TBLI Weekly - September 12th


TBLI Weekly - September 12th, 2023

Your weekly guide to Sustainable Investment

Join this week's Special TBLI Event:

Private online screening of Breaking Social Documentary!

September 14th - 15:00 CEST

The film investigates how the super-rich have gained control of political and economic life, and argues that this is the root cause of many popular uprisings. Director Fredrik Gertten will be available for a Q&A session after the screening. Register to access live event or watch replay

Watch a clip from the film featuring Rutger Bregman - Dutch Historian:

''That’s the tragedy of our time: Super smart people are creating these very difficult algorithms or financial products. And you have to be really smart to do it. It’s difficult work, it’s hard work. You need to go to the best universities. You need to go to Harvard, Princeton and learn how to do it. But you don’t contribute anything. You just learn how to steal from others.'' - Rutger Bregman

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From Carbon Sink to Source: The Stark Changes in Arctic Lakes

BY CHERYL KATZ - Yale Environment 360

For millennia, lakes in Greenland’s dry tundra have locked up huge loads of carbon in their sediment. But as the Arctic becomes warmer and wetter, scientists believe these lakes could become sources of carbon, which would have important consequences for the world’s climate.

A family of muskox rumbles along craggy hilltops overlooking the small parade of humans crossing the West Greenland tundra. Ecologist Václava Hazuková, in the lead, sets a brisk pace as we bushwhack through knee-high willow and birch. Leaning forward under an equipment-filled pack nearly half her size, she high-steps over “pillows and mattresses” — hummocks of plants interspersed with troughs of rain-soaked permafrost. The twin blades of a kayak paddle protrude from Hazuková’s pack, pointing to our destination: Lake SS85, a small, clover-shaped lake some two hours away.

Lake SS85 is one of hundreds of lakes dotting this 90-mile-wide fringe of land between the towering Greenland Ice Sheet and the Labrador Sea. For centuries, 85 and its aquatic neighbors have been ice-covered most of the year. But as the climate has warmed, high-latitude lakes — from the northern United States and Canada to Scandinavia and Siberia — have started to thaw, on average, a week earlier and freeze 11 days later than they did a century ago, according to Sapna Sharma, a biologist at York University in Toronto. The rate of ice loss has sextupled over the past 25 years. Northern lake temperatures are rising more than twice as fast as the global lake average, Sharma says. And nowhere is the climate changing faster than in the Arctic.

The boreal forests and unglaciated polar lowlands are Earth’s most lake-rich biome, hosting nearly half of the planet’s lakes by surface area. While precise data are sparse, a 2015 satellite-based inventory estimates some 3.5 million lakes cover a total of around 150,000 square miles in the Arctic. But due to the difficulty of conducting research in the remote north, relatively little is known about how these vast freshwater ecosystems are responding to the sweeping changes underway.

One of scientists’ key questions is how rising temperatures, shrinking ice seasons, and the increasing precipitation projected for many parts of the Arctic might affect lakes’ carbon cycles. Put simply, this cycle describes the actions of aquatic microbes that break down organic material — exhaling carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — and phytoplankton that take up carbon dioxide to build their skeletons — releasing oxygen. Lakes that breathe out more carbon dioxide than they take in are net carbon sources, while those that on balance remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are sinks.

In the frozen north, lakes have, over millennia, locked up huge stores of carbon in their sediments. But are changing Arctic conditions shifting sinks to sources, unleashing emissions that will accelerate climate change? That’s what Hazuková, a PhD candidate in ecology at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, is here to find out.

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Former rubbish dump in Essex becomes UK’s third largest solar farm

By: - The Guardian

Ockendon solar farm to generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes

The largest solar farm in Europe to be built on a closed landfill site has begun generating renewable electricity from a former rubbish dump in Essex.

The Ockendon solar farm, the third largest in the UK, includes more than 100,000 solar modules covering 70 hectares (173 acres) of land.

Its owner, the waste company Veolia, expects the solar array to generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes.

The company said it hoped to give “new life” to the former rubbish dump, which would otherwise have had limited options for redevelopment.

Donald Macphail, the chief operating officer of Veolia’s treatment​​ division, said the project would have “minimal ground-level impact”, meaning that “the wildlife that has repopulated the restored land can continue to coexist with the technology”.

