This week we feature the forthcoming US elections, in particular the Republican and Democratic Platforms on energy and climate change. It’s difficult to conceive of such diametrically opposed positions. If Clinton wins the US will continue with Obama’s pro-renewable policies, but a Trump victory could well put paid to the world’s vision of a renewable energy future. Or could it?
Democratic Convention: Democratic Platform on Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.
Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050; and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century. We will take bold steps to slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs. We can and we will do both. We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. We will cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernize our electric grid; and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world. These efforts will create millions of new jobs and save families and businesses money on their monthly energy bills.
Now the Republicans:
Deutsche Welle: Republican Platform on Climate Change
Republicans would implement drastic changes in American environment and climate policy if elected to power in November, according to the party platform adopted on Monday (18.07.2016) at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The platform, which would be implemented both by presidential nominee Donald Trump and by Republican lawmakers in the United States Congress, would end limits to CO2 emissions, pull the US out of the United Nations climate process, open protected forests to logging and end all subsidies to renewable energy. The document makes the argument that climate change is not proven science – and that in any event, “climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), set up by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970, would be dismantled and transformed into an “independent bipartisan commission similar to the nuclear regulatory commission.” The platform accuses the Democratic administration of outgoing president Barack Obama of having a “radical anti-coal agenda.” “The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource,” it states.
We follow up with the usual mix of stories, including more conflicting perspectives on the impact of Brexit on North Sea Oil, a decision on Hinkley Point expected next week, another jump in the US rig count, uranium prices at an 11-year low, declining renewable energy subsidies in Europe, World Bank finances Kosovo coal plant, Bill Gates says no to solar in Africa, Paris climate agreement already “going off rails”, Lords to investigate UK energy policy, Brexit to increase UK energy costs, 2016 on track to be the hottest year on record and how China plans to power the world by 2050.
Wall Street Journal: North Sea Oil Firms Buoyed by Brexit
A weakened British pound caused by the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union has thrown a lifeline to a group of businesses on the brink—small oil companies plying the North Sea. The fall of the British pound to a 31-year low after the June 23 referendum has lowered labor, equipment and engineering costs for companies that have major operations in Scotland, the main base for North-Sea outfits. These companies sell oil in dollars but pay employees and the majority of their costs in the weakened British currency. “I don’t really see any negatives, other than general market uncertainty,” said Tony Durrant, the chief executive of Premier Oil PLC, a London-based company that pumps about 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, mostly from the North Sea. “Our dollar income is going to buy more and it’s going to reduce our costs,” he added. Oil giants like BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which have large North Sea operations and big suites of London-based executives and office workers, are also winners. Their share prices have jumped to 14-month highs since the Brexit vote, after declining along with oil prices for the past two years.
BOE Report: Brexit leads to oil-field shutdowns in North Sea
The pace of shutdowns in the North Sea oil-field is picking up as the impact of the market slump is compounded by the uncertain investment environment created by Brexit. Projected spending on decommissioning in the British sector in the decade to 2024 has risen to 16.9 billion pounds ($22.2 billion), according to Oil & Gas U.K., an industry group. That’s 16 percent higher than a 10-year forecast in 2014 as more sites are targeted for closing, it said. The rout in crude to less than $50 a barrel has left about 30 percent of fields in the U.K. North Sea, one of the world’s highest-cost regions, operating at a loss, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie Ltd. The collapse was pushing more producers to hasten plugging wells on the sea floor even before the U.K. decision to leave the European Union. “This has increased the number of fields we expect to cease in the near term, which has increased decommissioning costs,” said Fiona Legate, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie in Edinburgh. “There is a lot of political uncertainty in the U.K. following Brexit and this adds another complexity in investment decisions.” Wood Mackenzie expects spending on decommissioning, including removing steel structures offshore, to top 23 billion pounds in the decade to 2025. Budgets will triple to 2.8 billion pounds in 2018 from 899 million this year, it said. The estimate is so much higher than that of Oil & Gas U.K. because the costs are uncertain at this point, given how little decommissioning has taken place, the firm said.
