Tag Archives: carbon policy

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 16 February 2015

Weekly RE and EE Carbon Policy news update from the web.

C2ES study identifies lessons from carbon pricing for business and policy

C2ES study identifies lessons from carbon pricing
A new C2ES report highlights lessons useful for companies and policymakers as more states and countries consider carbon pricing to spur innovative technologies and cut emissions at the lowest possible cost.
The report, written for the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR), examines how three companies — Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Rio Tinto, and Royal Dutch Shell — prepared for carbon pricing programs.
The PMR shares this type of information with developing countries to help them create their own market-based policies. We were pleased to partner with the PMR to explore how a few of the companies in our Business Environmental Leadership Council prepared for carbon pricing and we thank the companies for sharing their expertise.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

The new European energy efficiency facility is here: financing sustainable energy at the local and regional level!

THE NEW EUROPEAN ENERGY EFFICIENCY FACILITY IS HERE
The European Energy Efficiency Facility (EEE – F) of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) is a new financial facility dedicated to sustainable energy.
Why is a European Energy Efficiency facility being set up?
The Council of Ministers and the European Parliament agreed in December 2010 to a European Commission proposal, made the same year in May, to allocate approximately EUR 146 million from the European Energy Programme for Recovery (i.e. 3.7% of the total EEPR envelope) towards a new financial facility dedicated to sustainable energy. The EU contribution comes from funds mobilised for the EEPR in 2009 which could not immediately be allocated to projects in the sectors of infrastructure, off-shore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
What structure will the new financial facility have?
The new facility will take the form of an investment fund complemented by technical assistance (TA) and awareness raising. The EU will contribute about EUR 146 million to the facility, of which about EUR 125 million to the fund and about EUR 20 million to TA.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Energy efficiency industry needs to talk securitization

Energy efficiency industry needs to talk
What do leaders in the banking industry think about the potential of privately financing solar power, wind energy and energy efficiency? In this interview with Clean Energy Finance Forum, Michael Eckhart, managing director and global head of finance and sustainability at Citigroup, shares his optimism about the transition to clean energy and his observations about the persistent obstacles in the market — including the need to scale up financing for energy efficiency.
Citigroup has participated in public-private efforts helping to catalyze advancement in this arena. Eckhart describes progress in the context of a 100-year transition toward a clean energy economy. Developments in standardization and securitization hold tremendous potential for moving the industry forward.
Clean Energy Finance Forum: Do you believe the private sector is underinvesting in clean energy and energy efficiency? If so, why?
Eckhart: No, not underinvesting. The private sector invests in those projects that meet the criteria for financing.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

How Efficient Is Energy Efficiency? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

How Efficient Is Energy Efficiency
Arik Levinson is an environmental economist at Georgetown who spent some time as a senior economist for environmental issues with the Council of Economic Advisors (C.E.A.) under President Obama.
“One of my jobs,” he says, “was helping the White House evaluate the environmental policies coming out of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. And I quickly realized that most of the policies that I was seeing involved energy efficiency.”
So Levinson wanted to know: how efficient is all this energy efficiency? That’s the topic of our latest podcast. (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
We discuss Levinson’s new working paper “How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence From California” (and a related Journal of Economic Behavior& Organization paper, called “California Energy Efficiency: Lessons for the Rest of the World, or Not?).

> READ FULL STORY HERE

EU energy consumption level falls to 20-year low

EU energy consumption level falls
Energy consumption in the European Union has fallen to levels last seen more than two decades ago, statistics published on Monday showed.
The dramatic drop in annual consumption – in 2013, the year to which the new research applies, it was down by more than 9% from its 2006 peak – reflects in part the continuing economic troubles in the eurozone, but also efforts taken by member states and businesses to cut energy use and improve efficiency.
Despite the plunge, Europe remains heavily dependent on fuel imports, with more than half of energy needs supplied by production from abroad, including the Middle East and Norway.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

EU Energy Briefing: Special on the Energy Union [VIDEO]

EU Energy Briefing Special on the Energy Union VIDEO 1
In this Brussels Briefing on Energy for viEUws – the EU Policy Broadcaster, leading journalist Hughes Belin provides an overview ofprogress made on the EU’s Energy Union project, ahead of the formal launch of the Energy Union by the European Commission on 25 February.
Climate and Energy Commissioner Cañete already revealed a series of actions to materialise the Energy Union:
• 10-point plan for energy security that includes: regulation on security of electricity supply, plans for a common gas purchasing platform, a new Liquefied Natural Gas strategy, progress on a Mediterranean gas hub & the Southern Gas Corridor
• Implementing the internal energy market

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Biomass in a carbon-negative power system

Biomass in a carbon
Deployment of bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration would help western North America achieve a carbon-negative power system by 2050.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Geneva talks: countries agree draft text for deal to fight climate change

Geneva talks countries agree draft text for deal
Almost 200 countries agreed a draft text for a deal to fight climate change on Friday, but put off hard choices about narrowing down a vast range of options for limiting a damaging rise in temperatures.
Government delegates adopted the 86-page draft as the basis for negotiations on the deal due to be agreed later this year.
But the document includes radically varying proposals for slowing climate change – one foresees a phase-out of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, for instance, while another seeks a peak of emissions “as soon as possible”.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Shell chief calls for fossil fuel industry to join climate debate

