Wind turbines at a wind farm in Kamisu City, Japan.
Japan approved a bill today to subsidize electricity from renewable sources, joining European nations in shifting away from nuclear power after the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in March.
The renewable-energy bill was passed by the upper house following approval by the lower chamber on Aug. 23 and was one of the last acts of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose support sagged over his handling of Japan’s worst postwar disaster. He said today he’s resigning after parliament passed the legislation.
The bill allows for incentives that guarantee above-market rates for wind, solar and geothermal energy. The so-called feed- in tariff created a race to install solar panels when implemented in Germany and Spain.
In Japan, it may help Chinese companies such as Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) to gain a foothold.
Japan gets about 9 percent of its electricity from low- carbon sources. Kan has called for that level to increase and for the country to phase out atomic energy after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima nuclear complex. Before the crisis, atomic plants supplied about 30 percent of the country’s electricity….
The legislation will become effective on July 1, 2012, and require utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable sources including solar, wind and geothermal at above-market rates. The trade and industry minister will decide rates and periods after consulting with experts and other ministers.
“As an intensive measure to expand the use of renewable energy, the minister will give special consideration to the profit power suppliers receive,” according to the clean-energy law’s supplementary provisions.
Critics of the measures included Keidanren, Japan’s largest business lobby, which counts power utilities among its members. Lawmakers agreed to revise the legislation to grant a discount of at least 80 percent on the feed-in tariffs that are passed on in electricity bills to heavy power users.
Rates for renewable energy except solar will be as much as 20 yen (26 cents) a kilowatt-hour for about 15 years, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said in parliament on July 14.
The rate for solar may be higher, in light of a plan introduced in 2009 to buy excess solar power. Currently the tariff for surplus solar power generated by homes is 42 yen a kilowatt-hour, while electricity produced by businesses and schools is 40 yen.
That compares with the grid electricity price of 13.77 yen a kilowatt-hour for commercial users, according to data from Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
China, the biggest supplier of carbon credits, might withdraw from the United Nations-overseen Clean Development Mechanism around 2015, boosting offset prices in the five years through 2020, said Barclays Plc. (BARC)
Post-2012 letters of approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s regulator, are specifying volume limits that might suggest a halt in supply around 2015, Barclays Capital analysts including Trevor Sikorski in London said today in an e-mailed research note, citing discussions with project developers.
China might be expecting to keep its emission reductions for itself to meet its own greenhouse gas targets, rather than export them, the analysts said. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol places targets only on some developed nations through 2012. The U.S. has argued that fast-developing nations including China need targets too. China is the biggest seller of credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism to factories and power stations in Europe, for instance, according to UN data.
With less than three months before the international climate summit in Durban, government has called on all sectors of society to help intensify the country’s communication on climate change and its impact on the developing world.
“Cabinet has called for unified messaging, where all communication must be aligned to the theme, ‘working together, saving tomorrow today’,” Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday.
South Africa is this year’s host of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the country hopes to follow on the relative progress made at last year’s negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. It is expected that approximately 20 000 people will attend the COP 17 event.
In preparation for the conference, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and her International Relations counterpart Maite Nkoana Mashabane are to attend a ministerial meeting on climate change in Brazil this weekend, where discussions are expected to be held on the response to climate change by Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
Manyi said the group, which is also referred to as the BASIC countries, has been increasingly playing an important role in the climate change negotiations since the 2009 talks in Copenhagen. Amongst the issues to be considered by the bloc will be an exchange of views on what can be done to ensure a fair global regime for emission reduction and finance for a global climate change response.
Low-lying and heavily forested Suriname, which counts itself among the five nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, has created the country’s first climate-compatible development agency, aimed at bringing together the country’s ministries to deal with climate challenges.
“We owe it to our children to prepare ourselves for the effects climate change will have on our country,” President Desi Bouterse said earlier this month at a ceremony marking the launch of the agency.
According to Suriname’s government, sea level rise is expected to bring worsening erosion, large-scale inundation, loss of farmland, a reduction in available freshwater, more drought and extreme rainfall and worsening health challenges to the coastal South American nation.
The new agency aims to coordinate the country’s policies on climate change mitigation and adaptation and forest conservation, and help Suriname win international funding to help it deal with climate impacts and adopt a lower carbon development strategy.
It will also lead the country’s Climate Change Fund, charged with managing funds secured for climate adaptation, and support a Climate Compatible Knowledge Institute, which will give scientific support to climate efforts.
Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. (TMCI), Toyota’s Chinese subsidiary, held a signing ceremony on 26 August marking its agreement to carry out the Toyota Green Greater Beijing Economic Zone Fengning Afforestation Project.
The afforestation project is to be carried out over three years, starting in 2011, by TMCI in collaboration with the Hebei Province Forestry Bureau and the Fengning Manchu Autonomous County Forestry Bureau.
The aim of the project is to plant trees in a 150-hectare area over three years in the Nanshakouzi region in the northern part of Hebei Province (including Fengning County) and to thus reduce the area of desertification in the Nanshakouzi region (approximately 550 hectares of severe desertification) to the same level as Xiaobazi Township (approximately 460 hectares of severe desertification). The 10-year project in Xiaobazi Township began in 2001.
The Nanshakouzi area serves as a water source for Beijing and Tianjin, but is experiencing particularly severe desertification that has caused sandstorms affecting those two cities. The project also seeks to encourage the development of greening activities that establish economic independence for local residents via earnings from the afforested areas.
The Chinese maritime authority is preparing to sue ConocoPhillips, the American oil company, over two oil spills in June that engulfed large swaths of Bohai Bay in north China, according to a report by Xinhua, the state news agency.
The report, which appeared on Wednesday, said the State Oceanic Administration was aiming to set up a team of lawyers by the end of the month to sue for compensation. It cited an agency spokesman as saying that 49 Chinese law firms had applied to provide legal assistance.
The two spills, involving 3,200 barrels of oil and drilling fluids, occurred in the country’s largest offshore oilfield, called Penglai 19-3, and spread over at least 324 square miles in Bohai Bay. The Penglai field was co-developed by China National Offshore Oil Corporation, commonly known as Cnooc, and ConocoPhillips China operates it.
As with a vast spill last year from a PetroChina port facility in the city of Dalian, which lies on the edge of the Bohai Sea, environmental advocates and residents of the affected areas have expressed anger with the government over delays in getting news or accurate reports of the spills. But this time, even more fury is directed at ConocoPhillips. That complicates the response of the Chinese government, because it is in the process of luring American companies to China to drill for oil and gas in shale fields.
The Xinhua report said the oil spills had spread to beaches in the provinces of Hebei and Liaoning and were being blamed for a slowdown in local tourism and for economic damage to aquatic farming industries. The report also said “nine new oil spill sources” had been found in the bay as of Aug. 20. John Roper, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, based in Houston, said Thursday in an e-mail message that the company had not received any notice of litigation.