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The Gigafactory Has Been Activated: This Week’s 16 Biggest Climate Stories

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Welcome to the 10 January 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 @PeterKoekoekEU or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

1. A stunning visualisation reveals Europe’s real-time electricity emissions.

An open source project visualises the emissions of electricity generation across Europe along with the potential for renewable energy, the  Daily Planet reports. The Electricity Map project has integrated live data feeds into an interactive map of Europe to show how electricity is distributed across the continent, what energy sources are used and how much carbon is being produced to generate it. Using up-to-date weather data, the tool also shows what the current potential for solar and wind power is in individual countries.

2. China aims to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020.

China’s National Energy Administration has laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, the New York Times reports. The move comes just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack with Donald Trump set to take office. China says it expects to create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020.

The article quotes a Greenpeace analyst as saying “My experience with China is when a numeric target gets written down, it gets implemented.” The New York Times notes how “the investment commitment made by the Chinese, combined with Mr. Trump’s moves, means jobs that would have been created in the United States may instead go to Chinese workers.”

3. Choked by smog, Beijing is creating a new environmental police.

Officials in Beijing have announced a new environmental police squad to root out illegal burning in the city, according to the Associated Press. Beijing’s acting mayor, Cai Qi, said at a meeting Saturday that the force would target open-air barbecues, garbage incineration and the burning of wood and other biomass, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

4. Tesla has turned on its Gigafactory, the world’s lithium-ion battery production is set to double by 2018.

Battery-cell production begins at what will soon be the world’s biggest factory, with thousands of additional jobs, Bloomberg reports. By 2018, the Gigafactory in Nevada, which is less than a third complete, should double the world’s production capacity for lithium-ion batteries. The start of mass production is a huge milestone in Tesla’s effort to electrify transportation, and it brings industry and jobs to America that have long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea according to Bloomberg.

5. And the race to get ‘Tesla Gigafactory 2’ is already heating up, with the French economy minister visiting the company’s US factory.

Several countries have launched efforts to convince Tesla to build a second Gigafactory in their country, Electrek reports. French economy minister Sapin tweeted a photo of himself trying out a Tesla car at the Gigafactory on Friday (6 January). Tesla already has a factory in Europe – in the Netherlands – but only for final assembly processes, Electrek adds.

6. Meanwhile, Faraday Future claims to have developed the fastest electric car ever.

The vehicle by yet another California-based start-up could be the fastest electric car ever made, Mashable reports. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 2.39 seconds, it would be a “new species” of car that “is smarter, faster and more connected than anything else on the road.”

7. As from 1 January 2017 100% of Dutch electric trains are powered by wind energy.

Did you know that just three rotations of a wind turbine enable a train to travel for one kilometre? Energy company Eneco provides the Dutch railways the energy to transport 600.000 people per day. That’s 1.200.000 train trips per day without any CO2 emissions, Bright Vibes reports, noting that this is a world first.

8. Paris is boosting cycling infrastructure and has named 2017 the ‘year of the bike’.

Paris plans a major boost to its cycling infrastructure and will ban cars from outside the Louvre museum as it steps up its fight against traffic pollution, Reuters reports. Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced a new two-way 4 kilometre bike lane and said Paris will accelerate a plan to double the surface of its cycling lanes by 2020. “Climate is the number one priority. Less cars means less pollution. 2017 will be the year of the bicycle,” she said.

9. New research shows the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation could completely collapse because of climate change.

“If you’ve seen the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, you may have heard of the Atlantic Ocean currents and their importance,” is how CBC news begins an article on the topic. Both Europe and North America are warmed in the winter by currents circulating in the Atlantic, The Verge explains. If the Earth warms too much, this current could collapse within 300 years according to The Verge. That would mean frigid winters for countries along the North Atlantic, expansion of the sea ice in the Greenland, Iceland, and Norwegian seas and a shift in rainfall across the world The Verge reports.

10. Here are 17 ambitious goals that literally the entire planet is working towards in 2017.

You’ve probably decided on one or two new year’s resolutions for 2017. But did you know more than seven billion people have agreed on 17 common goals? Officially known as the Sustainable Development Goals, there are now less than 13 years left to achieve them. So 2017 will be another crucial year as the countdown to 2030 continues, the Daily Planet reports.

11. Solar to beat coal in less than a decade.

Solar power is already cheaper than coal in some parts of the world, according to Bloomberg. But in less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere on the planet. Bloomberg reports the solar industry is experiencing a “Wal-Mart effect” due to higher volumes and lower margins.

12. Record number of oil and gas firms go bust as renewable energy revolution begins to bite.

The world’s largest private power production company warns the sector that renewables could drive the oil price as low as $10 a barrel according to the Independent.

13. Changing sustainable production could take us to Mars.

SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced that we could see human missions to Mars as soon as 2022. Wayne Visser, a fellow at Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, writes that what Musk will be trying to do is “replicate what nature already does for us here on earth: creating an intelligent biosystem that can endlessly reuse or recycle resources in a way that allows life to survive and, ultimately, to thrive. This is the same idea that underlies the philosophy of sustainable production.”

14. Don’t miss NASA’s epic 2016 ‘mixtape’ featuring Antarctic Ice and Carbon Dioxide.

NASA has highlighted its 2016 achievements in an epic YouTube mixtape, putting the spotlight on its monitoring of ice sheets and carbon dioxide levels, according to the Daily Planet.

15. ‘Mega-trends’ like climate change are best tackled with private sector help says the new UN chief.

On Sunday (1 January 2017), António Guterres officially took over the reins at the United Nations from Ban Ki-moon as the organisation’s ninth-ever top boss. He says more engagement with the private sector and civil society will be key to the United Nation’s effectiveness. Guterres has said landmark agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement “lay out a clear strategy for action.” And moving forward, the United Nations should focus on “implementation, implementation, implementation,” he stressed.

16. London breaches annual air pollution limit for 2017 in just five days.

London has breached its annual air pollution limits just five days into 2017, something campaigners call a “shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution” according to the Guardian.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive next week’s State Of The Planet in your inbox. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @PeterKoekoekEU or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org!

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About the author(s)

Peter Koekoek

Peter Koekoek

Peter lives in Toronto, Canada, and has been part of Climate-KIC's outreach team since 2013 – starting in London, UK. He is the Daily Planet's managing editor. Peter previously worked as a reporter in Brussels, Belgium, and grew up in the Netherlands. Fun fact: Superman's 'Daily Planet' was originally set in Toronto.

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