Norway: ‘Biggest Pile of Money on the Planet’ To Dump Fossil Fuels Holdings


An article by Julia Conley for Common Dreams (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

Environmental advocates on Thursday applauded the latest organization to shift away from continued support of the fossil fuel industry—Norway’s national bank.

In a move co-founder Bill McKibben called “astonishing,” Norges Bank, which oversees the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, advised the Norwegian government to dump all of its shares in oil and gas companies, leaving those entities out of its $1 trillion fund.

About six percent of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is invested in oil and gas companies—but the countries central bank advised that all those shares be dumped, amid falling oil prices and expectations of a dim future for fossil fuels. (Photo: Guy Beauchamp/Flickr/cc)

The bank’s decision comes two years after Norway’s parliament approved a measure calling for the fund to begin divesting from coal companies.

Norges Bank made the new recommendation in light of falling oil prices. Oil and gas are seen as increasingly risky investments as more countries turn to cleaner energy sources in order to meet requirements under the Paris climate agreement, which aims to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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While Norway has built much of its sovereign wealth through oil and gas development in the past—six percent of the fund is invested in fossil fuels—it’s now home to a fast-growing solar power sector, with solar installations rising by 366 percent from 2015 to 2016.

“It is not surprising that we see the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund managers no longer prepared to take the increasing risk associated with oil and gas assets, which do not have a long-term future,” said Paul Fisher of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, in an interview with the Guardian.

McKibben compared the bank’s recommendation to “the moment when the Rockefellers divested the world’s oldest oil fortune” in 2014, when the heirs to Standard Oil said that if founder John D. Rockefeller were alive in the 21st century, “he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy.”

“This is the biggest pile of money on the planet, most of it derived from oil—but that hasn’t blinded its owners to the realities of the world we now inhabit,” said McKibben.

Nicolò Wojewoda of Europe was also hopeful about the implications of Norges Bank’s decision, calling it “yet another nail in the coffin of the coal, oil, and gas industry.”

“To stop climate catastrophe, fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. Investing in them is no longer financially sound, nor morally acceptable, and this proposal is a clear recognition of that,” Wojewoda added.

Tunis: Strengthening the scientific partnership between Iran and the Arab countries


An article from Web Manager Center (translated by CPNN)

Arab and Iranian academics who attended the third international scientific congress of universities in Iran and the Arab world, held in Tunis on November 11-12, stressed the importance of strengthening the cultural and civilizational exchange between the countries of the Arab world to break the stereotypes created by politicians and the media that no longer fit the reality of today.

The conference culminated in the publication of a press release containing scientific recommendations, including the valorization of the fruitful scientific partnership between Arab and Iranian universities and the need to engage in in-depth dialogues to develop scientific strategies capable of strengthening academic relations between both parties for a better and promising future to the Arab-Persian academic partnership.

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(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to sustainable development?

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The recommendations also emphasized the importance of science as a human heritage that transcends ethnic conflict, calling for enhanced exchanges and the promotion of objective information and the culture of peace and tolerance.

The participants also called for a real debate among Muslims to better position Islam with other religions and to promote the common scientific heritage to educate young people with common civilizational foundations and spread the Arabic and Persian languages. They also stressed the importance of promoting the efforts of translation as a means of spreading the culture and science of the countries and the intensification of academic meetings and exchanges between Arab and Iranian students, professors and researchers.

It should be noted that this congress, organized under the supervision of the University of Manouba, saw the participation of presidents of Arab universities in Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Iraq and Tunisia. Syria in addition to the participation of 11 Iranian universities.

Conferences on the sidelines of this event focused on ways to strengthen the university partnership between the countries of the Arab world and Iran.

Jordan: Peace through science


An editorial from the Jordan Times

His Majesty King Abdullah inaugurated on Tuesday at the Dead Sea the World Science Forum 2017, which this year had “Science for peace” as its theme, a topic strongly supported by this distinguished meeting that normally seeks to highlight the role of science in building and fostering a culture of peace at all levels of society, and the potential of science to create mechanisms that promise peaceful opportunity.

