Tag Archives: Energy efficiency

Nuclear industry’s unfounded claims let it survive

The nuclear industry’s unfounded claims let it rely on “dark arts”, ignoring much better ways to cut carbon emissions.

LONDON, 28 April, 2021 – It is the global nuclear industry’s unfounded claims – not least that it is part of the solution to climate change because it is a low-carbon source of electricity – that allow it to survive, says a devastating demolition job by one of the world’s leading environmental experts, Jonathan Porritt.

In a report, Net Zero Without Nuclear, he says the industry is in fact hindering the fight against climate change. Its claim that new types of reactor are part of the solution is, he says, like its previous promises, over-hyped and illusionary.

Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth UK, who was appointed chairman of the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission after years of campaigning on green issues, has written the report in a personal capacity, but it is endorsed by an impressive group of academics and environmental campaigners.

His analysis is timely, because the nuclear industry is currently sinking billions of dollars into supporting environmental think tanks and energy “experts” who bombard politicians and news outlets with pro-nuclear propaganda.

Porritt provides a figure of 46 front groups in 18 countries practising these “dark arts”, and says it is only this “army of lobbyists and PR specialists” that is keeping the industry alive.

First he discusses the so-called levelized cost of energy (LCOE), a measure of the average net present cost of electricity generation for a generating plant over its lifetime.

“The case against nuclear power is stronger than it has ever been before”

In 2020, the LCOE of producing one megawatt of electricity in the UK showed huge variations:

  • large scale solar came out cheapest at £27 (US$38)
  • onshore wind was £30
  • the cheapest gas: £44
  • offshore wind: £63
  • coal was £83
  • nuclear – a massive £121 ($168).

Porritt argues that even if you dispute some of the methods of reaching these figures, it is important to look at trends. Over time wind and solar are constantly getting cheaper, while nuclear costs on the other hand are rising – by 26% in ten years.

His second issue is the time it takes to build a nuclear station. He concludes that the pace of building them is so slow that if western countries started building new ones now, the amount of carbon dioxide produced in manufacturing the concrete and steel needed to complete them would far outweigh any contribution the stations might make by 2050 to low carbon electricity production. New build nuclear power stations would in fact make existing net zero targets harder to reach.

“It is very misleading to make out that renewables and nuclear are equivalently low-carbon – and even more misleading to describe nuclear as zero-carbon, as a regrettably significant number of politicians and industry representatives continue to do – many of them in the full knowledge that they are lying”, he writes.

He says that the British government and all the main opposition political parties in England and Wales are pro-nuclear, effectively stifling public debate, and that the government neglects the most important way of reducing carbon emissions: energy efficiency.

Also, with the UK particularly well-endowed with wind, solar and tidal resources, it would be far quicker and cheaper to reach 100% renewable energy without harbouring any new nuclear ambitions.

The report discusses as well issues the industry would rather not examine – the unresolved problem of nuclear waste, and the immense time it takes to decommission nuclear stations. This leads on to the issue of safety, not just the difficult question of potential terrorist and cyber attacks, but also the dangers of sea level rise and other effects of climate change.

Failed expectations

These include the possibility of sea water, particularly in the Middle East, becoming too warm to cool the reactors and so rendering them difficult to operate, and rivers running low during droughts, for example in France and the US, forcing the stations to close when power is most needed.

Porritt insists he has kept an open mind on nuclear power since the 1970s and still does so, but that they have never lived up to their promises. He makes the point that he does not want existing nuclear stations to close early if they are safe, since they are producing low carbon electricity. However, he is baffled by the continuing enthusiasm among politicians for nuclear power: “The case against nuclear power is stronger than it has ever been before.”

But it is not just the politicians and industry chiefs that come in for criticism. Trade unions which advocate new nuclear power because it is a heavily unionised industry when there are far more jobs in the renewable sector are “especially repugnant.”

He also rehearses the fact that without a healthy civil nuclear industry countries would struggle to afford nuclear weapons, as it is electricity consumers that provide support for the weapons programme.

The newest argument employed by nuclear enthusiasts, the idea that green hydrogen could be produced in large quantities, is one he also debunks. It would simply be too expensive and inefficient, he says, except perhaps for the steel and concrete industries.

Porritt’s report is principally directed at the UK’s nuclear programme, where he says the government very much stands alone in Europe in its “unbridled enthusiasm for new nuclear power stations.”

This is despite the fact that the nuclear case has continued to fade for 15 years. Instead, he argues, British governments should go for what the report concentrates on: Net Zero Without Nuclear. – Climate News Network

The nuclear industry’s unfounded claims let it rely on “dark arts”, ignoring much better ways to cut carbon emissions.

LONDON, 28 April, 2021 – It is the global nuclear industry’s unfounded claims – not least that it is part of the solution to climate change because it is a low-carbon source of electricity – that allow it to survive, says a devastating demolition job by one of the world’s leading environmental experts, Jonathan Porritt.

In a report, Net Zero Without Nuclear, he says the industry is in fact hindering the fight against climate change. Its claim that new types of reactor are part of the solution is, he says, like its previous promises, over-hyped and illusionary.

Porritt, a former director of Friends of the Earth UK, who was appointed chairman of the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission after years of campaigning on green issues, has written the report in a personal capacity, but it is endorsed by an impressive group of academics and environmental campaigners.

His analysis is timely, because the nuclear industry is currently sinking billions of dollars into supporting environmental think tanks and energy “experts” who bombard politicians and news outlets with pro-nuclear propaganda.

Porritt provides a figure of 46 front groups in 18 countries practising these “dark arts”, and says it is only this “army of lobbyists and PR specialists” that is keeping the industry alive.

First he discusses the so-called levelized cost of energy (LCOE), a measure of the average net present cost of electricity generation for a generating plant over its lifetime.

“The case against nuclear power is stronger than it has ever been before”

In 2020, the LCOE of producing one megawatt of electricity in the UK showed huge variations:

  • large scale solar came out cheapest at £27 (US$38)
  • onshore wind was £30
  • the cheapest gas: £44
  • offshore wind: £63
  • coal was £83
  • nuclear – a massive £121 ($168).

Porritt argues that even if you dispute some of the methods of reaching these figures, it is important to look at trends. Over time wind and solar are constantly getting cheaper, while nuclear costs on the other hand are rising – by 26% in ten years.

His second issue is the time it takes to build a nuclear station. He concludes that the pace of building them is so slow that if western countries started building new ones now, the amount of carbon dioxide produced in manufacturing the concrete and steel needed to complete them would far outweigh any contribution the stations might make by 2050 to low carbon electricity production. New build nuclear power stations would in fact make existing net zero targets harder to reach.

“It is very misleading to make out that renewables and nuclear are equivalently low-carbon – and even more misleading to describe nuclear as zero-carbon, as a regrettably significant number of politicians and industry representatives continue to do – many of them in the full knowledge that they are lying”, he writes.

He says that the British government and all the main opposition political parties in England and Wales are pro-nuclear, effectively stifling public debate, and that the government neglects the most important way of reducing carbon emissions: energy efficiency.

Also, with the UK particularly well-endowed with wind, solar and tidal resources, it would be far quicker and cheaper to reach 100% renewable energy without harbouring any new nuclear ambitions.

The report discusses as well issues the industry would rather not examine – the unresolved problem of nuclear waste, and the immense time it takes to decommission nuclear stations. This leads on to the issue of safety, not just the difficult question of potential terrorist and cyber attacks, but also the dangers of sea level rise and other effects of climate change.

Failed expectations

These include the possibility of sea water, particularly in the Middle East, becoming too warm to cool the reactors and so rendering them difficult to operate, and rivers running low during droughts, for example in France and the US, forcing the stations to close when power is most needed.

Porritt insists he has kept an open mind on nuclear power since the 1970s and still does so, but that they have never lived up to their promises. He makes the point that he does not want existing nuclear stations to close early if they are safe, since they are producing low carbon electricity. However, he is baffled by the continuing enthusiasm among politicians for nuclear power: “The case against nuclear power is stronger than it has ever been before.”

But it is not just the politicians and industry chiefs that come in for criticism. Trade unions which advocate new nuclear power because it is a heavily unionised industry when there are far more jobs in the renewable sector are “especially repugnant.”

He also rehearses the fact that without a healthy civil nuclear industry countries would struggle to afford nuclear weapons, as it is electricity consumers that provide support for the weapons programme.

