News Press Review

Hydrogen Steel And Eco Snow: The Week’s 10 Biggest Climate Stories

Collage: Daily  Planet
Collage: Daily Planet

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day 2017 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet press review.

Catch up on the latest developments in the transition to the zero carbon economy with some of the biggest stories about climate change this week. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or

1. Must see: Fuel cell innovation explained by Honda’s bodiless singing children.

Honda is letting floating children’s heads introduce its new fuel cell-powered electric car, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. The Daily Planet reports that the Japanese car producer says its new campaign is meant to take fuel cell technology mainstream by educating consumers about the advantage its new car, an “everyday drivable vehicle” that uses hydrogen instead of petrol or diesel.

2. Wind is overtaking coal power in Europe as turbines head offshore.

Wind farms added more power than any other form of energy last year in Europe according to Bloomberg. Europe’s wind power grew 8 per cent, to 153.7 gigawatts, 16,7 percent of all installed power generation capacity – overtaking coal which is currently at 16.5 per cent and declining.

3. A new daily release of wind energy data is taking Europe by storm.

The winds of change are blowing through the European Union, and thanks to a new initiative you can now follow the situation more closely than ever. To help draw more attention to the increasing share of wind energy in Europe’s power mix, a new digital platform launched last week (6 February) visualises data supplied by transmission system operators, power exchanges, Eurostat and Europe’s wind industry on a daily basis according to the Daily Planet.

4. An Austrian steelmaker says it wants to start using hydrogen instead of coal.

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine will build an experimental facility to produce hydrogen according to the Financial Times. The aim is to use hydrogen instead of coal-fed blast furnaces for steel production. John Lichtenstein, managing director for natural resources at Accenture Strategy, told the FT that the move by Voestalpine and its partners was “significant.” Although hydrogen-based steel production is seen as the “holy grail of decarbonised steelmaking” the technology and economics at scale have so far not been put to the test he says.

5. India’s megacities are joining the EU-led Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

The largest and first-of-its-kind coalition of cities committed to fighting climate change is expanding to India in 2017, the Daily Planet reports. Mayors in megacities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad as well as smaller cities in the country of more than one billion will be signing up, the European Commission announced last week (7 February).

6. Norway is hoping to climate-proof skiing with “eco snow machines.”

Researchers at SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest independent research institute, and Climate-KIC partner the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) are developing a machine that can heat homes while producing snow at the same time according to Climate Home.

7. The city of Beijing is going to cut coal use by 30% in 2017.

China’s official Xinhua news agency revealed that China’s capital is planning to further cut coal consumption by 30 per cent this year according to CleanTechnica. Mayor Cai Qi says the new coal cuts reduce coal usage in the city to less than 7 million tonnes this year, and also pledges to take 300.000 old cars off the road in 2017 to raise fuel standards and to promote more efficient cars, CleanTechnica reports.

8. Australia’s first climate innovation incubator is set to open in Sydney.

Climate-KIC Australia, modeled on and supported by the original EU initiative, is supporting the launch of a new startup incubator at the University of Technology Sydney’s Chippendale campus according to the Australian Financial Review. If the EnergyLab accelerator is successful in Sydney, Climate-KIC Australia chief executive Christopher Lee intends to roll out the programme throughout the country’s major cities the newspaper reports.

“Climate KIC is a public-private partnership and, at the moment, we have 20 partners around the country with universities in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, governments, Suncorp and EnergyLab,” he said according to the Financial Review.

9. Meanwhile, senior Republicans launch a carbon tax proposal for the United States.

You read that right, a group of high-ranking former cabinet secretaries has proposed a plan for a US carbon tax. The tax, they say, could be the Republican party’s answer to climate change because it focuses on the market as the solution rather than rules and regulations. “Increasingly, climate change is becoming a defining issue for this next generation of Americans, which the GOP ignores at its own peril,” the new proposal says according to CNN.

10. You’re hired! Are America’s climate innovators moving to Europe?

As the EU’s science commissioner says he might join the March for Science, a French presidential candidate calls on US climate innovators to move to Europe. In a video statement posted to Twitter last week (9 February), Emmanuel Macron says he knows the new US president is “extremely skeptical about climate change,” and plans to cut science budgets, the Daily Planet reports.

The French politician’s statement followed a tweet earlier that day by EU science commissioner Carlos Moedas which also featured the #ScienceMarch hashtag. “I love science,” he said, “We shouldn’t fear science, we should praise it!” Moedas’ tweet includes a link to an interview with Science|Business in which he says he could be joining the protest himself. “I’d love if some of the organisers would contact me with more information – I could show up as someone who really loves science,” he said.

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