Sun, 2014-09-14 08:00Chris Rose
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Speeding Up Renewable Energy Access Critical for Climate, Health and Economy: Report

Renewable energies are increasingly seen as the best solution to a growing global population demanding affordable access to electricity while reducing the need for toxic fossil fuels that are creating unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s the underlying message of a new report — REthinking Energy: Towards a New Power System — published this week by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Rapid technological progress, combined with falling costs, a better understanding of financial risk and a growing appreciation of wider benefits, means that renewable energy is increasingly seen as the answer,” the 94-page report says.

Not only can renewable energy meet the world’s rising demand, but it can do so more cheaply, while contributing to limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius – the widely cited tipping point for climate change,” the report adds.

A technology once considered as niche is becoming mainstream. What remains unclear is how long this transition will take, and how well policy makers will handle the change.”

The world’s population grew from four billion to seven billion people in the past 40 years, the report said, adding that population trends forecast more than eight billion people by 2030.

In the next two decades, the report noted, world electricity generation is expected to increase by 70%.

But the report warned that there is an environmental cost to producing the required future levels of electricity.

Sat, 2014-09-13 13:38Ben Jervey
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Exxon to Shareholders: No Carbon Bubble Risk Here. Carbon Tracker to Exxon: Really?

Still own some Exxon Mobil stock and been dithering about divestment?

You’re leaving money on the table, and exposing your portfolio to severe risks that the company itself is underestimating. That’s according to a new report published by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which finds that the stock’s recently sub-par performance can partially be explained by the company’s increasing dependence on tar sands.

Carbon Tracker says that Exxon is “significantly underestimating the risks to its business model from investments in higher cost, higher carbon reserves; increasing national and subnational climate regulation; competition from renewables; and demand stagnation.”

Back in March, Exxon responded to a shareholder resolution by Arjuna Capital and As You Sow, two shareholder advocacy organizations, regarding potential carbon asset risk. The original resolution had demanded greater transparency in how Exxon assesses the risks to its significant carbon-based assets in a future where low-carbon policies and changing market forces could strand these assets. Exxon responded with a 29-page report, “Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks.”

The Carbon Tracker Initiative closely examined Exxon’s report and has now published a firm rebuttal.

Sat, 2014-09-13 07:00Guest
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Subsidizing Carbon Craziness: How Taxpayer Dollars for Capturing Carbon Greenwash Dirty Energy

Subsidy Spotlight

This is a guest post by Anna Simonton published with permission from Oil Change International 

The dirt roads of Penwell, Texas, criss cross overgrown lots littered with the detritus of a bygone oil boom that petered out in the 1940s. But as early as next summer, this ghost town 16 miles southwest of Odessa will become the site of a new coal power plant facility––funded in large part by taxpayers––that could play a major role in not only helping prolong the life of a dying coal industry, but in fueling an oil boom that’s just getting started in the Permian Basin region of West Texas.

The Texas Clean Energy Project (known as TCEP) is a proposed coal gasification plant that will generate electricity while attempting to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in the process. That’s according to Summit Power Group, the Seattle-based company behind the project.

TCEP is one of four U.S. power plants in the planning stages that would use Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology, which comes with an unproven track record and an exorbitant price tag for taxpayers…not to mention the impacts of mining the coal in the first place. A fifth such plant is already under construction in Mississippi.

Fri, 2014-09-12 15:40Carol Linnitt
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David Suzuki Headlines DeSmog Canada's Kickstarter Campaign to Clean Up Canada's Climate and Energy Debate

DeSmog Canada is excited to announce the launch of our new crowdfunding campaign: “Let’s Clean Up Canada’s Climate and Energy Debate.”

For the past 18 months, DeSmog Canada has delivered cutting-edge investigative journalism to clean up Canada's polluted public square and foster science-based debate on climate and energy issues. Now, we are ready to take it to the next level.

Over the next thirty days, we need your help to raise $50,000 to fund our upcoming work that will focus on three priorities:

  • leading in-depth investigations of government and industry spending on multi-million dollar ad campaigns to sell oil development and pipelines instead of clean energy solutions,
  • shining a light on fake grassroots groups designed to confuse the public debate,
  • exposing Canada’s war on science and the scientists who are prevented from sharing critical information with the public.


Climate and energy debates have never been more important to setting the course for Canada's future. Yet conversations about Canada’s energy have never been more polarized, divisive and polluted with misinformation.

The stakes have never been higher.

Fri, 2014-09-12 14:00Connor Gibson
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Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead Disqualified by Federal Judge in Ameren Pollution Lawsuit

Originally published on PolluterWatch

Jeff Holmstead, perhaps the nation's prime example of a revolving door lobbyist, was dismissed by a federal judge as an expert witness in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against Ameren Missouri, a coal burning utility.

In an ongoing case, the EPA has charged Ameren with violating the Clean Air Act by not installing appropriate pollution controls at one of its coal plants. The Sierra Club has since sued Ameren, “alleging 7,880 air quality violations at three coal-burning power plants since 2009,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Judge Rodney Sippel granted U.S. Justice Department's request to remove Holmstead as a witness, confirming that the lobbyist's history at U.S. EPA posed “multiple conflicts of interest.” Here's the judge's motion to dismiss Jeffrey Holmstead, citing Holmstead's use of his EPA experience to undermine EPA's pollution enforcement actions (emphases added):

Mr. Holmstead’s legal opinions are irrelevant, speculative, and inadmissible.” […] “By his own description, Mr. Holmstead’s testimony relies on his recollection of EPA “internal meetings” that he says are relevant to the issues to be tried in this action. Such internal communications are privileged and confidential and Mr. Holmstead may not rely on his recollection of them to testify against EPA. Moreover, Mr. Holmstead received other privileged information concerning the issues about which he now seeks to testify on behalf of Ameren, and participated in power-plants enforcement cases related to this one while at EPA. Before he left EPA, he even personally provided a declaration for EPA that is at issue in this and other related power-plants enforcement cases asserting privilege claims on behalf of EPA over documents that are relevant to the opinions he now seeks to offer. Yet he now seeks to change sides and testify against EPA. Moreover, he was assisted in the preparation of his report by another former EPA attorney who was involved in the early stages of the investigation that ultimately led to the filing of this case. For the reasons discussed in the accompanying Memorandum, Mr. Holmstead should not be allowed to testify in this matter due to his multiple conflicts of interest.

This is a notable blow to Mr. Holmstead's credibility, who touts his time at EPA to obscure his lobbying to protect polluters from public accountability.

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