Energy and global warming news for February 24: Global clean energy investments to rise in 2011

Global clean energy investments to rise in 2011 – UN

Brazil, China and India are expected to fuel global investments in clean energy in 2011 that are expected to reach $240 billion, the head of a United Nation’s green economy initiative said on Wednesday.

The U.N.’s environmental unit (UNEP) said investment in renewable energy hit $180-$200 billion in 2010 up from $162 billion in 2009, driven by the three countries. The increased investments are because sustainable energy is gaining momentum as governments seek cheaper sources — such as solar, wind and ethanol — to cushion against rising oil prices.

“Investment may be close to $240 billion in clean energy that includes energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP’s Green Economy initiative.

The United Nations says greening energy supplies needs over $360 billion annually.

Adverse effects of climate change have forced countries to look for ways of cutting gas emissions and encouraging eco-friendly systems, Sukhdev told Reuters.

He said the United Nations had a European Union grant to help seven African countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Burkina Faso to formulate policies that would enable the transition to a green economy.

Global warming rate could be halved by controlling 2 pollutants, U.N. study says

The projected rise in global temperatures could be cut in half in coming years if world governments focused on reducing emissions of two harmful pollutants – black carbon and ground-level ozone, including methane – rather than carbon dioxide alone, according to a U.N. study released Wednesday.

The study, “Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone,” by the U.N. Environment Programme, shows the impact that the two short-lived pollutants have on the environment, compared with carbon dioxide, which can stay in the atmosphere for decades.

“I think what this study does that hasn’t been done in the past is look at the contributions to global warming by gases with short lifetimes,” said Steve Seidel, vice president of policy analysis for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Black carbon, a component of soot, is a threat to human health and is known to hasten the melting of snow. Ground-level ozone kills farm crops and also adversely affects health. Reducing the two, the study said, would improve health outcomes in the regions where they are implemented and “slow the rate of climate change within the first half of this century.”

The impact from reducing short-lived pollutants such as black carbon and ground-level ozone such as methane is more immediately felt. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for years, so the effects of reducing the emissions take longer to register.

Climate Change, Food Safety Linked

Global warming has the potential to make what we eat more dangerous and expensive, and the world already is feeling the effects, according to experts.

A quartet of scientists reporting during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington last weekend said the issues of food safety are poorly understood, but the inference from what is known is distressing.

They fear that global warming would lead to increased levels of contamination of food, from chemicals and pesticides to crop pests and fungal pathogens, as well as faster spreading of diseases such as cholera and shellfish poisoning. These issues could also force changes in diets as some foods become less available or more dangerous and increase food prices in a world where they are already rising and causing civil unrest.

Discussions about the link between climate change and food safety are only now beginning, said Sandra Hoffman of the Department of Agriculture, and the science is not clear.

While poor countries, particularly in the tropics and subtropics and the impoverished everywhere will fare the worst, according to Ewen C. Todd, of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., the threat is not restricted to the developing world.

Environmental Justice Lawsuit May Delay California Cap and Trade

In Congress, the polluting industry’s lobbyists are taking aim at federal climate regulations. In California, climate regs are facing a court challenge from a different source.

On January 24, 2011, a San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling that could block the implementation of the AB32 Scoping Plan, the document that details how the state of California will implement the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Who took the state to court over their efforts to protect the climate this time? Not the oil companies, coal-dependent utilities, or anti-government Tea Partiers. No, this time it was environmental justice (EJ) interests represented by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment and Communities for a Better Environment, and including West County Toxics Coalition, as well as several well-known EJ activists, many of whom served on a state environmental justice advisory committee. The case is called Association of Irritated Residents, et al. v. California Air Resources Board.

The specifics of the case relate to how California Air Resources Board (CARB) implemented the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The plaintiffs claimed CARB failed to adequately consider alternatives to the policies selected in the Scoping Plan, especially cap and trade. The judge’s tentative ruling mostly agreed, and could result in a delay in the 2012 implementation date for cap and trade, and possibly many other policies. The EJ groups’ lawsuit is on procedural grounds, but a quick study of their complaints may be found in a report put out by a professor at the University of Southern California called “Minding the Climate Gap.” The EJ groups also host a blog at EJ

Those familiar with environmental justice concerns will recognize a focus on health impacts at sites of existing major point source polluters and in neighborhoods near major transportation hubs and highways. When it comes to market mechanisms to fight climate change, the EJ groups believe that the trading of permits benefits big polluters, who accumulate them, creating “hot spots” of pollution. Low-income and disadvantaged communities would continue to suffer while the emission reductions take place in wealthier areas first.

White House report parries attacks on ‘clean energy standard’

A White House economic report unveiled Wednesday seeks to rebut GOP claims that President Obama’s energy proposals amount to “picking winners and losers” among energy technologies and are too costly.

The energy chapter of the annual Economic Report of the President touts Obama’s proposed “clean energy standard” (CES) that would require utilities to supply increasing amounts of power from low-carbon sources.

The report delivered to Congress says a “clean standard” would complement the White House push for increased spending on green-energy research and development (R&D) without playing favorites.

“A CES would create economic incentives for deployment of clean energy that can help ‘pull’ new technologies coming out of R&D into the market. Importantly, a CES would not pick particular clean technologies, but instead let markets and businesses determine the most cost-effective technologies to achieve the target share of clean energy,” the report states.

Iberdrola Profit Rises to $4 Billion on Power Production

Iberdrola SA‘s 2010 profit rose more than analysts expected as it generated more electricity with hydropower plants and wind turbines.

Net income for the world’s biggest producer of wind energy rose 1.6 percent to 2.87 billion euros ($4 billion) compared with analysts’ estimates of 2.84 billion euros, the Bilbao, Spain-based company said. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 11 percent to 7.5 billion euros.

The results “reflect the strength of operations,” Antonio Cruz-Guzman said in a note to clients. “Ebitda was higher than the guidance.”

Spain‘s largest utility generates more than half its power outside the country after expanding abroad to cut reliance on the domestic market, where demand fell in 2009 and regulators let it recoup only a portion of costs. Iberdrola is trying to sell more assets after buying U.S. utility Energy East Corp. in 2008 and Scottish Power Ltd. in 2007.

Iberdrola had pre-tax gains of about 300 million euros from asset sales last year, Chief Financial Officer Jose Sainz said on a conference call today.

The stock fell as much 1.1 percent to 6.114 euros in Madrid trading. The shares traded at 6.138 euros at 1:50 p.m. local time, giving Iberdrola a market value of 34 billion euros.

12 Responses to Energy and global warming news for February 24: Global clean energy investments to rise in 2011

  1. Michael T. says:

    Inspector General’s Review of Stolen Emails Confirms No Evidence of Wrong-Doing by NOAA Climate Scientists

    Report is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information

    February 24, 2011

    At the request of U.S. Sen. Inhofe, the Department of Commerce Inspector General conducted an independent review of the emails stolen in November 2009 from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and found no evidence of impropriety or reason to doubt NOAA’s handling of its climate data. The Inspector General was asked to look into how NOAA reacted to the leak and to determine if there was evidence of improper manipulation of data, failure to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures, or failure to comply with Information Quality Act and Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

    “We welcome the Inspector General’s report, which is the latest independent analysis to clear climate scientists of allegations of mishandling of climate information,” said Mary Glackin, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations. “None of the investigations have found any evidence to question the ethics of our scientists or raise doubts about NOAA’s understanding of climate change science.”

  2. Paulm says:

    Models guiding climate policy are ‘dangerously optimistic’

    “The output from today’s models is politically palatable,” said Anderson.

    “The reality is far more depressing, but many scientists are too afraid to stand up and speak out for fear of being ridiculed. Our job is not to be liked but to give a raw and dispassionate assessment of the scale of the challenge faced by the global community.”

    In a recent paper in Philosophical Transactions, Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows of the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester warn that “there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary”.

    This, they say, is because of a lack of contextual thinking. For example, Anderson and Bows found that several models assumed that fossil-fuel carbon-dioxide emissions from developing nations would exceed those from industrialised nations as late as 2013–2025, despite the actual date being around 2006.

    “Too many models use an extrapolation of old data and this gives results that are too optimistic,” said Anderson. “When I present my findings I am often pulled apart for taking away people’s hope. But what these models are giving us is false hope. Surely that is worse?”

