Climate News of the Week Roundup: Warming of 2°C Would Be a “Desaster”, Hansen et al. Say

This week’s roundup covers a new article by 18 scientists arguing that the globally agreed target to keep global warming below 2°C is far too weak, a new study saying that solar is on course to become globally competitive by the middle of the next decade, cuts to UK support for renewables being applauded by green groups, reports of renewables ramping up in China, Australia and Japan, a Fraunhofer study saying that the EU should adopt binding renewables and efficiency targets for 2030 in order to achieve a least-cost pathway to 2050, Toshiba becoming Germany’s newest solar utility with a model that might make the old ones irrelevant, and more.

350 Or Bust: Scientists Warn Even 2°C Warming Leads To ‘Disastrous Consequences’ And Must Be Avoided. Joe Romm comments on a new paper by James Hansen, Frank Ackerman, Johan Rockstrom, Jeffrey Sachs, and 14 other scientists that warns that global warming higher than 1°C could imperil the Earth’s ecosystems and societies. 2°C of warming would in their view likely lead to sea level rise of several metres, extremely severe weather events and other impacts. They also warn that a warming of 2°C would likely not be stable due to positive feedbacks such as thawing permafrost, which would in their view ultimately lead to warming of 3-4°C.

New Report Says Solar Will Achieve Near-Global Competitiveness With Natural Gas By 2025. Jeff Spross covers a new study that projects that solar energy will be cost competitive with natural gas by 2025 in most of the world even in a low gas price scenario.

Are cuts to UK renewable energy subsidies good news? Ed King reports that UK green groups applauded government announcements to cut the guaranteed “strike price” for renewables, saying it shows that renewable energy technologies are becoming mature and competitive.

Desperate villagers turn to wind to cut energy bills. The Telegraph reports on how the residents of one English village decided to put their own money into a wind turbine to cut their electricity bills, liberate themselves from the large power companies – and generate an 8% return on their investment.

Renewables’ share of new power capacity in China surpasses 50 pct. PointCarbon reports (subscription required) that more than half of new power capacity added to China’s grid in the first ten months of 2013 came from renewable sources, not least due to increasing efforts by the government to reduce air pollution.

People power: Rooftop solar PV reaches 3GW in Australia. Giles Parkinson reports that installed rooftop solar PV in Australia has reached 3GW. In 2009 installed capacity was barely more than 180MW, so it has grown no less than 17-fold in only four years.

Japan’s Domestic Solar Shipments Surge More Than Threefold. Bloomberg reports that more than 2 GW of solar equipment shipped in Japan in the third quarter, up from 627MW in the same quarter of last year. During the first half of this year about 3.7 GW had been shipped, roughly the same volume as in the entire year 2012.

Binding energy efficiency and renewable energy targets for 2030 are a guarantee for ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and low energy costs. The German Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) reports that it recently completed two studies together with the Vienna University of Technology which conclude that an EU greenhouse gas reduction target on its own would fail to trigger enough additional energy savings and a continuous evolution of renewable energies. “To achieve the EU’s long-term 2050 climate ambitions, a diverse portfolio of energy efficiency and renewables technologies will be needed. We have to develop these technologies now if we want them to be available when we need them.”

Toshiba Just Became Germany’s Newest Solar Utility. Stephen Lacey reports that Toshiba plans to enter the German power business with a new “on-site consumption model” for solar that would bypass utilities and offer solar electricity directly to German apartment dwellers.

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