December 2020 was the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord, marked by a climate summit held in the UK with 70 world leaders. In advance of this milestone, the UK threw down the gauntlet to other countries by elevating their emissions reduction target to 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, 11% higher than the previous target. These targets are considered the second toughest in the world, following only those of Sweden.
Bill Gates recently published his new book, a green manifesto called ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster’. We’re still reading our copy but we believe a core element to this manifesto is noteworthy – addressing the price differential between a fossil-fuel-based way of doing something and the clean, non-emitting way of doing the same thing – what Mr Gates calls the Green Premium.
This week South Korea became the third large Asian economy to pledge carbon neutrality, marking a major milestone for the fight against climate change. All three countries, China, Japan and South Korea, are in the top 10 country emitters of carbon dioxide in the world due to a continued reliance on coal-powered energy, and together represent over a third of annual global emissions.
California seems to be in the eye of the storm at the moment when it comes to the impacts of climate change. Images of yellow smoke-filled skies are proliferating news sources and social media, the result of wildfires that are seasonal for the state due to hot and dry weather, but that this year have burned through over 5 million acres already, worse than any year in the history books. The season for wildfires usually continues until December and may continue to force people to stay at home due to the air quality, further impacting businesses already reeling from the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
We have written about renewable energy and the energy transition in Europe, the US and China. Today we look at Japan, where multiple factors collude to result in government policies that support a slower transition towards green energy, a source of frustration for many and garnering criticism.
The polarisation of American politics is a subject well covered with the Biden vs. Trump campaigns heating up as we close down on the three-month point before the election. Every nationwide poll currently has Biden leading by between 6 and 15 points, but there is plenty of time for this to change and polls are often wrong.
Of the recovery bills approved by global governments during the peak of the pandemic, little focused on a green recovery. Most were attentive to quick-acting programs to protect jobs and to ensure the survival of businesses.
A documentary film called ‘Planet of the Humans’ was recently released online to much controversy. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it describes itself as a “full-frontal assault on our sacred cows’, arguing that renewable energy and green movements have been hijacked by the traditional form of capitalism, and that these technologies are not as good for the environment or society as we’re led to believe.
As we talk about the fossil fuel industry, there is a noteworthy disparity in the approach between the top six European producers and other global players when it comes to climate change. European firms have pledged to significantly reduce their carbon footprints alongside investing into innovative low-carbon technologies. These strategies are a response to the new European Green Deal. Conversely, American oil and gas companies as well as Russian, Chinese and Saudi nationalised companies seem not to take the same path.
The ambitious climate mission led by Ursula von der Leyen is starting to gather steam. Europe wants to be the front-runner in climate friendly industries and clean technologies. The policy package comprises of measures to tackle climate and environmental-related challenges through a resource-efficient and competitive economy. The overarching objective of this European project is to become the first carbon neutral continent by 2050 all whilst being the second largest consumer market globally. In order to attain this goal, by 2030 GHG emissions need to be cut by 50-55% of 1990 levels, the figure previously stood at 40%.