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Marrakech Climate Talks Highlight Global Commitment Needed to Combat Climate Change



Marrakesh by Matteo Martinello via flickr

As the COP22 conference in Marrakesh ends, all of the countries have reiterated their commitment to implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.

While concrete outcomes of the talks remain modest, some key elements of the implementation of the Paris Agreement moved forward, including that the so called “Paris Rulebook” will be complete in 2018.

In Marrakech, countries reiterated the urgency for action and agreed once again that additional emission cuts before 2020 are a prerequisite to live up to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. However, while some promising announcements were made, many countries including the EU failed to put forward any new measures that would help bridge the ‘emissions gap’.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“This year’s UN climate talks in Marrakech made clear that the Paris Agreement remains robust, but strong leadership will continue to be important if we are to safeguard our societies from dangerous climate change. Here in Marrakech the EU repeatedly reiterated its leadership on climate action, but these statements were followed by a visible degree of inaction. The EU turned a blind eye to the need to boost climate action in the next four years. Cancelling the surplus allowances under the Emissions Trading Scheme would have been a school book example of showing leadership, but the EU failed the test.”

During the Marrakech conference, many countries have signalled that COP24 in 2018 is the next key moment to scale up countries’ emission reduction pledges.

“It is high time for the EU to start walking the talk. The EU must come well prepared in 2017 and to the next big political moment in 2018, with clear plans to both scale up the ambition of its inadequate 2030 targets and present a strategy for how to bring emissions down to zero in the long term.”

In addition, most developed countries did not come ready or willing to scale up finance for adaptation for people most vulnerable to climate change.

“We welcome the contributions by individual EU countries to various climate funds, including to the Adaptation Fund”, Wendel Trio added. “But the gap between what is needed and what is being provided to adequately support people at the frontlines of climate change remains wide. We expect the EU to lead by example and ensure that half of all public climate finance is directed to adaptation “, Trio concluded.

Reactions/quotes from the CAN Europe network:

“The Marrakech summit showed that there is unstoppable momentum to put the Paris Agreement into practice, despite the outcome of the US elections. Especially China seems ready to step into the looming vacuum. The EU also has to decide whether it wants to play a global leadership role in the coming years. Marrakech confirms that 2018 will be the moment when countries have to increase their ambition. The EU needs to begin preparing for this now by ramping up its policies and targets.” Christoph Bals, Policy Director of Germanwatch

“Despite fears, the spirit of Paris and the climate movement are alive and well as we saw in Marrakesh at COP22. Technical negotiations showed progress but the plight of the poorest and especially women and girls still demand a clearer roadmap and money to match. We are also calling on governments and business to make emission cuts now that respect the 1.5 degrees limit so that a desperate situation does not completely spiral out of our control. Thus, the ambitious leadership shown by 48 developing countries in the Climate Vulnerable Forum pushes the most powerful countries to be much bolder and take quicker action.” Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International

“We now need the EU to step up to show leadership in fighting climate change. That means action beyond lip services. A good start to show more ambition would be the cancellation of excessive emission certificates .and to increase the 2030 targets as soon as possible.” Sebastian Scholz, Head of Climate Policy, NABU

“The EU now needs to pick up the pace after Marrakech and prioritise the transition to low carbon societies by tabling an ambitious energy Winter package for 2030. While urgent action is critical on climate change, so too is long-term thinking. At COP22 we saw the launch of a long-term strategies platform which will help countries with decarbonisation plans to 2050. EU Member States must uphold the Paris Agreement and draw up ambitious climate plans for mid-century and beyond.” Genevieve Pons, Director of WWW’s European Policy Office

“Despite COP22 being framed as the ‘Agriculture’ COP given the African context and the urgent need to reduce emissions from agriculture while adapting to changing weather patterns, it has been disappointing to see that the negotiations on agriculture did not move ahead. The EU and a major group of developing countries could not overcome the old divide between mitigation and adaptation. This is disconcerting as climate change is fast accelerating and it is already impacting food security, especially for the most vulnerable. Recalling Pope Francis’ message delivered to the Parties of COP22 : “We are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalisation of indifference”
Bernd Nilles, Secretary General CIDSE

“Despite the usual good work at technical level, Spain’s political profile here has been lamentably low and it is clear that the minority government has no broad decarbonization vision. Both Environment Minister Tejerina and new Energy Minister Nadal ruled out real climate ambition, despite Spain’s enormous climate change vulnerability, unhealthy dependency on coal and imported gas and oil, and huge potential for creating thousands of innovative, low carbon jobs. We call on Spanish President Rajoy to form a broad coalition to defend Spain from climate disaster, and press for stronger European objectives from its former minister, Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. Greater Spanish ambition would help the EU; and greater EU ambition would help the world”. David Howell, Head of Environment Policy, SEO/BirdLife

“The UK government needs a wake up call. Their attitude to climate change is unacceptable yet at COP22 they continue to use the language of leadership. The UK were the 111th country to ratify the Paris Agreement, they have recently approved fracking and increased subsidies to fossil fuel companies – this is not climate leadership. UK youth will bring home the fight for climate justice from Marrakesh to the Westminster, Lancashire and all our communities. COP22 didn’t deliver action. We will.” UKYCC delegate Lise Masson, 24.

“Three years ago, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss & Damage was born and last year the Paris Agreement recognised the uniqueness of Loss and Damage. At COP22 in Marrakech, countries could not agree to strengthen the WIM capacity rapidly and missed an opportunity to let the baby grow! However we are happy to see the adoption of a strong 5-year review process of the WIM starting in 2019, the creation of a focal point in each country to better understand these challenges, and the integration of capacity-building to enable effective implementation.” Bruno Nicostrate, Advocacy officer at ACT Alliance EU.

“Politicians of the world are in denial.They are still not convinced that a strong will and huge quantity of money are of the utmost importance to avoid a climate catastrophe.” João Branco, President of the Board, Quercus

“The progress made in loss and damages has been important, but more needs to be done. We Finns still remember what it means to abandon your home, so we need to build a safety net for the most vulnerable that holds.” Hanna Aho Conservation specialist from the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

“It should never be accepted that the institutionnal complexity of Europe, or of Belgium our own country, leads to weak and slow political response to climate change. True and willfull cooperation between our governments is fundamental to build the adequate climate policy”. Noé Lecocq, Inter-Environnement Wallonie, Belgium


Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?



The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy




Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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