Climate News of the Week Roundup: All Eyes on the EU Commission’s Forthcoming 2030 Climate and Energy Proposals

Service announcement: I will in future try to always publish my roundups on Friday since I recently started having other stuff to on the week-end. At any rate, the roundups will be published at some point between Friday and Sunday evening.

This week’s roundup covers an assessment of the scenarios underlying the European Commissions forthcoming post-2020 climate and energy proposals, warnings of European climate impacts and job losses that would follow from insufficient climate policy, falling global clean energy investment, ambitious Kenyan solar plans, rising US emissions, current and former US politicians and business people gearing up to fight for stronger climate policy, the Northeastern US states tightening their emission trading system, Germany’s 2013 power sector figures, and more.

Technical Analysis and Comparison of Underlying Scenarios for the Forthcoming European Commission White Paper on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies. With the European Commission set to publish its proposals for post-2020 EU climate and energy policy, the Wuppertal Institute published an analysis of the scenarios underlying the Commission paper. The Commission does not seem to be too concerned about projected severe climate impacts and low-carbon leakage (see below). It has no scenario that combines high renewables deployment with strong energy efficiency progress and also no scenario with domestic reductions of more than 80%, which would very likely be necessary to actually achieve the 2°C target. The Commission also does not seem to be too impressed by its own research. According to the Commission’s own impact assessment scenarios with dedicated renewables and efficiency policies perform better than scenarios which have no such dedicated policies. And the 2050 EU ETS carbon price is projected to be much higher in  scenarios with no dedicated efficiency and renewables policies compared to those scenarios which have such policies. Also, a strong focus on renewables and efficiency measures would create more jobs and would also have considerable health benefits compared to focusing on emission reductions only. Nonetheless, the Commission is strongly leaning towards kicking mandatory renewables and efficiency targets from its proposals (see previous post).

Climate policies are more important than targets. Stephen Tindale argues that well-constructed targets can play a useful role in guiding subsequent policy making, but effective policies are more important, and could be crafted even without targets. In his view, the Commission should propose a 50% greenhouse gas reduction target and a 40% renewables target, CCS should become mandatory on new coal-fired power stations, CHP should become mandatory on all new power stations that involve combustion, and buildings should be required to be made more energy efficient whenever they are sold or rented out.

Europe to suffer from more severe and persistent droughts. Researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the University of Kassel in Germany have published a new study on prospective climate change impacts in the EU. They project that climate change will significantly exacerbate water scarcity on the old continent.

‘Low carbon leakage’ begins as EU prepares to junk efficiency goal. EurActiv reports that providers of energy efficiency solutions say they see no demand for their products in the EU due to insufficient policy. One insulation company even claims that it closed a factory due to lack of business prospects.

Clean energy investment falls for second year. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual roundup, global clean energy investment fell for the second year in a row in 2013, driven by one positive and one negative factor. The positive factor is the ongoing decrease in solar PV equipment costs, so less money spent does not necessarily mean less capacity installed. The negative factor is the policy changes/uncertainty in Europe and the US. One overarching trend is that the clean energy music continued to shift from Europe to other regions, in particular Asia.

Kenya to generate over half of its electricity through solar power by 2016. Gitonga Njeru from the Guardian reports that the Kenyan government plans to invest Government invests US $1.2bn together with private companies to build solar power plants across the country. Construction is to begin this year.

Negotiations: The diplomatic road to a new climate agreement may not end in Paris next year. Lisa Friedman from E&E News provides a roundup of views on the future of the climate regime. The prevailing mood is that combating climate change will be a marathon, not a sprint that will finish in 2015.

After years of decline, U.S. carbon emissions rose 2 percent in 2013. Brad Plumer from the Washington Post reports on the latest emission figures from the US. Energy-related CO2 emissions have for the time being reversed their previous downward trend as gas lost some of its cost advantage compared to coal. So high time for the administration to roll out its announced power plant regulation.

Reid Unveils New Task Force to Defend Obama’s Climate Agenda. Dean Scott from Bloomberg reports that Democrat members of Congress are gearing up for a fight. “With the Republican-controlled House and most Senate Republicans opposed to bills to cap or tax those emissions, there is a growing sense among Senate Democrats that near-term progress will require a staunch defense of Obama’s initiatives, outlined by the president in June”

US heavyweights unite to establish economic cost of climate change. Sophie Yeo from RTCC reports that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, former US Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, billionaire philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer, and other politicians and business people have teamed up to map out the economic impacts of climate change on the USA in a bid to turn around the US climate conversion.

Northeastern US states tighten carbon trading scheme. John McGarrity from RTCC reports that at least one ETS is getting fixed: the Northeastern US states have agreed to cut the cap in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by 45%.

Renewables make up 23.4 percent of German power supply. Craig Morris covers the release of the German utilities association’s 2013 power sector overview. According to their figures the share of renewables in German power supply grew from 22.8% to 23.4% last year, the share of coal also increased, gas and nuclear went down, exports went up substantially. 

Target for 2020 – Germany not on target for carbon emissions. Craig Morris also points out that Germany is not on track for reducing its emissions as intended. Without changes in policy, power sector carbon emissions are likely to remain more or less stable for the rest of the decade as renewable electricity growth will largely replace nuclear and gas, not coal.


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