BusinessGreen brings you this week's green business news from around the world
Dems bring fresh climate focus to Capitol Hill
Following their success at the mid-term elections earlier this month, the Democrats have promised to hold two days of Congressional committee hearings on climate change early in the New Year.
Ranking members of the House committees on Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, and Science, Space, and Technology stressed their intention to reignite Congressional debate on climate action now they have regained control of the Houseof Representatives.
"Our rapidly changing climate, and the Trump administration's efforts to take us in the wrong direction, seriously jeopardize our future," they said in a statement. "We plan to hit the ground immediately with a series of hearings early in the next Congress on how best to combat this growing global crisis."
The move came as a group of newly-elected Representatives, led by New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, staged protests on Capitol Hill to pressure veteran Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi to produce an ambitious new climate plan.
US coal plant closures accelerate
The Democrats climate push came as a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) revealed the rate of coal power plant closures in the US has reached an all time high.
Some 16GW of coal-fired capacity has been retired in the US over the past year, the report found, with coal capacity in the country down a third since 2010, despite President Trump's efforts to revive the outlook for the fuel.
VW plans three EV plant conversions in Germany
German carmaker Volkswagen announced plans this week to convert three of its auto factories to electric vehicle (EV) production as it ramps up its zero-emission car business.
VW said plants in Emden, Hannover, and Zwickau will start mass production of EVs over the coming years, helping to push the carmaker's annual EV production capacity to more than one million a year by 2025.
"We intend to take e-mobility out of its niche and to make the electric car affordable for millions of people," said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen brand board member responsible for e-mobility. "Efficient, modern production facilities will be the key."
BYD partners with courier giant Aramex
Chinese EV giant BYD this week announced a new partnership with UAE-based courier firm Aramex, which will see Aramex start electrifying its fleet of vehicles in some key regions.
In Jordan, Aramex said it had already started using 10 BYD electric vans, which are set to reduce operational costs by more than 60 per cent compared to traditional vehicles.
BYD general manager for the Middle East and Africa AD Huang said the partnership was the latest sign of the "unstoppable drumbeat" of the EV rollout around the world.
Trump plans COP24 coal sideshow
Reuters have an exclusive suggesting the Trump administration is planning to set up a side event promoting fossil fuels at crucial global climate talks next month.
The move is a re-run of a strategy from last year's meeting, where the administration sought to promote technologies to help fossil fuels burn more cleanly.
According to the news agency, Trump will also send officials to work on official negotiations covering the Paris Agreement rulebook COP24, arguing it is in the US national interest for there to be a transparent and accountable system of governance for the global climate agreement, despite the administration's plan to officially quit the accord in 2020.
Uruguay poised to become renewables leader
Uruguay is set to overtake Denmark to become the country with the largest market share for wind and solar in the world, according to the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
In seven of the first eight months of the year wind and solar provided more than 40 per cent of total power generation in Uruguay, compared to Denmark which hit the 40 per cent figure in six of the first eight months of 2018.
The researchers suggest Uruguay is set to overtake Denmark in the coming months based on the power share metric, thanks to helpful network conditions such as its large reserves of hydropower and extensive interconnector infrastructure - both of which are helping to enable the rollout of large amounts of intermittent renewables.
Germany safeguards €1bn for batteries
Germany has set aside €1bn to support battery cell production in Europe, in a bid to secure the country a central role in the global battery market and safeguard the primacy of its auto industry.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said this week that he was interested in forming battery consortiums with other European countries, with Germany willing to invest €1bn to kickstart production, according to Reuters. The first production lines could be up and running by 2021, he said.
Commonwealth Bank joins RE100
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has become the first major Australian company to join the RE100 campaign, committing this week to sourcing 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
CBA said it has signed a power purchase agreement to source renewable power from the Sapphire wind farm in Kingsland, Australia, to help towards its goals.
"We have said we will play our part to reduce our emissions by 2050 and to make sure we are in line with the Paris Agreement," said CBA general manager of corporate responsiblity Kylie McFarlane. "I think ultimately it's about companies and communities taking the lead in the evolution of our social practices".
CBI and TUC write joint letter warning PM "we cannot overstate the gravity of this crisis for firms and working people"
Dominic Emery, VP for strategic planning at BP, suggests sizeable chunk of firm's existing oil and gas resources could remain in the ground as it invests in new business models
In a rebuke of the Trump administration's 'energy-first' agenda, a judge rules greenhouse gas emissions must be considered
Cutting carbon intensity of its power, championing living wages, and building out EV infrastructure will all support Sustainable Development Goals, says energy giant