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The Stream, May 30: Congo River’s Inga 3 Dam Nears Construction

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The Global Rundown

Construction of the first phase of what would be the world’s largest dam is set to begin within months on the Congo River. Millions of people in Central America need food aid to cope with two consecutive years of drought. A lawsuit over water pollution from a copper mine in Zambia will be heard in British courts. The cost of replacing lead water pipes in Flint, Michigan could be much higher than previously estimated. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized California for saving too much water for endangered fish, saying there is no drought in the state.

“There is no drought.” –Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president, speaking at a rally in California. Trump said too much water was being kept in rivers and sent to the ocean to save fish rather than being diverted to help farmers in the Central Valley. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

40,000 megawatts Potential capacity of a hydropower project planned for the Congo River, making it the world’s largest. Construction of the first phase of the dam could begin within months. (Guardian)

$7,500 Estimated cost, per water line, to replace lead water pipes in Flint, Michigan. Overall, replacing pipes in the city could cost $55 million. Detroit Free Press

Science, Studies, And Reports

Farmers in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras endured two years of consecutive droughts that have destroyed crops and left 2.8 million people in need of food aid, according to a report from the United Nations. A state of emergency declared last year remains in effect in Honduras. Reuters

On The Radar

A court case over water pollution from a copper mine in Zambia will be heard in British courts, according to a decision by a high court judge. The multinational mining company that is the target of the lawsuit is headquartered in London, but had previously sought to have the case heard in Zambia. Guardian

The post The Stream, May 30: Congo River’s Inga 3 Dam Nears Construction appeared first on Circle of Blue.

source: http://www.circleofblue.org/2016/daily-stream/stream-may-30/

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - May 31, 2016 at 6:07 am

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The Top Trends Behind the Growing, Multibillion-Dollar Market for Utility Mergers and Acquisitions

The two-year battle over Exelon’s bid to acquire Pepco is finally over. In March, Washington, D.C. regulators approved the Chicago-based utility company’s $6.8 billion plan to scoop up Pepco’s three mid-Atlantic electric and gas utilities, giving it a bigger base of regulated revenue to offset the financial uncertainty in its unregulated generation business. 

To win the deal, however, Exelon agreed to D.C. regulators’ demands to provide ratepayer rebates, energy-efficiency programs and smart grid pilots, as well as commitments to support solar power projects in the nation’s capital. And while the utility is hoping to bring out new solar and microgrid projects as part of its new regulated businesses, Exelon will also be required to open those opportunities to third-party competition.

The Exelon-Pepco deal is noteworthy for its size, creating the biggest utility in the country, with 10 million customers. It also indicates a new wave of consolidation in the North American utility sector, ranging from multibillion-dollar mergers to forays into new business lines, according to Matt Mooren, energy and utilities advisor at PA Consulting.

These drivers can be broadly separated into two categories, noted Mooren. First, there are the cyclical trends of low energy prices and financial struggles for the unregulated, independent power producer (IPP) portion of the North American utility sector. Second, there are the once-in-a-lifetime changes — the rise of utility-scale renewable energy, distributed energy resources and technology-driven customer energy empowerment.

In this environment, companies are seeking stable revenues and rates of return inherent in regulated utilities, as Exelon has done with Pepco. But they’re also seeking out opportunities in the emerging businesses of wind and solar power, distributed energy management and customer energy services — areas where regulated utilities are facing their own challenges.

“It’s a more progressive and innovative approach,” said Mooren. “People are in position to play both offense and defense, in terms of the distributed energy trends and the customer energy technology trends.”

The cyclical trends 

Let’s start with the cyclical trends and a bit of history to explain how we’ve come to where we are today.

“In the mid-1990s, there was basically one business model — the vertically integrated electric utility,” Mooren explained. Then came the rise of independent grid operators, and the splitting of the utility business model into competitive retail energy providers, independent wholesale power producers, and transmission and distribution utilities, which in turn led to a lot of consolidation across those fields, he said.

But after a wave of boom-bust for the unregulated side of the utility business, along with the current trend of low natural-gas prices and thus low marginal electricity prices, “Wall Street and shareholders have been penalizing electric utilities in particular, and utilities in general, for any non-regulated investment,” said Mooren.

