Coal transition case studies argue for anticipation and early action

coal transitions report sept 2018Implementing coal transitions:  Insights from case studies of major coal-consuming economies , published on September 5, brings together the main insights from the Coal Transitions project, the international research program led by IDDRI and Climate Strategies.  The report provides an overview of the drivers of coal transition across the world (with brief mention of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and Canada), and concludes that coal transition is already happening, and that it is technically feasible and affordable. The report then presents case studies of coal transition in six countries: China, India, Poland, Germany, Australia and South Africa.

The analysis concludes that there are multiple policy options which have proven effective for coal transition, but warns that the meaningful consultation and participation of stakeholders early on in the decision-making process is critical to success. In an explanatory blog,  lead author Oliver Sartor states that coal transition policies: “…. must be context-specific and agreed between the relevant parties. However, the crucial success factor is to anticipate rather than wait until the economics turns against coal. A good preparation can allow for younger eligible workers to be more easily placed into alternative jobs, for older workers to retire naturally, and for tailored worker reconversion and job-transfer programs for workers in the middle of their careers.”

In addition to the Synthesis report, national reports for each of the six countries are available from the IDDRI here.

Converting fleets to electric vehicles: examples include buses, UPS delivery, and the U.S. Postal Service

The federal government’s announcement of new fuel-efficiency standards for light-duty trucks and buses on June 14  presents an opportunity for electric vehicles in Canada, according to an article by Clean Energy Canada.  “Electric buses and trucks a big (rig) opportunity for Canadian innovators”   argues that the new regulations will  limit the lifespan of heavy- and medium-duty trucks in Canada, by requiring the older, more polluting vehicles to be replaced by cleaner vehicles. The article provides an overview of examples. electric school bus

Canadian examples: An article from Corporate Knights magazine in January 2018:  “The e-bus revolution has arrived”. In March, Winnipeg Transit released the first Report  on its Bus Electrification Demonstration Project   which began in 2015  ( summarized by the CBC here) . Winnipeg is home to the New Flyer Industries, which manufactures the battery-electric buses in use.  The government of Quebec announced its Sustainable Mobility Plan in April 2018, with an emphasis on transit and electrification.   New Flyer buses, along with those from Nova Bus from Quebec  are being tested in the Pan-Ontario  and Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration and Integration Trials , launched in April 2018 and coordinated by Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC- CRITUC) .  Their CUTRIC-CRITUC news site provides updates; their 2018 Biennial Forum, Building Low-Carbon Smart Mobility Projects Across Canada,  gathered industry players in Montreal, June 21 and 22.

U.S. News:  A June 21 article in the New York Times cites many examples of electric fleet conversion.  “Buses, Delivery Vans and Garbage Trucks Are the Electric Vehicles Next Door” in the (June 21)  highlights the  Antelope Valley Transit Authority in Los Angeles County, which intends to replace all diesel buses with 80 fully-electric ones in 2018; the Chicago Transit Authority (planning to buy 20 electric buses) ; San Francisco ( will convert to electric-only  bus procurement starting in 2025, aiming for an all-electric fleet by 2035), as well as the  Los Angeles Sanitation department for garbage trucks, Duke Energy for pick-up trucks.  An article in Cleantechnica,  “UPS Places Order For 950 Workhorse N-GEN Electric Delivery Vans”  describes Workhorse products,  which include the  N-GEN  vans sold to UPS and which are also competing (with partner VT Hackney)  in the US Postal Service procurement process for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles.  The N-GEN vans offer an option to include the Horsefly autonomous delivery drones . workhorse electric van and drone

The Transportation Electrification Accord (TEA) was officially launched in Portland, Oregon at the EV Roadmap 11 conference on June 19. In fact, the Accord was first signed  in November 2017 , according to the Sierra Club  press release which describes it and lists the original signatories, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers District Nine, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, as well as Plug In America, and industry organizations Advanced Energy Economy, Energy Foundation, Enervee, Illinois Citizens Utility Board,  Proterra, and Siemens. Honda and General Motors signed on at the June 19 launch.

The “Accord” is a voluntary statement of eleven principles, meant to educate policymakers and inspire change. The first two principles are:  1.  There is a clear case on both policy and regulatory grounds for electrifying transportation, which can provide benefits to all consumers (including the socioeconomically disadvantaged), advance economic development, create jobs, provide grid services, integrate more renewable energy, and cut air pollution and greenhouse gases.

2. Electrified transportation should include not only light-duty passenger vehicles, but also heavy-duty vehicles (e.g., transit buses and delivery trucks), as well as off-road equipment (e.g., airport and port electrification equipment).

