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Pollution deal, North American climate promises, UK carbon budge and sun shines on India
EU countries sign air pollution pact
The number of early deaths that are caused by air pollution in the European Union could be halved by 2030, according to a deal between the European Parliament and EU countries. At the moment, the premature mortality tally runs at about 400,000 per year.
EU countries will cut emissions of the main air pollutants: ammonia, fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds and sulphur dioxide. This has the potential to affect many sectors. Ammonia emissions are caused by agriculture, while fine particles and nitrogen oxides are emitted from vehicle exhausts. Cuts to sulphur dioxide will require more controls on the burning of fossil fuels. The deal must still be ratified by the European Parliament, which had wanted deeper pollutant cuts and thus fewer early deaths, but was rebuffed by the EU countries. In principle, the deal will apply to the United Kingdom, although it will depend on exactly when and under what terms Britain exits the EU.
North American climate pledge
The “three amigos” of President Barack Obama, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto promised at the end of June to “strive to achieve” a goal for North America to generate 50% of its power from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources by 2025. At a summit in Ottawa, the leaders laid out a range of pledges, including more financial backing for renewables, greener vehicles and cooperation on energy efficiency standards. Canada and the US said their public sectors would purchase only 100% green energy by 2025. Presently, 37% of North American power comes from clean sources, including nuclear power. Canada is in the lead – about 80% of Canadian electricity is clean, primarily from hydro. It was a “moral imperative” to clean up the energy supply in order to help deliver on global climate goals, the leaders' statement said.
UK tries to calm climate concerns
One of the first moves of the post-Brexit British government was to adopt the so-called fifth carbon budget, partially soothing the concerns of green campaigners that Brexit would undermine environmental standards. The fifth carbon budget is a commitment to cap UK emissions between 2028 and 2032 at 1.725 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, representing a 57% cut below 1990 levels. The UK cut would have been a contribution to the EU's pledge that the bloc overall would reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990, in the context of the Paris Agreement on limiting global warming. However, the UK government has yet to provide more detailed plans on how the emissions cut will be delivered – and that could be significantly affected by Brexit if, for example, Britain no longer participates in the EU emissions trading system or other EU climate policies.
India get $1bn from World Bank for solar
India's government has secured a record-breaking $1 billion from the World Bank to underpin its solar energy plans. New Delhi has promised that India will meet at least 40% of its energy needs from renewables by 2030, with an emphasis on grid-connected solar installations on rooftops. The goal represents a tripling of renewable generation compared to levels in India now. The $1 billion, which will be lent to India over 2017, is the World Bank’s largest-ever support for solar power in any country. World Bank official Onno Ruhl said that “rapid expansion of solar power can improve the quality of life for millions of Indians. With around 300 days of sunshine every year, India has among the best conditions in the world to harness solar energy.”