Shell chief calls for fossil fuel industry
The chief executive of Shell addressed the oil industry on Thursday to highlight the role of fossil fuels in the transition to a low carbon economy and attacked some critics for peddling impractical solutions to climate change.
Ben van Beurden (pictured right) told delegates at the International Petroleum Week that energy companies should not “keep a low profile” in the debate on how to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but should accept the challenges being posed to the industry by international carbon reduction targets.
vanBeurden said: “Our industry should be less aloof, more assertive. We have to make sure that our voice is heard by members of government, by civil society and the general public.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

A low-carbon society: global visions, pathways, and challenges

A low carbon society global visions, pathways and challenges
The feasibility of two low-carbon society (LCS) scenarios, one with and one without nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS), is evaluated using the AIM/Enduse[Global] model. Both scenarios suggest that achieving a 50% emissions reduction target (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050 is technically feasible if locally suited technologies are introduced and the relevant policies, including necessary financial transfers, are appropriately implemented. In the scenario that includes nuclear and CCS options, it will be vital to consider the risks and acceptance of these technologies. In the scenario without these technologies, the challenge will be how to reduce energy service demand. In both scenarios, the estimated investment costs will be higher in non-Annex I countries than in Annex I countries. Finally, the enhancement of capacity building to support the deployment of locally suited technologies will be central to achieving an LCS.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

What role for carbon markets in the 2015 climate agreement?

What role for carbon markets in the 2015
Around the world governments are increasingly pursuing market-based approaches to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. South Korea’s emissions trading scheme entered force at the start of this year and is currently the world’s second largest carbon market. Many other carbon pricing policies are either in force or in the planning stages, including in emerging markets such as Brazil, China, and Mexico as illustrated in Figure 1.
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are due to meet in Paris, France later this year to finalise a new global climate agreement to replace the current Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accords when these expire at the end of this decade.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 26 January 2015

Weekly RE and EE Carbon Policy news update from the web.

New efficiency standards for residential water heaters are on the horizon

New efficiency standards for residential water heaters
In less than two years, new water heater energy efficiency standards will be in effect, starting in April 2015. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced in April of 2010 that the Department had finalized higher energy efficiency standards for a key group of heating appliances that will together save consumers up to $10 billion and prevent the release of up to 164 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 30 years. These new standards — for residential water heaters, pool heaters and direct heating equipment such as gas fireplaces — will reduce air pollution, prevent the release of harmful nitrogen oxides and mercury, and avoid emissions equivalent to taking 46 million cars off the road for one year, the DOE said.
Residential water heating products affected by the new 2015 Energy Conservation Standards include gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, tabletop, instantaneous gas-fired and instantaneous electric. See the chart below for new energy factor requirements for all these products.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Businesses’ energy efficiency upgrades ‘invisible’

Businesses energy efficiency upgrades

That’s the view of Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), whose new report highlights improved energy efficiency has helped the UK avoid building 14 new power stations.
It found demand side investments such as onsite generation and efficiency have saved British consumers £37.2 billion on their energy bills every year.
Carbon emissions have also reduced, equivalent to one-third of the emissions absorbed by the Amazon rainforest annually.
Referring to the report titled ‘Invisible Energy’, Mr Rotheray told ELN: “When you tell someone, this hospital here or that building there, they’ve done X or Y in terms of reducing their energy demand, no one knows about it.
“The economy has grown and energy use has stayed broadly flat and most of that is due to activity in the decentralised energy space, in the demand side.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest

For those of us who stocked our cabinets with canned food and pored over Y2K personal survival guides in 1999, it’s hard to believe we made it this far. But here we are a whole 15 years into the new millennium and our computer clocks are still ticking, even as the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration continues to rise. Gone are the days when climate projections for the year 2020 seemed far away. We’re already back to the future and we don’t have much more time – or atmosphere – to spare.

Will 2015 be THE year when countries come to an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? How will forests and land use be incorporated in this vision? What role will the private sector play?

For this New Year’s edition of Forest Carbon News, we asked market experts to look into their crystal balls and answer the following question:

What are your predictions for the forest carbon markets in 2015? What policy, science, economic, and other developments could impact the market?

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Market waits on SB32 to outline post-2020 directions

Market waits on SB32 to outline post

California’s lawmakers will during this session discuss Senate Bill 32 (SB32), first proposed in December by Senator Fran Pavley, which would confer authority upon the Air Resources Board (ARB) to mandate greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions through 2050, and require ARB to approve a 2050 statewide emissions target equivalent to an 80% reduction below the 1990 level.
The bill, which is quite basic in its current form, is expected to undergo changes in its structure as it will have to pass two committees and both the Senate and Assembly, before landing on the Governor’s desk for final approval.
“Pavley is an important author and this is an important bill. When this bill reaches the committee it will trigger a big discussion on California’s long-term emissions policy, and how the bill fares will be signal for what the California legislators are looking for,” remarked Jon Costantino, Senior Advisor at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, “The Governor would like to see such a bill, in one form or another, passed by the Californian Legislature, but it remains to be seen how the other members in the Senate and the Assembly take positions on this. I expect we will find that out most probably towards the latter end of the year.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Reducing Carbon Pollution and Transitioning to Clean Energy

