It is raining climate conferences

By PitPoint CEO Erik Kemink

4-12-2017

Two years after the Paris climate agreement, the objective of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees seems to be no more than wishful thinking at present. Recently Climate Ministers from across the world attended the annual UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn where they talked about issues such as further reduction of greenhouse gases. A new report from the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) showed just how necessary this has become. Namely, that it seems likely that the year 2017 will become one of the three hottest years on record.

Another recent study, Climate Change Performance Index 2017, the annual rankings that show the top performing countries in combating climate change, unfortunately also saddens me. Once again no country was able to claim top position, and the first three positions on this ranking were intentionally left empty. The reason for this is that: “even after the Paris agreement, not a single country has done enough to prevent the dangerous effects of climate change,” according to the authors of the list.

Trump as a uniting factor

Despite these bleak reports, all did not seem entirely lost in Bonn as a sense of unity started to emerge. Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement served as an additional incentive for the remaining 195 member states to ensure implementation of the treaty. During the summit, agreements were for instance made about measurements and reporting of CO2 emissions, and a step-by-step plan was drawn up for the next UN climate summit to be held in Poland.

Incidentally, the US was not completely absent from the summit as a small delegation of Americans had travelled to Bonn for this specific purpose. George David Banks, White House special advisor on climate change, even hinted that there is still a chance that Trump might change his mind about the agreement. Even though that would come as a big surprise, Trump is known for his unpredictable actions. Is there still hope that the US will once again sign on to the climate agreement?

Paris: Climate Conference 2.0

Those who have not had enough to say in Bonn will get another chance to have their say in Paris on 12 December as another international climate conference will be held there, this time hosted by President Macron. Mr Macron is organising this summit to attract investors who are prepared to bear the financial burden for agreements concluded in Paris two years ago. In Bonn, Mr Macron promised that every Euro that has been withdrawn by Mr Trump that was supposed to go for climate change programmes, will be found somewhere else. This is the type of promise that makes us at PitPoint very excited!

Alternative fuels on the rise

Europe is currently very much involved in trying to stimulate alternative fuels. The European Commission has announced that as much as EUR 800 million extra will be made available to companies and governments for developing a mobility infrastructure based on electricity, for instance. Such investments are welcomed with open arms, as Europe has been unable up to present to reach targets related to alternative fuels.

The fact that such subsidies could bear fruit is evident in places such as Iceland. A subsidy from the European Union allowed oil importer Skeljungur to install three hydrogen pumps on the island, as well as an electrolysis plant for the production of hydrogen gas. In England a start-up company called Bio-Bean is working on ensuring that the iconic red buses in London can partly run on oil extracted from ordinary coffee waste. This waste originates from London coffee shops, which in effect means that coffee drinkers in London are contributing to cleaner air in the city.

Governments, stop diesel vehicles!

PitPoint hopes that more initiatives across Europe will become eligible for subsidies from the European Commission soon, because there are plenty of creative ideas for the application of alternative fuels that will contribute to a cleaner environment. For example, at PitPoint we look toward local authorities, as we would like to see them start taking real action by for instance only buying more sustainable vehicles from now on. Our message is clear: stop buying diesel vehicles!

Unfortunately, as a recently published report from the Dutch research firm ‘Natuur en Milieu’ [Nature and the Environment] showed, as many as three-quarters of local authorities are not yet on the right track. And this despite the fact that the required renewable energy refuelling infrastructure keeps growing. PitPoint for instance recently opened its first combined EV/CNG refuelling and charging station in Haarlem, The Netherlands, for the bus company Connexxion. We are working hard on the construction of a number of other CNG, LNG and hydrogen refuelling stations, across Northwest Europe. By doing so, we are paving the way, step-by-step, for 100% clean transport by 2030. Now is the time for local governments to also set the right example.

Erik Kemink