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Brazil and UK think big on solar, clean energy to create 36 million jobs

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

Solar and batteries

Plans have been unveiled for the UK’s largest solar farm. Cleve Hill would have five times the capacity of the UK’s current largest solar farm and provide enough power for around 110,000 households if it comes online in 2020.

Brazil is building South America’s largest solar farm. The first two stages are complete and the third is scheduled to be finished next year. In total the farm will include 1.2 million solar panels and will produce power to to meet the annual demand of 420,000 households.

Jordan has switched on a massive solar plant inside a refugee camp, providing renewable energy to nearly 80,000 Syrians. And than 160,000 homes in Mexico are powered by solar and that number is expected to grow by close to 30% this year.

Renewables and fossil fuels

It is possible for the world to transition to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050 or sooner. Far from causing the global economy to implode, as many fossil fuel advocates suggest, the transition to renewables would actually create 36 million new jobs worldwide, says a report to the UN climate conference.

The Norwegian government is being taken to court for allowing oil companies to drill for new oil in the Arctic, a move that violates the country's own constitution and contravenes the Paris Agreement.

A US billionaire’s campaign has seen half of US coal plants close in six years. Now Michael Bloomberg has announced a US$50m plan to expand the programme into Europe and then the rest of the world.  

As the NZ government announces an end to new extraction on conservation land, Sefton Darby writing for The Spinoff, questions if our mining days are over.

Climate change

Human-induced global warming is accelerating, leaving little time to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, says a team of international researchers. And the burning of fossil fuels around the world is set to hit a record high in 2017, reports the Guardian.

The number of natural World Heritage sites threatened by climate change has grown from 35 to 62 in just three years, says the IUCN.

NZ’s 2030 target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 levels has been rated as “Insufficient” by Climate Action Tracker. This means the target is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement.

Fonterra has pledged to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2015 levels. It has also set a target of zero net emissions by 2050. Greenpeace says Fonterra also needs to reduce the size of NZ’s dairy herd if it's serious about taking climate action. And NZ farmers should act now to start reducing greenhouse gases instead of waiting for advice from the government, says agribusiness consultant Alison Dewes.

NZ homeowners could find their insurance price doubling or their homes become uninsurable as climate change takes hold, reports Stuff.

A dramatic drop in the amount of sea ice around Antarctica has scientists wondering if the continent has hit a tipping point, reports Newshub.

Power prices

A Gisborne residents’ association says beneficiaries are being significantly overcharged by the local lines company which last year made a profit of $13 million (before interest and tax).

NZ Electricity lines companies have been told off by the Commerce Commission for poor maintenance of their wires, reports RNZ.

Electric vehicles

The all-electric Nissan Leaf has topped the latest car reliability survey by Consumer NZ. Air New Zealand is the first airline to join The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative which aims to fast track uptake of electric vehicles by businesses.

Tesla announced this month it won't hit a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week until March - not December, as initially planned - but that has not put off customers who have paid a deposit to reserve a vehicle.

Italian motorcycle manufacturer Piaggio finally revealed its electric Vespa that can travel up to 100km on a single charge. Global distribution is set for 2018.