Daily Briefing | Government launches renewable heat incentive

  • 10 Apr 2014, 09:25
  • Carbon Brief staff

Source: Baracoda

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Renewable heat incentive offers homeowners money to switch from oil 
Homeowners reliant on oil for heating will now be offered payments to switch to renewable energy alternatives as a part of a new government scheme to cut carbon emissions from heat. The domestic renewable heat incentive, which offers financial incentives for biomass boilers, solar thermal systems, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps, is the first of its kind in the world. 
The Guardian 

Climate and energy news:

Scientists seek climate-friendly cow of the future 
A White House climate initiative to cut methane emissions has boosted a "quixotic" search for the "cow of the future", according to the Financial Times - a next-generation creature whose greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by anti-methane pills, burp scanners and gas backpacks. Meanwhile a Labour peer has suggested people eat less baked beans, according to Mail Online
Financial Times 

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Regional changes, global effects: an interview with IPCC Arctic specialist Jan-Gunnar Winther

  • 09 Apr 2014, 10:30
  • Ros Donald

Climate change is affecting the Arctic further and faster than any other part of the world. Carbon Brief speaks to Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author Jan-Gunnar Winther about how the new report from the UN panel on the impacts of climate change relates to this highly sensitive region. 

What are the three main messages in the IPCC report concerning the Arctic?

First, it's important to stress that climate change with an anthropogenic component is having a greater effect in the Arctic than in other parts of the world, according to the report.

Second, it shows that we now have quite substantial knowledge that change in the Arctic region is having an effect on weather and climate in the northern hemisphere. We now know that regional changes - particularly in the Arctic - can have global effects.

And third, the report indicates that climate models have so far failed to give us accurate projections for the future of the Arctic. Over the past 20 years, they have systematically underestimated the rate of change in the Arctic. For example, the reduction in summer sea ice extent and thickness has been far beyond that predicted by models.

We must be aware that the future could bring yet more surprises in the region.

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Daily Briefing | Climate plan B's, and the 'NIPCC'

  • 09 Apr 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff


World 'needs Plan B' on climate - IPCC report 
A new report warns that if governments fail to meet their short term climate targets, they'll have to reduce emissions quickly in the second half of the century. If they fail to do that, they'll to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it says. But many governments warn that the technology needed to capture and store carbon dioxide is still in its infancy, Reuters reports. The BBC says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's third report "adopts a new tone of realism in the face of repeated failures by governments to meet their rhetoric on climate change with action". 
BBC News 

Climate and energy news:

UN finding on climate change is just a bunch of hot air, new report claims 
Fox News covers a report published by US climate skeptic campaign group the Heartland Institute in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report. The "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" says human impact on the global climate is small, changing temperatures are within a historic scope of temperature variables and there is no net harm to human health of the production of food. 
Fox News 

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It’s a bit of a downer: can climate change be a good news story?

  • 09 Apr 2014, 09:00
  • Robin Webster

War,  famine and  pestilence. Threats to  security food and  humankindOverwhelming effects. 

Some commentators have accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s latest mega-report into the impact of climate change of focusing on the dark side without reflecting the good things that might emerge. 

But lead authors argue they looked for the benefits of a changing climate - they just didn't find that many.

Last week's  report from the IPCC's Working Group 2 collates all the available research on how climate change is affecting natural systems and human societies around the world - and how it's likely to in the future. The impacts of a changing climate - on food prices, human security, water availability - could be be "severe, pervasive and irreversible," it concludes.

The report also identifies some 'winners' as the climate warms - though there are expected to be fewer of them, and the positive scenarios are less certain. 

Despite this outcome, some media outlets have been keen to emphasise the upsides. But does this really represent the weight of opinion in the report?

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Daily Briefing | Celebrities bring their voices to climate cause

  • 08 Apr 2014, 09:20
  • Carbon Brief staff

Credit: Natalieragan

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Philippine experts divided over climate change action 
John Vidal reports on competing visions for how to adapt the Philippines to higher temperatures and extreme weather caused by climate change. Researchers say that new crop strains, including genetically modified varieties, could help tackle the problem. Some farmers are critical of this approach, and advocate simpler adaptation measures, like diversifying crops and returning to traditional farming practices, the report says. 
The Guardian 

Climate and energy news:

Cable News Coverage of Climate Science: Science or Spin? 
The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists has released a report examining how accurate US news networks are when covering climate science. It suggests that Fox News was the least accurate - with 72 per cent of stories containing misleading statements about the science of climate change. MSNBC was the most accurate, according to the analysis. 
Union of Concerned Scientists 

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‘Misleading the reader’: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change responds to Mail on Sunday claims

  • 07 Apr 2014, 17:30
  • Mat Hope

In an article in this weekend's paper, the Mail on Sunday  accuses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 'sexing up' its findings in the short 'summary for policymakers' that accompanies its latest report. But the IPCC  responded this morning, saying the Mail on Sunday "misleads the reader by distorting the carefully balanced language of the document".

