G20 countries triple coal power subsidies despite climate crisis

Major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all aid for fossil fuels

A protest against the Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex

G20 countries have almost tripled the subsidies they give to coal-fired power plants in recent years, despite the urgent need to cut the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis.

The bloc of major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies.

The figures, published in a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and others, show that Japan is one of the biggest financial supporters of coal, despite the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, having said in September: “Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations … We must take more robust actions and reduce the use of fossil fuels.” The annual G20 meeting begins in Japan on Friday.

China and India give the biggest subsidies to coal, with Japan third, followed by South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia and the US. While the UK frequently runs its own electricity grid without any coal power at all, a parliamentary report in June criticised the billions of pounds used to help to build fossil fuel power plants overseas.

Global emissions must fall by half in the next decade to avoid significantly worsening drought, floods, extreme heatwave and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. But emissions are still increasing, with coal-fired power the biggest single contributor to the rise in 2018.

“It has now been 10 years since the G20 committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, yet astonishingly some governments are actually increasing the amount they give to coal power plants,” said Ipek Gençsü, research fellow at ODI and lead author of the report.

“Momentum is growing around the world for governments to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and ending subsidies to coal would bring benefits to all [including reduced air pollution] and help set a level playing field for clean energy,” she said.

Leading International Electric Vehicle Policies: Success Stories of Norway and China

The global electric vehicle (EV) market continues to power up, with potential global sales of 11 million in 2025. China is the leading EV market with a global market share of 48%, followed by Europe with 26%. In Europe, Norway has been the frontrunner in both EV incentive policies and purchases.

The two case studies described in this blog illustrate examples of policy stickiness and policy ambition. A sticky policy is one that improves a complex social problem by kickstarting a transformation and gaining wide public support over time. Norway’s “sticky” policy kickstarted the EV revolution with strong incentives, and attracted public support over time. When the initial niche support expanded to include more Norwegian regions and social groups, the policy “stuck” because future governments could not easily roll it back.

China’s EV policy is part of the government’s ambition to combat air pollution and meet its climate change goals, as outlined in its 13th Five-year Plan for 2016-2020 and its nationally determined contribution. With a new dual-credit system to regulate automotive manufacturers, generous subsidies, and infrastructure support, China’s policy demonstrates high ambition to promote all-electric battery electric vehicles (BEVs) over traditional vehicles, including over plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). MORE

As the world’s largest auto market sputters, electric vehicles show no signs of slowing

A visitor looks at the interior of an electric-powered car by the Changan automobile maker at the IEEV New Energy Vehicles Exhibition in Beijing, China October 18, 2018. Picture taken October 18, 2018.Car sales in China in November fell nearly 14% (link in Chinese) from a year earlier, the fifth straight monthly decline, according to data released Tuesday (Dec. 11) by the government affiliated China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). In total, around 25 million cars were sold in China in the first 11 months of the year, a 1.7% decline compared to the same period in 2017. CAAM predicts that auto sales would drop 3% for 2018 compared to a year earlier.

There’s one bright spot, however—sales of new-energy vehicles (NEVs), a category including battery-powered, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell electric cars, kept growing despite the overall sluggish auto market. Some 1.03 million NEVs were sold in China in the first 11 months of the year, up 68% from the same period in 2017, according to CAAM data. MORE



China launches subsidy-free solar, wind power after project costs fall

Image result for A man rides an electric scooter past a wind turbine in Shanghai, China August 11, 2017.
A man rides an electric scooter past a wind turbine in Shanghai, China August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

The new subsidy-free projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidised coal-fired power plants, and will not have to comply with capacity quota restrictions, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Wednesday. It added that the projects would, however, receive support on land and financing.

“Some regions with good natural resources and firm demand have already achieved subsidy-free, or grid price parity, conditions,” said the NDRC, adding the pilot projects could help renewable energy to compete with coal-fired power. MORE


5 takeaways from the COP24 global climate summit

The deal’s main accomplishment is that the whole world signed up, but campaigners fear it does too little to slow global warming.

KATOWICE, Poland — The point of a compromise is that all sides have to give up something to reach a deal.

The 133-page final text of the COP24 climate summit is no exception. The major accomplishment was that 196 governments agreed on arulebook to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, but the result left bruised feelings all around.

The poorest and most vulnerable countries felt that it demanded too little of industrialized countries, developing countries had to agree on common reporting requirements to bring their climate promises into line with those of more developed countries, and the richest countries have to be more open about their financial support to those most affected by global warming.

“You cannot cut a deal with science, you cannot negotiate with the laws of physics”— Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives

And the answer to the biggest question of all — will the agreement actually help the world avoid catastrophic climate change? — is mixed at best. MORE