Posts Tagged ‘Maria van der Hoeven’

The Shining Path to Lima

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

by Felix von Geyer

As the world’s climate negotiators pack their bags this week for darkest Peru where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will host its twentieth Convention of the Parties (COP 20), New Orator sheds light on what some of the key issues will be.

The Lima UN Climate Change Conference will aim to hammer out as much of the draft text required for next year’s Paris COP 21 as possible for the world’s governments to commit to a global climate treaty and framework ‘with legal force’ that is to be implemented by 2020.

This is what governments agreed to at the 2011 COP 17 in Durban where they agreed that any 2015 agreement would be informed by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC was quite categorical in its report that fossil fuels needed to be phased out by the end of the 21st century.

More specifically, the International Energy Agency stated in its recent World Economic Outlook, that the IPCC’s global carbon budget is likely as much as 1000 gigatonnes of CO2 before global warming would exceed 2 degrees increase in average global temperatures and deliver serious climate change.

According to the IEA, the current state of the world’s global energy infrastructure means that carbon budget will be used up by 2040. Only in 2011 the IEA stated that to avoid exceeding 2 degrees, the world had until 2017 to avoid a 100 percent locking-in of the global energy infrastructure that would create serious climate change.

The IEA message remains clear. All parties to the framework should include a mitigation component that should address their country’s energy infrastructure and transition to a low-carbon future. Speaking on Thursday, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven outlined 5 pathways for negotiators and policy-makers to consider as climate talks reconvene in December:-

A downward bend of the global emissions curve by 2020 is necessary to create a pathway to reduce global emissions; a focus on decarbonisation of electricity; an immediate reshape to accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies; a mobilisation of otherwise non-climate goals such as economic development, air quality improvement and liveable communities and achieving fiscal balance as goals best promoted through emissions reductions within the energy sector. Finally, strengthening the energy sector’s resilience to climate change.

Van der Hoeven was forthright that governments must get started immediately in addressing these fundamentalsand should reflect these pathways within their INDCs. Essential components of an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) should include policies and actions to unlock existing high emissions assets; the new landscape of emissions trading schemes; energy metrics to track decarbonisation progress and targets to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions.

To achieve this requires an agreement to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies and transfer that investment into renewable energies between 2014-2035 to achieve a so-called 450 Scenario – where emissions do not increase beyond 450 parts per million by volume, the level at which IPCC scientists believe serious climate change will be unleashed.

Yet the question remains, how will governments and the UN framework approach the whole issue of INDCs at the Lima climate talks?

The task ahead of Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of the Environment and President-Designate of COP 20 will be to create an ‘elements’ text that comprises elements of a draft negotiating text with the express view that it will become the negotiating text for Paris 2015. The starting point will be a ‘non-paper’ due from the Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action set up in 2011.

As Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice-President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES – formerly the Pew Center for Climate Change) think-tank said during a webinar on Thursday, there are three options. One is to have mitigation included with adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building. The second is to have differentiated mitigation levels for developed and developing countries following the line of thinking of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDRRC) that could also take the same approach as the Kyoto Protocol in partitioning emitters into Annex 1 countries – effectively developed nations who are historically responsible for the bulk of GHG emissions, and non-Annex 1 developing countries who may be allowed a higher emissions profile in their quest for economic development and poverty alleviation or eradication.

The final option is mitigation only.

However, the timeframe for mitigation and other national commitments might be contentious with 2025 and 2030 becoming likely competing timeframes. However, the recent US-China accord agreed between US President Obama and Chinese President Xi two weeks ago could create a spirit and intent akin to previous language of contraction and convergence, where developed countries supposedly act first to reduce emissions while develop countries converge mitigation efforts to meet developed countries’ efforts but at a later point, similar to the 2007 Montreal Protocol agreement to eliminate ozone depleting substances.

