President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China formally committed the world’s two largest economies to the Paris climate agreement here on Saturday, cementing their partnership on climate change and offering a rare display of harmony in a relationship that has become increasingly discordant. On multiple fronts, like computer hacking and maritime security, ties between China and the United States have frayed during the seven and a half years of Mr. Obama’s presidency. The friction has worsened since the ascension of Mr. Xi as a powerful nationalist leader in 2013.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.
The Green Climate Fund, which aims to channel billions of dollars to help poorer nations tackle global warming, is not yet backing the right kind of projects to bring about a sea change in low-carbon development, said its recently departed executive director. Héla Cheikhrouhou, who was appointed as Tunisia’s minister for energy, mining and renewable in its new government on Friday, urged the $10.3-billion fund to provide clearer guidelines on what it is seeking to finance in areas such as water, urban development, energy and transport.
It won’t be easy to get rid of coal. Worried the nation might miss its 2020 target to drastically cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the German government proposed a steep levy last year on the most heavily polluting generators. The tax was intended to deliver a decisive blow against lignite or brown coal, the dirtiest fuel around and Germany’s main source of electricity.
With signals President Obama is on the verge of formally joining the landmark Paris climate agreement, an environmental economist is investigating whether the United States can actually afford to hold up its end of the deal. The rough estimate for the cost of hitting the target ranges from $42 billion to $176 billion every year until 2050, according to Columbia University’s Geoffrey Heal.
A proposed wind farm near Avon has pulled its application for a state permit, one week after nearly 300 people attended a sharply divided public hearing for the project. Prevailing Winds investors withdrew their application Tuesday with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The move came shortly before the three-member PUC held its regular meeting that morning in Pierre.
Wind and solar can supply 30 percent of the annual power for the nation’s Eastern grid without reliability concerns, new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said. The Eastern Interconnection, which stretches from Maine to New Mexico, currently gets less than 7 percent of its annual power from the two renewable sources. Prior to the study, there was an assumption that 30 percent wind and solar penetration wasn’t possible in the region, said NREL researcher Aaron Bloom. Nobody had conducted a review like NREL’s, which modeled the year 2026 as a test.
Florida voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved a measure that removes taxes on renewable energy projects for commercial property, paving the way for solar expansion in the Sunshine State. Roughly 73 percent of voters signed off on Amendment 4, which removes ad valorem, or value-based, taxes on renewable energy projects for commercial property. This would lower the overall cost of those projects for businesses, including the state’s electric companies. Lawmakers, clean energy advocates and business groups immediately released statements praising the vote
President Obama is planning to formally join the Paris climate agreement “as soon as possible,” a top adviser said. Brian Deese gave the update Monday at a White House briefing with reporters in advance of Obama’s trip this week and next to Asia and other locations. Deese said climate change will be a top agenda item in discussions with Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, but he did not say whether Obama will sign the agreement on this trip.
For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist, and they’re both wrong. Like many jokes, this one is funny (to economists, anyway) because it’s true. What isn’t so funny is its application to the biggest challenge of the 21st century: How to shed a fossil-fuel energy infrastructure that seems hell-bent on destroying us. There are several camps trying to decide how much we must spend to avoid environmental disaster. Consensus on a grand total is a matter of degree, with estimates varying by as much as $8 trillion.