The climate conference saw calls for equity in science, and a push for private finance from developed nations, yet a set of weak outcomes at the end of the technical negotiations leaves a yawning deficit of trust as the world prepares for COP27
On June 16, the Bonn climate conference drew to a close on an expectedly somber note. There was a slight delay in holding the closing plenaries of the subsidiary bodies (SB) to provide room for last minute informal consultations. As reported earlier by CarbonCopy, the main issues such as mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage were highly contested right from the start and only got more divisive as the days progressed. Nevertheless, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) adopted their conclusions while both parties and observers registered their statements and disagreements. Outside negotiation rooms and plenaries, members of civil society marked their protest seeking concrete action on loss and damage.
Discussions on mitigation at the conference were part of the first work programme on scaling up mitigation ambition, and they were hotly contested, including during the closing plenary when developing countries raised concerns of equity. India, speaking for the BASIC group that includes Brazil, South Africa, China and India, called for COP27 to be guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). Other developing countries, too, underscored the importance of upholding equity and CBDR-RC during the 11-day conference.
The other issue related to CBDR-RC that India brought up repeatedly at Bonn relates to the agenda item titled “matters relating to science and review.” India sought a recognition of the global carbon budget and that pathways outlined in the IPCC reports on mitigation do not take equity into account. Developed countries, the US and EU in particular, were not in favour of holding such discussions.
Cristián Retamal, an advisor to the Chilean delegation at Bonn, told CarbonCopy that India spoke strongly on issues of equity and the carbon budgets. Referring to the Climate Equity Monitor developed by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, he said equity is an important aspect of mitigation ambition in the context of the Paris regime because “not all countries have the same responsibilities and capabilities.” Other equity monitors like Paris Equity Check and GGCC at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, too, highlight the need to take equity into account while analysing country-specific mitigation pathways. “Tools like Climate Action Tracker assume that all countries have to undertake the same amount of effort, which minimises equity and a right to development in such geo-political discussions because who has to increase ambition is a historical fight and a political one,” Retamal explained. “And to unlock discussions on mitigation, we must address equity,” he added.
At the closing plenary of the SBSTA, Richa Sharma, head of India’s delegation, noted with disappointment how agreements reached at Bonn do not recognise the concept of a global carbon budget that is “foundational” to ascertaining past, present and future responsibilities, which even IPCC reports have spoken of. She also added that IPCC pathways are neither equitable nor is there any explanation of regional assumptions underlying the pathways. In response, SBSTA chair Tosi Mpanu Mpanu said he agreed with the statements made and also that there was a possibility to go beyond what was finally agreed to at Bonn and he now hopes that outcomes at Sharm-el-Sheik will be “more ambitious.”
The final agreement at Bonn on the mitigation work programme is limited to diplomatic language like the subsidiary bodies taking note of “constructive discussions” held under this joint agenda item during this session that fostered “enhanced understanding.” The subsidiary bodies agreed to work on the programme with the hope of recommending a draft decision for adoption at COP27 in Egypt.
The US employs word play to muddy the waters
Apart from parties, civil society, too, was frustrated with how negotiations on the mitigation work programme played out.
“What I expected was a collective sense of ambition to close the mitigation gap in cutting 45% emissions by 2030 and limiting warming to 1.5°C. But what we’re seeing is a lot of political games,” said Eddy Perez, International Climate Diplomacy Manager, Climate Action Network, Canada. For starters, he explained, there was a battle of words to single out countries by using terms like “major emitters”, which refers to China and India. An informal note prepared by co-facilitators of the mitigation programme on June 9 references the term “major emitters.” But the problem, Perez added, was not the word in particular “but the intention behind it.”
“The US is using language which should be attributed to themselves and projecting it onto developing countries,” said Katherine Robinson, Head of Campaigns, Natural Justice (South Africa). She explained that although emerging economies should take deliberate action towards a just energy transition, “developed countries who have historic responsibility must demonstrate solidarity rather than gaslighting all of us.” Pays to note, there is no legal basis for terms like “major emitters,” be it as part of UNFCCC or the Paris Agreement, that only recognise Annex I countries, which includes members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1992 and economies-in-transition; Annex II (OECD countries in Annex I, excluding those in transition) and non-Annex I parties that are mostly developing countries.
