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Investors call for ‘low-carbon commitment’ after EU delays energy and climate decision

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The decision from European leaders to delay an agreement on the EU’s climate and energy targets will threaten investment in low-carbon technology, a group that represents some of Europe’s wealthiest investors has warned.

As a two-day European Council summit draws to a close in Brussels, heads of state and government announced – as expected – that no decision will be made on the 2030 climate and energy framework until “October at the latest”.

After months of discussion, the decision to delay an agreement has disappointed both investors and campaigners.

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), a coalition that represents 88 of Europe’s largest investors worth a collective €7.5 trillion (£6.2tn), said that much-needed low-carbon energy investment will now be delayed.

“Investors cannot plan complex, long-term investments on the basis of proposals alone. They need policies in place”, said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the IIGCC.

“Investors will need to see a real sense of urgency and an ambitious climate agreement in the coming months if they are to be reassured that the EU is committed to a low-carbon future.” 

The environmental charity WWF has also warned that this “inaction” will undermine the EU’s global standing and may compromise negotiations at the crucial UN Summit on Climate Change in September.

“By failing to make clear decisions today, EU leaders have put themselves in the back seat of global climate negotiations”, said Tony Long, director of the WWF European Policy Office

“Once again, our leaders downgraded climate and energy discussions to the bottom of the agenda. It seems they are incapable of addressing both immediate and longer-term issues in one meeting.

He added, “This approach may lead us to find soon that ‘we’ll do it later’ has become ‘we are too late’.”

Friday’s session, which followed on from discussions on the crisis in Crimea, also saw members debate the issue of binding national renewable targets.

The British government, along with the European commission, 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 an EU-wide target for renewable energy of 27%, rather than setting a target for each state.

In a later vote, the European parliament 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.

Members remained split over the issue in Friday’s talks, though some decision-makers talked about the importance of renewable energy in light of the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

In a press conference, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said, “Some [climate change] goals are very much in line with energy security because if you have more renewables you are less dependent on imports of fossil fuels.” 

Meanwhile, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, added, “Europe is stepping up a gear to reduce energy dependency, especially with Russia: by reducing our energy demand, with more energy efficiency; by diversifying our supply routes to and within Europe, and expanding energy sources, in particular renewables.”

Welcoming such comments, Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) in the UK, said, “It is encouraging that decision-makers understand that renewable energy is as much about energy security as climate change.

“Broad support for a pan-EU target is a small step forward, but targets for member states would provide much greater impetus for growth. Renewables still need targeted support to achieve a level playing field with other energy technologies.” 

Further reading:

EU leaders to set October deadline for 2030 climate goals

EU urged to adopt ‘renewables-first approach’ to policymaking

‘Mixed signals’ lead to UK fall in renewable investment rankings

EU parliament puts weight behind renewable energy and climate targets

EU 2030 energy and climate targets: the reaction

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

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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