Hainan island in the South China Sea says it will become China's first region to ban sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars to curb climate-changing carbon emissions. Sales of fossil fuel-powered cars will be banned by 2030 and electric vehicles promoted with tax breaks and by expanding a charging network, the Hainan provincial government said in a “Carbon Peak Implementation Plan.” The announcement comes as China struggles through its hottest, driest summer in decades, which has wilted crops and shrunk rivers and reservoirs used for generating hydropower. Read: China and US spar over climate on Twitter “By 2030, the whole province will ban sales of fueled vehicles,” according to the plan, which was released Monday. A deputy Chinese industry minister said in September 2017 that Beijing was working on a plan to stop making and selling gasoline- and diesel-powered cars, but the government has yet to release details. Hainan aims to have electric vehicles account for 45% of its vehicles by 2030, the plan said. It said cities would develop “zero-emissions zones” where fossil fuel-powered vehicles would be banned. The ruling Communist Party is promoting electric cars to help clean up China’s smog-choked cities and gain an early lead in a growing industry. China accounted for more than half of last year’s global electric car sales.
The Power Division and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cut carbon emissions in Bangladesh, helping ensure the country's energy security. Power Division Deputy Secretary Nirodh Chandra Mandol and Rebecca Robinson, acting director of the Economic Growth Office of the USAID, signed the MoU in Dhaka Sunday to implement the project "Bangladesh Advancing Development and Growth Through Energy (BADGE)." Under the project, $17.2 million will be spent to cut carbon emissions in the country, Power Division Secretary Habibur Rahman said. Read: AIBL signs agreement with Padma Diagnostic According to the Power Division, the project will also help increase the cooperation between the private sector and educationists in reducing carbon emissions. The BADGE project will also help improve regulatory oversight of energy systems by creating transparent and efficient energy markets, it added. Power Division Additional Secretary Md Mohsin Chowdhury, Bangladesh Power Development Board Chairman Mahbubur Rahman and Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain also spoke at the event.
China, the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide that causes global warming, has seen a notable dip in its emissions over the past three quarters — but it’s not clear how long the drop will continue. A new analysis of China’s economic data shows that carbon emissions dropped 1.4% in the first three months of the year, compared to the prior year, making it the third consecutive quarter to show a drop — and the longest sustained dip in a decade. The downward trend began last year and accelerated over the winter. The decline continued but was milder this spring. Also read: Globe bounces back to nearly 2019 carbon pollution levels It's not clear whether China's emissions will continue to fall this year. Over the past decade, five shorter dips were followed by rebounding emissions. China's recent emissions decline was driven by decreased output in cement, steel and power industries, as well as COVID lockdown measures, according to an analysis by Lauri Myllyvirta, a Finland-based climate and energy analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. “Steel and cement are China’s second and third largest emitting sectors, and the demand for both sectors is largely driven by construction activity," but policy changes on real estate lending and debt have at least temporarily depressed the construction sector, Myllyvirta wrote in an analysis for Carbon Brief. Whether China meets its long-term goal to become carbon neutral by 2060 depends in large part on what happens in its power sector. And that depends upon how quickly the world's second largest economy can move away from coal. China's leaders have recently doubled-down on plans to promote coal-fired power, calling for coal production capacity to increase by 300 million tons this year, or 7% over last year. Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace, told the Associated Press in April that economic concerns, including those related to China's zero-COVID policy, meant that China's leaders were prioritizing energy security over moving away from fossil fuels, at least in the short-term. Also read: Carbon dioxide levels hit 50% higher than preindustrial time “This mentality of ensuring energy security has become dominant, trumping carbon neutrality,” he said. China is currently the world’s largest carbon emitter, although other countries, such as the United States, have contributed a greater share of historic emissions. China’s carbon emissions increased by 750 megatonnes over the two-year period between 2019 and 2021, driving the global rebound in carbon emissions after the first phase of pandemic, according to the nonprofit Paris-based International Energy Agency.
