International Climate Update Jan '14: 4th Largest Indian state acts on energy efficiency, China coal cap, Europe climate target

Below is a compilation of climate change and clean energy news from around the world. This compilation includes stories from January 2014. You can sign-up to receive these compilations in your email inbox.


Andhra Pradesh—the fourth largest state in India – adopted a comprehensive and innovative Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) for commercial and high-rise residential buildings. This code will generate enormous energy savings and sets a leading example for other states.  NRDC and the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) worked with the state, real-estate developers, and other stakeholders in the development of this code. For more see NRDC statement on the announcement.

Buildings account for nearly a third of India’s total electricity consumption so savings in this sector can have a large impact. A new report – Building Efficient Cities: Strengthening the Indian Real Estate Market Through Codes and Incentives  – from NRDC and ASCI, supported in part by Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, documents how big the savings could be in this sector alone. Minimal code compliance by commercial buildings in Andhra Pradesh (40% complying with the ECBC, 5% exceeding the code) translates into enough energy saved by 2030 to power as many as 8.9 million Indian households per year. And if states across India adopted the Energy Conservation Building Code and developers participated in strong programs for rating commercial buildings, an estimated 3,453 TWh of cumulative electricity could be saved by 2030. This is equivalent to powering 358 million Indian homes annually between 2014 and 2030. This would lead to around 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided by 2030 – equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 17 typical coal-fired power plants over that same time period.


Working with leading research institutions in China, NRDC-China is working on a project – the China Coal Consumption Cap Plan and Policy Study Project –that will develop a comprehensive and integrated coal consumption cap plan, including implementation measures, that will promote both a low-carbon economy and sustainable development of the coal industry in China. The project has begun in earnest the past few months with the (go here for complete details):

  • First high-level policy steering committee meeting with key members of the steering committee and Research Committee hearing a presentation from the Energy Research Institute on preliminary research on national coal consumption cap levels and regional allocations.
  • Kick-off meeting for the electric power sector working group hosted by the China Electricity Council. The electric power sector alone makes up more than 50% of total coal consumption in the country so efforts in this sector will have a major impact.
  • Meeting of the inter-working group on environmental, health, resource, and climate constraints on coal consumption. The group met to detail the use of specific environmental, health, water resources and climate change red lines in further research.
  • Coal industry working group discussing key research areas including: the appropriate coal production capacity and regional allocation; how to make use of economic and market mechanisms, identify ways to transform industrial planning of the coal industry under coal consumption control.


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has documented that 5.7 million people are employed in renewable energy deployment throughout the world.  The report found that: China had 300,000 people employed in solar PV and 267,000 in wind; India had 112,000 in solar PV and 48,000 in wind; U.S. had 81,000 in wind and 90,000 in solar; and Europe had 312,000 in solar PV and 270,000 in wind. [Note that new numbers for the U.S. show even higher totals in 2013, with the number of people in the U.S. employed by the solar industry increasing by 20% to 143,000 jobs.

IRENA has shown that renewable energy’s share can exceed 30% by 2030 at no extra cost. The report maps out a pathway for doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix based on the technologies that are available today.

Unfortunately clean energy investments were slightly down in 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Global clean energy investment came in at $254 billion for 2013 – down from a record level of $317.9 billion in 2011. BNEF states outlines that the reduced investment volume was due to a continued sharp reduction in the cost of photovoltaic systems (thus less per MW) and the impact of shifts in policy in Europe and U.S. on investor confidence.

Solar is projected to have another huge surge as Deutsche Bank has significantly increased its demand forecasts for the global solar industry. The investment house is predicting that 46 gigawatts of solar PV will be installed across the world in 2014 and rise to 56GW in 2015 (RenewEconomy).

Australia has more than 2 million small scale-scale renewable energy systems (CleanTechnica). Wind became Spain’s #1 source of electricity in 2013. The U.K. saw solar PV grow by 600% in 2013 (CleanTechnica). IRENA and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) have $41 million in loans to fund six renewable energy projects in six developing countries (CleanTechnica). Japan installed 4,000 MW of solar between April 1 and October 31.

In order to limit global warming to 2°C, the world needs to invest an additional $36 trillion in clean energy—an average of $1 trillion per year for the next 36 years. This comes in a new report from CERES which documents the “Clean Trillion” gap and provides 10 recommendations for investors, companies and policymakers to increase annual global investment in clean energy.

