Weekend Reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

September 18, 2021

Weekend Reads: Reaching Australia's Energy Targets; Illinois's Groundbreaking Climate Bill

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

Swedish Cement Crisis Could Threaten Country’s Green Credentials (Bloomberg) A controversial ruling that threatens a crippling cement shortage in Sweden highlights the clash between the need to build for a greener future and laws designed to protect the environment. Cementa AB, which supplies 75% of the building material in Sweden, may be forced to halt a giant plant next summer unless the decision is overturned. A permanent stop could delay projects from green steel plants to wind parks needed to cut the nation’s carbon emissions. The case shows Sweden needs to be more pragmatic and rethink how some courts handle environmental permits to have any chance of reaching its 2045 net zero target, said Ann-Louise Lokholm Klasson, head of Sweden at Sweco AB, Europe’s largest architecture and engineering consultancy. Important applications for facilities needed for the green transition should be handled by a separate, specialized central authority rather than local courts, she said.

Australia can up its 2030 climate change target, but will it be enough? (The Sydney Morning Herald) Australia could exceed the carbon emission cuts required by the Paris Agreement, experts say, but it remains to been seen if the federal government’s climate action is ambitious enough to avoid dangerous global warming and international controversy. Australia’s major trading partners are pressuring the federal government to match their goals ahead of the international climate change summit in Glasgow in November. Most wealthy nations have committed to cut emissions by about 50 per cent or more by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest. Australia has committed to a cut of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, with no deadline on net zero. Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor says Australia is on track to “meet and beat” the Paris target. The government will release an updated emissions reduction projection before the United Nations’ summit in Scotland.

Illinois Passes Nation-Leading, Equitable Climate Bill (NRDC) After years of work, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408) has become law in the state of Illinois. It is a nation-leading law to fight climate change, create good-paying jobs, improve the health of Illinoisans, and support disadvantaged communities. The bill received bipartisan super-majorities in both the House (83-33) and Senate (37-17), and Governor Pritzker signed the bill less than 48 hours later. The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act will: Slash climate-changing carbon pollution by phasing out fossil fuels in the power sector. Require Illinois to achieve a 100% zero-emissions power sector by 2045, with significant emissions reductions before then. Prioritize environmental justice communities for the fastest pollution reductions. These emission reductions requirements extend to the Prairie State coal plant, the state’s largest polluter and the seventh-largest emitter of carbon pollution in the country, which must reduce its emissions by 45% no later than 2038 and to zero by 2045. Illinois will be the first Midwest state to require a carbon-free power sector, joining California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and Washington.

House Democrats seek to boost US tax credits for clean energy, climate programs (S&P Global) Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means released a raft of proposed new and revised tax credits late Sept. 10 as part of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package aimed in part at avoiding the worst effects of climate change. The committee's tax proposals include major extensions of existing production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy facilities as well as new stand-alone investment tax credits for energy storage and needed new electric transmission lines. Existing carbon-free nuclear generators and clean hydrogen production facilities would also be eligible for new production tax credits under the plan, according to a section-by-section analysis of the draft legislation. The tax package would also reward taxpayers for making new investments in residential and commercial building energy efficiency as well as electric vehicles assembled inside the U.S. with union labor.

Climate Changes the Human Equation (Lincoln Bleveans) It could be a foot, a meter, a zhang, or a rod or pole or perch. Or a pound, a gram, or a talent. A dollar, a dinar, or a cowrie shell. Units change across eras and cultures, but we have measured ourselves and our world — length, weight, time, or value — much the same way for thousands of years. Yet, in this new Age of Climate Change, these measurements can no longer wholly describe our world or drive our decisions. We emerge from COVID-19 into a world on fire. Climate change and its symptoms mock yesterday’s “100-year” and “500-year” projections. We are passing a climate tipping-point, according to a very recent McKinsey study. The new Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report leaves no room for equivocation. Limiting ourselves to these legacy measurements is not enough to survive and thrive; the old equation of human life won’t solve for today’s challenges. “Someday” is now.

Keywords: Weekend reads

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