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G20 Climate Action – A turning point?

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Climate action by the G20 has reached a turning point, with per capita emissions falling in eleven members, and renewable energy growing strongly, but they must all urgently decarbonise their economies to meet an internationally agreed target to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, finds a country comparison released today by Climate Transparency.

Climate Transparency is a new initiative, bringing together expert groups for the assessment of climate action worldwide, to provide a more independent, credible and comprehensive view, and so boost public policy awareness and drive ambition.

The initiative has drawn upon detailed analysis by leading climate policy researchers, to compare the emissions, share of renewable energy, decarbonisation levels and policy performance of G20 countries, ahead of a summit of the world’s leading economies in Turkey on November 15-16. The comparison combined analysis by the Climate Action Tracker and the Climate Change Performance Index.

The analysis shows that if present emissions trends continue, the world will breach the 2°C target, On a positive note, however, the level of renewable energy has seen strong growth in three quarters of G20 members, while the first signs can be detected of decarbonisation, and of a breakthrough in climate diplomacy.

G20 countries represent two thirds of the world population, and four fifths of global economic output, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Collectively, they emit three quarters of global annual greenhouse gases (GHG). Because of their political and economic clout, they drive global trends in greenhouse gas emissions.

Average per capita greenhouse emissions in G20 countries is nearly 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). To meet the 2°C target, global average per capita emissions should be around 1-3 tCO2e, by 2050. Next month, countries are expected to reach in Paris a new global agreement to limit climate change. However, even if countries implemented the climate policy plans (called INDCs) that they have submitted to the Paris conference, global temperatures would rise to about 2.7°C above preindustrial levels[1], according to the Climate Action Tracker.

However, there are now encouraging signs of a turning point:

– Per capita emissions are falling in eleven of G20 members.

– In the past five years, 15 of the G20 countries have seen double digit growth in renewable energy production

– There are strong indications that total global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have stopped rising in 2014, the first such reversal in annual emissions growth in the industrial era, aside from periods of serious economic crisis.

– In both the United States and the European Union, there is now evidence for a decoupling of economic growth from carbon emissions, where both the energy intensity of the economy and carbon intensity of energy supply is falling.

– In climate diplomacy, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters China and the United States last year agreed targets to curb emissions beyond 2020, representing their most significant bilateral agreement on climate change

– Scientific evidence for multiple benefits from reduced fossil fuel use is increasingly robust, including: reduced deaths from cleaner air; higher infrastructure investment; enhanced productivity and energy efficiency; and better energy security and balance of payments

Alvaro Umaña, former environment minister of Costa Rica and Co-Chair of Climate Transparency said: “The good news is that we know that climate policy is working, and that we may have reached a turning point. But G20 countries need to scale up their ambition, if we are to meet the internationally agreed target to limit global average warming to below 2°C. Countries with high cumulative and present emissions have a special responsibility not only to reduce their emissions, but also to help those countries most affected by climate change.”

His Co-Chair, Peter Eigen, added: “With Climate Transparency we are providing credible and transparent information about countries’ mitigation efforts to stimulate a race to the top. Through the experience of the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, we have seen how such transparency can create peer pressure.” Peter Eigen is also the Founder and Chair of the Advisory Council of Transparency International.

Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute, one of the four organisations behind the Climate Action Tracker, said: “The INDCs submitted by more than 150 countries have been a big success, never before have so many countries developed and shared plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are not yet enough – our analysis shows that even if they were fully implemented, the global average warming would still be in the region of 2.7°C, and only ‘likely’ below 3°C. But they bend the curve of emissions downwards. And with the planned review process, they can and must be strengthened, the earlier the better.”

Jan Burck from Germanwatch, one of the two organisations behind CCPI, said: “Renewables are the big success story of the last 15 years, hardly anybody would have believed that they would grow so strongly. And our analysis shows that in many countries economic growth has started to decouple from the growth of CO2 emissions.”

Climate Transparency’s comparison of climate mitigation actions across the G20 is based on detailed country profiles and key indicators, supplied in the Climate Transparency’s first report, “How do G20 countries perform on climate change? Assessing mitigation”. The findings are based on national assessments by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) and the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).

Click here for the report 

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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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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