Climate deal signals end of fossil fuels, urgent action now needed

During the climate talks in Paris, activists, using yellow eco paint, covered the roads around the Arc de Triomphe to create an image of a huge shining sun, representing renewable energy.

We're all about saving you energy and have rounded up the latest solar and energy news so you don't have to.

The UN Climate Conference, in Paris, finished over the weekend with all 195 nations agreeing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to limit warming below 2C - signalling an end to the fossil fuel era. The Guardian reports on how the deal was done after two decades of talks. It also summarises the key points of the agreement while both Stuff and the Herald offer a NZ point of view.

While the agreement is viewed as an historic moment it is only a starting point in the fight against climate change. Current pledges, by more than 180 countries to cut or curb their carbon emissions, are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 2C - in fact it is thought they will lead to a 2.7C rise or higher. Professor Klaus Bosselmann was an NZ observer at the talks and says urgent action now needs to taken to shift to renewable energy around the world. Environmentalist Bill McKibben and Martin Wolf from the Financial Times agree saying it will require real commitment if countries are to deliver on their promises. Our solarcity CEO, Andrew Booth, told Radio NZ that a carbon tax would help drive the shift to renewables.

SolarCity in the US (no relation to solarcity in NZ) says going solar is the simplest and biggest action a home or organisation can take to reduce its carbon footprint. We agree. CleanTechnica has produced an 'Everyday Climate Warrior Guide' showing how your everyday decisions can make a difference to reducing global warming.

The Paris deal will require NZ to take significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but they will not involve cutting back on the mining of oil, gas and coals, says Prime Minister John Key. This week the government awarded six onshore and three offshore oil exploration permits - all in the Taranaki region - to nine companies. Last year permits were awarded to 15 companies. Energy Minister Simon  Bridges says the lack of interest outside Taranaki is due to oil companies wanting low risk exploration opportunities while oil prices are low. Greenpeace Executive Director Dr Russel Norman says the lack of interest shows an industry in decline which is a positive for the future of the planet. Shell is considering pulling out of NZ after more than 100 years. It owns substantial stakes in the Maui, Kapuni and Pohokura fields and has a 50% interest in Shell Todd Oil Services.

While our government promotes the fact that we generate 80% of our electricity from renewable sources, that's only part of the picture, says economist Geoff Stevens. When you look at NZ's overall energy use (which includes transport and heat as well as electricity) only 38% comes from renewable sources.

The Victoria state government, in Australia, has launched an initiative enabling solar companies to provide, install and maintain a solar panel system on a home and, in exchange, the homeowner buys the energy they provide for an agreed price. Sounds a lot like solarZero. Costa Rica is close to generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The Azraq Syrian refugee camp in Jordan will soon be home to a new solar farm that will meet the needs of the 27,000 refugees currently living there. Meanwhile, a US town has rejected a solar farm amid fears the solar panels could 'suck up all the energy from the sun'.

Ford is betting big on electric vehicles by promising to invest another $4.5 billion and adding 13 new electric cars to its lineup by 2020, along with expanding research into batteries. Petrol station operator Z Energy says six rapid-charge stations for electric vehicles will be installed in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch by the end of February, It will  take between 10 and 25 minutes and cost about $5 to $10 to 'fill up' at the stations.

This is the last news round up for 2015. It's been quite a year! See you back here in January.