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Flooding in Bangladesh has submerged a third of the country. British Red Cross

By Jeremy Lent

Imagine you're driving your shiny new car too fast along a wet, curvy road. You turn a corner and realize you're heading straight for a crowd of pedestrians. If you slam on your brakes, you'd probably skid and damage your car. So you keep your foot on the accelerator, heading straight for the crowd, knowing they'll be killed and maimed, but if you keep driving fast enough no-one will be able to catch you and you might just get away scot-free.

Of course, that's monstrous behavior and I expect you'd never make that decision. But it's a decision the developed world is collectively taking in the face of the global catastrophe that will arise from climate change.

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The recent documentary, Sea of Life, exposes key threats to the oceans, and calls for action.

Sea of Life follows filmmaker Julia Barnes on a three year adventure, spanning seven countries, to save coral reefs.

Although they cover less than 1 percent of the sea floor coral reefs support up to 30 percent of all species in the ocean at some stage in their life cycles. Often referred to as the rainforests of the ocean, coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. They're also an indicator for the future of the oceans and all life on Earth.

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zstockphotos / iStock / Getty Images

Over the past decade, rapid advances in solar energy technology, falling costs of clean energy systems and government-sponsored incentives have driven the popularity of installing solar panels to a record level. For readers wondering, "who is the best solar installer near me?" here's the good news: To capitalize on the projected growth of solar power, a large number of new solar installers and electricians are opening up shop across the country, which creates healthy competition for your business.

The growing number of competing solar installers presents both challenges and opportunities for a customer. One one hand, having more options may make for a more difficult decision. But on the other, savvy investors can use competition between local installers to their advantage. The competition between solar companies can lower the cost of solar panels, saving you thousands of dollars.

To make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck, we recommend getting free quotes from a few certified solar installers near you. You can get connected with top solar companies in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.

So, How Do I Find the Best Solar Installer Near Me?

To get a concrete understanding of the cost and process of installing a solar panel system on your home, it's best to contact a solar installer near you. Typically, most solar installers will offer a free consultation during which they analyze your current energy use, roof layout, budget, product availability and energy goals. Then, they'll offer a proposal customized to your specific needs.

To ensure they're securing the best possible value from their investment in renewable energy, savvy customers will get proposals from several companies and compare costs and warranties. Companies frequently run specials and promotions on solar products or energy efficiency packages, so be sure to ask about those when reaching out for quotes.

When choosing the best solar installer for your job, look for a company that provides homeowners with assistance when applying for the federal solar tax credit as well as any applicable local rebates and solar tax incentives. If applicable, installers will also help you get connected to the net metering program offered by your utility company, and most will walk you through solar financing options if you're unable to pay cash for your system.

It's a good idea to be familiar with financial incentives and financing options prior to your consultation to ensure an installer covers everything available. If an installer doesn't have a thorough knowledge of local programs or doesn't offer help with applying for rebates or solar loans, it may not be the best company to do business with.

Here are some other things to consider when looking for the best solar installers near you:

  • Licenses and certifications: Legitimate installers hold state-mandated electrical licenses as well as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications.
  • Customer reviews: Checking a company's Better Business Bureau rating and reviews from customers around the web can give you a better sense of an installer's service.
  • Additional services offered: Some installers have tree removal, roof repair, solar battery installation and energy monitoring services. If you need these or other solutions to complete your installation, look for a full-service installer.
  • Financing options: Whether you're paying in cash, taking out a loan or wanting to lease solar panels, make sure the installers you're considering have the financing options you need.

How Do I Read a Solar Proposal?

Choosing a few top solar installers near you and booking consultations is the easy part. Once you get proposals from each company, however, things may get a bit more confusing. Reading and understanding those proposals is one of the most important steps in choosing a solar installer. Here are a few items to look out for in a proposal:

Solar Proposal Element What to Look for from Solar Installers Near You

System size

The size of a solar energy system is measured in kilowatts, which is abbreviated to kW. A kW is a common unit of energy measuring power generation — or consumption.

The size of your system will be based on how much energy you use in your home and will determine how many solar panels you need to purchase. For example, if you need a 5kW system and are purchasing panels with a 340-watt output, you'll need 15 panels. (5kW / 340W = 14.7 panels)

Estimated annual solar production

Your estimated annual solar production is a measure of how much energy your system is expected to produce in one year. You can compare this figure with the usage shown on your utility bills to calculate how much energy your system will offset.

Estimated energy burden

When creating a proposal, a solar installer will ask how much electricity your home uses each year. They use this to calculate your estimated energy burden, which reflects how much money you could expect to spend on energy without a solar system.

Watch out for number inflation here, as installers will often factor in rising utility rates over time. If an installer estimates a high energy burden, it makes it easier for them to calculate high estimated lifetime savings. If you get multiple proposals and one reflects a much higher estimated energy burden than the others, the installer may be using shady sales tactics.

Estimated lifetime savings

By comparing your energy burden with your estimated annual solar production, solar installers can estimate the lifetime energy savings generated by a system.

Compare this key figure to other proposals to evaluate which company may offer the best return on investment (ROI).

What Should I Expect from My Solar Panel Installation?

