Monday, 1 June 2015

Climate change: businesses wake up to climate action

To what extent is 'Big Energy' open to new ideas?
Futures Forum: Overproduction and the end of Big Oil's business model
Futures Forum: Climate change: "The lights are going out for coal"

The latest from the New Economic Foundation seems to suggest that they are open to new ideas:

Energy round-up: businesses wake up to climate action

Photo credit:   franganillo

Three things you shouldn't miss this week

  1. Chart: Fossil fuel subsidies in numbers
  1. Graph: Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that the electricity intensity of economies trends slightly downward as they grow richer
Source: BNEF

  1. Shell CEO: 'carbon bubble' campaigners 'ignore reality' - Royal Dutch Shell bombarded by climate change criticism at annual general meeting.

This week, the Queen's speech assured us that the new government would “seek effective global collaboration to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change”. Yet domestic measures were hardly encouraging: from the establishment of a new agency to maximise oil and gas recovery to plans to slash onshore wind subsidies, transferring responsibility for onshore wind farms to local authorities.

At the global level, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) drew attention to the scale of energy subsidies and uncosted damages that are currently benefitting the fossil fuel industry: worth a staggering $5.3 trillion per year, or $10 million per minute.

This focus on energy subsidies adds to mounting criticism of fossil fuel companies, particularly around global divestment campaigns. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden remains insistent that projected growth in world energy demand will make fossil fuels essential for the coming decades – essentially a bet against proper action on climate change – but commentators such as Lord Stern have questioned the wisdom of this approach.

But other news from the business community suggests that the momentum over divestment lies with Lord Stern and not with Shell. The divestment campaign celebrated as insurance company AXA pulled £350 million out of coal funds due to climate change risk, as well as coal divestment from Norway’s massive £600 billion oil fund. At the Business & Climate Summit in Paris last week, business leaders lent their support to climate action demanding “bold, clear and long-term climate policies to keep within the +2°C threshold”, with similar statements coming from the World Energy Council. Even other oil companies have specifically been asking for a carbon tax.

More and more businesses are recognising the need to act on climate change and the incentives that continue to push them in the wrong direction. With consensus for strong action from a broad coalition building, there are high hopes for the Paris Climate Summit later this year. Expect to see more announcements as the negotiations near.

Energy Transition

Solar as Fastest Growing U.S. Power Source Rivals Shale Boom - Move over shale. The sun is now the fastest growing source of U.S. electricity.
China coal use falls: How the world’s largest polluter reduced its emissions - China’s coal use has fallen by nearly 8% so far this year — taking CO2 emissions down 5% with it.
Shell CEO: 'carbon bubble' campaigners 'ignore reality' - Royal Dutch Shell bombarded by climate change criticism at annual general meeting.
Bladeless wind turbines generate electricity by shaking, not spinning - Scientists hope to hugely reduce the cost of wind energy by removing the blades from wind farm.
Heating houses with 'nerd power' - All computers produce heat, but computer servers produce a lot of heat - so much that it usually costs a fortune to cool them down.

Fossil Fuels

Fossil industry faces a perfect political and technological storm - The IMF says we can no longer afford the economic wastage of fossil fuels, turning the green energy debate upside down.
Why India is captured by carbon - Rapid development will require India to double or triple its production of coal – and make it the world’s second largest carbon emitter. Is there any alternative?
Shell’s Arctic voyage marks beginning of peak oil era - Anglo-Dutch company's search for resources in the Arctic is a sign that the world is running out of options for new oil reserves.
US oil output to fall but supply still outstrips demand, says IEA - Lower oil prices have hit drillers in the US but market remains off balance warns energy watchdog.
Iraq About to Flood Oil Market in New Front of OPEC Price War - If shipping schedules are correct, a tidal wave of oil is coming.
ISIS Victories and Oil - News this week that ISIS had scored a major victory in Ramadi has forced several regional rivals to change their calculus in material ways.
Texas governor bans cities and towns from banning fracking - Greg Abbott ensures state legislature has sole authority over oil and gas regulation in Texas
Fracking could unlock 140bn barrels of oil worldwide, says report - Countries such as Iran, Russia, Mexico and China stand to gain most, according to analysis by IHS, the research company. [sign-in required]
The scramble for the South China Sea - As China tries to outmuscle its neighbours, we ask who will win the battle over the resource-rich waters.
California investigates nine-mile oil slick - Clean-up crews are working around the clock as investigators look into how tens of thousands of gallons of oil spewed into the sea off Santa Barbara.
Shell’s Arctic exploration safety audit ‘kept under wraps’ - Safety audit ordered by the US government to ensure there was no repeat of the company’s disastrous drilling operation in 2012 remains hidden from the public.


China warned over 'insane' plans for new nuclear power plants - He Zuoxiu, a leading Chinese scientist, says the country is not investing enough in safety controls after lifting of post-Fukushima disaster reactor ban.
Areva receives €2bn buyout offer from EDF - Areva, the French firm charged with designing Britain's Hinkley Point, has received a €2bn approach for its reactor business from EDF.


Fracking support falls as Tory government promises to 'deliver shale' - Conservatives pledge to drive through fracking projects – despite public opposition rising from 29% to 43% according to a YouGov poll.
David Cameron recruits climate hawk for top UK policy post - Prime minister appoints Sunday Times columnist and green growth advocate Camilla Cavendish to head up policy unit.
DECC must 'come clean over decision-making process', says Green MP Caroline Lucas - A £660m gas-storage facility in Lancashire has seen a 12-year planning dispute.
Growth at all costs: climate change, fossil fuel subsidies and the Treasury - The UK oil and gas industry receives huge government subsidy, while support for renewable energy is cut.


The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit - 2°C, the widely agreed upon target, would require an utterly unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination, sustained over decades.
Climate change threat demands reform to financial system – UNEP - ‘Stress tests’ for international finance from rising climate impacts, as UN report calls for banking cultural shift.
Top EU companies urge drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions - Top European companies urged governments on Thursday to set a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero well before 2100.
Axa to divest from high-risk coal funds due to threat of climate change - Insurance company to move £350m out of coal companies and triple investments in green technologies.
Oil Giants Band Together to Add Voice to Climate Debate - Europe’s largest oil companies are banding together to forge a joint strategy on climate-change policy, alarmed they’ll be ignored.
World has no choice but to decarbonize: U.N. climate chief – "We are going to do it, because frankly we don't have any other option," she said.
Sense of ‘inevitability’ over carbon pricing – World Bank climate envoy - Greenhouse gas taxes and markets worth US$50 billion, says report, with interest growing ahead of Paris climate pact.

Related Reports and Commentary

IMF Working Paper: How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies?  - International Monetary Fund
'The Coming Financial Climate' report - UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
Beyond carbon pricing to TEQs – reconciling scientific reality with realpolitik - The Fleming Policy Centre

Energy round-up: businesses wake up to climate action | New Economics Foundation

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