European Union leaders will set an October deadline for agreeing on climate and renewable energy targets, as heads of state meet in Brussels on Thursday, according to a leaked document.
It is expected that the European Council’s two-day summit will be chiefly focused on events in Ukraine, but the EU’s efforts to curb climate change will also be high on the agenda.
This follows months of talks over the form of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework. Delegates have discussed to what degree Europe’s carbon emissions should be cut and how renewable and energy efficiency targets should be legislated.
According to the draft paper, seen by Reuters, “The European Council will take stock of progress made on these issues at its meeting in June […] with a view to taking a final decision on the new policy framework as quickly as possible and no later than October 2014.”
One of the main talking points will be the issue of binding national renewable targets. The British government, along with the European commission – the only EU body able to approve such legislation – has so far been opposed to introducing renewable energy targets for individual nations.
In January, the commission voted for carbon emission reduction targets of 40% by 2030 but set a EU-wide target for renewable energy of 27%, rather than setting a target for each state.
Critics called these “toothless” targets a “major disappointment” warning that they would undermine investment in renewable technologies.
In a later vote, the European parliament – whose verdict is not binding and can be ignored by EU leaders – seemed to side with these critics. MEPs voted in favour of a framework that would require all nations to generate at least 30% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
However, in a written statement to parliament, energy secretary Ed Davey recently reaffirmed his intentions to rule out national targets ahead of this month’s negotiations.
As heads of state meet, business and industry leaders and campaigners are urging the UK’s representatives to drop this opposition.
“Progress towards setting an ambitious but credible emissions reduction target of 40% for 2030 is crucial for British businesses at the European Council”, said Nicola Walker, director for business environment at CBI, the UK’s leading business lobbying organisation.
“Alongside long-term reform of the Emissions Trading System, this target will help to deliver a more robust carbon price at EU level and drive vital investment.”
A coalition of European renewable energy associations has also urged the council to embrace renewable energy to reduce exposure to “volatile fossil fuel prices and insecure fossil fuel imports, especially in these days of geopolitical turmoil at our borders”.
Meanwhile, the UK government has been warned that it may face a backlash from angry residents of flood-hit areas if it does not take firm action on climate change.
According to a poll of four affected communities – Somerset, West London, Cornwall and Oxfordshire – published on Thursday, 43% of voters say they would now be more likely to back a party committed to climate action.
“The EU summit is [prime minister David] Cameron’s first test to prove he’s learned the lessons from the floods and is taking climate security seriously”, commented Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven.
“There’s a whole new constituency of people, including many in Cameron’s own county, who have experienced the brutal force of flooding for the first time. How he responds to the risks of climate change is becoming a major political issue which the prime minister will duck at his peril.”
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
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