Welcome to our first Snippets newsletter for 2016. We hope you all had an enjoyable break, and that 2016 will be a positive year, both personally and from a global environmental and energy perspective. 2015 was a year of obvious positive change, and we hope 2016 will be another. We will continue to provide coverage of developments in energy and environmental areas, from both here in New Zealand and around the world, this coming year. As always, we hope you find our fortnightly collection of articles to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
We begin 2016 with a review of 2015 in our first two articles –First we look at five carbon and climate related stories, including the historic COP21 climate change deal made in Paris, and record breaking temperatures and damage from climate events in 2015.
Then we look at five policy and financed based stories from 2015, including fossil fuel divestment, and responsible investing which hit new highs in the year just gone.
As our lead item and article for 2015 highlighted, a historic climate change deal at COP21 was indeed struck in Paris. We are now seeing the start of some of the fall-out arising from that agreement. For example, the head of Europe’s coal lobbying association, Brian Ricketts, has lashed out at what he called “mob rule” and suggests that his industry will be “hated and vilified in the same way that slave traders were once hated and vilified”.
Even though the language is perhaps a little overly emotive, there is however no doubt that the days of coal as the primary energy source are numbered. Our next two articles provide examples of these – the first with the announcement of plans by the British government to shutter all coal-fired power plants by 2025 and tightening restrictions commencing in 2023. The second, with the announcement by China, that it will not approve any new coal mines for the next three-years and that over 1,000 existing mines will close in 2016.
And it is not just the coal-industry feeling the heat, it is the whole fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel companies might just look back at 4Q15 and COP21 as the moment in time when they were dealt the fatal blow. With plunging oil prices, increasing carbon emissions regulations, and rapidly growing pressure from competitive clean energy solutions like solar, the economics of big oil are undeniably and irreparably changing. Our next article discusses the role of fossil fuels in the move to a renewable future, which now have to be seen as transition fuels as, after all, wind turbines and PV panels require energy to construct.
One country that has clearly foreseen this shift to renewables is China, with Chinese money propping up many renewable generation projects right around the world. Examples of these include investing in solar power in France, and in nuclear power in the UK. And whilst it is true that China remains the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, it is investing profits from its industry into a renewable future for all of us.
We now turn our attention to food, and look at a couple of interesting articles that discuss food supply. The first, The Future of Food and Agriculture, describes some new and very innovative ways of producing meat and milk products. The author is certain, and after reading this article we tend to agree, that the production of artificial meat and dairy products will be commonplace in the world ten years from now. If this does eventuate, what will this mean for New Zealand? We think that New Zealand needs to grasp hold of this as an opportunity to get in at the start. Some large investments are required, but if we can get involved and provide alternative solutions to sustainably produce beef and milk to the world, our country’s future will be socially, environmentally and financially enhanced. An opportunity waiting to be seized!
NZ’s education system will need to adapt for these changes, and companies will need to invest heavily in science and engineering to compete with the technology coming out of Silicon Valley and Europe. There will always be those in the world who want “real, organic” food, and this will be another niche area to focus on, but NZ needs to get on the band wagon of artificial food production, and fast, to ensure we aren’t left behind!
The next article on food supply details France’s new regulations stopping supermarkets from destroying unsold food. It must now be given away. An inspirational story, which we hope other countries will take a lead from. With the world’s population rapidly increasing, food supply is an area that requires some urgent innovation and adjustment.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them