Continuing to Decouple

Photograph by Volker Hartmann - Getty Images

For the third year in a row, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the energy sector remained level while the global economy grew. This continues to buck the economic thinking that economic growth, typically measured with gross domestic product (GDP), cannot be decoupled from environmental degradation. The current trend of…
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A solar high

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According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy in 2016, beating out all other energy sources, including coal. New solar capacity increased by 50% globally in 2016, with China accounting for almost half of this expansion. Despite current uncertainty about renewable energy policy in the United States, the US is still…
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Bridging the Gap between NDC Commitments and NDC Implementation

Lord Nicholas Stern at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco

During this morning’s Joint High Level Segment, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Cooper Pershing delivered the U.S. National Statement. Addressing the combined meeting of the COP22/CMP12/CMA1, Pershing said, “With the policies already in place, the United States is well-positioned to meet its Paris Agreement targets” and that through current market trends, “the transition to clean…
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Land Use and Methane

As the COP negotiations increasingly look to agriculture, forestry, and other land uses as tools to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate, methanogenesis – the biological production of methane by single-celled organisms – must be taken into account. This methane production is very similar to fermentation, the process used to produce alcohol. In fermentation,…
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The end of gas-fired cars?

oslo downtown

Norwegian Liberal Party MP Ola Elverstuen announced today that Norway’s four leading political parties have agreed on a ban of gasoline-powered cars by 2025. “After 2025 new private cars, buses and light commercial vehicles will be zero-emission vehicles. By 2030, new heavier vans, 75 percent of new long-distance buses, 50 percent of new trucks will…
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UK hits new carbon low

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The United Kingdom’s carbon emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 1920s. Coal consumption in 2015 fell 22% from 2014, and led to a 4% decrease in GHG emissions. Renewable energy produced 25% of the UK’s electricity in 2015. This trend is expected to continue in 2016, as four coal plants closed in March. The Cameron government has pledged…
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Global renewable investment surges in 2015

global trends in RE investment

From UNEP and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s new report, called Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016: global investment in renewable energy was more than twice that in coal and gas in 2015. Renewable energy investment totaled a record $286 billion last year, with more than half of it ($156 billion) in the highest GHG-emitting developing countries  – China,…
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If you build it, they will come

Clean Line

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz just announced the approval of a large-scale transmission project that will bring wind power from Texas and Oklahoma to the southeastern states. Called the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, the $2.5 billion transmission line is the largest of several clean energy infrastructure projects being developed under DOE partnerships. Moniz says that “moving remote and…
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Decoupling GHGs from GDP: Year 2

IEA 2015

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released new data today showing that global GHG missions related to energy held steady again for the second year in a row while the global economy grew. Renewable energy was key to stabilizing emissions levels, with more than 90% of new energy generation coming from renewables – the highest level in more than 40 years….
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U.S. INDC Pledge Just Wishful Thinking Without CPP?

US INDC Emissions Targets

Last year, when the U.S. made its INDC pledge to reduce net GHG emissions 26-28% below 2005 by 2025, it was built on Obama’s 2013 Climate Action Plan with the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) among its key elements. At the time, a range of climate policy observers, including Climate Action Tracker, U.S. Chamber of…
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Cleaning up India’s energy mix

dehli pollution

2015 marked the first time that the average Indian was exposed to more air pollution from fine particulate matter than the average Chinese, reports Greenpeace. In response, India has introduced new taxes aimed at cutting pollution and reducing emissions.  The country’s finance minister announced this week a tax of up to 4% on new passenger vehicles.  It’s estimated…
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The State of the U.S. States on Renewable Energy

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A new study on state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) concludes that in 2013 these state energy laws yielded $7.4 billion in benefits while costing only $1 billion. Conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the study specifically estimates that $2.2 billion in benefits came…
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Are US COP21 pledges in trouble? UPDATE

obama at COP21

2/19/16 UPDATE:  Since my post on Monday, Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, has weighed in.  Speaking from Brussels, where he was meeting with the EU’s Climate and Energy Commissioner, Stern was quoted as saying “it is entirely premature, really premature to assume the Clean Power Plan will be struck down but, even…
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Renewables can lead to 80% CO2 reduction in US electricity production

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Last week’s edition of Nature Climate Change includes a new study done by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder that helps us understand how the United States can meet its INDC pledge. From the abstract:  Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are a major cause of anthropogenic climate change. The deployment of wind and solar power reduces these…
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Subnational leaders leading the way

“Under 2 MoU”  – no it’s not Prince’s latest song, it is the initiative of subnational leaders (Mayors and Governors)  committing to limit emissions below 2 metric tons per capita by 2050 which is the amount of reductions needed to limit global warming to less than 2°C. This initiative, supercharged by the leadership of Governor…
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