Financial Times: North Sea oil and gas sector faces first big strike in a generation
A 24-hour stoppage is planned for Tuesday by employees of Wood Group, an oilfield services company, across eight platforms operated by Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group. Union leaders say workers have already made heavy sacrifices since oil prices collapsed from over $100 a barrel in 2014 to a 12-year low of $28 in January. Prices have since bounced back to around $47 a barrel but that has not been enough to lift the gloom hanging over one of the world’s oldest and highest-cost offshore oil-producing basins. “Strike action by our members is not a decision they take lightly, but they have been pushed to the limit,” said John Boland, regional officer of Unite, which called the strike together with the RMT union. By the end of this year, the number of oil and gas jobs in the UK is forecast to have fallen by 8,000 from a peak of 41,700 in 2014, according to the industry group Oil & Gas UK. When support jobs are included the number is expected to have fallen from 453,800 to 330,400 — a loss of over 120,000. The brunt of the losses has been felt in Aberdeen, capital of the UK oil industry, where the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has more than doubled since the end of 2014.
Energy Voice: Protesters storm Aberdeen headquarters of Oil and Gas UK
Dozens of climate change protesters stormed the headquarters of Oil and Gas UK yesterday. More than 100 members of Young Friends of the Earth and the Climate Action Scotland groups lined the street outside the organisation in Aberdeen. Police turned up after some of the protesters went inside the building and placed Just Transition UK stickers on second floor windows. Protesters arrived at the building on Market Street at about 9am, and called for the UK and Scottish governments to focus more of their efforts on supporting a move to a low carbon economy while minimising hardships for workers. Governments to focus more of their efforts on supporting a move to a low carbon economy while minimising hardships for workers. Kirsty Haigh, from Climate Action, Scotland said: “We want to see the government move away from oil and gas and instead have investments in renewable energy and the reskilling of the workforce. Oil and Gas UK are continuing to lobby for tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels and instead we want to see that money go into the creation of sustainable and stable jobs. A lot of people in Aberdeen have lost their jobs and the government should be preparing for the future and re-employment instead of abandoning the people and leaving them out to dry by supporting fossil fuels.”
Oil Price: U.S. Oil & Gas Rig Count Jumps By 15
The U.S. rig count is up 15 oil and gas rigs this week, nearly doubling last week’s rig increase and heralding new supply to add to the existing glut and push oil prices down further. According to the Baker Hughes rig count released at 1:00 EST today, oil rigs are up 14 for the week, while gas rigs were down by one, and ‘miscellaneous’ rigs were up two. The biggest gains were in Texas, where 15 new rigs were brought on line, with the Permian basin specifically seeing eight new rigs put into action. The total U.S. rig count is now 462, with Canada coming in with seven new rigs at 102. This week trading has seen oil prices slump downward by US$0.83 by mid-day Friday (EST). On Wednesday, prices closed at a weekly low of US$43.96. The decline is being attributed to a ramp-up in drilling fields that are profitable with oil below US$50 per barrel, adding further to the supply glut. The U.S. rig count took a major dive beginning in August 2015, but since May 2016 has started the climb back upwards, with 41 drilling rigs at work since late May and until last week’s rig count. The U.S. rig count is still down 414 oil and gas rigs from the same time a year ago.
Economic Calendar: Uranium Price Falls to 11-Year Low
Despite bullish forecasts for uranium in the years ahead, the commodity continues to languish in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan caused the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, uranium prices crashed on the expectations, and reality that countries around the world would shun nuclear power as a source of energy. Soon, that sentiment changed on the news that many countries would go ahead with their nuclear development plans as nuclear power remained one of the cheapest and overall environmentally friendly means to generate power for their growing populations. Although uranium analysts changed their sentiment from negative to positive, uranium prices till floundered. This is because, in reality, the ramp-up of nuclear power plants was much slower than anticipated and at the same time stockpiles of the commodity remained high. Ahead of the nuclear disaster, there was a ramp up in global uranium production with the price of uranium reaching a record high of $70 a pound, which spurred increased investment and production increases around the world. After the nuclear disaster, uranium demand came to a virtual stand still, leaving an oversupplied market. Now, these stockpiles are being worked down, and there is little incentive for new production. In fact, many companies have slashed production as weak pricing has impacted the economics of uranium mining. On Monday, according to Ux Consulting, uranium prices fell to an 11-year low. Uranium is also finding new competition for an energy source thanks to the increase in availability and decrease in the price of natural gas.
