China is set to break yet another record in solar technology by developing a world-first 150 megawatt (MW) floating solar PV plant as a new experiment aimed at cutting down the cost of solar energy.

The innovative power plant is being developed by the Chinese state-owned Three Gorges Group, and started construction in July.

Last Sunday, Chinese press agency Xinhua reported that the first phase of the gigantic 150MW solar plant was commissioned and is already supplying electricity to the grid.

The $150 million project is estimated to be completed in May 2018, and will officially break the record for the largest floating solar farm in the world.

Interestingly, the power plant is located in an array of panels affixed to a flotation mechanism atop a lake formed in Panji District, Huainan City, after a former coal mine collapsed and had to be filled with water.

The body of water was seen as an optimal location to implement the floating PV technology, with the Three Gorges company also considering establishing a complimentary fishing model that will stimulate the local economy and enrich the ecosystem services of the site.

Lu Chun, Chairman of Three Gorges Group argues that a floating solar power project of this size is an opportunity to drive down the cost of solar. Since the solar panels will be attached to floats instead of being ground-mounted, the installation process will be is cheaper and faster to complete.

The water not only helps keep the temperature cool around the photovoltaic panels, therefore, boosting their efficiency, but it also limits long-term degradation from heat.

Floating solar farms in China are also gaining increased popularity due to the fact that they are seen as a solution to problems with grid congestion in the country.

In addition, when installed in irrigation or drinking water reservoirs, they also reduce water loss through evaporation.

The current floating solar plant record is still held by China after a 40MW floating power plant located in the same district was commissioned in May.

Read more: China breaks ground on the world’s largest...

The banking giant Barclays has launched a series of green investment products aimed at engaging not only its large corporate clients, but also small to medium-sized companies to pursue green investments.

The new range includes green loans targeting large clients which need financial support of more than £3 million across the UK, as well as international green loans for companies which are keen to invest in sustainable projects overseas.

Green asset finance and green innovation finance tools will also be available for small to medium-sized companies. Green deposits will also allow Barclay’s largest corporate clients to contribute to the bank’s green bonds.

Karl Nolson, Head of Global Lending Group at Barclays Corporate Banking, explained that Barclays is responding to the demand for green financing products because clients have started to recognise the policy push from governments towards sustainability and they can also see the economic potential ‘green growth’ offers.

He said: "We're seeing a step-change in how businesses approach sustainable investment”.

"For too long, green projects have been viewed as an added extra, but what we're increasingly hearing from our clients is a shift in mindset, with sustainability becoming more central to their overall investment strategy”.

He added: “As always, we want to help our clients stay ahead in an evolving world”.

Barclays explained that eligible projects will be selected using the Green Product Framework- a tool developed in partnership with Sustainalytics, a financial consultancy focused on incorporating ESGs into investment processes.

Qualifying projects will need to focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, green transportation, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable waste and water management.

Last month, Barclays issued a €500 million green bond using funds backed by domestic assets. The green bond will be used to refinance mortgages on residential properties based on their carbon intensity.

Tushar Morzaria, Group Finance Director at Barclays said that this issuance “will help us diversify our investor base, attracting interest from the growing group of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investors”. 

Read more: Barclays launches a new series of corporate...

The BNP Paribas Foundation has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the One Planet Fellowship programme aiming to deliver much-needed research on climate adaptation in Africa.

The One Planet Fellowship is a $15 million 5-year programme in partnership with the Agropolis Foundation; a body promoting high-level research on agricultural sciences and sustainable development.

It aims to support research to leverage French, African and wider European expertise to advance issues on smart agriculture and climate change resilience to help Africa cope with the future impacts of climate change.

The continent is considered particularly vulnerable to global warming’s consequences, and, according to scientific estimations, it is likely to suffer from prolonged periods of drought resulting in lower crop yields.

The aim of the programme is to provide additional resources to African research and enrich the resources of future scientists who will have to deal which these challenges.

