be reduced by 70 percent by 2050 and completely phased out by 2060, research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed on Monday. To help achieve this, the share of renewable energy in primary energy supply would need to increase to 65 percent in 2050 from 15 percent in 2015, the report said. An additional $29 trillion of energy investment would be needed to 2050, equivalent to 0.4 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). Such investment should provide stimulus that, with other policies supporting growth, would boost global GDP by 0.8 percent in 2050. Globally, 32 gigatonnes of energy-related CO2 were emitted in 2015. Emissions need to fall to 9.5 gigatonnes by 2050 to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, IRENA said.
Category: Environment
‘UK offshore wind power subsidies set to drop below nuclear’
March 10, 2017 Friday 5:28 PM By Reuters
Subsidy costs for British offshore wind farms are likely to fall below that of new nuclear plants in next month`s government auction, German firm Siemens` head of its British offshore wind turbines business told Reuters. Britain`s government is under pressure to bring down users` electricity costs at the same time as subsidizing low-carbon generation to help meet its carbon emission reduction targets and plug a looming supply gap. The next government auction setting prices for new renewable power projects will open in April and Clark MacFarlane, Siemens managing director for offshore wind, said this could see offshore wind costs fall below new nuclear for the first time. "I predict the price for offshore wind in the upcoming auction will be lower than that given to Hinkley," he told Reuters in an interview. "The price will keep coming down, as we find better logistic solutions, new grid solutions, as well as bigger turbines,” he said. French utility EDF was awarded a contract which guarantees the new Hinkley C nuclear power station will get a price of 92.5 pounds ($112.50) per pounds/megawatt hour (MWh) for the electricity it produces, which is more than double the current wholesale price of electricity. The cost of producing electricity from wind farms off the coast of Britain has already fallen 32 percent in the past four years, and averaged around 97 pounds per megawatt-hour (MWh) in the 2015-2016 financial year an industry report said earlier this year. MacFarlane said increasing the size of wind turbines means automatically cutting the number of turbine towers and foundations needed to produce the same amount of electricity, thereby reducing costs. Siemens produces turbines for British offshore wind projects at its 310 million-pound ($380 million) manufacturing plant in Hull, northeast England, including Dong Energy and Macquarie`s Race Bank project off the nearby coast. The plant`s current order book will keep it busy until 2019, MacFarlane said, adding that the firm was confident of securing future deals with offshore project developers who are successful in the new government auctions. In the longer term Siemens hopes to also export turbines from the plant across Europe but has said this could depend on the outcome of Britain`s negotiations to leave the European Union. "If we don`t have tariff exemptions for exports then that would be a concern," MacFarlane said. ($1 = 0.8222 pounds)
Category: Environment
Coal curbs in South-East Asia could save 50,000 lives annually
January 16, 2017 Monday 2:20 PM By Bloomberg
About 50,000 lives a year could be saved by 2030 if no new coal-fired power plants are built in South-East Asia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, according to a study from researchers at Harvard University and Greenpeace International. If coal plants currently planned or under construction in the region are actually built, some 70,000 deaths could result annually, up from about 20,000 deaths at the moment, Greenpeace said Friday in a statement summarizing the study. A majority of the mortalities will be in Southeast Asia, the group said. The findings are based on work conducted by researchers from the Harvard University Atmospheric Sciences modeling group, the Harvard School of Public Health and Greenpeace that mapped out current emissions from all coal-fired power plants in the region. An atmospheric model was then used to evaluate how much air pollution across Asia comes from coal emissions, Greenpeace said. The study highlights the inherent risk in a reliance on coal in Southeast Asia where most of the growth in electricity demand is currently projected to be met by the fossil fuel. Power demand in the region may rise by 83 percent by 2035 from 2011 levels, which is more than twice the global average, according to the statement. If planned coal plants go ahead, coal emissions in Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan will triple by 2030 and surpass those in the U.S. and Europe, with the largest increases in Indonesia and Vietnam, said Greenpeace. “Planned coal expansion in Southeast Asia is a particular concern because of these countries’ extremely weak emission standards for power plants,” Lauri Myllyvirta, senior global coal campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said in the statement. “Governments across the region have the chance to urgently shift their energy policies and save the lives of tens of thousands of their citizens.”
