Washington and Brussels team up in support of wide-ranging plan to diversify Europe’s sources of LNG, ramp up renewables development, plug methane leaks, and boost energy efficiency

EU and US team up for energy security push

The international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to escalate this week, with the US and EU announcing the formation of a new Joint Task Force on Energy Security to support Europe’s new goal to end Russian oil and gas imports by 2027 at the latest.

The Task Force for Energy Security will be chaired by a representative from the White House and a representative of the President of the European Commission and will work on a range of measures to bolster EU energy security, including initiative to drastically reduce fossil fuel imports this year.

The White House and the European Commission confirmed that the task force would focus on diversifying LNG supplies, primarily through increasing US shipments to Europe. But it also stressed that such measures would be “in alignment with climate objectives” and would include work to curb methane emissions, boost renewables capacity, and ensure new gas infrastructure is hydrogen-ready.

In addition, the partners confirmed the Task Force would look at how to accelerate efforts to reduce gas demand by accelerating the roll out of clean energy projects and emracing “energy efficiency solutions such as ramping up demand response devices, including smart thermostats, and deployment of heat pumps”.

“As global leaders in renewable energy, the United States and the European Commission will work to expedite planning and approval for renewable energy projects and strategic energy cooperation, including on technologies where we both excel such as offshore wind,” the White House stated. “We will continue to collaborate to advance the production and use of clean and renewable hydrogen to displace unabated fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions, which will include both technology and supporting infrastructure.”


UN sets new target to deliver global climate warning system

UN Secretary General António Guterres this week announced a major new climate resilience initiative from the UN to ensure everyone has access to extreme weather early warning systems within five years.

“Today I announce the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years,” he said. “I have asked the World Meteorological Organisation to lead this effort and to present an action plan at the next UN climate conference, later this year in Egypt. We must boost the power of prediction for everyone and build their capacity to act.”

He added that extending the reach of early warning systems was essential, as climate impacts continued to escalate. “Human-caused climate disruption is now damaging every region, he said. “Half of humanity is already in the danger zone. Each increment of global heating will further increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. That is why we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees… At the same time, we must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

“Today, one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems. In Africa, it is even worse: 60 per cent of people lack coverage. This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse. Early warnings and action save lives.”


SEC debuts long-awaited climate risk disclosure proposals

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week proposed fresh rules that would require listed firms to reveal both their greenhouse gas emissions and the ways in which climate change could impact their business.

The SEC voted 3-1 in favour of releasing the proposed rules, with the one vote against coming from the sole Republican on the Commission. The proposed regulations are now open for public consultation for 60 days before the SEC can finalise and start to enforce them.

The proposed rules echo similar moves by the EU and UK, as well as voluntary disclosure guidelines from the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. Significantly, they would require firms to calculate potential cost impacts from climate change and report on both their direct and value chain emissions.

The move was long welcomed by green groups and investors, which have long argued that standardised reporting on climate risks would help investors to ramp up support for the net zero transition.


Formula E preps launch of ‘world’s most sustainable racing car’

The Formula E racing series has revealed that it will next month unveil its new Gen3 all-electric race car at an event at the Yacht Club de Monaco on 28 April ahead of the 2022 Monaco E-Prix.

“Formula E’s Gen3 race car represents a leap forward for motorsport and electric mobility,” said Jamie Reigle, Formula E CEO. “Designed to demonstrate that high performance, efficiency and sustainability can be packaged together without compromise, the Gen3 car is our most powerful, lightest, and fastest race car to date. We look forward to finally taking the covers off the Gen3 in Monaco, a location steeped in motor racing history, and seeing the car light up city streets around the world next season.”


Amazon cuts ribbon on first net-zero carbon grocery store

Amazon Fresh this week opened what it hailed as the world’s first ever net zero carbon grocery store, cutting the ribbon on an upgraded store in Seattle.

The company said it is now seeking zero carbon certification from the International Living Future Institute for the store, which is expected to save 185 tons of CO2 a year compared to the average grocery store.

In addition to sourcing 100 per cent renewable power, the stores features a host of green features such as a CO2-based refrigeration system, low-carbon concrete flooring, and an array of electric vehicle charge points.


China latest mega-hydropower plant comes online

China’s highest hydropower plant came fully online this week, with the commissioning of the project’s last 500,000-kW power generation unit.

The Lianghekou hydropower plant is located on the Yalong River in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. At an altitude of 3,000 metres it is the highest hydropower project in China.

State media said the operation of the Lianghekou hydropower plant will help ease imbalanced power generation in Sichuan and promote high-quality development of the Yangtze Economic Belt and the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle.


Belgium announces plan to delay nuclear exit

Belgium has become the latest European country to rethink its energy strategy in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the government announcing it is to delay the planned closure of its nuclear power plants by a decade.

The country had been planning to close its last nuclear plants by 2025, but with energy costs soaring and the EU working to slash Russian fossil fuel exports the government announced it would instead work to extend the life of Belgium’s two nuclear plants.

“The federal government has decided to take the necessary steps to extend the life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement. “This extension will strengthen our country’s independence from fossil fuels in a turbulent geopolitical environment.”

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