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Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace #Wind #Solar #GreenTechnologies #RenewableEnergy


“Green technologies now produce 22% of world’s electricity”. 

. Wind turbines in China. Investment in renewable energy exceeded $250bn last year. Photograph: Carlos Barria/ReutersWind turbines in China. Investment in renewable energy exceeded $250bn last year. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters.

Wind, solar and other renewable power capacity grew at its strongest ever pace last year and now produces 22% of the world’s electricity, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday in a new report.

More than $250bn (£150bn) was invested in “green” generating systems in 2013, although the speed of growth is expected to slacken, partly because politicians are becoming nervous about the cost of subsidies.

Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA, said governments should hold their nerve: “Renewables are a necessary part of energy security. However, just when they are becoming a cost-competitive option in an increasing number of cases, policy and regulatory uncertainty is rising in some key markets. This stems from concerns about the costs of deploying renewables.”

She added: “Governments must distinguish more clearly between the past, present and future, as costs are falling over time. Many renewables no longer need high incentive levels. Rather, given their capital-intensive nature, renewables require a market context that assures a reasonable and predictable return for investors.”

Hydro and other green technologies could be producing 26% of the world’s electricity by 2020, the IEA said in its third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report. They are already used as much as gas for generating electrical power, it points out.

But the total level of investment in renewables is lower now than a peak of $280bn in 2011 and is expected to average only $230bn annually to the end of the decade unless governments make increasing policy commitments to keep spending higher.

The current growth rate for installing new windfarms and solar arrays is impressive but the IEA believes it is not enough to meet climate change targets, triggering calls in Brussels from green power lobby groups for Europe to adopt tougher, binding targets.

Justin Wilkes, the deputy chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association, said: “The IEA report hits the nail on the head when it comes to ambitious national targets for 2030. Not only is a 27% target too low but it doesn’t oblige member states to follow through. Europe’s heads of state need to agree in October on a binding 30% renewables target if real progress is going to be made to improve Europe’s energy security, competitiveness and climate objectives.”

The IEA – a Paris-based agency established to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries – says that in Brazil, Chile and South Africa onshore wind is already a preferred option over new fossil fuel plants such as coal or gas.

Onshore wind, despite being the most economic of the renewable power technologies in Britain, is still opposed by parts of the Conservative party, while offshore wind remains controversial because of its high costs.

New figures released on Thursday by the industry body Energy UK show wind provided a little over 4% of Britain’s power generation in July compared with 42% for gas, 24% nuclear and 17% for coal.


The Guardian.

NATO Summit Wales 2014 #NATOSummitUK #NATO


10 Downing Street, LondonOn 4 to 5 September 2014, Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain as the UK hosts the NATO summit. President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, and President Hollande are expected to attend along with leaders and senior ministers from around 60 other countries.

The summit comes as NATO draws down from its longest ever mission in Afghanistan and against a backdrop of instability in Ukraine. It is an opportunity to ensure that NATO continues to be at the forefront of building stability in an unpredictable world.

This will be the first NATO Summit since Chicago in 2012, and the first NATO summit in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher welcomed NATO leaders to London in 1990.

During working sessions at the Celtic Manor and more informal events in Cardiff, world leaders will look to address issues which threaten NATO countries’ national security, from fragile states to piracy, from terrorism to cyber attacks.

As a strong player in NATO over the last 65 years, the UK continues to provide forces for NATO operations around the world today. Beyond Afghanistan, there are British service personnel serving in the Baltic Air Police mission and on counter-piracy operations.

Bringing the summit to Wales is an opportunity to shine the global spotlight on this corner of the United Kingdom, highlighting its strong commercial sector – from manufacturing to innovation, life sciences to cyber, and its academic excellence. And showcasing the tremendous potential in Wales for investment and business, tourism and study.

Announcing that Wales would host the NATO Summit 2014, the Prime Minister said:

It’s a great moment for Wales to advertise its modern and economically brilliant face to the world. We are going to have up to 60 world leaders coming to Wales for this vitally important NATO conference, so I think it’s a very good moment for Wales to put its best foot forward.

