Climate News of the Week Roundup: Renewables Keeping Strong Globally But Much More Ambition Needed

This week’s roundup features a lot of studies: The International Energy Agency’s special report on climate change, two reports on global developments in renewables and a study finding that Germany has plenty more onshore wind potential than it needs. Meanwhile in politics, the EU may be about to put some band aid on its ailing emission trading system but much more would be needed.

The International Energy Agency this week released its special report on climate change. It argues that on current trajectories the world is going to widely miss the the 2°C climate goal, but four energy policies could bring the world on track by 2020: Energy efficiency, curbing inefficient coal plants, halving methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Dana Nuccitelli notes that the report also shows that emissions growth seems to be slowing, particularly in China. In electricity generation, Chinese emissions used to be almost 900g CO2 per kWh and are now below 750g. But there is certainly plenty of work ahead.

The two reports on renewables are REN21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report and the Frankfurt School UNEP/BNEF’s Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013. While investment volumes in 2012 fell compared to 2011, this was in large part due to the rapidly falling equipment costs. A record 115 GW of new capacity were installed, 10 GW more than in the year before. While investments in the US and Europe stalled or fell, developing countries are increasingly joining in, not only China, but there were also particularly sharp increases in South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Chile and Kenya. See also my summary of a recent presentation by BNEF’s CEO Michael Liebreich here.

A study commissioned by the Federal German Environment Agency (UBA) concluded that the installable onshore wind capacity in Germany is 1,190 GW. At the same time UBA considers that only 60 GW will be necessary to get to 100% renewables by 2050, so there is lots of room to maneuver.

The indispensable Sandbag calculated what the EU’s 2012 emissions amounted to when including the offset credits surrendered in the EU emission trading scheme. The result: The EU has already reduced emissions by 27% below 1990 levels. While the target is -20% by 2020 and there currently is no will to strengthen it – lost decade ahead?

According to reports there’s now a majority in the European Parliament for backloading, a stopgap measure to temporarily take some surplus allowances out of the EU ETS. The proposal fell through in a first vote on 16 April. The impact will be limited though, if not followed by strengthening the targets permanently.

At the UN climate negotiations, Russia stuck to its blocking of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation to the bitter end, preventing any work from being done in this body over the past two weeks. The parallel negotiations in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and on the 2015 climate agreement were unaffected, the World Resources Institute has a brief summary. ENDS Europe reports (subscription required) that the EU’s proposal that all countries should submit their draft mitigation contributions to the new agreement in 2014 already got substantial support in Bonn.

A look into the practices of climate contrarians is afforded by a current affair in which the Heartland Institute claimed that the Chinese Academy of Sciences had endorsed a climate contrarian report, which actually it had not. The CAS not demands a public apology from Heartland. Dana Nuccitelli gives some further context here.

Auf deutsch:

Stefan Rahmstorf lässt die Hockeyschläger-Debatte Revue passieren. Dies ist Debatte um die Temperaturrekonstruktion, die einen scharfen Temperaturanstieg in den letzten hundert Jahren zeigt und inzwischen tausend Mal bestätigt wurde und trotzdem immer wieder angegriffen wird. Nebenbei macht der Artikel mal wieder deutlich, warum man den Spiegel heutzutage nicht unbedingt als Qualitätsmedium bezeichnen kann.

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