    He believes that this false hope that the output from these models has been spreading is one reason why policymakers and the general public have not engaged with the sweeping changes necessary for industrialised nations to drastically reduce their emissions. “This requires radical changes in behaviour, particularly from those of us with very high energy consumption,” said Anderson. “But as long as the scientists continue to spread the message that we will be ok if we all make a few small changes, then climate change will never be on top of the policy agenda and we will fail to meet our international commitments to avoid a 2°C rise.”

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Salazar: Colorado River issue could push conservatives to face climate change

    WASHINGTON – Could Western conservatives push the GOP toward adopting a more friendly stance on climate change?

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar certainly seems to think so.

    In comments he delivered at a symposium hosted by the progressive Center for American Progress Thursday morning, Salazar said the worsening situation with the Colorado River — where the water level has dropped about 20 percent in the last decade — is serving as a powerful wake-up call to conservatives to do something about climate change.

    “The seven states … are a bastion of conservatism. They recognize … that the waste supplies of the Colorado River are directly related to the changing of the climate,” Salazar said. “You further reduce that by 20 percent, what’s that going to mean for the cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas?”

    “They get it,” Salazar continued. “And so what they’re saying to us is ‘we support, understand, the changes climate change is going to bring to our communities and our states, and we want to get ahead of it.’ ”

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Obama’s top economist: Oil price hike not likely to derail economy (video)

    The White House is monitoring rising oil prices but sees the US economy as better positioned to absorb them than in 1979, when oil prices spiked in the wake of the Iranian Revolution.

    “The way the economy works is not a cliff. There is no sense in which the price of oil gets to $119.99 [a barrel] and when it hits $120 then it goes into recession. That is not accurate. I do think there are some psychological impacts … the price of gasoline is a very public price,” says Goolsbee. On Wednesday, oil prices hit $100 a barrel before settling a bit below the $100 mark.

    Goolsbee cited two key reasons for his sense that the US is well positioned to deal with short-term hikes in oil prices stemming from the current upheaval in the Middle East.

    First, consumers are in a confident mode. “You saw this week that new consumer confidence numbers came out. They were very strong – the highest in three years. Consumer confidence of what the employment situation would be was the highest since 1984, I believe. So we start from a more optimistic place for 2011 than we have been in some time,” Goolsbee said.

  5. PurpleOzone says:

    Koch’s robot call New Hampshire citizens; house Republicans vote to withdraw from RGGI (a regional cap-and trade system)

    New Hampshire citizens’ will pay costs anyway; won’t get any money back; have to buy coal from Venezuela; hurt local jobs;
    LOSE, LOSE, LOSE (Except for Americans for {Koch} Prosperity.

  6. Michael T. says:

    What the Ice Cores Tell Us, and How Deniers Distort it

    A widely circulated piece of climate denial nonsense purports to use legitimate evidence from greenland ice cores to debunk the record of global warming.

    Displaying temperature records out of context, and making the claim of legitimacy by citing the data, and it’s primary author, Dr Richard Alley, this popular propaganda piece pretends to be based on actual evidence, when it is anything but.

  7. Solar Jim says:

    “ground-level ozone such as methane”

    This is completely new jargon to me. Does methane, such as leakage from the natural gas system, stay at ground level? What is the chemical lineage from CH4 to O3?

  8. Jay Alt says:

    Commerce Dept Inspector General clears NOAA scientists in ‘Climategate’ misrepresentation

  9. Roger says:

    Solar Jim says: “ground-level ozone such as methane”

    “This is completely new jargon to me. Does methane, such as leakage from the natural gas system, stay at ground level? What is the chemical lineage from CH4 to O3?”

    Putting on my chemist’s hat, the above makes no sense. It’s likely that the words “such as methane” don’t belong where you found them.

    Good eye, Solar Jim.

  10. Mike#22 says:

    “ground-level ozone such as methane” should be
    “ground-level ozone precursors such as hydrocarbons”

  11. Lewis C says:

    Mike#22 –

    just to clarify this issue – as far as I recall, low level ozone is the product of a multi-stage reaction of volatile hydrocarbons [VHCs] + CO + NOx + sunlight.

    The fact that people are breathing those volatile hydrocarbons 24/7, which include fossil alcohols, may well explain some of the weird intoxication and callous decadence of those cultures which have the greatest density of petrol vehicle usage.

    Ending fossil fuel dependence may thus have the seminally benign effect of making societies somewhat more sane.