Japan’s use of nuclear power is unlikely to meet a government target of returning to near pre-Fukushima levels and the world’s No.3 economy needs to get serious about boosting renewables, a senior executive at a top business lobby said. Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy policies, nuclear is supposed to supply a fifth of energy generation by 2030, but Teruo Asada, vice chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, said Japan was unlikely to get anywhere near this. The influential business lobby has issued a proposal urging Tokyo to remove hurdles for renewable power amid the shaky outlook for nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The move shows how business attitudes are now shifting as reactor restarts get held up by legal challenges, safety issues and public scepticism. “We have a sense of crisis that Japan will become a laughing stock if we do not encourage renewable power,” said Asada, who is also chairman of trading house Marubeni Corp.
Belfast Telegraph: EDF to decide next week on Hinkley Point nuclear power station
Energy giant EDF will make its long-awaited final investment decision on the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point next week. The company announced on Thursday night that it has called a meeting of its board of directors on July 28. The agenda includes the final investment decision for the construction of two reactors at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset. Hinkley Point C is a crucial part of the UK’s future energy mix, providing 7% of the country’s total electricity needs when up and running in 2025. The final go-ahead has been delayed, raising doubts whether the power station would ever be built. French unions have raised concerns about the cost of building the power station, but UK unions have offered strong support for the project. EDF bosses have insisted the project will happen. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “It’s clear that we are open for business as we come closer to sealing the deal on this major investment in British infrastructure and British jobs. New nuclear is an essential part of our plan for a secure, clean and affordable energy system that will power the economy throughout this century. This is a welcome decision from EDF, and we look forward to the outcome.”
Hellenic Shipping News: Chinese June thermal coal imports rise 21.4% on year
China imported 7.54 million mt of thermal coal in June, rising 21.4% year on year, but down 1% from May’s 13-month high, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs Friday. The volume included 5.87 million mt of bituminous material and 1.66 million mt of sub-bituminous coal, but excluded imports of lower CV lignite material. During the first half of the year, China imported 40.57 million mt of thermal coal, down 4.2% from the same period of 2015. Australia remained the largest shipper of thermal coal to China in June at 3.23 million mt, falling 14% on the year and down 3% from May’s five-month high. Indonesia sent 2.86 million mt to China in June, 63% higher on the year, but down 8% from the previous month. China’s imports of Russian thermal coal jumped 94% on the year to 1.28 million mt, which was also 25% higher on the month and at a three-month high. Total lignite imports for June more than doubled year on year to 6.17 million mt from 2.90 million mt a year ago, and also increased 20% from May to the highest monthly volume since April 2014. Of the total, 5.14 million mt was received from Indonesia, rising 92% year on year and also up 10% on the month.
In the early days of December 2015, as the Paris climate talks veered off course and off schedule, the US secretary of state John Kerry left his team of negotiators and flew to Kosovo to voice his support for a proposed US-built, World Bank-sponsored coal power station. Speaking alongside the prime minister, Isa Mustafa, Kerry told reporters at Pristina airport that the Kosovo e re (New Kosovo) plant would help the tiny, impoverished country do “its part to contribute to this global effort of nations who are committed to dealing with climate change” by replacing an extremely high-polluting cold war-era power plant. Kerry then returned to Paris and helped land a deal intended to bring the fossil fuel era to an end. While many countries, including the US, continue to build coal plants at home, the fuel is increasingly a pariah in the world of development finance. Both the US and the World Bank have limited international finance for new coal power to exceptional circumstances – so rare that Kosovo’s is the only coal plant being considered for World Bank support anywhere on Earth. Despite this, Kosovan government officials are confident they will receive final approval from the World Bank when the project goes before its board, likely later this year. Strong advocacy is expected from the US delegation. “I don’t think any of our partners wants to put at risk the future of our country,” says Kosovo’s minister for economic development, Blerand Stavileci.
