World Bank report: ‘Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All’

In the G20 communiqué, reported on in yesterday’s GallonDaily article, there is a specific reference to a World Bank report ‘Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All’ which was issued in July of this year. We thought we should take a look.

The report is fairly short and subtitled ‘Directions for the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector’. Among the conclusions:

  • Economic growth, which is essential for poverty reduction, is not possible without adequate energy
  • In rural, remote or isolated areas, off-grid solutions based on renewable energy combined with energy efficient technologies could be the most rapid means of providing cost-effective energy services.
  • As part of a drive for universal access, financial solutions or guarantees will be made available for the most feasible energy options for the poor and for people living in fragile and conflict-affected states
  • The WBG acknowledges the global challenge of balancing energy for development with its impact on climate change and will help client countries realize affordable alternatives to coal power.
  • Efforts to improve energy efficiency—one of the most cost-effective ways to expand supply and reduce environmental impact—will be scaled up according to countries’ needs and opportunities.
  • Sustainable development of run-of-river, pumped storage, and reservoir hydropower projects that meet environmental and social safeguard standards will continue. Despite its potential, hydropower remains largely untapped in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and other parts of the developing world, and for some may be the largest available source of affordable renewable energy
  • The World Bank Group will help tackle regulatory and financial barriers to the adoption of climate-smart energy solutions. Steps include promoting deployment of energy solutions at scale to bring down costs, sending the right price signals, providing investors and the public with up-to-date information, and establishing and enforcing the right regulatory framework to accelerate the transition to a climate-smart future.
  • The World Bank Group will continue to be a partner in innovation and technology transfer, particularly through demonstration projects to promote new clean energy technologies, innovative policy tools and market mechanisms, and capacity building.
  • Resource opportunities for countries to make transitions to sustainable energy vary greatly. In some cases, natural gas is likely to make an important contribution.
  • The World Bank Group will encourage developed countries to provide incentives for more efficient and environmentally sound energy production and consumption and support research and development for new energy technologies.
  • The World Bank Group recognizes that leadership from developed countries and large emerging economies in pricing carbon, moving new technologies and other innovations to markets, and deploying them at scale is critical to address greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, achieving universal access would have a negligible environmental impact— increasing greenhouse gas emissions by less than 1 percent. While World Bank Group engagement will continue to favor renewable energy and increased efficiency, the approach will not punish the poor for the actions of others.

The report may be useful to businesses operating in the energy sector as a guide to the projects that the World Bank Group is likely to support in the future. However, as the report’s title suggests, the report is directional rather than quantitative and, in GallonDaily’s opinion, is almost completely lacking of a vision for a low carbon economy approach to meeting the needs of developing countries.

An abstract and a link to the full report can be found at http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/07/18016002/toward-sustainable-energy-future-all-directions-world-bank-group%C2%92s-energy-sector

G20 environment & sustainable development commitments

Although last week’s G20 meeting in Russia was overshadowed by the situation in Syria, the leaders did adopt a multi-faceted communiqué which included some elements related to the environment and sustainable development. Further, GallonDaily suggests that although the track record of the G20 is not great when it comes to implementation, public pressure through the media is making G20 decisions a little more likely to be at least partially implemented than this type of decision has been in the past.  These international meetings are useful to business if only as an indicator of global trends.

Potentially implementable G20 2013 commitments relevant to the environment and sustainable development include:

