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Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 26, August 29, 2012

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Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 26, August 29, 2012
CE News is a weekly e-publication that features news, information and events related to clean energy, clean air and climate change. CE News is published by Clean Energy Nepal. For more information on our campaigns please visit www.cen.org.np
In this Issue
Nepal forms 17 members team for climate negotiation
• New Climate Projections to allow for better planning in Nepal
• Vehicle pollution standards enforced
• Outer Ring Road Plan
• Arctic sea ice shrinks to lowest extent ever recorded
• Finance key as U.N. talks on climate deal resume in Bangkok
• What's Next for the Green Climate Fund?
• Salt-and-water battery could help plug renewables gap
• China to Spend $372 Billion on Cutting Energy Use, Pollution
• India approves $4.1 bn green vehicle push over eight years

• Link Of The Week
• Did You Know?
• Media Watch
• QUIZ Of The Week # 523
• Answer Of Quiz Of The Week # 522
National News
Nepal forms 17 members team for climate negotiation
24, August, 2012
The Himalayan Times
The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology has formed a 17-member talks team to make Nepal’s presence result-oriented in the conferences under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.

The Chief of Climate Change Management Division at the Ministry has been named the head of the negotiation team with a two-year term, the ministry said in a press release on Friday. Other team members are from different ministries, including Finance, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Energy. Capacity and role of negotiation team will be enhanced through training.


New Climate Projections to allow for better planning in Nepal
26, August, 2012
Spotlight News Magazine
Climate change is expected to increase temperatures in Nepal by several degrees by 2060, but a new database set up by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) should help this geographically diverse country better prepare for the various climate change impacts.
“The potential applications of this database are manifold: If a farmer has a better idea of how rain patterns are going to change, he can make better decisions about the crops he will plant, while the engineer can make a more informed decision about how to build roads that will last, and the government official can better direct public spending,” said Cindy Malvicini, Senior Water Resources Specialist, at ADB.
Information on climate change impacts across the country has, until now, been very general. This was not very useful given that Nepal’s topography ranges from arctic regions to tropical plains all within a 200 kilometer span from north to south. Frequent earthquakes, landslides and melting glaciers also make it highly vulnerable to climate change.
Under a project called “Strengthening Capacity for Managing Climate Change and the Environment,” ADB has coordinated a more specific set of climate change projections for areas as small as 12 square kilometers. Previous climate change data provided projections for wide swathes of up to 100 square kilometers. The new data are more targeted, allowing for more effective climate response plans to be drawn up.
The data show that between 2030 and 2060, the annual mean maximum temperature will increase in most areas of Nepal. While it will rise only slightly in the central part of the country, it will go up by about 3°C in the northwestern high mountain region. Meanwhile, average annual rainfall will increase slightly across the whole country, but increase most in the western and northern high mountain regions.
The projections have been made available through the Nepal Climate Data Portal on http://dhm.gov.np/dpc
The data was prepared by a team comprising the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Thailand, the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research of Norway, the Faculty for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente in the Netherlands and India’s The Energy and Resources Institute. In Nepal, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology was the focal institute, while Tribhuvan University was the local technical partner.

Vehicle pollution standards enforced
28, August, 2012
The Himalayan Times 
The government has brought into effect the Nepal Vehicle Pollution Standard-2069 and the National Standard on Air Quality-2069 BS.
These standards have been enforced so as to enhance environmental cleanliness at the sites important from the cultural, religious and touristic perspectives, and to offer people an environment where they can inhale fresh air, said the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MoEST) officials at a press conference organized here on Tuesday.
An implementation facilitation team will be formed under the leadership of MoEST Joint-Secretary on the broader involvement of all stakeholders for the effective enforcement of the standards and that the team will perform by charting out action plan, said Secretary at the Ministry Krishna Gyawali.
A four-wheeler vehicular means equivalent to the Euro 3 will only be operated as per the standard.
Earlier, the government has displaced 20-year-old public vehicles by enforcing vehicle pollution standard in 2056 merely allowing the operation of vehicles equivalent to Euro 1
It is learnt that the Kathmandu Valley is enlisted as a city with air pollution according to a study carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 AD.
Kathmandu has witnessed 60 per cent of pollution merely from vehicles and that it has increased number of patients of lung cancer and skin diseases, said expert on climate change at the Ministry Govinda Kharel.
According to a data, there are around 1.37 million registered vehicles in Nepal and the number is being increased by 20 per cent every year.
All these vehicles belong to Euro 1 and 2, said Sharad Adhikari of Department of Transport management.
Chairperson of Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) Laxman Uprety said the old-aged vehicles should gradually be removed by offering package deal and public awareness building.