Financial Times: EDF looks to a future without coal trading
Over nearly two decades EDF Trading has made billions of euros of profit from trading coal, gas and electricity — markets in which it has grown to rival some of the industry’s biggest names including Glencore and Vitol. But now EDF, keen to promote its low-carbon credentials and strengthen its balance sheet, is looking to sell the trading division’s huge coal operation to a joint venture involving Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, two Japanese utilities. Rivals say the move raises questions about whether state-controlled EDF will retain the remainder of its trading business. EDF and the two Japanese utilities declined to comment, but people familiar with the talks about the coal trading business say they are progressing towards a sale. A deal could be concluded before Christmas. Last year EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French government, flagged a possible sale of its coal-trading operations when it launched a strategic review of its “fossil fuel production and marketing activities”. “They are de-fossilising their brand like Eon,” said a rival coal trader, referring to the German utility company that is planning to spin off its conventional power generation assets and energy trading business.
Is the global effort to combat climate change, painstakingly agreed to in Paris seven months ago, already going off the rails? Germany, Europe’s champion for renewable energy, seems to be having second thoughts about its ambitious push to ramp up its use of renewable fuels for power generation. Hoping to slow the burst of new renewable energy on its grid, the country eliminated an open-ended subsidy for solar and wind power and put a ceiling on additional renewable capacity. Germany may also drop a timetable to end coal-fired generation, which still accounts for over 40 percent of its electricity, according to a report leaked from the country’s environment ministry. Instead, the government will pay billions to keep coal generators in reserve, to provide emergency power at times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. Renewables have hit a snag beyond Germany, too. Renewable sources are producing temporary power gluts from Australia to California, driving out other energy sources that are still necessary to maintain a stable supply of power. In Southern Australia, where wind supplies more than a quarter of the region’s power, the spiking prices of electricity when the wind wasn’t blowing full-bore pushed the state government to ask the power company Engie to switch back on a gas-fired plant that had been shut down.But in what may be the most worrisome development in the combat against climate change, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy. The United States, and indeed the world, would do well to reconsider the promise and the limitations of its infatuation with renewable energy.
Cleantechnica: Bill Gates Dismisses Solar In Africa
Speaking last Sunday as he delivered the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, Gates again dismissed the role of solar in bringing electricity to the millions throughout Africa who are without reliable access to electricity. “In East Africa especially, governments should invest in hydro and geothermal sources of energy, which are both reliable and renewable, as soon as possible,” Gates said. “There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar. This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.” In an article published in June of 2014, Gates explained that “Today’s technologies are a good start, but not good enough.” He continued, explaining: “Some places don’t get enough regular sunlight or reliable wind to depend heavily on these sources. In any case, these and other clean-energy technologies are still too expensive to be rolled out widely in poor countries.” Instead, these countries are “building large numbers of coal plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure. That’s very unfortunate, but it’s understandable,” Gates said. “We can’t expect them to wait decades for cleaner alternatives when their people need energy now.”
Huffington Post: California sets new solar record
Thanks to a heat wave, California was able to shatter a state solar record. On July 12 at 1:06 p.m., several large solar plants dotted throughout the state produced 8,030 megawatts of electricity, according to the California Independent System Operator. According to San Francisco Gate, that’s enough energy to power more than 6 million households. This record is more than double the amount produced in May, when solar power impressively generated a little more than 50 percent of demand. Not to mention that this new record was set solely by large solar plants. It doesn’t even take into consideration the 537,637 smaller solar penal arrays installed on private homes and business’ rooftops. The San Francisco Gate does point out a downside, however. Just like the sun, solar power tends to peak mid-afternoon then plummets in late afternoon when the sun starts to go down. At that point California wind farms pick up the slack from late afternoon into the night. Problem is, electricity demand peaks at 6 p.m., which is the time when the green energy is shifting from solar to wind power. Yet the state is committed to embracing renewable energy.
