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.
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.
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.
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 Matters.org.
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.
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 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.