Globally:  A March 2018 report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the C-40 Leadership Initiative provides a great overview of statistics and analysis:  Electric buses in cities   and demonstrates the strength of China’s leadership.  The city of  Shensen has been seen as the poster child of this strength – for example, read the blog from the World Resources Institute in April 2018 “How did Shenshen China build the world’s largest electric bus fleet?“.   The Global EV Outlook 2018 released by the  International Energy Association at the end of May focuses mostly on the growth of personal vehicles, but reported that the stock of electric buses rose from 345,000 in 2016 to 370,000 in 2017 , (with electric two-wheelers at 250 million). Growth has been driven almost entirely by China, which accounts for more than 99% of both electric bus and two-wheeler stock.

 

Clean Energy is unstoppable – and China is in the lead

January 2017 began with an attention-getting report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance: “Solar Could Beat Coal to Become the Cheapest Power on Earth” .  Similarly, the Renewable Infrastructure Investment Handbook published  by the World Economic Forum states:   “ renewable energy technology, especially solar and wind, has made exponential gains in efficiency in recent years, enough to achieve economic competitiveness and, in an increasing number of cases, grid parity.”   A January 5 post by Clean Energy Canada,  “Clean Energy is too good a deal for Trump to Pass up ” , documents the economic and political  forces driving clean energy in the U.S., and offers this chart comparing the number of jobs in solar to the fossil fuel industries.

jobs-in-solar-vs-oil-and-gas-jan-2017

from Clean Energy blog post, “Clean Energy is too good a deal for Trump to pass up” (January 5, 2017)

And in an unprecedented move for a sitting President of the United States, Barack Obama has written “The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy”  in Science (Jan. 9), with an overview of his energy policy legacy, and making the case that market forces in the U.S. will carry it on.

A general consensus is that the clean energy train  has left the station, and China is driving that train.  A January 2017  report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) is the latest to document the growing dominance of China in the renewable energy industry in   China’s Global Renewable Energy Expansion: How the World’s Second-Biggest Economy Is Positioned to Lead the World in Clean-Power Investment.  The report  states:   “The change in leadership in the U.S. is likely to widen China’s global leadership in industries of the future, building China’s dominance in these sectors in terms of technology, investment, manufacturing and employment. ” According to the IEEFA,   Chinese global investment in clean energy exceeds $100 billion annually, (more than twice that of the U.S.), and is expanding beyond Asia to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. It cites the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2016 report ( Nov. 2016) to state that China holds 3.5 million of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs globally. Small wonder when five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms, and five of the ten top wind-turbine manufacturing firms are owned by  Chinese companies.  Between 2015 – 2021,  “China will install 36% of all global hydro electricity generation capacity … 40% of all worldwide wind energy and 36% of all solar.”See a summary of the details of the IEEFA report in “China cementing Global Dominance of Renewable Energy and Technology”   in The Guardian ;  the Globe and Mail  summary   “U.S. and Canada falling behind China in race for renewable energy” (Jan. 6) rather badly understates the case .

The trend  seems set to continue.  On January 5, the Chinese National Energy Agency announced its plans for the next phase of energy investment: see “China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020 ” in the New York Times.

In Canada, the latest major report tracking clean energy investment was published by Clean Energy Canada in June 2016.   Tracking the Energy Revolution    reported reduced investment in 2015 (from $12 billion to  $10 billion), although renewable generation capacity grew by 4% in that time.  Even before the announcement of the Pan-Canadian Framework, Clean Energy Canada called this a “pivotal time” for renewables, and sets an optimistic tone.  That boosterism is also apparent in   “Challenge 2017: Rays of hope shine on solar industry despite ‘Trump digs coal’ mantra” in the Financial Post (Jan. 3) – a mostly anecdotal story of Canadian solar manufacturers, and  “Canada can cash in on a cleantech boom“, in the Toronto Star (Jan. 5). The Star article  applauds  a recent clean energy-focused trade mission to China by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the clean-tech incentives announced in the December 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on  Clean Growth and Climate Change, and recent federal and provincial policies that set aggressive targets for renewable energy use in government buildings and operations.

In Case you missed it: Some policy landmarks over the summer

Ontario, Quebec and Mexico agree to promote carbon markets in North America: On August 31, at the 2016 Climate Summit of the Americas , the three jurisdictions announced   a joint declaration  which states: “The Partners are determined to jointly promote the expansion of carbon market instruments for greenhouse gas emissions reduction in North America.”   See the Globe and Mail summary here .