Category: Environment
Petrol taxes drop globally despite climate change: study
January 11, 2017 Wednesday 7:05 PM By BSS/AFP
The average tax on petrol in 157 nations fell 13 percent from 2003 to 2015, even as the world acknowledged the need to slash greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, researchers reported Monday. Over 13 years, consumption of gasoline rose in countries that lowered taxes or raised subsidies, they said in a study published in the journal Nature Energy. Though only a third of the nations analysed took such measures, this was enough to tilt the global total in the direction of a net drop in gas taxes. "Despite all the commitments to fight climate change, governments are failing to discourage fossil fuel consumption," said lead author Michael Ross, a professor from the University of California at Los Angeles. "At the global level, we are moving in the wrong direction," he told AFP. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, 196 nations vowed to cap global warming at under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a goal that scientists say is achievable only if the world economy moves rapidly to cleaner energy. With only 1 C (1.8 F) of warming so far, Earth has seen a crescendo of heat waves, drought, flooding and storm surges, driven by rising seas. Experts have long argued that cutting subsidies for oil, gas and coal -- and creating incentives, such as taxes, to curb their use -- are essential tools for that transition. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN`s climate science panel and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have all advocated such measures. But fossil fuel subsidies remain colossal: nearly half a trillion dollars (470 billion euros) in 2014, according to the IEA, with the IMF reporting $333 billion (315 billion euros) in direct consumer subsidies in 2015. Oil exporters blamed Factor in so-called environmental and social costs -- health destroyed by pollution, damage to ecosystems -- and the true bill is widely considered to be several times higher. But trying to get a handle of how much countries tax or subsidise gasoline was a hugely challenging task, the researchers said. "Many taxes and subsidies are indirect or hidden in the budgets of state-owned enterprises," said Ross. Some countries announce reforms and then fail to carry them out. To get a global overview, Ross and his team first compiled a monthly log of 13 years of retail gasoline prices in 157 countries. The list of countries accounts for 97 percent of the world population, and 98 percent of greenhouse gases. Then, using early 2003 as the benchmark, the researchers looked to see which countries, in 2015, had raised or lowered gasoline taxes or subsidies. "The problem tends to be oil-exporting countries," Ross said, pointing to Nigeria, Algeria, several Arab Gulf nations and Angola. He also pointed to the United States, where -- despite relatively high taxes -- "the federal tax on gasoline was last raised in 1993." The US remains the world`s top oil consumer. China`s rapid transition toward clean energy -- even as it continues to build new coal-fired power plants -- is driven in large measure by concerns over respiratory health and traffic congestion, Ross said. "China leaps out as the country that has, by far, made the most significant reforms," he said.
Category: Environment
From Sydney to Paris, landmarks go dark for 10th Earth Hour
March 20, 2016 Sunday 4:04 PM By BSS/AFP
From Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel tower in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, landmarks across the globe dimmed their lights on Saturday night for the 10th edition of the Earth Hour campaign calling for action on climate change. Millions of people from 178 countries and territories were expected to take part in WWF`s Earth Hour this year, organisers said, with monuments and buildings such as Berlin`s Brandenburg Gate and the Empire State Building plunging into darkness for 60 minutes from 8:30 pm local time. The annual event kicked off in Sydney, where the Earth Hour idea originated in 2007. "We just saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge switch its lights off... and buildings around as well," Earth Hour`s Australia manager Sam Webb told AFP from The Rocks area. Earth Hour`s global executive director Siddarth Das said organisers were excited about how much the movement had grown since it began nine years ago. "From one city it has now grown to over 178 countries and territories and over 7,000 cities, so we couldn`t be happier about how millions of people across the world are coming together for climate action," he told AFP via telephone from Singapore ahead of the lights out. Over 150 buildings in Singapore dimmed their lights, while Taipei`s 101 gradually turned lights off for one hour and the city`s four historical gates and bridges also went dark. The lights also dimmed across Hong Kong`s usually glittering skyline, although online commentators pointed out that China`s People`s Liberation Army garrison headquarters on the harbour front kept the lights blazing. "Imagine being the manager of the only building in a major metropolis to forget," said one Twitter post alongside a picture of the PLA building lit up against a darkened skyline. After Asia, Earth Hour shifted to Europe where St Peter`s Basilica, Rome`s Trevi fountain and the Parthenon temple in Athens were among a slew of iconic sites to go off-grid. In London, the lights were shut off at the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul`s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Harrods department store. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was plunged into darkness, as was the Kremlin in Moscow. Earth Hour`s Das said momentum towards climate action was building in the wake of the global climate talks in Paris last year. The so-called Paris Agreement sets the goal of limiting global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, with a more ambitious target of 1.5 C if possible. Das said people were experiencing the impact of climate change more now than when Earth Hour began, adding that "climate change has now become a more personal topic". "I feel that there`s a renewed vigour among individuals and governments to come together for strong climate action and to fight climate change," he said. Das said Earth Hour organisers did not collect global statistics on the energy conserved during the 60-minute blackout, and that the event has always had symbolic intent, saying it was more a moment of global solidarity about a global problem.