Jazmin Rocco Predassi of Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), Argentina, pointed out that the mid-century carbon neutrality is a global goal. This means the developed world has to reach the goal much sooner than developing countries. But, she added, there is “a huge gap” in mitigation ambition, finance delivery and technology transfer to support less carbon-intensive development pathways in the developing world.
The “gaslighting” seen during negotiations on mitigation ambition applies to finance, too. “If you cannot put finance on the table, how do you expect developing countries to cut emissions, adapt on top of dealing with the loss and damage caused by historic emissions,” Robinson added.
On June 14, the co-facilitators prepared another informal note on the mitigation work programme on mitigation listed six disclaimers. Beginning with the note having “no formal status,” to stating clearly that nothing in the note must be construed as amending the Convention or the Paris Agreement. The note also expresses that it “does not represent agreed views, ideas or text” and neither does it draw any conclusions or make any judgements. And while generalised disclaimers are not uncommon, this one still stands out for exhaustiveness, a sign of how contested certain core issues were.
Ultimately, both the informal notes were dropped and are not part of the final agreement at Bonn which is again a sign of serious differences between parties.
Switzerland, Norway, EU and the US block meaningful discussions on loss and damage
At the opening plenary on June 6, loss and damage was not adopted as part of the formal agenda. And while discussions were held on the topic, they hit a roadblock, too. Harjeet Singh, senior advisor, Climate Action Network International, explained that despite acknowledging the finance gap to address loss and damage caused by climate change induced storms, drought and rising seas, the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and the US, blocked any discussion on the possibility of establishing a financing facility. And so, the discussions became a talk shop on issues like governing structures of the Santiago Network without any concrete outcome on establishing a loss and damage facility with financing mechanisms.
At the closing plenary, Antigua and Barbuda, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, said the processes under loss and damage are “out of step” and “progress is too slow.” Zambia, speaking for the Africa Group, too, expressed concerns over lack of progress on loss and damage, while Pakistan, speaking for the G77 and China group, noted how discussions on loss and damage remained “stymied.”
A push for private finance
The other important agenda item at Bonn was the work programme on the new collective quantified goal on climate finance (NCQG). The aim is to set a new goal on finance in terms of amounts required, roadmap for delivery of finance, instruments to be used etc. And two issues that came up were related to inadequacy of $100 billion and questionable reliance on private financing.
At COP21, parties to the UNFCCC decided to set up a new financing goal “from a floor of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.” As regards what “needs and priorities” means, the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance released a report last year that stated that developing countries need $5.8-5.9 trillion upto 2030 to finance around half the climate action listed in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Pakistan, speaking for G77 and China, said the level of the goal must be based on science and also on the needs and priorities identified by developing countries. While the Pakistani delegation pressed on with the need to prioritise the quantum of the goal, any recognition of such actual needs of developing countries remained questionable at Bonn.
“There were commercial banks in the room during the NCQG discussions, and a corresponding push for private finance and mitigation finance,” said Avantika Goswami, climate policy researcher and programme manager at Center for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based environmental research and advocacy organisation. Terming it a “disappointing direction” for the talks to proceed in, Goswami stressed on a need for more grant-based public climate finance, as well as more adaptation finance. “As someone commented at the Bonn conference, if the loan sharks are in the room, there is little hope to chalk out a just and equity-based finance goal,” she said.
According to experts, developed countries’ push for private finance is a solution of the past to a finance problem that is current and ongoing. The EU’s 2022 Climate Diplomacy document, for example, seeks to “leverage private and public funding for energy projects” to help developing countries achieve their sustainable development goals. This takes away developing countries’ democratic ownership of climate finance strategies. The inadequacy and inaccessibility of climate finance, flagged even in developed economies, is only magnified when seen in the context of developing nations.
Add to this, the effects of existing climate vulnerabilities in much of the developing world. Experts have previously pointed out how climate vulnerability erodes a country’s sovereign credit ratings and results in lack of credit-worthiness, higher costs of borrowing and, in many cases, defaults, all of which are not ideal scenarios for investment flow from the private sector.
