Last week I spoke at Christmas reception of the British Photovoltaic Association, presided over by Lord Palmer. It was a really fun event, in the House of Lords (where I never expected to go), and I met a number of people working to build up the UK solar industry. Since the UK is not renowned for its sunshine, when people think of UK renewable energy, most people think about wind, not solar.
Not true. The UK solar industry will soon reach 3 Gigawatts of capacity, a great achievement. The US solar industry is also breaking out, with the benefit of state and federal renewable targets, tax breaks, loans for solar panel purchases and rapidly declining costs, and now we are up to 10 Gigawatts of capacity.
We also got to hear Minister Greg Barker break the news that the UK energy bill has been passed by Parliament. In my talk, I emphasized how solar fits in with our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As I noted, my big boss Secretary John Kerry, has made this point strongly when he welcomed the IPCC report on climate change: “The United States is deeply committed to leading on climate change. We will work with our partners around the world through ambitious actions to reduce emissions, transform our energy economy, and help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of climate change. We do so because this is science, these are facts, and action is our only option.” Sounds like I better get to work!
A public attitudes survey published by DECC has found that 79% of people support the UK using renewable energy to generate electricity. Solar energy had the highest level of support (at 82%), while 72% supported off shore wind and 71% supported wave and tidal energy. 64% supported on-shore wind, despite controversy over the expansion of on-shore wind farms in the UK. While only 37% of respondents supported the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity in the UK, this outweighed the 25% who signalled their opposition.
The launch of HMG’s Green Deal, a summit on climate change legislation, and the Prime Minister’s defence of his Government’s green growth agenda has marked the first few weeks of 2013. In other news, the Government has responded to a report by MPs on protecting the Artic, the UK has signalled support for greater protection for polar bears, and experts have called for a plan to protect the UK against a solar superstorm.
U.S. Highlights: President Obama’s Continued Commitment to Clean Energy Investment and Climate Change
Earlier this week, President Obama held his first press conference following his reelection during which he emphasized his ongoing priority to keep the U.S. “at the forefront of research, technology, and clean energy.” He pointed to some recent success stories where the U.S. has now doubled its fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks, doubled the U.S. production of clean energy, and continued national investment in “potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.” In the weeks ahead, the President announced plans to hold a “wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what… we can do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbon…” Acknowledging that the process will be difficult, requiring “tough political decisions,” he reaffirmed that “there’s no doubt… for us to take on climate change in a serious way.” Watch his full press conference below.
In this week’s U.S. highlights, I focus on successes seen over the past couple of weeks in American clean energy investment. For example, the Department of Energy (DOE) released data showing that American energy use dropped from 2010-2011 due mainly to investment in higher-efficiency energy technologies. Read more
This week’s U.S. highlights begin with Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the United Nations last week where she emphasized the importance of multilateral clean water initiatives. Next, there have been noteworthy gains in U.S. home energy efficiency upgrades and increased investment in nuclear energy research at American universities. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) released several reports showing growth in U.S. solar production and American green pricing program participation during 2011. The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published research in September rebutting claims that large-scale, high altitude wind production adversely impacts climate. Finally, I wrap up by highlighting several non-federal, state programs showing new growth in jobs associated with clean energy programs in California, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.
This week’s U.S. government highlights cover wind, solar power, and clean coal initiatives, part of President Obama’s All-of-the-Above energy strategy. I also focus on sustainability projects in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and on Native American tribal lands. I finish with a brief overview of a Mississippi River Basin water quality improvement project, a new supercomputer, and a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report that reveals the harsh effects of climate change on California’s streams.
As Head of the UK Delegation at the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference, UK Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Nick Clegg has called for “shared responsibility” for the planet. Writing in The Guardian on June 20, the DPM said the UK government priorities at the UN conference are: a broader understanding of wealth to incorporate natural capital, termed “GDP plus”; the development of international sustainable development goals with “hard deadlines”; and a “global push” for sustainability reporting by businesses. Read more
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) kicks off tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The official themes for Rio are the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The United States will join delegations around the world to build and showcase partnerships among government, businesses, and civil society to create green economic growth and resource efficiency while harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.
Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the Department of State, Read more
Energy Ministers from 23 of the world’s leading economies gathered together in London last week for the third Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM3) to help accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies. A joint press release was released from Energy Ministers outlining commitments made on energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy access, and other cross-cutting initiatives. Under pressure from green groups, UK Government Ministers were keen to demonstrate their renewed commitment to be the “greenest government ever” and give a clear vision to investors in renewable energy.