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EGEB: UN Climate Action Summit — and Trump showed up; global e-buses will triple by 2025, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • What’s happening today at the UN Climate Action Summit.
  • Countries need to triple climate emissions targets to limit 2C global heating.
  • Global electric bus adoption will triple by 2025.
  • More Americans are worried about the environment — but they have to make real changes.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

The UN Climate Action Summit is taking place today at UN headquarters in New York City, and runs til around 6 p.m. ET.

According to the UN’s Climate Action Summit website, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told all leaders to come today with:

Concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

To be effective and credible, these plans cannot address mitigation alone: They must show the way toward a full transformation of economies in line with sustainable development goals.

Despite originally saying he would not attend, Donald Trump attended for about 15 minutes to listen to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver remarks.

We’ll report back tomorrow on who delivers what (or not).

So far, for example, Modi said India will increase its renewable energy target to 450 gigawatts and invest $50 billion in water conservation, and Angela Merkel has pledged to double Germany’s climate protection funding from €2 billion to €4 billion. 

The New York Times rightly points out that there are some big producers of coal who are speaking, such as China, India, and Indonesia. Russia will be speaking, who is the third-largest oil producer, and Qatar, who is the world’s largest gas exporter.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech at the summit in which she said:

I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words — and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying.

If the world is going to make real progress, fossil fuels will need to be ditched.

Hope — but with action

A World Meteorological Organization-coordinated report, “United in Science,” was released ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit, and says it’s still possible to reduce global heating to a safe level, but that it would require an urgent shift in action globally.

The report consists of syntheses from contributing agencies. For example:

The Global Carbon Project says:

Despite extraordinary growth in renewable fuels over the past decade, the global energy system is still dominated by fossil fuel sources. The annual increase in global energy use is greater than the increase in renewable energy, meaning the fossil fuel use continues to grow. This growth needs to halt immediately.

The United Nations Environment Programme says:

If the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is very plausible that the goal of a well-below 2C temperature increase is also out of reach.

In other words, according to the Guardian, “Commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions must be at least tripled and increased by up to fivefold if the world is to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.”

And from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on a slightly more optimistic note:

Limiting warming to 1.5C is not physically impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society… Limiting warming to 1.5C can go hand in hand with reaching other world goals such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty.

Electric bus surge — and China leads

Global electric buses are set to triple by 2025, says Green Tech Media (GTM).

Further, China, despite leading the world in CO2 emissions, accounts for 98% of the electric bus market through 2018. There are expected to be 1.3 million e-buses in China by 2025. “More than 50,000 e-bus charging points will be installed [in China] by the end of 2019. This figure is set to more than double by the end of 2025,” says GTM.

But Europe and North America still have a lot of room for improvement. Those regions are testing equipment and piloting, but growth is limited by charging infrastructure deployment. In the US and Europe, there are expected to be 40,000 electric heavy-duty vehicles in use by 2025.

If fuel costs more, Americans might go green

Oil production in the United States has more than doubled since 2008. This has lowered gas and oil prices for consumers since 2014, which means people don’t worry so much about fuel affordability.

Even after the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian oil processing plants, US gas pump prices initially jumped by a dime and then stabilized. Amy Harder points out on Axios:

  • Just 57% of Americans — a record low — say they are worried about energy affordability, according to Gallup data going back to 2001.

  • By contrast, nearly three-quarters say they are concerned about the environment. That’s near the record of 77%, a level that has been reached 3 times since 2001.

Her bottom line:

For big action on climate change to occur, it’s not enough for Americans to just worry more about the environment. People will have to change their behavior — and that will only happen if fossil fuels cost more, not less.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Steven Bornholtz

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.