Category: Environment
Developed countries urged to finance climate-vulnerable nations
December 10, 2015 Thursday 11:38 PM By BSS
Bangladesh`s Permanent Representative (PR) to the United Nations Masud bin Momen has urged the developed counties responsible for massive carbon emission to finance the climate vulnerable nations. "The developed countries which are responsible for massive carbon emission should finance the developing countries affected due to climate change," he said. In this connection, Momen added that Bangladesh, as one of the climatic vulnerable countries, has given priority to deal with the issues of climate change. The Bangladesh PR made the remarks when he met president of the 70th Session of United Nations General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft at his chamber at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday. The Bangladesh`s permanent representative informed the UNGA president that Bangladesh would try to engage the UN member states in promoting migration during its chairmanship of Global Forum on Migration and Development next year. He apprised the UNGA president of the role Bangladesh as the chair of LDCs to protect and promote the interest of LDCs. Momen said, Bangladesh, as one of the leading troop contributing countries, has been contributing to the global peace and security. Bangladesh has also been actively participating in peace-building commission, he noted. The UNGA president informed him about his recent engagement in the UN Climate Conference in Paris. Mogens Lykketoft informed that he would host a high level event to kick start the implementation of both SDGs and climate agreement in April next. The PR conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali to the UNGA president. Mogens Lykketoft was the Speaker of the Danish Parliament prior to his present assignment. He also served as foreign minister and finance minister of Denmark. The PR lauded the role of Mogens Lykketoft in steering the UNGA and the UN as a whole during his tenure. During his presidency, the UN has observed its 70th anniversary of foundation. It also has been discussing the implementation process of 2030 sustainable development goals. The PR assured him of the fullest cooperation from Bangladesh to steer this process.
Category: Environment
World`s richest 10 percent produce 50% of CO2: report
December 2, 2015 Wednesday 8:09 PM By BSS/AFP
The richest 10 percent of people produce half of Earth`s climate-harming fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10 percent, British charity Oxfam said in a study released Wednesday. Oxfam published the numbers as negotiators from 195 countries met in Paris to wrangle over a climate rescue pact. Disputes over how to share responsibility for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions and aiding climate-vulnerable countries are among the thorniest and longest-running issues in the 25-year-old UN climate process. "Rich, high emitters should be held accountable for their emissions, no matter where they live," Oxfam climate policy head Tim Gore said in a statement. "But it`s easy to forget that rapidly developing economies are also home to the majority of the world`s very poorest people and while they have to do their fair share, it is rich countries that should still lead the way." The report said that an average person among the richest one percent emits 175 times more carbon than his or her counterpart among the bottom 10 percent. Rich and developing nations remain deeply divided on the issue of "differentiation" -- how to share out responsibility for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which derive mainly from burning coal, oil and gas. Developing countries say the West has polluted for much longer and should shoulder a bigger obligation for cutting back. They also demand assurances of finance to help them shift to less-polluting renewable energy, shore up defences against climate impacts such as sea level rise, droughts and superstorms, and to cover damage that cannot be avoided. "We hope advanced nations will assume ambitious targets and pursue them sincerely. It`s not just a question of historical responsibility -- they also have the most room to make the cuts and make the strongest impact," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Monday`s opening of the summit by world leaders. Yet many rich nations, led by the United States, reject the idea of a "bifurcated" approach with obligations placed on one group of countries, and not the other. They point to the risk of carbon emissions -- as measured by volume, rather than per capita -- from emerging giants such as China and India. Oxfam said its analysis "helps dispel the myth that citizens in rapidly developing countries are somehow most to blame for climate change."