The newest argument employed by nuclear enthusiasts, the idea that green hydrogen could be produced in large quantities, is one he also debunks. It would simply be too expensive and inefficient, he says, except perhaps for the steel and concrete industries.

Porritt’s report is principally directed at the UK’s nuclear programme, where he says the government very much stands alone in Europe in its “unbridled enthusiasm for new nuclear power stations.”

This is despite the fact that the nuclear case has continued to fade for 15 years. Instead, he argues, British governments should go for what the report concentrates on: Net Zero Without Nuclear. – Climate News Network

Energy efficiency boosts jobs and cuts climate heat

Creating millions of jobs in energy efficiency schemes is the fastest way to restore prosperity and cut climate heating.

LONDON, 26 January, 2021 − Improving energy efficiency creates far more jobs than generating it, and at the same time provides a way out of the Covid crisis by bringing prosperity.

That’s the verdict of a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which says efficiency-related stimulus packages that have been announced already will create 1.8 million jobs in the next two years, with many more to come if governments spend their money wisely.

Two-thirds of the jobs would be in the building sector, most of them in retrofitting homes, factories and offices with insulation and other efficiency measures. One of the main benefits of the scheme, the IEA says, would be for young people with few academic qualifications, currently the worst hit by unemployment, who would be needed for most of the building jobs. The remaining jobs would be in transport (20%) and industry (16%).

Based on information received by the IEA by December, when the report was published, 80% of these new jobs would be created in Europe. At the time the US was the largest employer of workers in energy efficiency, despite the anti-climate policies of the Trump administration. With Joe Biden now occupying the presidency and rejoining the Paris Agreement, jobs in energy efficiency in the US are expected to snowball.

“Energy efficiency investments are one of the most attractive investments in the energy sector for governments seeking to protect existing or generate new jobs”

Altogether the scope for jobs in the sector across the world is enormous, with the developing world yet to take energy efficiency seriously. Before the pandemic hit, the IEA estimated that there were 2.4 million energy efficiency jobs in the US, up to 3 million in Europe, but fewer than 750,000 in China and a maximum of 62,000 in Brazil.

With China now taking climate change far more seriously and pledging to be carbon neutral by 2060, energy efficiency is likely to create a boom for building workers there.

Although many building jobs have been lost because of Covid-19, the IEA estimates that the labour-intensive nature of many energy efficiency upgrades means spending US$1million on improving efficiency will generate between six and 15 jobs on average, depending on the sector. Investments announced to date have created 3.4 million new job years (one job for one year) in the sector.

The report says: “As energy efficiency investments can also be mobilised quickly, they are one of the most attractive investments in the energy sector for governments seeking to protect existing jobs or generate new jobs during the recession.”

Best for new jobs

As part of their public relations drives when suggesting potentially unpopular new developments, most energy industries stress how many jobs will result. For example, building a nuclear power station in the UK, Sizewell C, is said by the would-be builders to promise the creation of  more than 5,000 jobs.

However, figures compiled by the UK Office for National Statistics show that energy efficiency trumps all other energy industries for job creation.

In the UK’s low-carbon and renewables energy sector, which includes all nuclear and renewable energy options, energy efficiency formed easily the largest component of jobs, with 114,000 full-time employees (51%) in 2018. There were 49,800 people employed in renewable activity, wind and solar for example, and only 12,400 in the whole nuclear energy sector, most of them in reprocessing spent fuel.

As the IEA notes, scaled-up world wide there are potentially millions of jobs in energy efficiency, and it is clearly the single quickest and cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions, since it both reduces existing demand for energy and makes new fossil fuel power stations unnecessary. − Climate News Network

Creating millions of jobs in energy efficiency schemes is the fastest way to restore prosperity and cut climate heating.

LONDON, 26 January, 2021 − Improving energy efficiency creates far more jobs than generating it, and at the same time provides a way out of the Covid crisis by bringing prosperity.

That’s the verdict of a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which says efficiency-related stimulus packages that have been announced already will create 1.8 million jobs in the next two years, with many more to come if governments spend their money wisely.

Two-thirds of the jobs would be in the building sector, most of them in retrofitting homes, factories and offices with insulation and other efficiency measures. One of the main benefits of the scheme, the IEA says, would be for young people with few academic qualifications, currently the worst hit by unemployment, who would be needed for most of the building jobs. The remaining jobs would be in transport (20%) and industry (16%).

Based on information received by the IEA by December, when the report was published, 80% of these new jobs would be created in Europe. At the time the US was the largest employer of workers in energy efficiency, despite the anti-climate policies of the Trump administration. With Joe Biden now occupying the presidency and rejoining the Paris Agreement, jobs in energy efficiency in the US are expected to snowball.

“Energy efficiency investments are one of the most attractive investments in the energy sector for governments seeking to protect existing or generate new jobs”

Altogether the scope for jobs in the sector across the world is enormous, with the developing world yet to take energy efficiency seriously. Before the pandemic hit, the IEA estimated that there were 2.4 million energy efficiency jobs in the US, up to 3 million in Europe, but fewer than 750,000 in China and a maximum of 62,000 in Brazil.

With China now taking climate change far more seriously and pledging to be carbon neutral by 2060, energy efficiency is likely to create a boom for building workers there.

Although many building jobs have been lost because of Covid-19, the IEA estimates that the labour-intensive nature of many energy efficiency upgrades means spending US$1million on improving efficiency will generate between six and 15 jobs on average, depending on the sector. Investments announced to date have created 3.4 million new job years (one job for one year) in the sector.

The report says: “As energy efficiency investments can also be mobilised quickly, they are one of the most attractive investments in the energy sector for governments seeking to protect existing jobs or generate new jobs during the recession.”

Best for new jobs

As part of their public relations drives when suggesting potentially unpopular new developments, most energy industries stress how many jobs will result. For example, building a nuclear power station in the UK, Sizewell C, is said by the would-be builders to promise the creation of  more than 5,000 jobs.

However, figures compiled by the UK Office for National Statistics show that energy efficiency trumps all other energy industries for job creation.

In the UK’s low-carbon and renewables energy sector, which includes all nuclear and renewable energy options, energy efficiency formed easily the largest component of jobs, with 114,000 full-time employees (51%) in 2018. There were 49,800 people employed in renewable activity, wind and solar for example, and only 12,400 in the whole nuclear energy sector, most of them in reprocessing spent fuel.

As the IEA notes, scaled-up world wide there are potentially millions of jobs in energy efficiency, and it is clearly the single quickest and cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions, since it both reduces existing demand for energy and makes new fossil fuel power stations unnecessary. − Climate News Network

Efficient energy cuts UK electricity’s carbon output

The United Kingdom leads the way in cutting carbon output from electricity production, to the surprise of its political leaders.

LONDON, 24 March, 2020 – Carbon output from the power sector has been falling faster in the UK than anywhere else in the world – despite the British government’s belief that electricity consumption would rise.

Part of the explanation is the closing of coal-fired power stations and their replacement by renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.

But the main savings have been in energy efficiency from the wholesale introduction of LED lighting to improved industrial processes.

This remarkable transformation has been repeated across many advanced countries in Europe and beyond. Even with many economies growing, communities have managed to reduce electricity use.

Emissions exported

Environmentalists and some academics would argue that part of the reason for the reduction is that Europe has exported some of its dirty energy-intensive industries, like steel-making, to China – so that China’s emissions have gone up while Europe’s have gone down.

This is partly true, but the UK’s Department of Environment says that even taking into account imported goods the UK’s overall carbon footprint has shrunk, not simply the energy sector’s contribution. The total of the three main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, peaked in 2007 and had dropped 21% by 2017.

Andrew Warren, chairman of the British Energy Efficiency Federation, is highly critical of the way this energy revolution is being reported, saying the emphasis on the adoption of solar and wind technologies is misleading:

“The biggest decarbonising driver of the lot has not been the switching of supply sources (from coal to renewables). It has happened entirely as a result of investments in more energy-efficient technology.”

Constant drop

Writing on the Energyzine website, Warren says that from the beginning of this century energy consumption in the UK has been “falling. And falling. And falling. It is now over 20% lower than it was in 2000.

“In the case of the main heating fuel, natural gas, the impact has been even more pronounced. Sales have dropped by approaching one-third, largely due to better insulation and more efficient boilers and heating systems.”

He says this is totally contrary to British government predictions. As recently as 2010 the incoming Conservative government was officially planning on the doubling or even tripling of electricity consumption by 2050. But by 2010 sales were already falling, and they have continued to do so.

