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Briefing date 17.04.2024
New wind installations hit a record last year, report says

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Climate and energy news.

New wind installations hit a record last year, report says
Reuters Read Article

The global wind industry built a record 117 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity last year, but needs to triple this on an annual basis by 2030 to meet climate targets, according to a new report covered by Reuters. The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report says capacity installation last year was 50% higher than the year before, the newswire says. It adds that, last year, new onshore wind was responsible for 106GW of the amount installed, while offshore wind accounted for almost 11GW. The top markets for wind installation were China, the US, Brazil, Germany and India, according to the article. GWEC’s chief executive Ben Backwell tells the newswire: “It took us over 40 years to reach the 1TW mark of worldwide installed wind power. We now have just seven years to install the next 2TW.”

China’s economy, propelled by its factories, grew more than expected
The New York Times Read Article

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Chinese economy grew more than expected in the first quarter of 2024, with a growth rate of 1.6% quarter-on-quarter or 5.3% year-on-year, says the New York Times. “To stimulate growth, China…invest[ed] heavily in its manufacturing sector, including a binge of new factories that have helped to propel sales around the world of solar panels, electric cars and other products”, the newspaper adds. BJX News reports that, in the first quarter of 2024, China’s power generation totalled 224 terawatt-hours, an increase of 6.7% year-on-year. March saw growth of hydropower, wind power and solar power accelerate, the article says, while thermal power’s growth rate fell, and the growth rate of coal production decreased 4.2% year-on-year. Industry outlet reports that, according to the China Coal Industry Association, during the 14th five-year-plan period (2021-25), new coal production capacity nationwide reached about 600m tonnes/year, with raw coal production “growing at an average annual rate of 4.5% between 2020 and 2023, reaching 4.7bn tonnes in 2023”. State-run industry newspaper China Energy News reports that China issued a policy document calling for the construction of green mines to be“further improved” by 2028.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times says that President Xi Jinping told visiting German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing yesterday that “China’s exports of electric vehicles (EV), lithium batteries, photovoltaic products, etc have not only enriched global supply and alleviated global inflation pressure, but also made great contributions to the global response to climate change and green and low-carbon transformation”. The New York Times quotes Maximilian Butek, executive director of the German Chamber of Commerce in China, saying that “if the EU goes too hard against China, we could expect countermeasures and this would be a catastrophe for us”. Elsewhere, Reuters reports that US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said yesterday that “China’s massive investments in advanced manufacturing of clean energy goods have resulted in an unfair playing field that puts American workers and businesses at risk, and it needs to be mitigated”.

In other news, the Global Times says a report released by the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA) proposes policies to address a “discrepancy between the capacity of nuclear power and the requirements to meet [China’s] ‘dual carbon’ goals”. State-run newspaper China Daily also covers the report, adding that the nuclear power generation capacity in China is expected to continue growing with its “share in the country’s energy mix set to keep climbing”. This growth would see installed nuclear power capacity accounting for 10% of China’s total power output in 2035, “up from 5% in 2021 and equivalent to reducing 900m metric tonnes of CO2”, the outlet says. China Energy Net quotes Shu Yinbiao, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), saying that nuclear energy has “a large installed capacity, stable and reliable operation, a long refuelling cycle, strong frequency and voltage regulation capabilities”. Finally, another China Energy Net article quotes CNEA secretary general Zhang Tingke, who says that the organisation expects that “nuclear power heating is expected to reach 1.5bn cubic metres” by 2060.

At nearly 40C, Mumbai sizzles on its hottest day in a decade
The Indian Express Read Article

Mumbai yesterday recorded a maximum temperature of 39.7C, “making it the city’s hottest day in April the past decade” and “an anomalous rise of nearly 6.5C above the normal”,  the Indian Express reports. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has declared an orange “severe heatwave” alert for the city and its neighbouring districts, telling the newspaper that “the sudden spike of temperatures this week is a harbinger of what lies in store for the city”, with more heatwaves “likely to sweep the entire state this summer”. 

Meanwhile, analysis by the Hindustan Times finds that India’s 2024 election season coincides with nearly the hottest part of the year for two-thirds of all political constituencies. According to the story, forecasts suggest that 66 constituencies going in to vote starting on Friday could see a maximum temperature of 35C or higher, of which 10 might experience temperatures over 40C. “Two groups of people are the most vulnerable – [the] general public, which includes those [suffering from more than one illness] and the elderly – [and] election workers,” said Dr Dileep Mavlankar, who heads the Indian Institute of Public Health, speaking to the paper. While the “quality and implementation” of heat action plans have varied across India, researchers have submitted a new “model heat action plan” to India’s disaster authorities to guide states and cities, the Times of India reports. Separately, Down to Earth covers a new study that finds that women in India are “significantly more vulnerable” to extreme heat compared to men, but says that the lack of “concrete conclusions” on why is a “perfect example of the data equity gap”, particularly in global south countries.

In other news, while the Print profiles parliamentarians who’ve raised the most climate questions, experts speaking to the Press Trust of India described climate and environment promises in parties’ election manifestos as “symbolic” and “contradictory” to their approach to conservation when in power. “They promise to increase green cover on one hand and destroy pristine forests for coal mining…on the other,” said Alok Shukla of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan to PTI. India’s prime minister Modi has “greenlit a fresh wave of power station development and extended the lifespan of many existing coal assets”, writes Bloomberg, as its electricity consumption “is growing at the fastest rate of any major economy.” While power shortages “raised expectations that the country would accelerate the shift to green energy, India’s response was exactly the opposite”, the story says.