Outer Ring Road Plan
21, August, 2012
The Himalayan Times
The government has geared for doing the groundwork to construct the outer ring road, an ambitious project which is expected to help ease the chaotic traffic of the Capital city.
An agreement has already been reached to carry out field and social surveys, land acquisition and consultation services so that the engineering design for the project could be developed.
A final report on Environmental Social Impact Assessment has already been forwarded to the Ministry of Environment, according to the Ministry of Urban Development. The MoUD said a detailed project report for the 10-km area covering Satungal to Paiyatar was also being prepared.
The outer ring road plan was conceived more than five years ago but it has failed to take off.
International News
Arctic sea ice shrinks to lowest extent ever recorded

By John Vidal
27, August 2012

The Arctic sea ice has hit its lowest extent ever recorded, according to the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Norwegian, Danish and other government monitoring organisations.

With possibly two weeks' further melt likely before the ice reaches its minimum extent and starts to refreeze ahead of the winter, satellites showed it had shrunk to 4.1m sq km (1.6m sq miles) on Sunday. The previous record of 4.3m sq km was set in 2007. The Guardian reported earlier this month that such a record low was likely to be hit imminently.

NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said: "This is an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."
"The previous record, set in 2007, occurred because of near perfect summer weather for melting ice. Apart from one big storm in early August, weather patterns this year were unremarkable. The ice is so thin and weak now, it doesn't matter how the winds blow," said the NSIDC director, Mark Serreze.
The record is widely seen by scientists at the NSIDC and elsewhere as a strong signal of long-term climate warming.

"The Arctic used to be dominated by multiyear ice, or ice that stayed around for several years," Meier said. "Now it's becoming more of a seasonal ice cover and large areas are now prone to melting out in summer," said Serreze.

"These figures are not the result of some freak of nature but the effects of man-made global warming caused by our reliance on dirty fossil fuels," said John Sauven, the Greenpeace UK director.

"These preliminary figures provide irrefutable evidence that greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming are damaging one of the planet's critical environments, one that helps maintain the stability of the global climate for every citizen of the world," said Sauven.

Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle of melting through the warm summer months and refreezing in the winter. It has shown a dramatic overall decline over the past 30 years.
"Record-breaking ice minimums are becoming the new normal," says Clive Tesar of WWF's global Arctic programme. "We're breaking records on a regular basis as the sea ice continues its decline." According to many scientists, the sea ice plays a critical role in regulating climate, acting as a giant mirror that reflects much of the sun's energy, helping to cool the Earth.

The formation of the sea ice produces dense saltwater, which sinks, helping drive the deep ocean currents. Without the ice, many scientists fear this balance could be upset, potentially causing major climatic changes.


Finance key as U.N. talks on climate deal resume in Bangkok

By Andrew Allan and Stian Reklev
28, August, 2012

The U.S., Japan and the EU will come under pressure this week to pledge billions of dollars a year from 2013 to help the world's poorest nations fight climate change, as negotiators from more than 190 countries meet to advance talks on a new global climate pact. Delegates will gather for a week-long U.N. meeting in Thailand on Thursday to agree a work plan towards signing in 2015 a new pact that would force all nations to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases starting in 2020.

The talks are expected to put pressure on traditional richer nations to ensure pledges to provide $10 billion per year in climate finance do not expire in December without new aid emerging, and come as the world's largest economies struggle to rein in their debt and budget deficits.

"In Bangkok, governments will be forced to focus on the fact that at this stage no new money has been pledged for climate finance in 2013 and that up to 90 percent of the finance provided in 2010-2012 has simply been pre-existing foreign aid repackaged," said WWF in a media statement.
The issue could test a nine-month old negotiating alliance between the EU and poorer nations that was formed in Durban at last year's climate talks and was seen as crucial in putting pressure on big emitting nations to promise to sign up to a new deal.