Category: Environment
Nuclear exit unthinkable for climate conference host France
November 27, 2015 Friday 1:09 PM By Reuters
Early this year, France`s state energy and environment agency was set to publish a study that found the country could realistically abandon nuclear reactors and rely completely on renewable power in decades to come. But the presentation was scrapped under political pressure, with Energy Minister Segolene Royal later saying the agency needed to be "coherent" with government targets. The episode illustrated the tensions surrounding energy policy in a country steeped in nuclear power since the 1970s and which relies on it for three-quarters of its electricity - more than any other nation. Any suggestion of abandoning the atom is unthinkable for many in France, where scientists played a key role in discovering radioactivity, atomic energy is broadly accepted by all major political parties except the greens and the nuclear industry employs 220,000 people. Ahead of the U.N. climate change conference in Paris next week, the French position exposes the lack of any consistent European policy on how best to switch from polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy and reduce carbon emissions. In Germany, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster led to an exit from nuclear and a massive switch to renewables, while many other countries also decided to phase out nuclear. But French lawmakers in July voted only to cap nuclear capacity at current levels and to reduce its share in the power mix to 50 percent by 2025 - without announcing any concrete steps towards that goal. They also backed a government target for renewables to generate 40 percent of power by 2030. The study by state energy and environment agency ADEME - tasked with leading France`s energy transition - had found, by contrast, that France could switch to 100 percent renewable energy for power generation by 2050 at a cost similar to sticking with atomic energy for 50 percent of its power. "We show that a hypothesis that most stakeholders thought was unthinkable, is actually technically possible," ADEME head Bruno Lechevin wrote. The report was finally published in October - months after lawmakers had approved the government`s energy transition law - and included a carefully worded introduction by Lechevin, saying it was "an exploratory scientific study, not a political scenario". NUCLEAR VS RENEWABLES France`s heavy reliance on nuclear power means it is, in some respects, a model for low-carbon power generation, but that also makes it harder to consider a shift to renewable energy. The nuclear industry argues world leaders at the COP21 conference in Paris next week should not have to choose between nuclear and renewables but between low-carbon energy - including nuclear - and fossil fuels. "We were surprised to see that the draft COP21 documents do not mention nuclear energy at all as a solution to climate change," said Isabelle Jouette of French nuclear lobby SFEN. But critics like Greenpeace say nuclear power - whose share of world electricity production has been stable at around 11 percent for years - cannot be part of any climate solutions put forward at the U.N. conference because of the risks related to reactor accidents and waste storage. They also say building reactors is too expensive and slow. "If we are going to spend a lot of money to tackle climate change, we have to do it in the most economically efficient way, which is renewables, not nuclear," said Greenpeace energy campaigner Cyrille Cormier. Cost and timing have been the banes of the French nuclear industry in recent years. As costs for solar and wind energy have dropped dramatically in the past decade, the cost of nuclear has climbed as safety requirements have tightened. EDF`s Areva-designed EPR reactor in Flamanville - the sole nuclear reactor under construction in France - has seen its cost balloon from an initial budget of 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to 10.5 billion euros, while the two EPR reactors EDF plans to build in Britain`s Hinkley Point are estimated to cost 12 billion euros apiece. Once the great hope for a French global nuclear export drive, Areva has seen its equity wiped out by years of losses and its reactor division has been taken over by EDF. EDF itself has seen its stock fall 37 percent since January and 83 percent from its 2007 highs as investors worry where it will find the billions to upgrade its ageing French reactors, build new ones and turn around the Areva reactor unit. CHANGING COURSE This is why the ADEME`s 100 percent renewables study could be an existential threat to the company, which has lagged other European utilities in deploying solar and wind. If France were to switch to 100 percent renewable energies to produce power by 2050 - 63 percent wind, 17 percent solar, 13 percent hydro and 7 percent other renewables - the average cost would be 119 euros per megawatt-hour, according to the study. That is nearly the same as the average 117 euros per MWh for a scenario with 55 percent nuclear and 40 percent renewables. France`s former monopoly power provider EDF - the world`s biggest operator of nuclear reactors - could not disagree more with the idea of phasing out nuclear in France. Its management has repeatedly said that any reduction in the share of nuclear in France`s energy mix will not come from closing down reactors but from increased demand from new uses for power like electric vehicles. Despite stagnant power demand in recent years and government policies to boost energy efficiency, EDF boss Jean-Bernard Levy said last month that France`s nuclear capacity of 63.2 gigawatt may be a minimum, not a maximum, and spoke of building more than 30 new reactors to replace EDF`s ageing nuclear fleet. Lechevin - a former leader with the moderate CFDT union who started his career as an EDF warehouse clerk - said it was not surprising EDF still operated within a logic of equating economic growth with higher energy use. "EDF is a big tanker, it takes time to change course," he said, adding that the firm might need a shove to become a driving force of France`s energy transition. Lechevin said his agency was neither for or against nuclear, but warned that EDF`s strength in nuclear should not blind it to the opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency. "France`s strong suit is nuclear, but this can also be its weakness," he said.    
