BusinessGreen brings you all the latest green news from around the world this week
Extreme E debuts all electric SUV for global rally series
Plans for a global series of offroad electric vehicle (EV) races took a major step forward with the unveiling of the electric SUV that will feature in the new rallies.
The Extreme E rally series – a sister event to the increasingly high profile Formula E racing series – officially unveiled the new model today at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Named ODYSSEY 21, the car has been developed by Spark Racing Technology. It will feature in Extreme E’s new racing series which aims to highlight the impact of climate change on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, and promote the adoption of EVs.
“The Extreme E-SUV ODYSSEY 21 is unlike anything else in motorsport,” said Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Formula E, the operating partner for Extreme E. “The cutting-edge technology our industry-leading partners have employed in its design and construction has resulted in a stunning car, capable of the highest performance in the toughest and most varied environments on the planet.”
The launch came a day after Extreme E announced is has signed a multi-year broadcast deal with FOX Sports, one of the world’s largest sports media companies.
Extreme E’s five-race global voyage is now slated to start in early 2021.
Norwegian hybrid ferry sets sail
The first hybrid battery-powered cruise ship set out on its maiden voyage, leaving the Norwegian city of Tromso on July 2.
Operator Hurtigruten said the ship, named the Roald Amundsen after one of Norway’s most famous Arctic explorers, can operate for around 45 to 60 minutes using battery power alone.
Overall, the hybrid design is expected to cut carbon emissions by around 20 per cent, compared to a ship that uses conventional marine fuel alone.
OPEC chief bemoans impact of environmental campaigners
OPEC secretary-general Mohammed Barkindo has this week publicly complained about the impact of environmental campaigners, complained, describing them as “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward”.
Speaking at the group’s latest meeting in Vienna, he accused campaigners of launch “unscientific” attacks on the oil industry. “Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change,” he said.
The vast majority of climate scientists maintain that the release of greenhouse gases through the extraction, processing, and burning of oil is a major cause of climate change.
He also revealed children of some OPEC executives “are asking us about their future because… they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry”.
“We believe this industry is part of the solution to the scourge of climate change,” he said, while failing to expand on how current projected levels of oil demand are compatible with tackling the climate crisis.
Responding to the news on Twitter, founder of the School Strikes movement Greta Thunberg described the comments as “our biggest compliment yet”.
“There is a growing mass mobilisation of world opinion… against oil” and this is “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry”.
OPEC calls the school strike movement and climate campaigners their “greatest threat”.
Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!https://t.co/f3anMLo4XX
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) July 4, 2019
Virgin Islands ban sunscreens that are thought to harm corals
The legislature of the US Virgin Islands has passed a bill that bans the import and sale of sunscreens with ingredients environmentalists claim are harmful to the ocean.
The bill, which passed late last month, bans the sale, distribution and import of any sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.
“Oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene devastate coral and marine life and are also known carcinogenic and hormone disruptors in humans,” said Harith Wickrema, president of the Island Green Living Association, in a statement reported by ABC News. “In addition to environmental and human harm, tourism-based economies will experience financial devastation if coral and marine life die off. The ripple effect would be huge and we need to take action now.”
Germany’s KFW to end support for coal
Germany’s influential state-backed infrastructure bank KFW has become the latest high profile financial body to tighten its lending rules to effectively end investments in coal companies.
The bank updated its investment code on Monday so that it no longer finances the exploration or mining of coal, or lends to coal power plant projects.
The firm said it has not made any new investments in coal projects in the past four years and holds less than €2bn in outstanding loans in the fuel, but the change to its lending rules formalises its stance.
The move brings it into line with a growing band of development banks across the EU that have moved to exclude coal from their portfolios.
Thyssenkrupp unveils ‘carbon neutral’ goal
Also in Germany, European steel and engineering giant Thyssenkrupp announced this week that it plans to slash emissions over the next decade in pursuit of an ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral by mid-century.
“We want to cut our emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 across the entire business,” chief technology officer Reinhold Achatz told Reuters. “By 2050 we want to be carbon neutral.”
US coal woes continue
President Trump’s plans to revive the US coal industry continue to falter, as fresh closures and bankruptcies were announced this week.
Two Wyoming coal mines filed for bankruptcy and closed two mines this week, resulting in 700 jobs being put at risk.
The news came in the same week as fresh data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that intense competition from gas and renewables is continuing to undermine the competitiveness of coal operators.
Coal-fired power reportedly provided just over 60,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity in April, equivalent to around 20 per cent of demand – the lowest share of the power mix for coal in decades.
Brazilian deforestation rates soar
Fears that recently-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would unleash a wave of development in the Amazon appear to have been well-founded.
New data this week suggested deforestation in the Amazon rose 88 per cent year-on-year in June, marking the second consecutive month of drastically increased deforestation rates.
The trend looks set to throw into reverse encouraging progress that had seen rates of deforestation in the country fall in recent years.