Climate News of the Week Roundup: The Error of Thinking that All Emission Reductions Are Created Equal and Thus Tradable

This week’s roundup features a rather critical perspective on the UN climate negotiations, a new article arguing that looking only at short-term emission reduction costs makes for a bad long-term climate strategy, a study saying that reducing emissions will deliver dozens of billions worth of immediate benefits to the UK, wind and solar starting to outcompete gas in the US, the US being on track to install more solar than Germany this year, the New England states teaming up to promote efficiency, renewables and gas, a Stanford study saying that offshore wind farms could protect against hurricanes, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development limiting coal financing, plans for a European mega solar factory, and more.

Sun and Wind Despite Kyoto. Martin Unfried has a rather critical article (in German) on the UN climate negotiations. He argues that no technological revolution has ever been launched by consensus since there are always losers as well as winners. His recipe is radical promotion of technologies at the national level, as some countries have done with their support for renewables. The main problem of the climate negotiations is in his view the dominant narrative that reducing emissions is an economic burden and that this burden needs to be minimised through emissions trading.  The view that a tonne of reductions from optimising a fossil fuel plant in India is worth as much as investing in innovative technologies at home is in his view erroneous. If countries like Denmark, Germany, and others had followed the dominant cost minimising philosophy and used tonnes of carbon credits from abroad instead of promoting renewables nationally, renewables would still be toys rather than a serious danger to the fossil industries.

Marginal abatement cost curves and the optimal timing of mitigation measures. Adrien Vogt-Schilb, Stéphane Hallegatte make a similar argument in a new Energy Policy article (subscription required). They argue that as ambitious emission reduction measures cannot be implemented overnight, the optimal strategy to reach a short-term target depends on longer-term targets. The best strategy to achieve short-term targets may be to implement some expensive, high-potential, and long-to-implement options required to meet the long-term target. Using only the cheapest abatement options in the short term could create a carbon-intensive lock-in and make the 2050 target too expensive to reach

Carbon targets can help UK ‘save £85bn a year’. John Vidal reports on a new study saying that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, “a switch away from fossil fuels and an increase in energy efficiency would result in improved air quality, lower human health costs, lower energy bills, noise reduction, wildlife benefits, better quality water, less waste, less traffic congestion and fewer road accidents.”

Wind and solar costs challenge fossil fuels in US. Giles Parkinson reports that wind and solar contracts in the US are reaching record lows. Wind contracts in Texas are regularly below $30/MWh including tax incentives and $50/MWh without, while the all-in costs for a new gas plant would be about $60/MWh, the same level solar energy contracts have reached.

U.S. Will Top Germany In Solar Installation For The First Time In 15 Years. Kiley Kroh reports that the US is set to install more solar than Germany this year – though that’s arguably not that much of an achievement given the relative sizes of the countries and the economies.

6 US states sign pact to bring cheaper, cleaner, more reliable power to homes and businesses. The Clean Revolusion website reports that the New England states are teaming up to promote efficiency, renewables, and gas.

Obama offers funds to launch U.S. offshore wind farms. Wendy Koch reports that the Obama administration will provide up to $168 million over six years to kickstart the USA’s first seven offshore windfarms.

Offshore wind farms could protect against hurricanes. Bobby Magill reports on a new Stanford study that says that in addition to providing electricity, offshore windfarms could also suck the life and the power out of hurricanes barreling toward the shore.

EBRD Scraps Most Financing for Coal Power Plants. Bloomberg reports that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is joining the bandwaggon following the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, US Exim Bank, the UK and Nordic countries in restricting international coal financing.

Mega Solar Factory: Europe Wants to Re-Enter Competition With China. Sasche Rentzig reports (article in German) that several European research institutes are putting together a concept for a mega solar module factory. In their view the main reason why Chinese producers are able to undercut European ones is not labour costs but that Chinese factories are newer and larger, so they have better economies of scale. A new mega factory would in their view enable European producers to outbid their Chinese competitors.

Auf deutsch:

Premiere: Erster Kraftwerksneubau durch den Staat angekündigt. Der Koalitionsvertrag sieht vor, dass die Bundesnetzagentur zur Sicherstellung der Versorgungssicherheit die Errichtung neuer Kraftwerkskapazitäten vornehmen kann. Hans-Jochen Luhmann, Manfred Fischedick und Stefan Thomas vom Wuppertal Institut empfehlen zur Abfederung von Spitzenlasten Nachfragemanagement statt Kraftwerksneubau.

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