While publicly traded independent power producers such as Dynegy, NRG Energy and the bankrupt Energy Future Holdings have lost more than half of their market value over the past several years, regulated utilities have generally held steady or gone up.

“So you’re in a place where utilities are searching for growth, and that growth is very hard to accomplish with any sort of non-regulated investment that doesn’t fit trends that would be accretive to the regulated side of the business,” he said.

These trends are behind controversial proposals like the Exelon-Pepco merger, or NextEra’s $4.3 billion bid for Hawaiian Electric Industries. They’re also the driver of lower-profile deals, like Algonquin Power’s $2.4 billion acquisition of Empire District Electric, or a U.S.-Canadian investor group’s $4.7 billion purchase of Louisiana’s Cleco.

“Look at Exelon’s earnings and shareholder value,” he said. “Several years ago, they were substantially dependent on the non-regulated portion of the business — either their generation business or their competitive retail business. And those earnings are pretty volatile.”

With Pepco’s electric and gas distribution utilities, “They’ve changed their investment profile to one that’s less risky for people who are looking for more secure investment.”

In some ways, this trend is a reversal of the move toward consolidation in unregulated lines of the energy business from the previous decade, he said. But that’s not always possible in the complex, state-by-state regulatory regimes that govern utilities. Take the example of FirstEnergy and AEP, which have recently seen federal regulators put a hold on a plan, approved by Ohio regulators, to allow the two utilities to rate-base power-purchase agreements from some of their struggling power plants.

But there are still options for diversifying, said Mooren. “You could acquire natural gas utilities,” both to diversify into a different set of customers and to provide some control over the fuel for much of the industry’s generation assets, he said. That kind of hedging can also be accomplished by buying natural gas reserves, as NextEra subsidiary Florida Power & Light has done (although that project has run into its own troubles).

Rob Rains, an energy analyst with Washington Analysis, noted that each utility M&A deal has its own quirks. “In general, I think for the better part of this year so far, investors have identified the utility space as a good defensive position” amidst more general market volatility.

And then there’s the fundamental challenge for utilities seeking growth in an era of generally flat energy sales. “If you’re not growing in terms of sales, it’s a good time to look for acquisitions,” he said. That may be driving the investments made by Canadian utilities into U.S. distribution and generation utilities, said Rains — there isn’t a lot of growth potential in Canada, after all.

Investing in the new utility business models

But there are yet more options available for managing the current environment. “The M&A activity in the utility space has accelerated because of the availability of cheap capital, obviously, and the urge to identify strategic businesses as a regulated utility,” Rains said. But along with that, “regulated utilities are identifying renewables as an opportunity for rate-based growth.”

Duke Energy is also planning to double or triple its renewable portfolio over the next several years, for example. Southern Company, the giant Southeast utility, is adding several hundred megawatts of renewables as part of its last integrated resource plan, and Xcel Energy is expected to seek investment for infrastructure to support more renewables growth in its coming multi-year rate case in Minnesota, said Rains.

Important M&A activity in this field includes the creation of Duke Energy Renewables, the utility giant’s new business created by the acquisition of California solar installer REC Solar and energy management company Phoenix Energy Technologies, he said. Other utility moves into commercial solar include NextEra’s acquisition of Smart Energy Capital, and Edison International’s purchase of SoCore.

“I think distributed energy resources are clear avenues to growth for distribution utilities, because they don’t have generation that will be hindered by that distributed energy growth,” said Mooren. But these acquisitions aren’t just about taking a stake in the growth of renewable energy, he noted. They’re also about making connections to the broader realm of supplying energy services to commercial and industrial customers.

Distribution utilities, including those in vertically integrated markets, have long offered different products and services for their larger customers, noted Mooren. “The major difference now, compared to what they’ve been doing for quite some time, is moving away from the physical delivery of energy, and getting into more of the digital and societal transitions that are occurring, particularly in certain jurisdictions.”

One good example of this is Southern Company’s $431 million purchase of PowerSecure, he said. The North Carolina-based company controls some 1,500 megawatts — mostly backup generators, along with some cutting-edge solar-battery integrations — that help hospitals, data centers, grocery stores, food-processing plants and other big commercial-industrial customers ride through blackouts and shave peak power costs.

In a similar vein, Edison International has spent about $100 million to acquire a stable of companies — Eneractive Solutions, Delta Energy Services and Altenex — to form the core of its new energy services business, Edison Energy, launched in March.