Reducing Carbon Pollution and Transitioning

Gov. Inslee’s 2015 climate legislation will help Washington continue its transition toward energy independence, reduce carbon pollution and meet our statutory greenhouse gas limits. The proposals support Gov. Inslee’s Executive Order 14-04 issued in 2014.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Top 10 Carbon Market Predictions for 2015 from The Climate Trust

Top 10 Carbon Market Predictions for 2015

The Climate Trust, a mission-driven nonprofit that specializes in climate solutions, with a reduction of 1.9 million tons of greenhouse gases to its name, announced its second annual prediction list of 10 carbon market trends to watch in 2015.

The trends, which range from increased climate change adaptation measures at the state and city-level to new protocols for agriculture and forestry, were identified by The Climate Trust based on interactions with their diverse group of working partners—government, utilities, project developers and large businesses.

“We’re excited to once again look at the overall market with fresh eyes and identify areas of potential movement and growth,” said Dick Kempka, vice president of business development for The Climate Trust.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

EPA to Issue Carbon Rules by Summer

EPA to Issue Carbon Rules by Summer

Three of the most sweeping federal regulations of power plant carbon emissions in U.S. history will be finalized all at once this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday – an attempt, some experts say, to fend off legal challenges to the controversial climate change measures.
Separate emissions standards for new, modified and existing power plants will be completed “by mid-summer 2015,” Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a call with reporters. They are the first ever that would rein in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and together form a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s second-term efforts to address climate change.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

What falling oil prices may mean for the future of renewable energy investment

What falling oil prices may mean for the future of renewable energy investment

Oil prices have plummeted in recent months, with the price of oil today hitting its lowest point for five years. That’s led to lots of speculation about the impact of falling oil prices on the world’s efforts to cut emissions by decarbonising the energy sector.
There’s little consensus. Some analysts argue that the falling oil price could end the world’s slow march towards zero carbon energy. Others say renewables are established enough to see out the storm.
There are good reasons for such uncertainty. The renewable energy industry’s fate rests on a number of factors that are very hard to predict.
We take you through the key elements of what’s likely to continue to be a major story in coming months.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 16 January 2015

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 16 January 2015

Weekly RE and EE Carbon Policy news update from the web.

The Year Ahead: Top Clean Energy Trends of 2015

Top Clean Energy Trends of 2015

For the past 13 years, Clean Edge has published the annual Clean Energy Trends report that has sized the global market for solar, wind, and biofuels and tracked everything from venture capital and stock market activity to total global investments. This year, instead of issuing one single report, we’ll be producing infographics, tables, charts, and webinars throughout the year – so be on the lookout in the coming weeks and months.
In the annual report, we also picked our top trends to watch for the coming year. Here are our top trends that matter in 2015:
• Moves Toward 100 Percent Renewables Will Expand
• Energy Storage will Carve out a Competitive Advantage
• Low-Cost Oil Could Impact Clean Transportation, but not Clean Electricity
• Other Regions will Follow New York Fracking Lead
Let’s take a closer look at the top trends and how they are likely to impact markets in 2015.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

EIU: Renewable energy demand to significantly outgrow fossil fuels in 2015

Renewable energy demand to significantly outgrow

Demand for renewable energy is predicted to increase by 13% in 2015 as ‘dirty coal goes out of fashion’ and global governments impose tighter environmental rules.

That’s according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Industries in 2015, which suggests that the growth in renewables will outpace that of petroleum and coal, and energy companies will feel the impact of low oil, gas and coal prices in 2015.

By December, a global climate change treaty, replacing the Kyoto Protocol, is likely to be signed at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. But, ahead of the talks, the report argues that non-fossil fuels still lack the overarching policy support they need to make faster progress globally.

“In 2009, the world tried and failed to hammer out a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol,” the report reads. “Some form of new pact is indeed likely to be signed, perhaps incorporating voluntary, scalable targets for individual countries. Whether it will be equal to the task of keeping global warming within safe bounds is far more doubtful.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

EPA to Issue Carbon Rules by Summer

EPA to Issue Carbon Rules by Summer

Three of the most sweeping federal regulations of power plant carbon emissions in U.S. history will be finalized all at once this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday – an attempt, some experts say, to fend off legal challenges to the controversial climate change measures.
Separate emissions standards for new, modified and existing power plants will be completed “by mid-summer 2015,” Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a call with reporters. They are the first ever that would rein in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and together form a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s second-term efforts to address climate change.
[READ: White House Vows to Veto Keystone XL Pipeline Bill]
The rule for new power plants was proposed in September 2013. The standards for modified and existing plants were unveiled in June, part of a proposed Clean Power Plan that would set emissions goals for individual states based on their energy portfolios and resources. States would then be required to submit emissions plans to meet those targets.
In a first on Wednesday, however, the EPA also announced that it will develop a federal plan for states that fail to provide a plan or meet the agency’s emissions criteria, which it says are enforceable through the Clean Air Act.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Forest Carbon News – January 8, 2015

Forest Carbon News

For this New Year’s edition of Forest Carbon News, we asked market experts to look into their crystal balls and answer the following question:
What are your predictions for the forest carbon markets in 2015? What policy, science, economic, and other developments could impact the market?

