Analysis

DECC: Amber Rudd reduces subsidies for renewable energy

  • 22 Jul 2015, 16:20
  • Sophie Yeo
Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd | Shutterstock

The UK government has unveiled a package of measures to reduce subsidies to renewable energy in what it says is an effort to keep down household bills.

The announcement was widely expected, and comes off the back of recent projections from the  Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that subsidies for renewable energy will exceed the levels expected at the point when the spending cap, known as the Levy Control Framework (LCF), was established.

Carbon Brief looks at the reforms and collects reaction, including from Ed Davey, the former secretary of state for energy and climate change, who says the changes are "based on ideology, not on evidence".

Read more

Daily Briefing | New onshore wind farms still possible without subsidies, says Amber Rudd

  • 22 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Department for Energy and Climate Change

Carbon Brief

*Get the daily briefing in your inbox at 9AM - click here to subscribe**

Japan's 2030 climate pledge leaves room for coal expansion 
Japan has pledged to reduce its emissions by 26% on 2013 levels by 2030. But its intended future energy mix means that coal could still grow by 30%.    Carbon Brief 

Recession rather than shale gas caused US carbon cuts - study 
A new study combats the accepted wisdom that shale gas caused US emissions to fall. The findings could be politically significant.     Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

New onshore wind farms still possible without subsidies, says Amber Rudd 
Secretary of State Amber Rudd appeared for the first time before the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, laying out priorities for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Guardian highlights her comments that new wind farms could still be built in the UK without subsidies, and that three developers have approached the department with proposals for such projects. BusinessGreen says that the renewables industry has braced itself for steep cuts after Rudd focused on the need to end reliance on subsidies quickly. They liveblogged the session. The Telegraph focused on Rudd's optimism that a decision would be taken later this year to built the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in the UK.    The Guardian 

World mayors at Vatican urge 'bold climate agreement' 
Mayors have met at the Vatican for a conference including Pope Francis, aimed at promoting local action to tackle climate change and raising the profile of the Pope's recently released encyclical. The 60 mayors were invited to keep pressure up on diplomats negotiating the UN's new climate deal, reports Associated Press. Pope Francis linked climate change to the problem of human trafficking, the other theme of the conference, reports The Guardian. Among the attendees was New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who committed to reducing his cities emissions by 40% by 2030, report the Associated Press and The Guardian, in two separate articles. The New York Times also covers the story.    Associated Press via Yahoo 

Clean power subsidies to be reined back 
The Financial Times correctly predicted that the government would release new cuts to clean energy subsidies early this morning. The plans have just been released on the government website, and include removing the guaranteed level of subsidy for biomass conversion and launching a consultation on controlling subsidies for solar photovoltaics.    The Financial Times 

Study attributes carbon drop to recession 
A study published in Nature Communications suggests that the drop in US carbon emissions could be due to the recession, not shale gas, as is widely believed. Carbon Brief also looked at the findings.     The Hill 

Read more

Recession rather than shale gas caused US carbon cuts - study

  • 21 Jul 2015, 16:00
  • Simon Evans
Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along PA Route 87, Lycoming County.

Fracking rig | Nicholas A Tonelli

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that the shale gas revolution has led to a fall in US emissions. But what if that wasn't true?

New research published in Nature Communications suggests it was the global financial crisis, not fracking, that has done most to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the US.

The paper concludes:

"After 2007, decreasing emissions were largely a result of economic recession...substitution of gas for coal has had a relatively minor role."

Carbon Brief looks at the findings, and why they could be politically significant.

Conventional wisdom

The idea that shale gas has been behind US emissions reductions is repeated in  news coverage, speeches and  reports. It is used by gas  advocates making the case for fracking in the UK. It has entered the political consciousness and is widely accepted as fact.

This conventional wisdom runs to the highest levels of scientific analysis. In its latest assessment report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  says fracking is "an important reason for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States".

In the US context, shale gas is seen as a key reason both for emissions reductions and in creating the political space necessary to take action on climate change.

One veteran of the Congressional climate and energy debate has told Carbon Brief that shale gas had changed the political conversation. During  failed attempts to impose a national cap-and-trade scheme, the talk was of expensive overseas gas being imported to help limit emissions.

Now, the source said, almost all of the emissions reductions required to meet President Obama's  Clean Power Plan are expected to come from coal-to-gas switching, using cheap US shale gas.

US-CO2-emissions

Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States between 1990 and 2014. Total greenhouse gas emissions have followed a similar trend but available figures are less up to date. Source: US Energy Information Administration. Chart by Carbon Brief.