Energy Live News: Lords Committee to investigate UK energy policy
The Economic Affairs Committee has launched an investigation into the UK’s energy policy. It is inviting views on its inquiry titled ‘The Economics of UK Energy Policy’ as the committee believes the present mix of policy interventions and subsidies have led to failures in the energy market. Lord Hollick, Chairman of the Committee said: “In the Committee’s report into the economic impact on UK energy policy of shale gas and oil in May 2014, we concluded that there had been a lack of clarity and consistency in energy policy over many years. This failure of policy had left the UK dangerously close to lacking sufficient electricity generating capacity. Over two years later, little has changed. Coal power stations are being closed and old nuclear stations are coming towards the end of their life but it is not clear how they will replaced and at what cost.
Canceling the UK’s carbon capture and storage competition may hinder meeting long-term climate change targets, increase costs to consumers and delay deployment of the technology until 2030, National Audit Office (NAO), the UK’s public spending watchdog, warned on Wednesday. The premature halt of government’s support for CCS projects has erased the chance of the technology in “contributing meaningfully to decarbonization before 2030,” the NAO said in a report commissioned by the Environmental Audit Committee. “As a result, there is no viable way to achieve deep emissions reductions from the industrial sector in the near future,” the NAO said. In November 2015, the UK government axed the CCS commercialization program, which had earmarked GBP1 billion ($1.32 billion) in capital funding for new projects that could allow the safe removal and storage of carbon emissions from coal and gas plants before 2020. The former energy department, known as the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Treasury had concluded the CCS competition would not guarantee further investment in the technology and assessed cost to consumers would be high and regressive.
Telegraph: Brexit to add £350m to energy bills
Brexit uncertainty will increase by a sixth the costs of a Government scheme to keep the lights on, adding more than £350m to consumer energy bills, leading analysts have forecast. Doubts over the future operation of the energy market and increased financing costs will lead energy companies to demand greater subsidies to build and operate power plants, consultancy Cornwall Energy claimed in a report. Under the Government’s “capacity market” scheme, energy companies are offered subsidies to guarantee their power stations will generate electricity when needed in future winters. The policy is intended to encourage the construction of new gas plants to replace Britain’s ageing coal and nuclear power stations. Earlier this month, ministers set out detailed plans for the amount of power plant capacity they would recruit through the scheme for winter 2020 21, via a reverse auction process to be held this December. Cornwall Energy said it estimated that securing sufficient power plants would previously have cost £2.1bn in subsidies – but that “increased uncertainty caused by Brexit” would add £364m to the bill. This extra premium reflected growing doubts over the future profitability of gas plants, levels of electricity demand, and the future of interconnector cables that import power from the continent.
The U.K. will set green-energy auction rules next month in a move to boost confidence among offshore wind developers eyeing investments, according to a government official. The new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is expected to set its auction budget in August and accept bids later this year, according to the official with knowledge of the plan who asked not to be named before the official announcement. The auction parameters will define the maximum price developers can bid to generate power. The rules could help show that the U.K. remains on track to double offshore wind capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2020 after it abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change. That move was one of the first decisions taken by the new government following the June 23 vote to exit the European Union. Further support for the industry will be strictly conditional on it being able to reduce costs to below 100 pounds per megawatt hour by 2020, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said in November. Strike prices in the next auction are likely to increase because of investor uncertainty caused by the U.K.’s decision to quit the EU, said Hugo Chandler, director of the consultancy New Resource Partners.
