Environment at risk from clean energy switch, says World Bank

A transition from fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change will require large amounts of metals and rare earth elements that could create environmental challenges, the World Bank has warned. Technologies needed to meet the Paris climate agreement from wind, solar, and electricity systems are “more material-intensive” than our current fossil-fuel supply systems, a report by the bank said. The mining or extraction of metals and rare earth elements could create environmental problems in terms of energy, water and land use, the report said.

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Electric car growth sparks environmental concerns

Lithium is currently extracted from brines beneath the deserts of South America and evaporated using the energy of the sun. But an increasing proportion is coming from crushing rock in Australia and processing the mineral in China, which is more energy intensive. Goldman Sachs expects capacity addition by hard rock to be equal to brine by 2020 in order to meet demand from electric vehicles. In addition, most of the new supply is coming from smaller mining companies rather than established players, according to Francis Condon, an energy and mining analyst at fund manager RobecoSAM. “We’re starting to see new sources being found and smaller mining companies and also nonmining companies getting involved,” says Mr Condon. “Some of these opportunities are arising where environmental codes are not as strong and social settings not as protective or inclusive. It’s a combination of risks.”

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Muni Risk Rises as Pensions are Put First

““We’re on the cusp of evolutionary change related to pensions. What we’re seeing is a clear indicator that courts are willing to treat pension beneficiaries as ahead of creditors,” says Thomas McLoughlin, head of municipal fixed income at UBS Wealth Management Americas. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9f5e7590-fec6-11e4-94c8-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz3b5ipxnKs ”That will transform the risk parameters for municipal finance. For years muni analysts looked at idiosyncratic credit risk, but now we are looking at a systemic risk related to pensions. It’s a really important trend we have to incorporate into our analysis. We have to focus far more on this in the future.””

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Outlook Cloudy for Japan’s Renewable Energy Drive

Japan’s aggressive renewable energy push after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has stalled due to a combination of technical and political factors. And, while energy regulators are taking steps to help increase and more smoothly integrate green power, there are questions of how committed the country is to renewables.

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The Costly Muddle of German Energy Policy

For decades, the German people have been among the world’s most environmentally conscious. The strongest sign of this has been the commitment of successive governments to Energiewende – or “energy change” – designed to make the economy predominantly dependent on renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Renewables today account for 23 per cent of electricity production, a figure set to rise to 65 per cent by 2035.

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This emphasis places burdens on households and businesses. The cost of the subsidies offered by the German government to green energy producers is passed on to consumers. Domestic energy bills are 48 per cent higher in Germany than the European average. Germany’s Mittelstand companies are even worse off. Their costs are twice the level facing their US rivals, many of whom benefit from cheap shale gas.

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Germans Told of Billions Lost to Trade Due to Energy Policy

Germany’s exports would have been €15bn higher last year if its industry had not paid a premium for electricity compared with international competitors, according to an analysis published on Thursday.

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David Cameron Vows to Rein in Green Energy Initiatives

David Cameron has vowed to cut consumer bills by reining back several green energy initiatives in a move that will set him on a collision course with his Liberal Democrat coalition partners. Mr Cameron, who once declared “vote blue, go green,” has found himself on the back foot amid double-digit-percentage rises in household energy bills and a renewed political focus on the “cost of living”.

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Eon Chief Warns US Energy Advantage Makes Europe Uncompetitive

The head of Germany’s largest utility has warned it will be years before Europe can hope to counter the US’s growing advantage in energy costs and predicts that the disparity will meanwhile lead heavy industry to abandon the continent.

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