A new report by the Climate Commission of Australia, has admitted that whilst China remains the world’s largest polluting nation, it also leads the fight against climate change.
In fact China has made such efforts to reduce its emissions, and reduce growth in electricity demand, that it is far ahead of any targets it set itself, and is likely to curb its carbon emissions far sooner than expected.
The report states that China has become the “world’s renewable energy powerhouse,” due to a series of policies and plans that have encouraged renewable energy growth. In 2012, for the third year in a row it claimed the title of the world largest clean energy producer, with a massive 23 gigawatts of clean energy capacity. (Related article: Clean Economy Doesn’t Mean Cleaner World)
Between 2055 and 2012 China increased its wind generation capacity by nearly 50 times, adding an extra 36 percent in 2012 alone. China’s solar sector is also growing, increasing by 75% in 2012, and it is predicted to grow by a further 300 percent to over 21GW by 2015. ( Continue… )
US energy may be booming. But for those who labor in its fields and on its rigs, pay is falling.
Average compensation for oil and gas workers in the United States was 4 percent last year than it was in 2011, according to Rigzone, an oil and gas industry news and job recruitment website. The decline comes as the industry itself begins to slow.
US drilling rig counts are down nearly 10 percent to 1,754 last week compared with a year ago, according to Baker Hughes, an oilfield service company.
The hiring frenzy, which peaked at an all-time high of 68,100 net new jobs in 2011, dropped by more than half in 2012, and is on track to add less than 20,000 workers this year. ( Continue… )
[Editor's note: This story has been updated.]
A powerful blast in central Prague early Monday shook the city and left 35 injured and at least two people missing. According to the Czech capital's mayor, it was the result of a leaky natural gas pipe.
A day earlier, an explosion probably linked to natural gas ripped through a five-story building in Reims, France, causing three fatalities and injuring 14 others. A methane gas blast last Monday at a wastewater treatment plant in Dexter, Mich., killed one worker and injured another.
Natural gas explosions offer a violent reminder of the extensive energy infrastructure beneath our feet. Although serious incidents are relatively rare, explosions are fairly common. When natural gas ignites, the results can be catastrophic. And as the United States increases its use of natural gas, the potential dangers expand.
"These are low-probability but high-impact events," said Nathan Phillips, a professor at Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment, "but we have to think seriously about those kinds of events." ( Continue… )
U.S. Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell went green with one of her first formal moves in the White House last week when she announced her department would be the first in line for new hybrid vehicles for its fleet. The former chief executive at outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. said doing so made good business sense in a way that also advanced a federal low-carbon footprint. When President Obama introduced her to the nation in February, he said she knew there was no contradiction between economic and environmental action. Her move on hybrids adds to that sentiment. The next day, however, she announced plans for a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, showing she has both faces needed for Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy policy.
Jewell last week said the Interior Department would partner with the General Services Administration's vehicle initiative by replacing as many as 300 gasoline- and alternative-fueled vehicles with hybrids. That represents about 30 percent of the department's fleet and is "simply a good business decision that will benefit not only our bottom line, but reduce our carbon emissions as well," she said.
The GSA said its plans to incorporate as many as 10,000 hybrids into the federal fleet could lead to the overall reduction of around 1 million gallons of fuel. Assuming for a moment the federal government pays retail prices, the government would save about $3.7 million per year on gasoline prices, given the current estimate for regular unleaded in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. (Related article: Fisker Fiasco Won’t Dent EV Funding)
Jewell helped steer REI to a retail leader in outdoor gear when she served at the helm there. When Obama rolled her out earlier this year, the American Petroleum Institute stressed the U.S." energy revolution" lies in her hands. Before ruling over REI, she spent 19 years in the commercial banking sector and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. before it merged with Exxon. The day after the GSA announcement, she backed into API's corner by announcing plans to offer energy explorers more than 21 million acres offshore Texas in an August lease sale. The Gulf of Mexico, she said, is the "cornerstone of the United States' energy portfolio." ( Continue… )
Some call it the “holy rail.”
By the end of the year – when several terminals are completed – that number could reach 200,000 barrels a day.
Despite rail costs doubling pipeline tariffs, the logistics have often been worth the time for producers – those that have been able to get a better price railing it past the mid-continent refineries all the way to the US East Coast and Gulf Coast.
But just as Canadian rail use is set to soar again, say analysts—rail may no longer be economic. ( Continue… )
Early reports suggest Wednesday's fuel barge explosions on the Mobile River in Alabama were an unfortunate accident, probably the result of a spark igniting a buildup of unrefined gasoline vapors.
But the incident, which injured three people, refocuses attention on America's aging – and sometimes fragile – energy infrastructure. Coming on the heels of an oil pipeline spill in Arkansas and in the middle of a vociferous debate over whether to build a US pipeline for heavy crude oil from Canadian tar sands (also known as oil sands), it brings into question whether the system is up to the task of transporting the nation's newly growing energy wealth.
