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First Takes: China Leads Renewables Spending Race, Lufthansa's Biofuels Bet, and More ...

<p>China outspent every other country last year on renewable energy; Lufthansa will become the first airline to incorporate biofuels into a regular route; House Republicans will bring to a floor vote next week a bill that would repeal a light bulb efficiency mandate.</p>

China in the Lead: The world invested $211 billion in renewable energy last year, driven by developing nations and lower solar cell prices, USA Today reports. Developing nations spent more renewable energy utility projects than developed countries, led by China with $49.8 billion in investments, according to the "Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011" report from the United Nations Environment Programme. Germany invested $41 billion, while the U.S. invested $29.6 billion.

Lufthansa Bets on Biofuels: Lufthansa has moved from testing biofuels on flights to become the first airline to incorporate biofuels into a regular route. For six months, the German airline will use a blend of biofuel and conventional fuel on eight of its 28 daily flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt, the Guardian reports. Lufthansa will use the 50-50 mix of biofuel in one engine and conventional fuel in the other to compare performance, ultimately avoiding 1,500 metric tonnes of carbon emissions.

A reprieve for incandescent light bulbs? House Republicans will reportedly bring to a floor vote as early as Monday a bill that would repeal a mandate that requires traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient in 2012. The standards were part of the Energy Independence and Security Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. If passed, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates a repeal of the standard would wipe out $12.5 billion a year in consumer savings.

KPMG's Living Green Program Delivers Smaller Footprint: The Big Four accounting firm's sustainability program helped the company achieve a 22 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in three years. Other 2010 accomplishments: a 33 percent drop in paper consumption, a 16 percent decline in electricity-related emissions, a 51 percent decrease in non-recycled waste, and 26 percent dip in air travel.

Purple Haze: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized new rules Thursday aimed at cutting smokestack emissions from power plants in 27 Eastern states. The sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions travel long distances, often causing soot, smog and acid rain in other states. "No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement. The rules would take effect next year, leading to warnings from American Electric Power about rate increases as high as 30 percent.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Land Rover Our Planet.

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