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Carbon pricing coming to Ontario, strategy to be unveiled this year

Carbon Pricing coming to ontario

The Ontario government is closing in on a plan to put a price on carbon emissions after nearly seven years of delays.
The Liberals have promised to make corporations and consumers pay for burning carbon – an effective way to battle global warming – since 2008, but have put off making a decision. However, Environment Minister Glen Murray is now working on a comprehensive plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions, and he pledges carbon pricing will be part of it.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Cut carbon pollution, create clean energy jobs: Legislative priorities 2015

Cut carbon pollution, create clean energy jobs

Climate change—and climate action—top the list of big issues before the Washington state Legislature in this year’s session, which kicks off today. Jobs and education also top the list of priorities for 2015; it will be an important, and likely exciting, few months in Olympia. For one thing, this is a biennial “full session” in which lawmakers adopt a budget, often after debating late into the spring. Climate-related bills on deck this year include a proposal to clean up our air and water by charging top polluters, and a whole slate of measures related to clean energy and jobs.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Solar power drives renewable energy investment boom in 2014

Solar power drives renewable energy investment

Global investment in clean energy jumped 16% in 2014, boosted by fast-growing solar power in the US and China. Solar, whose costs have plummeted in recent years, attracted over half the total funding for the first time.
The green energy market has been gloomy in recent years and the rise in investment is the first since 2011. But despite strong growth in most regions, only a series of large offshore wind farms stopped Europe going into reverse, while the Australian government’s antipathy to renewables saw investment there tumble by 35%.
The new figures, from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), show $310bn (£205bn) was ploughed into green energy last year, just short of the record $317bn in 2011. However, as green energy gets ever cheaper, the money invested in 2014 bought almost double the clean electricity capacity than in 2011.
“The investment bounce back in 2014 exceeded our expectations,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of BNEF’s advisory board. “Solar was the biggest single contributor, thanks to the huge improvements in its cost-competitiveness over the last five years.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Morocco Heads toward Renewable Energy

Morocco Heads toward Renewable Energy

Morocco’s [muh-ROK-oh] long-term plan to produce renewable energy is underway.

The country is investing to build five solar thermal power plants in five years. Through this project, the government hopes to supply Morocco’s growing energy consumption with solarenergy.

Morocco plans to make use of solar energy as its main power source. Currently, Morocco’s oil and gas resources are scarce, with half of its energy source dependent on coal. The country will also enter a business trade of clean energy with Europe should the project succeed. The five power plants are estimated to produce a total of 2,000 megawatts.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Clean energy sector ‘uninvestable’ due to renewable energy target uncertainty, analyst says

Clean energy sector 'uninvestable' due to renewable energy

Uncertainty surrounding the renewable energy target (RET) has made the large-scale sector of the industry in Australia “uninvestable”, a clean energy analyst says.
A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said large-scale energy investment fell 88 per cent – to $240 million – in 2014 compared to the previous year.
It was the lowest level since 2002, the report said.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Top 10 Carbon Market Predictions for 2015

Top 10 Carbon Market Predictions

Last week, the Climate Trust, a mission-driven nonprofit that specializes in climate solutions, with a reduction of 1.9 million tons of greenhouse gases to its name, announced its second annual prediction list of 10 carbon market trends to watch in 2015.
The trends, which range from increased climate change adaptation measures at the state and city-level to new protocols for agriculture and forestry, were identified by the Climate Trust based on interactions with their diverse group of working partners—government, utilities, project developers and large businesses.
“We’re excited to once again look at the overall market with fresh eyes and identify areas of potential movement and growth,” said Dick Kempka, vice president of business development for The Climate Trust.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Road to Paris 2015: How do we value carbon?

Road to Paris 2015 How do we value carbon

Climate Change Capital’s James Cameron reflects on the barriers that need to be overcome if the world is to agree an ambitious climate change treaty.
James Cameron, chairman of Climate Change Capital, looks ahead to the Paris 2015 talks and shares his hopes and expectations for an international climate agreement and a price for carbon that businesses and investors can respond to.
This video is hosted in association with Climate Change Capital

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Why California Needs to Think Differently About How It Supports Energy Efficiency

Why California Needs to Think

The imperative to change the way California implements energy efficiency is compelling and immediate. California’s energy efficiency programs are not meeting today’s grid-scale and local distribution service challenges, nor are they capable of supporting the state’s climate goals.
Even with the state’s massive ratepayer-funded efficiency programs since the 2000-2001 energy crisis, energy use and peak loads have increased, and they are forecast to continue to grow. Peak demand (absolute and per capita, noncoincident) has been increasing and is projected to increase at rates greater than the growth in energy consumption. The state’s most important tool for addressing greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector is energy efficiency.
However, about one-third of California’s annual efficiency savings since 2000-2001 has been achieved from short-lived fluorescent lamps. As a result, cumulative savings are decaying over time. Generally, utilities have discounted the installed fluorescent lamps, while counting replacements as new savings toward long-term cumulative savings. This contributes to an overstatement of efficiency accomplishments.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 8 January 2015

Weekly RE and EE Carbon Policy news update from the web.