 

Read more

Japan's 2030 climate pledge leaves room for coal expansion

  • 21 Jul 2015, 11:15
  • Sophie Yeo
Mt. Fuji with fall colors in Japan.

Mt Fuji | Shutterstock

Japan has finalised its emissions reductions pledge to the UN, targeting a 26% reduction below 2013 levels by 2030.

This goal was widely expected. The Japanese government proposed an early, informal version of the pledge, known as an "intended nationally determined contribution" (  INDC), in June. Despite a month of deliberations, the goals contained in this draft have not changed.

Japan's INDC is closely tied to its long-term energy strategy out to 2030, written by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and  published in Japanese on Thursday.

The government says that its 2030 emissions reductions targets are a "bottom-up calculation...based on the amount of domestic emission reductions and removals assumed to be obtained" by this strategy.

Japan's energy history

Until recently, nuclear formed the bedrock of Japan's energy supply, meaning that around 30% of its power was generated without emitting carbon dioxide.

That changed with the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Three of the plant's six nuclear reactions went into meltdown after it was hit by a tsunami triggered by an earthquake. Following this, almost all of Japan's nuclear reactions were either shut down or suspended. By 2014, Japan had gone from generating 29% of its electricity from nuclear to none at all.

Japan turned to fossil fuels to fill the gap, causing its emissions to rise. In 2013, Japan registered its highest rate of emissions to date, at 10.8% higher than they were in 1990. For comparison, the  EU saw its emissions peak in 1979.

This caused Japan to backtrack on its 2020 pledge under the Copenhagen accord. Originally, Japan had said it would reduce its emissions by  25% on 1990 levels. In November 2013, the government announced it would instead target a reduction of 3.8% below 2005 levels - equivalent to an  increase of 5.2% on 1990 levels.

Read more

Daily Briefing | Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after cool summer in 2013

  • 21 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Arctic sea ice at sunset

Arctic sea ice | Shutterstock

*Get the daily briefing in your inbox at 9AM - click here to subscribe**

UK academics call for strong action on climate change at Paris summit 
Academics have thrown their weight behind calls for a strong climate deal in Paris later this year, urging governments to take immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Today's communiqué, a joint endeavour by learned societies across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, engineering and medicine, calls on governments, including the UK, to "seize the opportunity" in Paris to strike an ambitious deal to curb climate change. Royal Society, one of the 24 institutions endorsing today's communiqué. The signatories include the Royal Society, the British Ecological Society, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Wellcome Trust.    Carbon Brief

Cool Arctic summer brought brief recovery in sea ice loss in 2013, study suggests 
A colder-than-expected Arctic summer led to a brief let up in the decline of sea ice, a new study says. State-of-the-art satellite data shows that after a 14% decrease in sea ice volume between 2010 and 2012, summer sea ice recovered to pre-2010 levels in 2013. The study shows how natural fluctuations in Arctic weather will cause many ups and downs, scientists tell Carbon Brief. But the long-term patterns is a decline in sea ice through the century.    Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after cool summer in 2013 
The volume of Arctic sea ice increased in 2013 by around a third after an unusually cool summer. Researchers say the growth continued in 2014 and more than compensated for losses recorded in the three previous years. The scientists involved believe changes in summer temperatures have greater impacts on ice than thought. But they say 2013 was a one-off and that climate change will continue to shrink the ice in the decades ahead. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, show that from 2010-12 the Arctic ice volume fell by 14%, in step with the warming trend of the last few decades, says the Guardian. But in 2013, the ice volume jumped up by 41%. While colder than recent years, the temperature in 2013 would have been regarded as normal as recently as the late 1990s. The lead author, Rachel Tilling, a PhD student at University College London, told Climate Central that "we wouldn't have been able to do this without CryoSat", a new satellite that measure the thickness of sea ice. But Tilling stresses that she stresses this doesn't mean the sea ice is recovering, "because it's not in any way a recovery." One year of increased volume has "not reversed this long-term decline," she said. It's a point also stressed by the Washington Post because "it's just the kind of news often seized upon by climate skeptics as a way to undermine the concept of anthropogenic global warming". RTCC and MailOnline also carry the story. And Carbon Brief takes a closer look at the findings and speaks to scientists not involved in the study.     BBC News 

June warmest EVER recorded globally as forecasters warn 2015 set to be a record breaking year 
June smashed warm temperature records for both the month and the first half of the year, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Off-the-charts heat is "getting to be a monthly thing", said Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist. "This is the third month this year that we've broken the monthly record." There is "almost no way" that 2015 will not be the warmest on record, she added. NOAA calculated that the world's average temperature in June hit 16.33C, breaking the old record set last year by 0.12C. May and March also broke monthly heat records, which go back 136 years. "This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter," said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona. The Guardian and New York Times also carried the same Associated Press story.    AP, Mail Online 

