Climate News of the Week Roundup: Global Emission Growth Slowing Down?

This week’s roundup features a report saying that global 2012 emission growth was less than half the average of the past decade, a study finding that the EU ETS hasn’t lead to any carbon leakage, the US curbing financing of overseas coal projects, Shanghai planning to ban coal burning, Brazil, South Africa and India ramping up renewables, more news on the influence of German car makers on German policy, RWE being in trouble due to its coal-based strategy, a study saying that the German grid can be run reliably on 100% renewables, and more.

Report suggests slowdown in CO2 emissions rise. The BBC reports on a new study by PBL Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre showing that emissions in 2012 increased at less than half the average over the past decade, and at only 1/3 the rate of global GDP increase in 2012. The analysts say that 2012 may herald a more permanent slowdown if China, the US and the EU manage to actually put their announcements into practice. PBL also put up some interesting infographics.

Carbon Curbs Haven’t Spurred Production Exodus, EU Study Shows. Bloomberg reports on a new study conducted on behalf of the European Commission which “found no evidence for any carbon leakage” due to the EU ETS. While there have been instances of increasing imports and/or decreasing exports, according to the researchers these have been driven by global demand developments and input price differences.

US ends most financing of overseas coal projects. Shaun Tandon reports for AFP that the US announced it would end most financing of coal projects overseas, putting into action one of the climate pledges Obama made in June. The Treasury Department said it will no longer support coal projects unless they involve carbon capture and storage or if they are one of the world’s poorest countries and there is no other economically feasible option. Which still leaves some wiggle room, but still a marked step forward.

Shanghai To Forbid Coal Burning As China Decides To Monitor Smog’s Effects. Ari Phillips reports on the release of Shanghai’s  Clean Air Action Plan, which aims at reducing emissions of particulate matter by 20% by 2017. The plan includes a complete ban on coal burning in 2017, which means closing down more than 2,500 boilers and 300 industrial furnaces or shifting them to clean energy. Renewables and public transport are also to be pushed forward.

In Brazil, the wind is blowing in a new era of renewable energy. The Washington Post reports that Brazil is aiming to ramp wind up to 10% of overall generating capacity by 2021. Brazil is rather blessed with its resource endowment, wind is cheap, so exploiting it to the max and balancing it with its vast hydropower reserves really ought to be a no-brainer.

Mixed Greens: Solar bids swamp South Africa renewables program. Sophie Vorrath reports that South Africa’s national renewable energy programme is overwhelmed by the amount of bids. In other news she reports that India’s state Madhya Pradesh has announced plans to ramp its installed solar capacity up from currently 200MW to 1,4GW by 2015, plus 1.9GW of wind, 300MW of biomass and 200MW of small hydro, which would increase the state’s renewables share from 5% in 2012 to 21.11% in 2015.

Car makers co-determined controversial eco label. There’s recently been a lot of headlines about how Germany has been trying to water down draft EU vehicle emission standards on behalf of its car makers. Andreas Maisch reports (article in German) that car makers were also prominently involved in the development of German car efficiency labeling, going as far as coordinating discussions among ministries. The result is that SUVs partly have better labels than small cars.

Coal drags down stocks and climate. Germany’s RWE finds itself in heavy waters, according to news reports (in German) it may become a takeover candidate. RWE’s boss Terium freely admits that his company went into renewables much too late. But it bears noting that there was ample warning. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein warned already back in 2004 of the risks of RWE’s coal-based strategy (article in German).

Citizens own half of German renewable energy. Craig Morris reports on new statistics on German ownership of renewables, which in his view are much easier to understand for foreigners than previous ones.

German Grid Seen Stable Even With Renewables-Only Supply. Bloombert reports on a German research project that combined wind, solar and biogas plants into one virtual 80-megawatt power station and showed that the grid would be able to maintain a constant flow of electricity.

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