EU Carbon Market Has First Volume Drop Amid Supply Cut

EU Carbon Market Has First Volume Drop Amid Supply Cut

Buying and selling of European Union carbon allowances on ICE Futures Europe declined for the first time last year after the bloc began withholding supply to reduce a surplus that’s built up since 2008.
Trading slipped 5.2 percent, according to data from the exchange compiled by Bloomberg. Benchmark prices rose 48 percent in 2014 and averaged 6.01 euros ($7.24) a metric ton.
Lawmakers took more than three years to install the first measure aimed at reducing the surplus, beginning last March to retain the equivalent of six months’ permit supply temporarily. They are now discussing a permanent remedy. Activity also slowed as banks exited trading of commodities including carbon, according to Andrei Marcu, head of the carbon-market forum at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

California Carbon Dashboard

California Carbon Dashboard

AB32 relies on a number of important complementary policies to achieve the bulk of reductions to meet California’s statewide 427 MMTCO2e emissions goal for 2020. The Cap and Trade Program acts as a backstop to these complementary policies. This graphic shows greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 under business-as-usual conditions and under AB32 implementation, as well as the expected contributions of each complementary policy to AB32 reductions. Mouse over to see which policies apply to a given sector. Click on any policy for CARB’s most recent regulatory details.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Larry Summers Calls For A Carbon Tax Now That Oil Prices Have Fallen

Larry Summers Calls For A Carbon Tax Now That Oil Prices Have Fallen

There’s rather a joy at being ahead of the crowd and when that following crowd is an economist and public policy maker of the calibre of Larry Summers it’s really very enjoyable indeed. And that’s the position I find myself in today as Larry Summers has come out and said that the recent fall in the oil price makes this a great time to institute a proper carbon tax. As I detailed it would be back here. There is, however, one point of disagreement here between Summers and myself. And yes, I’m bumptious enough to think that I’m still right, even though that following crowd is an economist and public policy maker of the calibre of Larry Summers.
Summers is here in the FT with his call:

> READ FULL STORY HERE

California Governor Seeks to Increase Renewable Energy Mandate to 50 Percent

California Governor Seeks to Increase Renewable Energy

Sacramento, Calif. — California Governor Jerry Brown proposed spending $59 billion to fix crumbling roads and raising the state’s renewable energy mandate to 50 percent.
Sworn in today for an unprecedented fourth term, the 76-year-old Democrat said he would proceed with a $68 billion California high-speed-rail line, on which he is expected break ground tomorrow.
“The financial promises we have already made must be confronted honestly so that they are properly funded,” Brown said. “The health of our state depends on it.”
Brown tomorrow will head to Fresno, 150 miles (250 kilometers) south of Sacramento, to break ground on the high- speed-rail line, which is intended to shuttle passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles at speeds up to 220 miles per hour. Republicans criticize the rail line as an expensive boondoggle. Land owners, farmers, and taxpayers groups have tried to block it through the courts.
‘Bold Commitments’

> READ FULL STORY HERE

ALL SIGNS POINT TO 2015 AS THE YEAR KATHLEEN WYNNE IMPOSES ‘CARBON PRICING’ ON ONTARIANS


ALL SIGNS POINT TO 2015 AS THE YEAR KATHLEEN WYNNE

TORONTO – Here’s my first prediction for 2015.
It’s the year Premier Kathleen Wynne will put a price on industrial carbon dioxide emissions in Ontario, either through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, which is another name for a carbon tax.
A perfect storm of factors favours such a move.
First, Wynne needs the money, given that the Liberals’ reckless spending since taking power in 2003 has left the Ontario government mired in debt.
As Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk recently noted, even if Wynne fulfills her promise to balance the budget by 2017-2018, Ontario will at that point be $325 billion in debt — more than double what the Liberals inherited in 2003 — or $23,000 for every man, woman and child in the province.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

E.P.A. Wrestles With Role of Nuclear Plants in Carbon Emission Rules

E.P.A. Wrestles With Role of Nuclear Plants

WASHINGTON — Trying to write a complicated formula to cut carbon emissions, theEnvironmental Protection Agency thinks it has found a magic number: 5.8.
The agency is trying to complete a rule governing carbon emissions from power plants, and among the most complicated and contentious issues is how to treat existing nuclear power plants. Many of them are threatened with shutdowns because cheapnatural gas has made their reactors uncompetitive.
The agency’s proposal gave an odd mathematical formula for evaluating nuclear plants’ contribution to carbon emissions.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

UK Low Carbon Business Ambassador visit to Taiwan

UK Low Carbon Business

Professor Dame Julia King, UK Low Carbon Business Ambassador, visited Taiwan on 29 and 30 September to share the UK’s experience transitioning to a low carbon economy.
On 29 Sept, Professor Dame Julia King attended the 2014 International Green Energy and Finance Forum organised by the Bureau of Energy of Ministry of Economic Affairs. In this forum, she introduced the Green Investment Bank and the UK’s approach to develop a low carbon economy. She also shared how UK has developed towards a green financing economy through the panel discussion.
During her visit, Professor Dame Julia King meets Dr Kuo-yen Wei, Minister of Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to share UK’s excellence in low carbon policy and development, as well as to follow up on Wei’s visit to the UK in early September.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

New data shows record fall in carbon emissions

New data shows record

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has quietly published data, just two days before Christmas, showing the second year of operation of Australia’s carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.
New data from Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent over the 12 months to June.
That compares to a decline in emissions of 0.8 per cent for the previous 12 months.
The carbon price was introduced by the Gillard government and began operation on July 1, 2012. It ended on July 1, this year after the Abbott government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.
The new data, published on Tuesday, record emissions produced during the final year of operation of the carbon price, from June 2013 to June 2014.

