How Costa Rica is pursuing decarbonization despite global inaction

 

With a Green New Deal, here’s what the world could look like for the next generation

Kate Aronoff reports:

What, exactly, would a Green New Deal entail?

Like its 1930s counterpart, the “Green New Deal” isn’t a specific set of programs so much as an umbrella under which various policies might fit, ranging from technocratic to transformative. The sheer scale of change needed to deal effectively with climate change is massive, as the scientific consensus is making increasingly clear, requiring an economy-wide mobilization of the sort that the United States hasn’t really undertaken since World War II. While the Green New Deal imaginary evokes images of strapping young men pulling up their sleeves to hoist up wind turbines (in the mold of realist Civilian Conservation Corps ads), its actual scope is far broader than the narrow set of activities typically housed under the green jobs umbrella, or even in the original New Deal.

“People talk often about the infrastructure investment that has to happen, and new technology,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, told me. “But there’s also an industrial plan that needs to happen to build entirely new industries. It’s sort of like the moonshot. When JFK said America was going to go to the moon, none of the things we needed to get to the moon at that point existed. But we tried and we did it.” The Green New Deal, he added, “touches everything — it’s basically a massive system upgrade for the economy.”

In a broad sense, that’s what policymakers in other countries refer to as industrial policy, whereby the government plays a decisive role in shaping the direction of the economy to accomplish specific aims. That doesn’t mean that the state controls every industry, as in the Soviet system; instead, it would be closer to the kind of economic planning that the U.S. practiced during the economic mobilization around World War II, and that is practiced internally today by many of the world’s biggest corporations. Should Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution pass muster, the select committee will convene policymakers, academics, and representatives from the private sector and civil society to hash out next steps. How widely or narrowly that groups defines a Green New Deal — and whether it’ll ever be given space to meet on Capitol Hill — remains to be seen, as supportive lawmakers huddle in Washington this week to try and gain support for writing it into the rulebook for the next Congress. Ultimately, it will be that committee that fleshes out what a Green New Deal looks like. But the proposal itself, American history, and existing research give us a sense for what all it might look like in practice.

The plan itself — or rather, the plan to make the plan — lays out seven goals, starting with generating 100 percent of power in the U.S. from renewable sources and updating the country’s power grid. [Continue reading…]

Even most Americans in coal-reliant states prefer renewables

CBS News reports:

A large majority of Americans in coal-heavy states favor increasing renewable energy use. Most would also be willing to buy solar panels for their own use, and a plurality would be willing to pay an additional $5 a month to get energy from fully renewable sources, according to a survey from Consumer Reports.

The consumer advocacy group spoke with 1,200 Americans, including 400 residents of coal-reliant states: Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. Residents of those four states largely agreed with Americans as a whole, the organization found.

Overall, 76 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Increasing renewable energy (such as solar and wind) is a worthwhile goal.” The response rate from Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia was within the survey’s margin of error, while Ohio had the lowest rate, at 71 percent. (Major coal-producing states such as West Virginia and Wyoming did not have enough respondents to the poll to draw conclusions.)

A majority of respondents also favored solar for themselves. Between 52 and 57 percent said they would be willing to pay for solar panels if they could recoup the investment within five years. [Continue reading…]

Polluting giant turns to green energy to escape EU carbon risk

Blooomberg reports:

Central Europe’s third-largest polluter plans to almost triple its clean-energy capacity as emission costs surge.

Tauron Polska Energia SA is preparing to add at least 700 megawatts of clean, regulated power to “improve” its portfolio after carbon permits almost tripled over the past year, Chief Financial Officer Marek Wadowski said. That’s the equivalent of half a modern nuclear reactor and echoes moves by European utilities from Enel SpA to Vattenfall AB to boost their clean power generation.

“We’re turning in the direction of more renewable sources,” Wadowski said in an interview this week. “The rising cost of CO2 makes the profitability of coal-fired plants significantly less profitable.” [Continue reading…]

World to install over one trillion watts of clean energy by 2023

Bloomberg reports:

The world could install more than a trillion watts of renewable power over the next five years, more than the entire current generation capacity of the European Union.

The International Energy Agency’s latest annual report on renewables forecasts as much as an extra 1.3 terawatts of clean energy will be installed by 2023 under one scenario. Even in its more conservative central forecast, the agency predicts that global renewable energy capacity will grow by 1 terawatt, driven by a boom in solar installations and more accommodating government policy.

The positive outlook for clean energy comes with a warning that government support and market design is critical to ensuring that renewables continue to be invested in and built. [Continue reading…]

Hurricane Florence crippled electricity and coal — solar and wind were back the next day

CBS News reports:

Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Florence swamped North and South Carolina, thousands of residents who get power from coal-fired utilities remain without electricity.

Yet solar installations, which provide less than 5 percent of North Carolina’s energy, were up and running the day after the storm, according to electricity news outlet GTM. And while half of Duke Energy’s customers were without power at some point, according to CleanTechnica, the utility’s solar farms sustained no damage.

Traditional energy providers have fared less well. A dam breach at the L.V. Sutton Power Station, a retired coal-fired power plant near Wilmington, North Carolina, has sent coal ash flowing into a nearby river. Another plant near Goldsboro has three flooded ash basins, according to the Associated Press, while in South Carolina, floodwaters are reportedly threatening pits that contain ash, an industrial waste from burning coal.

The lesson, according to environmentalists: Utilities’ vulnerability to major storms underscores the urgency of shifting to energy that it is not only clean and renewable, but also more resilient. [Continue reading…]