All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics
By Ed King
Welcome to RTCC’s weekly wrap, where we pull together the top stories from the past week, and highlight key events to look forward to over the next 7 days.
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We start in Beijing, where the annual National People’s Conference takes place from March 4-14. It’s huge this year, as it’s where the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) will be signed off, charting a course for China’s economy. At the event’s opening premier Li Keqiang announced a new goal to reduce energy intensity 3.1% on 2014 levels. he announced a new coal cap and plans to boost the wind and solar sectors.
This tallies with a report RTCC carried earlier this week, where Beijing climate and energy expert Qi Ye predicted the next FYP would see a new “serious cap” on greenhouse gas emissions, building on the news that coal consumption is falling (down 2.9% in 2014).
The government is under pressure to respond due to increasing public anger at horrendous air quality levels. The release of a documentary ‘Under the Dome’ charting life in China’s big cities and the toxic fumes people endure has resonated at the top of government, said Qi. So much so the media is now banned from writing about it.
Wow. Those radical greens at Deutsche Bank say the costs of solar could plummet 40% by 2020. It’s closing in on coal as the world’s cheapest source of electricity, they say, predicting a 10-fold increase in the solar industry over the next decade. By 2050 the sun could account for 30% of global power generation.
When’s the first big UN climate deal of the year set to be signed off? And where? Well – the answer is two week’s time, in Sendai, Japan. 160 countries will there seal a pact to develop better strategies to deal with disaster risk, which the UN says could cost between $250-300 billion a year by 2030. Central to this deal (although the UN is a little coy over the link) is the need for better climate adaptation planning. The road to Paris starts in Sendai.
Narendra Modi’s government released its first national budget at the start of this week. No surprise that not everyone was happy. Money for forest protection is down, but funds for solar are up, and the government has doubled the coal tax. Keep an eye too on India’s railways – they’re investing heavily in solar. This is, in case you don’t know, the largest railway system on the planet.
Quote of the week
“The British government is probably making a bigger effort on international negotiations than any other government,” UK climate envoy, Sir David King
Stat of the week
“In markets heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation, the ratio of coal-based wholesale electricity to solar electricity cost was 7:1 four years ago…This ratio is now less than 2:1 and could likely approach 1:1 over the next 12-18 months” – Deutsche Bank
Courtesy of Russell Brand. ISIS or climate change – which kills more?
This week UN climate chief Christiana Figueres wrote for RTCC from the Philippines, where she was visiting areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan back in 2013. In particular, she wrote of her visit with French president Francois Hollande to the small village of Guiuan, devastated by the storm.
“Like many other vulnerable communities around the world, the villagers of Guiuan need a strong agreement in Paris, one that can bend the curve of emissions in order to protect them from the worst impacts of climate change.”
Winter is coming
One for all you Game of Thrones fans out there – what can the hit series tell us about climate change? Sophie Yeo, in her last article for RTCC before she heads to pastures new, mulls over what the White Walkers are really telling us.