Other issues include uneven distribution via private financing that focuses only on large, emerging economies and severely low funding for adaptation activities that take needs of developing countries into account but aren’t considered “bankable projects”.
India, speaking for BASIC, underscored the need to operationalise the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). Saudi Arabia, speaking for the Arab group, too noted the importance of implementing GGA while Bolivia, speaking for the Like-minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) called for “balanced progress” on all issues, meaning equal weightage for mitigation and adaptation in particular. A concern developing country parties had is that developed countries were prioritising mitigation at the cost of adaptation.
The final agreement invites parties and observers to submit views for upcoming workshops on GGA and requests SB chairs to provide concept notes and guiding questions on the theme and areas of each workshop. It was also agreed that such workshops “be more interactive,” have contributions from practitioners and experts from relevant organizations, UNFCCC bodies and the IPCC, “ensuring equitable geographical representation, as appropriate.”
Apart from GGA, another item related to adaptation on the agenda at Bonn was a discussion on “gaps and needs and the implementation of national adaptation plans.” At the closing plenary of the SBI, Nabeel Munir, chair of the G77 and China group, intervened on behalf of the group to register a “serious concern about the multitude of challenges” developing countries face in accessing financial support for the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans. It’s an issue the group has been raising throughout the session, he said, but one which has not received the attention it deserves. They now hope Sharm-el-Sheik will deliver a substantive outcome on financing national adaptation plans in developing countries, he added.
A stage set for COP27 in Egypt
Speaking for Egypt as the incoming COP27 Presidency, Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd said that while some progress was achieved at Bonn, “others continue to be affected by divergent views, and hence will require more intersessional work to ensure that the work in Sharm El Sheikh will start from the most advanced point possible.” As for loss and damage, Ambassador Aboulmagd called for a recognition of the needs of countries and communities by working towards achieving progress on loss and damage.
He also added that parties should refrain from dealing with climate change as a zero-sum game in terms of Global North versus Global South or pitting mitigation against adaptation. “The issue of climate change must be the area where we commit to working together and where we demonstrate unity against this existential threat and show leadership as we move forward to address it,” he said.
This article is a part of a series of on-ground reports from the 56th meeting of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies in Bonn, Germany.
At least 115 people were killed in floods, lightning and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rain in northeast India and Bangladesh this past week. Officials in Assam said all 33 districts in the state had been affected by the floods, which had caused massive damage to its infrastructure.
In neighbouring Meghalaya, the towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram also recorded high levels of monsoon rainfall. The latter recorded 40 inches of rainfall in 24 hours, the wettest June day since 1966.
In Bangladesh’s Sylhet region, heavy rainfall led to massive flooding. This after the region had already witnessed large-scale flooding last month after the Brahmaputra and other rivers broke their banks. At lest 38 people died in this month’s flooding, according to officials.
Weak monsoon and heat threaten crop yields in India
A delayed and weak monsoon has been observed in India so far, even after an early onset in Kerala. Further delay can be a cause of worry for farmers waiting to sow their crops. A timely monsoon would give respite from the prolonged and intense heatwave that parts of the country have been witnessing and can bring a much needed relief to farmers. As a result of high and consistent heat, substantial reduction in wheat crop yields, an estimated 10-35%, has been observed in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The Global Food Policy Report 2022 by the International Food Policy Research Institute has warned that climate change may push 90 million Indians towards hunger by 2030 due to a decline in agricultural production and disruption in the food supply chain.
Warming waters in Ganges become breeding ground for invasive species
A rise in the mean annual temperature by 1 to 4 degrees Celsius is predicted between 2010 and 2050 in Ganges river basin. Warmer waters could potentially open up newer parts of the Ganges river to non-native species such as the common carp, tilapia and African catfish, allowing them to occupy waters previously uninhabited by them. India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) lists these species as a great threat to the country’s freshwater biodiversity.
In the long run, invasive species can interfere with ecological niches, biodiversity and can build their own environment to thrive in, and disrupt ecosystem services. In case of aquatic invasion management, prevention is the only cost-effective solution till date.
