Financial Issues Cloud UN Climate Talks
As the UN climate talks come to a close, rich and poor countries continue to argue over funding issues to help the developing world deal with the costs of mitigating global warming.
Reminding rich nations of the general pledge made three years prior, the developing world is asking for a commitment from the first world to scale up climate change aid to $100 billion annually by 2020. Without that commitment, those countries are unwilling to commit to specific [costly] emissions targets.
In 2009, rich nations pledged to deliver help to the cause, offering $10 billion a year in 2010-2012, which would increase to $100 billion in 2020. How nations would reach those financial aid targets, however, is unclear.
For the most part, talks have been held back by financial concerns since they started last week in Qatar.
"The tone of the negotiations is extremely sour now," said Greenpeace international leader Kumi Naidoo, according to the Associated Press.
Rich nations are unwilling to commit to specific financial target due to the current economic climate.
"We underscore the need for a goal for 2013-2015 in order to avoid a gap and ensure sufficient financial support for developing countries," Chinese delegate Su Wei told the conference.
Although the US never joined the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions reduction pact for rich nations, governments have agreed to create a wider deal that would include all countries by 2015.
The World Bank recently projected that global temperatures will rise 7.2 F by the year 2100.
"There is a huge lag between the international policy response and what science is telling us," U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told the Associated Press. "We know that science tends to underestimate the impacts of climate, and so if anything, that gap continues to grow."
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly