Archive for the ‘Commentaries’ Category
Alliance magazine: “On 18 April Carbon Tracker, a UK-based foundation-led initiative, released its second report, Unburnable Carbon: Avoiding wasted capital and stranded assets. We need a managed, rapid and complete retreat from the use of fossil fuels if disastrous global warming is to be avoided, Jeremy Leggett, chair of Carbon Tracker, tells Caroline Hartnell.” (more…)
JL open e-mail: “I am living in hope that if this 2 minute animation of the latest CarbonTracker findings holds huge potential in the climate debate. Its not just the way that it portrays the findings of our latest Carbon Tracker report, launched at a packed event last Thursday in Bloomberg’s HQ in the heart of the City of London. Its the nature of the arguments. You don’t even have believe in the danger of climate change to see that. You just have to believe that its worth having a pension that doesn’t evaporate on you.” (more…)
Bill McKibben and Jeremy Leggett in the Guardian: “Suppose you weren’t worried that we humans are destroying our water supply and eroding our ability to feed ourselves by burning coal and gas and oil and hence changing climate. Suppose you thought that was all liberal hooey. What might worry you about fossil fuels instead? How about a six trillion dollar bet, including a big slug of your own money, on people not doing what they have said they are going to do, and that some have already sworn to do in law?” (more…)
Telegraph letter: “The Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Treasury are negotiating with the French nuclear corporation EDF about the financing of possible new nuclear in the UK. Through these negotiations, the Government is aiming to guarantee a set price for nuclear energy – a ‘strike price’. This price will be well above the market price for electricity, meaning that UK taxpayer and energy consumer will be paying the difference. This contract will be locked in for very many decades – up to 40 years.” (more…)
Mark Campanale and Jeremy Leggett in Investment & Pensions Europe: “Despite tightening climate regulations, the capital markets are becoming more fossil-fuel intense, not less. The major coal, oil and gas-focused companies, with the support of the investment banks and their pension fund clients, continue to be the most successful raisers of capital on the world’s leading stock exchanges. The challenge for the investors brave enough (or bound by tracker portfolios) to invest in them is that the science on climate change is placing increasing uncertainty on their future.”
My presentation to Enova 2013 in Trondheim, posted on You-Tube, professionally edited, on the same day as the impressively organised conference. The part in English starts 1 minute in.
A young film maker wanted to make a film on the democratisation of energy, and we decided to help him at Solarcentury. This film is what he came up with.
Solar Power Portal: Commenting on the setting of a suitable strike price for solar, Jeremy Leggett, Chairman of Solarcentury told Solar Power Portal: “In practice, it’s now vital that the strike price for PV is set at a level that really drives forward investment in the technology. Ministers now have a golden opportunity to make good their 22GWp by 2020 ambition. (more…)
Bloomberg: “I then reached Jeremy Leggett, a British solar energy entrepreneur who is chairman of a company called Solarcentury and who writes about energy issues, including peak oil. ….He said he doesn’t think production from unconventional sources such as shale is sustainable for long. “On the massive balance of probabilities, not withstanding the U.S. phenomenon, there’s going to be a descent of global production and much higher prices, by 2015 at the latest,” (more…)
FT: “The (CarbonTracker) report also led Carbon Tracker’s chairman, Jeremy Leggett, and other financial sector figures with an interest in climate, to meet Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, this year to discuss the idea that the carbon bubble could pose a risk to stability in the UK. It is far from clear the Bank will act on such warnings. A spokesman declined to comment when asked if any action had been contemplated since the Carbon Tracker meeting.” (Quote in title is from print edition, not website).
Sunday Express: “Tridos Bank, CCLA, WHEB Asset Management and others (including Solarcentury) have written to the Government to say that while the subsidies that renewable energy groups get are “clear and transparent”, fossil fuels get indirect subsidies. According to the International Energy Agency, global subsidies to fossil fuels were six times higher than renewable energy in 2010. City investors want the National Audit Office to work out precisely what subsidies fossil fuel groups get. They say that without knowing precisely the Government cannot develop a clear energy framework and people cannot invest in renewable energy projects.”
My op-ed in the FT: “In the build-up to next month’s shareholder vote on the proposed £70bn merger of Xstrata and Glencore, investors have focused on executive compensation. As is so often the case, they are neglecting other systemic risks, in particular that of climate change. Yet a third of Xstrata’s revenues come from coal. Atmospheric research centres are telling governments that unless greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil and gas burning are slashed, we are heading for a 6C rise in global temperatures that would be economically and environmentally catastrophic. As things stand, the markets assume governments will not act on these warnings in any meaningful way. But they might – especially if events such as this week’s devastating storm on the US northeast coast become more frequent. And if they don’t, others might act even without regulation.”