Heat waves in Europe and US break records
Parts of the USA have been experiencing high temperatures and humidity over the last couple of days, with 100 million Americans being warned to stay indoors. Temperatures in several inland areas of California soared way above the normal, with a record high for 11 June of 122°F (50°C) reached in Death Valley. The heat wave, which set several high temperature records in the West, the Southwest and into Denver during the weekend, moved east.
Excessive heat causes more deaths in the US than other weather-related disasters, including hurricanes, floods and tornadoes combined. Experts say that such intense heat waves are more likely in the future because of the climate crisis and a deepening drought in the American west.
Across the Atlantic, in western Europe, too, temperatures soared to new record highs for the month of June. The spell of hot weather triggered forest fires notably in several parts of France and Spain as well as fears that such fires and early summer blasts of hot weather are becoming the norm in the continent. An ongoing drought in Italy has resulted in its longest river, the Po, drying up and has set off fears of food security in the country.
42% chance of failing at 1.5°C goal, even if all carbon emissions cease
A recent study showed that even if all emissions are “stopped overnight”, there’s a 42% chance of breaching the 1.5°C climate change goal. Just four years ago, the figure stood at 33%. The analysis also found that regardless of the short term direction that global emissions take, by 2032, the chance of busting the 1.5°C target will rise to 66%.
However, if emissions are cut rapidly, the research shows that the Paris Agreement’s weaker goal of 2°C is still well within reach. The probability of exceeding 2°C is at just 2% if we stopped emitting today, the research said.
Interbasin and interhemispheric impacts of a collapsed Atlantic Overturning Circulation
A new study investigated the potential far-reaching impacts of a collapse in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Using a global climate model, the researchers show that “AMOC collapse can accelerate the Pacific trade winds and Walker circulation by leaving an excess of heat in the tropical South Atlantic”. Other impacts include “weakening of the Indian and South Atlantic subtropical highs and deepening of the Amundsen Sea Low”, the study adds. These findings have important implications for understanding the global climate response to ongoing greenhouse gas increases.
Three mining projects in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand forest have been indefinitely put on hold amid protests by locals and environmental activists, where activists claimed more than 200,000 trees will have to be chopped down for the Parsa Mining Project. The Health Minister of state, TS Singh Deo, visited the site and extended his support to the protesters, which was followed by the state government’s decision to hold the projects.
The Hasdeo forest covering Chhattisgarh’s Korba, Surguja and Surajpur districts, is a noted migratory corridor and has a significant presence of elephants. The forests here are the catchment of Hasdeo River – Mahanadi’s largest tributary – which is crucial for the flow of the perennial river. However, the decision to put projects on “hold” didn’t appeal to protestors who are demanding the projects to be cancelled altogether in this rich biodiversity region.
Diversify, grow agro-climatically suitable crops: Central panel
The Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP) recommended promoting crop diversification, favouring oilseed crops amid the global inflation in oilseeds and vegetable oils prices. The CACP report said that because of assured procurement and minimum support prices (MSP), farmers have majorly opted to grow rice and wheat in agro-climatically unsuitable regions, especially in Punjab and Haryana. The shares of oilseeds, pulses, maize and bajra have dropped in these states. Eastern states such as Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, northeastern states and south west coast are more suitable for paddy cultivation.
Previous efforts to promote crop diversification saw little progress because of low returns and high risks from alternative crops, lack of remunerative prices, unavailability of appropriate proven technology for alternative crops, etc.
Key climate proposals fail to pass European Parliament
Lawmakers in the European parliament refused to adopt positions on the reform of the EU’s carbon market, the introduction of a carbon border tax and the establishment of a Social Climate Fund following “conservative-led efforts to water them down”. Members of European Parliament (MEPs) turned down the final report on the expansion and revision of the Emissions Trading System, which is a key part of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 climate legislation package.
The move to kill the ETS report followed MEPs passing a series of amendments pushed by the centre-right European People’s Party and its allies, that would have resulted in weaker emissions cuts than proposed by the environment committee last month and delayed the phaseout of free carbon credits. Negotiations following the initial failure to pass the proposals has seen representatives of the largest political groups in Parliament reach an agreement on the EU ETS and the contentious Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms (CBAM). A fresh vote on the matter has been scheduled for 22 June.