Category: Environment
Dhaka slams multinational corporations for promoting biofuels
November 19, 2015, Thursday 4:45:23:PM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, now in Washington, has criticised multinational corporations for promoting biofuels. She was delivering a keynote statement at the 40th anniversary of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC on Wednesday. Speaking on `Evolution of Food Policy`, Matia observed a sharp increase in land under maize cultivation also results in reduced soybean and wheat cultivation, according to a message received here. She said it is quite ironic that biofuels are still promoted by some multinational corporations as an ecofriendly sustainable alternative to fossil fuels when 2,500 liters of water are required to producing  a mere one liter of biofuel. "Policies that promote biofuels have diverted large quantities of food out of food markets and committed them to the pursuit of relatively small amount of transport fuel," the minister told the daylong IFPRI conference. She said although Bangladesh receives policy advice and funds from international organisations but unhelpful policies like production of biofuel sometimes attempted by some countries contradicts the overhanging goal of attaining food security for all. Matia said it is felt that the expansion of biofuel has led to massive diversion of maize to ethanol production, reducing the maize supply for consumption as food, and thus causing maize price to rise rapidly. She said the Bangladesh government has attached topmost priority to agriculture, food security and nutrition that led to the self-sufficiency in rice production feeding a large population with domestic agricultural production. The minister, however, said although Bangladesh has made a good progress in agriculture and economic growth, the country is increasingly facing challenges of population growth, climate change impacts and vulnerability to domestic and international price shock. Government leaders, agriculture scientists and economists from the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Ethiopia, China, India and Pakistan attended the conference split into different working sessions on food security, agriculture and nutrition, market, trade and macro-policies. State Minister for Finance and Planning Mohammad Abdul Mannan also spoke at the conference. IFPRI at the conference launched the Compact2025 global initiative for the elimination of hunger and under nutrition by 2025. Source: UNB
Category: Environment
Country’s 4 m people displaced by disaster in 6 years
November 15, 2015, Sunday 9:39:16:AM By BSS
More than four million people of Bangladesh have been displaced by sudden onset disaster in six years from 2008 to 2013 mainly due to flood and river erosion. "Riverbank erosion and seasonal floods displaces as many as 400,000 people each year in Bangladesh," said a recent study conducted by Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). ActionAid Bangladesh and the NRC revealed the research report tiled Community Resilience and Disaster Related Displacement in South Asia  at function in a city hotel on Saturday. Between 2008 and 2013, the report revealed South Asia ranked second behind East Asia and the Pacific in the number of people displaced by disasters in both absolute and relative terms. It said countries in South Asia observed effects of climate change include risks that threaten lives, food security, health and wellbeing. It all triggers displacement, it added. The report said the scale of displacement caused by disasters is largely determined by communities` underlying vulnerability to shocks or stresses. "To mitigate the suffering of the displaced people Bangladesh needs to prepare communities for sudden-onset disasters and reduce risk of displacement through awareness rising and adaptation schemes," it suggested. Presenting the research paper Dr Dorien Braam said, "Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable areas for the displayed people. To address the issue Government should transfer more responsibilities and resources from the national government to local authorities for the displayed people". Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque said displacement for disaster and climate change ought to be incorporated in the global debate. "We need a common understanding and work plan with national and international support develop a sustainable solution for the displaced people," he said. The Government of Bangladesh is in the forefront of finding a viable international better solution, he said. Commenting on the research paper climate expert Dr Atiq Rahman said, "Every year we are facing lot of disaster with long term climate change impact. To mitigate the problem Bangladesh can`t solve the problem alone. We need greater a global working plan and commitment from international stakeholders to solve the problem." Action Aid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir said adequate resources, sufficient policies, DRR and Climate centric education and technology are the only way to address the displacement issue.