Jordanian Princess Sumaya, chair of the World Science Forum 2017 and president of the Royal Scientific Society, speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Science Forum 2017 in Sweimeh, Jordan, on Nov. 7, 2017. Photo from Xinhua Net

The forum, first held in Hungary in 2003, was attended this year by visiting Hungary President János Ader, who joined some 3,000 scientists, policymakers, Nobel laureates, academics and investors from over 120 countries at this meeting held for the first time in the area.

The King honoured several prominent Jordanian scientists who made remarkable achievements in various fields and said, on the occasion, that knowledge can help realise stability and development for “our world and the future of our generations”.

With so much turmoil and fighting laying the Middle East to waste, it is no wonder that this year’s forum wishes to highlight the role of science in building and fostering peace.

But equally important to achieving peace is food, water and security, as highlighted by the Hungarian president who, mentioning the region’s rich historical lessons, pointed out the reasons this year’s forum focuses on these issues: “If we look at only its past 100 years, we can see that competition for natural resources — like arable land, water and energy — has almost always contributed to conflicts within and between countries. It is no accident that this year’s forum focuses on the issues of food security, water and energy. All three of these areas are fundamental to security.”

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Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to sustainable development?

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They certainly are, particularly when knowing that, as the president said, 2 billion people have no access to safe drinking water, 4 billion have no access to adequate sanitation, in 36 countries, per capita water supplies have fallen to a critical level and around 80 per cent of waste water is dumped, untreated, into the biosphere, all problems with great potential to create instability or worse.

As such, HRH Princess Sumaya, chairperson of this year’s forum and president of the Royal Scientific Society, expressed hope that the “stark and shared” challenges and “critical needs of our world” can be addressed, “to create a future that is worthy of our human spirit”.

As she also aptly put it, “knowledge is the key to our future, and science and technology must be empowered to acknowledge those truths that are challenged today”.

Indeed, only through knowledge and daring pioneering work can mankind hope to better its lot, harness nature’s bounty and caprices, overcome petty instincts and avoid savage conduct; only thorough scientific knowledge can it understand the world around, live harmoniously and succeed in combating the scourges of our days: radicalism and terrorism.

Only through it can it hope to survive as a species and save this planet so aggressively exploited.

Theoretical physicist, best-selling author and renowned futurist Michio Kaku said it better: “The future belongs to the educated, dreamers and the curious young people… .”

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is now considering articulating a “general comment” on the right to science as a means to upgrade human thinking and intellectual integrity, an issue on which the forum organisers might wish to collaborate with the UN.

Knowledge means power, progress and emancipation. Spreading it is the duty of all those who possess it. The forum is essential to that endeavour.

World’s Largest Tropical Reforestation to Plant 73 Million Trees in Brazilian Amazon


An article from Ecowatch

The largest tropical reforestation effort in history aims to restore 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon by 2023. The multimillion dollar, six-year project, led by Conservation International, spans 30,000 hectares of land—the equivalent of the size of 30,000 soccer fields, or nearly 70,000 acres. The effort will help Brazil move towards its Paris agreement target of reforesting 12 million hectares of land by 2030.

“This is a breathtakingly audacious project,” Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, said in a statement. “Together with an alliance of partners, we are undertaking the largest tropical forest restoration project in the world, driving down the cost of restoration in the process. The fate of the Amazon depends on getting this right—as do the region’s 25 million residents, its countless species and the climate of our planet.”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, home to indigenous communities and an immense variety and richness of biodiversity. The latest survey detailed 381 new species discovered in 2014-2015 alone.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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But this precious land has been threatened by decades of commercial exploitation of natural resources, minerals and agribusiness, as Conservation International editorial director Bruno Vander Velde writes, “leading to about 20 percent of original forest cover to be replaced by pastures and agricultural crops, without securing the well-being of the local population.”

“The reforestation project fills an urgent need to develop the region’s economy without destroying its forests and ensuring the well-being of its people,” he notes.

