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Climate, Energy & Transport

China’s Climate Minister Speaks in Support of Carbon Capture and Storage

This piece originally appeared on ChinaFAQs.org.

China’s Climate Change Minister Xie Zhenhua offered a new phrase to emphasize the importance of technologies to reduce carbon in a speech at a major international conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Beijing, July 27.

Minister Xie said that China’s energy and environment policies support “energy efficiency and carbon reduction” (jieneng jiantan). This is a modification of the phrase used to support the national policy of “energy efficiency and pollution reduction” (jieneng jianpai), which addresses the broad range of pollutants. Based on a number of signals, including these phrases and the day’s speeches, it seems that China’s interest in CCS is increasing. These developments occurred at the conference sponsored by Xie’s own National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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In Next Practice Collaborative, Top Companies Transition to Low-Carbon Future

The world 20 years ago looked very different from today. There was no widespread use of the internet. VHS movies rather than streaming video were the norm, and few could (nor did) imagine oil costing $100 a barrel. Innovations over this timeframe, like instant global financial transactions, social networking, and virtual communications unheard of when today’s managers entered the workforce, have fundamentally changed the way that companies do business.

Looking forward, business competitiveness and leadership depends on understanding and navigating the trends that will shape tomorrow’s markets, and positioning companies to balance the risks and opportunities to come. CK Prahalad, former WRI board member and business thought leader described the process of benchmarking corporate performance against tomorrow’s emerging opportunities as ‘next practice’.

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How Germany Plans to Succeed in a Nuclear Free, Low Carbon Economy

This piece was written by Felix Matthes, Oeko-Institut, and Jennifer Morgan, WRI.

Germany has taken some fundamental energy decisions in recent months, ones that are interesting for other countries to study and learn from. The most "famous" decision recently has been to phase out nuclear power in the next ten years. This move builds on years of debate and a societal decision after Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident to move away from nuclear energy.

There has been much less focus, however, on the phasing in of other sources of energy. Nor has there been much focus on how Germany can remain the economic powerhouse of Europe, and the world's second largest exporting country, while removing a significant source of energy from its grid.

This phase-in story is vital to understand, especially taking into account that Germany plans to meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets while it phases out nuclear power. So, how will this work?

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Five Myths About Extreme Weather

This story originally appeared in the Washington Post.

It's too darn hot. From Maine to Hawaii, the mercury has been rising relentlessly. The oven-like conditions in the United States are just the latest in a series of extreme weather events over the past year -- epic floods in Pakistan and Australia, record heat waves in Moscow, the heaviest snowfall in more than a century in South Korea. These extremes are pushing the limits of human experience. What is driving this phenomenon? And rather than just complain, what can we do about it?

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California Cap-and-Trade: Taking the Time to Get the Details Right

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff is holding a workshop today on additional details that were recently announced for California’s cap-and-trade program. These details on allowance allocation, reporting, verification, and other aspects of the program, and the recent announcement on the program’s timing by CARB Chairman Mary Nichols are important, since they show that California is taking the time needed to get it right.

What happens with this program is important for U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions – California represents one-eighth of the U.S. economy and the program will place a price on carbon for 85 percent of its emissions. In the absence of a comprehensive federal climate policy, state-level and regional actions like these will be key drivers for achieving GHG emission reductions in the U.S. in the near term.

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Turn Climate Change Risk Into Business Opportunity

This piece originally appeared on Bloomberg Government and is reposted with permission.

Extreme weather events and climate- related disruptions are occurring with alarming frequency and intensity, whether it’s the Mississippi and Missouri rivers overflowing or the sight of parched earth across the U.S. Southwest.

As climate-change models show, we’re on a course for more extreme weather and other environmental disruptions that don’t just affect the people and infrastructure in their path -- they also have profound effects on businesses, the economy and government policy.

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Should America Follow Europe's Lead on Energy?

This post originally appeared on the National Journal Energy & Environment Experts Blog.

As the United States sorts out its next moves on energy policies to enhance long-term security and strengthen its economy, policymakers will need to weigh both benefits and risks of various energy sources. Looking at what other countries are doing is a good place to start. European countries’ recent moves have one thing in common: each is moving to cleaner energy sources and greater energy efficiency.

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The Right Mix: The Philippines Achieving its Renewable Energy Goals

This piece, by Pete Maniego and Lutz Weischer, originally appeared in the Manila Bulletin.

The global energy system is undergoing a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. There are clear signs that the pace of change is accelerating. 2009 was the second year in a row that more money was invested worldwide in renewable electricity generation projects than in fossil fuel-powered plants, according to data published by the United Nations.

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Risk, Investment, and Opportunity in a Changing Climate

To stay competitive, companies will need to find ways to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Record breaking wildfires raging in Arizona, massive flooding disrupting lives from Iowa to Vermont — extreme weather events have been at the forefront of America’s national consciousness. Yet these events and their repercussions are hardly limited to the United States. Think back last year to the floods that affected millions in Pakistan, or the wildfires and droughts that destroyed Russia’s wheat crops, causing price spikes around the world.

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Developing Countries Can Spark Wave of Innovation in Clean Energy

Looking for the innovations that can help developing countries achieve a low-carbon energy future, at an affordable cost.

At this week’s Asia Clean Energy Forum, policymakers, private sector firms, and non-governmental organizations will discuss how Asian countries can transform their power sectors while meeting development needs.

One topic on the agenda will be innovation: new approaches to bring down the cost and improve the performance of low-carbon energy technologies.

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