China is promoting coal-fired power as the ruling Communist Party tries to revive a sluggish economy, prompting warnings Beijing is setting back efforts to cut climate-changing carbon emissions from the biggest global source. Official plans call for boosting coal production capacity by 300 million tons this year, according to news reports. That is equal to 7% of last year’s output of 4.1 billion tons, which was an increase of 5.7% over 2020. China is one of the biggest investors in wind and solar, but jittery leaders called for more coal-fired power after economic growth plunged last year and shortages caused blackouts and factory shutdowns. Russia’s attack on Ukraine added to anxiety that foreign oil and coal supplies might be disrupted. “This mentality of ensuring energy security has become dominant, trumping carbon neutrality,” said Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace. “We are moving into a relatively unfavorable time period for climate action in China.” Also read: China looks to learn from Russian failures in Ukraine Officials face political pressure to ensure stability as President Xi Jinping prepares to try to break with tradition and award himself a third five-year term as ruling party leader in the autumn. Coal is important for “energy security,” Cabinet officials said at an April 20 meeting that approved plans to expand production capacity, according to Caixin, a business news magazine. The ruling party also is building power plants to inject money into the economy and revive growth that sank to 4% over a year earlier in the final quarter of 2021, down from the full year’s 8.1% expansion. Governments have pledged to try to limit warming of the atmosphere to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the level of pre-industrial times. Leaders say what they really want is a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists say even if the world hits the 2-degree goal in the 2015 Paris climate pact and the 2021 Glasgow follow-up agreement, that still will lead to higher seas, stronger storms, extinctions of plants and animals and more people dying from heat, smog and infectious diseases. China is the top producer and consumer of coal. Global trends hinge on what Beijing does. The Communist Party has rejected binding emissions commitments, citing its economic development needs. Beijing has avoided joining governments that promised to phase out use of coal-fired power. In a 2020 speech to the United Nations, Xi said carbon emissions will peak by 2030, but he announced no target for the amount. Xi said China aims for carbon neutrality, or removing as much from the atmosphere by planting trees and other tactics as is emitted by industry and households, by 2060. China accounts for 26.1% of global emissions, more than double the U.S. share of 12.8%, according to the World Resources Institute. Rhodium Group, a research firm, says China emits more than all developed economies combined. Per person, China’s 1.4 billion people on average emit the equivalent of 8.4 tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to WRI. That is less than half the U.S. average of 17.7 tons but more than the European Union’s 7.5 tons. China has abundant supplies of coal and produced more than 90% of the 4.4 billion tons it burned last year. More than half of its oil and gas is imported and leaders see that as a strategic risk. Also read: Anti-virus shutdowns in China spread as infections rise China’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2060 appears to be on track, but using more coal “could jeopardize this, or at least slow it down and make it more costly,” Clare Perry of the Environmental Investigations Agency said in an email. Promoting coal will make emissions “much higher than they need to be” by the 2030 peak year, said Perry. “This move runs entirely counter to the science,” she said. Beijing has spent tens of billions of dollars on building solar and wind farms to reduce reliance on imported oil and gas and clean up its smog-choked cities. China accounted for about half of global investment in wind and solar in 2020. Still, coal is expected to supply 60% of its power in the near future. Beijing is cutting millions of jobs to shrink its bloated, state-owned coal mining industry, but output and consumption still are rising. Authorities say they are shrinking carbon emissions per unit of economic output. The government reported a reduction of 3.8% last year, better than 2020′s 1% but down from a 5.1% cut in 2017. Last year’s total energy use increased 5.2% over 2020 after a revival of global demand for Chinese exports propelled a manufacturing boom, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Stimulus spending also might raise carbon output if it pays for building more bridges, train stations and other public works. That would encourage carbon-intensive steel and cement production. China’s coal-fired power plants operate at about half their capacity on average, but building more creates jobs and economic activity, said Greenpeace’s Li. He said even if the power isn’t needed now, local leaders face pressure to make them pay for themselves. “That locks China into a more high-carbon path,” Li said. “It’s very difficult to fix.”