Fast Company reports that instead of planting saplings—which is labor- and resource-intensive—the reforestation effort will involve the “muvuca” strategy, a Portuguese word that means many people in a small place. The strategy involves the spreading of seeds from more than 200 native forest species over every square meter of deforested land and allowing natural selection to weed out the weaker plants. As Fast Company notes, a 2014 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Bioversity International found that the muvuca technique allowed more than 90 percent of native tree species planted to germinate. Not only that, they especially resilient and suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months.

According to Rodrigo Medeiros, vice president of Conservation International’s Brazil office, priority areas for the restoration effort include southern Amazonas, Rondônia, Acre, Pará and the Xingu watershed. Restoration activities will include the enrichment of existing secondary forest areas, sowing of selected native species, and, when necessary, direct planting of native species, Medeiros said.

The Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, and Rock in Rio’s environmental arm “Amazonia Live” are also partners in this effort.

Catholic Institutions Announce Largest-Ever Joint Divestment from Fossil Fuels


A press release from The Global Catholic Climate Movement

A coalition of Catholic institutions has today [October 4] announced its divestment from fossil fuels. The coalition of 40 is the largest joint announcement of divestment by Catholic organizations to date. The institutions are located on five continents, and represent fields ranging from a holy site to finance to church hierarchical entities.

Catholic institutions’ decision to remove their support for fossil fuels is based on both their shared value of environmental protection and the financial wisdom of preparing for a carbon-neutral economy.

In Assisi, Italy, the home of St. Francis and a deeply significant place for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, three institutions and a municipal government have divested. The Assisi group includes the Sacro Convento, a monastery complex and holy site that houses the remains of St. Francis, from whom Pope Francis took his name. The Sacro Convento is considered the spiritual home of the world’s Franciscan brothers.

Along with the Sacro Convento, the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino has divested. The diocese, which includes more than 80,000 people and the town of Assisi, is the site of several important pilgrimages each year. Assisi’s Seraphic Institute, a religious medical center that provides care for disabled children, has also joined the divestment announcement.

In a complementary move, the mayor of the town of Assisi has announced its divestment from fossil fuels.

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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In addition to divestment in the highly significant home of St. Francis, church entities around the world are stepping away from fossil fuels. The Episcopal Conference of Belgium, which is the Catholic Church’s policy arm in Belgium, has divested. This is the first Catholic episcopal conference in the world to divest. In South Africa, the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town has invested in social and ethical funds. Within the Church hierarchy, a total of one episcopal conference, one archdiocese, three dioceses, and a vicariate have divested.

These spiritual leaders are joined by business leaders. Two financial institutions have announced their divestment. Germany’s Bank für Kirche und Caritas eG (Bank for the Church and Caritas) is one of the first Catholic banks in the world to divest from fossil fuels. The bank, which has a balance sheet of €4.5 billion, is breaking from coal, tar sands oil, and oil shale because it is both morally imperative and fiscally responsible.

The bank is joined in its divestment by Oikocredit Belgium, an ecumenical financial institution and one of the world’s largest sources of private funding for microfinance. Oikocredit is joined by 12 other Belgian institutions.

These institutions are among the 40 that have divested in total. The joint commitment by 40 Catholic institutions more than quadruples the size of an announcement made in May, when nine Catholic organizations divested. Worldwide to date, the total value of those institutions that have committed to divest surpasses $5 trillion.

This divestment announcement comes amid united Christian action to protect the environment during the Season of Creation. The Season of Creation is a monthlong celebration of prayer and action for the environment, and it is embraced by a broad ecumenical community.

Global Catholic Climate Movement is a community of hundreds of thousands of Catholics and a global network of member organizations responding to Pope Francis’ call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical.

How Rwanda’s Amahoro Tours has established itself as a leader in eco and community-based tourism


An article from eTurbo News

“Amahoro” is Kinyarwanda for “peace.” Literally translated, Amahoro Tours would translate to “Peace Tours.” The word is also used as a form of greeting – to mean “hello.”