The 2005 White Paper, which set out the government’s proposals for future legislation, reckoned that by 2020 electricity consumption would have risen by 15%. In fact it has fallen by 16%; an error of more than 30% in forecasting.

“That old ‘Real Men Build Power Stations’ mentality still survives”

The same White Paper was used to justify the building of a series of nuclear power stations to satisfy the new demand – a policy that remains in place even though it is clear there is no need for the stations.

One station is under construction in the UK, but plans for up to five more are currently in limbo awaiting a government decision on whether to underwrite their cost with an electricity tax on consumers.

Despite figures showing that electricity consumption is continuing to fall, the government is still predicting that the demand for electricity will increase from 2025, particularly because of the switch to electric cars.

But Warren points out that many experts in the field, including the people who run the UK’s National Grid, doubt that this will happen.

Critical but neglected

Given how critical energy efficiency is in reducing demand when adopted across housing and industry, Warren says it is remarkable how little political attention is devoted to it. Very little is published about how and where critical savings are being made, and how much unfulfilled potential for improving efficiency there still is.

While some other western European nations have finally understood the importance of energy efficiency, sometimes called “the first fuel”, Warren says, many of the former Communist countries, even if they have now joined the European Union, still see building large new power stations as the way forward.

He told the Climate News Network: “The broad picture is that, over the past decade, most western European countries are seeing energy consumption stabilise, in many cases fall (even as GDP grows).

“But sadly too many of the old Comecon countries still can’t get their collective minds around demand-side management as a concept. That old ‘Real Men Build Power Stations’ mentality still survives.” – Climate News Network

The United Kingdom leads the way in cutting carbon output from electricity production, to the surprise of its political leaders.

LONDON, 24 March, 2020 – Carbon output from the power sector has been falling faster in the UK than anywhere else in the world – despite the British government’s belief that electricity consumption would rise.

Part of the explanation is the closing of coal-fired power stations and their replacement by renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.

But the main savings have been in energy efficiency from the wholesale introduction of LED lighting to improved industrial processes.

This remarkable transformation has been repeated across many advanced countries in Europe and beyond. Even with many economies growing, communities have managed to reduce electricity use.

Emissions exported

Environmentalists and some academics would argue that part of the reason for the reduction is that Europe has exported some of its dirty energy-intensive industries, like steel-making, to China – so that China’s emissions have gone up while Europe’s have gone down.

This is partly true, but the UK’s Department of Environment says that even taking into account imported goods the UK’s overall carbon footprint has shrunk, not simply the energy sector’s contribution. The total of the three main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, peaked in 2007 and had dropped 21% by 2017.

Andrew Warren, chairman of the British Energy Efficiency Federation, is highly critical of the way this energy revolution is being reported, saying the emphasis on the adoption of solar and wind technologies is misleading:

“The biggest decarbonising driver of the lot has not been the switching of supply sources (from coal to renewables). It has happened entirely as a result of investments in more energy-efficient technology.”

Constant drop

Writing on the Energyzine website, Warren says that from the beginning of this century energy consumption in the UK has been “falling. And falling. And falling. It is now over 20% lower than it was in 2000.

“In the case of the main heating fuel, natural gas, the impact has been even more pronounced. Sales have dropped by approaching one-third, largely due to better insulation and more efficient boilers and heating systems.”

He says this is totally contrary to British government predictions. As recently as 2010 the incoming Conservative government was officially planning on the doubling or even tripling of electricity consumption by 2050. But by 2010 sales were already falling, and they have continued to do so.

The 2005 White Paper, which set out the government’s proposals for future legislation, reckoned that by 2020 electricity consumption would have risen by 15%. In fact it has fallen by 16%; an error of more than 30% in forecasting.

“That old ‘Real Men Build Power Stations’ mentality still survives”

The same White Paper was used to justify the building of a series of nuclear power stations to satisfy the new demand – a policy that remains in place even though it is clear there is no need for the stations.

One station is under construction in the UK, but plans for up to five more are currently in limbo awaiting a government decision on whether to underwrite their cost with an electricity tax on consumers.

Despite figures showing that electricity consumption is continuing to fall, the government is still predicting that the demand for electricity will increase from 2025, particularly because of the switch to electric cars.

But Warren points out that many experts in the field, including the people who run the UK’s National Grid, doubt that this will happen.

Critical but neglected

Given how critical energy efficiency is in reducing demand when adopted across housing and industry, Warren says it is remarkable how little political attention is devoted to it. Very little is published about how and where critical savings are being made, and how much unfulfilled potential for improving efficiency there still is.

While some other western European nations have finally understood the importance of energy efficiency, sometimes called “the first fuel”, Warren says, many of the former Communist countries, even if they have now joined the European Union, still see building large new power stations as the way forward.

He told the Climate News Network: “The broad picture is that, over the past decade, most western European countries are seeing energy consumption stabilise, in many cases fall (even as GDP grows).

“But sadly too many of the old Comecon countries still can’t get their collective minds around demand-side management as a concept. That old ‘Real Men Build Power Stations’ mentality still survives.” – Climate News Network

Energy efficiency cuts carbon from buildings

With the highest efficiency standards, countries can cut household carbon emissions at no cost to consumers – and achieve the UN’s climate goals.

LONDON, 13 April, 2018 – Massive savings in carbon emissions are possible worldwide if governments adopt the highest energy efficiency standards for lighting and other household appliances such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, researchers say.

Not only would this go a long way to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping average temperature rise as close as possible to a 1.5°C maximum. It would cost consumers no more than they pay already, and would save on their utility bills.

The research team is from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by three research organisations who since 2009 have tracked climate action towards the Paris Agreement’s aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and ideally to 1.5°C.

Many countries have already adopted higher energy efficiency standards, including the entire European Union (EU). But if the best standards were applied globally, more than 1,100 average-sized coal-powered generating plants, each producing about 600 MW, could be closed.

If low carbon electricity production were used to generate the remaining electricity needed, and fossil fuel plants were closed, then a reduction of 60% of all emissions from buildings would be possible by 2030, CAT says. This is 5.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the EU’s entire current emissions.

“We found examples around the world where people are reaping the benefits by switching off lights in cities at night, switching to LEDs, smart lighting and smart metering”

CAT’s report looks at case studies where energy efficiency has been encouraged by governments. In India, for instance, a scheme to boost the use of efficient LED lights at no extra cost to consumers has resulted in the sale of 230 million bulbs since 2014 – a 50-fold increase in two years.

It meant at peak times that India needed 6,000 megawatts less electricity to satisfy demand than if ordinary bulbs had been used. The government was able to negotiate for better prices for mass orders of LEDs from the manufacturers, lowering prices and increasing jobs at the same time.

Other countries are also producing excellent results with different policies. In France lighting installations in non-residential buildings must be switched off at night, to reduce both energy waste and light pollution. The resulting energy savings are comparable to the annual electricity consumption of 750,000 households, lowering CO2 emissions by 250 kilotonnes and saving French businesses €200m in energy costs.

Professor Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, one of the three members of the CAT consortium, said: “We found examples around the world where people are reaping the benefits by switching off lights in cities at night, switching to LEDs, smart lighting and smart metering, apps provided by energy companies to encourage customers to save energy or to use appliances at off-peak hours.”

Downward trend

In other countries in the EU where governments have made fewer direct interventions in the market but still adopted the EU-wide regulations, this has still reduced demand for electricity, to the surprise of some governments.

The United Kingdom, where housing is among the least energy-efficient in Europe, had predicted that the British demand for electricity would rise continuously until 2030, but in fact it has gone down year on year since 2008. This is attributable partly to the increasing energy efficiency of lighting and household appliances forced on manufacturers by EU directives.

The CAT report also covers the plight of the one billion people who still have no access to electricity. One in three of them still uses kerosene for lighting, which damages lungs and has other serious health effects, while adding to carbon emissions.
Off-grid solar lighting or microgrid renewable solutions with energy efficient lighting will give them opportunities to improve their lives without adding to climate change.

“Lighting and appliance efficiency improvements, together with renewable energy, are key to simultaneously meeting the sustainable development goal of providing access to affordable and clean energy for all and the Paris Agreement 1.5oC limit”, said Jasmin Cantzler of Climate Analytics, another consortium member. – Climate News Network

With the highest efficiency standards, countries can cut household carbon emissions at no cost to consumers – and achieve the UN’s climate goals.

