Paris Unravelling Already
By Paul Homewood
It has not taken long to unravel!!
1) Britain follows Paris deal with cuts to green subsidies
Britain cut more renewable energy subsidies on Thursday, putting jobs at risk and drawing criticism for losing credibility in tackling climate change, a week after the landmark deal in Paris.
Britain’s Conservative government has been reining in spending on all renewables subsidies since it took power in May, saying the cost of technology has come down sharply and subsidies should reflect that.
Thursday’s cuts came a day after it allowed the use of fracking to extract shale gas below national parks and protected areas and as the licenses were awarded for shale oil and gas extraction.
"Ministers happily take credit for being climate champions on an international stage while flagrantly undermining the renewable industry here at home," said Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Britain has made good progress in making electricity greener, with low-carbon energy accounting for a record 39 percent of electricity generation last year, Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said in a written statement to Parliament on Thursday.
The government produced its own impact assessment on the changes showing they could result in the loss of between 9,700 and 18,700 solar jobs.
"In a world that has just committed to strengthened climate action in Paris and which sees solar as the future, the UK government needs to get behind the British solar industry," Paul Barwell, the head of Britain’s Solar Trade Association, said in a statement.
A parliamentary committee this week warned that Britain could face the same kind of downturn in the solar industry which has affected Spain and Italy – which also made significant cuts to renewables subsides.
Britain has cut the tariff for domestic-scale solar up to 10 kilowatts in capacity, such as rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, to 4.39 pence per kilowatt hour.
Under the old tariffs, solar power up to 4 kilowatts in capacity was paid at 12.47 pence per kilowatt hour and for 4-50 kilowatts it was 11.30 pence.
It had proposed much steeper cut to 1.63 p/KWh in consultation in August, but the solar industry lobbied hard for a more gradual decline.
The government also capped spending on the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) scheme at a maximum 100 million pounds ($149 million) a year for new installations from February next year to April 2019.
Under that scheme, households, businesses or farms which install low-carbon energy sources such as solar panels or small wind turbines are paid for the electricity they generate and unused energy can be sold to electricity suppliers.
Renewable energy companies said the cuts were less drastic than originally proposed but could would still lead to much less deployment of solar energy.
"The new measures … still mean that installing solar panels will no longer be attractive to British home-owners," said Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, one of the largest feed-in-tariff administrators in Britain.
In Thursday’s announcement, the government also confirmed it would close another of its subsidy schemes, the Renewable Obligation, two years earlier than planned to new solar PV capacity of 5 megawatts and below from next April.
It said it would introduce a grace period for those developers who made financial commitments on or before July 22 this year and those who experience delays beyond their control in connecting to the electricity grid.
Thursday’s changes would reduce an overspend by 500 to 600 million pounds, the government said
2) UK to allow shale gas fracking beneath national parks
MPs on Wednesday voted in favour of the use of fracking to extract shale gas under national parks, weakening a decision against fracking in national parks made earlier this year and giving shale gas explorers access to more resources.
Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of gas trapped in underground shale rocks and Prime Minister Cameron has pledged to go all-out to extract these reserves, to help offset declining North Sea oil and gas output.
3) Greenland May Seek UN Climate Deal Opt-Out Amid Emissions Goal
The ink hasn’t yet dried on the UN climate accord and one of the territories most at risk from global warning [surely this is a joke?] is already demanding an opt-out.
“We still have the option of making a territorial opt-out to COP21," Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, said during a visit to Copenhagen on Monday. "We have an emissions quota of 650,000 tonnes of CO2, which is the same as a single coal-fired power plant in Denmark, or a minor Danish city."
Kielsen oversees a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. With a size roughly that of Mexico and a population that’s smaller than the Cayman Islands’, Greenland is the least densely populated country in the world. More than 22,000 people live in the capital Nuuk, while the remaining 34,000 are dispersed over an area of 2.2 million square kilometers.
As a result, the most common way for locals to traverse its icy expanses is via highly polluting planes.
"We want to solve that issue as we have considerably larger geographical distances to cover,” Kielsen said after a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and their colleague from the Faroe Islands, another autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
Rasmussen said Denmark would ratify the climate accord and allow Greenland and the Faroe Islands to make their own decision.
