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.

Following the recent US elections, there has been much soul searching here in the ETSL office, about the messaging Snippets carries. We have decided a focus on positive articles is needed, as dwelling on what is sure to be some future disturbing events will not be good, healthy or helpful for anyone.

We therefore open this week with a glimpse of where the positive future might lie and perhaps unsurprisingly it is not with political leadership, but instead with efforts from business and the communities we live in. Moving to a circular economy, or in this case a circular city makes a lot of sense. [1] At the December 1st fourth annual C40 Cities Awards, we have 11 cities who are walking the talk, ranging from cities from the developed economies such as Sydney and Melbourne - Australia, Portland - USA and the Paris - EU to less so in Curitaba - Brazil, Kolkata - India and Addis Ababa - Ethiopia. [2]

Another city looking to take its environmental role seriously, is Dallas, TX where they are in the process of building the country’s largest urban nature park, comprising a staggering 10,000 acres and is expected to include around 73 miles of trails![3]

Another example of a community coming together to look after its own interests is the American Samoa island of Ta’u, which has ditched its reliance on diesel generators in favour of photovoltaics and Tesla batteries. The islands electricity is now 100% renewable and now has a stable grid, with 1.5MW generation and 6MW storage capacity. [4]

Competitive solar is here, and the competition is showing its face in regulatory proceedings. As utilities across the United States of America are seeing households install rooftop solar and move away from grid dependency, they are realizing the future of their business models are at stake. Will the light of public cost-benefit proceedings shine light on the true benefits of solar? [5]

Things are not just shifting in the USA, but across the pond in Finland as well. The country has announced its plans to stop using coal in the 2020s, a fossil fuel which currently supplies an estimated 10% of its energy. The Nordic country is joining the ‘coal-free-club’, another signal that leadership around the world is taking climate change seriously. [6]

But it doesn’t always make sense to follow the crowd. This interesting analysis makes a compelling point that batteries aren’t the cheapest way to store energy on the grid. Though they have practical benefits for off-grid situations, there are plenty of simpler technologies with better efficiencies and economics: pumped hydro and flywheels being two examples.[7]

But batteries are definitely worth the hype when it comes to cleaner, greener individual transport solutions. The world’s biggest automobile manufacturers are currently planning an electric vehicle superhighway in Europe with ultra-fast chargers. Imagine going from Barcelona to Berlin in 15 hours – all powered on the tails of North Sea offshore and inland German wind. [8]

We next look at Patagonia, the adventure clothing company. They vowed to give away 100% of their profits over the recent Black Friday sales. $10 million will go towards grassroots environmental groups as a consequence of this magnificent pledge. [9]

To many of us, particularly in New Zealand, we have little knowledge of this company, origins and what amazing work its owners have been doing for environmental causes particularly in South America.

Believe it or not, the company founders chose to live in the ‘real’ Patagonia. This area had ancient forest, wetlands, fjords and active volcanoes, you name it and it was there. Kris McDivitt and Doug Tompkins initial plan was to by 2.2 million acres and restore millions of acres and restore it. After 24 years, and a personal outlay of $375 million dollar, they have created national parks in both Chile and Argentina for to access. Why did they do this? A passion for the area? Or they felt it was the right thing to do? Whatever the reason, a great contribution. [10]

Finally, up to 21 stock exchanges around the world are introducing sustainability reporting standards in the coming months. Joining the existing 17 that currently recommend reporting on environmental, social and governance issues. This stance by these exchanges is helping drive the way the world sees sustainability. By reporting on sustainability issues, companies tend to act more sustainable, and there are strong correlations between sustainable practice and financial performance. This appears to be a win-win for all parties involved. [11]


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