The Swedish energy company Vattenfall is pushing ahead with a £300m windfarm off the coast of Aberdeen despite last month’s EU referendum vote. The offshore windfarm has been dogged by years of legal battles between Donald Trump and the Scottish government over its impact on his golf course, which the tycoon ultimately lost in the courts last year. But on Thursday Vattenfall announced its final investment decision on the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, which sees it buying out Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group’s 25% share for an undisclosed sum. The 11 turbines in the development will send clean energy back to the grid, but will also be a key testing ground for bringing down the cost of the technology, which is around twice as expensive as turbines on land. Ministers made clear last year that offshore was “still too expensive” and further subsidies would be conditional on the industry cutting cost. “It’s all geared to a cost reduction,” said Gunnar Groebler, the senior vice president at Vattenfall. “We expect a lot of findings, a lot of options to further reduce the cost. If you look in Europe, the cost is clearly going south. This windfarm will help us get to the next level.”
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), has claimed that the global green economy could offer vital support for a post-Brexit Britain and create thousands of additional jobs in the country. A new report – dubbed ‘Powering Ahead’ and published this morning – outlines various recommendations to place the UK at the heart of a clean energy transition worth more than US$500 billion which would secure the country a “major share of the future clean energy industry”. Central to the trade union’s argument is the potential for the UK’s clean tech sector to create “thousands” of jobs while simultaneously decarbonising energy generation, and lists Germany and Denmark as examples the UK government must heed. “The TUC believes that a sustainable industrial strategy is essential for the UK and for Europe, not only to meet our climate change commitments, but to support the balanced economic growth that is even more necessary post-Brexit,” the report states. The report concludes that Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ and Denmark’s widespread adoption of renewable power are perfect examples of where a clean energy consensus involving government and business has resulted in a thriving sustainable economy.
University of Chicago: Naturally occurring carbon dioxide delayed impacts of climate change
In a paper published July 20 in the journal Climatic Change, David Archer, professor in geophysical sciences, theorizes that had CO2 levels been lower at the time of the industrial revolution, the climate impacts from releasing industrial carbon dioxide would have been more intense—or, as it turns out, would have happened sooner. Under those circumstances, under-standing what was going on and changing our energy system in response would have been much more challenging. “Odd as it may seem, the naturally occurring CO2 in the atmosphere provided a buffer which has stabilized the climate until now,” Archer said. The concentration of carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million of dry air, or ppm. In the climatic past and earlier glacial periods, this level fluctuated between 180 ppm and 260 ppm. Measurements taken of Antarctic sheet ice show that the concentration of naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was already 278 ppm in the 1750s, before industrialization started in earnest. “If the initial atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration were half its actual value, we would currently be experiencing the climate expected for the year 2050,” said Archer, setting out one possible scenario. “If there was only one-tenth as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere initially, the climate forcing we are experiencing today would have already happened in the year 1900.”
United Nations: 2016 on pace to be hottest year ever
Global temperatures for the first six months of this year reached new highs, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest-ever on record, the United Nations weather agency said today. “Another month, another record. And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a press release. The El Niño event, which turned up the Earth’s thermostat, has now disappeared, but “climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not,” he stressed. This means more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones. “This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy,” said Mr. Taalas.
Shanghaiist: China to power the world by 2050
One thing you can’t fault China for, lack of ambition. By 2050, the country hopes to lead efforts to build a $50 trillion global wind and solar power grid that would completely change how the world is powered. The Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) project was first introduced by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) last year. Liu Zhenya, the SGCC chairman, expounded on the project during a visit earlier this month to Switzerland to meet with the heads of the ABB Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. According to the World Economic Forum, the project won’t just be about connecting countries’ energy grids, but actually generating enough power to run the world. China hopes to connect wind farms in the Arctic Circle with solar farms located on the Equator, in a system that will transcend national boundaries and provide clean energy everywhere. The GEI project is divided into three major stages. From now until 2020, it will focus on the promotion of clean energy development, domestic grid interconnection and smart grid construction in countries across the world. By 2030, planners hope to connect grids between countries and build large energy bases. Then, in 2050, the emphasis will switch to creating polar and equatorial energy bases, concentrating new energy generation technologies in those areas where they can do the most good.