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Weekly Highlights | From Norway's lead on EVs to the voluntary carbon market
Weekly Highlights | From Norway's lead on EVs to the voluntary carbon market
illuminem
By illuminem
Jan 17 2022 · 5 min read

Illuminem Voices
Environmental Sustainability · Energy · Power Grid

1. Electric Cars Aren’t Just Vehicles. They’re Big Batteries

By Vox

  • So what will it take to convince more people to embrace EVs? One answer might be for everyone to rethink what EVs actually are. Most Americans, including Biden, talk about electric vehicles solely as modes of transport
  • EVs are so much more than cars: they’re batteries, and batteries have uses far beyond transport
  • Integrating EVs into American society could help prevent power blackouts, stabilize the US’s crumbling electric grid, and make solar and wind energy more reliable sources of power for more people

2. Health Risks of Smoke and Ozone Rise in the West as Wildfires Worsen

By The New York Times

  • Surface-level ozone is a large component of smog, and is produced when vehicles and other emissions react with sunlight; smoke coming from wildfires contains fine soot particles, called PM2.5
  • “When they both occur at once, then you’re getting the worst of both worlds”, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA referring to the co-occurring air pollution events in the Western U.S.
  • Colleen Reid, a health geographer at the University of Colorado who has studied the combined effects of wildfire smoke and ozone, found that the seasonality and extent of PM2.5 pollution in the West is now overlapping more with high-ozone days

3. What Norway Can Teach the World About Switching to Electric Vehicles

By TIME

  • Norway is not the most likely place to start a transportation revolution, but electric vehicles (EVs) are suddenly the new normal here. I would claim that if Norway can do it, any country can.
  • Almost 65% of new passenger cars sold in Norway in 2021 were electric; in addition, 22% were plug-in hybrids. Put differently, only 14% of new cars were sold without a plug
  • How did Norway become the world’s top-selling electric-vehicle market per capita? We can instead credit strong demand-side policies kept in place for a long time. Most cars are purchased second hand, and people in the secondhand market are dependent on the choices made by new-car buyers. The government therefore taxes the sales of new polluting cars heavily but does not tax EVs at all

4. 2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers

By Forbes 

  1. Coal’s downward spiral will accelerate - New wind and solar are cheaper than existing coal in many parts of the world, the new coal plant pipeline is collapsing, and banks and insurance companies are rejecting coal projects in droves
  2. Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy - E.g., 2022 will be the year federal policy meets corporate demand to expand transmission capacity as the critical puzzle piece to stimulate economic growth and bring renewables online
  3. Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers - This year marks the end of the beginning for electric vehicles (EVs), as public perception of the technology shifts from novelty to mainstream, thanks in large part to reduced manufacturing costs, extended range capabilities, an increase in available models, greater availability of affordable used EVs, and an ever-growing charging infrastructure landscape

5. The War on Plastics, 2022: A Change of Climate

By GreenBiz

  • Consider a report issued last fall by a group called Beyond Plastics, warning “The U.S. plastics industry’s contribution to climate change is on track to exceed that of coal-fired power in this country by 2030”
  • Carbon emissions can be found throughout the plastics lifecycle, starting with fracking, which yields the natural gas that is the basis for most plastics, and from “cracking,” which turns that gas into ethylene, a key precursor to many plastics.
  • Policy makers seem to be missing the big picture, given that  the word “plastic” doesn’t appear in the text of wither the 2015 Paris Agreement or the more recent Glasgow Climate Pact

6. Nuclear Power Gets a Fresh Look as Nations Chase Climate Goals

By Bloomberg Green

  • The International Energy Agency says achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will require doubling nuclear power worldwide
  • European countries have announced some of the world’s most ambitious climate goals, which is why many are looking to add more emission-free nuclear power.
  • The U.S. is at the forefront of nuclear efforts to design smaller nuclear systems. These so-called SMRssmall modular reactors—are expected to be faster, easier, and cheaper to build than the massive conventional nuclear plants that are common now

7. Can Synthetic Palm Oil Help Save the World’s Tropical Forests?

By WIRED

  • Palm oil production is responsible for less than 1% of deforestation globally, and in Borneo, for instance, oil palm cultivation has accounted for more than half of all deforestation over the past two decades
  • Last year, a startup called C16 Biosciences opened a new lab in Manhattan to develop a microbial palm oil alternative, backed by $20 million from Bill Gates’ climate solutions investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures
  • Though enormous challenges exist to scaling up production at a cost that can compete with cultivated palm oil, and questions remain about how an emergent biotech industry in the Global North might impact palm-oil-based livelihoods in the Global South

8. Germany’s Nuclear Exit Is Almost Here

By Energy Monitor

  • Nuclear plants produced nearly one-third of Germany’s electricity at the start of the millenium and more than a quarter as recently as 2006, and by the end of 2022 this number will be zero
  • Germany’s decision to exit nuclear dates back to coalition government formed after federal elections in 1998, and was reaffirmed after the Fukushima disaster in 2011
  • Germany’s decision is part of a broader decline in nuclear power in Europe, with Belgium and Spain respectively targeting 2025 and 2030 as dates to phase-out nuclear from their energy mix

9. What Success Looks Like For The Voluntary Carbon Market

By Forbes

  • After COP26, carbon markets are now legally recognized as emission reduction activities and attention for them is growing from all sectors. While a voluntary carbon market is being scaled up, this article provides reasons why it is a crucial point in addressing climate change
  • First, action is needed now and thus we need every solution on the table. Secondly, while stopping polluters requires regulations, quality offsets at least ensures less damage. Thirdly, quality offsets can finance action on the ground and pay for ecosystem services.
  • Fourthly, acceptance of carbon offsets projects by locals is crucial for their success. Finally credits accorded to both carbon avoidance (i.e. projects that avoid emissions) and removal should be implemented equally

10. Fortum/Uniper: Bailout Could Hinder Green Investment Plan

By Financial Times

  • Uniper has recently secured €10bn of additional facilities. The funds came from its Finnish parent Fortum — which owns 76% — and German state bank KfW. The funds will cover Uniper’s growing liabilities on forward power and gas contracts
  • Uniper’s balance sheet had belied the underlying risk of these derivative positions. In the nine months to September it reported a net debt position of €1.3bn, not so far above its ebitda for the same period. However, it also reported a €4.7bn net loss
  • Fortum hopes to finish a lengthy takeover of Uniper, launched in 2017 soon after its spinout by former owner Eon
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