Climate News of the Week Roundup: Even Warming Below 2°C May Significantly Increase Global Water Scarcity

This week’s roundup covers a new study saying that even “moderate” levels of global warming may significantly increase global water stress, a good debunking of some of climate contrarians’ favourite talking points, Michael Liebreich summing up the year’s trends in clean energy,  a UBS report saying that traditional utilities’ business models are becoming increasingly unviable, a study saying that stand-by mode eats up more electricity than the actual use of the appliances, new evaluation criteria of Chinese officials that no longer have GDP growth at their core, a World Bank report on India’s solar prospects, Spain and Scotland continuing to post renewables records, France introducing a carbon tax, bad grades for the EU’s international climate finance, figures showing that Denmark and Germany have expectional grid reliability despite having high shares of wind and solar, an assessment of what Germany’s new cabinet means for the Energiewende, and more.

It Doesn’t Take Much Global Warming To Drive Global Water Scarcity Way Up. Jeff Spross reports on a new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research which concludes that even levels of warming that most people consider moderate would already lead to a severe decrease in water ressources. Even only 1-2°C of global warming, that is, achieving the temperature target the international community has agreed, may already increase absolute water scarcity around the world by 40%.

7 ways to shut down a climate change denier. Unfortunately, from my own experience I know that die-hard climate contrarians don’t care how many facts and data you lay out for them. Nonetheless, John Rennie did a good debunking of 7 common climate contrarian talking points for the Scientific American.

Liebreich: Energy transition advanced in 2013, though it may not feel like it. Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s head Michael Liebreich sums up the year and concludes that 2013 saw lots of political rollback but also numerous signs of clean energy moving into the mainstream and becoming entrenched.

UBS: Utilities face “perfect storm” from renewables, storage. Giles Parkinson covers a new report from investment bank UBS which concludes that renewables, energy efficiency and energy storage are putting increasing pressure on traditional utilities’ business models. In essence, they will either adapt or die.

Stand-by Mode Eats Up More Electricity than Actual Use. Sasche Plischke covers (article in German) a new study which concludes that consumers are paying more for standby consumption of entertainment electronics than for their actual use. Pulling the plug can reduce electricity consumption by 2/3.

China Focus: China’s reformed official assessment hailed as landmark. Xinhua reports that GDP growth will no longer be the most important factor when evaluating Chinese officials’ performance. In future, the evaluation criteria are to also focus on the quality and sustainability of economic development. This could have far reaching consequences for China’s future development pathway.

India on course to become solar ‘global leader’. RTCC covers a new World Bank report that says India that could become a solar ‘global leader’ if it addresses investment and skills bottlenecks.

Wind Primary Electricity Source in Spain. Antonio Cerillo reports (article in Spanish) that wind energy this year for the first time was the largest source of electricity in Spain, providing 21.1%, ahead of nuclear, coal and hydro.

Renewable energy use at record high in Scotland. The BBC reports that renewables provided for 40.3% of Scottish energy consumption in 2012, up from 36.3% in 2011 and 24.1% in 2010, so almost a doubling within only two years.

Months After Banning Fracking, France Now Has A Carbon Tax. Platts reports that the new French budget includes a carbon tax on household use of gas, heating oil and coal. The tax will start at 7€ per tonne in 2014 and rise to 14.5€ in 2015 and to 22€ in 2016. Companies covered by the EU ETS, as well as transport and fishing, will be exempt, though, so in contrast to the UK carbon floor price the new tax will not help to counteract the low ETS price.

“EU must step up coordination on global climate finance”, say EU Auditors. The European Court of Auditors put out a new report on the EU’s international climate finance. While the Commission gets good grades, overall EU climate finance is found wanting. “The Commission and Member States have not agreed how to meet the commitment to scale-up climate finance by 2020. A robust monitoring, reporting and verification system providing comprehensive and reliable information on the Commission’s and Member States’ climate- related spending to monitor compliance with commitments made has not yet been established, and the extent to which the FSF pledge has been fulfilled is unclear. No attempt has been made to reduce the proliferation of climate funds. Significant further coordination between the Commission and Member States is needed to prevent and combat corruption.”

Overview of grid reliability in EU. Craig Morris reports on new figures showing that Denmark and Germany continue to have exceptionally reliable electricity grids despite having high shares of intermittent renewables wind and solar.

What Germany’s new cabinet means for the Energiewende. Craig Morris ponders what the energy lineup of the new German government means for the Energiewende. Signals are mixed, on the one hand SPD chief and new economy minister Sigmar Gabriel has been talking up coal lately, on the other hand he is surrounding himself with some of Germany’s most knowledgeable proponents of renewables.

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