“There is the opportunity to turn non-regulated investments into regulated products and services down the line,” explained Mooren. “They could own it, or expand their regulated business model around the knowledge, skills and products that come from those non-regulated investments, and improve their stance with regulators.” 

This is all part of a broader recognition by the utility sector that the rise of distributed and renewable energy is threatening their underlying business model, according to a leaked 2016 planning document from the Edison Electrical Institute. “If it doesn’t fit into clean energy, grid modernization or a focus on the customer, we’re not doing it anymore,” Brian Wolff, EEI’s executive vice president for public policy, said in a recent interview. 


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Rules For U.N. Climate Pact May Take Two Years

By Alister Doyle, Reuters

A first United Nations meeting on implementing a 2015 global agreement to combat climate change showed it could take two years to work out a detailed rule book for a sweeping shift from fossil fuels, delegates said.

The May 16-26 talks marked a return to technical work and the end of a “honeymoon period” since the Paris Agreement was worked out by almost 200 nations in December to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit rising temperatures.

Men fish next to cracked ground as the Atibainha dam lake dries up due to a prolonged drought in Nazare Paulista, Sao Paulo state, October 17, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/NACHO DOCE

“My bet is 2018, everything will be done (in) a maximum two years,” Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate ambassador, told Reuters when asked how long it would take to negotiate a set of rules. Several other delegates gave similar estimates.

Tubiana said the Bonn talks had not exposed big, unexpected problems with the Paris text that could mean an even longer haul. “There was no shouting, no crying,” she said.

Details left vague by the 31-page Paris Agreement include how countries will report and monitor their domestic pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes such as more floods, storms, desertification and rising seas.

Under the Paris deal, most countries’ goals for combating climate change are for the years from 2020-2030.

Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the 48-nation group of least developed countries at the talks, said the Paris Agreement had many ambiguities.

“When you go home, you do your homework and … find that what you have created is a kind of monster from a legal point of view because it is open to many interpretations,” he said.

Elina Bardram, head of the European Commission delegation, said the talks were a positive start “to fill in the details … but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Many nations said that the Bonn talks marked an end to euphoria after Paris. “You get married, you have a honeymoon but you have to continue with your life. That is happening,” Amjad Abdulla of the Maldives, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States. 

He said there was an urgent need to fix the rules because of mounting impact of climate change such as more powerful storms, droughts and rising seas. Last year was the warmest on record and recent months have all set monthly heat records.

Many countries say that the Paris Agreement, already signed by 177 nations, could enter into force this year or next. It  first has to be formally ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 percent of global emissions.

Many nations are uneasy because U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said he will renegotiate the deal if elected. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is a supporter.

Separately, developing nations said they would push at the next meeting in November in Morocco for donors to widen a $10 billion renewable energy plan for Africa, agreed last year, to include all poor nations.

Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Tom Heneghan


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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - May 30, 2016 at 6:01 am

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As Disaster Risks Rise, 20 Nations Get Help to Prepare

By Megan Rowling, Thompson Reuters Foundation

A new scheme launched by U.N. agencies, the World Bank and countries most vulnerable to climate change is seeking funding of up to $130 million to help 20 at-risk nations prepare better for natural disasters.

The Global Partnership for Preparedness, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, aims to help the countries attain a basic level of readiness by 2020 for future disaster risks mainly caused by climate change. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shake hands following the closing news conference during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 24, 2016.
Credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER

The money will enable the countries to access risk analysis and early warning systems, put together contingency plans, including pre-committed finance, and respond better to shocks such as floods and droughts.

“The aim is to save lives, safeguard development gains, and reduce the economic impacts of crises,” said United Nations Development Program Administrator Helen Clark. Development gains, in particular, “can otherwise be lost with each disaster”, she said.

The countries will be selected from the 43 nations belonging to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group that spans Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. Backers hope to expand the program to 50 countries within five years. 

Funding for the first phase has yet to be put in place but is likely to come from international institutions, U.N. agencies and government donors. Supporters hope the scheme will get off the ground by October.

One government likely to benefit from the partnership is the Philippines, which is looking to improve its ability to identify at-risk areas, and to bolster systems to respond to disasters, working alongside business and communities, said Roberto B. Tan, the country’s treasurer.

