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Bill Gates Expected to Create Billion-Dollar Fund for Clean Energy

November 30 -- Bill Gates will announce the creation of a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund on Monday at the opening of a Paris summit meeting intended to forge a global accord to cut planet-warming emissions, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

The fund, which one of the people described as the largest such effort in history, is meant to pay for research and development of new clean-energy technologies. It will include contributions from other billionaires and philanthropies, as well as a commitment by the United States and other participating nations to double their budget for clean energy research and development, according to the people with knowledge of the plans, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the fund.

The announcement of the fund, which has the joint backing of the governments of the United States, China, India and other countries, the people said, is intended to give momentum to the two-week Paris climate talks. >>View Article 

Unilever Aims to Use Only Renewable Energy by 2030

November 30 -- Consumer goods maker Unilever said it would switch to using only renewable energy by 2030 and would stop using energy from coal by 2020, as businesses jostle to highlight their green credentials ahead of a global climate summit.

World leaders were set to meet in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to agree on a plan to curb global warming.

Unilever was among 81 companies, along with rivals Nestle and Procter & Gamble, that have signed up to set emissions targets for their businesses with the aim of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman is a leading advocate for the idea that there is a business case for sustainability even as his company's sales have slowed under the weight of a weak margarine business and slowing emerging market economies. >>View Article 

Guest Commentary: Wind Energy Protects Wildlife

November 30 -- Wind farms are not a major source of bird mortality. Wind turbine sites represent only a tiny fraction of bird deaths caused by human activities — an estimated 214,000 to 368,000 annually, according to a 2014 study from the American Wind Wildlife Institute. This compares to other human causes such as buildings (550 million), power lines (130 million), cars (80 million), and pesticide poisoning (67 million), according to a 2002 study published in a 2005 U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report.

The same holds true for eagle mortality. While eagles do occasionally collide with turbines at some wind farms, this is not a common occurrence. Modern wind facilities represent only 2 percent of all documented sources of human-caused golden eagle fatalities.

Bird mortality has been studied many times by many different researchers, and wind's impacts are much less than other sources of power generation. Indeed, many other human-made sources have a significantly larger effect. Judith Lewis Mernit informs her article largely on the basis of one discredited report, which a proper peer-review later found was flawed with a wide variety of serious mistakes. >>View Article 

Editorial: Energy Plan Secures Power Supply

November 30 -- Michigan will lose nine coal plants over the next year; 25 coal-fired units will be retired in the next five years. Across the region, scores of coal facilities will go offline during that period.

Between the state’s aged energy infrastructure and the continual onslaught of federal environmental regulations, Michigan must decide now how it will meet its future energy needs. Bills have passed out of committee in the state House and are pending in the Senate to address energy policy for the next several decades. With an emphasis on long-term generation planning, goals for energy efficiency, and room for the market to help direct costs and the type of generation, these bills should meet Michigan’s goals. >>View Article 

Offshore Wind Energy Worth a Spin

November 30 -- By now, every coastal municipality and the three coastal congressional representatives have rightly voiced opposition to drilling for oil and natural gas off the state’s coast. Fortunately, a much cleaner energy alternative is showing offshore potential.

This month, the federal government asked businesses to submit proposals for wind farm leases off the South Carolina coast. That’s the most concrete step so far in opening up the coast to offshore wind energy.

Four broad areas are currently open to potential development in state waters, including much of the Grand Strand coast and waters off northern Charleston County. >>View Article 

Yet Another Study Finds The US Could Quit All Fossil Fuels By 2050

November 25 -- Earlier this year, the Clean Power Plan pledged to cut US power plant carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2050. A new study says the US can do way better than that: reducing all greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and running the country entirely on renewable energy by 2050.

This most optimistic scenario is released by Labor Network for Sustainability and, with research by economist Frank Ackerman of Synapse Energy Economics, just as the world’s leaders are about to grapple with slashing global emissions by 80 percent at the Paris climate talks. It’s named the Clean Energy Future, and it sounds wonderful. >>View Article 

RFS is Crucial to National Security

November 25 -- As a veteran, I’ve witnessed fellow servicemen and servicewomen risk life and limb over oil interests in hostile regions, all so we can feed our dependence on foreign oil. That’s one of the many reasons why Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) into law in 2005. Our leaders saw American-grown renewable fuel as a way to cut our dependence on foreign oil and bolster our energy and national security. They recognized that it’s senseless to keep putting Americans in harm’s way when we are producing renewable fuel right here at home. Biofuels are crucial to our national security, and since the RFS was enacted, our dependence on foreign oil has decreased by more than 55 percent. Biofuels are also a major contributor to job growth in America, creating more than 852,000 annually.

Lowering the renewable volume requirements under the RFS, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed several months ago, would be disastrous for our country’s energy independence and security. With ongoing instability in the Middle East and so much at stake, continuing to depend on foreign oil is not an option. The RFS is the most successful energy policy in the U.S., and producing secure renewable fuel, like ethanol, in our country is one of our most effective tools at breaking our addiction to foreign oil. But now it’s being attacked by people who only stand to gain from our foreign fossil fuel dependence: the oil industry. >>View Article 

Strong Clean-energy Standards Are Good Business for Michigan

November 25 -- Rewriting Michigan's energy plan has been a major objective in Lansing this year, and the decisions made in the coming weeks will affect Michigan families and businesses for years to come. Unfortunately, the plan under consideration in the state House still falls short when it comes to promoting clean energy and keeping costs down. As a business owner who wants to power my business with more clean, efficient and renewable energy, I know Michigan can do much better.

Due to advances in technology, clean, renewable energy is now often the cheapest source of electricity available. The Michigan Public Service Commission recently estimated the combined cost of renewable energy generation and energy waste reduction at $37 per megawatt hour, while the combined cost of all power generation is $64 per megawatt hour. Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, recently summed it up well by saying, "The renewable energy we're adding is actually helping to lower energy prices because it's so competitive." Renewable energy is making our electricity bills cheaper, plain and simple. >>View Article 

Google is First Customer of Duke Green-energy Program

November 25 -- Google will become the first customer of a Duke Energy program to bring renewable power to energy-hungry companies, the two said Tuesday.

Duke will buy energy from a 61-megawatt solar farm, the second-largest in the North Carolina, to be built in Rutherford County. Google will buy energy credits that represent the electricity generated for its Lenoir data center.

Google has collaborated with Duke to create the program, known as the Green Source Rider, since doubling its $600 million investment in its Lenoir facility in 2013.

The rider is intended to help customers that use a lot of power, like Google, meet corporate sustainability goals while encouraging development of green energy. >>View Article 

Another View: Climate Policies Will Help Poorest Californians

November 25 -- For those who struggle to pay their rent and put food on the table, California’s status as the world’s seventh-largest economy is meaningless.

I appreciate Dan Walters’ concern for the poor. However, having been raised in poverty and representing one of the poorest Senate districts in the state, economic inequality is a constant in my reality.

While California’s job growth outpaced all other states in 2014 and unemployment is 5.8 percent, the lowest since October 2007, not enough is being done to share the bounties of a recovering economy with the poorest Californians. Walters reveals shortsightedness as he clings to a harmful carbon-based economy, while failing to acknowledge the economic and health benefits of our climate change policies to these very communities. >>View Article 

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