  • Corruption impedes sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, threatening financial stability and economy as a whole. We will hold ourselves to our commitment to implement the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan, combating domestic and foreign bribery, tackling corruption in high-risk sectors, strengthening international cooperation and promoting public integrity and transparency in the fight against corruption.
  • We commit to enhance energy cooperation, to make energy market data more accurate and available and to take steps to support the development of cleaner and more efficient energy technologies to enhance the efficiency of markets and shift towards a more sustainable energy future. We underscore our commitment to work together to address climate change and environment protection, which is a global problem that requires a global solution.
  • We recognize the importance of improving processes and transparency in the prioritization, planning, and funding of investment projects, especially in infrastructure, and in making better use of project preparation funds. Particular attention will also be given to ways to improve the design of and conditions for productive public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.
  • We understand the importance of regional trade agreements (RTAs) and their contribution to trade and investment liberalization. We commit to ensure that RTAs support the multilateral trading system. Realizing that enhancing transparency in RTAs and understanding of RTAs and their effects on the further development of multilateral rules are of systemic interest to all G20 members, we are committed to continue our work on RTAs in the WTO, and share our approach for Advancing Transparency in Regional Trade Agreements (Annex).
  • Food security and nutrition will remain a top priority in our agenda. We recognize the importance of boosting agricultural productivity, investment and trade to strengthen the global food system to promote economic growth and job creation. We encourage all ongoing efforts in the agricultural sector to further reduce hunger, under-nutrition and malnutrition, through increased coordination in the G20 to promote the identification and implementation of effective actions in support of production and productivity growth as well as enhancement of food security and nutrition for vulnerable population through, among others, nutrition sensitive policies and comprehensive social protection systems, with particular emphasis on low income countries. We support discussions in the WTO to respond to legitimate food security concerns, without distorting trade, including those related to carefully targeted policies to protect vulnerable populations. We recognize that the agricultural market situation needs closer attention and that the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) is generating better transparency and still needs more efforts to be fully implemented.
  • We welcome the substantial progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since 2000 and the success in galvanizing global action to reach specific targets globally, as well as in individual countries, particularly in eradicating extreme poverty and promoting development. However, the prospects for achieving all of the MDGs differ sharply across and within countries and regions. We remain committed to accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, particularly through the implementation of our development agenda and our focus on promoting strong, sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth.
  • We call for an agreement on an integrated post-2015 development agenda with concise, implementable and measurable goals taking into account different national realities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities, focused both on the eradication of extreme poverty, promoting development and on balancing the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development.
  • We welcome efforts aimed at promoting sustainable development, energy efficiency, inclusive green growth and clean energy technologies and energy security for the long term prosperity and well being of current and future generations in our countries. We will continue in cooperation with international organisations sharing national experiences and case studies regarding sustainable development, clean energy, and energy efficiency as well as development, deployment and broader application of related technologies and will take forward work, on a voluntary basis, on corresponding policy options and technologies. We take note of the new World Bank report ‘Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All’, which aims to promote access to reliable and affordable energy in developing countries and recognise the importance of the sustainable and responsible production and use of modern bioenergy and the role played by the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) in this regard.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption over the medium term while being conscious of necessity to provide targeted support for the poorest.
  • Sizable investment, including from private sources, will be needed in the G20 and other economies in energy infrastructure in the years ahead to support global growth and development. It is our common interest to assess existing obstacles and identify opportunities to facilitate more investment into more smart and low-carbon energy infrastructure, particularly in clean and sustainable electricity infrastructure where feasible. In this regard we encourage a closer engagement of private sector and multilateral development banks with the G20 Energy Sustainability Working Group (ESWG) and call for a dialogue to be launched on its basis in 2014 that will bring interested public sector, market players and international organizations together to discuss the factors hindering energy investment, including in clean and energy efficient technologies and to scope possible measures needed to promote sustainable, affordable, efficient and secure energy supply.
  • Many countries are trying to improve their energy mix and use, such as by promoting renewable and/or nuclear energy. Nuclear power is a low-carbon option, but it is capital intensive and comes with responsibilities for nuclear safety, security and safeguards/nonproliferation. G20 countries, whether nascent or established nuclear power producers should strive for the highest possible level of nuclear safety, to foster robust nuclear safety and nuclear security cultures and, as called for in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, we encourage multilateral cooperation towards achieving a global nuclear liability regime.
  • We are committed to support the full implementation of the agreed outcomes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its ongoing negotiations. We strongly welcome the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to mobilize political will through 2014 towards the successful adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all Parties by 2015, during COP-21 that France stands ready to host.
  • We also support complementary initiatives, through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), based on the examination of economically viable and technically feasible alternatives. We will continue to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.
  • Taking note of the developments over the past year, we support the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). We welcome the report of the G20 Climate Finance Study Group on G20 countries’ experiences on ways to effectively mobilize climate finance taking into account the objectives, provisions, and principles of the UNFCCC.

The G20 Leaders Declaration and a number of background papers are available at http://www.g20.org/news/20130906/782776427.html

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation: “timing is everything”

In the run up to the triennial Assembly of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization, where climate change is positioned as a significant item on the agenda, scientists from the Centre for Aviation Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) have published a science-based report on the best and most cost-effective way of mitigating future aviation emissions. Although aviation is responsible for only about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the sector is frequently a target of criticism, in part because it is seen to have among the highest emissions per passenger-km and because it appears to be a rapidly growing sector.

