Energy and global warming news for February 23: A tougher greenhouse gas target could boost European economy and create up to 6 million new jobs; Bark beetles aided by climate change
"Energy and global warming news for February 23: A tougher greenhouse gas target could boost European economy and create up to 6 million new jobs; Bark beetles aided by climate change"
Increasing the EU’s 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target from 20% to 30% could help boosting European investments from 18% to 22% of GDP, leading to a GDP increase of up to ‚¬620bn ($840bn) and the creation of up to 6 millions additional jobs. These are the key findings of a report launched today.
The report, A New Growth Path for Europe – Generating Growth and Jobs in the Low-Carbon Economy, was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and conducted by an international consortium of researchers led by Professor Carlo C. Jaeger from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
Traditional models assume a ‘single stable equilibrium’, where investments are determined by an assumption of business-as-usual economic trends. The financial crisis however has exposed the fact that different expectations can lead to different investment behaviors, turning those expectations into self-fulfilling prophecies. The new model highlights the importance of policy in shaping investors’ expectations, leading to a virtuous circle of increased investments, faster ‘learning by doing’ in technology and manufacturing and enhanced expectations by investors in the market.
This study shows that the European economy could be shifted into a new ‘low-carbon equilibrium’ through a decisive move to a domestic 30% emissions reduction target and independently of an international post-2012 agreement, thereby setting expectations for growth of the European economy at a higher level. European industry can maintain and enhance its competitiveness by developing the low carbon materials and technologies that will shape the future.
Lead author of the report, Prof. Carlo C. Jaeger, from PIK, said:
“In traditional economic models, reducing greenhouse gas emissions incurs an extra cost in the short term which is justified by avoiding long term damages. However what we are showing here is that by credibly engaging on the transition to a low-carbon economy through the adoption of an ambitious target and adequate policies, Europe will find itself in a win-win situation of increasing economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases”.
“It is time for Europe to understand the opportunities and the challenges from the transition to a low-carbon economy. This study makes a compelling case for an increase of EU’s climate target to 30% that will strengthen the European economy.”
City officials are quietly preparing to accede to federal officials’ demands that they replace aging light fixtures at public schools due to health concerns about leaking PCBs.
People familiar with the discussions say Mayor Michael Bloomberg has approved a plan to seek bids for contracts to do the work. The city plans to spend $708 million to implement the plan at 772 public-school buildings over a 10-year period. A Bloomberg official said the announcement could come as early as Wednesday.
The city has been in a months-long standoff over the issue with the Environmental Protection Agency, which has demanded quick replacement of the suspect lights. Environmental advocates have argued the work be completed much earlier, in two or five years
In addition to removing outdated, leaking light fixtures, the city plans to conduct energy audits at its schools and to replace outdated and inefficient boilers in the school system.
The Bloomberg administration official said the effort would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 200,000 metric tons per year.
One company, T.M. Bier & Associates, has written to City Council Member Vincent Ignizio, offering to do the work at no upfront cost in exchange for payments in subsequent years based on the amount the schools save on their energy bills with newer, more efficient lights.
The EPA has been pressing the city to create a plan to immediately begin removing all of the old fluorescent lighting fixtures blamed for leaking PCBs.
California is blessed with renewable energy resources that it has barely begun to harvest, an enlightened electorate that understands the importance of doing so and a venture-capital community eager to make green investments. In fact, the state has everything it needs to lead the world in clean energy development, except for one thing: a functional government.
The Legislature isn’t just bad at passing budgets; it’s bad at moving major legislation even when it’s favored by a strong majority of lawmakers and the public. That’s why the state still doesn’t have a renewable energy standard even though a sensible bill to establish one has been taken up annually since 2007. The bill was actually passed by both houses in 2009 but was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and last year it languished as lawmakers bickering about less important issues allowed time to expire on the 2010 session.
Now it’s back, and just as we have done every year for the last four years, we’re once again hoping the political establishment can overcome its legacy of failure and give California an early lead in the struggle to wean the nation off of fossil fuels, clean the state’s air, boost its fledgling green industries and set an example on responsible mitigation strategies for climate change. SBX1 2 from Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate on Thursday. It would mandate that utilities derive 33% of their power from renewable sources, such as the sun, wind or underground heat, by 2020.
Natural gas is billed by its supporters, including President Barack Obama, as a clean fuel that could play a big role in a low-carbon future. But others are questioning the environmental credentials of an energy source that, while easier on the atmosphere than coal and oil, is still a fossil fuel that causes sizable emissions of climate-warming gases.
Its backers say it emits only half as much carbon as coal when burned, and some environmentalists agree that it could bridge the gap until cleaner sources slowly come into use.
But opponents see the push for natural gas as a distraction from more pressing priorities, like improving efficiency and generating renewable power.
“We really have to be quite careful about the language we use to frame things,” said Kevin Anderson, a professor at the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester in England. “If we call things green, we start to feel positive about it.” Natural gas, he said, “is not a positive thing, it’s just less negative.”
In fact, he called it “a very bad fuel,” with “very high emissions indeed.”
Saudi Arabia and France agreed to cooperate on developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as the world’s top oil producer seeks to meet growing demand for electricity.
The agreement allows the two countries to cooperate in the fields of production, use and transfer of knowledge of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, according to an e-mailed statement from the Saudi government.
“Saudi Arabia has decided to make use of alternative energy resources, such as atomic energy, solar energy, geothermal energy and wind energy,” according to the statement, which cited Hashim Bin Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, known as KA-CARE. Power demand is forecast to increase by 8 percent a year in the Arabian Peninsula’s most populous country.