Analysis

Opposition to fracking increases again, finds Sunday Times poll

  • 18 May 2015, 17:00
  • Simon Evans

The British public is becoming increasingly opposed to fracking for shale gas, a series of polls for the Sunday Times show. However, as with some  previous polling on energy and climate issues commissioned by the paper, it has not reported the findings.

Support for shale gas extraction has fallen to its lowest level since the series began, falling below one third of respondents for the first time. Opposition has reached its highest level.

The latest survey also finds majority support for allowing or encouraging onshore windfarms and a strong majority in favour of the government either maintaining or scaling up its action on climate change.

Carbon Brief has the numbers, which should provide interesting reading for the  new Conservative government, given its  support for fracking and opposition to subsidised onshore wind.

 

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Daily Briefing | Locals to get veto over wind farms

  • 18 May 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Wind turbines at Little Cheyne Court

Wind turbines | Oast House Archives

The Carbon Brief Interview: Tony de Brum 
Carbon Brief interviews Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, one of the most vulnerable countries to sea level rise. We ask him about negotiating climate talks as a small island state, the Green Climate Fund, and the unstoppable collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.      Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

Locals to get veto over wind farms 
Local residents will be able to block future onshore wind farms under new measures to be fast-tracked into law, the new energy secretary has announced. In an interview with  The Sunday Times, Amber Rudd said she had "put a rocket" under her officials to "put the local community back in charge" of their own neighbourhoods. Rudd also revealed the new government would kick-start a shale gas revolution and loosen rules so it could be extracted from under national parks. Rudd also said she is "very keen" on new nuclear plants and that a worldwide climate deal in Paris in November is "one of the most important things I'm going to do this year".      The Sunday Times 

Canada reneges on emissions targets as tar sands production takes its toll 
Canada has announced a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The target is far weaker than the European Union or the US, and less ambitious than the one they set in 2009, reports The Guardian. It also leaves open the possibility for Canada to purchase carbon offsets elsewhere. In a related announcement describing new regulations on the fossil fuel industries, there was no mention of the emissions stemming from the tar sands that Canada produces, reports  Inside Climate News.  Climate Central and  Climate Progress also have the story.      The Guardian 

Shell accused of strategy risking catastrophic climate change 
Shell has been accused of pursuing a strategy that would lead to potentially catastrophic climate change after an internal document acknowledged a global temperature rise of 4C, twice the level considered safe for the planet. A  Guardian investigation uncovered a business planning paper that assumes carbon dioxide emissions will miss a 2C target and instead refers to a forecast by the International Energy Agency of a 4C temperature rise in the short term, rising later to 6C. The document says the company "do[es] not see governments taking steps now that are consistent with 2 degrees C scenario."      The Guardian 

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The Carbon Brief Interview: Tony de Brum

  • 15 May 2015, 15:00
  • Sophie Yeo
Tony de Brum

Tony de Brum | Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief's Sophie Yeo asks Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, about fighting for action on climate change at the IMO meeting this week and the future of the Pacific islands.

Tony de Brum is the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, a small nation of coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean and one of the most vulnerable countries to sea level rise. He previously served as Minister-in-Assistance to the President, and has led calls at the UN for stronger action on climate change.

On reluctance to act on climate change: "Some of these nations are confused as to whether they're developing countries or developed countries, or some that want to be both, to take advantage of the benefits of being one or the other in one package."

On the small island states negotiating bloc: "It is a platform that allows for the smallest of the vulnerable states to have as loud a voice as anybody else."

On the small island states' negotiating strategy: "In terms of keeping the islands together and promoting their interests as a unit, it has worked. But have the outcomes of that effort been as encouraging? No. But neither has any other sector in the climate change debate and effort."

On Paris: "What we really need to do is focus on what we want to come out of Paris and make sure that it is not a suicide note."

On migration: "The polluting states must not see the availability of destinations for displaced people as an excuse to continue their behaviour as usual."

On the unstoppable collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: "It is something that concerns the Marshall Islands now."

On US politics: "The Republicans might have different reasons for loving the Marshalls than the Democrats do, but the relationship is still very strong."

On loss and damage: "I think it's going to be one of the most difficult things to come away with come Paris."

On the Green Climate Fund: "I don't want to see bureaucratic layers of NGOs and other organisations establish themselves between the source of the fund and the need."