We had the G8 in Northern Ireland, we had the Olympics in London, we’ve got the Commonwealth Games in Scotland – it is Wales’ turn for one of these big events, a great showcase for Wales and a great opportunity and I’m really pleased that we are going to be doing that.


Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street – GOV.UK.

We need to tell the truth about what Russia is doing in Ukraine #Putin #RussiainvadedUkraine


Nato must face up to the realities of Putin’s war of aggression in eastern Europe – and take material steps to support Ukraine. 

.Putin's Soviet RussiaPutin’s Soviet Russia © shoutout2day.com

As the Ukraine crisis has intensified over the past six months, Russia has been developing a new form of warfare – inserting special forces, provoking, and slowly, deliberately escalating the conflict. Russian actions flout international law and the agreements that have assured stability in the post-cold war world. But warnings and sanctions have thus far failed. The Nato summit in Wales this week offers the best, and perhaps last, opportunity to halt aggression in Europe without major commitments of Nato forces. But to do so requires a deeper understanding of the situation and much more resolute allied action.

First, Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine haven’t been “provoked”. They are part of a long-term plan to recreate a greater Russia by regaining control of Ukraine and other states in the “near abroad”. Russia is not going to admit that it has invaded because to do so might invite a stronger Nato response. But until Nato governments unambiguously label Russian actions “aggression” and “invasion”, they will have difficulty mustering support for the stronger actions that needs to be taken.

Putin is not likely to be dissuaded by stronger sanctions; while they may disrupt some elements of the Russian economy, and he would of course prefer not to face them, he also uses sanctions himself to strengthen his leverage over those sectors most engaged with the west, and to gain sympathy from his own “electorate”.

Nato must act decisively to strengthen member states that feel threatened by Putin’s actions. Its forces should be permanently stationed in the Baltics, Poland and eastern Balkans. Its rapid reaction forces should be bolstered. Additionally, more demanding military exercises should be held. Nato’s nuclear deterrent must be re-emphasised. Long overdue modernisation should be undertaken. All this requires greater resources, including budget and manpower.

But these are the relatively easy steps. Even if undertaken – and they will take months and years to be implemented – they are unlikely to halt the growing threat, nor will they prevent the demoralisation of our friends in eastern Europe. As we like to say in America, “this is not their first rodeo”. They understand that aggressors are strengthened by their successes. And they know that today Ukraine is fighting on Nato’s periphery for the very same values of freedom, self-government and democracy that Nato espouses. They are asking themselves how courageous Nato will be, confronting a renewed Russian threat, if Nato nations today fear to provide information, military advice and assistance to an independent European state of 45 million fighting a defensive battle merely to regain control its own territory. And, yes, it is open warfare in eastern Ukraine now.

The success of this Nato summit will be measured not simply by its declarations of intent to strengthen alliance members in eastern Europe but, perhaps more importantly, by its willingness to provide Ukraine with the diplomatic, economic and, most immediately, military assistance necessary.

True, there is no “military” solution to Ukraine. The only solution is diplomatic: Putin must be persuaded to cease and desist. But, as we are learning, that persuasion requires not only diplomacy and sanctions, but also assisting Ukraine in creating the military means to defeat Russia’s new war strategy.

Information, training, military advice and hardware provided now will likely save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in the future. This is the time to speak the truth about Russian aggression and to act resolutely in aiding Ukraine to halt it.


The Guardian.

Garry Kasparov: It’s a war, stupid! #RussiainvadedUkraine #Berlin #Washington


This vocabulary of cowardice emanating from Berlin and Washington is as disgraceful as the black-is-white propaganda produced by Putin’s regime, and even more dangerous.

 Garry Kasparov.Ukrainian troops stop cars at a checkpoint as people flee the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region amid fears of an offensive by pro-Russian militants on August 30, 2014. The European Union geared up a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia with warnings that the escalating conflict in Ukraine was putting all of Europe at risk of war. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII BOIKO © AFPUkrainian troops stop cars at a checkpoint as people flee the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region amid fears of an offensive by pro-Russian militants on August 30, 2014. The European Union geared up a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia with warnings that the escalating conflict in Ukraine was putting all of Europe at risk of war. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII BOIKO © AFP

As Russian troops and armored columns advance in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government begs for aid from the free world it hoped would receive it and protect it as one of its own. The leaders of the free world, meanwhile, are struggling to find the right terminology to free themselves from the moral responsibility to provide that protection. Putin’s bloody invasion of a sovereign European nation is an incursion, much like Crimea — remember Crimea? — was an “uncontested arrival” instead of Anschluss. A civilian airliner was blown out of the sky just six weeks ago –—remember MH17? — and with more than 100 victims still unidentified the outrage has already dissipated into polite discussions about whether it should be investigated as a crime, a war crime, or neither.