On Solar Power Portal: Jeremy Leggett, Chairman of Solarcentury, welcomed the scientists’ letter, stating: “The calculations by this elite international scientific trio show that the Chancellor’s vision of Britain as a ‘gas hub’ is a dangerous and divisive illusion, and one that risks increasing electricity prices rather than reducing them. “Prof Barnham and his colleagues essentially point to a Third Industrial Revolution that can not only stop the world from tipping into ruinous climate change, but brake our slide into austerity-driven social collapse by providing the job-rich fuel for the rebuilding of Britain’s economy.” Solarcentury’s CEO, Frans van den Heuvel, added: “It is interesting that the paper places so much emphasis on mixed renewables without storage. That is fine, but at Solarcentury we believe the future is even brighter. Smart grid innovation, plus new smart storage technologies, could potentially make the Third Industrial Revolution move even faster than Barnham et al say, and Solarcentury for one has a strategy factoring based in part on this aspiration. We hope to be a British flag carrier in the front rank of this revolution, generating jobs aplenty. Sadly, for obvious reasons not everyone at the British Treasury supports our thinking.”
A world-class trio of British, German and Italian scientists publishes a letter in Nature, based on a research paper in publication , arguing that renewables could be mobilized far faster than many people realise. They calculate that the solar component of an all-renewables energy infrastructure could be in place in the UK as soon as 2020, mobilizing solar PV no faster than Germany already has. They also summarise evidence from Germany showing how peak power prices have been reduced by solar deployments in recent years. On the basis of this, the scientists – Keith Barnham, of the Physics Department at Imperial College London; Kaspar Knorr, of the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, in Kassel, Germany; and Massimo Mazzer of the CNR-IMEM, Parma, Italy – call for a moratorium on the building of new conventional power plants. Barnham expands in the Guardian. I and Frans at Solarcentury welcome the new development.
The New York Times posts a shot from me at solving the solar trade war problem …..while telling the story of how elements of the energy incumbency have helped shape the solar industry’s latest crisis. The article appears in print in the International Herald Tribune. In the piece I argue:
“It could be so different, so easily. Despite their failure thus far to deliver a meaningful climate treaty, governments in the past have proved themselves capable of complex treaties fostering common security. They could now negotiate a multilateral regime of cooperation for solar market-enablement: a globally coordinated set of feed-in tariffs aiming to accelerate solar’s descent to universal price parity with conventional energy. They could bulk-procure solar panels themselves, to speed the emergence of a mass market. Working cooperatively, focused on common security, they could greatly accelerate the day solar energy is cheaper than all other forms, and feed-in tariff subsidies are no longer needed. They could all greatly foster their own domestic energy security in so doing. Light shines on all countries, infinitely. Significant oil and gas reserves sit in only a few, and are finite.”
To this I would add:
“A subset of major governments could do this without full global negotiations. Angela Merkel has said she prefers negotiations on solar to a trade war. Leading the way here with China, plus the US if they will play, the EU could go some way to quieten those who criticize it’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.
It should be increasingly obvious that we will need this kind of global common-security co-operation if our civilisation is to survive climate change and other crises piling up around the globe. The creation of a sustainable global market in the key survival technology that is solar energy would be an excellent place to start.”
In 50 months from now greenhouse-gas concentrations go beyond the point where it would be “likely” we could keep global warming below the dire-danger threshold of 2 degrees, on current emission trends. It seems incredible to many of us that the world is not galvanised by this. (more…)
My invited submission to the Guardian in full: We must mobilise clean energy as though for war, and a solar revolution must be part of that mobilization. I experience daily both the potential of solar and its sister technologies, and the deadly effectiveness of the carbon incumbency in holding clean energy back. I think that our best chance of derailing the suicidal carbon train is to switch off its capitalization process. Investors continue to pile into carbon fuels because we allow companies to account coal, oil and gas as assets at zero risk of impairment today. But such “assets” are at risk of ending up stranded, once a critical mass in society begins to realize there is no choice but to cut emissions. Researchers at CarbonTracker, a small think-tank that I chair, have shown just how big a problem this is, and how relatively easy it would be for all types of players across the financial value chain – regulators, actuaries, auditors and so on – to do their jobs properly and recognize the risk. If they did that simple thing, in their different ways, things would change quickly. The Mississippi river of capital flowing to carbon would have to begin diverting to clean energy. / That such dysfunctional behaviour is the norm today is just one symptom of the fact that capital markets have been allowed to behave in suicidal ways generally, for many years now. I have come to believe that we must re-engineer modern capitalism root to branch. One simple example among many is that we should require pension funds to invest as though pensions are for the long-term benefit of retirees, not the short-term enrichment of a bonus cult. / In all this, we must not forget that huge part of the developing world where carbon fuels are an ever-inflating burden and conventional energy is not a realistic option for development. Here the challenges ought to be simpler. In both my Solarcentury and SolarAid roles, I see how easy it ought to be to knock out diesel and kerosene in power and lighting, because solar is cheaper today. All we need to do is create channels of distribution and credit. As I look at the soaring solar lantern sales of SunnyMoney, SolarAid’s commercial brand, I feel that we have identified a real candle for hope. We aim to be a leader in ridding Africa of the kerosene lantern by 2020, and I think we can do it.