Category: Environment
G20 nations spend $452 bn a year supporting fossil fuels
November 13, 2015, Friday 11:49:3:PM By BSS/AFP
The G20 group of major economies spend $452 billion per year supporting fossil fuel industries, despite their primary role in causing climate change, according to a study released on Thursday. The report, which comes ahead of a crunch UN meeting in Paris to try to forge a global deal to avoid disastrous levels of climate change in December, accused governments of undermining their own climate change policies. "G20 governments are handing out approximately $452 billion a year to prop up the production of fossil fuels -- despite pledges to phase out subsidies and prevent catastrophic climate change," the study by British think tank the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International found. Support for fossil fuels like oil and coal by G20 nations -- which include Australia, Brazil, the European Union and the United States -- was four times higher than the entire world`s support for renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, it found. That included direct spending and tax breaks ($78 billion), investments in the sector by state-owned enterprises ($286 billion), and public finance such as loans from government-owned banks ($88 billion), last year and the year before. Investment continued despite diminishing returns in coal, and new oil and gas reserves being hard to reach. "G20 governments are paying fossil fuel producers to undermine their own policies on climate change," said Shelagh Whitley, of the Overseas Development Institute. "Scrapping these subsidies would rebalance energy markets and allow a level playing field for clean and efficient alternatives." Some 100 heads of state and government will meet in Paris to secure a deal to stave off catastrophic levels of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. It aims to seal a global deal to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, although scientists say the world currently is on track to overshoot that target. The study noted that Britain was the only nation in the smaller G7 group of developed countries significantly increasing its support for the fossil fuel industry. It said China was by far the biggest investor in fossil fuel production, spending $77 billion annually, while national subsidies in the US amounted to $20 billion. The report recommended a strict timetable for ending fossil fuel production subsidies, increased transparency of subsidies, and more support for low- carbon development. "Continuing to fund the fossil fuel industry today is like accelerating towards a wall that we can clearly see," Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said in a statement. "G20 leaders need to slow down and turn us around before we hit climate disaster."
Category: Environment
New York investigating Exxon over climate statements: source
November 6, 2015, Friday 1:57:21:PM By Reuters
The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) misled the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the company on Wednesday evening, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents, a source familiar with the investigation said on Thursday. Exxon on Thursday said it was weighing a response to the subpoena. The company has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in its quarterly filings, corporate citizenship report and in other reports to shareholders, company spokesman Richard Keil said. The New York Times first reported the news on Thursday. (nyti.ms/1HuEJC8) The Exxon investigation might expand to other oil companies, according to the people with knowledge of the case, though no additional subpoenas have been issued, the newspaper said. Sources told the New York Times that the attorney general’s investigation began a year ago and encompasses company filings dating back to the 1970s. Last month, a broad array of environmental groups demanded the U.S. Department of Justice investigate Exxon after reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times said the company`s own scientists raised worries about global warming decades ago only to see their findings doubted by executives. However, Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs at Exxon, has accused environmental groups of deliberately cherry-picking facts. He said on Thursday that for nearly 40 years the company has worked with governments and universities to develop climate science in a transparent way. Since 2009, the company has supported what it calls a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the preferred policy for reducing emissions. Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N) had been under investigation by the attorney general for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change, but has not resulted in any charges or other legal action against the company, the NYT report added. Only within the last five years has the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission required companies to disclose climate risks to investors and Exxon has made the appropriate filings. "It is unfortunate that interest groups can fuel political expediency to cause investigations to occur where there should be none," said Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC lawyer and partner at Shulman Rogers in Washington. Climate risks for oil companies are normally thought to include, among other things, a crackdown by governments on carbon emissions that might hurt oil sales.  