Before Russia’s war in Ukraine, Europe’s most pressing energy policy goal was reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change. Now, officials are fixated on rapidly reducing the continent’s reliance on Russian oil and natural gas — and that means friction between security and climate goals, at least in the short term. To wean itself from Russian energy supplies as quickly as possible, Europe will need to burn more coal and build more pipelines and terminals to import fossil fuels from elsewhere. This dramatic shift comes amid soaring fuel costs for motorists, homeowners and businesses, and as political leaders reassess the geopolitical risks from being so energy-dependent on Russia. In 2021, the European Union imported roughly 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia — an economic relationship that officials had thought would prevent hostilities, but is instead financing them. Read:West needs more courage in helping Ukraine fight: Zelenskyy While some are calling for an immediate boycott of all Russian oil and gas, the EU plans to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of this year, and to eliminate them altogether before 2030. This “will not be easy,” said Paolo Gentiloni, the EU’s top economic official. But, he added, “it can be done.” In the near-term, ending energy ties with Russia puts the focus on securing alternative sources of fossil fuels. But longer term, the geopolitical and price pressures stoked by Russia’s war in Ukraine may actually accelerate Europe’s transition away from oil, gas and coal. Experts say the war has served as a reminder that renewable energy isn’t just good for the climate, but also for national security. That could help speed up the development of wind and solar power, as well as provide a boost to conservation and energy-efficiency initiatives. The EU has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 55% compared with 1990 levels by 2030, and to get to net zero emissions by 2050. Analysts and officials say those goals, enshrined in EU climate legislation, can still be met. The rapid pursuit of energy independence from Russia will likely require “a slight increase” in carbon emissions, said George Zachmann, an energy expert at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels. But “in the long term, the effect will be that we will see more investment in renewables and energy efficiency in Europe,” Zachmann said. Plans that wouldn’t have been contemplated just a few months ago are now being actively discussed, such as running coal plants in Germany beyond 2030, which had previously been seen as an end date. Germany’s vice chancellor and energy minister, Robert Habeck, said there should be “no taboos.” The Czech government has made the same calculation about extending the life of coal power plants. “We will need it until we find alternative sources,” Czech energy security commissioner Václav Bartuška, told the news site Seznam Zprávy. “Until that time, even the greenest government will not phase out coal.” One of Europe’s top priorities is to buy more liquefied natural gas that can come by ship. On Friday, American and European officials announced a plan under which the U.S. and other nations will increase liquefied gas exports to Europe this year, though U.S. officials were unable to say exactly which countries will provide the extra energy this year. Germany, which lacks import terminals to turn LNG back into gas when it comes off the ship, is pushing ahead with two multibillion-euro projects on its North Sea coast. The war also has revived Spain’s interest in extending a gas pipeline across the Pyrenees to France. The 450 million-euro ($500 million) project had been abandoned in 2019 after France showed little interest and a European feasibility study deemed it unprofitable and unnecessary. If built, it would allow gas imported in Spain and Portugal as LNG to reach other parts of Europe. In Britain, which is no longer part of the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it’s “time to take back control of our energy supplies.” Britain will phase out the small amount of oil it imports from Russia this year. More significantly, Johnson has signaled plans to approve new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, to the dismay of environmentalists, who say that is incompatible with Britain’s climate targets. Read:Rocket attacks hit Ukraine's Lviv as Biden visits Poland Some within the governing Conservative Party and the wider political right want the British government to retreat on its commitment to reach net zero by 2050, a pledge made less than six months ago at a global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden said last week that “British people want to see a bit of conservative pragmatism, not net zero dogma.” Yet the shock waves from the war cut both ways. Sharply higher gas and electricity prices, and the desire to be less dependent on Russia, are increasing pressure to expand the development of home-grown renewables and to propel conservation. The International Energy Agency recently released a 10-point plan for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by a third within a year. Simply lowering building thermostats by an average of one degree Celsius during the home-heating season would save 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, or roughly 6% of what Europe imports from Russia. At the German rooftop solar panel company Zolar, chief executive Alex Melzer said there has been a surge of inquiries from potential customers since the war began. “With the Ukraine crisis, we’ve really seen that people are wondering whether Germany is going to stop buying oil and gas from Russia and what’s going to happen to our electricity and energy system,” he told The Associated Press. Melzer said customers are less interested in saving the planet than in saving money, despite the upfront investment of 20,000 euros ($22,000). But it amounts to the same thing: a reduction in fossil fuel use and thereby emissions. “Goal achieved, super,” he said.