US creates climate and trade taskforce to address commerce, manufacturing emissions
Reuters Read Article

The US is to launch a new trade taskforce aimed at reducing emissions from global commerce and manufacturing, White House senior adviser John Podesta has announced, according to Reuters. It continues: “The new taskforce will focus on addressing carbon leakage, carbon dumping and emissions associated with upstream manufacturing and production, he said, speaking at an event at Columbia University in New York City. The taskforce development comes as the US is aiming to expand its deployment of clean energy technology and manufacturing domestically amid growing competition from China.” Podesta added that the taskforce will also “ensure carbon emissions data is available for implementing US climate and trade policies, including taking steps to promote common measurement and high standards on life cycle emissions”, which the US plans to work on with allies including “the UK, Australia, the European Union and other partners”.

In other US news, the Hill reports that the Biden administration is set to deny federal approval to a mining company’s proposed industrial road through parts of wilderness in north-western Alaska, according to two sources familiar with the process. Bloomberg reports on a panel event at a BloombergNEF summit in New York, where clean energy experts discussed “snags” with the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The Associated Press has a video showing representatives of California and Norway signing a new climate agreement. And the Associated Press also reports on a poll finding Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are more likely to believe in climate change than the rest of the US population.

Strains in supply chain pose threat to UK renewables targets, report warns
Financial Times Read Article

Supply chain strains could threaten the UK’s renewables targets, according to a government-commissioned report covered by the Financial Times. The FT says that the report from the consultancy Baringa warns that “fierce global competition for the workers and equipment needed to build wind turbines, electricity cables and solar panels could hold back UK projects”. The newspaper adds: “According to the report, supply chain constraints for solar farms are ‘less severe’, in part due to increased manufacturing capacity in China. But it also highlights concerns about forced labour in Chinese supply chains.”

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports that the Hinkley Point C Nuclear plant is expected to kill up to 46 tonnes of fish a year as it sucks in water from the Bristol Channel for cooling. The developers are planning to build a nature reserve in Somerset to try to compensate for the loss, the newspaper adds. The Daily Telegraph also reports that foreign secretary and former prime minister David Cameron has said that the European Court of Human Rights is “planting the seeds of its own destruction” after its landmark climate ruling last week. The Sun also has the story. DeSmog reports that a gathering of “Europe’s hard-right elite” held in Brussels on Tuesday, attended by UK Brexiteer Nigel Farage and former home secretary Suella Braverman, was organised by a fossil-fuel funded thinktank. Finally, the Daily Express carries a column by journalist Fergus Kelley regarding “Climate: The Movie”, a climate-sceptic film on YouTube, with the headline: “I’ve just watched an amazing documentary dismantling the climate change theory.” [The film is directed by Martin Durkin, whose previous efforts include the widely discredited Channel 4 programme “The Great Global Warming Swindle” in 2007 and “Brexit: The Movie” in 2016.]

Dubai hit by atypical heavy rains causing widespread flooding
Le Monde Read Article

Dubai has been struck by unusual heavy rains, flooding its vast highways and causing flight and traffic delays, Le Monde reports. It says: “Huge tailbacks snaked along six-lane expressways after up to 254mm of rain – about two years’ worth – fell on the desert United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.” BBC News says that other Gulf states were also affected, with 18 people killed in Oman by flash floods. The outlet adds: “The dead included 10 students aged between 10 and 15 who were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in attempted to cross a flooded area but was swept away.”

Climate and energy comment.

Fossil fuel debts are illegitimate and must be cancelled
Lidy Nacpil, Climate Home News Read Article

Amid the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings being held in Washington DC, Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), writes for Climate Home News that debt from harmful industries such as fossil fuels should be seen as “illegitimate”. Nacpil writes: “Included among the public debts of global south countries are those from projects tainted with fraud and whose negative impacts on people, economies and the planet far outweigh the benefits, if any. Furthermore, many debts arose from projects that did not involve democratic consultations nor the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities including indigenous peoples. Prime examples of these debts are those arising from or related to fossil fuel projects. These debts should be seen and treated as illegitimate.”

Elsewhere, the Guardian has an editorial on debt burdens faced by global south countries. It says: “Without meaningful debt relief, countries from sub-Saharan Africa to the Caribbean will continue to go backwards, haemorrhaging the cash they need to fund social services and combat the climate emergency.” The Financial Times also has an editorial on the subject, saying: “As a result [of growing issues with financial flows to the global south], many poorer countries have been unable to invest adequately in public welfare and climate mitigation. This has raised pressures on already impoverished households in nations that are also less resilient to global shocks, creating regional instability and driving more migration.”

Biden winks at Iranian oil exports
The Wall Street Journal Read Article

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal discusses US sanctions on Iranian oil exports amid escalating tensions in the Middle East. It says: “Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that ‘all options’ are on the table to disrupt Iran’s terror financing. Great, and we hope this means the administration will welcome the 383-11 vote in the House [of Representatives on] Monday to expand sanctions against Chinese financial institutions that buy Iranian oil.” The newspaper adds: “The administration’s failure to crack down on Chinese oil purchases reflects its larger deterrence failures. Biden officials including Ms Yellen have admonished Beijing for solar panel and industrial exports that their labour allies dislike. Yet they have been less critical of China’s aid to Iran’s war machine.”

New climate research.

Revisiting Copenhagen climate mitigation targets
Nature Climate Change Read Article

New research assesses the progress of countries against their climate mitigation targets for 2020 set at the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Among the 34 countries analysed, 12 failed to meet their targets – including Australia, Japan and Norway, which missed “by the widest margin”, the study finds. A further seven countries – such as France and Poland – “achieved the target for territorial emissions, albeit with carbon leakage through international trade to meet domestic demand while increasing emissions in other countries”, the authors say. The remaining countries – among them the UK, US and Germany – “have all achieved their goals in terms of both territorial and consumption-based emissions”, the paper notes.

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