Australia submits new NDC, still falls short of global warming target
The Australian government last week finally submitted its new NDC to the UNFCCC. The update to the 2015 NDC has set out a 43% GHG emissions reduction target by 2030 over 2005 levels. This is a 15 percentage point increase to the ambition stated in the country’s previous NDC. While the new NDC retains the 2050 net-zero target, climate scientists have flagged that the new NDC still falls far below what is required to achieve the 2 degree Celsius warming limit set out in the Paris Agreement by the end of the century. Australia’s new Labour government intends to use a strengthened “safeguard mechanism” to reduce emissions by setting an emissions cap on big polluters and requiring them to pay to offset their emissions if the cap is breached.
China releases new policy document on adaptation
The Chinese government has come out with a new policy document that seeks to address adaptation concerns as the country faces rapidly increasing risks from extreme weather and climate change-related stresses. The document has laid out plans for the modernisation of China’s climate-related disaster prevention systems in order to reduce vulnerabilities in the country’s economy and natural ecosystems.
The government has said that it aims to build a nationwide climate impact and risk assessment system by 2035, and will mandate the inclusion of climate in environmental impact assessments of all major projects. Early-warning capabilities in the country will also be boosted as the economic giant contends with multiplying climate risks.
Long time climate negotiator and China’s current climate envoy Xie Zhenhua has called for the prioritisation of adaptation in a recent interview given to business publication Caixin Global. The veteran negotiator also called for reliance on multilateral measures to continue, particularly when dealing with the issue of carbon pricing, while denouncing unilateral measures such as the EU’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms (CBAM).
In a significant development coal will be phased out from across Delhi and the National Capital from January 1, 2023. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) imposed a coal ban across energy-intensive industries in the NCR from October 1 this year for regions where piped natural gas (PNG) infrastructure and supply is already available. In the regions where PNG is yet to arrive, the ban will come into effect from January 1, 2023, a statement by the CAQM said.
The independent statutory body said emissions from heavily polluting fuels like coal for various industrial, domestic and miscellaneous purposes contribute significantly to the degradation of air quality in the NCR and adjoining areas and accordingly a the consistent need has been felt to switch over to lesser polluting and cleaner fuel in the NCR.
According to current estimates, 1.7 million tonnes of coal is used annually by industries in the NCR, and the fuel contributes significantly to the region’s air pollution levels. The ban excludes the usage of low-sulphur coal — a less harmful alternative with comparatively lower sulphur dioxide emissions.
Almost 40% of all Indians set to lose 7.6 years if pollution levels persist: EPIC study
About 510 million residents of north India are estimated to lose 7.6 years of their life if current air pollution levels persist, a study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC)’s Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) flagged. While the average loss in life-expectancy across the country was about 5 years, higher pollution loads in the Indo-Gengetic plains are contributing to even more decreased life expectancies, according to the AQLI.
Terming air pollution “the greatest threat to human life in the country”, the study also reported that about 44% of the world’s increase in pollution has come from India since 2013, making it the world’s second most-polluted country, only behind neighbour Bangladesh. Average annual particulate pollution in the country has increased by 61.4% since 1998, it added. While all of the country lives in areas that record pollution levels above the 5 microgram/m3 WHO standard for particulate matter, almost two-thirds of the country lives in areas that exceed the country’s own standard of 40 microgram/m3.
EU backs ban on combustion-engine cars in 2035
In a big move against air pollution, the European Parliament is considering a proposed ban on selling new cars with combustion engines in 2035, seeking to step up the fight against climate change through the faster development of electric vehicles.
The European Union assembly voted in Strasbourg, France, to require automakers to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 100% by the middle of the next decade. The mandate would amount to a prohibition on the sale in the 27-nation bloc of new cars powered by gasoline or diesel, AP reported.
EU lawmakers also backed a 55% reduction in CO2 from automobiles in 2030 compared with 2021. This is above an existing obligation on the car industry to lower CO2 discharges by 37.5% on average at the end of the decade compared to last year.
Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based alliance, said the vote offered “a fighting chance of averting runaway climate change.”
NASA to measure Earth’s dust regions to help battle climate change
Nasa is set to launch a new mission to study the role that dust plays in Earth’s weather and climate systems. The instrument called EMIT – which stands for Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation – will be installed on the International Space Station, where it will study the movement of dust around the world, the BBC reported. NASA will also look at what minerals the dust is made of. The report said the scientists hope that this information will help them understand what effect dust has on the planet, on climate change, and on human populations.
Study: Natural sources of air pollution exceed air quality guidelines in many regions
A new study recommended a rethink of global air quality guidelines. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its air quality guidelines, lowering its recommended annual PM2.5 exposure guideline by 50%, from 10 micrograms per metre cubed (μm3) to 5 μm3. A new study by the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering explored if the updated air quality guideline of 5 μm3 is realistically attainable globally, particularly if anthropogenic emissions are aggressively reduced.
The study stated that eliminating fossil-fuel emissions would improve air quality around the world, but while compliance with the WHO will help some regions, for many others, such as India and Africa, high contributions from natural sources would impede their ability to meet that target.
The authors said over 50% of the world’s population would still be exposed to PM2.5 concentrations that exceed the new air quality guidelines, even in the absence of all anthropogenic emissions due to the large natural sources of particulate matter—dust, sea salt, and organics from vegetation—that still exist in the atmosphere when anthropogenic emissions are removed from the air.
India imposed an anti-dumping duty on the import of fluoro backsheets (excluding transparent backsheets) from China to protect domestic manufacturers. Fluoro backsheet is a polymer-based component that protects the solar modules from dirt, dust, moisture, and degradation.
The items falling under tariff headings 3920 and 3921 of the first schedule to the Customs Tariff Act will come under the anti-dumping duty’s ambit, Mercom reported.
The duty will last for five years (unless revoked, superseded, or amended earlier) from the announcement in the official gazette and will be payable in Indian currency. The duty of $762/MT will be charged from fluoro backsheets producers Jollywood and Sunwatt and $908/MT from all other producers.
India initiated an anti-dumping investigation following a plea by Indian module manufacturer RenewSys which alleged that the Chinese fluoro backsheet was identical to what was manufactured in India. DGTR found that the imports of fluoro backsheet from China had increased indicating significant price underselling in the range of 20% to 30%.
SECI annulls 25 KW green hydrogen-based pilot project in Leh
India’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) “annulled”the request for proposal (RfS) to set up a 25 kW green hydrogen-based pilot project at SNM hospital in Leh, Ladakh. According to Mercom, the bid that was issued in March this year, included setting up of a 25 kW Green Hydrogen based project on a “Build-Own-Operate” basis and supply of electricity, heat, and oxygen using green hydrogen to the SNM Hospital.
Gujarat to have net metering for Rooftop Solar Systems of 1 kW to 1 MW
Gujarat government allowed net metering for rooftop solar systems having a capacity of 1 kW and up to 1 MW. Gross metering for rooftop solar systems with 10 kW and up to 1 MW capacity will be permitted. Rooftop solar projects set up by residential consumers will be allowed irrespective of the sanctioned load,according to the new norms. Consumers can avail of incentives as per the programme. There will be no capacity restrictions up to the sanctioned load demand for captive consumers and projects set up under third-party sale within the permissible limit.
Solar projects can also be set up by a developer on the rooftop of a residential consumer for the generation and sale of power to another consumer on the same premises under third-party sale, Mercom reported. The developer and consumer must enter a lease or power sale agreement in this case, according to the new rules.
Rajasthan scraps solar duty waiver
Rajasthan withdrew the electricity duty exemption allowed to the consumers of captive solar projects, the duty was waived in the solar policy 2019, ET reported. In 2020 Rajasthan Solar Association moved the court and managed a High Court stay on duty demand by DISCOMs.
Industry representatives said investors will lose trust in the state government if it changes Cabinet approved policy midway. They said the state energy department which took the decision to reimpose the duty should have consulted the Cabinet.