"We fought to secure a deal that accommodated the interests and positions of the indigenous peoples, which wasn’t achieved in full," Rasmussen said of the accord clinched in Paris at the weekend. "But I believe that we share a view that’s fundamentally a good deal.”
4) Japan, South Korea Stick To Coal Policies Despite Paris Climate Deal
Less than a week since signing the global climate deal in Paris, Japan and South Korea are pressing ahead with plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, casting doubt on the strength of their commitment to cutting CO2 emissions.
Even as many of the world’s rich nations seek to phase out the use of coal, Asia’s two most developed economies are burning more than ever and plan to add at least 60 new coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years.
Officials at both countries’ energy ministries said those plans have not changed.
Japan, in particular, has been criticized for its lack of ambition — its 18 percent target for emissions cuts from 1990 to 2030 is less than half of Europe’s — and questions have been raised about its ability to deliver, since the target relies on atomic energy, which is very unpopular after the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
“It will not be easy to change the dynamic for domestic coal use, but I think Japan cannot continue ignoring this,” said Kimiko Hirata, international director at Kiko Network, a Japanese NGO that lobbies for measures to combat climate change.
“Eventually Japanese businesses will start recognizing the meaning of emissions neutrality and the rapid shift to renewables in other countries and start responding,” said Hirata, who attended the Paris negotiations.
Analysts say Japan and South Korea could reduce carbon emissions by much more than they pledged in Paris.
“The focus in Asia has been more on China and India, so we haven’t seen much attempt to put pressure on Japan and South Korea yet. But I imagine pressure will start to increase,” said senior analyst Georgina Hayden at BMI Research, a unit of ratings agency Fitch Group.
South Korea did scrap plans for four coal-fired power plants as part of its pledge to the Paris summit, but 20 new plants are still planned by 2021.
In Japan, 41 new coal-fired power plants are planned over the next decade, and taxes favor imports of coal over cleaner-burning natural gas.
In South Korea, tax on imported coal for power generation was raised in July, but is still only just over a third of the import tax on natural gas.
Coal-fired power plants there currently run at about 80 percent of capacity, compared with 35-40 percent for gas plants, according to calculations based on data from Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), the country’s largest power utility.
When asked if the Paris agreement could lead the Korean government to reduce the planned number of coal-fired plants, an energy ministry spokesman declined comment, but a ministry official with direct knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity that there was no change in the offing.
KEPCO declined comment.
Japan’s Environment Ministry also declined comment, but an official said, anonymously, that the Paris climate deal would have no impact on the ministry’s assessments of coal plants.
Japan’s Electric Power Development Co. Ltd., the country’s top thermal coal user, said the Paris deal would have no impact on its coal plans.
“Our stance on new coal plants is unchanged,” a spokesman said, adding that emissions would be cut as aging coal plants were replaced by new ones using the latest technology.
Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, a former climate negotiator for Japan, said Japanese industry and the government had been caught napping by the Paris agreement and were “awfully reluctant to visualize the coming of the ‘non-fossil world.’ “
“They were too caught up in the belief that industrialization and economic growth would entail such huge CO2 emissions in developing countries that China, India etc. would oppose any notion of decarbonization,” he said.
To be sure, China uses vastly more coal and has nearly a thousand more such plants in various stages of planning and construction.
But it has also recently reformed its gas price system to encourage a switch away from coal.
“We haven’t seen that kind of commitment from Japan or South Korea yet,” said BMI’s Hayden.
5) India Says Paris Climate Deal Won’t Affect Plans To Double Coal Output
India still plans to double coal output by 2020 and rely on the resource for decades afterwards, a senior official said on Monday, days after rich and poor countries agreed in Paris to curb carbon emissions that cause global warming.
India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, is dependent on coal for about two-thirds of its energy needs and has pledged to mine more of the fuel to power its resource-hungry economy while also promising to increase clean energy generation.
“The environment is non-negotiable and we are extremely careful about it,” Anil Swarup, the top bureaucrat in the coal ministry, told Reuters. “(But) our dependence on coal will continue. There are no other alternatives available.”
While India has plans to add 30 times more solar-powered generation capacity by 2022, there were limitations to clean energy and coal would remain the most efficient energy source for decades, he said.
Minister for power, coal and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal, said India’s contribution to global greenhouse gases emissions was just 2.5% with 17% of the world’s population, while developed countries contributed a fifth of emissions with just 5% of the world’s population.