Climate News of the Week Roundup: Shale Gas Apparently Worse for Climate than Coal

This week’s roundup features new research showing sky-high methane leakage in fracking fields, which would make shale gas worse for the climate than coal, a bunch of positive news on renewables, negative news for coal, an American’s culture shock at the sight of Copenhagen’s bike culture,  a study on the role of domestic climate legislation for international climate policy, and a bunch of articles on German energy policy.

Bridge Or Gangplank? Study Finds Methane Leakage From Gas Fields High Enough To Gut Climate Benefit: Joe Romm discusses new research finding methane leakage rates of 6-12% in fracking fields, while gas is actually worse than coal for the climate at leakage rates above 3.2%.

Drought-Stricken New Mexico Farmers Drain Aquifer To Sell Water For Fracking: In another article Joe Romm reports that some farmers in New Mexico have been hit so hard by the ongoing drought that to stay afloat financially they are draining aquifers for water to sell to the oil and gas industry for use in fracking. After which the water is basically unusable and may contaminate the groundwater. Another item on the list of why climate change isn’t the only problem we have with fossil fuels.

Distributed Solar Power Generation Will Reach $112 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2018: Navigant Research says that distributed solar is going to see double- and in some countries triple-digit growth over the next five years.

Solar panel revolution takes off in Australia: Matt Johnston reports that there are now 1 million solar panels on Australian rooftops, vs. only 8000 six years ago – an average growth rate 124%/year. Apart from state support the increase has been helped by rising electricity prices and cheaper solar panels.

EDF decides renewables are a better bet in the U.S.: John Upton reports that Electricité de France, the world’s largest operator of nuclear power plants, is selling its stake in US nuclear and will instead turn to wind and solar. Would be even better if they did the same in France.

Obama’s Solar SunShot Could Deliver Big Time: Pete Danko argues that the SunShot Initiative might be the most important thing the Obama administration is doing to hasten the U.S. transition away from fossil fuels. According to new research, if the programme achieves its goal of bringing the price of solar power down to the level of conventional power by the end of this decade, it  could provide more than a third of the North American West’s electricity by 2050 and in the process cut annual electricity costs by US$20 billion compared to the baseline.

Goldman Sachs Finds ‘Window For Profitable Investment In Coal Mining Is Closing’, Ditto For Coal Exports: Joe Romm reports on a new report by Goldman Sachs saying that coal is going to go down even without strong climate policy. They consider that stronger environmental regulations, competition from gas and renewables and improvements in energy efficiency will weaken demand, seaborne demand could peak in 2020 already.

An American in Denmark: Close encounters with European bicycle culture: Greg Hanscom has a pleasant article on what cycling in Copenhagen looks like. “Bikes are as common as vacuum cleaners — and the people who drive them are bloody amazing.” In part two he discusses how exactly Copenhagen achieved cycling supremacy. Mostly through providing top-notch bike infrastructure, taking urban space away from cars and high gas prices.

National climate change legislation – the key to more ambitious international agreements? The Global Legislators Organisation and Climate and Development Knowledge Network have released a new study arguing that domestic legislation is central for driving the international climate negotiations. Discussing and successfully implementing domestic legislation helps countries to inform their international positions and to make them more confident in seeking higher ambition.

Die Energiewende: Germany’s Green Energy Revolution: Jeffrey Cavanaugh has one of the best English-language summaries of the Energiewende I’ve seen in a while, though his view of Germany’s political system is somewhat too rosy.

Energy intensity is not destiny: reports (in German) about a new study from Fraunhofer ISI. It concludes that energy use of energy intensive companies could be reduced by 15% by 2035 and 90% of that potential is no-regret. Measures that could be implemented by 2020 could contribute 13% of Germany’s target of reducing emissions 40% below 1990 levels.

Auf deutsch:

Der Verteilungskampf hat begonnen: Bislang zahlen Privathaushalte die Energiewende. Warum nicht die Lasten anders verteilen und mehr Strom sparen, fragt Marlies Uken.

Auf Eis gelegt: Wie die Kanzlerin den Klimaschutz ausbremst: Der Monitor ging diese Woche hart ins Gericht mit Angela Merkels Klimapolitik, insbesondere in Bezug auf ihre Vollbremsung bei der Verabschiedung neuer EU-CO2-Grenzwerte für Fahrzeuge und die Verschleppung der Reform des EU-Emissionshandels.

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