> READ FULL STORY HERE

Forest-cutting can have an immediate effect on climate, Nature report finds

Forest-cutting

The critical role that vast tropical forests like Brazil’s Amazon play in suppressing climate change is well-known: They store huge quantities of carbon, acting as “carbon sinks.”
But as a new report out this week argues, scientists are making the case that cutting down these forests does more than simply release carbon into the atmosphere – it has a direct and more immediate effect on the climate, from changes in rainfall patterns to rising temperatures. The amount of water that forests pump into the air is key to this. But scientists don’t agree on how that happens.
Complete deforestation of the Amazon would alter rainfall in the much of the United States, according to the report titled “Effects of Tropical Deforestation on Climate Change and Agriculture,” published Thursday in Nature Climate Change.
“Deforestation is about much more than carbon dioxide. Forests regulate the climate in many ways and storing CO2 is just one of them,” said its author, Deborah Lawrence, a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia. “What this study shows is that there are additional, independent effects of deforestation on climate.”

> READ FULL STORY HERE

RE and EE Carbon Policy news 7 January 2015

“2015 is shaping up to be a big year in carbon policy with the November conference in Paris aiming to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate encompassing all nations.

So I am pleased to now introduce the first of our weekly carbon policy news updates, focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency. These updates will bring you news on:

-          Announcements from individual countries or trading blocks (eg the EU) about new policies

-          Evaluations of existing policies (have they worked well or not)

-          Announcements from the UN bodies about policies.

Lets hope that 2015 is a year where carbon policy becomes more effective at reducing carbon emissions.

Bruce Rowse”

PLEASE READ OUR NEXT POST on 08.01.2105 for RE and EE Carbon Policy news. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR KIND VISIT OUR SITE.

Over investment in the electricity distribution network not such a bad thing?

Possibly more so than any other country, Australia has over-invested in its electricity distribution network, leading former Prime Minister Julia Gilliard to refer to the network as being “gold plated” and contributing to a steep increase in electricity prices. But is this such a bad thing?

Background

In the years leading up to 2008/09 electricity consumption and demand in the National Electricity Market (NEM) were growing steadily at over 2% per annum. In some states, such as Victoria, the growth in demand was extremely strong, averaging over 4% annually in the five years to 2009. With network planning taking place in five year cycles, distribution businesses sought and were granted tariff increases in order to fund the strengthening and expansion of the electricity distribution network in order to cope with the continued anticipated growth in demand.

This growth in demand, however, failed to materialise. Consumption dropped, and as graphed below for the two states with the highest consumption in the NEM, NSW and Victoria, peak demand hasn’t gone much above the 2008 and 2009 peaks and is now lower. (Data sourced from the Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO)

NSW peak demand 2004 to 31 August 2014. Based on data from AEMO

NSW peak demand 2004 to 31 August 2014. Based on data from AEMO

Victoria peak demand 2004 to 31 August 2014. Based on data from AEMO

Victoria peak demand 2004 to 31 August 2014. Based on data from AEMO

In NSW peak demand to 31 August 2014 is a massive 17% below 2008, and based on the growth in demand that was anticipated back in 2008, is around 25% below what was expected! In Victoria, whilst the demand drop is not as great, based on the previous growth trend of greater than 4% p.a., it’s demand too is also around 25% below earlier expectations.

There are a range of reasons for this drop in demand, which I have discussed elsewhere. Looking at the Victorian graph there appears to be some uncertainty as to whether the drop in demand will continue, however there are a range of reasons as to why consumption and demand in 2020 is unlikely to be much different to demand in 2008 and could even be lower.

Over investment in the electricity distribution network not such a bad thing?

Considering that the retail price of residential electricity has nearly doubled since 2008, this over-investment in the electricity distribution network has been widely criticised.

Billions of dollars have been invested into electricity distribution assets that may well never be used as initially intended.

However, on the other hand, the steep increase in electricity prices has made Australian’s more conscious of their energy use, and to some extent has driven energy conservation. Which is a good outcome from a carbon perspective.

Our economy has not gone into recession, and has remained robust. Tristan Edis at Climate Spectator has clearly shown that only a very small portion of our mining and manufacturing sectors, representing less than 3% of our GDP, depend on energy prices for their competitiveness.

Australia now has a resilient solar PV industry, and had electricity price growth been slower, the overall uptake of solar PV would likely have been lower. High solar demand has also created a highly competitive industry with low installation costs in global terms.The solar genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and this will continue to exert downward pressure on demand and consumption.