Nick Austin, Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explained: “We believe it’s critical to nurture a new generation of climate scientists, particularly African scientists, who can build on existing agricultural research and innovations to deliver new climate adaptation solutions to help smallholder farmers and their families in the decades to come”.

To this end, 120 African researchers will be selected to be offered joint mentoring from a senior scientist in Africa and one from Europe in a laboratory in France.

After their training, these researchers will mentor two younger colleagues, one from an African institution and one from Europe. In total, the One Planet Fellowship will involve 600 scientists over 5 years.

The researchers will be hosted in the southern French city of Montpellier, where the Agropolis Foundation and its partners have created a world-class scientific community of more than 2,700 researchers and teachers specialising in the fields of agriculture, food science, biodiversity and the environment.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas, said: “Undertaking research into climate change adaptation enables us to gain a better understanding of the current and future risks and identify the best solutions to address them”.

Pascal Kosuth, Director of the Agropolis Foundation, explained that building an African and European scientific community is an essential challenge that needs to be addressed to prepare “for our common future”.

At the same time, BNP Paribas has partnered with UN Environment to scale up green investment in emerging countries. This new partnership will attempt to identify suitable commercial projects with significant environmental and social impact, and raise $10 billion in financing by 2025.

The new partnership will target smallholder projects mainly related to renewable energy access, agroforestry, water access and responsible agriculture.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director at UN Environment, said: “The partnership with BNP Paribas sets a signal to the finance industry that ‘business as usual’ is not an option anymore. We need to design sustainable agriculture and forestry in a way that solves the climate crisis, rather than contributes to it”. 

Read more: BNP Paribas and the Gates Foundation fund...

French President Emmanuel Macron has awarded long-term research grants to 18 research scientists so can they continue their research on climate change in France.

Earlier this year, when US President Trump announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Emmanuel Macron expressed its disappointment and reassured climate scientists that France will always welcome their expertise.

In his speech in June, he said: “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs who were disappointed by the decision of the President of the United States I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call them to come and work here, with us on concrete solutions for our climate and our environment. I can assure you that France will not give up the fight”.

To this end, he launched the ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ initiative, where he called ‘responsible citizens’ from all over the world to work in France and enrich its work against climate change. The appeal addressed to researchers or teachers, businesses and entrepreneurs, associations and non-profit organisations.

The research grants are part of this initiative and seek to overcome the many scientific and technological challenges of the field. This includes climate change modelling; ecosystems; and technological and social challenges associated with the energy transition.

Initially, the grants were aimed at American researchers exclusively, but according to the organisers, they were expanded to include other countries as well.

The French President said that more than 5,000 people from about 100 different countries expressed interest. However, the majority of the grants were awarded to US-based scientists, i.e. 13 out of 18.

Research projects should last for 3 to 5 years; for senior researchers, the funding will be up to €1.5 million and for junior researchers up to €1 million.

One of the winners, Camille Parmesan from the University of Texas, said: “Macron’s appeal gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do”.

She revealed that at the moment there are significant funding challenges in the US for climate research stating that climate researchers have a constant feeling that “you have to hide what you do”.

A new round of grants will launch at the beginning of 2018, this time in collaboration with Germany, which will allocate approximately €60 million to 50 projects.

Macron said during the ceremony: “We will be there to replace US financing of climate research. If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science”.

Read more: France awards ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’...

The National Australia Bank (NAB) is set to become the first major Australian bank to stop financing new thermal coal power plants, sending a strong signal to the Australian financial sector about the future of coal in the country.

On Thursday, the bank issued a statement explaining that “NAB has an important role to play in the orderly transition to a low carbon economy”.

“An orderly approach to the low carbon transition is critical to ensure Australians can continue to have access to secure reliable and affordable energy and support our economy”.

Although the bank stated that it will honour the existing financing agreements with ongoing coal projects, it pledged that no new deals will be signed and that the bank will boost its support for renewable energy projects.

