New Milestone Paves Way For Paris Agreement
The European Union has formally joined the Paris Agreement, which has now surpassed an emissions threshold needed to make the climate deal official.
With the European Union’s voting to join the U.S., China, India and other nations in ratifying the agreement, nations representing more than 55% of the world’s global warming pollution have now signed on – crossing the minimum threshold for the agreement to enter force, according to Environment America.[adright zone=’190′]
The Sierra Club says the agreement crossed a 55-country threshold in September at a United Nations event and will now enter force in 30 days, just ahead of the upcoming climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco.
At last year’s United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Paris, more than 190 countries came together to adopt the Paris Agreement, what the White House called “the most ambitious climate change agreement in history.” Specifically, the agreement sets a goal of keeping a global warming increase well below 2°C and pursues efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5°C. On Earth Day earlier this year, leaders from roughly 170 countries met in New York City to formally sign the deal.
“Signed, sealed, and delivered. After years of tireless dedication and work toward an international climate deal, the Paris Agreement has finally jumped off the page and into reality,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a statement.
“This step forward means that the Paris Agreement will enter into force this year, and that’s not a moment too soon. In Paris, fossil fuels received their expiration date, and today’s announcement marks a global turning point that unites the world to finally take action to tackle the climate crisis while unquestionably putting us on a path toward a modern clean energy economy,” he continued.
On Oct. 4, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon went to Strasbourg, France, to urge the European Parliament to sign on to the deal.
“In the name of humanity and for the sake of future generations, I encourage you to support the speedy ratification of the Paris Agreement,” he said. “At a time of record heat, let us take historic action. At a moment of divisions on many other challenges, let us show we are united on the biggest one of all.
“This is our chance to set us on course towards a safer, more sustainable and more just future for all on a healthy planet. Let us seize the moment and be true to the values and aims of our organizations.”
In total, 74 countries have joined or committed to join the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016 – accounting for 60.34% of global emissions, according to the Sierra Club.
Countries that have announced their commitment to joining the agreement by the end of the year include Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea.
The Sierra Club notes that once the agreement enters into force, it will take at least four years for any one country to officially leave.
Anna Aurilio, global warming solutions program director for Environment America, added in a statement, “Here in the United States, we must redouble our efforts to reduce – and eventually eliminate – global warming pollution. President Obama has already put America on track to slash emissions from vehicles and power plants, but we can and must do much more.
“We have the tools to shift away from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels towards a 100 percent renewable energy future powered by solar, wind and energy efficiency. Tapping this immense potential, President Obama should establish a goal for the United States to achieve net-zero carbon pollution by 2050. Setting this ambitious goal will not only seal the president’s legacy as an historic world leader, but also guide our nation to avert climate disaster in the coming decades,” Aurilio said.
The countries that have joined the Paris Agreement to date are Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, China, Cook Islands, Dominica, the European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Kiribati, Laos, Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niger, North Korea, Norway, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, The Bahamas, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the U.S., and Vanuatu.
Governors To Obama: Let’s Talk About Wind
In a letter to President Barack Obama, a bipartisan group of 20 governors has taken action to expedite the siting of new wind farms, both onshore and offshore, in the U.S.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, representing 20 states, has led for a decade on policies to increase wind energy around the country.[adleft zone=’190′]
With long-term tax policy now in place, thanks to Congress’ passing a multiyear extension of the production tax credit last December, other issues stand in the way of adding to U.S. wind energy infrastructure and fully tapping the country’s abundant wind resources, explains AWEA.
Recently, the coalition sent a letter to Obama from Iowa’s Terry Branstad, chair of the group and governor of a state that gets over 31% of its electricity from wind, and Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo, vice chair of the group and governor of the state with the first U.S. offshore wind farm.
“[W]e agree that wind and solar energy development address many of our states’ and the nation’s important needs, such as job creation, economic development, reliable and low-cost energy, and cost-effective emission reduction,” the letter stated.
Specifically, the governors asked the administration to consider the following:
Having the Coast Guard keep working on its Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the states because “it is not clear that the approaches detailed … properly balance the multiple uses of the ocean”;
Further streamlining the offshore wind energy permitting process so that BOEM and outside agencies set and meet “reasonable deadlines”;
Ensuring that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not broaden legal liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act without a workable general permit process for the private sector;
Making additional changes to a proposed eagle permit rule “to ensure the final rule is workable while continuing to protect eagles”; and
Addressing concerns that a competitive leasing proposal said to be coming from the Bureau of Land Management could hamper wind and solar development on public lands.
Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s CEO, thanked the governors for their support and offered the following statement:
“Wind farms are some of the greatest infrastructure projects this country has ever built, but there’s a lot more to be done if wind energy is to meet its promise. These governors are leading. They’re attuned to economic development needs and deployment challenges in their states, and they’re looking to the federal agencies to help rather than hinder.”
Plan To Tax Wyoming Wind Is Defeated
A proposed $2 tax increase on wind power in Wyoming was reportedly shut down by the state’s joint revenue committee.
According to coverage from the Wyoming Business Report, Congressman Mike Madden, who serves as chairman of the committee, had proposed bringing wind taxes from $1/MWh to $3/MWh. However, having gotten no support at an October meeting, the proposal was killed.
The article adds that the increase in taxes would have gone toward funding schools in the state.
Following the committee’s vote, Juan Carlos Carpio Delfino, Wyoming-based Viridis Eolia Corp.’s CEO, reportedly stated, “At the end of the day, sanity prevailed, and now developers are free to continue the arduous task of converting wind to electrons for the benefit of Carbon County and the state.”
Viridis is developing the 840 MW Little Medicine Bow wind farm in Carbon County, which will also be home to the Power Co. of Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, which will total a whopping 3 GW of capacity.
What Can Energy Storage Do For The Bay State?
Massachusetts’ Baker-Polito administration has released a new report, “State of Charge,” detailing the value of deploying energy storage in Massachusetts and a road map of policy recommendations for growing the energy storage market and industry in the state.[adright zone=’190′]
The report finds that the addition of energy storage to the state’s energy portfolio could realize hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings for Massachusetts ratepayers, shave the impacts of peak demand on the state’s energy infrastructure, and reduce carbon emissions by better integrating renewable resources into Massachusetts’ energy infrastructure. The study was commissioned as part of the administration’s $10 million Energy Storage Initiative.
“Massachusetts has a proud history of being on the forefront of technological and renewable energy innovation, and this report clearly shows the enormous potential energy storage has for the state,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass. “As demand for renewable energy sources increases, this administration is committed to ensuring that the commonwealth maintains reliability and energy affordability, as demonstrated by the recent bipartisan comprehensive energy legislation.”
As part of a broader energy law signed in August, the state has authorized an energy storage procurement goal for Massachusetts, given that the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) deems such a target prudent by year’s end. The DOER is now beginning a stakeholder engagement process to inform the decision-making process ahead of the Dec. 30 deadline set forth in the legislation, as well as to solicit feedback on the new report.
As the Baker-Polito administration explains, advanced energy storage technologies include batteries, flywheels, and thermal and compressed air technologies that allow utilities and electricity customers to store and discharge energy as needed instead of purchasing or generating more expensive energy during times of high demand.
In order to increase storage deployment and maximize ratepayer benefits, the report recommends policy changes for the state to adopt, including encouraging regional coordination around energy storage, amending the Alternative Portfolio Standard to include all types of advanced energy storage, encouraging expanded use of energy storage in existing energy-efficiency programs, considering energy storage as a utility grid modernization asset, pairing storage with renewables in future long-term clean energy procurements, and considering standards and code development for energy storage.
The report also highlights programmatic opportunities, including rebate programs for customer-sited energy storage, solar-plus-storage initiatives, the continued funding of clean energy resiliency initiatives focused on energy storage for critical facilities, and continuing the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) investment and technology development programs to support energy storage companies in the state.
The administration says that these recommendations, if adopted, have the potential to yield 600 MW of advanced energy storage technologies on the Massachusetts grid by 2025. Furthermore, these recommendations are anticipated to provide over $800 million in cost savings to ratepayers and cut approximately 350,000 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions over a 10-year time span, which is equal to taking over 73,000 cars off the road.
Following the release of the study, the DOER and MassCEC will use the findings to implement a grant program for energy storage demonstration projects over a range of application scales. This grant program, to be launched later this year, will use the remaining funds available from the $10 million Baker initially budgeted for the Energy Storage Initiative. Funds generated through the grant program will build upon the results of the use cases in “State of Charge” to further explore the potential benefits of storage.