Whilst the full electricity price increases could possibly have been avoided, the benefit this has provided in accelerating Australia’s emissions reduction should not be discounted.

An unavoidably inefficient good outcome?

A far more efficient outcome would have been to use the money that went into gold plating the electricity network into supporting the greater uptake of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

However it would have been politically unacceptable to invest more than has already been invested in EE and RE – for many countries, including Australia, steep tariff increases to combat climate change are perceived by politicians as a sure vote loser.

The price elasticity of demand for electricity is assumed to be fairly low, and assumed to be linear. But possibly the reaction is non-linear. That is, if there is an energy price shock, as has occurred in Australia, the resultant reduction in energy consumption is (much) greater than if the price increases had been modest and gradual. Kind of like the boiling frog syndrome – heat up the water too fast and the frog jumps out.

Lessons from Australia for elsewhere

Steep increases in Australia’s electricity prices have been politically unpopular in Australia, yet the economy has remained resilient, and the shock has largely worn off. The rapid price increase, along with a range of other measures, has contributed to a substantial reduction in electricity consumption and demand, reducing carbon emissions.

Electricity tariff increases – whatever the source of the increase – whether through subsidy removal, the imposition of green tariff charges, or as a result of network over investment – if introduced quickly to cause a pricing shock can be effective in reducing electricity consumption and associated emissions.

Politicians and policy makers could well refer to the Australian experience where the pricing shock occurred more by accident rather than design, and look to ways of achieving the same outcome more efficiently.

 

 

Climate policy – why is it so complex? Help!

Bruce Rowse

As I’ve researched the field of carbon policy over the last few months I’ve been daunted by the complexity of this area. Huge effort has gone into developing climate policy, but it can be so complex that its hard to make sense of.

Below I briefly outline the big picture I’m developing.

Firstly, whilst the terms carbon policy and climate change policy may be used interchangeably, climate policy generally has more of a government or international focus, whereas the term carbon policy may apply at the governmental area, it also can apply to the policies of large organisations. So the capabilities of organisation’s offering carbon policy services can differ quite a bit from those offering climate policy services. A carbon policy consultant may offer to help an organisation develop its own carbon abatement policies, a climate policy consultant will generally be more focussed on advice to governments.

The real interest of this blog is in government policy, and it would be better named as climatepolicy.org rather than carbonpolicy.org. Unfortunately the actual website climatepolicy.org is now going a little stale.

Secondly its clear that in terms of the big picture climate policy isn’t kicking too many goals yet, and there would be very few people who would disagree with this. By that I mean that climate policy isn’t having much impact on slowing emissions such that we don’t go beyond 2 degrees of warming. Whilst emissions intensities, in terms of tonnes of carbon per unit of GDP may be falling now in many countries, absolute global carbon emissions aren’t.

Third, tremendous intellectual effort has gone into reports and papers on various aspects of carbon policy. Enormous numbers of highly educated people are very strongly committed to emissions reduction and making a contribution to policy. Surely this effort and passion will result in more goals being kicked in the future! But if not, what are the barriers?

Invariably any climate policy discussion seems to end up discussing barriers. And perhaps one of the major barriers is the very complexity of the topic, discussion and solutions put forward. And its not ordered complexity, like the ordered complexity of the computer this is being written on and the world wide web that is serving this web page. Rather its chaotic, seemingly all over the place, and often compromised, and even counter-intuitive. At least that’s my impression to date.

What I would like is:

  • A guide to unravelling the complexity; and
  • Real data, real information, that can see through the complexity and identify what works and how effective and efficient different policies are.

Help!

Why M&V is so important to carbon policy effectiveness

Bruce Rowse

A key failure of many carbon abatement policies, a mistake that can be very costly, is the failure to adequately incorporate measurement and verification (M&V), also known as measurement reporting and verification (MRV) into policies that aim to reduce GHG emissions. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Most certainly you can’t manage what you don’t measure

Every business measures its income and expenses; but when the business fails to monitor them, the chances are that it will go out of business very soon.

The speed of cars is measured by a speedometer, and it is illegal to drive without this instrument functioning. Speedometers and the laws around speeding have saved countless lives around the world.

Every investor is deeply interested in returns and certainty. When a bank promises to pay an interest of 4%, an investor knows that there is extremely high certainty that they will earn 4% interest. Complex financial instruments that may provide higher returns also have less certainty and are not used by conservative investors. Gambling also has the promise of high returns, but on balance punters get less out than they put in.

Climate change is a serious concern and does not warrant a cavalier response. Yet when it comes to climate change policy, M&V to improve certainty of results and thus optimise policy or quickly ditch bad policy is done too infrequently. Policies are tuned too slowly. The scientific method that I was taught in high school and that dominated my university training – develop a hypothesis, prove the hypothesis, and when the hypothesis is proven, apply it elsewhere – often isn’t used with sufficient rigor. Instead, we have policy by modelling. A consultancy is contracted to model the policy. The consultancy will deem that this policy costs $X per tonne of carbon saved. If the numbers look good and public consultation shows industry support, then the policy is implemented. However, too often, there is inadequate M&V to verify the actual cost-effectiveness of the policy in reality.

