Climate News of the Week Roundup: Germany Projected to Miss Emission Targets Due to New Government’s Energy Policy

This week’s roundup covers a sobering analysis of what impacts the new German government’s energy policy can be expected to have, an analysis of whether the major economies will meet their 2020 pledges, the US tabling its vision for the 2015 climate agreement, an analysis of the Boxer-Sanders climate bill, a proposal for breaking the deadlock on a 2030 EU renewables target, Denmark’s cross-party consensus to be a climate frontrunner, India switching water pumps from diesel to solar, a vision of the Western Balkans as new Desertec, the results of the first year of free public transport in Talinn, and another major sign of the collapse of the Clean Development Mechanism.

Energy scenario reveals deficits of German government’s energy policy. Renowned German energy analyst Joachim Nitsch reports (article in German) on an analysis that modeled the impacts of the energy and climate policy as laid down in the new German government’s coalition agreement. Its provisions on renewable electricity have little ambition and there’s even less on renewables in heating and transport and on energy efficiency. If things don’t get beefed up substantially, Germany is projected to miss its climate and energy targets by a wide margin. 2020 emissions will be only 32% below 1990 levels instead of 40%, and 2050 emissions only 60%.

Are major economies on track to achieve their pledges for 2020? A new Energy Policy article (subscription required) by Michel den Elzen, Niklas Höhne and others says the domestic policies of India, China and Russia are projected to lead to lower emissions than they pledged. Australia and EU are likely to deliver their unconditional pledges, but not the conditional ones. Canada and USA will probably need to do more to deliver their pledges. The situation is unclear for Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Indonesia.

U.S. lays out vision for 2015 climate pact to UN. Valerie Volcovici from Reuters reports that the US tabled a new submission in the UN negotiation process on a new climate agreement that is to be concluded in 2015. As in the past, the US wants all countries, developed and developing, to be on the same legal footing in the new agreement and to conform to the same requirements in terms of timeframe and transparency. Instead of internationally binding commitments the 2015 agreement should in the US view rely on domestic authorities to ensure implementation, given that a binding treaty would be unlikely to muster the necessary 2/3 majority for ratification in Congress.

Analysis of the Climate Protection Act of 2013. Scientists from Stanford and Berkeley have analysed the climate bill Boxer and Sanders introduced in the US Senate last year, which is based on levying a carbon pollution fee and rebating part of the proceeds to US residents and using other parts to assist trade-exposed industries, low-income households, displaced workers, to increase energy R&D and to reduce the U.S. federal budget deficit. Their result is that the bill would substantially reduce emissions, reduce GDP by less than 0.5% in 2020, rebate $744 billion to households over ten years, with an average yearly house-hold rebate of between $181 and $223, reduce households net energy-related expenditures substantially, and reduce the U.S. federal budget deficit by $311 billion over ten years. Too bad the bill doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting passed.

Promoting renewables, without binding national targets. The extension of the EU’s 2020 renewables target to 2030 is controversial, some countries are in favour, others opposed. Sandbag suggests to break the deadlock by instead introducing an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS), a maximum limit on the CO2 per kWh power plants may emit, or a Decarbonisation Obligation, where power suppliers have steadily to reduce the carbon intensity of their product. Both would ensure that electricity production gets cleaned up while avoiding dictating energy choices to EU member states.

Danish parties back 40% carbon reduction target. Ed King from Responding to Climate Change reports that Denmark’s political parties have agreed to make its ambitious -40% target for 2020 legally binding, to set new targets every five years with a ten-year perspective, and to establish a Climate Council as a watchdog, modeled on the UK’s Committee on Climate Change.

India Wants To Switch 26 Million Water Pumps To Solar Power Instead Of Diesel. Jeff Spross from ClimateProgress reports on a large-scale Indian effort to get rid of inefficient and polluting diesel.

Are the Western Balkans the new Desertec? Desertec is vision to supply Europe with renewable energy from North Africa but it is making at best halting progress. Paul Hockenos asks in a post on his “Going Renewable” blog whether the Western Balkans could fulfill the same function. They have abundant renewable energy potential but lack infrastructure to use and export it.

Attractive Public Transport. Free Ride for City Inhabitants. German daily die tageszeitung reports (article in German) on the first results of an interesting experiment. Estonia’s capital Tallinn introduced free public transport for its inhabitants on 1 January 2013. The results so far: the scheme is fully financed by people shifting their residence to the city, there were 15% less cars and 45kt less CO2.

Further sign of collapse of the CDM market as largest independent verifier of emission reduction projects leaves the market. The carbon price in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism is at rock-bottom level and now the Carbon Markets and Investors Association reports that DNV will no longer provide validation and verification services for CDM and other international climate change mitigation projects. DNV was by far the largest auditor of CDM projects.

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