Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

We open this week with a study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate calling for the expected $90tn investment over the next 15 years, to be allocated to low-carbon, energy efficient projects. With more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gases associated with ageing power plants, roads, buildings, sanitation and other structures, urgent transformation is required. This also includes addressing the 1,500 coal plants estimated to already be in construction worldwide. [1]

The need to evaluate spending on new infrastructure is reinforced by the next article that asks why we keep on building infrastructure we don’t need. With a move to sourcing more locally grown produce and technology, such as 3D printing, the requirements for transporting consumer goods are changing dramatically. [2]

We have highlighted various industries that are becoming more risky from an investment point of fuel. The number is steadily growing and now the auto industry is beginning to appear a higher risk investment due to climate change.

The warning has gone out from major investors that vehicle makers must accelerate their readiness for a low carbon world, by producing many more low emission based vehicles. The world is changing and car makers have to adapt by changing the business models they operate under. [3]

Just to sow the seeds of change, The EU plans to boost car charging points in every new home in Europe. Norway and the Netherlands have both announced plans to phase out vehicles with diesel engines by 2025. The push is also on to make more charging stations available in parking buildings. Although car manufacturers welcome the plans, there as yet been no major changes to the vehicles they currently produce. [4]

If investor warnings and the EU’s approach to low emission vehicles weren’t enough, now the German parliament supports a proposal to ban the production of new combustion engine cars by 2030. If this isn’t a wakeup call for a nation that builds, BMW’s, Audi’s, VW’s & Porsche’s we don’t know what is!

A switch to low or zero emissions vehicles would have a major impact on employment in the vehicle sector, something we are sure is in the back on Germany’s political minds. A brave proposal, but an important one. [5]

We next look to comments from The World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who says “slowing down growth in coal fired power stations is an essential step to meeting Paris climate goals”.

“Many countries want to move in the right direction. We can and should all help to find renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions that allow them to phase out coal,” Kim said. Kim Yong Kim goes on to list a number of further areas where change is important in the long term. [6]

The next few articles address the current, or their lack of, Climate Change action in Australia.

Recently Australia have been facing a lot of heat regarding their climate action initiatives. Currently, countries including the US, China and even New Zealand have put forward more than 30 questions to the Turnbull government. These questions ask for details on how Australia plans to meet their pledged obligations and questions transparency in government reports on climate change. An example from a recent UN expert review found that Australia’s emissions were expected to be 11.5% higher in 2020 than they were in 1990. [7]

At the beginning of the month a blackout occurred in South Australia. Unfortunately, this sparked debate around the role of renewable energy in energy security. Unfortunately, the Turnbull government suggested that a reliance on renewables places different strains and pressure on a grid then traditional coal-fired power. Thankfully Samantha Hepburn addresses this argument and points at the flaws of such an idea. Using the baseload question, Samantha shows that a reliable baseload generation can be achieved through renewables. [8]

As if we hadn’t heard enough about the Turnbull government in Australia, there has been more kickback this month with the Queensland body declaring the massive Carmichael coal mine “critical infrastructure”. The $21 million project, whilst being pushed forward by government, still has some hurdles to clear. With the price of coal dropping and funding sources lacking, the project is a high risk investment. Even the Indian conglomerate, Adani group, who are meant to be running the mine seem to have lost interest in the project. The Minister of Energy in India has also called for a ban on coal imports in order to achieve its “One Nation, One Grid, One price” energy goal. It’s honestly surprising how much this project is being pushed by Australian government, when no other party is even interested in the project any more. [9]

Finally, the last of today’s Australian articles discusses the death of the Great Barrier Reef. The opinion piece is well written and includes an in-depth history of the great attraction, and its slow death through coral bleaching. Although 25 million years old, the bleaching has hit irreversible levels, and it is a shame this has been allowed to happen. [10]

We often hear how China is the highest emissions emitter and how they should pull their weight more in combating the levels of emissions the country produces. Well, it turns out they are serious about combating climate change.

China are curbing emissions in a number of ways; limiting coal use by shutting down mines and limiting its use, carbon trading, cleaning up the countries vehicle fleet, making buildings more energy efficient and a number of other very proactive actions.

The Chinese government has taken a long term view to turning things around, the focus is also on improving the quality of life for its residents through improvements in air quality. [11]

Our final article is one that will be of interest to all facility managers, as well as those who are merely occupants of facilities. There is soon to be an ISO standard that will enable assessment and measurement of facilities management organisations. There will also be standards on vocabulary, and strategic sourcing and development of agreements. These are due out in 2018, and will help to clarify the ‘what’ as well as the ‘why’ for facility manager role.[12]


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