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John Prescott warns of focus on energy security as climate talks get underway

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Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has warned that the focus on EU energy security could detract from climate action, as leaders and legislators meet in Bonn and Mexico City to discuss how to progress climate change negotiations.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Prescott – who played a major role in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set out binding obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – said, “The great danger is it’s all becoming about energy security.”

He added that EU meetings aimed to isolate Russia and would have “nothing to say on climate change”. As tensions continue between Russia and the Ukraine, energy security has been moving up the agenda because Russia has said it may consider cutting gas supplies to Ukraine and eventually Europe, which depends on Russia for around a third of its gas.

Last week, the European commission set out its plans to improve energy security across the bloc and reduce dependence on Russian exports. However, the strategy, which focused on fossil fuels, was criticised for not placing an emphasis on renewables.

Environmental groups argue that nations should target renewable growth, as this will decrease the need for export energy whilst simultaneously cutting emissions.

Prescott’s comments come as leaders meet in climate talks to discuss international agreements and climate change laws.

The UN’s climate talks in Bonn, Switzerland, got underway on Wednesday, with the EU demonstrating its success at cutting emissions and calling for other economies take action.

Connie Hedegaard, EU climate commissioner, said that the EU will “substantially overachieve” its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, instead reaching 24.5%. She added that there was an “ambition gap” between what the world needs to do and what counties intend to do that needs to be closed.

A second summit, co-ordinated by the Global Legislators Organisation (Globe), will meet in Mexico on Friday. Some 500 legislators from around the world will politically test a new model of an international climate change agreement that aims to put “national legislation at its heart”.

Delegates will debate the principles of what makes good climate legislation on mitigation, adaptation and forests as well as natural capital accounting. Climate change laws are increasing at a rapid pace as governments worldwide seek to address the issue.

Globe’s study of climate legislation in 66 nations found that at the time of the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 there were only 47 laws relating to climate change. At the end of 2013 this number had risen to 487.

Globe argues that the results show that regardless of the progress in the international process countries, both developed and developing, are placing significant commitments into national legislation. The summit aims to address this by demonstrating how each country can pass its own laws, tailored to its challenges and interests.

Both conferences aim to create international progress ahead of the UN summit to be held in Paris next year.

This week, the US unveiled tighter restrictions on coal-fired power plants in order to cut pollution from them by 30%. This was followed by China claiming it will set legal limits on carbon emissions starting from 2016. The US and China collectively account for around 37% of global emissions and their actions should provide a major boost for the 2015 talks.

Photo:philippena via Freeimages   

Further reading:

China: developed nations should take the lead on climate change

‘Promising’ climate talks begin between China and US

New US pollution measures ‘good signal’ for 2015 climate agreement

Energy UK faces criticism over calls for EU-wide changes

European commission sets out future energy strategy

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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