Typhoon Hagupit (known in the Philippines as Ruby) as it bore down on the island nation on Dec. 5, 2014.
Credit: NOAA

“If we plan ahead, we will create a situation where instead of wave after wave of climate-driven natural disasters destroying what gains communities have made, they can pick up their lives again as soon as possible,” he said.

The World Bank, which plans to bring to the table its expertise, including in social protection and assessing hazards, emphasized the current low level of international funding for disaster preparedness. 

Less than 0.5 percent of development assistance today goes to averting disasters and preparing for them, according to estimates.

But Laura Tuck, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development, said there was growing evidence that donor governments and the aid community have grasped the need to increase that investment, not least due to mass migration around the world in the past year.

“One of the most exciting things from this summit is the emphasis moving from responding to humanitarian disasters to addressing situations upfront,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

“Building resilience helps to address disasters, population movements, conflict, fragile countries – all that can be mitigated through investments in resilience.”

Disaster Insurance

Separately, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it would extend disaster insurance coverage for African countries to help transform how they cope with drought and floods by improving their ability to manage risks before they hit.

It will use a commitment of $1.6 million from the Danish government to double the number of people insured in countries that have already taken out cover under the African Risk Capacity scheme.

Cattle died in the drought in Ethiopia, a member of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.
Credit: Oxfam International/flickr

By 2030, WFP aims to buy insurance cover capable of providing half its natural disaster aid expenditures in Asia and Africa each year, with payouts varying from year to year according to the disasters experienced.

Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said a new commitment made in Istanbul by donor governments to tie less of the humanitarian aid they give to particular crises could give agencies more freedom to invest in reducing disaster risk.

“It makes a lot of sense to do something today to have the outcome you want tomorrow rather than waiting for the shock to arrive,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

He recently visited southern Africa, which has been hit by its worst drought in the last 30 years, but the aid response is not yet at the level required, he said.

“It will be a shame again if we wait until we see the pictures of dying babies before we start rushing in and responding,” he said.

Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Laurie Goering


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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - May 29, 2016 at 6:05 am

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The Stream, May 27: Illegal Gold Mining Pollutes Peru Rivers, Triggers State of Emergency

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The Global Rundown

Thousands of people in Peru may be affected by mercury contamination caused by illegal gold mining, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency. Demonstrators in Ecuador’s largest city are protesting slow progress on cleaning up water pollution and improving water access. The severe drought in India could encourage the growth of a multi-billion dollar water recycling industry. Queensland is assessing the potential for 14 dams to spur agricultural growth. Iconic world heritage sites are increasingly at risk from climate change, a UN-backed report found. It is unclear if a La Nina weather pattern will provide drought relief to California this year.

“The water has too much sewage flowing into it. We are protesting because the local government is not doing enough to manage the private company that is operating the contract.” –Jasmanny Caicedo, an activist in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, on a series of demonstrations in the city this month meant to draw attention to pollution in the Estero Salado river delta. Despite some progress made since the city’s water was privatized in 2001, many residents of informal settlements lack clean water access and the river remains highly contaminated with bacteria. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

$17 billion Potential worth of the water recycling market in India, where a severe drought could trigger growth in the industry. Bloomberg

14 dams Number of proposed projects Queensland is assessing for feasibility in order to double agricultural output. Opponents say the plan would cause large-scale pollution of the Great Barrier Reef. Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

At least 31 world heritage sites are at risk from droughts, floods, extreme storms, and rising temperatures linked to climate change, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the United Nations. The Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, and Venice were among the sites most at risk from floods, sea level rise, and stronger storms. Guardian

On The Radar

As many as 50,000 people in Peru may be exposed to high levels of mercury due to illegal gold mining near rivers. On Monday the government declared a 60-day state of emergency to address the problem. Associated Press

Climatologists in California say it is a toss up whether or not the state gets drought relief from a developing La Nina weather pattern. While an El Nino over the past year helped revive some reservoirs, 95 percent of the state remains abnormally dry. Bloomberg

The post The Stream, May 27: Illegal Gold Mining Pollutes Peru Rivers, Triggers State of Emergency appeared first on Circle of Blue.

source: http://www.circleofblue.org/2016/daily-stream/stream-may-27/

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - May 28, 2016 at 6:00 am

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NOAA: Near-Normal Hurricane Season Expected

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1, but is off to an early start this year. Not only is a storm poised to form off the coast of the Southeast, but the first named storm of the season actually occurred way back in January.