LONDON, 13 April, 2018 – Massive savings in carbon emissions are possible worldwide if governments adopt the highest energy efficiency standards for lighting and other household appliances such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, researchers say.

Not only would this go a long way to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of keeping average temperature rise as close as possible to a 1.5°C maximum. It would cost consumers no more than they pay already, and would save on their utility bills.

The research team is from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by three research organisations who since 2009 have tracked climate action towards the Paris Agreement’s aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and ideally to 1.5°C.

Many countries have already adopted higher energy efficiency standards, including the entire European Union (EU). But if the best standards were applied globally, more than 1,100 average-sized coal-powered generating plants, each producing about 600 MW, could be closed.

If low carbon electricity production were used to generate the remaining electricity needed, and fossil fuel plants were closed, then a reduction of 60% of all emissions from buildings would be possible by 2030, CAT says. This is 5.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the EU’s entire current emissions.

“We found examples around the world where people are reaping the benefits by switching off lights in cities at night, switching to LEDs, smart lighting and smart metering”

CAT’s report looks at case studies where energy efficiency has been encouraged by governments. In India, for instance, a scheme to boost the use of efficient LED lights at no extra cost to consumers has resulted in the sale of 230 million bulbs since 2014 – a 50-fold increase in two years.

It meant at peak times that India needed 6,000 megawatts less electricity to satisfy demand than if ordinary bulbs had been used. The government was able to negotiate for better prices for mass orders of LEDs from the manufacturers, lowering prices and increasing jobs at the same time.

Other countries are also producing excellent results with different policies. In France lighting installations in non-residential buildings must be switched off at night, to reduce both energy waste and light pollution. The resulting energy savings are comparable to the annual electricity consumption of 750,000 households, lowering CO2 emissions by 250 kilotonnes and saving French businesses €200m in energy costs.

Professor Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, one of the three members of the CAT consortium, said: “We found examples around the world where people are reaping the benefits by switching off lights in cities at night, switching to LEDs, smart lighting and smart metering, apps provided by energy companies to encourage customers to save energy or to use appliances at off-peak hours.”

Downward trend

In other countries in the EU where governments have made fewer direct interventions in the market but still adopted the EU-wide regulations, this has still reduced demand for electricity, to the surprise of some governments.

The United Kingdom, where housing is among the least energy-efficient in Europe, had predicted that the British demand for electricity would rise continuously until 2030, but in fact it has gone down year on year since 2008. This is attributable partly to the increasing energy efficiency of lighting and household appliances forced on manufacturers by EU directives.

The CAT report also covers the plight of the one billion people who still have no access to electricity. One in three of them still uses kerosene for lighting, which damages lungs and has other serious health effects, while adding to carbon emissions.
Off-grid solar lighting or microgrid renewable solutions with energy efficient lighting will give them opportunities to improve their lives without adding to climate change.

“Lighting and appliance efficiency improvements, together with renewable energy, are key to simultaneously meeting the sustainable development goal of providing access to affordable and clean energy for all and the Paris Agreement 1.5oC limit”, said Jasmin Cantzler of Climate Analytics, another consortium member. – Climate News Network

EU's new energy strategy faces doubts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The European Union has been a world leader in establishing binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building up renewable energy supplies. But as officials in Brussels unveil a new energy strategy, questions are being asked about Europe’s commitment to combatting climate change.

LONDON, 21 January – Governments have stated their positions. Legions of lobbyists have presented final arguments. On 22 January the European Commission is scheduled to release its latest comprehensive climate and energy package, focused on developments in the energy sector up to the year 2030.

Negotiations on the package have been long and arduous: power utilities and big industrial conglomerates within the EU have been particularly vociferous in their opposition to a further set of emissions reductions or renewables targets which, they say, will seriously undermine the EU’s economic competitiveness.

Key issues to be announced by the Commission are 2030 targets for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the renewables share of the EU’s energy mix and – crucially – whether these targets will be made legally binding on states within the union.  Measures aimed at achieving greater energy efficiency within the EU will also form part of the new package.

Present EU legislation sets binding targets of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels and achieving a 20% share of renewables in energy consumption by 2020. The legislation also sets an indicative, non-binding, target of making a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

The big question now is at what level the Commission proposes to set its 2030 targets: while many countries in the EU, including Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, support a binding target of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, others – including Poland with its large coal industry – say that target is too high.

Meanwhile green groups and non-governmental organisations say the EU must be more ambitious. They say a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 50% is needed if the internationally agreed goal of limiting the rise in the global average temperature to 2°C over pre-industrial levels by 2050 is to be achieved and runaway climate change prevented.

Resistance to renewables

They also say the EU cannot expect cutbacks on GHG emissions by other nations – particularly by high carbon emitters such as China and India – if the Commission fails to back continuing substantial GHG cutbacks within the EU.

The EU has declared a long-term target of cutting GHG emissions by between 80 and 95% by 2050.

Upping the target on renewables is proving even more contentious. Though most countries within the EU subscribe to the idea of achieving a greater share of renewables in their energy mix, several are opposed to the setting of legally binding targets. Included in this group is the UK, which has recently announced a major expansion in nuclear energy and also plans a large-scale programme for the exploitation of shale gas.

Latest figures indicate global investments in renewables and low carbon energy fell last year for the second year in a row, with investments in Europe falling by more than 40%.

The EU’s power utilities and other large industrial enterprises have been lobbying hard against setting binding renewables targets and have called for the reduction or abolition of subsidies given to the renewables sector.

‘Uncompetitive’

They say the EU, by emphasising renewables, is jeopardizing Europe’s economic future: they say EU industries can no longer compete with those in the US, where energy costs are substantially lower due to the large-scale take-up of shale-based oil and gas in recent years.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission, is reported to be among those against any insistence on establishing a legally binding target for renewables for 2030.

On the other side of the argument members of the European Parliament’s environment and energy committees earlier this month voted in favour of legally binding targets for both emissions and renewables. They also said there must be more decisive action on reducing overall energy usage within the EU and called for a binding 40% target on energy efficiency by 2030.

The new EU climate and energy package is expected to include measures aimed at reforming the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), once touted as a key element in cutting industrial GHG emissions. The ETS has underperformed due to mismanagement and an oversupply of emissions allowances or so-called “pollution credits”.

In March 2014 leaders of the EU’s 28 member states are due to meet to decide whether or not to endorse the Commission’s new proposals. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The European Union has been a world leader in establishing binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building up renewable energy supplies. But as officials in Brussels unveil a new energy strategy, questions are being asked about Europe’s commitment to combatting climate change.

LONDON, 21 January – Governments have stated their positions. Legions of lobbyists have presented final arguments. On 22 January the European Commission is scheduled to release its latest comprehensive climate and energy package, focused on developments in the energy sector up to the year 2030.

Negotiations on the package have been long and arduous: power utilities and big industrial conglomerates within the EU have been particularly vociferous in their opposition to a further set of emissions reductions or renewables targets which, they say, will seriously undermine the EU’s economic competitiveness.

Key issues to be announced by the Commission are 2030 targets for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the renewables share of the EU’s energy mix and – crucially – whether these targets will be made legally binding on states within the union.  Measures aimed at achieving greater energy efficiency within the EU will also form part of the new package.

Present EU legislation sets binding targets of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels and achieving a 20% share of renewables in energy consumption by 2020. The legislation also sets an indicative, non-binding, target of making a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

The big question now is at what level the Commission proposes to set its 2030 targets: while many countries in the EU, including Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, support a binding target of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, others – including Poland with its large coal industry – say that target is too high.

Meanwhile green groups and non-governmental organisations say the EU must be more ambitious. They say a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 50% is needed if the internationally agreed goal of limiting the rise in the global average temperature to 2°C over pre-industrial levels by 2050 is to be achieved and runaway climate change prevented.

Resistance to renewables

They also say the EU cannot expect cutbacks on GHG emissions by other nations – particularly by high carbon emitters such as China and India – if the Commission fails to back continuing substantial GHG cutbacks within the EU.

The EU has declared a long-term target of cutting GHG emissions by between 80 and 95% by 2050.

Upping the target on renewables is proving even more contentious. Though most countries within the EU subscribe to the idea of achieving a greater share of renewables in their energy mix, several are opposed to the setting of legally binding targets. Included in this group is the UK, which has recently announced a major expansion in nuclear energy and also plans a large-scale programme for the exploitation of shale gas.

