From IEEE Spectrum: At the beginning, engineers at RE<C, Google’s now defunct renewable energy initiative, had shared the attitude of many environmentalists: They felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, society could stave off catastrophic climate change. They now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.
From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.
Ecologise has consistently driven home a single point -that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short duration online courses from the world’s leading universities, which can serve as vital tools to aid our understanding of these complex challenges. The first installment is focused on climate change.
From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism most everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.
From World Economic Forum: People often have an idealised view of solar as the perfect clean energy source. Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, no emissions, no contamination, perfectly clean. This however overlooks the messy reality of how solar panels are produced, right from the extraction of materials to scaling up the power generation process.
From The Wall Street Journal: While most big oil companies foresee a day when the world will need less crude, timing peak oil demand has proven controversial. Most Big European producers predict that a peak could emerge as soon as 2025 or 2030, and are overhauling long-term investment plans to diversify away from crude oil.
From Deccan Herald: There’s a great deal of disagreement between those who predict the end of oil era and those who believe in the need to look for more oil reserves. Since India’s ready to invest a huge amount in transforming its economy, there’s an urgent need to find out which scenario will pan out.
From The Conversation: This latest study looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in three key sectors of the global energy system – power, transportation and buildings. It found that, in these fields, it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s targets.
Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.
Climate Central reports: Two years after the Paris climate accord, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones. Here’s a trip around the world, assessing how pro-climate and anti-climate forces are faring in key nations and regions, showing how recent developments are affecting the languishing fight against global warming.
The Wire reports: If India builds all its proposed coal-based power plants, then it might not fulfill its promise made under the Paris climate agreement, says a new study conducted by CoalSwarm. The country is currently the fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, and its largely-coal-based energy sector contributes two-thirds of those emissions.
From Chinadialogue.net: China’s massive Asian infrastructure network of proposed new roads, railways, ports and airports, linking 65 countries to itself must grapple with the same problem as the ancient Silk Road it’s been named after. Sand. Deserts present as big a problem along the “Silk Road Economic Belt” as when camel caravans ambled across Central.
From The Wire: The planned ten-fold increase in solar energy will add on an average only 20% of the total capacity, making little difference to India’s emissions. The government has not reduced its coal output targets and plans to raise coal output from the current 550 million tonnes to nearly a billion tonnes by 2022.
Carbon Brief reports: Four years of current emissions would be enough to blow what’s left of the carbon budget for a good chance of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C. That’s the conclusion of this analysis, which brings the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s carbon budgets up to date to include global emissions in 2016.
From The Guardian: The research centres we assume to be objective, are connected with the very industry the public believes they are objectively studying. To call this conflict of interest is an understatement: many of them exist as they do only because of the fossil fuel industry. They are industry projects polished with academic credibility.
Paul McDivitt writes: Making wind and solar seem like they’re doing better than they really are could come back to bite proponents —and the climate. If people think we are about to replace fossil fuels with renewables, they will be less likely to demand new policies and take actions to lower their own carbon footprints.
Dave Lindorff writes: The concern is that if the Arctic Ocean waters were to warm even slightly, as they will do as the ice cap vanishes in summer, at some point the clathrates which have currently trapped massive amounts of methane will suddenly dissolve releasing tens of thousands of gigatons of methane in huge bursts.
The Guardian reports: Around the world courts are stepping in when politicians fail to act, with South Africa’s government the latest to lose a groundbreaking climate lawsuit with judges ruling against its plans for a new coal-fired power station. The government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station was challenged by NGO EarthLife Africa.
The Paris climate agreement was hailed by Al Gore as the moment when “the community of nations finally made the decision to act”. But there’s been no readjustment of energy stock prices since then. Indeed, the flotation of a tranche of Saudi oil giant Aramco, is expected to create the most valuable company on earth.
The Guardian reports: The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. However, since then the multinational company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and also helped lobby against climate action.