The climate crisis to impact India’s renewable energy potential: Study
A new study found that the climate crisis is likely to impact India’s renewable energy potential. A paper published in Current Science journal stated that while solar radiation over most active solar farming regions is expected to decrease during all seasons, the annual wind speed is likely to reduce in north India and increase in some parts of south India.
Scientists said central and south central India must be considered for investments in the solar power sector during the pre-monsoon months as the potential radiation loss is likely to be minimal in these regions,
According to the study, the frequency of high energy-producing wind speeds will decrease as a whole but those of low energy-producing wind speeds are likely to increase. Solar energy production is expected to decrease in the immediate future and this can be attributed to an increase in total cloud cover in the coming years, HT reported.
India allows commercial and industrial users to pay fewer surcharge for clean power
In a move to decarbonise industry, India has eased rules to allow commercial and industrial consumers to switch to green sources of electricity. Users seeking “open access” to a clean energy source –without being tied to the local distributor — will have fewer surcharges to pay, and the approval process will be quicker, the power ministry said. The threshold for such transactions is being reduced to 100 kilowatts, from 1 megawatt previously, to allow smaller consumers benefit, reported the Bloomberg
Biden invokes war-era Act to boost solar panel manufacturing
The US president Joe Biden will use his executive powers to boost the domestic production of solar panels and their parts. Biden will use the Defence Production Act—a Korean war-era act that directs private companies to prioritise orders from the federal government–to accelerate the manufacturing of solar panels in the US as part of the administration’s push towards clean energy. Biden will also use his authority to allow tariff-free solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for two years.
In a significant move, the president suspended import tariffs on solar panels produced in four southeast Asian nations for two years to reboot stalled solar installations. US solar installers ‘breathe a sigh of relief’, Climate Home reported. According to Reuters, battery shortage is hampering the US switch to wind, solar power. U.S. renewable energy developers have delayed or scrapped several big battery projects meant to store electrical power on the grid in recent months, scuttling plans to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar energy.
PMV Electric announced India’s first electric quadricycle, called the EaS-E, at a price of INR 400,000 – 600,000, and the vehicle is essentially an electric two-seater that rides on four wheels. The EaS-E is designed to be recharged to full capacity in four hours from a regular power outlet and will offer 120-200km of driving range from its lithium-iron-phophate battery pack. The vehicle’s top speed will be limited to 70 km/h and its occupants will be offered 170mm of ground clearance, apart from several modern features like power windows, air conditioning, over-the-air updates and LED headlamps.
UK to scrap EV subsidies
The UK’s Department of Transport announced that the country would scrap its £300 million subsidy package for EVs for new orders, ostensibly to free up resources to expand its EV charging infrastructure and re-invest the funds towards plug-in grants for electric trucks, vans, taxis and wheelchairs. The argument behind the scrapping put forward was that the subsidies had worked to mature the UK EV market from a mere 1,000 units sold in 2011 to around 100,000 units from January to May 2022 alone.
However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chided the decision, saying that it would result in the UK being the only market amongst the major European nations to be without any EV subsidies, and instead suggested that the support be continued for the customers who wanted to switch over from ICE vehicles.
Major lithium producer in Europe faces closure over new classification
The German plant of major lithium producer Albemarle could be forced to shut down if the EU decides to classify the mineral as a hazardous substance. The European Commission is currently assessing a proposal from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to classify lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, and lithium hydroxide as substances hazardous to human health. Such a change in classification would mandate big reforms in the way lithium is processed and stored, according to the company, which might ultimately prove unviable for the lithium producers in the economic bloc.
While the proposal is up for discussion in early July, a decision on the matter is expected only by the end of 2022-beginning of 2023. A decision to reclassify lithium and its derivatives could affect the EU’s plans for self sufficiency in batteries over the current decade, while also adding to the stress on supply chains of key minerals used in EV and battery manufacturing.
Cobalt Institute: EVs now the dominant demand segment for cobalt
A new report by the UK-based Cobalt Institute found that the global EV and hybrid vehicles industry overtook mobile phones and computers to become the world’s largest consumer of the metal. In 2021 it accounted for 34% of the global cobalt consumption — at 59,000 tonnes — and the demand is expected to swell to 50% by 2026. However, with supplies of the metal acutely concentrated in the Demographic Republic of Congo and Australia, there remain concerns about the environmental and human rights footprint of the metal, especially when mined in Africa.