Latest figures indicate global investments in renewables and low carbon energy fell last year for the second year in a row, with investments in Europe falling by more than 40%.

The EU’s power utilities and other large industrial enterprises have been lobbying hard against setting binding renewables targets and have called for the reduction or abolition of subsidies given to the renewables sector.

‘Uncompetitive’

They say the EU, by emphasising renewables, is jeopardizing Europe’s economic future: they say EU industries can no longer compete with those in the US, where energy costs are substantially lower due to the large-scale take-up of shale-based oil and gas in recent years.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission, is reported to be among those against any insistence on establishing a legally binding target for renewables for 2030.

On the other side of the argument members of the European Parliament’s environment and energy committees earlier this month voted in favour of legally binding targets for both emissions and renewables. They also said there must be more decisive action on reducing overall energy usage within the EU and called for a binding 40% target on energy efficiency by 2030.

The new EU climate and energy package is expected to include measures aimed at reforming the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), once touted as a key element in cutting industrial GHG emissions. The ETS has underperformed due to mismanagement and an oversupply of emissions allowances or so-called “pollution credits”.

In March 2014 leaders of the EU’s 28 member states are due to meet to decide whether or not to endorse the Commission’s new proposals. – Climate News Network

EU’s new energy strategy faces doubts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The European Union has been a world leader in establishing binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building up renewable energy supplies. But as officials in Brussels unveil a new energy strategy, questions are being asked about Europe’s commitment to combatting climate change. LONDON, 21 January – Governments have stated their positions. Legions of lobbyists have presented final arguments. On 22 January the European Commission is scheduled to release its latest comprehensive climate and energy package, focused on developments in the energy sector up to the year 2030. Negotiations on the package have been long and arduous: power utilities and big industrial conglomerates within the EU have been particularly vociferous in their opposition to a further set of emissions reductions or renewables targets which, they say, will seriously undermine the EU’s economic competitiveness. Key issues to be announced by the Commission are 2030 targets for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the renewables share of the EU’s energy mix and – crucially – whether these targets will be made legally binding on states within the union.  Measures aimed at achieving greater energy efficiency within the EU will also form part of the new package. Present EU legislation sets binding targets of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels and achieving a 20% share of renewables in energy consumption by 2020. The legislation also sets an indicative, non-binding, target of making a 20% improvement in energy efficiency. The big question now is at what level the Commission proposes to set its 2030 targets: while many countries in the EU, including Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, support a binding target of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, others – including Poland with its large coal industry – say that target is too high. Meanwhile green groups and non-governmental organisations say the EU must be more ambitious. They say a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 50% is needed if the internationally agreed goal of limiting the rise in the global average temperature to 2°C over pre-industrial levels by 2050 is to be achieved and runaway climate change prevented.

Resistance to renewables

They also say the EU cannot expect cutbacks on GHG emissions by other nations – particularly by high carbon emitters such as China and India – if the Commission fails to back continuing substantial GHG cutbacks within the EU. The EU has declared a long-term target of cutting GHG emissions by between 80 and 95% by 2050. Upping the target on renewables is proving even more contentious. Though most countries within the EU subscribe to the idea of achieving a greater share of renewables in their energy mix, several are opposed to the setting of legally binding targets. Included in this group is the UK, which has recently announced a major expansion in nuclear energy and also plans a large-scale programme for the exploitation of shale gas. Latest figures indicate global investments in renewables and low carbon energy fell last year for the second year in a row, with investments in Europe falling by more than 40%. The EU’s power utilities and other large industrial enterprises have been lobbying hard against setting binding renewables targets and have called for the reduction or abolition of subsidies given to the renewables sector.

‘Uncompetitive’

They say the EU, by emphasising renewables, is jeopardizing Europe’s economic future: they say EU industries can no longer compete with those in the US, where energy costs are substantially lower due to the large-scale take-up of shale-based oil and gas in recent years. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission, is reported to be among those against any insistence on establishing a legally binding target for renewables for 2030. On the other side of the argument members of the European Parliament’s environment and energy committees earlier this month voted in favour of legally binding targets for both emissions and renewables. They also said there must be more decisive action on reducing overall energy usage within the EU and called for a binding 40% target on energy efficiency by 2030. The new EU climate and energy package is expected to include measures aimed at reforming the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), once touted as a key element in cutting industrial GHG emissions. The ETS has underperformed due to mismanagement and an oversupply of emissions allowances or so-called “pollution credits”. In March 2014 leaders of the EU’s 28 member states are due to meet to decide whether or not to endorse the Commission’s new proposals. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The European Union has been a world leader in establishing binding targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building up renewable energy supplies. But as officials in Brussels unveil a new energy strategy, questions are being asked about Europe’s commitment to combatting climate change. LONDON, 21 January – Governments have stated their positions. Legions of lobbyists have presented final arguments. On 22 January the European Commission is scheduled to release its latest comprehensive climate and energy package, focused on developments in the energy sector up to the year 2030. Negotiations on the package have been long and arduous: power utilities and big industrial conglomerates within the EU have been particularly vociferous in their opposition to a further set of emissions reductions or renewables targets which, they say, will seriously undermine the EU’s economic competitiveness. Key issues to be announced by the Commission are 2030 targets for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and the renewables share of the EU’s energy mix and – crucially – whether these targets will be made legally binding on states within the union.  Measures aimed at achieving greater energy efficiency within the EU will also form part of the new package. Present EU legislation sets binding targets of a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels and achieving a 20% share of renewables in energy consumption by 2020. The legislation also sets an indicative, non-binding, target of making a 20% improvement in energy efficiency. The big question now is at what level the Commission proposes to set its 2030 targets: while many countries in the EU, including Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, support a binding target of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, others – including Poland with its large coal industry – say that target is too high. Meanwhile green groups and non-governmental organisations say the EU must be more ambitious. They say a 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 50% is needed if the internationally agreed goal of limiting the rise in the global average temperature to 2°C over pre-industrial levels by 2050 is to be achieved and runaway climate change prevented.

Resistance to renewables

They also say the EU cannot expect cutbacks on GHG emissions by other nations – particularly by high carbon emitters such as China and India – if the Commission fails to back continuing substantial GHG cutbacks within the EU. The EU has declared a long-term target of cutting GHG emissions by between 80 and 95% by 2050. Upping the target on renewables is proving even more contentious. Though most countries within the EU subscribe to the idea of achieving a greater share of renewables in their energy mix, several are opposed to the setting of legally binding targets. Included in this group is the UK, which has recently announced a major expansion in nuclear energy and also plans a large-scale programme for the exploitation of shale gas. Latest figures indicate global investments in renewables and low carbon energy fell last year for the second year in a row, with investments in Europe falling by more than 40%. The EU’s power utilities and other large industrial enterprises have been lobbying hard against setting binding renewables targets and have called for the reduction or abolition of subsidies given to the renewables sector.

‘Uncompetitive’

They say the EU, by emphasising renewables, is jeopardizing Europe’s economic future: they say EU industries can no longer compete with those in the US, where energy costs are substantially lower due to the large-scale take-up of shale-based oil and gas in recent years. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission, is reported to be among those against any insistence on establishing a legally binding target for renewables for 2030. On the other side of the argument members of the European Parliament’s environment and energy committees earlier this month voted in favour of legally binding targets for both emissions and renewables. They also said there must be more decisive action on reducing overall energy usage within the EU and called for a binding 40% target on energy efficiency by 2030. The new EU climate and energy package is expected to include measures aimed at reforming the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), once touted as a key element in cutting industrial GHG emissions. The ETS has underperformed due to mismanagement and an oversupply of emissions allowances or so-called “pollution credits”. In March 2014 leaders of the EU’s 28 member states are due to meet to decide whether or not to endorse the Commission’s new proposals. – Climate News Network

Energy change means peril for investors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Making the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is essential for the future of our planet, but taking the first steps towards real change will make hugely challenging demands. LONDON, 1 November – The global energy system is rather like an oil supertanker, sailing the oceans with its vast cargo. Everything is fine as long as the giant ship doesn’t have to alter course or stop suddenly. The system, overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels, is highly complex but over time has been remarkably resilient, delivering considerable economic growth and political and societal stability in many regions. The trouble, according to a new report, is that climate change and other factors mean the good ship energy is having to change course – but most investors in the sector are either asleep or looking the other way. The report, compiled by Meteos, a UK-based not-for-profit think tank and strategy company, is the result of an ongoing dialogue between a number of heavy hitters in the investment community along with advisors from the fossil fuel industries and representatives from academia. “The fact that energy contributes so much both to economic activity and political stability often leads analysts to conclude that the main characteristics of today’s fossil fuel-reliant system are immutable”, says the report. Many of those contributing to this study do not agree. “The pace of change (in the sector) has been astonishing”, says the study. If investors and the industry itself don’t take notice of what’s going on, then they’ll end up shipwrecked. Shale oil and gas have brought about an energy revolution in the US, with a dramatic drop in overall energy prices: all this is having a big impact on the finances of the energy companies. Meanwhile in Europe energy utilities are being hit by falling fossil fuel energy demand, particularly in Germany where renewables are taking an ever greater share of the market.

Beware stranded assets

The report says China might exploit its shale gas reserves, the world’s biggest. There’s also a push in the country towards cleaner energy and a decline in the take-up of some fossil fuels, particularly of coal. “Efficiency improvements, slowing economic growth and aggressive pollution abatement measures are combining with competition from alternatives (particularly hydro and nuclear), leading some analysts to predict an absolute decline in Chinese coal consumption by 2016”, says the report. And, overhanging the whole energy sector, is the question of climate change. The study says the market continues to underestimate the potential for climate-related change to the energy system. “…At some point the disruptive economic impacts of climate change will come to outweigh the benefits of business as usual, and that will eventually lead to a concerted effort to constrain how much carbon is put into the atmosphere.” Energy investors, says the study, should be more concerned about so called “stranded assets” – fossil fuel reserves listed as corporate assets which will have to stay in the ground if any meaningful action is to be taken on global warming. They also need to keep pace with climate- and energy-related policy and regulatory changes in various countries. Investors should also take note of significant changes in public opinion on climate-related issues, such as the concerns raised about smog in China which led to environmental issues being highlighted in the country’s 2011-15 Five Year Plan. The other factor having a big impact on the global energy system is the move towards greater energy efficiency in many countries.

Thinking local

“Across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (OECD) energy consumption has fallen while the economy has grown; for instance, in 2012 energy consumption fell 1.2% while the economy grew 1.4%.” In Europe there is a big push for more energy efficiency, driven by both climate change and price factors. China has developed targets to reduce the energy intensity of its economy. Even the US, the world’s most profligate energy user, aims to double energy productivity by 2030. The big energy companies are also threatened by a move towards localised, micro-generation power projects in many areas which could spark a phenomenon described as the “utility death spiral”. “…As more customers leave, fewer utility customers are left to finance an expensive infrastructure. This in turn drives up utility prices, leading to more customers leaving the utility, and so on.” Some groups say investors in the fossil fuel industry should divest quickly so as to avoid a fall in corporate share prices when the carbon bubble finally bursts. Those involved in the Meteos report take a more measured approach, saying investors need to be far more proactive and to take a systematic approach to analysis of the energy system. The considerable risks of investing in the sector need to be understood. Perhaps most important of all, fossil fuel companies need to be more transparent and willing to disclose their strategies for the future, including how they plan to tackle the risks to their operations posed by climate change. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Making the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is essential for the future of our planet, but taking the first steps towards real change will make hugely challenging demands. LONDON, 1 November – The global energy system is rather like an oil supertanker, sailing the oceans with its vast cargo. Everything is fine as long as the giant ship doesn’t have to alter course or stop suddenly. The system, overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels, is highly complex but over time has been remarkably resilient, delivering considerable economic growth and political and societal stability in many regions. The trouble, according to a new report, is that climate change and other factors mean the good ship energy is having to change course – but most investors in the sector are either asleep or looking the other way. The report, compiled by Meteos, a UK-based not-for-profit think tank and strategy company, is the result of an ongoing dialogue between a number of heavy hitters in the investment community along with advisors from the fossil fuel industries and representatives from academia. “The fact that energy contributes so much both to economic activity and political stability often leads analysts to conclude that the main characteristics of today’s fossil fuel-reliant system are immutable”, says the report. Many of those contributing to this study do not agree. “The pace of change (in the sector) has been astonishing”, says the study. If investors and the industry itself don’t take notice of what’s going on, then they’ll end up shipwrecked. Shale oil and gas have brought about an energy revolution in the US, with a dramatic drop in overall energy prices: all this is having a big impact on the finances of the energy companies. Meanwhile in Europe energy utilities are being hit by falling fossil fuel energy demand, particularly in Germany where renewables are taking an ever greater share of the market.

Beware stranded assets

The report says China might exploit its shale gas reserves, the world’s biggest. There’s also a push in the country towards cleaner energy and a decline in the take-up of some fossil fuels, particularly of coal. “Efficiency improvements, slowing economic growth and aggressive pollution abatement measures are combining with competition from alternatives (particularly hydro and nuclear), leading some analysts to predict an absolute decline in Chinese coal consumption by 2016”, says the report. And, overhanging the whole energy sector, is the question of climate change. The study says the market continues to underestimate the potential for climate-related change to the energy system. “…At some point the disruptive economic impacts of climate change will come to outweigh the benefits of business as usual, and that will eventually lead to a concerted effort to constrain how much carbon is put into the atmosphere.” Energy investors, says the study, should be more concerned about so called “stranded assets” – fossil fuel reserves listed as corporate assets which will have to stay in the ground if any meaningful action is to be taken on global warming. They also need to keep pace with climate- and energy-related policy and regulatory changes in various countries. Investors should also take note of significant changes in public opinion on climate-related issues, such as the concerns raised about smog in China which led to environmental issues being highlighted in the country’s 2011-15 Five Year Plan. The other factor having a big impact on the global energy system is the move towards greater energy efficiency in many countries.

Thinking local

“Across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (OECD) energy consumption has fallen while the economy has grown; for instance, in 2012 energy consumption fell 1.2% while the economy grew 1.4%.” In Europe there is a big push for more energy efficiency, driven by both climate change and price factors. China has developed targets to reduce the energy intensity of its economy. Even the US, the world’s most profligate energy user, aims to double energy productivity by 2030. The big energy companies are also threatened by a move towards localised, micro-generation power projects in many areas which could spark a phenomenon described as the “utility death spiral”. “…As more customers leave, fewer utility customers are left to finance an expensive infrastructure. This in turn drives up utility prices, leading to more customers leaving the utility, and so on.” Some groups say investors in the fossil fuel industry should divest quickly so as to avoid a fall in corporate share prices when the carbon bubble finally bursts. Those involved in the Meteos report take a more measured approach, saying investors need to be far more proactive and to take a systematic approach to analysis of the energy system. The considerable risks of investing in the sector need to be understood. Perhaps most important of all, fossil fuel companies need to be more transparent and willing to disclose their strategies for the future, including how they plan to tackle the risks to their operations posed by climate change. – Climate News Network

Air conditioning rise raises temperature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Studies into how we use air conditioning technology suggest that our attempts to keep cool are in fact adding to rising temperatures. LONDON, 27 August – As the world swelters, so will energy demand rise: the heat extremes generated by climate change are likely to raise the global demand for air conditioning by 72%. So people will generate more heat and release more carbon dioxide just to stay cool as the thermometer soars. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan began asking questions earlier this year about whether air conditioning created more energy demand than central heating: he now reports in American Scientist that investment in air conditioning technology in the developing world could lead to an “unprecedented increase” in energy demand. Right now, the US uses more energy to keep cool than all the other countries in the world combined. “But this distinction might not remain true for long,” he says. “Several developing countries rank both among the most populous and hottest areas of the world. As personal incomes rise in those countries, their use of air conditioning will likely go up.” In just one Indian city, metropolitan Mumbai, he calculates there could be a potential demand for cooling that is about a quarter of the current demand of the entire US. In all, 87% of US households now have air conditioning and it takes 185 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually to keep American homes cool. But other countries have begun to turn down the thermostat. In 2010 alone, 50 million air conditioning units were sold in China. Air conditioning sales in India are growing at 20% a year. Cooling is a complicated business. Humans have only to step into their own homes to raise indoor temperatures: body heat – along with the heat from cooking, refrigeration and other activities – stays within the four walls. If the outdoor temperature is 18°C or more, then the surest way to keep the indoor temperature to an equable 21°C is to install air conditioning.