Category: Environment
OECD warns Brazil on environment, economy risks
5, November, 2015, 11:59:52:AM By BSS/AFP
Brazil is destroying an area of rainforest the size of Israel every four years despite major conservation progress, the OECD economic grouping said Wednesday. Biologically diverse Brazil will be a key player among the 195 countries at the UN climate conference in Paris in December, which will look to reach a global agreement on limiting climate change. In its first environmental survey of the country, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that Brazil must take further action to clean up the environment even as its worsening economy is complicating those efforts. The OECD report hailed "strong progress made in reducing deforestation and emissions of greenhouse gases over the past 15 years" in the Latin American powerhouse. But it warned that the giant emerging economy, which is set to host the Olympic Games next year, was still the biggest destroyer of forests in the world -- some 480,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) in 2014 alone. That was down from around 2.7 million hectares in 2004 however. "Brazil has made tremendous progress in terms of its environmental performance, but rigorous policy implementation remains critically important," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said in the organization`s Environmental Performance Review of Brazil. "Greening the economy can also bring huge social and economic opportunities, with green markets offering potential to boost GDP by up to seven percent." The OECD warned in a separate report on Wednesday that Brazil`s economy was in "a critical moment." It forecast the country`s economic output would shrink by 3.1 percent next year. That is a greater contraction than the latest forecast from the government, of 2.8 percent, or from the International Monetary Fund, of 3.0 %.
Category: Environment
West Antarctic ice melt could raise seas by 3 meters
3, November, 2015, 2:18:45:PM By AFP
Melting ice in West Antarctica is a major concern for global sea levels, and a key area may already be unstable enough to unleash three meters of ocean rise, scientists said Monday. The study follows research out last year, led by NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot, warning that ice in the Antarctic had gone into a state of irreversible retreat, that the melting was considered "unstoppable" and could raise sea level by 1.2 meters (four feet). This time, researchers at Germany`s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research pointed to the long-term impacts of the crucial Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica, which they said "has most likely been destabilized." While previous studies "examined the short-term future evolution of this region, here we take the next step and simulate the long-term evolution of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet," the authors said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They used computer models to project the effects of 60 more years of melting at the current rate. This "would drive the West Antarctic Ice sheet past a critical threshold beyond which a complete, long-term disintegration would occur." In other words, "the entire marine ice sheet will discharge into the ocean, causing a global sea-level rise of about three meters," the authors wrote. "If the destabilization has begun, a three-meter increase in sea level over the next several centuries to millennia may be unavoidable." Even just a few decades of ocean warming can unleash a melting spree that lasts for hundreds to thousands of years. "Once the ice masses get perturbed, which is what is happening today, they respond in a non-linear way: there is a relatively sudden breakdown of stability after a long period during which little change can be found," said lead author Johannes Feldmann. Large uncertainty The authors noted that Antarctica`s situation presents the largest uncertainty in sea level projections for the coming centuries, and that studying the vast region poses many challenges. And indeed, just days before the PNAS study was released, another scientific paper used NASA satellite data form 2003 to 2008 to show that Antarctic ice had gained mass, and had packed on enough to exceed the amount lost in other areas. "We`re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica," said a statement by Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center whose study was published October 30 in the Journal of Glaciology. "Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica -- there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas." According to climatologist Michael Mann, who was not involved in either study, the use of older satellite data could be the cause for the disconnect. "It sounds to me as if the key issue here is that the claims are based on seven-year-old data, and so cannot address the finding that Antarctic ice loss has accelerated in more recent years," he told AFP.
Category: Environment
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OECD warns Brazil on environment, economy risks
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