This vocabulary of cowardice emanating from Berlin and Washington today is as disgraceful as the black-is-white propaganda produced by Putin’s regime, and even more dangerous. Moscow’s smokescreens are hardly necessary in the face of so much willful blindness. Putin’s lies are obvious and expected. European leaders and the White House are even more eager than the Kremlin to pretend this conflict is local and so requires nothing more than vague promises from a very safe distance. As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay on language right before starting work on his novel 1984 (surely not a coincidence): “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The Western rhetoric of appeasement creates a self-reinforcing loop of mental and moral corruption. Speaking the truth now would mean confessing to many months of lies, just as it took years for Western leaders to finally admit Putin didn’t belong in the G-7 club of industrialized democracies.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko just met with President Obama in Washington, but Obama’s subsequent statement showed no sign he’s willing to acknowledge reality. Generic wishes about “mobilizing the international community” were bad enough six months ago. Hearing them repeated as Ukrainian towns fall to Russian troops is a parody. (If legitimacy is what Obama is after, Russia is clearly in violation of nearly every point of the 1974 UN Resolution 3314, “definition of aggression.”) Perhaps Poroshenko should have matched Obama’s casual wardrobe by wearing a t-shirt that read “It’s a War, Stupid.” As Russian tanks and artillery push back the overmatched Ukrainian forces, Obama’s repeated insistence that there is no military solution in Ukraine sounds increasingly delusional. There is no time to teach a drowning man to swim.

The United States, Canada, and even Europe have responded to Putin’s aggression, it is true, but always a few moves behind, always after the deterrent potential of each action had passed. Strong sanctions and a clear demonstration of support for Ukrainian territorial integrity (as I recommended at the time) would have had real impact when Putin moved on Crimea in February and March. A sign that there would be real consequences would have split his elites as they pondered the loss of their coveted assets in New York and London.

Then in April and May, the supply of defensive military weaponry would have forestalled the invasion currently underway, or at least raised its price considerably — making the Russian public a factor in the Kremlin’s decision-making process much earlier. Those like me who called for such aid at the time were called warmongers, and policy makers again sought dialogue with Putin. And yet war has arrived regardless, as it always does in the face of weakness.

As one of the pioneers of the analogy I feel the irony in how it has quickly gone from scandal to cliché to compare Putin to Hitler, for better and for worse. Certainly Putin’s arrogance and language remind us more and more of Hitler’s, as does how well he has been rewarded for them. For this he can thank the overabundance of Chamberlains in the halls of power today — and there is no Churchill in sight.

As long as it is easy, as long as Putin moves from victory to victory without resistance, he gains more support. He took Crimea with barely a shot fired. He flooded Eastern Ukraine with agents and weaponry while Europe dithered. The oligarchs who might have pressured Putin at the start of his Ukrainian adventure are now war criminals with no way back. The pressure points now are harder to reach.

The Russian military commanders, the ones in the field, are not fools. They are aware that NATO is watching and could blow them to bits in a moment. They rely on Putin’s aura of invincibility, which grows every day the West refuses to provide Ukraine with military support. Those commanders must be made to understand that they are facing an overwhelming force, that their lives are in grave danger, that they can and will be captured and prosecuted. To make this a credible threat requires immediate military aid, if not yet the “boots on the ground” everyone but Putin is so keen to avoid. If NATO nations refuse to send lethal aid to Ukraine now it will be yet another green light to Putin.