Demand to rise

Dr Sivak used an index of the potential demand for cooling – a quantity called annual person cooling degree days – to calculate future demand and work out what energy usage would be if air conditioning became as prevalent in other countries as it is in the US. Out of his top 25 countries, 14 were in Asia, seven in Africa and two each were in North and South America. The US has the coolest climate of these 25 countries, even though it has the highest demand for cool indoor breezes. Altogether, he reasoned, eight of the world’s nations have the potential to exceed US air conditioning use: India would surpass the US 14-fold if Indians adopted US standards of cooling; China more than five times and the Indonesians three times. Because 22 of the 25 countries are by World Bank definition low-income nations, demand is currently nowhere near its potential peak. But, he writes, future demand has the potential to exceed demand in the US by a factor of 50. The calculations are crude. They don’t factor in local variations in cloud cover, building design, available personal space, variations in energy efficiency or local difference in the tolerance of high temperatures. But, Sivak warns, as affluence increases, and as global average temperatures rise, so will demand: “This trend will put additional strains not only on global energy resources but also on the environmental prospects of a warming planet.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Studies into how we use air conditioning technology suggest that our attempts to keep cool are in fact adding to rising temperatures. LONDON, 27 August – As the world swelters, so will energy demand rise: the heat extremes generated by climate change are likely to raise the global demand for air conditioning by 72%. So people will generate more heat and release more carbon dioxide just to stay cool as the thermometer soars. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan began asking questions earlier this year about whether air conditioning created more energy demand than central heating: he now reports in American Scientist that investment in air conditioning technology in the developing world could lead to an “unprecedented increase” in energy demand. Right now, the US uses more energy to keep cool than all the other countries in the world combined. “But this distinction might not remain true for long,” he says. “Several developing countries rank both among the most populous and hottest areas of the world. As personal incomes rise in those countries, their use of air conditioning will likely go up.” In just one Indian city, metropolitan Mumbai, he calculates there could be a potential demand for cooling that is about a quarter of the current demand of the entire US. In all, 87% of US households now have air conditioning and it takes 185 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually to keep American homes cool. But other countries have begun to turn down the thermostat. In 2010 alone, 50 million air conditioning units were sold in China. Air conditioning sales in India are growing at 20% a year. Cooling is a complicated business. Humans have only to step into their own homes to raise indoor temperatures: body heat – along with the heat from cooking, refrigeration and other activities – stays within the four walls. If the outdoor temperature is 18°C or more, then the surest way to keep the indoor temperature to an equable 21°C is to install air conditioning.

Demand to rise

Dr Sivak used an index of the potential demand for cooling – a quantity called annual person cooling degree days – to calculate future demand and work out what energy usage would be if air conditioning became as prevalent in other countries as it is in the US. Out of his top 25 countries, 14 were in Asia, seven in Africa and two each were in North and South America. The US has the coolest climate of these 25 countries, even though it has the highest demand for cool indoor breezes. Altogether, he reasoned, eight of the world’s nations have the potential to exceed US air conditioning use: India would surpass the US 14-fold if Indians adopted US standards of cooling; China more than five times and the Indonesians three times. Because 22 of the 25 countries are by World Bank definition low-income nations, demand is currently nowhere near its potential peak. But, he writes, future demand has the potential to exceed demand in the US by a factor of 50. The calculations are crude. They don’t factor in local variations in cloud cover, building design, available personal space, variations in energy efficiency or local difference in the tolerance of high temperatures. But, Sivak warns, as affluence increases, and as global average temperatures rise, so will demand: “This trend will put additional strains not only on global energy resources but also on the environmental prospects of a warming planet.” – Climate News Network

'World can end poverty and limit warming'

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Sunday 24 February
A United Nations scheme intended to guarantee everyone access to clean energy could help to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, researchers say, although it would not achieve this without sharp cuts in emissions of all the main greenhouse gases.

LONDON, 24 February – Eradicating poverty by making modern energy supplies available to everyone is not only compatible with measures to slow climate change, a new study says. It is a necessary condition for it.

But the authors say the scheme to provide sustainable energy worldwide will not by itself be enough to keep the global  average temperature rise below the widely accepted international target level of 2°C. While the scheme can help measures to tackle climate change, it cannot achieve that by itself.

The scheme, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), if it proves successful, could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and ETH Zurich.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that reaching the three energy-related goals of SE4All would cut GHG emissions and is achievable.

“Achievement of the three objectives would provide an important entry point into stringent climate protection”, says Joeri Rogelj, ETH Zurich researcher and IIASA-affiliated scientist, who led the study.

It found that the short-term goals, due to be reached by 2030, would help achieve long-term climate targets. But to ensure stringent climate objectives were reached, SE4ALL would need to be matched by other measures, the researchers say.

SE4All ‘necessary – but not sufficient’

SE4All’s objectives include providing universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency – all by 2030.

While the objectives do not explicitly address climate change, sustainable energy is accepted as vital for cutting GHG emissions: 80% of CO2 from human activities comes from the global energy system, including transport, buildings, industry, and electricity, heat, and fuel production.

“Doing energy right will promote the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time kick-start the transition to a lower-carbon economy”, says IIASA researcher David McCollum, who also worked on the study. “But the UN’s objectives must be complemented by a global agreement on controlling GHG emissions.”

SE4All has global goals, but the researchers say action at regional and national levels will be essential to achieving them. IIASA’s energy programme leader Keywan Riahi, a co-author of the study, says: “The next step for this initiative is already under way, with a large number of national plans that underpin the global objectives.”

They analysed the likelihood of the world limiting global warming to target levels if each or all of the SE4All objectives were achieved. Using a broad range of scenarios, they found that if all the objectives are met, the likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 2°C will be more than 66%.

Many variables

If only the renewable energy goal is met, chances of staying below 2°C will range from 40 to 90%, they say, while achieving just the energy efficiency goal will improve the chances to between 60 and 90%.

But the researchers warn that this result depends strongly on what future economic growth is assumed. They say the  likelihood of reaching climate targets within the scenarios depend on a range of other factors, including energy demand growth, economic growth, and technological innovation.

The study also found that providing universal energy access by 2030 will not hinder long-term climate goals, thanks to the marked gains in energy efficiency that will result. “Sustainable development and poverty eradication can go hand in hand with mitigating climate risks,” says Rogelj.

He told the Climate News Network: “To ensure effective climate change mitigation, a global treaty on greenhouse gases should enforce a cap on global emissions which limits emissions from all sources.

“With such a cap SE4ALL can help to limit emissions from the energy sector, but other measures will have to tackle those from other sources like deforestation, or other gases, like methane from agriculture and waste, or facilitate an even quicker decarbonization of the energy sector, like carbon-capture and storage.”

The new work also quantified the potential costs of reaching the SE4All objectives, which would amount to increasing energy investment by between 0.1 and 0.7% of global GDP. The authors’ estimates account for the substantial savings in energy use and reduced fossil energy investment that would result from promoting more sustainable energy technologies and lifestyles. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Sunday 24 February
A United Nations scheme intended to guarantee everyone access to clean energy could help to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, researchers say, although it would not achieve this without sharp cuts in emissions of all the main greenhouse gases.

LONDON, 24 February – Eradicating poverty by making modern energy supplies available to everyone is not only compatible with measures to slow climate change, a new study says. It is a necessary condition for it.

But the authors say the scheme to provide sustainable energy worldwide will not by itself be enough to keep the global  average temperature rise below the widely accepted international target level of 2°C. While the scheme can help measures to tackle climate change, it cannot achieve that by itself.

The scheme, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), if it proves successful, could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and ETH Zurich.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that reaching the three energy-related goals of SE4All would cut GHG emissions and is achievable.

“Achievement of the three objectives would provide an important entry point into stringent climate protection”, says Joeri Rogelj, ETH Zurich researcher and IIASA-affiliated scientist, who led the study.

It found that the short-term goals, due to be reached by 2030, would help achieve long-term climate targets. But to ensure stringent climate objectives were reached, SE4ALL would need to be matched by other measures, the researchers say.

SE4All ‘necessary – but not sufficient’

SE4All’s objectives include providing universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency – all by 2030.

While the objectives do not explicitly address climate change, sustainable energy is accepted as vital for cutting GHG emissions: 80% of CO2 from human activities comes from the global energy system, including transport, buildings, industry, and electricity, heat, and fuel production.

“Doing energy right will promote the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time kick-start the transition to a lower-carbon economy”, says IIASA researcher David McCollum, who also worked on the study. “But the UN’s objectives must be complemented by a global agreement on controlling GHG emissions.”