So, you've compared your proposals and picked a winner. A trustworthy solar installer will walk you through the process from beginning to end, but here's a good idea of what to expect when installing solar panels:

Solar Installation Step What to Expect from Solar Installers Near You

Sign contract and submit paperwork

Customers should be prepared to provide a copy of a utility bill, a down payment (depending on their chosen financing) and a signature for their net metering agreement if applicable.

Obtain permits and approvals

Similar to some other home improvements, an approved permit from the presiding city or county is required for solar projects in most areas. The solar installer will handle the permitting, but this process can take a few days to weeks depending on the efficiency of the area.

Most energy providers also require approval for solar installations in their network. This can come in the form of a net metering agreement or interconnection agreement.

System installation

Once all the permits and approvals are secured, the company will schedule a day to install the solar panels, inverters and other equipment.

The timing will vary depending on the complexity of the installation, but most are completed in less than one day.

Pass inspections

Both the presiding permitting office and utility company need to inspect the installation before it can be turned on. The solar installer will handle the inspection logistics, but scheduling and completing an inspection can take a few weeks.

Obtain PTO and turn system on

Once your utility provider approves the inspection and processes the necessary paperwork, it issues permission to operate (PTO). Obtaining PTO is the final step before a system can be turned on.

After this happens, your solar installer will notify you and walk you through the steps of turning the system on or come and do it for you if necessary.

FAQ: Solar Installers Near Me

Who is the best solar panel provider?

Though we can recommend some top solar companies that operate across the U.S., the best solar panel provider and installer for you will depend on where you live. We encourage readers to compare quotes from local companies, read reviews and talk to neighbors who have installed solar panels. Referrals are also a popular method for finding a trusted installer.

What is the average cost of installing a solar system?

The cost of installing solar will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and the type of solar panels and other products you choose. On average for a modest system, one can expect to pay between $15,000, and $20,000 after the tax credit is applied.

Is installing solar panels worth it?

Unless you deal with a shady property, a rainy climate or an unfit roof, solar panels are one of the most reliable investments you can make. Most solar panel installations pay for themselves in energy savings within five to 10 years and last an expected lifetime of 25 years. Even if you intend to move, solar panels add to property value, so your investment is protected.

How much will solar help me save on my electric bill?

Energy savings depend on a variety of factors such as monthly energy usage, the size of the system and the size and shape of the roof exposed to sunlight. The best way to calculate estimated savings on your electric bill is to consult a solar installer near you.

Heads of state cheer after the Paris climate change agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015 by 197 parties. Wikipedia

The world is worried as Decision Day nears.

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Donald Trump finally opened his mouth about dams and hydropower last week. The result is as bad as you can imagine.

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G20 meeting.

By Nadia Prupis

Finance ministers for the Group of 20 (G20), which comprises the world's biggest economies, dropped a joint statement mentioning funding for the fight against climate change after pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

A G20 official taking part in the annual meeting told Reuters that efforts by this year's German leadership to keep climate funding in the statement had hit a wall.

"Climate change is out for the time being," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin stressed that the move did not mark the end of the road for the statement. The G20 is scheduled to meet in full in July in Hamburg.

"There can be a way to overcome disagreements today—that is, not writing about it in the communique," Sapin told reporters on Friday. "But not writing about it doesn't mean not talking about it. Not writing about it means that there are difficulties, that there is a disagreement and that we we must work on them in the coming months."

The statement does mention the need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but overall the language appears weaker than previous communiques, critics said.

Bloomberg reported:

The 23-page draft, obtained by Bloomberg News, outlines how the most prosperous nations can lead by example, cutting their own greenhouse-gas emissions, financing efforts to curb pollution in poorer countries and take other steps to support the landmark Paris climate accord.

"The link between global warming and the organization of financial markets and even the organization of the global economy" is particularly important for France, Sapin said in Baden-Baden. "We'll see whether there'll be agreement with the U.S. administration, but there can be no going back on this for the G-20."

At the last G20 meeting in July 2016, the group's financial leaders urged all countries that had signed onto the landmark Paris climate accord to bring the deal into action as soon as possible. But President Trump, who has referred to global warming as a "Chinese hoax," took office vowing to remove the U.S. from the voluntary agreement.

On Thursday, a day before the finance meeting, the Trump administration unveiled its "skinny budget" proposal, which included a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As Friends of the Earth senior political strategist Ben Schreiber said at the time, "With this budget, Trump has made it clear that he is prioritizing Big Oil profits over the health of the American people."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

It's an honor to address this group of distinguished faculty, proud parents, supportive family members and friends.

We're gathered here in this idyllic location to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults as they successfully complete one great challenge and prepare for others to come.

So please join me in congratulating Green Mountain College's (GMC) Class of 2017.

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ABC News Video

By Kevin Kalhoefer & Lisa Hymas

President Donald Trump has decided to exit the Paris climate agreement, according to Axios. The news site also reported that the Scott Pruitt-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been "quietly working" with opponents of the agreement to help them place op-eds in newspapers. Media Matters identified a number of anti-Paris agreement op-eds that have been published in papers around the U.S. in recent weeks, spreading misinformation about the expected economic impacts of the agreement, the commitment of developing countries to cutting emissions and climate science in general.

