US to double clean energy research funds in budget

CRIB NOTES 8-12 FEB: Obama ignites Mission Innovation, crashed oil price puts dampener on London bash, Ruffalo says don’t frack

By Alex Pashley

The Obama administration will get ‘Mission Innovation’ off the ground this week with a pledge to ramp up investment for electric vehicles and battery storage in next year’s budget.

The US is the first country to say how it will deliver on a venture launched with 19 others at UN climate talks designed to make renewables cheaper than fossil fuels – but it needs Republican approval in Congress.

President Obama announced on Saturday that the government will double investment in clean energy R&D to $12.8 billion within five years. Highlights are $1.8bn for conversion and storage, $804m for nuclear power and $560m for carbon capture and storage, according to a White House factsheet.

“As I said in my State of the Union address, rather than subsidise the past, we should invest in the future,” said Obama in his weekly address (see video).

Frack fight

Ahead of a five-week public hearing on shale gas drilling in Lancashire starting on Tuesday, film star and anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo has waded in.

“Mr Cameron you’re making an enormous mistake,” said the Spotlight nominee and high-profile campaigner in the State of New York’s decision to ban the controversial practice in 2015.

“Your people don’t want it, you have already told them once before that if they didn’t want it you wouldn’t push them to take it. You’re turning your back on your word, sir.”

The government plans to overrule Lancashire country council’s rejection of a planning application last June by Cuadrilla.

Green light

Leading donors may have criticised the Green Climate Fund for lacking strategy as it met last week in Cape Town, but all is hunky dory according to its co-chairs.

The $10bn flagship climate finance initiative is “on target” to hit a goal to hand out a cool $2.5 bn this year in green projects. That’s a tall order – it’s so far signed off on $168m worth.

“We want to take the momentum from Paris and ramp it up, take that positive mood and translate the vision into action,” said South African co-chair Zaheer Fakir.

Watercolours and warming

Artist Jill Pelto combines bushfires and shrinking glaciers to brink out stark climate statistics, Climate Central reports.

Budget bash

Oil companies will rein in the infamous blow-outs that dominate International Petroleum Week, the Financial Times reports. Low oil prices are hurting.

The giant ice sculptures and unlimited sushi that has made Socar, the trading division of Azerbaijan’s national oil company’s flagship event at the Grosvenor House hotel, well-known are unlikely. Many have cancelled official parties altogether, while several executives will swap chartered jets for commercial planes this year.

Flying visit

Those flights have a carbon footprint, of course. 22 countries are meeting until Friday 12th at the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection to discuss how to stop emissions skyrocketing.

The CAEP is part of the UN-backed International Civil Aviation Organization, which is holding a key assembly in September. It has promised a mechanism to offset the industry’s emissions, which are on a par with Germany. Here’s what’s at stake, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Talking science

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will meet on 9-10 February in Oslo. The aim is to “strengthen its communications as it starts work on its next cycle of reports”. It has plenty of time. The science body’s Sixth Assessment Report might not drop for another 5-7 years.

Bloomberg hosts climate risk event

Michael Bloomberg, head of the Financial Stability Board’s new taskforce to get companies to disclose their exposure to a warmer world, will offer up his Europe HQ on Tuesday.

A meeting at Bloomberg’s London office will talk through the initiative set up in Paris, with a bunch of speakers from green business. The former mayor of New York mulling a late presidential run won’t be there. But top bods from UNEP, Ceres, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development will. Here’s the list.

And finally:

Atmospheric levels of CO2 hit 405 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii on Feb 4th.

It’s a 15 million-year high. And they are not set to peak until May. That’s when the Northern Hemisphere turns to summer where CO2 uptake increases. The annual average topped 400ppm level for the first time on record in 2015.

Read more on: Breaking News