California backs 2045 carbon-free energy target
Californian lawmakers have this week approved new legislation requiring the state to generate only zero carbon electricity by 2045.
The target was endorsed by a number of high profile figures, including former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and will require energy generators serving the state – even if the power generation occurs outside its boundaries – to deliver carbon-free power for California.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) August 28, 2018
The target, once adopted, would be the most ambitious of any US state barring Hawaii, which also has a 100 per cent zero carbon electricity target for 2045. The landmark legislation is now awaiting approval from Governor Jerry Brown.
Canadian courts block pipeline, dismantling Trudeau’s climate pact
Canada’s federal court of appeal yesterday blocked the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, putting an instant halt to construction work on the project.
The court ruled the pipeline must re-do consultations with indigenous communities before it can seek re-approval. The court also found the environmental impacts of the pipeline were not adequately assessed by Ottawa, and ordered fresh analysis to be conducted.
Almost immediately after the ruling Alberta pulled out of Canada’s national climate change plan, which it had been supporting under the tacit understanding the pipeline project would be allowed to move ahead.
The climate plan requires all provinces to impose a carbon tax under targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Province Premier Rachel Notley said Alberta would only rejoin national climate efforts when work could re-start on the pipeline. The province already has a carbon tax in place but it would not be increased in line with the national policy until work resumes, she added.
Germany hits 100,000 milestone for home battery installations
There are now 100,000 homes in Germany with grid-connected battery storage installations.
The 100,000th house, just outside Berlin, was connected at a ceremony this week attended by Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Thomas Bareiß. He hailed the event as an “important milestone” in the country’s green energy transition.
Since 2013, the cost of lithium ion batteries has fallen by 50 per cent, helping to make storage systems more affordable for household use. The German Solar Association says it now aims to have 200,000 battery systems installed across Germany by 2020.
South Africa drops nuclear for renewables
South Africa has scaled back its nuclear expansion plans in favour of rolling out more renewables capacity across its electricity grid.
The country’s latest energy blueprint released this week drops earlier plans to increase the country’s nuclear capacity by 9GW, instead planning for a 15GW increase in renewables generation and an additional 1GW of new coal capacity.
“The electricity generation and distribution landscape in South Africa is changing at a rapid pace compared to the period before 2010,” South Africa’s Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said. “In keeping to our climate change commitments, the country has also introduced renewable energy through independent power producers.”
South Africa has the highest carbon emissions of any African country, but the government has indicated it expects to wind down coal power during the 2030s. Earlier this week the UK government announced a £56m investment in battery storage in the country to support its clean energy rollout.
New Australian government abandons climate efforts
Following the ousting of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week, the new Australian government has ditched plans to cut carbon emissions in the energy sector in favour of focusing exclusively on driving electricity prices down.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said yesterday his “number one priority” is to cut power prices while keeping the lights on. “It’s ironic that in a country with an abundance of natural resources – coal, gas, water, solar, wind – we should be in the position we are today. We have to leverage those resources, not leave them in the ground,” he said.
But the new government is under domestic and international pressure not to abandon attempts to cut carbon emissions. Large swathes of the country are suffering a crippling drought, prompting the Labor Party to warn that new Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be “failing farmers” by not acting to tackle emissions. Meanwhile, speaking in Sydney yesterday, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele said politicians in Australia should have the “political guts” to acknowledge climate change represents an impending disaster for many nations.
Philippines Commission continues to investigate link between climate and human rights
Businesses could be held liaible for human rights abuses caused by climate change, experts have told the world’s first national inquiry into the human rights impacts of climate change which is taking place in the Philippines.
Speaking to the Commission, ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac warned fossil fuel companies need to consider the impact of business decisions under the framework the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“If they fail to act, they could face mounting risks of legal action as members of the public seek compensation for losses from extreme weather caused or made worse by climate change,” Marjanac warned.
The Commission’s conclusions could set a global precedent if it links the human rights impacts of climate change in the Philippines to the actions of the world’s largest oil companies, ClientEarth said.
Ireland launches home energy saving loan scheme
Six credit unions across Ireland have joined forces to launch a new energy saving loan scheme this week, to help households fund energy efficiency work to cut energy bills.
Backed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the scheme provides ‘zero upfront cost’ loans of up to €10,000 for energy saving works, and gives households access to grant funding for up to 35 per cent of approved energy upgrades.
“If we want homeowners to be persuaded to significantly improve the energy efficiency of their homes, we need to make it easy for them to do so, and to help them overcome the ‘challenges’ that are currently putting people off,” said Kevin Johnson of the Solution Centre, which is co-ordinating the scheme.