"Energy and global warming news for March 3, 2011: Clean energy investment hit record $243 Billion in 2010; Five ways climate change threatens health"
Global investment in clean energy and the carbon markets surged 30 percent last year from 2009 levels to a record $243 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Investment in 2010 was the highest since the London-based researcher began keeping records in 2004. The figures were pooled from a database of financial transactions in clean energy and the carbon markets, New Energy Finance said in a statement.
“Total worldwide new investment in clean energy surged last year by over $50 billion into new record territory,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance, said today in the statement. “It was nearly five times higher than when we first handed out the New Energy Finance League Table Awards, six years ago.”
The research company named 13 organizations it considers the leading investors and financial service providers in clean energy and the carbon markets.
Among these, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, based in the U.S., scooped top investor by number of venture capital investment rounds.
For mergers and acquisitions, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) won top financial adviser to target companies, and Banco Santander SA (SAN) was the leading adviser to acquirer. The European Investment Bank was the biggest arrangers of project finance, and Invesco Ltd.’s PowerShares Cleantech fund was the best performing clean energy fund last year.
Climate change is what the people at the Pentagon like to call a “threat multiplier.” Warming takes existing dangers like political instability in developing nations, and amplifies them in ways that can be hard to predict “” but which are rarely positive. It’s not just about melting icebergs and rising sea levels; a warmer world is likely to be a more unstable one as well, and more dangerous.
That goes for human health too. It can be tough to tease out the impacts of warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns on the spread of infectious diseases, for instance, but researchers are becoming more confident that climate change will prove a net negative for human health. That was the message from the heads of the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association (APHA) last week, when they came together to lay out the health case against global warming. The “evidence has only grown stronger” that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of health problems, including asthma, diarrheal disease and even deaths from extreme weather like heat waves, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the APHA.
That doesn’t mean that spending money to reduce carbon emissions is always going to be the best way to tackle those health threats “” for instance, poverty and hygiene often make the primary difference on the spread of infectious disease. But unchecked warming would just make tough health problems even tougher. Here’s what to look out for:
A bill ending U.S. agency regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions puts lawmakers in charge of climate-change policy, “not EPA bureaucrats,” a GOP senator said.
The bill, to be introduced in both houses of Congress Thursday, would permanently revoke the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the U.S. Clean Air Act, to regulate presumed climate-altering gases emitted from buildings such as factories and power plants.
It would leave intact an agreement among automakers and federal and state governments to cut vehicle-tailpipe emissions through 2017.
The bill — dubbed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 and to be introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. — comes after House Republicans passed a spending bill to cut EPA financing by $3 billion, or 30 percent, more than twice the $1.3 billion U.S. President Barack Obama proposed cutting last month.
Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Whitfield chairs the panel’s Energy subcommittee.
The lawmakers said EPA greenhouse-gas regulations raise energy costs, drive manufacturers offshore, cost jobs and strangle the economic recovery.
Work on implementing recent climate agreements, including a new green fund, will start next month despite wrangling over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, a top U.N. official said on Thursday.
Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said the Green Climate Fund as well as the work agenda for this year’s U.N. climate talks will be discussed at a ministerial meeting hosted by Mexico in March.
Uncertainty has been growing over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the first legally binding treaty to cut greenhouse gases, with Japan, Russia and Canada insisting they will not extend emission cuts.
Although most governments including developing nations support an extension, the three holdouts want all top emitters, notably China and the United States, to agree a new treaty beyond 2012, when Kyoto’s first period ends.
Figueres, in Japan for an informal meeting of climate envoys from about 30 governments, shrugged off the possibility that the main U.N. climate forum of all countries in Bangkok in April will be overshadowed by disagreements about Kyoto.
Kyoto is not a new issue although governments will have to address and make “some decision” by a year-end climate summit in Durban, South Africa, she said.
“There are many ideas that have been considered to find a middle of the way path forward … They have to come to some decision in Durban,” she said in an interview with Reuters.
Figueres also downplayed concern that a further rise in oil prices could undermine global economic recovery and provide an excuse or hurdle for governments to avoid immediate initiatives on cutting emissions.
When Congress considered whether to regulate more closely the handling of wastes from oil and gas drilling in the 1980s, it turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to research the matter. E.P.A. researchers concluded that some of the drillers’ waste was hazardous and should be tightly controlled.
But that is not what Congress heard. Some of the recommendations concerning oil and gas waste were eliminated in the final report handed to lawmakers in 1987.
“It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”
E.P.A. officials told her, she said, that her findings were altered because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the White House under Ronald Reagan. A spokesman for the E.P.A. declined to comment.
Ms. Greathouse’s experience was not an isolated case. More than a quarter century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope, and important findings have been removed.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect citizens from premature death and other health problems would be gutted if Congress slashes funding as threatened by Republican lawmakers, its chief said on Wednesday.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have been trying to cut the EPA’s budget for this year, saying its regulations on clean air and water hurt businesses.
“Big polluters would flout legal restrictions on dumping contaminants into the air, into rivers and onto the ground,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.
Jackson said every dollar that goes to protecting federal clean air and clean water laws saves as much as $20 or $30 in costs for health problems requiring visits to hospitals.
“I’m simply saying it’s preventive medicine,” Jackson said.
The EPA released a report this week that said cutting pollution under the Clean Air Act will save $20 trillion by 2020 in health costs. It will also have prevented 230,000 premature deaths annually from heart attacks, and other health problems that can be brought on by smokestack pollutants such as soot, it said.
World governments are called on to implement agreements reached at last year’s climate conference in Mexico, a U.N. official said in Japan.
The agreement struck in Cancun, Mexico, where representatives from 194 nations met to prepare a climate protection treaty, calls for major emissions cuts, launches a multibillion-dollar fund to help poor nations adapt to climate change and finalizes a scheme to stop deforestation.
The secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said during a news conference in Tokyo that world leaders needed to get to work on climate reform.
“Governments must now implement quickly what they agreed in Cancun and take the next big climate step this year in Durban, (South Africa)” she said in a statement.