Climate News of the Week Roundup: Japan Decreases Instead of Increasing Climate Ambition

This week’s roundup features Japan’s decision to drastically downgrade its emission target for 2020, the EU’s lack of climate ambition, a study claiming that there has in fact not been a “warming pause” in the last decade, KfW saying that fracking offers no competitive advantage to the US, Japan being set to become the world’s largest solar market, indications that the drop in German wholesale power prices is finally getting passed on to retail customers, a study concluding that renewables will be competitive with all fossil fuels in Germany by 2030, figures showing that the German renewables surcharge accounts for only a tiny fraction of households’ overall energy cost increase over the last decade, and more.

Japan reverses Copenhagen pledge, widens global emissions gap, nuclear shutdown not to blame. Japan took the occasion of the climate conference to announce a drastic downgrade of its 2020 emission target. Instead of a 25% reduction below 1990 levels Japan now aims to increase its emissions by about 3%. Japan argues that the shutdown of all of its nuclear plants post-Fukushima made this change necessary, but according to the Climate Action Tracker even fully replacing all those plants with coal would merely halve the original target.

China Faults Japan, Europe on Pollution at UN Talks. While Japan downgraded its target, the EU has already achieved its -20% target for 2020 and has been unwilling to increase its ambition. So the EU is basically committed to doing nothing more for the rest of the decade, and the rest of the world knows it, as Bloomberg reports.

The End of EU Climate Leadership. Germanwatch published a study saying that the EU has lost its pole position in climate policy, other countries have caught up or are even drawing ahead. Even the US and China are at least at par with the EU now, in their view.

Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated by Half. Stefan Rahmstorf discusses a new study that says that the warming of the last 15 years has been significantly underestimated due to data gaps in the Arctic. According to the study, correcting for these gaps shows that there has in fact not been a “warming pause”, as some have claimed.

US fracking no competitive advantage, KfW Economic Research paper says. eceee reports on a study from German KfW Research, which suggests that hydraulic fracking offers no major competitive advantage to US industry. On the contrary, the paper suggests that fracking and low energy prices may even slow down the necessary process of increasing the energy efficiency of the US industry.

Japan Set to Overtake Germany as World’s Largest Solar Market. Bloomberg projects that Japan will install 6.9 to 9.4 gigawatts of solar this year. So the scenario that Japan might fully replace its shutdown nuclear plants with coal is obviously rather hypothetical.

German utility reduces retail rate. German wholesale power prices have been going down for several years, mainly because of the scale-up of renewables. But so far this has not translated into benefits for retail customers. Craig Morris reports that this is finally about to change.

Fraunhofer study: Renewables becoming competitive with conventional power. Craig Morris reports on a new study (available only in German) which projects that renewables in Germany are on their way to outcompeting fossil fuels even without financial support.

Tiny Small Little Surcharge Costs in Germany. Karl-Friedrich Lenz notes that Germany’s renewables surcharge has increased by 14 euros per month since 2000 for the average German household, but at the same time other costs of electricity have increased almost twice as much (by 25 euros a month). In addition, the cost of heating oil has increased by 66 euros and the cost of gasoline by 53 euros a month. In total, households’ energy costs have increased from 198 euros a month to 356 euros, a difference of 158 euros. The renewables surcharge is thus less than ten percent of the overall cost increase. Most of the cost increases come from the fact that the oil price has gone up by a factor of five in the last decade, a trend which can be expected to continue.

Auf deutsch

Braucht die internationale Klimapolitik einen Paradigmenwechsel? Das Wuppertal Institut organisierte am 2. Oktober eine Podiumsdiskussion zur Zukunft der internationalen Klimapolitik. Die Dokumentation der Veranstaltung ist jetzt online. Ich persönlich habe dabei sehr viel gelernt.

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