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By Lauren McCauley

Underscoring the dangers of U.S. President Trump's broad attacks on air and water regulations, a pair of reports published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday revealed that one in four young children die each year as a result of unhealthy environments.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one—particularly for young children," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a press statement on Monday. "Their developing organs and immune systems and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water."

Beginning in utero, children are exposed to harmful environmental risks. According to the studies, roughly 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year from factors that could have been prevented through addressing environmental risks, which WHO called "a shocking missed opportunity."

The first study, Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children's Health and the Environment, provides a detailed update on a similar 2004 study, now incorporating some of the latest factors that affect children's health, including "increasing urbanization, industrialization, globalization and climate change."

A companion report delves into the details of environment-related death statistics. Among the known threats that kill hundreds of thousands of children each year, the studies found:

  • 570,000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke.
  • 361,000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution.
  • 200,000 deaths of children under 5 years from malaria could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage.

Less is known about the impact of emerging environmental hazards, which include exposure to chemicals, electronic waste and climate change.

WHO notes that the toxicity of many chemicals "is not well understood," nor adequately assessed by regulators. "Chemicals from pesticides, plastics and other manufactured goods, as well as from environmental contamination, eventually find their way into the food chain," the health atlas notes. "These include arsenic, fluoride, lead, mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls and persistent organic pollutants, among others."

The report also warns that climate change is "one of the greatest new threats to children's environmental health," with higher levels of atmospheric carbon increasing rates of asthma and warming temperatures extending the range of infectious diseases. Further, WHO observes that on a hotter planet "[d]isruption to fresh water supplies and food crop harvests will exacerbate malnutrition and stunting," while "[m]ore frequent heat waves will put children at risk of heat stress, renal disease and respiratory illness."

Global efforts to stymie climate change are currently under threat due to President Trump's repeated promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

Further, these shocking statistics come amid a concerted regulatory rollback in the U.S. on the part of the Trump administration, which is poised to gut regulations on vehicle emissions and has already undercut a rule that protects drinking water, another that required fossil fuel companies to report how much toxic methane they release into the environment and yet another that prevented mining companies from dumping coal waste into waterways.

And that's not all. The president has vowed to "cut regulations by 75 percent, maybe more," which many have warned will have a massive toll on the nation's public health.

"A polluted environment," Dr. Maria Neira, director at WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said Monday, "results in a heavy toll on the health of our children."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

By Nika Knight

A new report shows that many previous estimates of global sea level rise by 2100 were far too conservative, the Washington Post reported Thursday, and the research comes as new maps and graphics from Climate Central vividly show how disastrous that flooding will be for U.S. cities.

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By Nika Knight

Our window of time to act on climate may be shrinking even faster than previously thought.

We may only have one year remaining before we lock in 1.5 C of warming—the ideal goal outlined in the Paris climate agreement—after which we'll see catastrophic and irreversible climate shifts, many experts have warned.

That's according to the ticking carbon budget clock created by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). The clock's countdown now shows that only one year is left in the world's carbon budget before the planet heats up more than 1.5 C over pre-industrial temperatures.

That's under the most pessimistic calculations. According to the most optimistic prediction, we have four years to kick our carbon habit and avert 1.5 C of warming.

And to limit warming to 2 C—the limit agreed upon in the Paris climate accord—we have nine years to act under the most pessimistic scenario, and 23 years to act under the most optimistic.

"So far, there is no track record for reducing emissions globally," explained Fabian Löhe, spokesperson for MCC, in an email to Common Dreams. "Instead, greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a faster pace during the last decade than previously—despite growing awareness and political action across the globe. Once we have exhausted the carbon budget, every ton of CO2 that is released by cars, buildings or industrial plants would need to be compensated for during the 21st century by removing the CO2 from the atmosphere again. Generating such 'negative emissions' is even more challenging and we do not know today at which scale we might be able to do that."

(Climate activists and environmentalists have also long warned of the potential negative consequences of geoengineering and other carbon capture schemes, as Common Dreams has reported).

"Hence, the clock shows that time is running out: it is not enough to act sometime in the future, but it is necessary to implement more ambitious climate policies already in the very short-term," Löhe added.

"Take all of the most difficult features of individual pathways to 2 C—like fast and ambitious climate action in all countries of the world, the full availability of all required emissions reduction and carbon removal technologies, as well as aggressive energy demand reductions across the globe—the feasibility of which were so heatedly debated prior to Paris," Löhe said. "This gives you an idea of the challenge associated with the more ambitious 1.5 C goal."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

By Simon Evans

What does the UK's shock vote to leave the European Union mean for energy and climate change?

Speaking simultaneously on Wednesday morning at separate events in London, Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change and Andrea Leadsom, energy minister, both sought to offer reassurances that UK energy and climate commitments would continue.

What does the UK's shock vote to leave the European Union mean for energy and climate change? Abdullah Bin Sahl / Flickr

Rudd said, in unscripted comments added to her planned speech:

"We made a clear commitment to acting on climate change in our manifesto last year. That will continue."

She confirmed commitments to the UK Climate Change Act, a phaseout of unabated coal, thecapacity market to secure electricity supplies and support for offshore wind and new nuclear. Leadsom also said the referendum would not affect climate and energy policy.

However, Rudd conceded that the referendum result had made the path to climate action harder, raising a host of questions. Adding to the air of uncertainty, there is now the prospect of a new Conservative prime minister being in place by September, as well as the possibility of a snap general election.

Carbon Brief has assembled a lengthy and probably incomplete, list of post-referendum questions for climate and energy policy.

Questions Remain

In the days following the referendum, a range of questions and possible answers have already been offered on the climate and energy implications of the vote.

Policy Exchange looks at impacts across environment policy. Business Green has 12 unanswered questions for the green economy, Climate Home has six questions for UK and EU climate ambition and another three questions on whether Brexit means a climate policy "bonfire." Meanwhile, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has five energy and climate predictions.

Elsewhere, consultancy Aurora Energy Research, the Economist Intelligence Unit and Nick Butler for the Financial Times look at what it means for energy and climate, with a focus on markets.

The expected approval this week of the UK's fifth carbon budget for 2028-2032 would provide a key reference point for future policy. Still, uncertainty is sure to continue for months, if not years.

Here are some of the many unanswered questions.

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change:

  • Will the UK ratify it while still an EU member state, allowing the EU to ratify it, too?
  • If the UK and EU delay ratification, (when) will the agreement enter force?
  • Will the UK be able to retain a strong voice in international climate talks, outside of Europe?
  • Or will the spending be pared back as part of a move to end the UK commitment to spend 0.7 percent of national income on international aid?

UK Policy:

  • Is the cross-party commitment to UK climate ambition assured, as Rudd claimed this week?
  • Will the next prime minister believe in continued climate action?
  • Are doubts over the climate views of leading contender, Boris Johnson, unfounded?
  • What are the views of other contenders, such as home secretary Theresa May or work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb?
  • How long will Rudd remain secretary of state for energy and climate change and Leadsom as energy minister, with both tipped for promotion if their side won the referendum?
  • Who will replace them if they are moved on?
  • Will the Department of Energy and Climate Change continue to exist under a new government?

UK Climate Change Act:

  • The indications are that the government will put legislation on the fifth carbon budget before parliament on June 30, but Carbon Brief understands that parliamentary process means it may not pass into law before the end-of-June legal deadline. Will that legislation be in line with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to cut emissions by 57 percent by 2032, against 1990 levels?
  • Will carbon accounting rules be amended, as per CCC advice, so that all UK emissions are counted towards carbon budget compliance?
  • Will the government still publish a UK carbon plan by the end of 2016, on how the whole economy can decarbonize in line with the fourth and fifth carbon budgets for 2023-2032?
  • If this plan is delayed or abandoned, how long can stasis continue without jeopardizing UK carbon targets?
  • Would a delay or abandonment be subject to legal challenge, given the Act requires a planto be presented "as soon as is reasonably practicable" after the carbon budget is set?
  • Does the act itself retain the overwhelming support of parliament, given all but six MPs approved it in 2008?
  • Does it count for anything that Andrea Leadsom—Leave supporter, energy minister and potential Conservative leadership candidate—has said both before and after the referendum (see above) that the UK's climate commitment would be secure after Brexit?

Energy Bills:

  • What price premium on loans will be demanded by investors in UK energy infrastructure to cover the costs of political uncertainty? Rudd was unable to offer a direct answer to this "depressing" question from Carbon Brief.
  • How much will this add to the costs of building new electricity generating capacity?
  • Will any impacts vary by technology type, potentially favoring lower- or higher-carbon sources of power?
  • How quickly will exchange-rate driven increases filter through to pump prices and energy bills, via the fuel used to heat homes and generate electricity?
  • Is it realistic to expect any new government to mitigate this impact through a promised end to the 5 percent rate of VAT on energy, given the £2bn a year it brings the exchequer?
  • How will steel and other energy-intensive industries cope with the expectation of higher energy prices?
  • For instance, will the hoped-for Tata Steel rescue still go ahead?
  • Will the government's Levy Control Framework, designed to limit the impact of low-carbon support on energy bills, remain in place?
  • Could a new government seek to scrap the UK carbon price floor as a means to reduce energy bills for homes, businesses and industry, even though it brings in more than £1.5bn a year for the Treasury?
  • How would this be squared with consequential increases in the level of required support for low-carbon sources of power?
  • Will rising UK wholesale electricity prices attract investment in new generating capacity or will the rising cost of imported fuel outweigh any benefit?
  • Could a post-Brexit cut in tariffs on Chinese solar module imports offset the impact of a falling pound?
  • Will windfarms get more expensive in the UK, as sterling's fall pushes up the price of imported steel or turbine parts?

UK Energy Markets:

  • Will Brexit lead to weaker economic growth and reduced energy use, as expected?
  • Will this ease pressure on electricity supplies and reduce UK emissions?
  • How will the new administration approach fuel duty, which has been repeatedly frozen by current Chancellor George Osborne?
  • Is there still a business case for new interconnectors if the UK leaves the EU internal energy market and how will that case be affected by currency swings and changes in carbon pricing in the UK, France or other countries?
  • How will energy firms operating in the UK and elsewhere fare if the value of sterling remains depressed, affecting relative earnings denominated in pounds, euros and dollars?
  • Will the City of London still remain a leading lender to oil and coal projects around the world, as well as a center for carbon trading?
  • Rudd has this week reiterated plans to phase out unabated coal, but when will the consultation on how to achieve this be published and what policy levers will it propose?
  • Could the fall in the pound revive the UK coal-mining industry, which is currently embroiled in contentious efforts to expand despite the UK's coal phaseout plans?
  • Will the new government heed climate-sceptic calls to back out of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, blamed for the closure of aging coal-fired power stations?
  • Will the government invoke provisions of the 2013 Energy Act, allowing it to set a 2030 decarbonization target for the power sector, once it has set the fifth carbon budget?
  • How will support for shale gas exploration be affected by changes in government personnel?
  • How will the nascent fracking industry fare with a weaker economy and pound?
  • When will the government publish the CCC's report on fracking and UK carbon budgets?
  • Will North Sea industry benefit from currency movements as costs become relatively cheaper or will restrictions on freedom of labor movement pose greater challenges?

Low-Carbon Energy:

  • Will the UK now abandon efforts to meet its EU 2020 renewable energy targets, which it has in any case been widely expected to miss?
  • Could the UK still be fined by the European Court of Justice if Brexit is slow and the UK is still a member of the EU when the target bites in 2020?
  • Is there cross-government backing for new renewable heat and transport subsidies?
  • When will the government set out the details and budget of the next auction for low-carbon electricity subsidies, supposedly due to take place later this year?
  • Will this year's Autumn Statement set out post-2020 arrangements for low-carbon support under the Levy Control Framework, as suggested this week by Leadsom?
  • Will there be support for low-carbon technologies other than offshore wind, which has received the clearest government backing but is more costly than solar and onshore wind?
  • Rudd has given post-referendum assurances to French firm EDF over the Hinkley C new nuclear plant, but can the scheme hope to retain the high-level political support it has enjoyed from David Cameron, George Osborne and the French government?
  • Does Brexit render Austria's legal challenge to the Hinkley C scheme irrelevant?
  • Would a UK exit from the EU free the UK's hand to subsidize further new nuclear reactors without the need to seek state aid approval from the European Commission?
  • Will the new government be as keen on small modular nuclear reactors as the current one?
  • After Siemens' decision to freeze its UK wind power plans and with UK access to the EU's single market in doubt, can the UK attract new renewable manufacturing investments?
  • What will a weaker pound mean for the cost of burning imported biomass at power stations including Drax, formerly the UK's largest coal plant?
  • Does the prospect of Brexit mean the UK can award further biomass subsidies to Drax, before the ongoing EU state aid investigation into the planned support has concluded?
  • When will the government publish follow-up research it commissioned on the climate impacts of burning wood, mostly imported from north America, to generate electricity?
  • Could a new administration reverse the current government's skepticism over financial support for carbon capture and storage or tidal energy?

EU Policy:

  • How will Brexit affect the balance of power between EU member states on the European Council, given the UK has been part of a progressive alliance on climate and energy?
  • Could Brexit strengthen Germany's hand, with its backing for more interventionist and target-led approaches such as binding energy efficiency and renewable energy targets?
  • Or will Brexit give eastern European countries more leverage as they attempt to limit EU climate ambition?
  • Will the UK relinquish its EU presidency, scheduled for the second half of 2017?
  • Will the EU continue to negotiate its effort-sharing decision on member state climate targets for 2030, despite the prospect of Brexit?
  • If the EU's 2030 target is recast with no UK participation, will it keep its headline goal of a 40 percent emissions reduction on 1990 levels or will it choose a new goal for 2030 emissions, either by simply removing the UK contribution or formally renegotiating country shares?
  • Will the UK remain part of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)? (Non-EU members including Norway are part of the scheme).
  • Are currently-proposed EU ETS reforms still considered sufficient to cope with market shocks, such as that experienced in the wake of the UK vote?
  • Does the fall in EU ETS prices of more than 20 percent in a week suggest further reform, perhaps an EU-wide floor price, is necessary to maintain decarbonization momentum?
  • Who will lead the reform process now that British MEP Iain Duncan has resigned from the role of European Parliament rapporteur?
  • Will the UK remain part of the EU Energy Union, with its plans for closer coupling between European energy markets?
  • Would current or future energy infrastructure investments, including electricityinterconnectors to the continent, automatically lose EU funding after Brexit? (The EU isinvesting more than €2bn in UK energy projects, more than any other member state).
  • Will the UK remain subject to EU product standards, including on the energy efficiency of vehicles and household goods?

Scotland and Northern Ireland:

  • If Brexit triggers a successful Scottish independence referendum, what would become of UK climate policy and how would UK climate targets be divided? (Scotland already has its own climate goals, but the rest of the UK does not).
  • Would consumers in the rest of the UK be willing to continue paying for a planned expansion of renewable energy in Scotland?
  • Could the rest of the UK meet its climate targets without Scottish renewables?
  • Would Scotland be willing to shoulder the cost of North Sea oil and gas decommissioning, which being funded via tax breaks on the industry?
  • Are moves to unite Northern Ireland with the Irish republic likely to gain any traction and what would that mean for UK, Irish and EU climate pledges?

Other Issues:

  • What are the prospects for a third runway at Heathrow, given the committed opposition of Boris Johnson, a leading candidate to become prime minister?
  • Does Brexit ease its path, given the UK's long-running breach of EU air pollution rules has been seen as a barrier to approval or will its demise enable the UK to meet suggested targets for aviation emissions more easily?
  • How will the UK respond to this week's ruling that it breached EU air pollution rules in relation to the coal plant at Aberthaw in south Wales?
  • Will the National Infrastructure Commission, seen as a personal project of current Chancellor George Osborne, still be able to carve out the significant policy role it had been poised to secure?
  • Will a new government reverse the decision to scrap rules for zero carbon homes?
  • How will it approach planning law, in particular the major pieces of UK environmental legislation that originate in EU law?
  • If these EU planning rules are scrapped, will it become easier to build new energy infrastructure including wind farms, fracking sites or marine renewables?
  • Will a new government continue to respect EU law during any transitional period, as called for by some lawyers?

Update 6/29/16—The question on the fifth carbon budget was amended. It previously said, in line with earlier press reports, that the fifth carbon budget would pass in to law on June 30, meeting the legal deadline. However, Carbon Brief now understands that the parliamentary process will not be completed on June 30.

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For those who missed out on the action, or just want to relive it, Pathway to Paris released Wednesday an album of its two-night event last December in Paris, which coincided with the UN's climate change conference, COP21.

Pathway to Paris, an initiative in partnership with 350.org, brings musicians, artists, activists, academics, politicians and innovators together to participate in live concerts to raise consciousness, foster dialogue and inspire climate action and the need to transition to renewable energy. Co-founders Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon organized the Dec. 4 and 5 events at Le Trianon concert hall in Paris.

The evening included performances by renowned artists and speeches by prominent environmentalists. The Path to Paris Live @ Le Trianon album includes:

  • Wing by Patti Smith
  • Bloom by Thom Yorke
  • Elemental Prayer by Tenzin Choegyal
  • White Nile by Flea and Warren Ellis
  • Service by Fally Ipupa
  • Nature by Patti Smith, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon
  • Heartstrings by Tenzin Choegyal
  • Peaceable Kingdom by Patti Smith
  • Two Suits by Flea and Warren Ellis
  • Sweet Life by Fally Ipupa
  • People have the Power by Patti Smith
Speakers on the album include:

All proceeds from the the album will benefit 350.org and the United Nations Development Programme. Pathway to Paris @ Le Trainon can be purchased online for $9.99.

For a taste of the album's content, watch the following two videos that recap both nights of performances:

Dec. 4, 2015:

Dec. 5, 2015:

EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Flooding in Bangladesh has submerged a third of the country. British Red Cross

By Jeremy Lent

Imagine you're driving your shiny new car too fast along a wet, curvy road. You turn a corner and realize you're heading straight for a crowd of pedestrians. If you slam on your brakes, you'd probably skid and damage your car. So you keep your foot on the accelerator, heading straight for the crowd, knowing they'll be killed and maimed, but if you keep driving fast enough no-one will be able to catch you and you might just get away scot-free.

Of course, that's monstrous behavior and I expect you'd never make that decision. But it's a decision the developed world is collectively taking in the face of the global catastrophe that will arise from climate change.

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The recent documentary, Sea of Life, exposes key threats to the oceans, and calls for action.

Sea of Life follows filmmaker Julia Barnes on a three year adventure, spanning seven countries, to save coral reefs.

Although they cover less than 1 percent of the sea floor coral reefs support up to 30 percent of all species in the ocean at some stage in their life cycles. Often referred to as the rainforests of the ocean, coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. They're also an indicator for the future of the oceans and all life on Earth.

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zstockphotos / iStock / Getty Images

Over the past decade, rapid advances in solar energy technology, falling costs of clean energy systems and government-sponsored incentives have driven the popularity of installing solar panels to a record level. For readers wondering, "who is the best solar installer near me?" here's the good news: To capitalize on the projected growth of solar power, a large number of new solar installers and electricians are opening up shop across the country, which creates healthy competition for your business.

The growing number of competing solar installers presents both challenges and opportunities for a customer. One one hand, having more options may make for a more difficult decision. But on the other, savvy investors can use competition between local installers to their advantage. The competition between solar companies can lower the cost of solar panels, saving you thousands of dollars.

To make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck, we recommend getting free quotes from a few certified solar installers near you. You can get connected with top solar companies in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.

So, How Do I Find the Best Solar Installer Near Me?

To get a concrete understanding of the cost and process of installing a solar panel system on your home, it's best to contact a solar installer near you. Typically, most solar installers will offer a free consultation during which they analyze your current energy use, roof layout, budget, product availability and energy goals. Then, they'll offer a proposal customized to your specific needs.

To ensure they're securing the best possible value from their investment in renewable energy, savvy customers will get proposals from several companies and compare costs and warranties. Companies frequently run specials and promotions on solar products or energy efficiency packages, so be sure to ask about those when reaching out for quotes.

When choosing the best solar installer for your job, look for a company that provides homeowners with assistance when applying for the federal solar tax credit as well as any applicable local rebates and solar tax incentives. If applicable, installers will also help you get connected to the net metering program offered by your utility company, and most will walk you through solar financing options if you're unable to pay cash for your system.

It's a good idea to be familiar with financial incentives and financing options prior to your consultation to ensure an installer covers everything available. If an installer doesn't have a thorough knowledge of local programs or doesn't offer help with applying for rebates or solar loans, it may not be the best company to do business with.

Here are some other things to consider when looking for the best solar installers near you:

  • Licenses and certifications: Legitimate installers hold state-mandated electrical licenses as well as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications.
  • Customer reviews: Checking a company's Better Business Bureau rating and reviews from customers around the web can give you a better sense of an installer's service.
  • Additional services offered: Some installers have tree removal, roof repair, solar battery installation and energy monitoring services. If you need these or other solutions to complete your installation, look for a full-service installer.
  • Financing options: Whether you're paying in cash, taking out a loan or wanting to lease solar panels, make sure the installers you're considering have the financing options you need.

How Do I Read a Solar Proposal?

Choosing a few top solar installers near you and booking consultations is the easy part. Once you get proposals from each company, however, things may get a bit more confusing. Reading and understanding those proposals is one of the most important steps in choosing a solar installer. Here are a few items to look out for in a proposal:

Solar Proposal Element What to Look for from Solar Installers Near You

System size

The size of a solar energy system is measured in kilowatts, which is abbreviated to kW. A kW is a common unit of energy measuring power generation — or consumption.

The size of your system will be based on how much energy you use in your home and will determine how many solar panels you need to purchase. For example, if you need a 5kW system and are purchasing panels with a 340-watt output, you'll need 15 panels. (5kW / 340W = 14.7 panels)

Estimated annual solar production

Your estimated annual solar production is a measure of how much energy your system is expected to produce in one year. You can compare this figure with the usage shown on your utility bills to calculate how much energy your system will offset.

Estimated energy burden

When creating a proposal, a solar installer will ask how much electricity your home uses each year. They use this to calculate your estimated energy burden, which reflects how much money you could expect to spend on energy without a solar system.

Watch out for number inflation here, as installers will often factor in rising utility rates over time. If an installer estimates a high energy burden, it makes it easier for them to calculate high estimated lifetime savings. If you get multiple proposals and one reflects a much higher estimated energy burden than the others, the installer may be using shady sales tactics.

Estimated lifetime savings

By comparing your energy burden with your estimated annual solar production, solar installers can estimate the lifetime energy savings generated by a system.

Compare this key figure to other proposals to evaluate which company may offer the best return on investment (ROI).

What Should I Expect from My Solar Panel Installation?

So, you've compared your proposals and picked a winner. A trustworthy solar installer will walk you through the process from beginning to end, but here's a good idea of what to expect when installing solar panels:

Solar Installation Step What to Expect from Solar Installers Near You

Sign contract and submit paperwork

Customers should be prepared to provide a copy of a utility bill, a down payment (depending on their chosen financing) and a signature for their net metering agreement if applicable.

Obtain permits and approvals

Similar to some other home improvements, an approved permit from the presiding city or county is required for solar projects in most areas. The solar installer will handle the permitting, but this process can take a few days to weeks depending on the efficiency of the area.

Most energy providers also require approval for solar installations in their network. This can come in the form of a net metering agreement or interconnection agreement.

System installation

Once all the permits and approvals are secured, the company will schedule a day to install the solar panels, inverters and other equipment.

The timing will vary depending on the complexity of the installation, but most are completed in less than one day.

Pass inspections

Both the presiding permitting office and utility company need to inspect the installation before it can be turned on. The solar installer will handle the inspection logistics, but scheduling and completing an inspection can take a few weeks.

Obtain PTO and turn system on

Once your utility provider approves the inspection and processes the necessary paperwork, it issues permission to operate (PTO). Obtaining PTO is the final step before a system can be turned on.

After this happens, your solar installer will notify you and walk you through the steps of turning the system on or come and do it for you if necessary.

FAQ: Solar Installers Near Me

Who is the best solar panel provider?

Though we can recommend some top solar companies that operate across the U.S., the best solar panel provider and installer for you will depend on where you live. We encourage readers to compare quotes from local companies, read reviews and talk to neighbors who have installed solar panels. Referrals are also a popular method for finding a trusted installer.

What is the average cost of installing a solar system?

The cost of installing solar will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and the type of solar panels and other products you choose. On average for a modest system, one can expect to pay between $15,000, and $20,000 after the tax credit is applied.

Is installing solar panels worth it?

Unless you deal with a shady property, a rainy climate or an unfit roof, solar panels are one of the most reliable investments you can make. Most solar panel installations pay for themselves in energy savings within five to 10 years and last an expected lifetime of 25 years. Even if you intend to move, solar panels add to property value, so your investment is protected.

How much will solar help me save on my electric bill?

Energy savings depend on a variety of factors such as monthly energy usage, the size of the system and the size and shape of the roof exposed to sunlight. The best way to calculate estimated savings on your electric bill is to consult a solar installer near you.

Heads of state cheer after the Paris climate change agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015 by 197 parties. Wikipedia

The world is worried as Decision Day nears.

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Donald Trump finally opened his mouth about dams and hydropower last week. The result is as bad as you can imagine.

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G20 meeting.

By Nadia Prupis

Finance ministers for the Group of 20 (G20), which comprises the world's biggest economies, dropped a joint statement mentioning funding for the fight against climate change after pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

A G20 official taking part in the annual meeting told Reuters that efforts by this year's German leadership to keep climate funding in the statement had hit a wall.

"Climate change is out for the time being," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin stressed that the move did not mark the end of the road for the statement. The G20 is scheduled to meet in full in July in Hamburg.

"There can be a way to overcome disagreements today—that is, not writing about it in the communique," Sapin told reporters on Friday. "But not writing about it doesn't mean not talking about it. Not writing about it means that there are difficulties, that there is a disagreement and that we we must work on them in the coming months."

The statement does mention the need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but overall the language appears weaker than previous communiques, critics said.

Bloomberg reported:

The 23-page draft, obtained by Bloomberg News, outlines how the most prosperous nations can lead by example, cutting their own greenhouse-gas emissions, financing efforts to curb pollution in poorer countries and take other steps to support the landmark Paris climate accord.

"The link between global warming and the organization of financial markets and even the organization of the global economy" is particularly important for France, Sapin said in Baden-Baden. "We'll see whether there'll be agreement with the U.S. administration, but there can be no going back on this for the G-20."

At the last G20 meeting in July 2016, the group's financial leaders urged all countries that had signed onto the landmark Paris climate accord to bring the deal into action as soon as possible. But President Trump, who has referred to global warming as a "Chinese hoax," took office vowing to remove the U.S. from the voluntary agreement.

On Thursday, a day before the finance meeting, the Trump administration unveiled its "skinny budget" proposal, which included a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As Friends of the Earth senior political strategist Ben Schreiber said at the time, "With this budget, Trump has made it clear that he is prioritizing Big Oil profits over the health of the American people."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

It's an honor to address this group of distinguished faculty, proud parents, supportive family members and friends.

We're gathered here in this idyllic location to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults as they successfully complete one great challenge and prepare for others to come.

So please join me in congratulating Green Mountain College's (GMC) Class of 2017.

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ABC News Video

By Kevin Kalhoefer & Lisa Hymas

President Donald Trump has decided to exit the Paris climate agreement, according to Axios. The news site also reported that the Scott Pruitt-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been "quietly working" with opponents of the agreement to help them place op-eds in newspapers. Media Matters identified a number of anti-Paris agreement op-eds that have been published in papers around the U.S. in recent weeks, spreading misinformation about the expected economic impacts of the agreement, the commitment of developing countries to cutting emissions and climate science in general.

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By Lauren McCauley

Underscoring the dangers of U.S. President Trump's broad attacks on air and water regulations, a pair of reports published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday revealed that one in four young children die each year as a result of unhealthy environments.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one—particularly for young children," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a press statement on Monday. "Their developing organs and immune systems and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water."

Beginning in utero, children are exposed to harmful environmental risks. According to the studies, roughly 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year from factors that could have been prevented through addressing environmental risks, which WHO called "a shocking missed opportunity."

The first study, Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children's Health and the Environment, provides a detailed update on a similar 2004 study, now incorporating some of the latest factors that affect children's health, including "increasing urbanization, industrialization, globalization and climate change."

A companion report delves into the details of environment-related death statistics. Among the known threats that kill hundreds of thousands of children each year, the studies found:

  • 570,000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution and second-hand smoke.
  • 361,000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution.
  • 200,000 deaths of children under 5 years from malaria could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage.

Less is known about the impact of emerging environmental hazards, which include exposure to chemicals, electronic waste and climate change.

WHO notes that the toxicity of many chemicals "is not well understood," nor adequately assessed by regulators. "Chemicals from pesticides, plastics and other manufactured goods, as well as from environmental contamination, eventually find their way into the food chain," the health atlas notes. "These include arsenic, fluoride, lead, mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls and persistent organic pollutants, among others."

The report also warns that climate change is "one of the greatest new threats to children's environmental health," with higher levels of atmospheric carbon increasing rates of asthma and warming temperatures extending the range of infectious diseases. Further, WHO observes that on a hotter planet "[d]isruption to fresh water supplies and food crop harvests will exacerbate malnutrition and stunting," while "[m]ore frequent heat waves will put children at risk of heat stress, renal disease and respiratory illness."

Global efforts to stymie climate change are currently under threat due to President Trump's repeated promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

Further, these shocking statistics come amid a concerted regulatory rollback in the U.S. on the part of the Trump administration, which is poised to gut regulations on vehicle emissions and has already undercut a rule that protects drinking water, another that required fossil fuel companies to report how much toxic methane they release into the environment and yet another that prevented mining companies from dumping coal waste into waterways.

And that's not all. The president has vowed to "cut regulations by 75 percent, maybe more," which many have warned will have a massive toll on the nation's public health.

"A polluted environment," Dr. Maria Neira, director at WHO's Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said Monday, "results in a heavy toll on the health of our children."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.