“We have seen tremendous growth in clean energy across our loan book and our customers are continually telling us that they want more ways to get involved in the market”, NAB said.

In November, Commonwealth Bank told its shareholders to expect a decline of financial support for the coal industry, indicating that the bank is unlikely to act as a lender for future large coal projects.

Jonathan Moylan, a Greenpeace campaigner, welcomed the news by saying: “This is a market-leading position for an Australian bank and is even stronger than the position taken by Commonwealth Bank last month because it is formal policy”.

Julien Vincent, Executive Director of environmental finance advocates Market Forces, commented: “NAB has lifted the bar above its competitors by becoming the first major bank to end lending to all new thermal coal mining”.

“This policy means NAB joins the ranks of dozens of banks and insurance companies globally that are withdrawing from this most climate-polluting of industries”, he added.

A few weeks ago, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (Apra) warned banks, lenders, and insurers that a lack of assessment of climate risks has already started affecting the global economy.

It explained that if the Australian financial sector does not further the incorporation of climate risks into its investment strategies, Apra will consider establishing a binding regulatory framework.

In a speech, Apra’s Geoff Summerhayes said: “Whether due to regulatory action or, more likely, pressure from investors and consumers, Australia’s financial sector can expect to see more emphasis on discourse around climate risk exposure and management”. 

Read more: National Australia Bank to stop financing new...

The World Bank has announced that from 2019 it will stop financing upstream oil and gas operations, as part of a series of commitments to boost its climate contributions towards implementing the Paris Agreement.  

Although the Bank has stopped its financial support for coal-fired stations since 2010, environmental campaigners and lobby groups were pushing for the halt to almost $1 billion a year that the Bank lends to oil and gas companies in developing countries.

The World Bank explained, however, that in exceptional circumstances it will consider supporting projects where upstream gas offers significant competitive advantages in the poorest countries and goes in line with the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets.

The announcement took place during the One Planet Summit in Paris, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, where numerous prestigious organisations announced ambitious climate plans.

Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of the Washington-based advocacy group Oil Change International, welcomed the news: “It is hard to overstate the significance of this historic announcement by the World Bank”.

“Environmental, human rights, and development campaigners have been amplifying the voices of frontline communities for decades in calling for an end to World Bank financing of upstream oil and gas projects. The World Bank has now raised the bar for climate leadership by recognising the simple yet inconvenient truth that achieving the Paris agreement’s climate goals requires an end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry”.

Gyorgy Dallos, Senior Climate & Energy Campaign Strategist at Greenpeace International said: “The end is clearly coming for the oil and gas industry as the pace of change accelerates. The world’s financial institutions now need to take note and decide whether their financing is going to be part of the problem or the solution”.

The Bank also announced that it is well on track to meet its target of 28 percent of  total lending going towards climate finance by 2020.

In addition, it revealed that it is developing a greenhouse gas emissions report for all the projects it finances in key emissions sectors, such as energy. The report is expected to launch in late 2018 and will be published annually thereafter.

You can read the full list of World Bank’s newly announced climate projects here

Read more: World Bank makes historic pledge to stop...

More than 80 leading economists from 20 countries have signed a Declaration on Climate Finance urging for an immediate end to investment in new fossil fuel projects and a dramatic increase in renewable energy investment.

On Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron will launch the One Planet Summit- a high-level climate summit in Paris, co-organised by the United Nations and the World Bank Group, to take place two years after the landmark climate agreement was signed in the French capital.

Ahead of the summit, 80 leading economists have signed an urgent declaration where they call for investment in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure to stop.

The declaration says that although world leaders have spoken about the importance of scaling up financing for climate solutions, “they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production and infrastructure”.

The group of economists ask for immediate actions to stop the exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects. They also underline the need to manage the decline of existing production in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

“It is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of public and private investors, as well as development institutions, to lead in putting an end to the use of fossil fuels and embrace safe and renewable energies”, the report reads.

