Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CLIMATE & ENERGY POLITICS - U.S., Canada, Mexico Pledge - Clinton Pushes Solar - Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Excerpts from News Reports

North America Will Draw Half Its Electricity from Carbon-Free Sources by 2025
37 percent already comes from non-carbon power plants, mostly nuclear and hydro

The United States, Mexico and Canada recently made a joint pledge to draw half the continent’s power from non-emitting sources by 2025. White House climate adviser Brian Deese described the pact as a sign of the growing bonds between the nations on climate and energy policies. He told reporters that the trio are cooperating more on those issues now than at any time in recent history.

The agreement calls for the continent’s power grid to draw 50 percent of its generation by 2025 from renewable energy, efficiency, nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage technology. It would require a steep increase in clean power and efficiency over the next nine years.

Renewables are projected to increase to 23 percent by 2025, while nuclear power is expected to decrease to 18 percent as some units are decommissioned. Those figures don’t include state and regional action to de-carbonize the power grid.

The Clean Power Plan will be the “central component” to meeting the goals, but other policies—including federal tax incentives for renewables—will help. The Clean Power Plan faces litigation and is stalled under a Supreme Court stay.

Nuclear power is also a big part of the existing 'carbon-free' electricity in the United States—representing about 19 percent of the power mix. [Editors note: nuclear power doesn't emit carbon, and so it is referred to in the article as 'carbon-free'. However, the life-cycle of nuclear is definitely not carbon-free. It's also not environmentally 'clean' since it generates radioactive nuclear waste].

Deese added that the three countries will focus on the transmission lines needed to pave the way for rapid clean energy development.

Mexico will join the United States and Canada in committing to reduce methane emissions by between 40 and 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector. This will immediate impact on climate change since methane has a strong, short-term impact on global warming.

Click here to read the full report at Scientific American.

Hillary Clinton has promised to have a half-billion solar panels installed by 2020

Hillary Clinton, courting young voters and the broader Democratic base, has promised to one-up President Obama on climate change, vowing to produce a third of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2027 while spending billions of dollars to transform the energy economy. 

Under the Paris Agreement, an accord committing nearly 200 countries to lowering carbon emissions, Mr. Obama pledged to reduce the United States’ emissions 25 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050.

A half-billion solar panels will be installed by 2020, she has promised, seven times the number today, and $60 billion will go to states and cities to develop more climate-friendly infrastructure, such as public transportation and energy-efficient buildings.

She would put the United States on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. And, she says, she could achieve all that without new legislation from Congress.
But Mrs. Clinton has avoided mention of the one policy that economists widely see as the most effective way to tackle climate change — and one that would need Congress’s assent: putting a price or tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

Conservative campaign operatives agree that they would immediately pounce on any mention by Mrs. Clinton of a carbon price.

Absent a carbon price, Mrs. Clinton plans to use a mix of new regulations, grant programs and spending on new infrastructure to achieve her targets. She would also spend $30 billion on a plan to help redevelop coal mining communities that are suffering economically in the wake of climate change policies.

And Mrs. Clinton would need at least some action by Congress to meet her goals — legislators would need to appropriate the $60 billion she intends to spend on clean infrastructure grants to states, and the $30 billion to help coal communities.

Among environmental groups and the renewable energy industry there is support for Mrs. Clinton’s proposals, however difficult they might be, compared with those of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, who denies the established science of human-caused climate change.

Click here to read the full report at the New York Times.

Richest nations fail to agree on deadline to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Energy ministers from the world’s major economies have failed to reach agreement on a deadline to phase out hundreds of billions of dollars in government subsidies for fossil fuels — subsidies that campaigners say are helping to propel the globe toward potentially devastating climate change.

Ministers from the Group of 20 major economies met in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday but failed to reach agreement on a deadline, despite Chinese and American efforts and a joint appeal from 200 nongovernmental organizations.

The Group of Seven richest economies last month urged all countries to eliminate “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. At a separate annual meeting in June, the United States and China agreed to push for a firm target date to be set at a summit of G-20 leaders in Hangzhou in September.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the G-20 had not agreed on a specific timeline to eliminate subsidies but said the United States believed that by 2025 or 2030, “we’d like to see very substantial progress.”

A 2015 report by the British think tank Overseas Development Institute, along with Oil Change International, calculated that the G-20 major economies subsidize fossil fuel production to the tune of $444 billion a year, marrying “bad economics with potentially disastrous effects on the environment.”

Russia spends some $23 billion in annual subsidies, and the United States $20 billion — despite President Obama’s calls to end tax breaks on the fossil fuel industry, the report said. China spends $3 billion, while Britain is one of the few G-20 countries increasing fossil fuel subsidies and cutting back on investment in renewable energy. Total G-20 subsidies for fossil fuels was four times the total global investment in renewable energy, it estimated.

“It is tantamount to G-20 governments allowing fossil fuel producers to undermine national climate commitments, while paying them for the privilege,” the report said.

 Click here to read the full report at The Washington Post 

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