SE4All has global goals, but the researchers say action at regional and national levels will be essential to achieving them. IIASA’s energy programme leader Keywan Riahi, a co-author of the study, says: “The next step for this initiative is already under way, with a large number of national plans that underpin the global objectives.”

They analysed the likelihood of the world limiting global warming to target levels if each or all of the SE4All objectives were achieved. Using a broad range of scenarios, they found that if all the objectives are met, the likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 2°C will be more than 66%.

Many variables

If only the renewable energy goal is met, chances of staying below 2°C will range from 40 to 90%, they say, while achieving just the energy efficiency goal will improve the chances to between 60 and 90%.

But the researchers warn that this result depends strongly on what future economic growth is assumed. They say the  likelihood of reaching climate targets within the scenarios depend on a range of other factors, including energy demand growth, economic growth, and technological innovation.

The study also found that providing universal energy access by 2030 will not hinder long-term climate goals, thanks to the marked gains in energy efficiency that will result. “Sustainable development and poverty eradication can go hand in hand with mitigating climate risks,” says Rogelj.

He told the Climate News Network: “To ensure effective climate change mitigation, a global treaty on greenhouse gases should enforce a cap on global emissions which limits emissions from all sources.

“With such a cap SE4ALL can help to limit emissions from the energy sector, but other measures will have to tackle those from other sources like deforestation, or other gases, like methane from agriculture and waste, or facilitate an even quicker decarbonization of the energy sector, like carbon-capture and storage.”

The new work also quantified the potential costs of reaching the SE4All objectives, which would amount to increasing energy investment by between 0.1 and 0.7% of global GDP. The authors’ estimates account for the substantial savings in energy use and reduced fossil energy investment that would result from promoting more sustainable energy technologies and lifestyles. – Climate News Network

‘World can end poverty and limit warming’

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Sunday 24 February A United Nations scheme intended to guarantee everyone access to clean energy could help to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, researchers say, although it would not achieve this without sharp cuts in emissions of all the main greenhouse gases. LONDON, 24 February – Eradicating poverty by making modern energy supplies available to everyone is not only compatible with measures to slow climate change, a new study says. It is a necessary condition for it. But the authors say the scheme to provide sustainable energy worldwide will not by itself be enough to keep the global  average temperature rise below the widely accepted international target level of 2°C. While the scheme can help measures to tackle climate change, it cannot achieve that by itself. The scheme, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), if it proves successful, could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and ETH Zurich. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that reaching the three energy-related goals of SE4All would cut GHG emissions and is achievable. “Achievement of the three objectives would provide an important entry point into stringent climate protection”, says Joeri Rogelj, ETH Zurich researcher and IIASA-affiliated scientist, who led the study. It found that the short-term goals, due to be reached by 2030, would help achieve long-term climate targets. But to ensure stringent climate objectives were reached, SE4ALL would need to be matched by other measures, the researchers say.

SE4All ‘necessary – but not sufficient’

SE4All’s objectives include providing universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency – all by 2030. While the objectives do not explicitly address climate change, sustainable energy is accepted as vital for cutting GHG emissions: 80% of CO2 from human activities comes from the global energy system, including transport, buildings, industry, and electricity, heat, and fuel production. “Doing energy right will promote the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time kick-start the transition to a lower-carbon economy”, says IIASA researcher David McCollum, who also worked on the study. “But the UN’s objectives must be complemented by a global agreement on controlling GHG emissions.” SE4All has global goals, but the researchers say action at regional and national levels will be essential to achieving them. IIASA’s energy programme leader Keywan Riahi, a co-author of the study, says: “The next step for this initiative is already under way, with a large number of national plans that underpin the global objectives.” They analysed the likelihood of the world limiting global warming to target levels if each or all of the SE4All objectives were achieved. Using a broad range of scenarios, they found that if all the objectives are met, the likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 2°C will be more than 66%.

Many variables

If only the renewable energy goal is met, chances of staying below 2°C will range from 40 to 90%, they say, while achieving just the energy efficiency goal will improve the chances to between 60 and 90%. But the researchers warn that this result depends strongly on what future economic growth is assumed. They say the  likelihood of reaching climate targets within the scenarios depend on a range of other factors, including energy demand growth, economic growth, and technological innovation. The study also found that providing universal energy access by 2030 will not hinder long-term climate goals, thanks to the marked gains in energy efficiency that will result. “Sustainable development and poverty eradication can go hand in hand with mitigating climate risks,” says Rogelj. He told the Climate News Network: “To ensure effective climate change mitigation, a global treaty on greenhouse gases should enforce a cap on global emissions which limits emissions from all sources. “With such a cap SE4ALL can help to limit emissions from the energy sector, but other measures will have to tackle those from other sources like deforestation, or other gases, like methane from agriculture and waste, or facilitate an even quicker decarbonization of the energy sector, like carbon-capture and storage.” The new work also quantified the potential costs of reaching the SE4All objectives, which would amount to increasing energy investment by between 0.1 and 0.7% of global GDP. The authors’ estimates account for the substantial savings in energy use and reduced fossil energy investment that would result from promoting more sustainable energy technologies and lifestyles. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 1800 GMT on Sunday 24 February A United Nations scheme intended to guarantee everyone access to clean energy could help to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, researchers say, although it would not achieve this without sharp cuts in emissions of all the main greenhouse gases. LONDON, 24 February – Eradicating poverty by making modern energy supplies available to everyone is not only compatible with measures to slow climate change, a new study says. It is a necessary condition for it. But the authors say the scheme to provide sustainable energy worldwide will not by itself be enough to keep the global  average temperature rise below the widely accepted international target level of 2°C. While the scheme can help measures to tackle climate change, it cannot achieve that by itself. The scheme, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), if it proves successful, could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and ETH Zurich. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that reaching the three energy-related goals of SE4All would cut GHG emissions and is achievable. “Achievement of the three objectives would provide an important entry point into stringent climate protection”, says Joeri Rogelj, ETH Zurich researcher and IIASA-affiliated scientist, who led the study. It found that the short-term goals, due to be reached by 2030, would help achieve long-term climate targets. But to ensure stringent climate objectives were reached, SE4ALL would need to be matched by other measures, the researchers say.

SE4All ‘necessary – but not sufficient’

SE4All’s objectives include providing universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency – all by 2030. While the objectives do not explicitly address climate change, sustainable energy is accepted as vital for cutting GHG emissions: 80% of CO2 from human activities comes from the global energy system, including transport, buildings, industry, and electricity, heat, and fuel production. “Doing energy right will promote the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time kick-start the transition to a lower-carbon economy”, says IIASA researcher David McCollum, who also worked on the study. “But the UN’s objectives must be complemented by a global agreement on controlling GHG emissions.” SE4All has global goals, but the researchers say action at regional and national levels will be essential to achieving them. IIASA’s energy programme leader Keywan Riahi, a co-author of the study, says: “The next step for this initiative is already under way, with a large number of national plans that underpin the global objectives.” They analysed the likelihood of the world limiting global warming to target levels if each or all of the SE4All objectives were achieved. Using a broad range of scenarios, they found that if all the objectives are met, the likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 2°C will be more than 66%.

Many variables

If only the renewable energy goal is met, chances of staying below 2°C will range from 40 to 90%, they say, while achieving just the energy efficiency goal will improve the chances to between 60 and 90%. But the researchers warn that this result depends strongly on what future economic growth is assumed. They say the  likelihood of reaching climate targets within the scenarios depend on a range of other factors, including energy demand growth, economic growth, and technological innovation. The study also found that providing universal energy access by 2030 will not hinder long-term climate goals, thanks to the marked gains in energy efficiency that will result. “Sustainable development and poverty eradication can go hand in hand with mitigating climate risks,” says Rogelj. He told the Climate News Network: “To ensure effective climate change mitigation, a global treaty on greenhouse gases should enforce a cap on global emissions which limits emissions from all sources. “With such a cap SE4ALL can help to limit emissions from the energy sector, but other measures will have to tackle those from other sources like deforestation, or other gases, like methane from agriculture and waste, or facilitate an even quicker decarbonization of the energy sector, like carbon-capture and storage.” The new work also quantified the potential costs of reaching the SE4All objectives, which would amount to increasing energy investment by between 0.1 and 0.7% of global GDP. The authors’ estimates account for the substantial savings in energy use and reduced fossil energy investment that would result from promoting more sustainable energy technologies and lifestyles. – Climate News Network