Sanctions are still an important tool, and those directly responsible for commanding this war, such as Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu must be held accountable. Sanctions must also broaden. The chance to limit them only to influential individuals and companies is over. The Russian people can change Putin’s course but have little incentive to take the great risks to do so under current conditions. Only sanctions that bring the costs of Putin’s war home can have an impact now. This was always a last resort, and it wouldn’t be necessary had the West not reacted with such timidity at every step. (The other factor that is already dimming the Russian people’s fervor are the Russian military casualties the Kremlin propaganda machine is trying so hard to cover up.)

As always when it comes to stopping dictators, with every delay the price goes up. Western leaders have protested over the potential costs of action Ukraine at every turn only to be faced with the well-established historical fact that the real costs of inaction are always higher. Now the only options left are risky and difficult, and yet they must be tried. The best reason for acting to stop Putin today is brutally simple: It will only get harder tomorrow.

(Kasparov is the chairman of the NY-based Human Rights Foundation).


Time.


In other news…

Kazakhstan may leave the Eurasian Economic Union as Putin says it was ‘never a state’


Ukraine Today.

Ukraine President Says Europe’s Security Depends on Stopping Russia #RussiainvadedUkraine #WarInEurope


When a state sends more than a thousand troops with mobile artillery and heavy equipment into a neighboring state and takes control of territory, that’s an invasion, right? – Serge Schmemann

Ukrainian militiamen secured an area on the outskirts of Mariupol, where a Russian-backed assault was expected.Ukrainian militiamen secured an area on the outskirts of Mariupol, where a Russian-backed assault was expected. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — Accusing Russia of waging a campaign of “military aggression and terror” against his country, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine told European leaders here on Saturday that their own countries’ security depended on stopping Russian troops from stoking a conflict in eastern Ukraine that he said could escalate into a wider war.

His warnings won no pledges of military assistance from the European Union, but helped set the stage for a new round of sanctions against Russia. Leaders ducked an immediate decision on what new measures to take, despite agreeing that Moscow had escalated the conflict sharply in recent days. They instead asked the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, to prepare proposals for expanding existing sanctions, and said these must be ready “for consideration within a week,” according to a statement issued early Sunday.

Saying that Russia was pushing the conflict in Ukraine toward “the point of no return,” the president of commission, José Manuel Barroso, said European leaders who gathered Saturday in Brussels would endorse new, tougher measures in an effort to make Moscow “come to reason.”

Some European leaders, particularly those from former Communist nations in Eastern Europe, called for direct military assistance to Ukraine’s badly stretched armed forces, which are battling pro-Russian rebels on three fronts in eastern Ukraine. But officials said a decision on military aid would be left to individual countries.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, speaking early Sunday after the meeting broke up, said that Germany “will certainly not deliver weapons, as this would give the impression that this is a conflict that can be solved militarily.” But she said further sanctions were needed, as “the situation has deteriorated considerably in the last few days,” and would be imposed “if this situation continues.”

She said it was unclear whether Russia’s actions in Ukraine constituted an invasion under international law, but added that “the sum of all the evidence we have seen so far is that Russian arms and Russian forces are operating on Ukrainian territory.” Despite her numerous phone conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, she said she could not make “a final judgment” on his intentions and whether he might still try to take “further parts of the country under his control.”

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russian tanks had entered and flattened a small town between the rebel-held city of Luhansk and the Russian border.

Mr. Poroshenko, alongside Mr. Barroso in Brussels, said that Ukraine still hoped for a political settlement with the rebels, but that a flow of Russian troops and armored vehicles into Ukraine in recent days to support them were setting off a broader conflict.

“We are too close to a border where there will be no return to the peace plan,” Mr. Poroshenko said, asserting that since Wednesday, “thousands of foreign troops and hundreds of foreign tanks are now on the territory of Ukraine, with a very high risk not only for the peace and stability of Ukraine but for the peace and stability of the whole of Europe.”

He added that this made Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine “crucially important for all of us.”

Russia has dismayed European leaders by repeatedly denying that it has sent troops or military hardware into Ukraine. After the Ukrainian authorities released videos on Tuesday of captured Russian troops, Moscow conceded that some of its soldiers had crossed into Ukraine but said they had done so “by accident.”

Rebel leaders say Russian servicemen are fighting in Ukraine during their holiday leave. Aleksandr Zakharchenko, a separatist leader in Donetsk, said earlier this week that these soldiers “would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom.”