As a result, inefficient policies can live on and may only change, or be ditched, when there is a change of government, substantially bad publicity or strong lobbying by industry heavyweights who think they are missing out on some of the pie. On the flip side, good policy may be ditched far too early for the same reasons. In addition, when the policy is debated, all sorts of figures may be thrown around, but often no one really has a clue what the actual cost per tonne of carbon abatement is because it hasn’t been robustly measured!

A typical common policy approach seems to be as follows:

  1. Formulate the policy;
  2. Develop an economic model;
  3. Contract a consulting company to develop the policy detail and to model detailed cost–benefit analysis;
  4. Implement the policy;
  5. Review it once, or perhaps twice.

The critical flaw in such policy making is that it assumes that the models developed and the detailed cost–benefit analysis are correct. But often, the certainty around the modelling accuracy is low, and in fact, in a world where technological change is happening exponentially, it is extremely hard if not impossible to model with great confidence. The modelling should be considered as a hypothesis; rather, it is treated as the truth.

In other words, the modeller takes an “educated” bet on the outcome, but there is no guarantee of certainty.

The policy approach that I put forth is different in that M&V must be core to the policy, and that policies should initially be rolled out on a small scale with robust M&V before a large-scale roll-out.

The approach is then as follows:

  1. Formulate the policy;
  2. Model a hypothesis as to the likely costs and benefits of the policy;
  3. Develop an M&V plan that shows how the results will be robustly measured and verified so as to provide a high level of certainty as to the short- and long-term carbon abatement that will be achieved;
  4. Implement the policy on small scale;
  5. Undertake measurement and verification and produce an M&V report;
  6. Compare the results from the M&V report with what was originally hypothesised. In light of the M&V findings, then either completely abandon or tune the policy. In tuning the policy:
    1. Develop an M&V plan for the changed policy;
    2. Implement the policy;
    3. Undertake M&V and report on;
    4. Undertake further tuning of the policy on a periodic basis.

Policy by modelling is a linear approach with few feedback loops to gauge real policy impact or effectiveness, whereas policy with strong M&V is iterative with an emphasis on maximising real benefits.

Policy by modelling is similar to taking a bet at the races.

Policy with robust M&V is like putting your money on term deposit.

Modelled savings versus actual savings – and why modelling should be treated as a hypothesis

As an energy auditor, I have a great deal of experience in estimating or modelling the likely savings that will arise out of an investment in energy efficiency. I have audited over a thousand buildings and produced hundreds of energy audit reports.

An energy audit is essentially a business case for investment in energy efficiency. It lists a range of measures, and for each measure shows the estimated cost, annual savings, payback and annual greenhouse gas (GHG) savings. It could be considered as a form of micro-modelling from a policy perspective.

It is extremely hard to model with a great deal of accuracy. Experience helps. In the following, I list some of the difficult learning experiences that I have been through as an energy auditor. What I’ve gleaned from these learning experiences has no doubt helped me improve my accuracy, but nonetheless it is still extremely difficult to estimate energy and GHG savings from many energy-efficiency measures with a high degree of confidence:

  • On one occasion, where I under-estimated the cost of a lighting controls upgrade in a school by 40%, I ended up doing a lot of work for free and paying contractors out of my own pocket to get the work complete.
  • On another, I overestimated savings from a lighting upgrade by 50%.
  • While in another instance, I guaranteed savings of 7% in a tender bid from installing a voltage optimisation unit. Fortunately, I lost that one. The company that won the job and put in technology similar to what I would have installed, only achieved a 5% saving. Phew! I was out by a factor of 40% in my estimate!
  • On another occasion, the advice I approved resulted in a $350,000 investment in a cogeneration unit. The expected annual cost savings were $27,000 but the actual cost savings were $0. The carbon savings were closer to the estimate. But clearly, this was not cost-effective carbon abatement.

And I am not the only energy auditor who can get it wrong. A study by Texas A&M when evaluating the work of pre-qualified energy auditors 5 years after projects had been implemented found that measured cost savings on average, across 24 projects, were 25.1% lower than estimated. In some cases, savings were as little as 5.5% of what was estimated![1]

If energy auditors, who understand the details of technology and undertake site-specific investigations, can be out by 25% or more on individual projects, how accurate can policy modelling be? Modelling is usually based on a number of assumptions, possibly a small number of case studies, and the results are then assumed to apply to a large number of buildings. It is generally far less rigorous than an energy audit – an energy audit can account for the diversity in an individual building, but modelling needs to somehow account for the diversity across a whole range of buildings.

Policy modelling should only be treated as a hypothesis. Robust M&V is needed to determine the effectiveness of carbon policy with a high degree of certainty.

In my book Carbon Policy – How robust measurement and verification can improve policy effectiveness, I show how policy makers can effectively incorporate  M&V into carbon abatement policy to provide much greater certainty of policy outcomes.


[1] As reported in: Hansen S. and Brown J., Investment Grade Energy Audit: Making Smart Energy Choices, 2004, The Fairmont Press Inc.

 

carbon policy lists

Two sources providing listings of carbon policies are: