As EU citizens on May 26, 2019 on average voted for tougher action on climate protection, (see results German up 20%, France 12% , Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands, they garnered double-digits and UK up 12.4%, nearly double their previous score, and beating the ruling Conservatives into fifth place),  South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on May 27, 2019 signed off on a CO2 tax o after almost 10 years of opposition form mining companies, steelmakers and state-owned power utility Eskom. The first phase of the tax is from 1 June to December 2022, with a tax rate of R120 ($8.34) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Allowable tax breaks will reduce the effective rate to between R6 and R48 per tonne of CO2, National Treasury said in a statement after the tax.  “A review of the impact of the tax will be conducted before the second phase (to run from 2023 to 2030) and will take into account the progress made to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in line with our National Determined Contribution,” the Treasury said. Big energy users, including Sibanye-Stillwater and ArcelorMittal’s South African operation, had previously opposed plans to enact carbon tax laws, saying the levies are unaffordable and should be scrapped or delayed.

At the two-day Petersberg Climate Dialogue on May 13-14, 2019 ,where ministers from 35 countries were invited to discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as preparations for the next UN Climate Conference in Chile this December, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulzes spoke in favour of introducing a “coalition of the willing” to agree on a carbon price system for sectors like transport and buildings, which are currently not covered by the EU’s Emissions Trade Scheme (EU ETS). German chancellor Merkel has recently set up a Climate cabinet, to develop a Climate Protection Law and  pathways to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, to be  ready before the UN summit in New York on September 23  2019. She hinted at the Petersberg summit that Germany might join an Alliance for Climate Neutrality. Ms. Schulze beforethe last Climate Cabinet meeting on May 29, 2019 set that the German carbon tax scheme should learn from the French experiences and make sure it benefits individual German citizens. At this last Climate cabinet meeting all ministries were asked to submit their climate plans.

Enter the Finnish presidency on July 1, 2019 and their ambition to cement EU’s 2050 Climate ambition in just two Council meetings: with three Greens in their government, their 25th years of EU membership plus their ranking as the happiest country in the world, these Fins might just nail it…

To boost discussions IRENA published the latest renewable cost projections:  the global weighted-average cost of electricity from concentrating solar power (CSP) declined by 26%, bioenergy by 14%, solar photovoltaics (PV) and onshore wind by 13%, hydropower by 12% and geothermal and offshore wind by 1%, respectively. According to IRENA’s global database, over three-quarters of the onshore wind and four-fifths of the solar PV capacity that is due to be commissioned next year will produce power at lower prices than the cheapest new coal, oil or natural gas options. Onshore wind and solar PV costs between three and four US cents per kilowatt hour are already possible in areas with good resources and enabling regulatory and institutional frameworks , according to IRENA. For example, auction prices for solar PV in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have seen a levelised cost of electricity as low as three US cents per kilowatt hour (USD 0.03/kWh).