Reiterating the need for reducing global carbon emissions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on world leaders "to turn pledges into action" to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. Showcasing Bangladesh's efforts in the fight against climate change, Hasina hasurged world leaders to join her in fixing the global problem that "requires a great deal of fortitude, imagination, hope and leadership". "If western leaders listen, engage and act decisively on what science demands of them, there is still time to make COP26 the success it desperately needs to be," she wrote in an article published by leading British daily 'Financial Times'. Read:'COP26 outcomes crucial for climate-vulnerable countries like Bangladesh' In the article, "We need a global ‘climate prosperity plan’ not empty pledges", Hasina slammed the developed nations for not taking seriously the needs of those countries most immediately affected by climate change. "Bangladesh was born 50 years ago this year, a birth shrouded in blood and pain. My father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, inspired and led our independence struggle. It is in his memory that we have named our climate prosperity plan the Mujib Plan," she wrote. 'Climate change is a very different foe from those he faced, but dealing with it requires a great deal of fortitude, imagination, hope and leadership. "The inconvenient truth of our times is that while action on climate change has never been more urgent and achievable, governments are not cutting emissions fast enough to keep nations such as mine safe," Hasina wrote.
Just as the European Union was announcing plans to spend billions of euros to contain climate change, massive clouds gathered over Germany and nearby nations to unleash an unprecedented storm that left death and destruction in its wake. Despite ample warnings, politicians and weather forecasters were shocked at the ferocity of the precipitation that caused flash flooding that claimed more than 150 lives this week in the lush rolling hills of Western Europe. Read: Rescuers race to prevent more deaths from European floods Climate scientists say the link between extreme weather and global warming is unmistakable and the urgency to do something about climate change undeniable. Scientists can’t yet say for sure whether climate change caused the flooding, but they insist that it certainly exacerbates the extreme weather that has been on show from the western U.S. and Canada to Siberia to Europe’s Rhine region. Read: Death toll from Europe floods tops 150 as water recedes “There is a clear link between extreme precipitation occurring and climate change,” Wim Thiery, a professor at Brussels University, said Friday. Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor of ocean physics at the University of Potsdam, referring to the recent heat records set in the U.S. and Canada, said “some are so extreme that they would be virtually impossible without global warming..” Taking them all together, said Sir David King, chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, “these are casualties of the climate crisis: we will only see these extreme weather events become more frequent.” For Diederik Samsom, the European Commission’s Cabinet chief behind this week’s massive proposals to spend billions and force industry into drastic reforms to help cut the bloc’s emissions of the gases that cause global warming by 55% this decade, this week’s disaster was a cautionary tale. “People are washed away in Germany ... and Belgium and the Netherlands, too. We are experiencing climate change,” he said on a conference call of the European Policy Centre think tank. “A few years ago, you had to point to a point in the future or far away on the planet to talk about climate change. It’s happening now — here.” And climate scientists point toward two specific things that have contributed to this week’s calamity. First, with every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature, the air can take in 7% more humidity. It can hold the water longer, leading to drought, but it also leads to an increase in dense, massive rainfall once it releases it. Another defining factor is the tendency for storms to hover over one place for far longer than usual, thus dumping increasing amounts of rain on a smaller patch of the world. Scientists say warming is a contributing factor there, too. A jet stream of high winds six miles (nearly 10 kilometers) high helps determine the weather over Europe and is fed by temperature differences between the tropics and the Arctic. Yet as Europe warms — with Scandinavia currently experiencing an unusual heat wave — the jet stream is weakened, causing its meandering course to stop, sometimes for days, Thiery said. He said such a phenomenon was visible in Canada too, where it helped cause a “heat dome” in which temperatures rose to 50 C (122 F). “And it is causing the heavy rain that we have seen in Western Europe,” he said. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are drastically curbed in the coming decades, the amount of carbon dioxide and other planet-heating gases already in the atmosphere means extreme weather is going to become more likely. Experts say such phenomena will hit those areas that aren’t prepared for it particularly hard. “We need to make our built environment — buildings, outdoor spaces, cities — more resilient to climate change,” said Lamia Messari-Becker, a professor of engineering at the University of Siegen. Those that don’t adapt will risk greater loss of life and damage to property, said Ernst Rauch, chief climate and geoscientist at the reinsurance giant Munich Re. “The events of today and yesterday or so give us a hint that we need to do better with respect to being ready for these these type of events,” he said. “The events themselves are not really unexpected, but the sort of the order of magnitude probably has surprised some.”
Governor Jay Inslee of the U.S. state of Washington on Thursday complained that a state court ruling will negatively affect his government's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.