Cobalt-based EV batteries also remain the preferred choice for high-end applications, and the paucity of supplies has reportedly caused Tesla to consider setting up its own mining facilities for the metal.
Ferrari to target 80% EV sales by 2030
Luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari announced that it would target for 80% of its car sales by 2030 to come from electric and hybrid vehicles. The carmaker had previously been defiant against the switch to the electric powertrain, but its Chairman argued that doing so would not affect the brand’s appeal. Ferrari will also develop its own electric motors, batteries and inverters, and its first all-electric car will be launched in 2025, while the share of fully-electric cars in its lineup is expected to be 40% by the end of the decade.
Climate lawyers in the EU plan to use a novel legal option, called internal review, to question the bloc’s support for natural gas pipelines as it pulls away from Russian supplies. The process will stress the fact that the approvals — primarily for pipelines through Greece and Malta, including the EastMed pipeline — violate Article 6 of the European climate law and that they would be inconsistent with the EU’s climate targets. Also, the EU allegedly did not account for the pipelines’ methane emissions, which the lawyers will argue could have serious issues for the ecologically-sensitive Mediterranean Sea.
Meanwhile, the energy crisis in the continent has dealt a body blow to plans in the continent to shift away from coal. Over the past few days, governments of Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have lifted all restrictions on thermal power plants, with the European Commission noting on Monday that “some of the existing coal capacities might be used longer than initially expected” because of the new energy landscape in Europe. The German government will reportedly keep coal plants on stand-by for around two years in case the natural gas supplies from Russia fall abruptly and cause a shortage for the nation’s energy supply. Germany is said to have a number of oil- and coal-fired plants that can be brought online for emergency relief, but the country has, at the same time, stressed that its target of a coal phaseout by 2030 remains intact.
India: CIL floats first-ever tender for coal imports, targets 2.4 MT
Coal India Ltd. (CIL) floated its first-ever international tender for coal imports for a total weight of 2.416 million tonnes (MT), and the step comes as the country explores every option to boost its supply of coal for power production. The miner called for the imports on behalf of the power producers and will target for the quality to be +/- 30% 5,000 GAR (gross as received) of thermal coal, regardless of the country the consignments come from. The tender will be open till June 29 and the coal will be brought into the country through nine different ports.
Additionally, the country produced 34% more coal in May and 26% more power (y-o-y), with 37 of the top coal mines ramping up their output to more than 100% of their rated output.
US criticises EU’s approvals for new fossil fuel projects
The US criticised the EU’s approvals for several coal projects and oil and gas pipelines as part of the bloc’s move away from Russian fossil fuel imports, saying that the “new gold rush” for fossil fuels that had been unleashed was not compatible with the EU’s long-term climate targets. Also the flurry of project signed to set up new LNG facilities for the bloc — from Egypt, Algeria, Qatar and even the US itself — may also “lock the world into irreversible warning”, according to think tank Climate Action Tracker, because the infrastructure would be used for decades and their climate impact would far overshadow their short-term relief to the EU’s energy woes.
Big Oil using Energy Charter Treaty provisions to sue against climate action
A new paper in the journal Science pointed out that the world’s biggest oil and gas drillers were using the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) to sue national governments pursuing climate action. The ECT was first introduced 30 years ago and is ratified by 50 countries so far, and it allows for private companies to seek “fair and equitable treatment” of investors and the “payment of prompt, adequate and effective compensation” if and when the action affected fossil fuel projects and the companies’ (potential for) revenues and profitability.
The litigation process itself is termed “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS), and the paper found that it had been used in the favour of oil drillers 72% of the time — and had earned them an average of $600million in compensation. At the same time, there are concerns about the ECT’s compatibility with the global net-zero targets, and the ISDS process was not designed to protect climate action. It even gives the plaintiffs a say in the judges that would preside over the litigations, and prevents the national governments from initiating any litigation against the private companies.