The things that give us new energy

Some big, scary news about the climate emergency is coming at us on a daily basis – but there is tonnes of good news to take notice of as well.

Such as when the news ticked in from Montgomery County Council in Maryland, USA, that it has declared a climate emergency and intend to dramatically cut greenhouse emissions in the coming years. Under a resolution approved by the council, Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction now aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027, and 100 percent by 2035:

Click on image to read the resolution

That’s the kind of municipal climate leadership that gives us new energy at Centre for Climate Safety, because just like Colin Mockett does it on a weekly basis with his global outlook in The Sustainable Hour, this shows us what is possible – that, yes, it is actually possible to be a group of community leaders who takes the appropriate and responsible action on the increasingly alarming news that we receive from climate science departments and meteorological bureaus and say, “In 17 years from now, our community will be powered 100 percent by clean, non-polluting and climate-safe energy.”

When a municipality in the United States can do it, and when Darebin City Council in Melbourne can do it, so can we. Geelong Sustainability recently suggested it in its budget submission to Geelong Council, and as expected it was politely ignored. But this kind of behaviour is only possible because we, the community, remain strangely silent on the topic.

Background photo shows Offshore-Windpark Lillgrund. The 48 Siemens wind turbines each have a capacity of 2.3 megawatts. The entire offshore wind farm has a total power of 110 megawatts.

The Victorian Labor government’s target is to increase the state’s renewable energy level to 40 per cent by 2025. Currently about 10 per cent of the state’s power needs are met with renewable sources.

More good news
It’s hard to catch up with the newsflow. Below follows a random collection of news stories and links that ticked in recently – and that is just some of all the encouraging stuff that is going on at the moment. The thoroughly good news is that much more of it is already on its way:

Facebook advertisement for Australian Ethical Super Fund

Low-carbon transition is on: “You can’t stop it”

Advances in technologies for energy efficiency and renewable power, and the accompanying drop in their price, have made low-carbon energy much more economically and technically attractive. Dr Jean-François Mercure from Radboud and Cambridge universities, told The Guardian:

“We have observed the data and made projections from there. With more policies from governments, this would happen faster. But without strong [climate] policies, it is already happening. To some degree at least you can’t stop it. But if people stop putting funds now in fossil fuels, they may at least limit their losses.”

» The Guardian – 21 June 2018:
Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever
“From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope.”

Good news from the United States

» Axios – 23 June 2018:
A Trump-supporting Texas city runs on 100% renewable energy
“In Texas — the heart of Trump country — the city of Georgetown runs on 100% renewable energy. Republican Mayor Dale Ross told Axios that the decision was ‘a no-brainer economically’.”

Investing $1 billion in sustainability will pay off, says Mars

“Mars Inc., the maker of its namesake chocolate bar and Wrigley’s chewing gum, is spending $1 billion on sustainability with a strategy to make greener practices increase profits. “There is a very concrete business case to this,” Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer at Mars, said in a phone interview. “We’re going to get a payback on that billion several times over.”

» Bloomberg – 5 June 2018:
Mars Is Spending $1 Billion on Sustainability

Companies commit to 100 per cent renewables

» Climate Action – June 2018:
Vodafone and Iron Mountain commit to 100% renewables
“Two major multinational companies have joined the RE100 group committed to.”

» Greenpeace – 14 June 2018:
Samsung Electronics commits to 100% renewables
“Since December 2017, activists have been calling on Samsung to “Stop Fuelling Climate Change”, challenging the tech giant to take immediate action and publicly commit to 100% renewables. Come June 2018, these demands were heard, and the company committed to 100% renewables in its operations in the United States, Europe, and China by the year 2020.”

Good news coming from the north

Sweden is on pace to reach its 2030 target for renewable energy more than a decade ahead of schedule, according to Bloomberg — and wind energy is the driving factor.

» Bloomberg – 6 July 2018:
Sweden Is a Decade Ahead of Target on Renewables
“The Scandinavian country is set to hit its goal for renewable energy more than 10 years before schedule.”

» Global Citizen – 5 July 2018:
Sweden Will Reach Its 2030 Renewable Energy Target This Year
“Renewable energy can now viably replace fossil fuels.”

Wind-powered Denmark: very high security of 100% green energy supply

“We were once afraid of what would happen when wind energy generation reached 5% of the total consumption. We then worried about approaching 10% – would the system be able to cope? Some years later, we said that 20% had to be the absolute limit! However, in 2016, Danish wind turbines produced more than the total electricity consumption for 317 h of the year, and we barely give this any thought.”
~ Peter Jørgensen, Vice President Associated Activities,

» RenewEconomy – 19 June 2018:
The fake arguments against 100% renewable energy

The developer of Singalong Shuttle, the Finnish clean energy company Fortum, wants to engage its customers and the society to join the change for a cleaner world. With Singalong Shuttle, Fortum wants to highlight the ease and convenience of making a clean choice by driving an electric car. Fortum’s Charge & Drive electric car charger network is the largest one in the Nordic countries with over 2,000 charging stations across the area.


Norway: All new cars must be zero carbon by 2025

The Norwegian parliament has set 2025 as the goal for all new cars to have zero emissions, compared with the UK’s 2040.