Yanis Varoufakis, economist, academic and former Greek Minister of Finance, said: “It is time for European leaders, especially President Macron, who understands the threat posed to our planet by Donald Trump’s climate change denial, to help smash our economies’ reliance on fossil fuel subsidies and investment”.

“Not one more penny or cent can go to coal, oil or gas subsidies”, he added.

Pierre-Richard Agénor, Professor of International Macroeconomics and Development Economics, University of Manchester, commented: “It is time for the community of global economic actors to step up its efforts to save our planet and preserve our common future”.

The declaration was signed by renowned economists including Tim Jackson, Professor at the University of Surrey and author of Prosperity without Growth.

At the same time, 54 major corporations including Adidas, Unilever, Virgin Group signed a separate letter addressed to the G20 asking for the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025; an ‘adequate’ price on carbon, and more transparency over climate change risks.

Sabine Nallinger, Managing Director of the German environmental NGO Stiftung 2°,which co-ordinated the statement, said: "The companies make clear that global decarbonisation is already taking place and will need to be accelerated”.

"Those who stay on top of this trend will shape the transformation and benefit most from the value creation in a future low-carbon economy”, he added.

You can read and sign the Declaration on Climate Finance here

Read more: Leading economists and major corporations call...

Using specially designed power electronics, solar PV can be connected directly to electrified railways to power trains, with no need to connect to the grid. However, this has not yet been done anywhere in the world. Environmental charity 10:10 issued its first report on how small solar farms installed alongside Britain’s dc electrified tracks could provide around one tenth of the energy needed to power trains on these routes each year.

Read more: Riding Sunbeams: powering our railways with...

During the One Planet Summit, the European Commission announced a series of climate-smart investments for Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries worth €9 billion.

The news is part of the EU External Investment Plan, which was adopted in September to boost climate investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood. These are countries which lie to the east and south of the EU, including Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.

The External Investment Plan aims to leverage a total of €44 billion of investment by 2020 through the European Fund for Sustainable Development. In addition, it aims to provide technical assistance for investment projects and develop a favourable business environment to attract further climate finance.

The initial €9 billion plan was unveiled today by Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, during the One Planet Summit in Paris hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

As explained by Mr. Cañete, the climate investments will address three targeted areas. The first area is sustainable cities, referring to projects such as waste management, water, sanitation and sustainable urban planning.

The second is sustainable energy and connectivity, supporting new low-carbon energy projects, climate-resilient energy infrastructure and reducing energy poverty. The third is sustainable agriculture and climate-resilient agribusiness.

Neven Mimica, International Cooperation and Development Commissioner, said: "These priority areas are setting the agenda for sustainable investments”.

“Unlocking the potential of sustainable energy, promoting digitalisation for development or supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will help us to create sustainable development and reduce poverty, for the benefit of all”.

To further the goals of the mega-plan, the Commission will launch a new European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) to support investments by public financial institutions and the private sector by lowering investment risks and, thus, leveraging additional private funding.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said: "The time has now come to raise our game and set all the wheels in motion — regulatory, financial and other — to enable us to meet the ambitious targets we have set ourselves”.

“This is a necessity dictated by our current living conditions as well as those of future generations. This is the time that we must act together for the planet. Tomorrow will be too late”, he added.  

Read more: European Commission announces €9 billion in...

More than 3,500 European utility companies have declared a new vision for the electricity sector officially committing to lead the low-carbon energy transition calling on policymakers to accelerate electrification.

The Union of the Electricity Industry, EURELEC, is the sector association of the European electricity industry, representing more than 3,500 companies with an aggregate turnover of €200 billion.

Last week, the body issued a new long-term ‘Vision Declaration’ for the electricity industry in Europe. This seeks to accelerate the energy transition by providing not only cleaner electricity, but to also enable the supply of competitive electricity as a transformation tool for the transport, heating, and industrial energy use sectors.