There could be hundreds of hectares of closed landfill sites across the UK that could play host to solar arrays, according to Philippe Queruau, the electrification services manager at Veolia UK. In addition, thousands of hectares of active landfill sites could be used for solar arrays in the future.

“We’re just scratching the surface for now,” he said. “But we need a lot more solar, and landfills are a prime location.”

The government aims to increase the UK’s existing 14 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity fivefold to 70GW by 2035. This would require a project on the scale of Ockendon being installed roughly every five days for the next 12 years.

Frank Gordon, the director of policy at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology, previously known as the Renewable Energy Association, said: “We urgently need more solar in the UK to help meet our legally binding net zero goals, and this summer’s extraordinary global weather has further underlined the need for climate action.”

Veolia is one of many companies installing solar power in urban rooftops such as hospitals and car parks. The company is also exploring the potential for floating solar installations atop water reservoirs as well as solar modules fixed to the top of diesel refuse trucks to help power the bin lifts or air conditioning.

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Experts Outline Urgent Options for Energy System Decarbonisation

Reviewed by Megan Craig, M.Sc. - AZO Cleantech

In a report released by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), experts have presented options for driving Australia’s progress towards a zero emission electricity system.

The short report Powering the Net Zero Transition: Electricity Security Explained responds to electricity as a critical lynchpin for driving decarbonisation across a wide range of sectors, like transport, buildings, and industry.

ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said, “As Australia moves towards a net zero energy system, electricity generated by solar and wind technology is poised to become our most dominant source of energy. Our expert Fellows advise that we have sound technological solutions already. The challenge to transition Australia’s electricity system to accommodate more renewable energy sources is not the race to develop new solutions – it's about the targeted investment in deploying existing technologies, and the infrastructure to store and transmit energy to provide reliable continuous supply.”

ATSE Fellow and Grattan Institute Climate and Energy Director, Tony Wood FTSE said, “In 2022, 35 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation came from renewable energy, up 4 per cent from 2021. Yet deployment rates, storage and supporting transmission expansion are not yet enough to achieve the Government’s 82 per cent renewable energy generation target by 2030.”

ATSE Fellow and Australian National University solar energy expert Professor Kylie Catchpole FTSE said, “Solar and wind already comprise 99% of new electricity generation capacity in Australia. Dramatic cost reductions have accelerated widespread deployment of new renewable energy sources, including large-scale wind and solar farms and distributed rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.”

The report finds that transitioning the electricity system to accommodate more renewable energy sources will require greater investment in existing technologies as well as innovation in new technology solutions to reduce consumer costs further.

ATSE Fellow and Integrated System Plan architect Dr Alex Wonhas FTSE said, “Fortunately, technologies to solve Australia’s electricity security challenges already exist. The current imperative to decarbonise Australia’s energy system demands a faster pace for their deployment. Investment in innovation can help to reduce future energy costs for consumers.”

The short report, Powering the Net Zero Transition: Electricity Security Explained was released today and highlights the options on the table for expediting Australia’s zero emissions energy system and their role in achieving national climate goals.

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Climate Finance Lags While Africa Gets Walloped By Floods And Heat

By: Ken Silverstein - Senior Contributor - Forbes.

Africa is the second most populated continent, with 1.3 billion people. And climate change is costing it $5 billion to $7 billion yearly — projected to rise to $50 billion by 2030. Nevertheless, the region gets just 3% of the global carbon finance. What now?

That’s according to the African Development Bank, which adds the continent needs $2.7 trillion between 2020 and 2030. That’s a big ask. It may be warranted, but the more prosperous nations promised the less developed ones $100 billion annually in 2009. They are still waiting.

Africa’s first climate summit just concluded, with the most overarching ideas coming from Kenya’s President William Ruto, who is calling for the continent to become a renewable energy hub and for a global carbon tax — to help pay for damages and mitigate potential injury resulting from floods and heat waves. The tax is a hard sell in the United States, especially this close to a presidential election.

“Those who produce the garbage refuse to pay their bills,” said President Ruto, at the summit in Nairobi, Kenya, per the Associated Press. “In Africa, we can be a green industrial hub that helps other regions achieve their net zero strategies by 2050. Unlocking the renewable energy resources that we have in our continent is not only good for Africa, it is good for the rest of the world.”

