Rocky Mountain Institute partners with top banks to deliver new Center for Climate-Aligned Finance
Four of the world’s largest banks – Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America – have teamed up with leading US environmental non-profit The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to launch a new Center for Climate-Aligned Finance.
The new unit will act as a hub to help encourage collaboration as a growing number of financial institutions pledge to bring their portfolios and investment strategies into line with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Paul Bodnar, managing director for climate finance at RMI, said the investment sector had a unique ability to shape the world’s response to the climate crisis. “It’s not the responsibility of any single country or single sector,” he said. “But one sector provides the lifeblood that powers all the others and that’s finance.”
The Center for Climate-Aligned Finance will focus on four key tasks: creating specific, personalised initiatives for high-emitting sectors; producing global frameworks on climate-aligned finance to guide other financial institutions around the world; support individual institutions climate-aligned investment strategies; and help shape public discourse across the financial sector on climate risks and opportunities.
BloombergNEF maps out Central European coal transition path
Bloomberg Philanthropies and BloombergNEF (BNEF) have this week published a major new report detailing how some of Europe’s most coal-dependent regions could transition towards a clean energy future. Titled Investing in the Recovery and Transition of Europe’s Coal Regions, the report explores the transition path for the power sector in four key Central and Eastern European economies: Bulgaria, Czechia, Poland and Romania. It concludes that through ambitious clean energy investment, these countries can become important drivers of Europe’s green recovery and climate efforts.
“Growing the economy and fighting climate change go hand in hand, and BNEF’s latest report shows that there’s a smart economic way for countries that still rely on coal to phase it out quickly, right now,” Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “By investing in clean energy, governments in Central and Eastern Europe can help drive the economic recovery from COVID-19, while also reducing air pollution, improving health, and slowing the effects of climate change.”
His comments were echoed by Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission, who argued that in order to “become the world’s first climate neutral continent, we have to turn the page on coal”.
“Letting go of an industry that has provided jobs for decades will not be an easy process but Europe is ready to support it,” he said. “Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria, and Romania can become leaders in Just Transition and switch from coal to clean while contributing to industrial leadership of Europe.”
New renewables projects are capable of undercutting coal power on price in much of Europe, but some regions remain heavily reliant on the polluting fuel source and have warned that a rapid transition away from coal could have significant economic impacts. As such, the EU has proposed a number of ‘Just Transition’ funding programmes to help coal-dependent economies adjust.
Meanwhile, the BNEF report maps out the least-cost transition options for the four key power markets in Central and Eastern Europe and concludes that by 2030 the least-cost scenario would allow the countries to reduce their power sector emissions by 48 per cent from 2018 levels. Taken together, new renewable capacity in the four markets could bring up to €53.7bn in new investment, it added.
North American pipeline plans face major setbacks
Plans to build a number of controversial US oil and gas pipelines received a series of setbacks this week, as environmental activists toasted court victories and project cancellations.
A federal judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline serving the huge Bakken basin to shut down because the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to do an adequate environmental impact study. And on the same day, the US Supreme Court blocked construction on the proposed Keystone XL line from Canada pending a further environmental review.
The rulings came within hours of Dominion Energy Inc and Duke Energy Corp announcing they have shelved plans for an $8bn Atlantic Coast Pipeline to transfer gas from West Virginia to East Coast markets, after a series of legal roadblocks led to a shapr increase in the project’s estimated cost.
The movs were seen as a major victory for environmental activists who have long opposed the pipelines and a further blow for the Trump administration, which has sought to fast track approvals for pipeline projects only to provoke legal actions that have successfully delayed and blocked a raft of developments.
Plans unveiled for Portugal wave energy hub
CorPower Ocean has this week unveiled a new €16m investment plan to establish a R&D, manufacturing and service centre for wave energy converters in Viana do Castelo, northern Portugal.
The location has been chosen to support CorPower’s flagship demonstration project HiWave-5 and advance the long-term development of supply and service capacity for commercial wave energy farms.
The new hub is hoping to take advantage of a strong pool of engineers from adjacent sectors, such as offshore wind, composite manufacturing and shipyards, while top level universities and industrial infrastructure including ports and grid connections are also said to allow for effective upscaling of wave energy operations in the region.
“This is a crucial stage in our pursuit to develop a new class of high efficiency Wave Energy Converters,” said Patrik Möller, CEO of CorPower Ocean. “CorPower’s goal is to successfully introduce certified and warrantied WEC products to the market by 2024, making wave energy a bankable technology that can attract mainstream renewable project finance.”
Irish floating wind farm project takes first steps forward
Simply Blue Energy, a leading Irish early stage developer of marine projects, has this week taked the first steps towards delivering the Emerald project, a floating offshore wind farm that would harness the wind potential of the Celtic Sea.
An application has been made to the Irish Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for a license to carry out initial site investigation works under the Foreshore Act, 1933, in an area off the Kinsale coast, County Cork, Ireland.
The wind park would be located in the vicinity of the Kinsale gas field, which is currently being decommissioned. Emerald envisions the transformation of the maritime landscape from fossil fuel production to a clean renewable energy source.
The project is intended to be delivered as a staged development, starting with a pre-commercial array of approximately 100MW capacity and building to an overall capacity of 1GW upon final completion.
“Ireland has massive unrealised potential for offshore wind energy production, particularly on the south and west coasts, and state of the art floating wind technology is the key to unlocking that potential,” said Sam Roch-Perks, managing director of Simply Blue Energy Ltd. “With a sea area 10 times that of our land mass, we have a chance to catch and become a leader in offshore wind energy production both in Europe and globally, allowing us to become the ‘Green Gulf’ of renewable energy.”
WMO: World could exceed 1.5C of warming within five years
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) this week issued a new update warning there is a reasonable and growing chance that global temperatures will break the 1.5C threshold over the next five years, compared to pre-industrial levels.
The agency said there was a 20 per cent possibility the mark – which is the aspirational goal for limiting temperatures set out in the Paris Agreement – will be broken in any one year before 2024.
Moreover, the assessment said there is a 70 per cent chance the threshold will be crossed in one or more months in those five years.
The 2015 Paris Agreement commits government to keeping temperatures “well below” 2C of warming, while working towards holding them below 1.5C of warming.
Scientists have issued increasingly stark warnings in recent years that the 1.5C target is likely to be missed without deep and sustained emissions reductions and the widespread adoption of negative emissions technologies and techniques. They have also warned that as temperatures rise above 1.5C and then 2C climate impacts rapidly intensify, leading to more extreme weather, increased risks of droughts and heat waves, rising sea levels, and the potential for feedback loops whereby natural systems start to increase their greenhouse gas emissions.