Alberta appoints an Oil Sands Advisory Group:  On July 14, Alberta appointed a 15-member Oil Sands Advisory Group   to provide expert advice on how to implement its 100 megatonne per year carbon emissions limit for the oil sands industry, and on “a pathway to 2050, including responding to federal and other initiatives that may affect the oil sands after 2030.”  Co-chairs appointed are: Climate and energy advocate Tzeporah Berman,   Melody Lepine of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, and Dave Collyer, former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

New Brunswick Climate Action Committee: The government’s Select Committee on Climate Change   held public hearings and accepted submissions over the summer.  In July, New Brunswick’s  Conservation Council produced its  “Climate Action Plan for New Brunswick”. It  proposes to reduce GHG  emissions through investments in retrofitting, starting with social and low-income housing; expand renewable energy ; provide incentives for electric and energy efficient vehicles; modernize industry and manufacturing to reduce waste and pollution, and accelerate installation of the Energy Internet (Smart Grid telecommunications) to manage a more distributed electricity load. These investments would help NB Power phase coal out of electricity production over the next 15 years.

U.S. and China formally join the Paris Agreement: On September 3, the eve of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou China, the two countries responsible for almost  40% of the world’s GHG emissions announced that they will formally ratify the Paris Accord.  See coverage in The Guardian ;  “U.S. and China formally join historic Paris climate agreement; Canada not yet ready”  in the Globe and Mail;  “Landmark China-U.S. climate breakthrough elicits tepid response” from Weekly Climate Review.  Check the Climate Analytics website  for their “ratification tracker”, which on September 9 states “ it is estimated that at least 58 countries are likely to have ratified the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016, accounting for 59.88% of global emissions. Under this scenario, the Paris Agreement will entry into force by the end of the year.”  The website has details country-by-country.

New U.S.  fuel standards for heavy-duty vehicles after model year 2018:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency   and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, to improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution.  Heavy duty vehicles include:combination tractors (semi trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (including buses and garbage or utility trucks). The new rule and an archive of related documents is available at the EPA website . The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy   applauds the new rules; as does the trucking industry, according to the New York Times coverage .  Canada is expected to follow suit, based on the  the Joint Leaders’ statement from the Three Amigos Summit, June 29,  :  “Canada, the U.S., and Mexico commit to reduce GHG emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles by aligning fuel efficiency and/or GHG emission standards by 2025 and 2027, respectively. We also commit to reduce air pollutant emissions by aligning air pollutant emission standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles and corresponding low-sulphur fuel standards beginning in 2018. In addition, we will encourage greener freight transportation throughout North America by expanding the SmartWay program to Mexico.” Canada last updated its emission standards for heavy-duty trucks in 2013, covering up to model year 2018.

California continues to lead with landmark legislation:  California legislation (SB32) was passed in late August, and signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 8,  requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 .   An economic analysis by consulting firm Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)  was released during the public debate  around SB32, claiming that thousands of jobs had been created in every District of the state by the predecesor Global Warming Solutions Act. See the press release here.  And the 8th annual edition of California’s Green Innovation Index  by Next10 quantifies a booming clean energy economy, with solar generation increased by 1,378 percent in the past 5 years.  “California’s Historic Climate Legislation becomes Law” from Think Progress is typical of the superlatives throughout the news coverage.

As evidence of California’s important leadership role:  on August 1, New York’s Public Service Commission approved the Clean Energy Standard   which mandates that 50 percent of the New York state’s electricity will come from renewable, clean energy sources by 2030 .   California had passed legislation in 2015 to mandate utilities to provide 50 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030, and require a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by 2030.

Minority Report challenges Australia’s Climate Change policies:  Australia’s Cimate Change Authority released a report at the end of August:  Towards a climate policy toolkit: Special Review of Australia’s climate goals and policies  .  Authority experts David Karoly and Clive Hamilton so disagreed with the majority report that they issued their own Minority Report   (see the press release here  ) .  Clive Hamilton stated  “The majority report gives the impression that Australia has plenty of time to implement measures to bring Australia’s emissions sharply down.  This is untrue and dangerous”.

Shift in Climate Change policy in the U.K. government:  The new post-Brexit government of Theresa May has made “ a stupid and deeply worrying” decision according to The Independent ,    by moving the work of the  Department for Environment and Climate Change to a new  “Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.”    Reassurance from the June adoption of  a world-leading GHG emissions reduction target, as reported in The Guardian  here and here , has been challenged. The BBC reported that  “Just days after the United Kingdom committed  to cut greenhouse gas emissions 57% from 1990 levels by 2032, the country’s grid operator reported this morning that the country will miss its existing EU long-term targets for 2020,  unless it adopts more aggressive clean energy policies.”

 

What impact for Coal Workers from China’s new 5-Year Plan?

China’s Official 5-Year Plan for 2016 – 2020  was released on March 5, and for the first time, China has set a limit on energy consumption, to 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalent.  Kate Gordon of the Paulson Institute considers the impact on coal workers  in “ The Fate of Industrial Workers in China’s Proposed Green(er) Economy” (March 22) . For a general overview of the Plan, see the World Resources Institute analysis ; or “China’s New Five-year Plan is out and it doesn’t Sacrifice the Environment for the Economy”   in Grist (March 18) .