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Moroccan solar plan, European circular economy, UK green investment bank and California climate targets
Morocco goes to top of the class
Morocco is the only country so far to submit a “sufficient” Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in the run-up to the United Nations climate conference in Paris at the end of 2015, according to a rating from Climate Action Tracker. INDCs are emissions-reduction commitments submitted to the UN by national governments. The UN will add up the pledges and assess if the world is doing enough to head off dangerous levels of global warming. Morocco says it will reduce emissions by 32% below business-as-usual on the basis of receiving financial assistance, and will seek to switch its economy to solar energy. Considering its position as a developing country, Morocco is “doing its fair share of global efforts to hold warming below two degrees,” Climate Action Tracker said. By contrast, the European Union's pledge of a 40% emissions cut by 2030 compared to 1990 is rated “medium”, while Canada's and Russia's plans are “inadequate”.
Circular economy consultation
The European Commission has called for comments on the future European circular economy. The commission said individuals, companies and other organisations should provide their input on “intelligent product design, reuse and repair of products, recycling, sustainable consumption, waste policy, recycling levels, smart use of raw materials, stronger markets for secondary raw materials and specific sectoral measures.” The commission has said it will publish by the end of the year proposals for European Union legislation that could have wide-ranging effects on companies – for example, by requiring them to take more responsibility for waste or by imposing product design standards, such as prohibiting hard-to-recycle raw materials. The consultation is open until 20 August.
Bank for sale
The UK government is to start “exploring options” to part-privatise the Green Investment Bank (GIB), business secretary Sajid Javid has said. The announcement, made at the bank's annual meeting on 25 June, triggered criticism that support for green projects could be undermined. The GIB, which started work in 2012, is considered a notable success that has helped boost renewable energy and energy efficiency in the UK. It has also proved a financial success, turning a profit in 2014-15. Critics said a sell-off could jeopardise the bank's ability to step in and finance projects that might not otherwise go ahead. Nick Mabey of environmental think tank E3G said the GIB “kept investment in the real economy going at a time when bank lending had fallen to an all-time low,” and the sell-off was “reckless”. The government said proceeds from the sale would help pay off the national debt.
California took a step towards significantly lower emissions in June when its State Senate and Assembly approved a set of ambitious climate-related bills. The laws would extend emissions trading in the state beyond 2020, require a greenhouse-gas emissions cut of 40% by 2030 compared to 1990, and mandate a 50% share of renewable energy in electricity supply, a 50% reduction in the use of petroleum in vehicle fuels and 50% energy savings from the current building stock, also by 2030. The bills must still go through further readings, but have broad support in the Senate and Assembly and are expected to be adopted in due course. California Democrats have welcomed the measures as essential to put the Golden State on a sustainable path. Republicans said the plans represented too much interference in markets, and were “coastal elitism at the worst,” according to state senator Jeff Stone.