Russia’s evasions and denials in response to mounting evidence of its direct involvement in supporting pro-Russian separatists has left even Europe’s more cautious leaders, notably Ms. Merkel, ready to endorse further sanctions. Ms. Merkel, the dominant figure in European policy-making, said early Sunday that Germany still favored a negotiated settlement and that Europe needed to keep the pressure on Russia with additional sanctions. “We need to do something to clearly demonstrate what are the values we defend,” she said.

She said that Russia’s opaque political system made it difficult to assess whether sanctions already in place were affecting Russian decision-making but added: “I would say they are.”

Ms. Merkel has spoken regularly with Mr. Putin, by telephone during the crisis but has had no success in curbing Russia’s support for the rebels, who had been losing ground in the face of a Ukrainian offensive. Now, reinvigorated by new arms and fighters from Russia, the rebels are expanding territory under their control.

Mr. Barroso said that he, too, had spoken by phone with Mr. Putin and “urged him to change course” during a “long and frank” conversation on Friday.

While not directly accusing Russia of sending soldiers into Ukraine, as Mr. Poroshenko and NATO have done, Mr. Barroso said Russian moves to feed fighting in eastern Ukraine were “simply not the way responsible, proud nations should behave in the 21st century.” Further sanctions, Mr. Barroso said, would “show to Russia’s leadership that the current situation is not acceptable and we urge them to come to reason.”

European leaders, he added, had long stated that any further escalation of the conflict would set off additional sanctions, and they would “be ready to take some more measures” at the meeting in Brussels.

President François Hollande of France also backed new measures against Russia, telling journalists in Brussels that “what is happening in Ukraine is so serious” that European leaders were obliged to increase sanctions.

But France is expected to block calls by some leaders to extend an existing ban on future military sales to Russia to include already signed contracts. France has resisted pressure from Washington and some European capitals to cancel a contract for the sale of two naval assault ships to Russia, a deal worth 1.2 billion euros, or about $1.6 billion.

Arriving Saturday for the summit, Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania, demanded that existing and future military contracts with Russia be prohibited. Europe, she said, could not “listen to the lies that we are receiving from Putin” and should offer military support to Ukraine. Russia, she added, was “in a state of war against Ukraine and that means that it is in a state of war against countries that want to be closer to the European Union and that means practically that Russia is in a state of war against Europe. That means we have to help Ukraine battle back, to defend its territory and its people, to help militarily.”

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has been going on for months, mostly around rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk. But the conflict expanded last week after the rebels — backed by Russian forces, according to NATO — opened a front along a coastal road leading to the industrial port city of Mariupol.

Ukrainian military units and the civilian population were preparing on Saturday to defend the city against any assault by the Russian-backed militias, Ukraine’s military spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko, said in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

“We are very grateful to the Mariupol residents, who have also helped in the fortification of the city against the armored vehicles of the enemy,” Colonel Lysenko said. The city fell briefly under the control of pro-Russian fighters earlier this year, but after they were driven out it had been firmly in the hands of Ukraine. The governor of the Donetsk region, forced from his headquarters in the city of Donetsk, decamped there to maintain a formal, if largely impotent, government presence.

Colonel Lysenko said that local residents were volunteering to join the armed forces, but that the military had enough men there “to repel the Russian military and its mercenaries.”

He repeated accusations that the Russians were sending arms and men across the border to support rebel fighters, who have declared independent states in Donetsk and Luhansk. He asserted that Russian tanks had entered Novosvitlivka, a small town on the road from the Russian border to Luhansk, and flattened “virtually every house.” He did not give details on when the reported attack took place.

Ukraine also accused Russia on Saturday of helping to shoot down one of its combat aircraft in eastern Ukraine.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, speaking early Sunday in Brussels, described the situation in Ukraine as “deeply serious” and said, “We have to show real resolve, real resilience in demonstrating to Russia that if she carries on in this way the relationship between Europe and Russia, Britain and Russia, America and Russia will be radically different in future.”

Andrew Higgins reported from Brussels, and Neil MacFarquhar from Moscow. James Kanter contributed reporting from Brussels, and Rick Lyman from Warsaw.


The New York Times.