Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 20, 2021

Weekend reads: Decarbonization in 2021; Can a new sustainability standard save the fashion industry?

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

Beyond solar and wind: What decarbonization looks like in 2021 (The Hill) The global energy transition is gaining momentum as political, policy and investment priorities converge in the U.S., Europe, China and elsewhere. Decarbonizing the power sector, as President Biden has pledged to do by 2035, is a laudable step toward a clean energy future and for good reason. The U.S. electric sector has reduced carbon emissions 33 percent since its peak in 2007 — double the rate of the wider economy — and now accounts for less than a third of total U.S. energy-related CO2, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

France, Switzerland Present Roadmaps to Reach Net Zero by 2050 (International Institute for Sustainable Development) The UNFCCC Secretariat has published France’s and Switzerland’s long-term low-emission development strategies (LEDS), in which the two countries outline pathways to net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. France’s LEDS titled, ‘National Low Carbon Strategy,’ or Stratégie Nationale Bas-Carbone (SNBC), describes the country’s “ecological and inclusive transition towards carbon neutrality.” Along with the National Adaptation to Climate Change Plan, this mitigation strategy forms France’s two-pronged climate policy. To reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, the SNBC provides guidelines for the transition to a low-carbon economy in the following sectors: buildings, transport, agriculture, forestry and soils, energy production, industry, and waste. In so doing, it sets five-year carbon budgets until 2033.

Record Carbon Not Enough to Curb Germany’s Dirtiest Power Plants (Bloomberg) Electricity generated in Germany from lignite, one of the most carbon-heavy fuels, has increased during 2021 spurred by higher power prices. Even a rally in carbon emission permit prices to record levels hasn’t been enough to curb output from the dirtiest fossil fuel. Electricity generated by lignite plants in Germany has increased by 35% so far this year, compared with same period in 2020, according to data compiled by research institute Fraunhofer ISE. The profitability of lignite plants takes account of the cost of mining the fuel and buying carbon permits in relation to the market price for the power sold. Because lignite is so cheap to produce, as long as prices for electricity are higher than for carbon then stations using the fuel will be in the money, according to Fraunhofer.

Malala Yousafzai says educate girls to fight climate change (Reuters) Keeping girls in school and taking young climate leaders seriously are keys to tackling climate change, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said on Friday. Speaking to a virtual panel, Malala, 23, said educating girls and young women, particularly in developing countries, would give them a chance to pursue green jobs and be part of solving the climate crisis in their communities. “Girls’ education, gender equality and climate change are not separate issues. Girl’s education and gender equality can be used as solutions against climate change,” Malala told an online event by British think-tank Chatham House.

DOE's first task for loan guarantees: Calming industry nerves (Politico) Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has put the Energy Department's $43 billion loan guarantee program at the forefront of her plans to decarbonize the grid, but convincing companies to overcome their jitters and tap into the program will be the first challenge. Business executives and attorneys say they are nervous about the high cost of applying for the loan guarantees and fear they could see their requests get stuck in limbo for years. Some said they have avoided the program in recent years amid skepticism that the Trump administration would approve their applications. Granholm took an early step to soothe those fears earlier this month by naming clean energy entrepreneur Jigar Shah to lead the Loan Program Office. “I think my responsibility here is to prove to all stakeholders, including Congress, that we can put the money out the door and use the funds they entrust us with," Shah told POLITICO.

Can an end-to-end sustainability standard change fashion? (Vogue Business) A new version of Cradle to Cradle’s highly regarded product certification scheme attempts to be the first end-to-end sustainability standard covering the full lifecycle of a product, from raw materials to end of life, with a level of detail to ensure efforts at each stage are beyond skin-deep. While most other certifications focus only on a specific aspect of production, like the use of organic materials or reduction of toxic impacts on water supplies, Cradle to Cradle says its Certified Product Standard is “the single most comprehensive” for companies working towards sustainability. Brands from Tentree to Ralph Lauren use it. The group says it has the potential to drive large-scale transformation in supply chains.

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