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I have just found a seat on the train from Lucerne to Zurich airport. It is absolutely packed, I suppose, with people going away for the weekend. Staring through the window at the snow-capped mountains, and having spent the day at an inspirational conference set by the beautiful lake, I am wondering quite why anyone would want to leave.
I have been at a meeting of the Climate Parliament. I only learned of this organisation recently but it is rather splendid – a group of legislators from across the world who are concerned about climate change and looking to influence governments to act.
The marine renewable energy sector is poised and ready, waiting to harness the power of tides and waves with underwater tidal turbines and floating wave energy converters. A shift to renewable energy sources is essential to reducing global carbon emissions, but what are the consequences of these new technologies? Are we prepared for the effects of filling our already fragile oceans with rows of large, moving structures? Will we cause irreparable damage? Or might there even be some positive effects?
These are all questions relevant to my thesis and so, for two weeks, I attended a course on Marine Renewables and the Environment held at SAMS (the Scottish Association of Marine Science).
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China’s Energy Research Institute (ERI) releases an interesting analysis of the prospects for China’s energy production and consumption and CO2 emissions to 2050
Last November’s joint announcement of national climate targets by President Barack Obama and President of China Xi Jinping has framed the preparations for this December’s crucial Paris summit. The US is aiming to reduce its emissions by 26-28% below the 2005 level in 2025. China intends that its CO2 emissions will peak around 2030 and will use best efforts to bring that date forward.
This blog forms part of a series addressing some of the criticisms often levelled against efforts to mitigate climate change.
It is often claimed that intermittent renewable sources of electricity (mainly wind and solar photovoltaics), are too expensive, inefficient and unreliable and that we shouldn’t subsidise them.
What are the facts?
Last year, governments spent about $550 billion of public money on subsidies for fossil fuels, almost twice as much as in 2009 and about five times as much as they spent subsidising renewables (IEA, World Energy Outlook 2014). This despite a G20 pledge in 2009 to “phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” that “encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change”.
Further to previous posts on this blog regarding Owen Paterson’s recent speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, I would like to take this opportunity to correct his dismissive statement about biomass energy as a potential contribution to decarbonized energy production in the UK. This is what the former Environment Secretary said:
“Biomass is not zero carbon. It generates more CO2 per unit of energy even than coal. Even DECC admits that importing wood pellets from North America to turn into hugely expensive electricity here makes no sense if only because a good proportion of those pellets are coming from whole trees.
By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy
Earlier this month Carbon Tracker came to Imperial College London to discuss their report on ‘Unburnable Carbon’. The report outlines research which shows between 60-80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies are ‘unburnable’ if the world is to have a chance of keeping global warming below the globally-agreed limit of 2°C. The event was followed by a lively debate.
The research, led by the Grantham Research Institute at LSE and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, outlines the thesis that a ‘carbon bubble’ exists in the stock market, as companies with largely ‘unburnable’ fossil fuel reserves are being overvalued.