The report analysed 23 incremental mitigation scenarios for aviation CO2 emissions for their reductions in radiative forcing/temperature response by 2050 over a business as usual (BAU) aviation technology/operational improvements scenario. The mitigation measures included five levels of technology/operational improvements, three levels of biofuel market penetration, and two levels of geographical coverage of an emissions trading system.

The research found that emissions trading, as designed by the European Union, would provide the largest single incremental improvement in radiative forcing and temperature response by 2050 of ~15% (range 12 to 17%) over BAU. The next largest single potential contributor, as a measure, to reductions in aviation CO2 radiative forcing by 2050, was a maximum feasible reductions scenario of reductions in aviation CO2 emissions from technological and operational improvements of 6.4% (range 6.1 to 6.9%). The additional introduction of “likely” levels of biofuels over BAU gave the smallest reduction, as a single measure, in aviation CO2 radiative forcing by 2050 over BAU of 1.1% (range 1.0 to 1.2%). By combining MFR technology/operational improvements with biofuels at “speculative” levels, reduced aviation CO2 radiative forcing over BAU by 9% (range 8.3 to 9.6%). Combining all possible measures – MFR technology/operations, “speculative” biofuels, and the EU-ETS, reduced aviation CO2 RF by 19.5% (range 16.1 to 21.5%) over BAU.

The researchers found that the reason that emissions trading schemes result in such marked radiative forcing reductions is their inherent ability to achieve emission reductions quickly, which is vital when considering the effectiveness of any CO2 mitigation action, because of the accumulative nature of CO2 in the atmosphere. The timing as to when reductions in CO2 emissions occur matters – not just the achievement of an emissions goal by some future date. The data show that early reductions in CO2 emissions produce the best environmental response.

The full paper, and a summary, are both available at http://www.cate.mmu.ac.uk/projects/mitigating-future-aviation-co2-emissions-timing-is-everything/ 

The ICAO Assembly takes place in Montreal from 24 September to 4 October 2013.

 

Premature deaths from air pollution total 50% of premature deaths from smoking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, there are about 400,000 deaths each year in the United States from direct exposure to cigarette smoke. According to a recent article from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are about 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States caused by air pollution, specifically from small particulates (PM2.5) and from ground level ozone. The MIT researchers state that their results are indicative of the extent to which policy measures could be undertaken in order to mitigate the impact of specific emissions from different sectors.

The research found that the largest contributors to premature death from air pollution from the burning of fuel are road transportation and electric power generation. Sector by sector, the number of premature deaths in the US are projected to be approximately:

  • road transportation, 53,000 from particulate emissions and 5,000 from ozone;
  • power generation, 52,000 from particulate emissions and 2,000 from ozone;
  • industrial emissions, 41,000 from particulate emissions and 2,000 from ozone;
  • commercial and residential heating, 42,000 from particulate emissions and a few hundred from ozone;
  • maritime transportation, 8000 from particulate emissions and 500 from ozone;
  • rail transportation, 4000 from particulate emissions and 500 from ozone;
  • aviation, 1000 from particulate emissions and 100 from ozone.

Although the research is based on 2005 emissions data, because this was the latest available at the time the project began, the authors are confident that it is broadly reflective of the situation today.

The paper, which provides data by region, is available, fee required, at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231013004548

The research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. Volume 79, November 2013, pages 198–208 under the title Air pollution and early deaths in the United States. Part I: Quantifying the impact of major sectors in 2005.
Fabio Caiazzo, Akshay Ashok, Ian A. Waitz, Steve H.L. Yim, Steven R.H. Barrett, Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States.

France acts to reduce light pollution and associated GHG emissions

The French government has implemented a regulation to reduce ‘light pollution’ and greenhouse gas emissions from unnecessary overnight lighting. The Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Energy has said that nighttime artificial lighting can be a source of significant disturbance to the ecosystem by altering communication between species, migration, reproductive cycles and the predator-prey system. The impact of artificial light on night sleep, disrupting the alternation of day and night, has also been the subject of discussion by the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance. The Minister also claims that reducing night time lighting will save energy equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 750,000 households and eliminate the emission of about 250,000 tonnes of CO2.

