Today's climate and energy headlines:
- World’s first energy storage fund to list in London
- Germany’s €43bn energy shake-up wins market favour
- The government is nearly done with a major report on climate change. Trump isn’t going to like it
- Schwarzenegger planning to sue oil companies for 'knowingly killing people all over the world’
- The Guardian view on nuclear fusion: a moment of truth
- Are electric vehicles cleaner? The evidence points firmly in one direction
- Alpine glacial relict species losing out to climate change: The case of the fragmented mountain hare population (Lepus timidus) in the Alps
- Global Carbon Budget 2017
Gore Street Capital, a London-based private-equity firm, is seeking to raise £100m from an initial public offering expected later this month on the London Stock Exchange, reports Bloomberg. The fund will invest in large-scale batteries, with the price of lithium-ion batteries having fallen dramatically in recent years. Bloomberg says: “The increase of renewable supplies at a time when policymakers are looking to phase out fossil-fuel generation threaten to leave grid operators short of power when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun doesn’t shine. Battery storage can help solve those challenges, according to Alex O’Cinneide, Gore Street’s chief executive officer.” The Financial Times also covers the story. Separately, the FT reports that China’s largest battery maker – Contemporary Amperex Technology, or CATL – has taken a large controlling stake in a lithium project in Quebec, “as companies rush to get access to supplies of the key raw material”. It adds: “The purchase comes as [CATL] is rapidly expanding its production of electric car batteries with the aim of becoming the world’s largest producer by 2020. The Ningde-based company is set to raise $2bn through an initial public offering in China this year, valuing it at $20bn.” Meanwhile, Reuters reports that “Tesla’s shift to a magnetic motor using neodymium in its Model 3 Long Range car adds to pressure on already strained supplies of a rare earth metal that had for years been shunned because of an export ban by top producer China”. BusinessGreen reports that the latest UK car industry figures show a “slow start to 2018 for pure electric car sales”.
The Financial Times reports that shares in Germany’s leading utilities jumped sharply yesterday, as investors and politicians signalled support for an ambitious €43bn takeover deal by Eon for renewables company Innogy that will “redraw the country’s energy market”. The FT adds: “Under the terms of the deal, which was unveiled over the weekend, Eon will offer €5.2bn to Innogy’s minority shareholders and a stake in the combined business to its controlling shareholder RWE. The acquisition will be followed by a series of asset swaps that will leave Eon focused on regulated energy networks and retail customers, and RWE as a leading energy producer with ownership of the renewables businesses of both Eon and Innogy. The deal positions RWE — long dependent on coal production — at the forefront in the European shift towards renewable energy.” Meanwhile, the Times reports that “the [UK’s] competition watchdog is assessing whether the proposed merger of SSE and Npower, the energy suppliers, could be affected by the sale of Npower’s parent to a rival”.
The Washington Post reports that the US’s top independent scientific advisory body, the US National Academies, has largely approved a major climate report being prepared by scientists within the Trump administration. The paper says this suggests “that another key government document could soon emerge that contradicts President Trump’s skepticism about climate change and humans’ role in driving it”. The report, which is 1,506 pages long in draft form, says US temperatures will rise markedly in coming decades, accompanied by many other attendant effects. The final version is expected later this year. Meanwhile, Lamar Smith, the climate sceptic Republican Congressman who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has used a Fox News article to continue his long-running campaign against climate science.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former Californian governor, has said he is planning to sue oil companies, alleging they are “knowingly killing people all over the world.” He made the announcement during an interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast, adding that he is now speaking with private law firms: “”This is no different from the smoking issue. The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades that smoking would kill people…The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.” MailOnline also covers the story.
An editorial in the Guardian says, after decades of false hope, it is now finally time for fusion power to prove itself: “Hopes for fusion now rest with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter), a multi-national $20bn effort in France to show that the science can be made to work…Iter’s worth is that it is a facility in the real world, where fusion’s promise can be tested. If it turns out to be better than expected then private investment is going to be needed to commercialise a fusion reactor. If it falls short then there must be a realistic rethink of fusion’s potential. After all, the money that has been poured into it could have been spent on cheap solar technology.”
Poliscanova is the clean vehicles and air quality manager at the NGO, Transport & Environment. She writes: “Attempts to create uncertainty over the CO2 merits of electric cars are no more legitimate than attempts to discredit the science of climate change. The reality is EVs win – they are already lower carbon but with electricity being decarbonised they will be significantly better in the near future. As electricity becomes cleaner both the embedded emissions in manufacturing and those in use fall. It’s worth remembering that the exact opposite is true for fossils and biofuels: the more we expand oil (arctic drilling, tar sands) or biofuels production (deforestation), the worse things get for the climate.”
Habitat for “glacial relict” species – those that have survived from the last ice age – is likely to become smaller and more fragmented as global temperatures rise, a new study suggests. Using a case study of the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) from more than 1,000 locations across the Swiss Alps, researchers modelled how its habitat could change in future. The results show an average habitat loss of 35% by 2100, mainly due to an increase in temperature during the reproductive season. An increase in habitat fragmentation was reflected in a projected 43% decrease in “patch” size, the researchers say, with more patches that are further apart.
Early estimates for the global carbon budget in 2017 have now been formally published, following provisional data being made available in November last year. The paper describes datasets and methodology to quantify the major components of the global carbon budget, including CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry and from deforestation and land use, the ocean and terrestrial CO2 sinks, and the global atmospheric CO2 concentration. For 2017, data for the first 6–9 months indicate a renewed growth of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels of 2%, the researchers say, based on national emissions projections for China, USA, and India, and projections of GDP for the rest of the world.
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