European utilities see the energy transition as an opportunity not only to tackle climate change, but also to improve energy security by reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and making better use of domestic natural resources.

By pledging to lead the transition, Eurelectric aims to provide clean electricity to sectors that are largely responsible for carbon emissions, such as transport, heating, and industrial use.

Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall and Vice-President of Eurelectric, said: “Electrification of heating, transport, and industry is a win-win. It comes with higher efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. We should do everything possible to advance electrification with smart regulation”.

The new Vision Declaration will see the scale-up of investment in low-carbon power generation and transition-enabling solutions. The main aim is for European utility companies to become carbon-neutral “well before mid-century”, taking into account, however, “different starting points and commercial availability of key transition technologies”.

The new declaration is considered key at a time where electrification is expected to determine the configuration of the future low-carbon economic system. The transport sector has already caught up with the trend, and one of the future challenges will be how the electricity industry will be able to accommodate both power and mobility needs.

Alistair Philips-Davies, CEO of SSE and Vice-President of Eurelectric, commented: “The investment required is huge. This statement reflects our full commitment to invest in innovation, to build new cross-sector business models, and ensure that electricity keeps creating value in decades to come”.

Through their new vision, European electric utilities call for policymakers and stakeholders to accelerate electrification through regulation, investment, and support.

Kristian Ruby, Eurelectric’s Secretary General, said: “The commitment and ambition expressed in this vision are challenging, especially for regions which depend on high carbon value chains. We, therefore, call on policymakers to do their utmost to ensure a fair and responsible transition, both socially and geographically, and provide the necessary support and funding to address any socio-economic impacts”. 

Read more: European utilities commit to becoming carbon...

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has partnered with city mayors from all over the world to mobilise more than $1.5 billion in urban investment to help combat climate change.

The bank announced this week a partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCMCE), which is an international alliance of more than 7,500 cities and local governments that promote voluntary action against climate change, to create the Green Cities Climate Finance Accelerator.

Under the new partnership, EBRD will seek to drive climate action in up to 60 cities through providing over $500 million in ‘first-mover’ financing hoping to leverage additional contributions for city action plans and projects with a total of $1.5 billion.

Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President, said that in order to achieve results in climate action in cities, “the EBRD will bring its deep and specific expertise in working with shareholders and financing their projects”.

He also added that the initiative can act as a lessons-learned platform to be replicated in different regions across the world. He said: “The structure and specific targets of this financing accelerator provide a working operational model which can be replicated with other financial institutions across regions of the world and built-up to a global scale”.

The partnership lies under the umbrella of GCMCE’s “Global Urbis” project, a global initiative which will help fill the urban financing gap which is currently preventing many cities from implementing climate action programmes.

To further this mission, the GCMCE also partnered with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which will play the role of offering the necessary financial advice  to increase investment in cities.

Maroš Šefčovič, Co-Chair of the Global  Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, and Vice President of the European Commission, said: "Since signing the Paris Agreement, Mayors have demonstrated the power of local action to make their cities and our planet more sustainable.

“The Global Covenant of Mayors' strong partnerships with the European Commission, the EIB and EBRD, will fill a much needed gap by providing cities with new levels of access to investments, financing, and advice critical to furthering urban climate action”. 

Read more: EBRD partners with global city mayors to scale...

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced new climate change policies to help vulnerable nations affected by climate change, declaring that it’s Britain’s duty to assist.

The announcement was made during the One Planet Summit in Paris, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. Mrs. May revealed that the UK will strengthen its aid to countries that are disproportionally affected by deforestation and that are vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather events associated with climate change.   

She said: “There is a clear moral imperative for developed economies like the UK to help those around the world who stand to lose most from the consequences of manmade climate change”.

£30 million will be allocated to the Department for International Development’s Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED).

Additionally, £87 million will be provided to the Forest Governance, Markets and Climate (FGMC) Programme of the Department for International Development to support the fight against illegal tree felling and promote the fair trade of legal timber.