At Amahoro Tours, “Amahoro” denotes not just the company’s name, but its motto as well. The company strives at nurturing interaction between members of local communities and visitors with a view to promote sustainable development locally.

Greg Bakunzi at the Kwita Izina 2017 ceremony

Of primary focus to the company is local tour itineraries. “We do it with a view to not only contribute to the economic development of the region and the prosperity of all those involved, but also to raise awareness and help visitors understand better the Rwandan way of life,” explains Greg Bakunzi, the founder and CEO of Amahoro Tours.

This fidelity to the local community out of which it operates has not gone unnoticed.

On September 1, 2017, on the occasion of the 13th baby gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina) in Rwanda, Amahoro Tours and sister company, Red Rocks Rwanda, received a special and rare joint pat on the back. The pat came in the form of the privilege and honor by the founder Greg Bakunzi to be among the 19 distinguished individuals that bestowed names upon the newly-born members of the gorilla family.

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Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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This was basically in honor of Amahoro Tours and Red Rock’s firm commitment to a community-based tourism business model that seeks to position the local communities meaningfully at the heart of the tourism food chain.

The inspiration for setting up a tour operation had struck Bakunzi way back in 1997, following his first trip to see gorillas in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda.

Spotting an opportunity, he started working as a freelance local guide the following year, taking tourists to see the mountain gorillas. This went on until 2001, when he created Amahoro Tours.

It is with the creation of Amahoro Tours that Bakunzi attained the clarity of vision that has since helped cement the company’s hard-earned credentials as a community-focused tourism business.

“When I started my own tour company, it was not only for the purpose of gorilla trekking, but a combination of community, tourism, and conservation around the Volcanoes National Park,” Bakunzi said.

Over the years, Amahoro Tours has established itself as a market leader in eco and community-based tourism in Rwanda. The company’s dynamic and tailor-made tour packages have been designed to offer tourists as much interaction with the locals and likeminded visitors as possible, while at the same time enabling guests to enjoy the trappings of nature.

Since then, Amahoro Tours birthed a sister tourism entity, Red Rocks Rwanda, a backpackers’ campsite and hostel located some seven kilometers outside Musanze town, where Amahoro Tours is based.

The introduction of Red Rocks was a well-orchestrated strategy to incorporate the local communities around Volcanoes National Park into the tourism value chain and, as Bakunzi notes, “we are proud that our dreams are coming true.”.

To achieve this, Amahoro Tours works in partnership with an extensive network of likeminded community-based organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and volunteers from all the far corners of the world.

The company tasks itself with turning a traveler’s sojourn, however brief, into a splendid journey of exploration, “through prompt, efficient, engaging, and safe service,” Bakunzi guarantees.

He concluded: “Amahoro Tours would like to call upon all well-wishers to join hands in order to bring community, conservation, and tourism together for future sustainability. Without the involvement of the local community, our tourism sector won’t move forward, and conservation might soon be history. We invite other conservationists, universities, and institutions, to join us as we move to address conservation issues through tourism initiatives.”

Costa Rica A Role Model for Sustainable Tourism to the World


An article from The Costa Rica News

On October 9 to 11, the Sixth International Conference: Planet, People, Peace (P3), the most important international venue on sustainable tourism, will be hosted by Costa Rica. This conference is organized by the Costa Rican Chamber of Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism (CANAECO) together with the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).

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P3 International Conference will mark the high point to celebrate in this country the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, so declared by the United Nations General Assembly. 25 keynote speakers –from Costa Rica and other 15 countries such as Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Island, Jordan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, South Africa and the United States, will participate in this conference.

“P3 contributes to positioning Costa Rica as a leading destination for sustainable tourism, ensuring the wellbeing of communities while being the driving force of the social and economic development in the country. In this way, our commitment transcends words, and by hosting this event, the eyes of the world will be in Costa Rica, as it will be developing a high-profile activity attended by world leaders, renowned lecturers, and the world’s highest authority on tourism, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO,” stated Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism.