The regulation, which took effect July 1st, requires that:

  • interior lighting in business premises must be extinguished one hour after the end of occupation of the premises;
  • exterior lighting of non-residential buildings must be turned off no later than 1 am;
  • lighting in store windows or trade exhibitions must be turned off no later than 1am, or one hour after the end of occupation of such premises if it occurs later;
  • shop windows or trade exhibitions may be lit from 7:00 am or one hour before the start of the activity if it is carried out earlier;
  • facades of buildings may not be lit before sunset.

Municipalities may grant exemptions for statutory holidays, the period of Christmas lights,  during special events, or in places of exceptional tourist interest.

If it can be done in France it can be done almost anywhere. GallonDaily is not a big fan of moving by regulation. Maybe owners of commercial and industrial facilities should look into voluntary programs to emulate the French initiative before other governments get similar ideas.

The Minister’s statement on the new law can be read, in French, at http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/Un-arrete-pour-limiter-les.html

An interesting commentary by  James Madison University professor Paul Bogard on the light pollution issue, which may be more serious than many of us have previously considered, is to be found on the Yale University environment360 website at http://e360.yale.edu/feature/bringing_back_the_night__a_fight_against_light_pollution/2681/

Distributed wind power taking off in USA

A new report from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy analyses the market and opportunities for small and medium scale windpower applications. According to the report, 68% of all wind turbine installations in the US in the last ten years fall into this “distributed power” category. Distributed power, in the context of wind energy, describes turbines that provide electricity to the owner or to operations close to the installation rather than commodity electricity to the grid. By the end of 2012 there were 69,000 turbines in distributed applications with an installed capacity of more than 812 MW across all 50 states.

Industry leaders cited the desire to reduce utility bills as the primary motivation for 2012 domestic small wind turbine sales, along with related concerns over future utility rate increases caused by rising gas and coal prices, and the availability of state incentives. The value of onsite wind generation in providing a hedge against future fossil-fuel price uncertainty was recognized across applications: households, schools, farms, and municipal. To a lesser degree, interest in being environmentally responsible and reducing pollution (including carbon) were cited as reason some customers installed small wind turbines.

The installed costs for small turbines covers a range of $1,500 to $27,500 per kW, with a capacity-weighted average cost of $6,960/kW. The range for mid size turbines is somewhat less broad, ranging from $2,400 to $3,350 per kW with a capacity-weighted average installed cost of $2,810/kW. Assuming a turbine provides power at its rated capacity for 35% of the hours in a year, each kW of turbine capacity will provide 3066 kWh per year. If electricity costs 12 cents per kWh, a turbine will provide $368 worth of electricity each year. Ignoring maintenance costs, this means that a turbine with an installed cost of $2,810 will be fully paid for in less than 8 years, interest not included. While not yet a great return on investment, this is reaching the level of a reasonable ROI.

The 62 page PNNL report provides a wealth of information especially for those thinking of getting into distributed wind power as investors, users, manufacturers, or distributors. It can be found at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2012_distributed_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf

Report identifies challenges in North American energy and environment policy

Nikita (Nik) Nanos, currently public policy scholar at the prestigious Washington, DC, based Woodrow Wilson Center and Director of Nanos Research (a Canadian market and public opinion research organization), has recently published a new report entitled Entering the Energy & Environment Policy Frontier. Based on interviews with opinion leaders, policy research, and new polling data, the report identifies energy policy risks and opportunities in Canada and the United States.

There is much of interest in the report. Among elements that caught GallonDaily’s eye:

  • The current level of [political] partisanship can be an obstacle to moving forward with sound energy policy.
  • Government should not pick energy winners and losers but focus on encouraging competition among energy sources within a common environmental standard.
  • Building a framework for a carbon policy is a key opportunity for energy and environmental policymaking. This is especially true because of the policy interests and jurisdictional roles of states/provinces and federal governments on energy and the environment. Even with the limitations of the current political atmosphere in Congress and increasingly active at the state and provincial levels of government, a National Carbon Policy dialogue between the United States and Canada will need to take place.
  • The process of advancing environmental policy on the summit model, such as that which created the Acid Rain Treaty, is difficult politically in terms of the different legislative priorities in the United States and Canada, the risks related to the negotiation and ratification process, indeterminate in terms of time, and complex because of the role of state/provincial governments in environmental policy and different national legislative priorities in the United States and Canada.
  • 68% of Canadians and 74% of Americans support or somewhat support the Keystone XL pipeline.

The 42 page report, with further interesting analysis of public and elite opinion, is available at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/WW%20-%20Energy%20Report%20-%20Nanos%20Master%20File%2026-August.pdf