The UK has already offered support to Dominica, helping rebuild the Caribbean island’s destroyed water system in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Another £15 million will be allocated for additional support for the reconstruction on the island.

£8 million will be spent on better crisis and response operations on the islands affected by Hurricane Maria, including training and improvements to communication systems, casualty management training and mapping of high-risk areas.

Theresa May added: “Tackling climate change and mitigating its effects for the world’s poorest are among the most critical challenges that we face”.

“That is why I am joining other world leaders in Paris today for the One Planet Summit and committing to stand firmly with those on the front line of extreme weather and rising sea levels”.

The UK Prime Minister also renewed the country’s commitment to lead the phase-out of coal in alliance with Canada.

She described coal as “one of the dirtiest and most destructive ways of generating power” and underlined the “enormous commercial opportunity which the shift to cleaner forms of energy represents”.

“By redoubling our efforts to phase out coal, as well as build on our world-leading electric car production, we are showing we can cut emissions in a way that supports economic growth”, she added. 

Read more: Theresa May unveils £140 million funding for...

According to new research, Germany is the leading nation for recycling in the world, followed closely by Wales and Singapore.

According to self-reported recycling rates, Germany achieves a score of 66 percent, and leads the worldwide list. Wales follows in second place with 64 percent and Singapore is in third with 61 percent. The top 5 is completed with South Korea and Taiwan.

All the countries that made the top10 list reported recycling rates of minimun 50 percent, including Switzerdand, Austria, Netherlands, Taiwan and Belgium. 


                                                           Source: Eunomia

However, in this new research Eunomia, a Bristol-based environmental consultancy, took the recycling rates that countries have self-reported and adjusted them with additional publicly available waste data. This helped create more accurate and comparable recycling rate figures and evaluate actual progress between countries.

Therefore, the research revealed that after adjusting for differences in how different countries measure recycling rates, the top 3 countries were, in fact, Germany (56 percent), Austria (54 percent) and South Korea (54 percent).

The report analysed recycling practices in each country to identify where discrepancies lie in how recycling is reported.

It identified the main differences are in how processes are accounted for, or not, in reported figures. These include: recycling processing losses, contamination within dry recycling and biowaste, and the inclusion of commercial and industrial waste.


                                                        Source: Eunomia

All high-performing nations shared key policies and common waste management practices and legislation, including comprehensive recycling schemes, i.e. a mandatory separate collection of dry recyclables, clear performance targets and policy objectives, funding for recycling, as well as financial and behavioural incentives to directly and indirectly, encourage citizens to recycle.

Such examples include taxes on residual waste treatment and disposal, restrictions on residual waste bins, Deposit Refund Schemes (DFS), and producer responsibility schemes- where producers fund the collection of key recyclables.

Based on the trajectory of the adjusted recycling rates Eunomia predicts that Wales is on its way to overtaking Germany by 2018. However, Wales’s success sheds light on the underperformance of England, which ranks 18th in the world list.

Dominic Hogg, Chairman of Eunomia, said: “It’s great to see the ambition of the Welsh bearing fruit, with their recycling rates close to the top of the table. It’s embarrassing for England, which is standing still in terms of performance and dropping in the rankings as others continue to progress. We know that the public is concerned about the growing problem of waste, especially the way plastics are dealt with”.

A spokesperson of the Welsh Government told The Guardian: “In the 20 years since devolution, Wales’s recycling rate has increased from just under 5% to 64%. We are well on track to meet our 70% target by 2025”.

He added: “We are always looking at how we can continue to improve. Earlier this year, Cabinet secretary Lesley Griffiths announced her plans to halve food waste by 2025. We are confident this is achievable thanks to the enthusiasm that exists in Wales to recycling”.

You can access the full “Recycling – who really leads the world?” report here

Read more: Germany is the world’s leading nation for...

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