Volume 4, Issue 9
November 19, 2017 – November 25, 2017
Jason Mulderrig '18 | Will Atkinson '18 | Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Joe Abbate '18 | Amy Amatya '21


China is the most populous country in the world, and also the biggest carbon polluter. When the Paris climate agreement came into effect in 2016, China’s State Council announced its plan to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18% from 2015 level by 2020. Furthermore, since 2013 there have been province-scale cap-and-trade programs in partnership with such Western entities as the EU, Australia, and California. In sum, this covers 1/8th of the world’s total annual CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, China’s total emissions are actually forecast to rise this year, not least because of its One Belt, One Road planinvolving international infrastructure (including coal plant) construction. Those less skeptical claim it to be an “anomaly” on the way to true long term reductions. -JAA

China is the most populous country in the world, and also the biggest carbon polluter. When the Paris climate agreement came into effect in 2016, China’s State Council announced its plan to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18% from 2015 level by 2020. Furthermore, since 2013 there have been province-scale cap-and-trade programs in partnership with such Western entities as the EU, Australia, and California. In sum, this covers 1/8th of the world’s total annual CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, China’s total emissions are actually forecast to rise this year, not least because of its One Belt, One Road planinvolving international infrastructure (including coal plant) construction. Those less skeptical claim it to be an “anomaly” on the way to true long term reductions. -JAA

America’s ‘Renaissance’ to Gains for Renewables: Global Energy Trends November 13, 2017 | New York Times | Stanley Reed Last Tuesday, the International Energy Agency published its annual World Energy Outlook. The report predicts that the US will accelerate its oil and natural gas production through fracking, becoming a top producer (although efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions could counter that trend). Gas may help replace coal in developing countries, but its costly methane emissions must be minimized. Renewables will continue becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels, but the transportation and industry sectors will be more difficult to decarbonize, leading to an estimated 75% of energy demand from fossil fuels in 2040 (versus 81% in 2016), and emissions that exceed the Paris Agreement targets. -WA How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets November 16, 2017 | Wall Street Journal | Zeke Turner and Sarah Kent At the U.N. Climate Change Conference, which wrapped up on Friday, leaders agreed that the actions of corporations will be crucial in meeting the Paris Accord targets for carbon emissions. Currently, 89% of the world’s largest companies have plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but a closer glance reveals that only 14% of those companies have made commitments that match the goals of the Paris Accord. Such corporations, which are investing in renewables, reducing energy consumption, and reducing investments in coal, are not necessarily motivated by the Accord at all. Instead, they’re being driven by factors such as investor pressure and cost savings. -AD

America’s ‘Renaissance’ to Gains for Renewables: Global Energy Trends
November 13, 2017 | New York Times | Stanley Reed
Last Tuesday, the International Energy Agency published its annual World Energy Outlook. The report predicts that the US will accelerate its oil and natural gas production through fracking, becoming a top producer (although efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions could counter that trend). Gas may help replace coal in developing countries, but its costly methane emissions must be minimized. Renewables will continue becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels, but the transportation and industry sectors will be more difficult to decarbonize, leading to an estimated 75% of energy demand from fossil fuels in 2040 (versus 81% in 2016), and emissions that exceed the Paris Agreement targets. -WA

How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets
November 16, 2017 | Wall Street Journal | Zeke Turner and Sarah Kent
At the U.N. Climate Change Conference, which wrapped up on Friday, leaders agreed that the actions of corporations will be crucial in meeting the Paris Accord targets for carbon emissions. Currently, 89% of the world’s largest companies have plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but a closer glance reveals that only 14% of those companies have made commitments that match the goals of the Paris Accord. Such corporations, which are investing in renewables, reducing energy consumption, and reducing investments in coal, are not necessarily motivated by the Accord at all. Instead, they’re being driven by factors such as investor pressure and cost savings. -AD

'Political watershed' as 19 countries pledge to phase out coal November 16, 2017 | The Guardian | Damian Carrington The global movement towards clean energy picked up momentum as 19 countries (including the UK, France, Italy, and Mexico) signed to phase out coal at the UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany. With the price of renewables decreasing and employment moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuel, its use has already been in fast decline since 2012. However, fossil fuel subsidies still exist in places like Germany, and the next step is getting big consumers like China, the US, Russia and Australia (Asia’s biggest supplier) on board. Angela Merkel said climate change will “determine our destiny as mankind”, and coal is our first barrier in meeting a global temperature increase goal of 1.5°C. -AA

'Political watershed' as 19 countries pledge to phase out coal
November 16, 2017 | The Guardian | Damian Carrington
The global movement towards clean energy picked up momentum as 19 countries (including the UK, France, Italy, and Mexico) signed to phase out coal at the UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany. With the price of renewables decreasing and employment moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuel, its use has already been in fast decline since 2012. However, fossil fuel subsidies still exist in places like Germany, and the next step is getting big consumers like China, the US, Russia and Australia (Asia’s biggest supplier) on board. Angela Merkel said climate change will “determine our destiny as mankind”, and coal is our first barrier in meeting a global temperature increase goal of 1.5°C. -AA

Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and minigrids November 9, 2017 | The Economist Note: If the above link fails to work, click here for a .pdf file of the article. Today, about 620 million Africans live without access to electricity, and many electrical grids that are operational in Africa suffer from frequent blackouts. However, last year, Africa added 4,400 MW of power across the continent - a record setting mark - thanks to the falling price of solar panels and wind turbines and a newfound exploitation of hydropower in several countries. Other innovations that have been driving the rise of installed African electricity include the deployment of mini rooftop solar installations with a “pay-as-you-go” model and village-level mini-grid systems. Africans are implementing these unconventional solutions because, apart from the falling prices of solar and wind power, the costs for installing traditional region-wide grid systems today in many African countries are simply untenable. -JPM

Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and minigrids
November 9, 2017 | The Economist
Note: If the above link fails to work, click here for a .pdf file of the article.
Today, about 620 million Africans live without access to electricity, and many electrical grids that are operational in Africa suffer from frequent blackouts. However, last year, Africa added 4,400 MW of power across the continent - a record setting mark - thanks to the falling price of solar panels and wind turbines and a newfound exploitation of hydropower in several countries. Other innovations that have been driving the rise of installed African electricity include the deployment of mini rooftop solar installations with a “pay-as-you-go” model and village-level mini-grid systems. Africans are implementing these unconventional solutions because, apart from the falling prices of solar and wind power, the costs for installing traditional region-wide grid systems today in many African countries are simply untenable. -JPM