“P3 strengthens the position of Costa Rica as a responsible destination, highlighting the efforts, best practices and innovative initiatives of the public and private sector in the country, while being the most important venue in the region to discuss what is happening in other parts of the world,” explained Jackeline López, President of CANAECO.

At the invitation of the Costa Rican Tourism Board, Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), will attend the conference to talk about the sustainable tourism as a driver for development.

Costa Rica has been more involved and active in the World Tourism Organization. The country has a seat at the UNWTO Executive Council representing countries in the American continent and The UNWTO also recognized Costa Rica, of 55 countries and 139 nominees, with an award for Tourism Innovation and Excellence, where it took second place in the Public Policies and Governance category, becoming the first country to measure the Social Progress Index in Tourism Destinations.

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Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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In addition, the United Nations General Assembly appointed Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica, as Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and for the first time ever, the ICT partnered with UNWTO and CNN International to build a new tourism identity: “Costa Rica. My Choice, Naturally.”

Mr. Rifai has been Secretary-General of the UNWTO since 2010. Earlier, from February 2006 to February 2009, he was Deputy Secretary-General.

Cooperation on sustainable tourism and climate change

In its five years of existence, this conference has become one of the largest and most prominent events on sustainable tourism in the region. A triangular cooperation project among Uruguay, Costa Rica and Spain has been one of the outcomes, starting learning exchange on climate change and sustainable tourism.

This contact resulted in an exchange that allowed the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) and key stakeholders to share the Sustainable Tourism Certificate with the Ministry of Tourism in Uruguay (MINTUR), the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment in Uruguay (MVOTMA), the National Climate Change Response System (SNRCC) and Uruguayan stakeholders in tourism, who are working on a sustainable tourism certification for Uruguay –Green Tourism Certificate (SVT).

Under this project, Uruguay has shared experiences on a recovery of beaches through ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) techniques, implementing train-the-trainers activities with experts from the ICT and representatives from local committees of the Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica de Playas (Ecological Blue Flag Programme for Beaches), running this institute.

About the conference

The conference will be structured around four themes. The Earth theme will analyze how tourism –one of the largest and most dynamic economic sectors– can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pervading local communities and destinations.

The Water theme will focus attention on new market trends and how the tourism industry evolves. The Air theme will address climate change and how it affects tourism. Experts will share precautionary and mitigation measures through best practices and new technologies.

Finally, the Fire theme will explore the main challenges in the sector, such as sharing economy and the carrying capacity of destinations against the decision whether to bet on quantity or quality of tourists.

For the second consecutive year, P3 International Conference has been declared an event of cultural interest by the Ministry of Culture in Costa Rica and for the third time, awarded the declaration of tourist interest. Registrations are open.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017


An article from the Transcend Media Service

Nuclear power was born in a sea of euphoria out of a collective American guilt over dropping the atomic bomb. And for at least two decades it was the “clean” alternative to coal that was going to meet all of our energy needs forever. The Three Mile Island meltdown, in 1979, ended the euphoria but the dream continued and it still goes on without much regard to contrary facts.

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The opponents of nuclear power have shown a similar disregard for changing facts. They largely ignored the fact that many well-meaning people viewed local air pollution and climate change more of a danger than nuclear. In those years shutting down a nuclear plant did mean increased emissions of local pollutants and green house gases.

The debate about nuclear power was similar to talking about a religion. It was seldom grounded in all the relevant facts- each side had a religious belief in their point of view boosted by whatever ad hoc facts supported their view.

Because of that history, this 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report is perhaps the most decisive document in the history of nuclear power. The report makes clear, in telling detail, that the debate is over. Nuclear power has been eclipsed by the sun and the wind. These renewable, free-fuel sources are no longer a dream or a projection-they are a reality that are replacing nuclear as the preferred choice for new power plants worldwide.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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It no longer matters whether your greatest concern is nuclear power or climate change the answer is the same. The modern-day “Edisons” have learned to harness economically the everlasting sources of energy delivered to earth by Mother Nature free of charge.

