News Press Review

World Talks Climate Business in Davos: This Week’s 13 Biggest Climate Stories

Collage: Daily Planet
Collage: Daily Planet

Welcome to the 17 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 @peter_koekoek or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

1. Renewable energy is not “hippie talk” and these 7 powerful charts prove it.

VW may just have unveiled a new electric version of its classic hippie van, but renewable energy is not “hippie talk” a senior diplomat has said. The Daily Planet reports UN General Assembly president Peter Thomson spoke at the launch of a major report this weekend and put it like this: “Ten years ago, renewable energy was considered hippie talk” but now it is “becoming a reality.”

The report was released at the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) seventh annual assembly. Ministers and high-level representatives from over 150 countries discussed steps to accelerate the global energy transformation.

2. The World Economic Forum in Davos will focus on the business opportunities of climate change.

Despite Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president on Friday, “the captains of business and finance gathered in Davos this week will spend a lot of time talking about climate change – and how to make money from it,” Bloomberg reports. This year’s annual meeting, which runs from 17 – 20 January, will devote 15 sessions to climate change, and nine more to clean energy – the most ever according to Bloomberg.

“For global business leaders, it’s not just a question of burnishing their green credentials, but about billions of dollars – maybe even trillions – in potential profits and losses. Insurers are starting to price-in more frequent flooding and droughts; energy giants are shaping their business for a world that’s moving away from oil and coal; car makers are putting real money into electric vehicles; banks want to lend money for renewable electricity projects,” the article says.

3. Climate data: Europe expands its fleet of earth observation satellites.

While NASA’s climate science future may be unclear, Europe is in the midst of upgrading its earth observation capabilities according to the Daily Planet.

4. The climate for “green bonds” continues to improve, even in face of Trump.

Reuters reports that debt raised to fund environmental projects “may be set for significant growth and could make a bigger contribution to the trillions of dollars needed to stop” climate change. Although growth “may not maintain last year’s blistering pace” because of Trump’s influence, green bond sales are set to accelerate further this year, according to Reuters.

5. Obama wrote an article about the irreversible momentum of clean energy for Science magazine.

The soon to be former US commander in chief argues that private-sector incentives are decoupling emissions from economic growth. On the topic of Donald Trump threatening to water down – or pull out of – the Paris Agreement, Obama writes that “it would undermine [US] economic interests to walk away from the opportunity to hold countries representing two-thirds of global emissions—including China, India, Mexico, European Union members, and others—accountable.”

“Outside the United States, countries and their businesses are moving forward, seeking to reap benefits for their countries by being at the front of the clean-energy race,” he warns.

6. Volkswagen has unveiled a high-tech electric version of its classic hippie bus.

Autoweek reports the concept car is on a short list of vehicles that the German automaker wants to put into production. The magazine thinks the “early 2020s” are a good bet for that. But below the sub title “What emissions scandal?” The Verge claims that VW does not intent to build the van at all. The website, however, has published a good number of high res photos if you’re keen on seeing what the self-driving car looks like anyway.

7. Extreme weather in Europe this winter is killing the poor, old and helpless and increases electricity prices.

The Guardian reports that shipping along Europe’s second-longest waterway was suspended as “a freezing spell gripped large parts of the continent, causing hardship especially among migrants, the homeless and the elderly. The death toll rose to 61 [early last week], with a third of those in Poland.” Bloomberg adds that European electricity prices also soared to the highest in almost a decade as a result. Earlier this month new research about a possible future collapse of the Gulf Stream unleashed a torrent of news articles about colder weather in Europe.

8. The Netherlands blew through billions in profits from natural gas, and now has to turn to Russia for supplies.

Politico reports how the Netherlands “partied” on gas for years, and is left with a hangover now the country has burned through 80 per cent of the contents of its gas fields and all of the profits. The article notes how 98 per cent of Dutch homes rely on gas for cooking and heating. A few months ago Climate Home also reported how brand new Dutch coal plants opened in 2015 are now crashing in value. The Dutch government is hurrying to increase the renewables share of the country’s energy mix to 14 per cent in 2020 from just 5.5 percent in 2014 — one of the lowest levels in the EU according to Politico.

9. “More action, fewer letters” – EU spokesperson hits back at UN shipping chief who rejected the European Union’s new plan to save the oceans.

The head of the UN’s shipping body has been accused of siding with countries obstructing global climate action after writing a letter to EU chiefs in which he warns against unilateral action, Climate Home reports. A spokesperson for EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete responded on Twitter, Anna-Kaisa Itkonen tweeted: “We need more action, fewer letters.”

10. These 5 public awareness ads make climate change hilariously personal.

A new tongue in cheek public awareness campaign shows the fight against climate change is highly personal, the Daily Planet reports.

11. Meanwhile, the theme of this year’s world renowned Sundance Film Festival is…. climate change.

Al Gore will open the independent film festival with his new documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel,” the New York Times reports. Although the 10-day festival starts just one day ahead of the inauguration of climate sceptic Donald Trump as the next US president, organisers say the theme is a coincidence. Sundance 2017 will include a special “New Climate” segment featuring 14 documentaries, short films and virtual reality experiences across the festival’s categories according to its website.

12. Progress on key global sustainable development targets explained with 5 charts.

Earlier this month, the Daily Planet brought you the world’s 17 global goals. Last week, we published an article to explain the progress made on some of the goals with five charts.

13. Israel is building the world’s tallest solar thermal tower in Negev Desert.

The tower will be 250 meters high and will be encircled by 50,000 mirrors, Euronews reports.

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