What are the safest means for transporting the large quantities of oil, natural gas, and gasoline we consume everyday? Do new forms of "unconventional" fuels require a new way of thinking about how we distribute those fuels? Is our energy distribution network capable of meeting today's demand?
"If we're going to integrate new sources of energy into our grid, and move towards energy surety where we’re not beholden to foreign sources, we’re going to have to invest in infrastructure," said John Pappas, interim director of Texas A&M University's Energy Institute in College Station. "I think everyone realizes that." ( Continue… )
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is nothing but consistent: he wants a carbon tax and he wants it bad. Since 2005, he’s mentioned “carbon tax” 41 times in his column. Yet, while his support for a carbon tax hasn’t waned, the characteristics of his preferred carbon tax policy have.
As ITIF argues in Inducing Innovation: What a Carbon Price Can and Can’t Do, pricing carbon by itself does little to support clean energy and carbon reductions. It can be a useful tool for nudging near-competitive low-carbon technologies into the market and spurring modest carbon cuts, but it’s at best a complementary climate policy. That changes if we use a carbon tax as a revenue-raiser to support additional policies aimed at making clean energy cost and performance competitive with fossil fuels. In other words, tying a carbon tax to aggressive energy innovation policy can get us better climate mitigation “bang” for our climate policy “buck.” It’s why I proposed an “Innovation Carbon Price” that ties 20 percent of carbon tax revenue to public energy innovation investments and 80 percent to strengthening corporate tax incentives for training, research, and capital equipment investments.
Friedman most often takes a simpler – albeit misguided – view: a carbon tax is the panacea for U.S. climate policy. In March 2006 he argued that a high enough carbon tax (or fuel tax) that ensures gasoline never falls below $3.50 to $4 a gallon would “make a host of new technologies competitive.” His basic premise is that a carbon tax provides a long-term price signal strong enough to raise the price of fossil fuels, which sparks consumer demand and private sector investment in clean energy alternatives. Recent history tells us this isn’t correct. Gas prices in March 2005 averaged $2.35 per gallon. Today, they’re hovering right around the $3.50 to $4 range Friedman yearned for, or for argument’s sake, a back-of-the envelope de facto ~$115 carbon tax.
Yet, zero-carbon electric cars aren’t competitive, but smaller gasoline cars and hybrids are. The amount of CO2 emitted for each unit of energy supplied is nearly the same as it was in 1990. In fact, U.S. carbon emissions have modestly fallen in part because of the recession, which cut energy demand, and because of increased use of slightly cleaner natural gas at the expense of coal. Higher energy prices are helping near-competitive technologies expand into the market, but spurring a full transformation of our energy system to mitigate climate change will take much more policy than price signals. ( Continue… )
Joint Statement on ‘Dangers’ of Climate Change
A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Beijing to meet with the leadership of the Chinese government. This meeting was mostly noted in the press as an effort to defuse tensions in the ongoing crisis over North Korea – and clearly that was important; there has been a notable ratcheting down of tensions since then.
However, over the long term, there was an agreement that came out of the meeting that could be much more important to the world’s future stability and security – a joint U.S. – China Statement on Climate Change. It was so overlooked in the press, that I missed it for the last two weeks. The statement indicated that the U.S. and China recognize the “dangers presented by climate change” and that a “more focused and urgent initiative” is needed. (Related: International Action on Climate Change for Obama’s 2nd Term)
This statement is invariably true – and these two countries are in a position to have an impact. Together, China and the United States are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, with 29% and 16% of global emissions, respectively. Like Willie Sutton and the Banks, if you want to affect greenhouse gas emissions, start where the emissions actually are. ( Continue… )
Here’s some new impetus for those sitting on the fence over household energy efficiency: the risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for people with energy efficient homes, according to a recent study.
The study, released in March by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital, claims that energy efficiency can be the difference between mortgage repayment and foreclosure.
The Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks study examined 71,000 home loans from 38 states and the District of Columbia, with loans taken out from 2002 to 2012. The results showed that the chances of mortgage default were one-third lower for those with energy efficient homes.
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Specifically, homes with lower Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Scores overall showed a lower mortgage default risk, while Energy Star-labeled homes showed a 32% lower mortgage default risk. ( Continue… )
For some, the company's decline is an example of flawed clean-energy policies that bet public money on losing technologies.
The broader picture of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program is more nuanced. High-profile flops can eclipse the quieter, less headline-worthy successes of the program, first enacted in 2005 under President George W. Bush.
But even when successful, the loan guarantee program's role in a company's profitability is subject to debate. Tesla Motors received $465 million from the Department of Energy and is exceeding sales targets and winning prestigious awards. Could they have done that with private investment alone, or was taxpayer money critical to their success?
"There are companies that would, and often do, receive investment from the private sector because their technology is profitable or because investors find their technology promising and want to pursue the risk," Nicholas Loris, an energy-policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote in prepared testimony for a US House Oversight Committee meeting on Fisker Wednesday. ( Continue… )