Forecasters put the greatest odds on this hurricane season being a near-average one, with smaller chances it will over- or under-perform, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday. The outlook predicts 10 to 16 named storms, with four to eight becoming hurricanes and one to four of those becoming major ones.

A major hurricane (defined as Category 3 or stronger) hasn’t hit the U.S. coast since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, though storms like Hurricane Sandy make clear that it’s not only the strongest storms that cause major damage. NOAA authorities have urged coastal residents, particularly those along the Southeast coast this weekend, to make sure they have their hurricane plans in place.

“A near-normal season does not mean that we’re off the hook or that there won’t be hurricane impacts,” NOAA director Kathy Sullivan said during a press briefing. “So now is the time for you to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Credit: NOAA

It’s not unusual for tropical systems to form before (or after) the official hurricane season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 — those human-imposed dates are only meant to capture the bulk of hurricane activity. Tropical Storm Ana formed in early May last year, and two early bird storms arose in 2012.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are watching a system between the Bahamas and Bermuda that looks very likely to develop into a tropical or subtropical storm over the next day or two. (Subtropical systems are those with characteristics of both tropical and frontal storm systems.)

If this storm does become more organized and its winds reach at least 39 mph, it will be dubbed Bonnie, the second name on the 2016 hurricane list.

Whether or not it does form, the system is headed to the Southeast coast and could mean a stormy, soggy Memorial Day weekend for areas from Georgia up through the Carolinas. With holidaymakers likely flocking to beaches, one major concern is deadly rip currents.

And if Bonnie doesn’t materialize, the 2016 season already got an early start when Hurricane Alex formed in January. It was the first hurricane to arise in that month since 1938.

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Unusually warm Atlantic waters helped Alex and other storms form last season, despite unfavorable atmospheric conditions ushered in by a major El Niño. In areas where those conditions periodically became less hostile to storms, the waters provided ample fuel for the convection that drives tropical cyclones.

The demise of El Niño and the potential development of its opposing phase, La Niña, are two of the big variables that could impact activity this year. The effects of El Niño could linger into the early part of the season, Sullivan said, and right now it looks like La Niña — which tends to boost Atlantic activity — could be in place during the peak of the season from August through October.

Another factor is a climate pattern called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. When the AMO is in its “warm phase,” it favors warmer Atlantic waters and a stronger African monsoon, both of which help fuel storms. That warm phase was in place during recent decades, which featured high levels of storm activity in the ocean basin.

It’s not clear if the AMO may be switching to a cool phase and ushering in a quieter era for storms, Sullivan said.

“This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it’s difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.

Overall, NOAA forecasters are calling for a 45 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal one, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal one. In terms of storm numbers, that could range from 10 to 16 named storms, or those that reach at least tropical storm status, including January’s Alex and the possible Tropical Storm Bonnie.

The system that could develop into a tropical storm or subtropical storm off the Southeast coast. If it does, it will be named Bonnie.
Credit: NOAA

Of those, they expect four to eight to strengthen into hurricanes (again, including Alex) and one to four of those reaching Category 3 status or higher.

An average Atlantic season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

While hurricane strength is rated by wind speed, it is often water that causes the most damage and deaths. Tropical cyclones (the generic name for tropical storms and hurricanes) can cause extensive inland flooding — as was seen during 2011’s Hurricane Irene in the Northeast — and through storm surge, or the ocean water its winds push ashore.

With those concerns in mind, NOAA has several tools to help the public better understand their local risks. These include a National Water Model, which can provide hourly water forecasts — including flooding risks — to several million locations, as well as a storm surge map and storm surge watches and warnings.

Storm surge is one of the clearest aspects where global warming is playing a role in intensifying the impact of hurricanes: As sea level rises, potential storm surge increases.

Over the last decade since Hurricane Katrina helped spur a flurry of hurricane-climate research, the science suggests that while hurricanes may not become more frequent overall, the proportion of the most intense storms could rise.

But as hurricane forecasters and emergency personnel are fond of saying, it only takes one hurricane hitting where you live to make all the difference.