» The Guardian – 2 July 2018:
What’s put the spark in Norway’s electric car revolution?
“The Nordic country leads the world due to environmental concerns, but also big subsidies.”

Australian businesses to drive clean-energy transition

“Want to hear some good news? In Australia, UniSuper and QSuper have thrown $147 billion of funds to the global Climate Action 100+ group. This means that in Australia alone more than $1 trillion has been committed to steer energy-intensive companies away from coal and towards cleaner energy. That’s climate leadership. And it’s climate leadership like this we’re seeing all across Australia, from state governments to councils, to business leaders.”
~ Jackson Turner, 350 Australia

“UniSuper and QSuper have thrown their combined $147 billion of funds under management behind the global Climate Action 100+ group, lifting to more than $1 trillion the local funds pledged to steer energy-intensive companies away from coal and towards cleaner energy.

Ten Australian energy-intensive companies have also been added to the group of target companies that have significant opportunities to drive the clean-energy transition, including AGL Energy, Origin Energy, Adelaide Brighton Cement, Boral, Santos, Qantas, Bluescope Steel and Woolworths.”

» Financial Review – 2 July 2018:
Investors worth $1trn say no to coal

» RenewEconomy – 27 June 2018:
How Australia will get to 33% renewable electricity by 2020
“Despite best efforts by Coalition government to stop it, Australia will end up with 33% renewables by 2020, will likely get to 40% by 2030, and has enough in pipeline to reach 85%.”

» One Step Off the Grid – 28 June 2018:
Rooftop solar to save consumers millions – even for those who don’t install it
“Another record month for rooftop solar installs will deliver massive savings for households and small businesses over the coming decade, and drive a transformation of Australia’s grid that will mean smarter and cheaper power for all.”

» One Step Off The Grid – 6 June 2018:
How all-electric solar homes could save owners thousands
“Disconnecting from gas and living in all-electric, solar powered homes could save Australian households thousands of dollars in energy costs, a new study has found – as much as $18,000 over 10 years for the millions of new-build homes expected to built around the country by 2030.”

» RenewEconomy – 25 June 2018
Solar pushes mid-day electricity prices below zero in Queensland
“The roll-out of large-scale solar power in Queensland – and the continuing rapid uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses – is starting to have an impact on electricity prices in the state, even sending them into negative territory in the middle of the day.” Article by Giles Parkinson

» The Fifth Estate – 2 July 2018:
100 per cent renewable by 2020: GBCA’s bold plan for green buildings
“The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) said the proposed changes have been suggested in order to meet climate obligations and Sustainable Development Goals.”

“The University of Queensland is to build a 64MW solar farm to become the first major university in the world to offset 100 per cent of its electricity usage through its own renewable energy asset”.

» RenewEconomy – 7 June 2018:
University Queensland goes 100% solar with 64MW solar farm


Promising innovation

» Interesting Engineering – 20 June 2018:
How the World Can Go Carbon-Emission Free: 15 Projects Shaking Up the Energy Industry
“Here are the projects and innovations bringing us closer to a green future.”

Energy from the sea

“Although wind and solar power increased 75% between 2013 and 2016, they still only provided 10% of the world’s electricity and even less of total energy demand.

“We will need every kind of renewables we can get out hands on, including marine, to move us around, heat our homes and so on,” says Declan Meally, at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

A coalition of 25 ocean-faring nations, called Ocean Energy Systems, estimates a global potential for wave and tidal energy of 750GW by 2050, almost twice today’s global nuclear capacity. The EU projects 100GW in 2050, providing about 10% of the bloc’s electricity.”

» The Guardian – 5 July 2018:
Does the moon hold the key to the earth’s energy needs?

New energy observations by Jeremy Leggett

“Things are moving so fast. Most of us are so busy. This slide show offers one person’s precis-for-the-busy of the last months in the related dramas of climate change, energy transition, big tech and the future of civilisation. I hope it is useful. For the powerpoint version, with source urls, see
~ Jeremy Leggett, social entrepreneur and writer on climate change, the global energy transition, the opportunities and threats of technology, and the future of civilisation.

Jeremy Leggett is founder and director of Solarcentury and SolarAid. Books include ‘The Winning of The Carbon War’. He was awarded ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the New Energy Awards, and was the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership in Climate Change.

See more of Jeremy Leggett’s slides here:

History and future of the UK solar PV market

“This slide show is one person’s summary story of a national solar market within a global solar revolution. I hope that even those not focused on solar energy, or even energy, will find it an absorbing drama.”
~ Jeremy Leggett

» More slide shows by Jeremy Leggett

Low-carbon design


» Ars Technica – 29 June 2018:
Splitting water for fuel while removing CO₂ from the air
“Technique could be practical enough to scale.”

“A team of scientists from Harvard University and the company Carbon Engineering announced that they have found a method to cheaply and directly pull carbon-dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere. If their technique is successfully implemented at scale, it could transform how humanity thinks about the problem of climate change. It could give people a decisive new tool in the race against a warming planet, but could also unsettle the issue’s delicate politics, making it all the harder for society to adapt.”

» The Atlantic – 7 June 2018:
Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline
“A Harvard professor says his company should be able to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, at industrial scales, by 2021.”