The value of this report is that this conclusion no longer relies on hope or opinion but is what is actually happening. In country after country the facts are the same. Nuclear power is far from dead but it is in decline and renewable energy is growing by leaps and bounds.

The entire Report is must reading so that the facts of nuclear decline in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and France –indeed just about every country- really sinks in. It is more than symbolic that the Japanese Government has formally accepted the death of its breeder reactor, which was the original holy-grail of nuclear power.

Most revealing is the fact that nowhere in the world, where there is a competitive market for electricity, has even one single nuclear power plant been initiated. Only where the government or the consumer takes the risks of cost overruns and delays is nuclear power even being considered.

The most decisive part of this report is the final section- Nuclear Power vs Renewable Energy Development. It reveals that since 1997, worldwide, renewable energy has produced four times as many new kilowatt-hours of electricity than nuclear power.

Maybe the Revolution has not been televised, but it is well underway. Renewable energy is a lower cost and cleaner, safer alternative to fossil fuels than nuclear power.

The world no longer needs to build nuclear power plants to avoid climate change and certainly not to save money. If you have any doubt about that fact please read the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017.

China’s Upcoming Transition to Electric Cars ‘Will Benefit the Whole Economy’


An article from Sputnik News

Chinese authorities intend to ban the production of combustion-engine cars and replace them with electric vehicles may well “benefit the country’s economy,” according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst.

Chinese car as seen in Bloomberg video

Earlier Xin Guobin, China’s Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, announced that the country intends to set a deadline for automakers to end sales of combustion-engine cars. According to the official, this move will be aimed at shifting the focus of the market towards electric cars, and is expected to have a profound impact on the environment in a country with some of the worst urban air pollution in the world.

And as Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Nannan Kou told Radio Sputnik, this move will benefit not just the environment but the country’s economy as well.

“China will just use less oil and switch to more renewable energy so this will benefit the whole economy and… the health of the people,” he said.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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Kou also added that this development will likely affect the oil exporters as China would require less fossil fuel. At the same time however, this shift to electric vehicles (EVs) would increase demand for batteries and the components required to manufacture them.

“In the future, with more EVs on the road China will use less oil, so that would impact those oil-exporting companies. On the other hand, when building more EVs you will definitely use more batteries, metals like lithium and cobalt… and the countries who export those minerals will benefit from it,” the analyst explained.

Finally, he pointed out that electric vehicles may be more attractive to drivers for reasons other than their relatively low price.

“In the future, because EVs are an ideal platform to apply autonomous driving, the drivers may not even need to manually drive a car. They could do other things while the autonomous car will take them from A to B, so I think that’s another benefit to the drivers,” Kou said.

Meanwhile, Honda has already announced it will introduce an electric car to Chinese buyers in 2018, according to Honda China COO Yasuhide Mizuno, in cooperation with Chinese business entities Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Honda, creating a new brand.

Chinese startup automaker Nio also said it will begin selling its ES8 battery-powered SUV as soon as mid-December, according to a company statement.

In India the energy revolution does not wait !


An article by Auguste Bergot for La Releve et la peste

Since the Paris Agreement, India has taken its commitments for sustainable development very seriously. For the third most energy-consuming country in the world, the energy transition has been, in a sense, a windfall: it has enabled it to reconcile its development objectives – by making electricity accessible to its entire population – and asserting itself as a “superpower of renewable energies” on a global scale. By developing massively its photovoltaic panels, India has already managed to exceed all expectations, and is not ready to stop.

(Photovoltaic installation of Khilchipur (Madhya Pradesh, Inde) MWc, started up in 2014. Crédits : EDF EN)

India has more than 1.3 billion inhabitants. In this country, where the ventilator is an indispensable part of everyday life, the inhabitants show an increase in demand for electricity that is roughly similar to France or Germany. On the other hand, at the level of quantities, in 2014, people consumed on average 805.6 kWh compared to 6,937 kWh in France and 7,035 kWh in Germany, a huge difference that reflects serious inequalities in access to electricity in India.