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Daily Briefing | NASA finds Antarctic ice shelf near disintegration

  • 15 May 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Satellite composite image of Antarctica using visiblearth.nasa.gov

Antarctica | Dave Pape

The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Dame Julia Slingo OBE 
In an in-depth interview with Carbon Brief, Prof Dame Julia Slingo, the Met Office's chief scientist, talks about the reliability of climate models, El Nino, the UK's winter flooding in 2013/14, the Met Office's new supercomputer and dealing with personal attacks by climate sceptics.     Carbon Brief 

Countries fail to set shipping climate target 
Countries rejected the opportunity to place a global emissions reduction target on the shipping industry at a meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London this week. Proposed by the Marshall Islands, this would have been the first time that a cap was placed on the sector.     Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

NASA finds Antarctic ice shelf a few years from disintegration 
A new study suggests a remnant of the so-called Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which partially collapsed in 2002, will likely disappear completely in the next few years. The news comes just days afteranother study found its sister shelf, Larsen C, is also vulnerable to collapse. The Daily Mail also has the story.     Reuters 

Energy secretary Amber Rudd plans to 'unleash solar revolution' 
The new energy secretary, Amber Rudd, has indicated she will back the expansion of household solar panels. Describing her new responsibility to "keep the lights on and carbon emissions down", Rudd said she also wanted to "shout loud about the benefits of switching energy tariffs" and to improve home insulation. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, predicts the new Conservative government will be the "greenest ever", telling BusinessGreen, "Huskies are go".     The Telegraph 

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The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Dame Julia Slingo OBE

  • 15 May 2015, 08:00
  • Leo Hickman
Prof Dame Julia Slingo

Prof Dame Julia Slingo | Carbon Brief Staff

Prof Dame Julia Slingo has been the chief scientist at the Met Office since February 2009. Before joining the Met Office, she was the director of climate research in NERC's National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading. In 2008, she became the first female president of the Royal Meteorological Society. Earlier this month, she was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

On the 2013/14 winter flooding in the UK: "I can't give a definitive answer, but all the evidence points to the potential for climate change to have played a role."

The Met Office's new supercomputer: "It gives me more confidence in the advice we give to government, to businesses, to public on what climate change might look like."

On adaptation: "There's no point putting in flood defences that respond to mean climate change if you haven't thought of what a one-in-a-hundred-year event will look like in a warmer world."

On overinterpreting short-term temperature trends: "There are real issues with looking at too short a time period to define what we believe is climate sensitivity."

On the reliability of climate models: "Do I think our models run too warm? No, I don't."

The impact of privatising the Met Office on science: "Oh, it would fundamentally change it … We would not be able to access the observations we need for weather forecasting, let alone climate."

On transparency and open access to data: "Let's be clear, everything that's paid for by the public purse is freely and openly available."

On whether we can expect an El Niño this year: "It's very early days. We're right at the period where there's a lot of uncertainty, and we're watching it with great interest."

On whether Arctic ice melt is influencing northern hemisphere weather: "We have done a lot of research here to try and nail this question … and it's very hard to find any clear evidence yet."

On why surface temperature rise has slowed recently: "Well, I think I'm fairly convinced … there has been heat sequestered into the deeper ocean."

On dealing with personal attacks: "The way to avoid it, of course, is not to say anything. But that's not the right thing to do." 

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Countries fail to set shipping climate target

  • 14 May 2015, 15:20
  • Sophie Yeo
NYK Cargo Ship NYK ATHENA entering the Port of Los Angeles with tugboat assistance

Sheila Fitzgerald | Shutterstock

Countries rejected the opportunity to place a global emissions reduction target on the shipping industry at a meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London this week.

Proposed by the Marshall Islands, this would have been the first time that a cap was placed on the sector, which is projected to grow in the decades ahead as trade and the world economy expands.

But the lack of consensus over how to collect data on shipping emissions put a stranglehold on the discussions, with many nations unwilling to sign up to an emissions reduction goal without a sure way to measure progress.

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Daily Briefing | UK renewables investment hit record £10.7bn in 2014

  • 14 May 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Department for Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Brief

Analysis: How DECC spends its annual budget 
As the new Conservative government enjoys its first week in power, the speculation has already began about where it will make its pledged cuts in spending. Carbon Brief takes a look at DECC's budget and explains where it has spent its money - and where it currently plans to up to 2016. The legacy cost of cleaning up and storing nuclear waste still accounts for a huge proportion of the department's budget.      Carbon Brief 

 

Climate and energy news

UK renewables investment hit record £10.7bn in 2014, says PwC 
The UK's renewable energy industry had its best year yet for new investment, attracting £10.7bn in 2014, according to new analysis, but the country still requires a further £50bn over the next five years if it is to meet its green energy targets. Analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) on behalf of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), shows that solar power alone attracted £4.5bn of investment, accounting for half of new investment in UK renewables last year.       BusinessGreen 

Centrica to buy more gas from Russia's Gazprom and Statoil 
Centrica has extended its gas supply deal with Norway's Statoil and Russia's Gazprom. Both agreements will provide enough gas to meet demand from 9m homes in the UK annually, the company said in a statement. The Telegraph says the deal highlights Britain's growing dependence on overseas supplies of natural gas as domestic stocks from the North Sea dwindle. The  Times and the  Financial Times also carry the story.      The Telegraph 

Marshall Islands may stop registering oil rigs in future, says foreign minister 
The Marshall Islands, the world's third largest shipping registry, may stop registering oil rigs because of climate change, according to the Pacific nation's foreign minister Tony de Brum. De Brum said that his government may consider the move, but it would be useless in isolation and would only damage a business worth $5m each year, 2.5% of the country's GDP. Meanwhile, according to  RTCC, a meeting of the International Maritime Organisation in London has failed to agree a proposal from the Marshall Islands to sign up to a pledge ahead of the Paris climate summit in December to reduce global shipping emissions.      The Guardian 

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Analysis: How DECC spends its annual budget

  • 13 May 2015, 17:00
  • Simon Evans
Department for Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Brief

Update 16/5 - Chancellor George Osborne will announce his budget on 8 July. Departments are expected to submit spending proposals to the Treasury by early July, according to the Financial Times, giving time to negotiate details of any cuts before an autumn spending review.