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Global Warming Threatens the World’s Special Places

The most precious places on the planet are under siege by climate change. From Venice being slowly consumed by the sea to rising temperatures stressing out Uganda’s famous gorillas, history and the natural world are facing a threat unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before.

Visitor boat dock damage from Sandy viewed from the Statue of Liberty’s crown.
Credit: NPS Sandy Response/flickr

On the eve of Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer tourism season, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the United Nations have put out a report chronicling the risks climate change poses to cultural and natural treasures around the planet.

The report looks at a handful of the 981 World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO as having exceptional cultural or natural value. In all cases, climate change is exerting pressures that could permanently alter some of the most spectacular places on earth unless carbon emissions are cut.

“We say we want to preserve these sites for the future of humankind, but unless we act, they will be destroyed by our own hands,” Adam Markham, the deputy director of the UCS climate and energy program who led the report, said.

It’s not just about losing places, either. It’s about losing tourism dollars that are vitally important to the communities living around these places, particularly in developing countries. Tourism accounts for 9 percent of the global GDP. In the U.S., tourism to National Parks pumped $15.7 billion into local economies in 2014.

Natural resources are already being impacted. The recent global coral bleaching event — driven by rising ocean temperatures coupled with this winter’s strong El Niño — is one of the starkest examples of how climate change is already devastating World Heritage Sites. More than 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef bleached this winter, which scientists said was up to 175 times more likely because of climate change.

Elsewhere, rising temperatures on land have already contributed to changes in the forest fire season in and around Yellowstone National Park, another World Heritage Site. The region has seen a tenfold increase in the number of large wildfires and they now burn roughly 45 times more area each season than they did in 1970. Further changes could permanently alter the ecosystems in the park that drew 4 million visitors last year.

The threat to cultural sites is even more pronounced. More than three-quarters of all World Heritage Sites preserve pieces of human history, adding a sense of urgency to protecting them. Coastal areas in particular are facing a clear and direct challenge from rising seas and more intense storm surge.

The Statue of Liberty is a prime example of both the risks posed and the responses needed to deal with more climatic extremes. When Hurricane Sandy roared into New York Harbor in 2012, it inundated 75 percent of Liberty Island. The storm caused $77 million in damage there and at Ellis Island and shut down both sites for months on end to repair the damage.

The biggest impact was to electric, telephone and heat and cooling systems, which all sat in basements that flooded when the storm surge hit. In response, park managers have rebuilt the electrical system up to 20 feet above current sea level to minimize damage from rising seas and future storms.

Flooded Venice in 2010.
Credit: Roberto Tombetta/flickr

In Venice, $6 billion floodgates are being installed to keep the Adriatic Sea at bay, though Markham warned the protection still might not be enough to protect the city from future sea levels and storm surge.

World Heritage Sites can also be a part of the solution. Beyond the tourism value, these places can also be tools in combating climate change. The large tracts of forest and coastal swamps and wetlands already store vast amounts of carbon and properly managing them could help further their carbon sequestration benefits.

“They’re one of the best solutions that nature provides to tackling global climate change,” Tim Badman, the director of the World Heritage program at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said.

On a more meta level, they offer inspiration for what could be lost if world leaders fail to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F).

“We’re about to lose a huge part of human history,” said Marcy Rockman, a cultural resources specialist with the National Park Service. “Humans centuries into the future will never be able to consult that, they’ll never be able to know.”

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Global Awards Program Recognizes Companies for Leadership in Energy Management

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Thirty-five businesses in 20 countries have been selected for global recognition as part of the inaugural Energy Management Leadership Awards program sponsored by the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM). On June 2, 2016, three companies will receive top honors, the Award of Excellence in Energy Management, at the annual CEM meeting in San Francisco, California. Another 32 companies will receive Energy Management Insight Awards for helping build global insight on the benefits of energy management systems in industrial and commercial facilities.

source: https://cleanenergysolutions.org/news/global-awards-program-recognizes-companies-leadership-energy-management

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Siemens to supply wind turbines, grid connection for Beatrice offshore project

The scope of supply comprises the offshore grid connection to the mainland in consortium with Nexans who will supply the connecting export cables

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Secretary of Energy Moniz urges work on ITER nuclear fusion reactor

Secretary Moniz’s report highlighted the progress made recently at ITER and emphasized that ITER remains our best option for demonstrating sustained burning plasma

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