"There will be pressure from small island states and least developed countries on the EU to make those pledges. I am sure that finance will get some airplay in Bangkok," said Wendel Trio, director of environmental group CAN Europe.

The meeting is a pre-cursor to end-of-year ministerial talks to be held in Qatar, where the EU said it would adopt a second legal goal to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol starting in 2013, providing all nations have shown commitment to sign a new climate deal that will take effect after Kyoto 2 ends.

But progress on a global deal has been slow after negotiators at climate talks in Germany in June took a longer-than-expected five days just to agree who should steer the talks over the next three years.

Seasoned observers say unless things advance more quickly, the EU could stall on signing Kyoto, meaning no country would be legally bound by international agreement to cut emissions after this year.
"(Negotiators in Bangkok) will have to make decisions that give a little more flesh to the bones on the one-and-a half-page agreement in Durban," said Alden Meyer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a long-term observer of U.N. climate meetings.

"Everyone knows if there is no progress on the Durban work plan then the (Kyoto) deal is off," he said, adding it was unlikely the EU would walk away from the treaty, but said heel-dragging could put off other countries from joining the bloc under Kyoto.

Last week, Australia's main opposition party, which is favored to win next year's general election, said it would not object to signing a second round of targets under the treaty, putting pressure on the current Labor government to act.

"I don't think Australia will come forward on the Kyoto Protocol in Bangkok," said Erwin Jackson, deputy CEO of Australia-based Climate Institute, adding that he expected the Australian government to hold out until Qatar before making its mind up.

EQUITY
Key to progress at the Bangkok talks will be if nations can resolve the highly-charged issue of whether advanced developing economies should be allowed to adopt softer emission targets than more traditional industrialized nations under any new deal.

India and China want richer countries to have more ambitious goals due to their historic emission levels.
Meanwhile the U.S. wants all nations to have the same type of targets backed by legal force - a move that would shatter a 20-year old principle in environmental politics that all nations share common but different responsibilities to tackle climate change.

"I think if they can get some agreement on the equity and differentiation front that would help. But that is going to be hard for countries like the U.S., who say the Durban Platform represented the death of the firewall between developing and developed countries," said Meyer.

Another thorny issue will be how to get countries to deepen voluntary pledges to cut emissions before a new treaty comes into effect in 2020 to ensure the planet does not warm to catastrophic levels.
Rich nations have pledged to cut emissions on aggregate up to 18 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, far below the 25-40 percent cut that scientists say is necessary to keep warming below dangerous levels.

"In Bangkok there are a number of workshops on how (those pledges) can be increased. Unfortunately given that not a single country appears to be moving, I am not optimistic," said Trio.


What's Next for the Green Climate Fund?

By Louise Brown and Athena Ballesteros
27, August, 2012

This past week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) met for the first time. This was an important milestone around the goal of increasing financial support to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. Expectations are high for the Fund, officially established at the 2011 Durban climate talks. It’s positioned to become the main global channel for climate finance, expected to reach $100 billion per year by 2020.

There was an atmosphere of excitement at last week’s meetings in Geneva, which brought together a group of 24-countries and their alternates, charged with improving the mobilization of climate finance. The meeting itself focused largely on procedural actions, including the election of the two co-chairs.

Beyond establishing the co-Chairs, the first meeting left open several important questions and issues focused on making the Fund operational, including the location of the Fund, creating a work plan for the coming year, and of course, actually operationalizing the mobilization of resources.

The following are several key issues that the Board will need to address in the days and weeks to come:

Maintaining an Inclusive Process: Throughout the GCF design process in 2011, much work has gone into ensuring that the process is equitable, transparent, and participatory, and that the Fund’s governance structure is perceived as legitimate. It will be essential that the Fund prioritizes maintaining an open and inclusive process throughout its establishment and operations. Indeed, the legitimacy of the Fund may rest on how well it succeeds in these areas.

Picking an Executive Director: The Board will need to put in place a process for selecting the Executive Director of the independent secretariat so that as soon as the host country is endorsed (expected at the Conference of the Parties in Doha (COP18) later this year), the Fund’s work can begin.

A Participatory Process: It will be important to ensure that the Board is participatory, including bringing the official observers (from civil society and the private sector) more fully into the process. As the Board strives to create a Fund that surpasses existing funds in terms of governance and impact, it cannot afford to be seen as less progressive on issues of transparency and participation. Given the limited arrangements for observers stipulated in the governing instrument, the Board will have to find innovative ways to draw on the diversity of perspectives and expertise that comprise civil society and the private sector.

