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Blog Posts: low carbon development

  • Post-Fukushima Climate Action: How Japan Can Achieve Greater Emissions Reductions

    After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan halted all existing nuclear operations and significantly scaled back its 2020 emissions-reduction target. As Japan revises its energy policy over the next few years, officials will decide the future of the country’s energy mix—and its climate action.

    New research reveals that Japan can likely go beyond its emissions-reduction target with existing initiatives, but needs to pursue more ambitious action in the long-term to truly overcome the climate change challenge.

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  • 3 Tales of Hope for a Low-Carbon Future

    Andrew Steer's recent travels resonated a common narrative: our current, high-carbon path is not only bad for our planet—it’s bad economics, too. He also witnessed how, at three levels—political, analytical, and practical—global momentum is building for a low-carbon future.

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  • A Renewables Club to Change the World

    The meeting of climate change ministers in Abu Dhabi from 4 to 5 May 2014 represents an opportunity to develop the Renewables Club, established by Germany and nine other countries last year.

    The club could play a key role in overcoming the climate crisis—provided that it becomes more than just an informal discussion group.

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  • 4 Things Germany and Partners Can Do to Strengthen the International Renewable Energy Club

    After winning Germany’s federal elections on September 22nd, Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the middle of difficult coalition talks to form a new government. Because Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, did not win an absolute majority in parliament, it must find a new coalition partner. The party has begun negotiations with Social Democrats to form a grand coalition.

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  • Shifting Global Investments To Clean Energy

    When President Barack Obama announced the country’s first national climate strategy, many people wondered what it would mean across the nation. Yet, the strategy may carry even more significant implications overseas.

    The plan restricts U.S. government funding for most international coal projects. This policy could significantly affect energy producers and public and private investors around the globe.

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  • Lessons from Indonesia: Mobilizing Investment in Geothermal Energy

    Developing countries will need about $531 billion of additional investments in clean energy technologies every year in order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, thus preventing climate change’s worst impacts. To attract investments on the scale required, developing country governments, with support from developed countries, must undertake “readiness” activities that will encourage public and private sector investors to put their money into climate-friendly projects.

    WRI’s six-part blog series, Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance, highlights individual developing countries’ experiences in scaling up investments in clean energy and explores the role climate finance plays in addressing investment barriers. The cases draw on WRI’s recent report, Mobilizing Climate Investment.

    The development of Indonesia’s geothermal energy sector—and the starts and stops along the way—provides an interesting case study on how to create readiness for low-carbon energy. By addressing barriers such as pricing distortions and resource-exploration risks, the country has begun to create a favorable climate for geothermal investment.

    The History of Geothermal Power in Indonesia

    Indonesia holds the world’s largest source of geothermal power, with an estimated potential of 27 GW. However, less than 5 percent of this potential has been developed to date. Indonesia began to explore its geothermal resource in the 1970s, with support from a number of developed country governments. The country made some progress in advancing geothermal development by the 1990s. However, development stalled during the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98 and was slow to recover.

    In the early 2000s, a number of barriers limited investment in the sector, including a policy and regulatory framework that favored conventional, coal-fired energy over geothermal. Plus, the high cost and risk associated with geothermal exploration deterred potential investors and made it difficult to access financing from banks.

    The Indonesian government took a number of steps to try to advance geothermal development and received support from a wide range of international partners, including multilateral development banks and developed country governments. In 2003, it passed a law to promote private sector investment in geothermal, establishing a target of 6,000MW installed capacity by 2020.

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  • Why Is China Investing So Much in U.S. Solar and Wind?

    The world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters—the United States and China—have been forging a growing bond in combating climate change. Just last week, President Obama and President Xi made a landmark agreement to work towards reducing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas. And both the United States and China are leading global investment and development of clean energy. The United States invested $30.4 billion and added 16.9 GW of wind and solar capacity in 2012. China invested $58.4 billion and added 19.2 GW in capacity.

    U.S.-China cooperation on clean energy was the topic of discussion at an event last week at the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s China Environment Forum. Experts from the World Resources Institute and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) looked at this cooperation from a seldom-discussed viewpoint – China’s renewable energy investments in the United States.

    China’s Growing Overseas Investments in Renewable Energy

    As new WRI analysis shows, Chinese companies have made at least 124 investments in solar and wind industries in 33 countries over the past decade (2002 – 2011). The United States is the number one destination of these investments, hosting at least eight wind projects and 24 solar projects. The majority of the investments went into solar PV power plant and wind farm development, while a few investments went into manufacturing or sales support.

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  • 5 Achievements from Germany’s “Energiewende”

    Germany is in the midst of an unprecedented clean energy revolution. Thanks to the “Energiewende,” a strategy to revamp the national energy system, Germany aims to reduce its overall energy consumption and move to 80 percent renewable energy by 2050. The country has already made considerable progress toward achieving this ambitious goal.

    In fact, other countries like the United States can learn a lot from the German clean energy experience. That’s why WRI is hosting a German energy speaking tour in the United States this week, May 13th-17th. Rainer Baake, a leading energy policy expert and key architect behind the Energiewende, and WRI energy experts will travel to select U.S. cities to share lessons, challenges, and insights from the German clean energy transformation. They will be joined by Dr. Wolfgang Rohe and Dr. Lars Grotewold from Stiftung Mercator.

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  • Why Is Climate Finance So Hard to Define?

    This is the first installment of our blog series, Climate Finance FAQs. The series explores the often nebulous world of climate finance, providing clarity on some of the key terms and current issues. Read more posts in this series.

    Surprising as it may sound, there is no standard definition of climate finance. In fact, there are many differing views on what type of funding constitutes climate finance, how it should be delivered, and how much money developing nations will need to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. This vortex of information can be confusing to navigate. Here, we'll do our best to break down all of the components that define “climate finance.”

    Defining Climate Finance: Broadly to Narrowly

    In its broadest interpretation, climate finance refers to the flow of funds toward activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help society adapt to climate change’s impacts. It is the totality of flows directed to climate change projects—the same way that “infrastructure finance” refers to the financing of infrastructure, or “consumer finance” refers to providing credit for purchases of big-ticket household items.

    The term is most frequently used in the context of international political negotiations on climate change. In this context, climate finance—or international climate finance—is used to describe financial flows from developed to developing countries for climate change mitigation/adaptation activities, like building solar power plants or walls to protect from sea level rise. This interpretation builds off the premise that developed countries have an obligation to help developing countries transform their economies to become less carbon-intensive and more resilient to climate change.

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  • Lord Nicholas Stern Identifies 3 Obstacles to International Climate Action

    Six years after the release of the landmark Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Lord Nicholas Stern revealed yesterday the most challenging hurdle ahead for international climate action. Overcoming this obstacle is not a matter of figuring out the scientific or policy pathways needed to curb climate change—nor is it determining what technologies to adopt or what investments must be made. “What’s missing is the political will,” said Stern.

    The famed economist elaborated on this problem during an address yesterday hosted by WRI and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Fostering Growth and Poverty Reduction in a World of Immense Risk.” Dr. Andrew Steer, WRI’s president, and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, provided opening remarks, articulating the serious economic and human risks climate change poses. Stern focused on the main hurdle to mitigating these risks—political will.

    The problem, according to Stern, reflects a lack of understanding in three main areas: climate change’s real risks, the benefits of an alternative pathway, and the need for collaboration and mutual understanding.

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