According to the United Nations, Africa contributes about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the 20 most affluent nations comprise 80%. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry added that Africa is home to 17 of the 20 countries hardest hit by climate change. Indeed, cyclones have walloped Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe while floods have ravaged Nigeria. And the horn of Africa suffers from an enduring drought.

The good news is that the Africa Union — comprised of 55 members — influenced the thinking of the G-20, the world’s most advanced countries. The continent is now part of the newly formed G-21. And sustainability is atop the economic bloc’s agenda.

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Malaysia’s Gentari aims to operate up to 8GW of renewable energy in Australia by 2030

By: - The Guardian

The clean energy unit of oil and gas giant Petronas made its first foray in February and is now planning more solar, wind and storage

Gentari, the clean energy unit of Malaysian oil and gas giant Petronas, aims to operate as much as 8 gigawatts of renewables in Australia by 2030, a goal that would make it one of the largest electricity suppliers by then if achieved.

The company’s first foray in the country was to buy the Australian assets of Germany’s Wirsol Energy in February. That move, reportedly costing almost $1bn, secured 422 megawatts of solar capacity with a further 765MW expansion possible.

A decision to proceed on that additional capacity including storage would probably be made by the first quarter of 2024, said Low Kian Min, Gentari’s chief renewables officer. Developments would be in solar, wind and batteries and could be through the company’s own investments, joint ventures or further purchases.

“The target for us is obviously to grow this market into a much larger one,” Low said in Sydney on Tuesday. “Our internal targets are [to have] between five and eight gigawatts of installed capacity by 2030.”

Australia’s well-publicised challenges of getting new renewables from the planning stage to operation – including a recent stalling of new projects winning investment approval – were not a deterrent to Gentari.

“All countries have challenges,” Low said. “It is quite fundamental for us that we actually get buy-in from the local stakeholders [when] we access their land and … build our investments.”

Initially, Gentari’s focus will be the eastern states that make up the national electricity market. It is also considering projects in Western Australia, particularly batteries coupled with solar, said Andrew Barson, the chief executive of Gentari Solar Australia.

Barson will oversee the Maryvale solar and energy storage project in New South Wales and the similar Barnawartha project in Victoria. Both are expected to reach final investment approval soon with a combined capacity of more than 500MW.

Gentari, which operates renewable plants in Malaysia and India, sees its renewable projects in Australia as a “first flag”, Low said. Investments in green hydrogen and later electric vehicle charging – the company’s two other pillars – may eventuate in the future.

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US sets new record for billion-dollar climate disasters in single year

By: - The Guardian

Country has experienced 23 extreme weather events costing $1bn or more already this year, passing previous mark of 22 in 2020

With four months of 2023 still left, the US has set a record for the most natural disasters in a single year that have cost $1bn or more, as fires, floods and ferocious winds were among deadly events experts warn are being turbo-charged by the climate crisis.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) announced on Monday that there have already been 23 extreme weather events in the US this year that have cost at least $1bn. The current figure surpasses the record of 22 such events set in 2020.

So far, the total cost of disasters in 2023 is more than $57.6bn, according to Noaa.

The record figure does not include major disasters such Tropical Storm Hilary last month, as the cost of damage is still being totaled, Adam Smith, the Noaa applied climatologist and economist who tracks the billion-dollar disasters, told the Associated Press. Hilary brought life-threatening flooding and rainfall to the US south-west, leaving thousands of people without power.

Smith said the increase in expensive weather events is caused by a rise in the number of natural disasters and more communities being built in risk-prone locations.

“Exposure plus vulnerability plus climate change is supercharging more of these into billion-dollar disasters,” Smith said.

Eight new billion-dollar disasters were added to the list in an update last month. The Hawaii wildfires that killed at least 115 people on Maui were added, with damages there projected to cost upwards of $5.5bn. Hurricane Idalia also caused more than $1bn in damage, as the category 3 hurricane devastated Florida at the end of August.

Other events listed by Noaa included severe summer weather, including a Minnesota hailstorm and storms in the north-east, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“This year a lot of the action has been across the center states, north central, south and south-eastern states,” Smith.

Experts have long pointed out that climate disasters and extreme weather create exceptionally large costs for local governments.

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