Update 14/5 - A few clarifications are worth making. First, the £8 billion DECC budget in 2013/14 includes large accounting adjustments ("provisions") which do not reflect actual expenditure. This is better reflected by the £3.4 billion "departmental expenditure limits" budget shown further down.  We have amended text below to reflect this.

Second, nuclear clean-up spending relates to managing the legacy of the UK's historic civil and military nuclear programmes, including managing its plutonium stockpile. Finally the cost of supporting low-carbon power sources, including renewables, does not appear in DECC accounts as it is paid via energy bills.

The Conservatives have pledged to shave a further £13 billion from government spending over the next two years.

With the likes of health and overseas aid likely to be protected and welfare subject to a separate savings target, spending at other departments will be put under the microscope in search of potential cuts.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) "will be among the biggest casualties in terms of spending reductions", according to an  Independent article.

Carbon Brief runs through how DECC allocates its budget of around £8 billion a year, or just over one per cent of the total government budget.

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Daily Briefing | Antarctic ice shelf at risk of collapse

  • 13 May 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff

Larsen-C ice shelf | J. Schmaltz

Antarctic Larsen-C ice shelf at risk of collapse, study warns 
In the past 20 years, warming temperatures have caused two ice shelves in Antarctica to collapse into the ocean. Now research suggests that a third ice shelf, more than twice the size of Wales, has thinned so much it could also face collapse. The loss of the shelf would allow glaciers to flow more quickly into the ocean, pushing sea levels beyond current projections for this century, the researchers say.     Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

'Substantial' El Nino event predicted 
An El Niño of "quite a substantial" strength is underway in the Pacific, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Investors are braced for extreme weather, says The Financial Times, with zinc, coffee, cocoa, cotton and soyabean set to see price spikes. The weather phenomenon is expected to bring widespread drought to Australia, says The Guardian, which could have dire consequences for the country's wheat stocks, says The Telegraph's commodities editor, Andrew Critchlow. Elsewhere, scientists suggest the El Niño could mean Europe has a harsh winter in store, ITV and Sky News report. Back in March, US scientists confirmed El Niño conditions, but described the nascent event as "borderline weak".      BBC News 

The largest ice shelf in Antarctica could break up without warning, say scientists - and it would cause havoc to our coastlines 
Climate change is causing the largest ice shelf in the Antarctic to catastrophically break up, scientists warned today. The loss of the Larsen C ice shelf could occur within a century but an earlier collapse cannot be ruled out, with major consequences for global sea levels, as well as possible storm surges, groundwater contamination and farmland loss. The ice shelf is believed to be melting from both above and below: "We now know that two different processes are causing Larsen C to thin and become less stable" lead researcher Paul Holland told the Mail Online. The Guardian and The Washington Post also have the story, and you can read Carbon Brief's coverage here.       Mail Online 

US decision to open Arctic to Shell drilling sparks green fury 
The US approved Royal Dutch Shell's plan to restart drilling off the coast of Alaska on Monday, three years after it was forced to halt operations following a series of safety failures including an oil rig fire. The company wants to drill up to six wells around 40 metres deep, but must still obtain permits from other state and federal agencies. Green groups criticised the move and warned of potential spills in fragile Arctic conditions, with insufficient means to respond to leaks. Unforgiving conditions in the Arctic's icy waters not only make the chances of a spill likely, the 'complete lack' of infrastructure in place to deal with a potential disaster means the consequences of the move could be calamitous, environmental activists and experts told the GuardianEnergy Live News and the Independent also covered the story.     Responding to Climate Change 

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Antarctic Larsen-C ice shelf at risk of collapse, study warns

  • 13 May 2015, 00:01
  • Robert McSweeney

Larsen-C ice shelf | J. Schmaltz

In the past 20 years, warming temperatures have caused two ice shelves in Antarctica to collapse into the ocean. New research points to a third shelf, more than twice the size of Wales, which has thinned so much that it could now also face collapse.

The loss of the shelf would allow glaciers to flow more quickly into the ocean, pushing sea levels beyond current projections for this century, the researchers say.

Ice shelves

An ice shelf forms when a glacier on land reaches the coast and flows into the ocean. If the ocean is cold enough, the ice doesn't melt. Instead, it forms a permanently floating sheet of ice.

Ice Shelf Warming _labels

Ice shelf schematic. Source: British Antarctic Survey.

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