Developing a Plan: The Board will need to develop a work plan that outlines how it will approach the tasks ahead of it and set a timeline by which to measure progress. It will have to strike a balance between realism – taking the time to do its work thoughtfully and thoroughly – and ambition – aiming for the lofty goals of scaled-up climate finance.

Establish Operational Processes: Beyond process, the Board should start to tackle the difficult strategic issues around how it will operate, including its business model, its vision for success in creating a climate fund that’s truly transformational, its relationship with existing climate funds and institutions, and how it will operationalize access modalities and the private sector facility.

Many of these issues will likely be taken up at the next meeting of the Board in Korea in October and again at the U.N. climate change conference in Doha later this year.

 
Salt-and-water battery could help plug renewables gap

27, August, 2012
Science Alert

Australian researchers have developed a sodium-ion-based battery which, they say, has the potential to solve one of sustainable energy’s greatest challenges – storing energy cheaply ‘offline’ after it has been generated.
Dr Manickam Minakshi and Dr Danielle Meyrick from Western Australia’s Murdoch University point out that, while the efficiency of wind and solar technologies has improved rapidly, the problem of storage has yet to be solved.

‘The central obstacle facing sustainable energy is unreliability. Wind turbines don’t turn on a still day. Solar doesn’t work at night and can be hampered in the day by cloud, dust or snow coverage,’ Dr Minakshi said.
‘To provide power at non-generation times, excess energy needs to be stored in batteries, but storage technologies now being considered, such as molten salt or molten sulfur, work at high temperatures, making them expensive and impractical.

‘Our water-based sodium-ion battery has shown excellent potential for affordable, low-temperature storage.’
Dr Minakshi said he was drawn to sodium because its chemical properties were similar to lithium, the element that powers most portable electronic devices. While lithium ion batteries are common in today’s consumer electronics, they require inbuilt safety mechanisms that can affect efficiency; as well, lithium batteries tend to fail after a few years.

The Murdoch University researchers say the main challenge they faced in developing a sodium-ion battery was finding cathode and anode materials capable of accommodating sodium’s ionic size – which is 2.5 times larger than that of lithium.

‘Ions travel out of the cathode and into the anode to form a current. As an imperfect analogy, you can think of [electrodes] as mesh filters that ions pass through. We had to find materials with larger gaps in their mesh,’ Dr Minakshi said.

After testing various metals and phosphates, Dr Minakshi’s team eventually found success with manganese dioxide as the cathode and a novel olivine sodium phosphate as the anode. The result is a safe, cost-effective battery with high energy density.

‘While the technology is too bulky for portable devices, it has excellent potential for large-scale use, including storing energy from wind turbines and solar farms for later feeding into local electricity grids, as well as use in industry,’ Dr Minakshi said.

‘Our research has reached the stage where we’re ready to move beyond our lab towards larger-scale commercialisation. This is a very exciting time.’

The battery has the added advantage of being based on globally abundant and affordable sodium, iron and manganese – putting green energy potential in the hands of the developing world.

China to Spend $372 Billion on Cutting Energy Use, Pollution

22, August, 2012
China will plough $372 billion into energy conservation projects and anti-pollution measures over the next three-and-a-half years, part of a drive to cut energy consumption by 300 million tonnes of standard coal, the country's cabinet said Tuesday.

A report from China's State Council, or cabinet, said the investments will take China almost halfway to meeting its target to cut the energy intensity 16 percent below 2010 levels by 2015. The government has earmarked $155 billion of the money for projects that shrink energy use, and while the plan did not detail which types of projects or sectors would benefit from the funds, a big share of the cash is expected to go to industry. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in February set an overall 21 percent energy intensity reduction target for industry from 2010 to 2015.

