Insights

Global Governance and Green Banking Catalyzing Sustainable Development

Raghavan Seetharaman

The concept of sustainable development has achieved importance at the global level. Economies need to integrate the principles of sustainable development into their policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) led deliberations on fighting global warming has already reached at crucial stage. The ongoing 20th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Peru is an essential step to reach a meaningful agreement in Paris, in 2015.

Global Governance through G20 will work together to adopt successfully a protocol or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the COP 21. The United Nations has also defined the future global development framework through creation of Post 2015 development agenda, which will succeed UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In November 2014 the U.S. and China made an announcement of their respective post- 2020 actions on climate change. Such actions are giving a decisive momentum to the global climate negotiations and inspire other countries to join in coming forward with ambitious actions.

Read more: Global Governance and Green Banking Catalyzing Sustainable Development

Norway: Environmental Policy and the Impact on the Energy Sector

Tine Sundtoft

Today we face global warming, higher fuel costs and pollution of the soil, air and water that we humans so desperately depend upon. This is leading to a growing need for clean and renewable energy. The Norwegian energy sector, being unique in several ways, is of particular interest.

The abundance of hydro power has made our power system almost 100% renewable. It has also made us a large exporter of energy intensive products produced in an environmentally friendly manner. The deployment of large amounts of variable wind and solar production in Northern Europe increases the demand for flexible hydro power production. My government has recently granted license to two new power cables to Germany and UK. These will each be on 1400 MW and are planned to be finished in 2018 and 2020. Increasingly, Norway is becoming Europe’s green battery.

Read more: Norway: Environmental Policy and the Impact on the Energy Sector

The New Paradigm of Energy Ethics

Erin Lothes

Since 1981, when the US Catholic Bishops published a letter on energy and ethical principles, the ecological, economic, and technological landscape for assessing renewable energy has undergone shifts of seismic proportion. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report states that society’s dependence on fossil fuels is driving severe disruption of ecological systems worldwide and accelerating socio-political disruption. While the realities and possibilities of renewable energy remain hotly debated, the ethical imperative to eliminate the impacts of fossil fuels is clear.

In April 2014, Bishop Mario Toso of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stressed that “in view of the realization of peace... it is necessary that energy be thought of, produced, distributed, and used, according to a new paradigm.” This new paradigm is the necessity of assessing social cost in tandem with economic cost.

Read more: The New Paradigm of Energy Ethics

Climate Change – Send in the Marines?

author Steve Cheney

author Andrew Holland

Stephen Cheney and Andrew Holland

In November, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the final, synthesis report of their fifth assessment report on the science of climate change. As you wade through the science and statistics, it becomes clear that the report gives a dire warning of “severe, widespread and irreversible” effects from climate change. As this was just another in a litany of scientific warnings, it had no effect on the midterm elections, and little effect on leaders around the world.

The report makes clear that the world is on track, under a “business as usual” track, of global warming of at least 4 degrees Celsius, and perhaps up to 6 degrees or more by the end of this century. It made clear, that even with rapid, concerted action by governments around the world to reduce emissions, the limit of 2 degrees of warming – deemed “safe” by governments in international treaties – is drifting out of reach.

Read more: Climate Change – Send in the Marines?

Effective Leapfrogging to Decentralized Energy Access

author Harish Hande

authorSurabhi Rajagopal

Harish Hande and Surabhi Rajagopal

The world has approximately 1.3 billion people that have never experienced the benefits of electricity in their homes, and 2.8 billion who still use solid fuels for cooking and heating4,5. Then there are several other households that, despite being connected to the grid, often find themselves starved of power supply. Combine this with estimates6 from a country like India where expenditure on fuel and light by the urban and rural poor is the third highest expenditure after food and health, with poorer households spending up to 20% of their incomes on energy7,8. What this reveals is an opportunity for plugging the energy gap by leapfrogging to decentralized, renewable sources of energy, and facilitating improvements in basic quality of life as well as productivity at the household and village level9. These alternative solutions allow for local generation and use, overcoming problems around the demand on central grid, increasing costs of traditional fuels, transmission losses and so on.

Read more: Effective Leapfrogging to Decentralized Energy Access

Bridging the Financing Gap for Renewable Energy

Anita Marangoly George

These are exciting times for those of us who closely watch trends in renewable energy supply and demand – especially seeing its uptake in developing regions where millions of people still live without access to modern energy.

Over the last 25 years, renewable energy technologies have matured and are now strongly established in the global energy supply. We now have an array of commercially viable renewable energy technologies and their costs continue to come down. With growing energy demand, higher fossil fuel prices, and the continually diminishing costs of key technologies like wind and solar, opportunities are growing by the day for renewables to provide affordable and sustainable options for electricity, heat, and transport.

Read more: Bridging the Financing Gap for Renewable Energy

Energy Security and the Sustainability of SIDS

Elizabeth Thompson

Energy security is the access by countries and consumers to an affordable and continuous supply of energy. Some 90% of economic and social activity in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is powered by imported fossil fuels. Lack of energy security adds to the numerous vulnerabilities characterising SIDS. The current global energy “trilemma,” of “energy equity, energy security and environmental sustainability,” to which the World Energy Council speaks, is manifested in SIDS. The islands are on “the front line” of climate change impacts by which their societies, economies and ecosystems are severely threatened. Many suffer water stress and scarcity, desertification, warming marine habitats, and other adverse impacts. The Maldives is literally sinking. SIDS are witnessing more frequent and extreme weather events such as the Category 5 storm, Hurricane Ivan, which in a few hours wiped out 90% of Grenada’s housing stock and 200% of its GDP. Energy security in SIDS is inseparable from mitigating climate change impacts and achieving development prospects

SIDS are located far from the centres of fossil fuel extraction and production and have high freighting costs. Their small sizes and population bases also act as barriers against competitive volume pricing and the creation of economies of scale; this also makes profit generation for power producers and distributors difficult. Island states are highly vulnerable to oil price fluctuations and particularly hard hit by price spikes. Many islands are legally locked into monopoly relationships with utility companies that are diesel-using generators and militate against the exploration of off-grid and shared power from renewable energy sources. As a consequence of these combined factors, the energy prices in SIDS are amongst the highest in the world.

Read more: Energy Security and the Sustainability of SIDS

Creating the Sustainable Urban Revolution

Andrew Steer

A population wave is heading for the world’s cities, and we need to be ready. More than 2 billion people are expected to stream into urban areas by 2050. Making sure these growing cities are economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable is going to require a new kind of development.

But cities around the globe are likely to spend $3 trillion more than they need on infrastructure over the next 15 years simply by building 21st century communities as if they were 20th century communities. This encompasses lots of superhighways for lots of personal vehicles to drive to lots of distant energy-inefficient suburbs, resulting in less productivity, more air pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more: Creating the Sustainable Urban Revolution

 

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