New forecasts show that low carbon LED lighting technology market will grow 12-fold over the next 10 years – from a $2 million market today to $25 million by 2023 (Climate Group).


The European Commission has proposed that the EU domestically cut its greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. This proposal formally opens the political debate in the EU on its next climate target and will be subjected to intense discussion by European Heads of Government in March. Countries are supposed to propose their post-2020 targets by early 2015, so the EU could be the first major country to have outlined its proposed target. Europe also is moving domestically to phase-down HFCs (also known as F-gases) as they have adopted conclusions on the specific implementation of their domestic “F-gas” regulations.


Lots of leaders are pointing out that 2014 is a critical moment to build momentum for the Paris agreement. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres discusses why Davos has left her with the feeling that 2014 is the year the world can and must rise to the climate challenge. World Bank Group President Dr. Kim reinforces that theme in an op-ed. And “The Elders” remind us why climate action is so critical now and how this is a legacy issue for all world leaders.


China is embarking on a massive effort double the number of wind turbines in the next six years (BBC News). Official statistics from the Chinese government show that non-fossil fuel energy accounted for 9.8% of the country’s energy mix – up from the previous year (Reuters). At the same time coal’s share dropped again.

China’s solar market had a huge surge in 2013. The country installed more new solar capacity in a single year than any country has ever installed. BNEF found that the country installed a record 12 GW of PV in 2013 – and the total may even have increased to 14 GW as a late surge could increase the installation numbers. The country has increased its target for 2014 to 14 GW (RenewEconomy).


India nearly doubled its installed solar capacity last year. The country started the year at little over 1 GW of installed capacity and by the end of the year had reached 2.18 GW (ClimateProgress). The Indian government will launch its first “wind energy mission” later this year in an effort to boost wind deployment and put it in the same league as the high-profile solar mission (The Economic Times).

Tamil Nadu has begun a process to make its Energy Conservation Building Code mandatory which will mean that commercial and other major buildings will have to meet required energy standards.

Smarting under the effects of an unprecedented natural calamity in June, the Uttarakhand government is working on an action plan to minimize the impact of climate change in the state (CNN IBN).

Delhi was blanketed in thick smog from industrial growth and a surge in vehicle usage (Reuters).


President Obama gave his fifth “State of the Union” speech and as NRDC’s President discusses he reaffirmed his commitment to climate action. I discuss the international climate implications of the speech and President Obama’s recent public remarks focused on why it is critical that the U.S. act both at home and abroad. My colleague discusses both the climate aspects as well as the trade and fossil fuel subsidies statements. And others at NRDC discuss the implications for renewables, energy efficiency, and truck standards.

My colleague testifies before Congress on the progress being made to implement the President’s Climate Action Plan and points out the need to finalize several key rules. The Committee heard testimony from several U.S. officials including EPA Administrator McCarthy (see: CEQ testimony, EPA testimony, Interior testimony.

Ten major U.S. cities will work with NRDC to significantly cut their energy-use – through a new City Energy Project.

A variety of factors are changing the vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) picture in the U.S. as my colleague discusses a year-end progress report in the U.S. effort to move beyond oil. Since 2006 VMT has plateaued both in per-capita and absolute terms—this change has predated and outlasted the economic recession.

California has begun using carbon pollution funds from its emissions cap program to support clean energy, with the lion’s share targeted at sustainable transportation. New York’s governor pledged $1 billion for solar as the state continues to be a leader on solar in the U.S.  The Governor laid out even more initiatives on clean energy and climate change in his State of the State speech. North Carolina could join California as a “Top 10 Solar PV Country” (CleanTechnica).


Latin America has a budding solar market, with more than 700 megawatts of installed capacity projected in 2014. This post discusses five key take-away points for the region, including details on 3 countries to watch (Mexico, Brazil and Chile) and a reminder to not overlook Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and the Caribbean.

The Chilean renewable association expects 723 MW of renewables projects will go online and the country is poised to the largest solar thermal plant in the Atacama Desert with over $500 million in international agency loans (Bloomberg). Mexico’s renewable energy market is projected to grow from $2 billion in 2013 to $27 billion in 2020.


China has set new targets for its provinces to reduce air pollution by 5 to 25% (The Guardian).  And my colleague points out how China is fighting back against “Airpocalypse” as the Chinese central government has just required that around 4,000 of the country’s biggest factories publicly report their air emissions every hour on the internet.


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