In an effort to help policymakers and the public engage with its mammoth scientific reports, the IPCC produces a summary - the  Summary for Policymakers (SPM). It tries to present the report's overall conclusions in a shorter and more accessible format.

The Mail on Sunday has done a comparison between the SPM, and quotes it claims come from the full IPCC report. The article says the SPM puts an "alarmist spin" on the findings, but the IPCC has today  rejected that charge in a statement.

We look at what the report has to say, and the Mail on Sunday's troubling presentation of the evidence.

Wrong chapter, misleading attribution

The Mail on Sunday says the IPCC's SPM over-emphasises the extent to which climate change is expected affect a range of other issues, starting with how it could force migration as extreme weather hits people's local environments.

But the IPCC defends the SPM's finding, saying the Mail on Sunday has cherrypicked quotes that don't reflect the report's overall conclusions.

Here is the Mail on Sunday's accusation:

MoS migration

The IPCC says the Mail on Sunday ignores important evidence on migration in the report that supports the SPM statement.

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IPCC report: Climate change and the things people care about

  • 07 Apr 2014, 12:00
  • Professor Neil Adger

No place is immune to the impacts of climate change. This is the principal message from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The impacts of climate change will be felt in individual places such as in back gardens, homes, fields and cities and will likely make us feel less safe and secure. 

For the first time the IPCC examines in detail the impacts of climate change on well-being across the report, with a cluster of chapters on the topics of  health, human  security, and  poverty

Human security encapsulates the notion of the vital core of human lives and the ability of people to have freedom and the capacity to live with dignity. Human security has direct material elements, such as life and livelihood, but also elements of cultural expression and identity.

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Daily Briefing | Conservatives plan onshore wind pause

  • 07 Apr 2014, 09:10
  • Carbon Brief staff

Conservatives to promise ban on new onshore windfarms 
The Conservative party's manifesto will introduce a moratorium on future onshore windfarms from 2020 on the grounds that they have now become "self-defeating", the Guardian reports. It will balance the ban with a focus on greater use of solar power and investment in offshore wind farms, the Guardian says. The move has been rejected by the the Conservatives' coalition government partners, with Liberal Democrats calling the policy "crude", the BBC reports

Climate and energy news:

Solar farms 'will not spread unrestricted across British countryside' 
Solar panels will adorn the roofs of buildings, not the fields of Britain's countryside, eneryg minister Greg Barker says. Speaking at the launch of the government's first solar power strategy said he expected the 500,000 homes with solar panels to double by the end of 2015. Barker announced plans to put 4 million solar panels on the roofs of government owned buildings as well as England's 22,000 schools. 

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The IPCC's risky talk on climate change

  • 04 Apr 2014, 12:00
  • James Painter

There can be no doubt how Professor Chris Field wanted the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to be understood.  As well as being co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group 2, Professor Field is an astute media performer with a keen sense of clear messages. 

So it was highly significant just how much emphasis he put on the idea of framing the climate change challenge as one of risk management.

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IPCC says adapt and mitigate to tackle climate risks

  • 03 Apr 2014, 16:55
  • Roz Pidcock

The  front page article of today's Spectator claims the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "updated" its position on climate change, to accept that "climate change is now a question of adaptation".

Author Matt Ridley suggests that this is such a departure from the UN climate panel's previous findings that its conclusions are now in line with those of climate skeptic lobbyist Lord Lawson.

Lawson stresses "the need to adapt to climate change, rather than throw public money at futile attempts to prevent it", according to Ridley, a fellow skeptic campaigner.

It's worth taking this with a pinch of salt. If the IPCC has said more about adaptation in the last week, it's because its most recent report is specifically about adaptation. That doesn't mean mitigation has been abandoned as Lord Lawson would like it to be - indeed, in a week's time the IPCC will publish another report dedicated to the mitigation he so scorns.

Heavy on adaptation

The crux of Ridley's argument is that adapting to climate change is given more prominence in the latest IPCC report than in past ones.

He says:

"[T]he document itself … emphasised, again and again, the need to adapt to climate change … Whereas the last report had two pages on adaptation, this one has four chapters."

In fact, there are six chapters which specifically mention adaptation in their titles in the new report, not four. The previous report in 2007 had two chapters, not two pages.

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