Climate News of the Week Roundup: There’s No Warming Standstill, World Metereological Organisation says

This week’s roundup covers the WMO (once again) debunking the notion that there has been a pause in global warming, a report showing that fossil fuel subsidies are as high as they ever were, an open letter by Japanese scientists arguing that nuclear power is not the answer to climate change, continuing discussions on post-2020 European climate and energy policy, a study saying that Europe is losing its climate policy frontrunner status, 2013 renewables installation figures from around the world bearing out this view, discussions about Germany’s future renewables policy, and more.

There’s no warming standstill says WMO. Alex Kirby from Climate News Network covers a new report by the World Metereological Organisation. Each of the last decades was warmer than the previous one, 2013 was among the ten warmest years since modern records began, 13 of the 14 warmest years have all occurred within this century. The coldest year since 2001 was warmer than any year before 1998.

Google Earth: how much has global warming raised temperatures near you? Dana Nuccitelli from Skeptical Science reports that the University of East Anglia has developed a tool to look up climate change data with Google Earth.

No Matter How You Count Them, Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are As High As Ever. Ben Jervey from DeSmogBlog tallies up figures on fossil fuel subsidies, including some rather informative graphs. Phase-out decisions notwithstanding, the subsidies are again as high as they were before the financial crisis.

Nuclear Power is not the Answer to Climate Change Mitigation. A group of Japanese scientists have penned a reply to a previous open letter by prominent climate scientist James Hansen and others that had strongly argued that nuclear power was necessary to combat climate change.

EU low on climate ambition, disappoints on renewables: HSBC. Sophie Vorrath from RenewEconomy covers a new report from HSBC which says that the European Commission’s climate proposals (see previous post) “offer the lowest level of climate ambition” possible. According the HSBC the renewables target actually implies slowdown of the current trend, from a rate of 5 per cent per annum in 2010-2020, to 2 per cent during the 2020-2030 decade.

MEPs want binding 2030 goals for CO2 emissions, renewables and energy efficiency. The plenary of the European Parliament on Wednesday called for reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 40%, a 30% target for renewable energy and a 40% target for energy efficiency by 2030. Contrary to what the Commission proposed, in the Parliament’s view all of these targets should be binding and be broken down to the individual members states. Parliament also criticised the European Commission’s recent proposals as short-sighted and unambitious. The actual decision lies with the European Council, though.

Staying with the Leaders: Europe’s Path to a Successful Low-Carbon Economy. One favourite argument of people who want to put the brakes on EU climate policy is that the EU is allegedly already doing more than the rest of the world. A new report by Climate Strategies says that countries outside the EU are in fact increasingly pursuing ambitious climate and energy policies and have actually taken the lead in some areas. The report also says that an ambitious energy and climate policy does not come at the expense of the competitiveness of the European economy. The proportion of energy costs is low in many parts of industry: For 92% of German manufacturing, energy bills are on average less than 1.6% of revenue. And those sectors that do have a problem already get special treatment.

2013 wind energy installations stall in US, surge in China. Europe’s falling behind is borne out by the latest renewable energy installation figures. Silvio Marcacci discusses last year’s wind energy developments. Overall about 35.5 GW were installed globally, about 10GW less than in 2012, mainly due to uncertainty in the US about extension of the production tax credit. The European market also contracted and was mainly concentrated on Germany and the UK. Meanwhile, China accounted for nearly half of global installations and other developing country markets are also coming up. The outlook for the next two years looks better, with non-OECD markets continuing to look healthy and the US back on track, having entered 2014 with 12GW under construction. But again not much is expected from Europe.

France’s solar PV market falls again in 2013 to 743 MW. solarserver.com reports the latest figures from France. Which had the second year of market decline from a high of 1.69 GW in 2011, and brings the nation to a total installed capacity of 4.30 GW.

Germany installs 3.30 GW of solar PV in 2013. solarserver.com also reports on the latest solar installations figures from Germany, which bring the country’s total to 35.7GW. Installations in December totalled 166MW, the lowest figure since March 2011.

3.2 GW of wind in 2013 in Germany. Craig Morris reports that Germany installed 3.2GW of wind in 2013, bringing the total to 33.7GW. 3.2GW is markedly more than the “breathing cap” energy minister Gabriel wants to set at 2.5GW. The South of Germany continues to hardly feature, something the tariff reductions currently being discussed would pretty much set in stone.

German energy policy. Researchers test effects of policy proposals. The German coalition agreement says the feed-in model is to be replaced by direct marketing with a premium. Craig Morris reports on a study by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR)  that say this model will in the best case lead to oligarchy, in the worst case it might lead to a complete standstill for renewables.

The Energy Transition Crazies. Ingo Arzt had a rather nice op-ed in the German daily die tageszeitung (article in German). Among other things he points out that a key reason for the energy price difference between the US and Germany/Europe is not the Energiewende as such but the fact that the US subsidises energy directly or via tax rebates, not via surcharges levied on electricity bills. So if German politicans actually wanted to do something about energy prices they would need to change German tax policy, not the support for renewables. And he wonders why people demand that renewables should now face the market – as there hasn’t been an actual energy market at any time since the invention of the light bulb, only monopolies and oligopolies, a situation renewables are now changing.

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