A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post additional stories below.
President Barack Obama’s chief climate change negotiator has issued a warning over the future of the Kyoto protocol, casting doubt on a key plank of international climate talks this December in South Africa.
Todd Stern, the US president’s envoy for climate change, said the European Union was the only remaining “major player” that would potentially support a continuation of the protocol after its provisions expire in 2012. The lack of support from other countries bodes ill for the forthcoming talks at Durban.
The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement that imposes limits on the greenhouse gas emissions from some signee countries that was negotiated in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997.
Kyoto is the only treaty which binds nearly all of the world’s industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions but Stern cast doubt on its future.
“Of the major players in the Kyoto protocol, my sense is that the EU is the only one still considering signing up in some fashion to a second commitment period. Japan is clearly not, Russia is not, Canada is not and Australia appears unlikely.”
A gigantic wind farm with the power output of three or four average-sized coal plants has been been proposed by the US wind development subsidiary of the European renewable energy investor Good Energies, in Nevada, according to ReCharge.
The wind farm would be extraordinary, the largest wind farm in the US at a staggering 990 MW. But it would also be Nevada’s first ever wind farm. Wind power in the US now totals 42,432 MW of capacity. Texas is number two in the world. Iowa gets 20 percent of its energy from wind.
But unlike every state on its borders, all of which have at least 128 MW of turbines churning out wind energy, Nevada till now has had no wind farms at all. The hold-up has been the difficulties in getting a permit.
Developers installed 69 percent more U.S. solar power capacity in the second quarter than a year earlier, led by commercial and government projects.
Developers installed 314.3 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power in the second quarter, compared with 186.5 megawatts in the same period a year earlier, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight report released today by Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.
Much of the growth was due to government incentives, including a U.S. Treasury Department program that reimburses developers 30 percent of projects’ costs, said Rhone Resch, the Washington-based trade group’s president. That program is set to expire at the end of the year.
“Solar is the fastest growing industry in the U.S.,” Resch said in an interview yesterday. “Our growth has directly benefited from the Treasury grant program. We have to keep those programs in place to keep up the pace and hire more workers.”
Canada and the European Union are embroiled in a dispute over a key piece of EU climate legislation which Ottawa claims discriminates against one of its key exports—crude from the oil sands of Alberta.
At issue is the EU Fuel Quality Directive, which aims to encourage the use of low-carbon transport fuels in Europe . Canada claims it would unfairly penalize oil sands crude, and says it could refer Brussels to the World Trade Organization if the legislation isn’t changed.
“If the EU proceeds with an approach that’s going to discriminate against oil sands, we would look to protect our interests, and that includes through international institutions like the WTO,” said Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief trade negotiator with the EU, in an interview on Monday.
Even in the EU, policy makers are divided. A person familiar with the matter said trade and energy officials oppose a separate reference to oil sands in the fuel quality directive, with climate change officials in favor.
A statewide interfaith organization has introduced questions of morality and climate change into the debate about Marcellus Shale gas well development.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://bit.ly/pzQw7k first reported on Sunday the plans by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. The group issued a four-page “ethical analysis” that declares its opposition to development of the deep and massive shale gas play because it is not part of a strategy to end fossil fuel use, creates too many environmental and health risks, and perpetuates the “boom and bust” cycles of other, earlier extractive industries in the state.
“We believe there could be ethical ways to drill, but we’re not there yet,” said Rabbi Daniel Swartz, of Temple Hesed in Scranton and vice president of the interfaith group.
The organization’s analysis also calls on all Pennsylvania elected officials to stop accepting political contributions from companies involved in the exploration, drilling, production, transportation and sale of Marcellus Shale natural gas. And it urges all congregations and faith-based institutions to reduce their energy use and refrain from entering into leases for Marcellus Shale gas development on their properties.