The UN says that the world population of seven billion will increase to 9.3 billion by 2050, with most of the growth in big cities in Africa and Asia. The population division of the UN’s Economic and Social Affairs department said the planet’s urban population, now at 2.6 billion, will increase to 6.3 billion of a global total of 9.3 billion by 2050

Australian opposition leader, Tony Abbott, said he will get rid of the country’s carbon tax if elected. The tax is to take effect on July 1st. ‘I will get rid of the carbon tax. It’ll be gone, lock, stock and barrel,’ Mr Abbott said. ‘It’s an act of economic self-harm.’ Currently polls are showing Mr. Abbott’s party well ahead of the governing Labor Party if there were to be an election today. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Guilliard refused calls for a review of the carbon tax before it is implemented.

European Union carbon prices hit a record low of just over 6 euros ($7.98) a tonne this week.  Traders and analysts said the lowering prices puts renewed pressure on the EU to intervene in the world’s biggest cap-and-trade scheme. The slowdown in industrial production across most of the EU has created a surplus of permits to produce CO2.

Since its inception in 2005,  UBS Investment Research estimates the European Union Emission Carbon Trading Scheme has cost $287 billion with “almost zero impact” on overall CO2 emissions in the European Union and this money could have resulted in a 40% reduction in emissions if used in a targeted way, e.g. to upgrade power plants in the EU.

According to DesRosiers Consultants Inc., Canadians in the past 12 years have purchased a total of 17,000 hybrid/electric vehicles. In that same period, more than 22 million gas-powered vehicles were sold.

In a recent survey, US automotive low-sulphur diesel had risen to over US$4 per US gallon (US$1.06 per litre) while compressed natural gas (CNG) on an energy-equivalent basis, was averaging just US$2.13 per US gallon (56 cents per litre).

Motorists in the Netherlands have never paid such a large share of their income for petrol, even during the 1970s oil crisis. In 1973, a litre of petrol cost €0.36, while the average income was €8,000 a year. In the 1990s, some 3.5% of household spending went on petrol but that has now risen to 4%. Petrol now costs €1.88 a litre.

Rising crude oil prices cost importing countries $5.5 billion a day. That’s $2 trillion over the course of a year. At today’s prices, both the EU and the US can expect to spend 2.7% of their GDP on net oil imports this year, compared to their average of 1.4% from 1990 to 2010.

Taiwan has ended a long-standing government fuel subsidy and raised gasoline prices by 10%, stirring a public uproar.

Italy plans to scale back its generous renewable energy incentives. Government incentives had ballooned to 9 billion euros ($11.81 billion) this year. With generous incentives in place since 2007, Italy’s solar market has become the world’s second-biggest after Germany.

There are fresh fears that almost 4 million households in the UK are heading into fuel poverty as it was revealed that consumers now owe £478 million to their energy suppliers.

Residents of Australia’s capital, Canberra, will be among the first to feel the impact of the new carbon tax with a proposed 17.22% increase in regulated electricity prices beginning July 1st. Of an expected average household weekly increase of $4.70, about $3.65 is attributable to the carbon tax.

Electricity price in the state of Western Australia would rise at least $350 a year if the state government forced householders to pay for the full cost of producing electricity.  A new study revealed that residential rates would have to rise 23.1% to reach “cost reflective” levels.

24 Indian states have raised consumer electricity rates in the past 24 months. The latest state to increase its power tariffs is Tamil Nadu, where rates have been increased 37%.

Pakistan is facing electricity shortages of 6 GW and as a result rural areas face load shedding (rolling blackouts) of 16-18 hours a day and cities face 10-12 hours per day. The government is attempting to share the blackouts equally across the country.

The Scottish government approved the development of a wind farm on the Shetland Islands that will produce 370 MW of electricity.

Norway and Sweden have agreed to work together on expanding their use of renewable energy. The collaboration means that the best technology will win and that hydropower plants, wind turbines and biomass power plants will be built where it is cheapest, regardless of whether it is in Sweden or Norway.

The Australian antitrust agency is investigating allegations by the Green Party that three large electric power companies are refusing to enter into power purchase agreements to sell electricity generated by renewable energy competitors. The three companies are AGL, Origin and TRUenergy.

with h/t Tom Whipple

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