Indeed, about 240 million Indians (nearly 2% of the population) still do not have access to electricity. This is a major problem as many Indian people still can not light up in the evenings. This prevents children from studying and poses food preservation problems. That is why, with the commitment of the COP21, India has set itself the goal of providing power to its entire population 24 hours a day by 2030.

To meet this objective, India could simply have relied on conventional energy sources, including coal, its traditional energy source. But instead, it decided to invest fully (and at high speed) in renewable energies, and particularly solar energy. It takes advantage of its 300 days of sunshine per year on average, which is particularly apt for development of this sector. This is why it is the leader of the International Solar Alliance, a coalition of 121 countries located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, which aims to “generalize solar energy in the world and mobilize $ 1 trillion of investment by 2030 [invested by the World Bank] “by making the best use of the photovoltaic potential of the countries of the South.

In addition, it appears that investors have identified the advantageous profile of India. As the World Bank points out, “the last call for tenders for a solar project in the Rajasthan desert was a record low rate of 2.44 rupees (the equivalent of 4 cents) per kilowatt hour. So the price of solar energy is already more competitive than that of coal, which is excellent news for the trend towards a gradual exit from coal (which still accounts for 69% of the Indian energy mix) .

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(Click here for a version of this article in French.

Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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While the previous government had set a timid target of 22 gigawatts for 2022, the Minister of Energy of Narendra Modi’s government of India, Piyush Goyal, said that “it is not very difficult to envisage that India installs 10 GWp of photovoltaics per year and 6 to 8 GW of wind each year. The target was simply multiplied by 7: 160 GW of wind and solar energy by 2022. However, despite the unprecedented efforts of India, it seems difficult to imagine that the State can achieve its objective.
Indeed, even if the growth of the photovoltaic sector is spectacular in India (+632% in 2011, +154% in 2012, +64% in 2013 and +43% in 2014), it still had only in 2016 a production capacity of 9.01 GW, out of the 100 GW of the 160 planned for 2022 … However, it can be said without reservation that the 22 GW target set by the former government will be far surpassed if India follows this momentum. But far from being enough to dethrone the fossil energy sector, India will have to be patient and continue working to achieve its goals. It is estimated that Indian greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase at least until 2030, before the efforts have a visible impact.

The triple problem faced by India today is how to reconcile its commitment to energy transition with its desire to bring electricity to the entire population and to meet the economy in full development. Thus, the measures put in place by the Modi government, in particular concerning the doubling of the coal tax and the aid for the closure of coal-fired power stations over 25 years of age, are at the same time a further step towards a revolution in energy and a thorn in the foot for the development of Indian industry.

An article published by La Tribune also notes that “if India is a new Eldorado for renewable energy, a high cost of capital and a financing market make it relatively complex.” However, massive investments by the World Bank are aimed at remedying these aporias. With a contribution of more than $ 1 billion in support to India’s solar plans, the World Bank and Indian State cooperation will develop Indian solar parks, develop solutions storage and contribute to the development of common network infrastructures.

Just a few months ago, the Indian government announced that it wanted to make its fleet of cars completely electric by 2030 to curb air pollution (according to Greenpeace, India became the country for the period 2016-2017 where air pollution causes the most deaths in the world).

The efforts of the Modi government to achieve the goals set by COP21 and to drive the so-called “southern” countries (formerly excluded from the ecological transition, despite their potential due to the excessively high costs of renewable energies) should be a source of inspiration for European leaders, who seem to be more concerned about half-hearted measures than strong and assertive international mobilization.

While India’s ambitions are beyond its own capabilities, they remain an ideal that deserves support and pursuit by the international community, not only on the basis of profits for corporations. Without this, we may have the bitter result that India is only the new playing field of investors who profit from a particularly juicy market …

(Thank you to Kiki Chauvin, the CPNN reporter for this article.)