The State Council plan said steel producers must reduce their energy use per unit of production by a quarter over the five years, coal-fired power plants by 8 percent and cement manufacturers by 3 percent. China's economic growth over the past three decades has turned it into a major importer of oil, gas and coal, and high international fossil fuel prices have contributed to huge losses at some of China's large state-owned power companies. The central government's drive to reduce China's insatiable appetite for fossil fuels is aimed at improving the country's future energy security, and is a central plank of its policy to slow down growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans to cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Over the past few years China has phased out thousands of old, inefficient factories and fossil fuel-fired power plants while becoming the world's biggest producer of renewable energy. However, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and according to a recent report, China's carbon output grew by 800 million tonnes to 9.7 billion last year, or 29 percent of the world's total CO2 emissions. Government officials said they expect China's greenhouse gas emissions to peak around 2030.
Seven Chinese cities and provinces will launch CO2 emissions trading schemes over the next two years ahead of a national scheme later in the decade, as China seeks to move away from traditional command-and-control measures to combat spiraling carbon emissions.
 

India approves $4.1 billion green vehicle push over eight years

29, August, 2012
India's government has approved a 230 billion rupee ($4.13 billion) plan to spur electric and hybrid vehicle production over the next eight years, setting itself an ambitious target of 6 million vehicles by 2020.
India has a nascent electric and hybrid vehicle industry, with most manufacturers focusing instead on low-emission cars, citing the prohibitively high costs of new technologies and an almost non-existent support infrastructure.

"The question is the viability ... The cost of the car and how much the consumer can pay, there is a gap," said Pawan Goenka, chairman of Mahindra Reva, India's only electric-focused carmaker.
India's target to produce 6 million green vehicles by 2020, of which 4 to 5 million are expected to be two-wheelers, comes as China aims to have 500,000 electric and hybrid cars on its roads by 2015.
Reva, controlled by Mahindra & Mahindra, aims for sales of 30,000 of its battery-run cars a year by 2016.
S. Sundareshan, secretary of India's Heavy Industries ministry, said that New Delhi would provide around 130 to 140 billion rupees of the total investment in the plan, with companies providing the remainder.

"We will put in some specific schemes with regard to subsidy element, R&D, demand creation and infrastructure," Sundareshan told reporters.

"More individual schemes will come out at a later date."

India's slowly growing market for electric vehicles crashed to a halt in April after the government withdrew subsidies worth up to 100,000 rupees per vehicle.

Link of the Week
Where's the policy for Urban Mobility?
By Asmita Manandhar
http://theweek.myrepublica.com/details.php?news_id=4036


Did you Know ?
A 2006/2007 study by Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) shows that the number of deaths due to COPD at Bir Hospital in the year 2005/2006 was 51, and this jumped to 96 in 2006/2007. In the year 2011/2012, a whopping 376 COPD cases have been reported. And children, especially infants, are in the frontline.
Media and Event Watch
Every Monday 8:30 pm on Nepal FM 91.8 MHZ “Climate Change Mero Bhawisya Mero Chaso”
Every Sunday at 7:30 am on Radio Sagarmatha 102.4 MHz "Batabaran Dabali"
Every Monday at 5:30 pm (re-telecast every Tuesday 11 am) on ABC Television “Climate Change
Every Alternate Friday at 2 PM on ENPHO Hall – “Green Discussion” Organized by Clean Energy Nepal, Nepalese Youth for Climate Action anGrnd Green Youth Network
Every Friday on The Himalayan Times “THT Green Plus”
Environment Cycle Radio F.M.104.2Mhz (ECR FM)
QUIZ of the Week # 523
Recently, a top climate negotiator from a developed country was criticised for stating UNFCCC deal should not insist on 2 degree celcius warming. Which country does he belong to?
a) Canada
b) Australia
c) United States of America
d) France
While sending your answer please mention “Quiz of the week#” in the subject line and please send your answer in cenews@cen.org.np
One lucky winner will get an attractive prized from Clean Energy Nepal.
Answer of the week # 522
Facebook has recently released its Carbon Footprint. According to the release, Facebook's annual emissions were …………… metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011.

b) 285,000

The following participants submitted the correct answer:

Arbin Shrestha
Rakesh Guragain
Meena Bohora
Heera Kaji Maharjan
Prakash Tandan
Mitra Lal Sharma

Mitra Lal Sharma is the winner of the week. Please contact CEN office with your valid ID card within a week.
Congratulations to the winner and thanks to all the participants.

 


Edited by: Sunil Acharya and Prashanta Khanal

Clean Energy Nepal (CEN)
www.cen.org.np

140 Bublbule Marg, Thapagaon, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: 977-1-44464981