Crucial climate talks about to start along with massive solar projects

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The Electricity Authority says it will soon be easier for electricity consumers to access detailed data about what electricity plans are available to them. This change, which comes into force in February 2016, will also open the way for more providers of price comparison and switching services to enter the market. The cost to NZ households of responding to climate change could be $6 a week, according to a paper by the Ministry for the Environment. In a joint venture the NZ Herald has released an online Household Climate Action Tool which offers simple, but effective, ways for home to reduce their contribution to climate change.

As the UN climate conference starts in Paris on Sunday, Radio NZ is publishing opinion pieces from Greenpeace, Sanford, the Motor Industry, 350 Aotearoa, Mainfreight, Straterra and the Environmental Defence Society. Air NZ, Fonterra, Holcim and Genesis were invited to contribute but declined. Prime Minister John Key says he has faith in technology to address climate change problems, just a week after his deputy dismissed a sea level rise report as speculation. Technology alone won't do the trick, says former NZ cabinet minister Simon Upton, who is now the OECD environment director. It's always going to be a question of policies which enable new technologies to break through. He says there's a very high chance of governments at the Paris talks reaching a deal but they will need to be more ambitious if global warming is to be kept below the 2 degrees threshold.

The world could be powered almost entirely by clean, renewable energy sources in the space of a few decades, say two engineers who will be at the Paris talks. Their study includes NZ which, they say, could generate more than 20% of its power from solar. See the breakdown for 139 countries here. As world leaders gather in Paris, The People's Climate March in Auckland on Saturday will kick off a series of marches here and around the world calling for positive climate action. Over the weekend events are planned in 34 NZ locations including Hamilton, Palmerston North, Nelson, Otago, Whanganui and Blenheim.

A KPMG report  on solar in India forecasts that by 2020, solar power prices could be up to 10% lower than coal. Rooftop solar in India grew 66% in the last year. The government of Bangladesh has approved construction of a large scale solar park as part of a push to increase the share of power from renewable sources in the electricity-starved country. The new solar park will supply power cheaper than electricity from conventional power stations. A massive solar farm in Rwanda has been completed in less than a year - creating jobs and setting the country on the path to providing half its population with electricity by 2017. Egypt plans to set up 39 solar power projects with a total cost of $3 billion.

It's been a busy week for Greenpeace. On Monday it contacted its supporters to say that Meridian (which promotes itself as a 100% renewable generator) was deceiving New Zealanders by trying to keep the coal-fired Huntly power station from closing. It urged supporters to use Meridian's facebook page to let them know how they strongly opposed the plan. On Tuesday five Greenpeace activists boarded a NIWA research vessel to protest against it conducting deep deep sea oil research on behalf of oil giants Chevron and Statoil. They said research vessels should solve environmental problems, not create them.

A study by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has found electric vehicles are better for the environment than petrol of diesel powered vehicles, even taking into account the environmental impact of building them in the first place.