However, the level of ambition remains essentially contested as does the concept of a binding agreement ‘with legal force’ as agreed at the Durban climate talks during the infamous huddle in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Diringer for one cannot see how a Paris Agreement next year could be any more legally binding than the Kyoto Protocol – from which Canada, the world’s leading rogue nation on climate change, withdrew during the final year of the first period without penalty despite failing to reduce any of its greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. Instead Canada’s own emissions projections for 2035 will likely be 35 percent beyond 1990 levels. This emissions profile will exceed 2005 levels by around 15 percent compromising Canada’s pledge at the Copenhagen 2009 talks to reduce its emissions in line with the US to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Consequently Diringer stated that a binding commitment will not actually guarantee countries will meet their commitments. However, he did offer the caveat that any substantive agreement might be slow, as is often the case until the last moment at climate talks. But where van der Hoeven’s first request is for countries to seek to a downward bend on the global emissions curve by 2020, Diringer cannot see that initial INDCs will put the world onto a 2 degree or 450 ppm pathway.

For Lima to prove a success and provide any shining path on the way to Paris will require having all the elements in place for an agreement that can be seamlessly scalable to increase all future levels of ambition for mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance without the need to renegotiate the framework agreement itself.

Solar to lead the way as leading renewable technology to 2050 says IEA

Monday, September 29th, 2014

by Felix von Geyer

Twenty-seven percent of the world’s primary energy supply should come from two-types of solar technology by 2050, the International Energy Agency said Monday in its new Technology Roadmaps.

The Paris-based organization said solar photovoltaic energy (PV) will lead the way at least until 2030 by which time solar thermal energy (STE) such as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) that uses the sun to heat towers of water that produce steam to drive turbines will be increasingly deployed.

Since 2010, the world has added more solar PV capacity than in the previous four decades taking global to over 150 gigawatts GW in early 2014. China is expected to lead the way in deploying solar PV that globally will grow at a rate of 100 Megawatts per day. Over half of this capacity is at the site of consumption such as residential, commercial and industrial. By the time solar PV comprises up to 15 percent of global primary demand, STE is expected to expand, particularly in very sunlit areas with clear skies, making STE a major opportunity for Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States.

To achieve the roadmap’s projections, total installed PV capacity must increase from 36 GW in 2013 to 124 GW per year on average, possibly peaking at 200 GW per year between 2025 and 2040. PV electricity costs will likely converge in different parts of the world as markets develop, with projected average cost reductions of 25% by 2020, 45% by 2030, and 65% by 2050 spreading the costs of PV between $40 to 160 per MW/hour at an assumed cost of capital of 8%.

However, to prevent stop-start cycles in solar investment that prevent solar achieving so-called ‘socket parity’ between prices for solar electricity and electricity from conventional energy grids, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven stated that “We want to be read by governments and we want this to be used by governments” during a press conference. This would require governments to adopt three policies: a long-term approach; market design that includes fair rules for residential and commercial use in a system approach; and to de-risk finance by reducing capital expenditure by lowering the cost of capital, said van der Hoeven.

Global fossil fuel subsidies are worth over $500 billion annually, prompting van der Hoeven to state that countries are “burning their oil, burning their gas and burning their money” whereas socket parity has already occurred without any subsidies.

Consequently greater investment in solar, particularly into STE technology and roll-out could also help generate alternative fuels. In September, an International Civil Aviation Organization seminar on Fuelling Aviation with Green Technology estimated that Solar to Liquids technology that used solar energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water and create a synthetic gas for aviation fuel could be produced for as little as $1.30 per litre.

Denmark aims for 50% renewable energy target by 2050

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Denmark announced Tuesday that it aims to reduce its energy consumption by twenty percent by 2020 as part of a new energy strategy for renewable energy to power at least fifty percent of its energy by 2050.

International Energy Agency Executive Secretary, Maria van der Hoeven, welcomed the ambitious plan the Danish government estimates will cost DKK5.6 billion (USD1 billion) but also cautioned that re-configuring the electricity network, within Denmark and its neighbours could require greater investment due to the interconnectors required.

Van der Hoeven emphasized that phase out of coal-fired generation capacity will have to be managed with care, according to an IEA media release.

“Electricity security must not be compromised in the medium term,” said Van der Hoeven in her statement.