The world's most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet's future 
James Hansen, the retired Nasa climate scientist, has published what he says "may be his most important paper" outlining a scenario of potentially rapid sea level rise combined with more intense storm systems. "It's an alarming picture of where the planet could be headed - and hard to ignore, given its author," writes Mooney. However, it is likely to be met with considerable skepticism in the broader scientific community, he adds, because its projections for sea-level rise of "several metres" over the next century or so are far higher than those outlined by the IPCC. The study is also being published in an unconventional manner. It will appear online later this week in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion, an open-access journal published by the European Geosciences Union "in which much of the peer review process, in effect, happens in public". RTCC also carries the story and Scientific American and the Daily Beast have short interviews with Hansen.    Washington Post 

Act on climate change now, top British institutions tell governments 
An unprecedented coalition of the UK's most eminent scientific, medical and engineering bodies says immediate action must be taken by governments to avert the worst impacts of climate change. But the joint communiqué, issued by 24 academic and professional institutions, also says that tackling global warming would drive economic progress, benefit the health of millions by cutting air pollution and improve access to energy, water and food. To have a reasonable chance of keeping warming below 2C, the internationally agreed danger limit, the world must end all emissions within the next few decades, the communiqué warns. Carbon Brief also carries the story and has spoken to some of the scientists involved.    The Guardian 

Read more

UK academics call for strong action on climate change at Paris summit

  • 21 Jul 2015, 06:00
  • Roz Pidcock

Tom Morris

Academics today threw their weight behind calls for a strong climate deal in Paris later this year, urging governments to take immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's communiqué, a joint endeavor by learned societies across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, engineering and medicine, calls on governments, including the UK, to "seize the opportunity" in Paris to strike an ambitious deal to curb climate change.

Staying pretty close to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its  latest report, the document doesn't cover new ground as such.

But it sends a signal to negotiators that the science community supports a global agreement in Paris, says  Prof Eric Wolff, professor of earth sciences at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of the Royal Society, one of the 24 institutions endorsing today's communiqué.

Other signatories include the British Ecological Society, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Wellcome Trust.

Facing up to risk

In a few months' time, governments will meet in Paris to discuss how the world can limit global temperature to the  internationally-agreed 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Today's statement is an appeal to negotiators from the science community to base their discussions firmly in the latest science about the risks of exceeding 2C. It says:

"A rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels would lead to further increased risk from extreme weather and would place more ecosystems and cultures in significant danger. At or above 4C, the risks include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, and fundamental changes to human activities that today are taken for granted."

But climate change is not only a future problem. Prof Camille Parmesan, expert in the impacts of climate change on natural systems at the University of Plymouth, tells Carbon Brief that even with 0.8C of warming since pre-industrial times we are already starting to see a decline in biodiversity. She says:

"We're already seeing contraction of species in the most sensitive ecosystems, such as those dependent on sea ice or those living on mountain tops. We're also seeing declines in some tropical systems, such as coral reefs, and the valuable services they provide for fish nurseries, tourism and coastal protection."

Read more

Cool Arctic summer brought brief recovery in sea ice loss in 2013, study suggests

  • 20 Jul 2015, 16:20
  • Robert McSweeney
Open passage in pack ice

Open passage in ice | Shutterstock

A colder-than-expected Arctic summer led to a brief let up in the decline of sea ice, a new study says. State-of-the-art satellite data shows that after a 14% decrease in sea ice volume between 2010 and 2012, summer sea ice recovered to pre-2010 levels in 2013.

The study shows how natural fluctuations in Arctic weather will cause many ups and downs, scientists tell Carbon Brief. But the long-term patterns is a decline in sea ice through the century.

Ice thickness

Scientists have used satellites to monitor polar sea ice since the 1970s. It's how we know that the summer of 2012 saw a new record low in sea ice extent of 3.41m square kilometers - 44% below the 1981-2010 average. Compare the dotted orange line with the thick grey one in the graph below.

Arctic -sea -ice -extent -figure 21_600x 480Arctic sea ice extent for 2010 to September 2014. The 1979 to 2000 average is in dark gray. The grey area around this average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Source: NSIDC

But the area covered by sea ice is only part of the story. To understand how the volume of sea ice is changing, you also need to know its thickness.

The new study, published today in Nature Geoscience, is the first to use satellite data to derive sea ice thickness and volume results for the entire northern hemisphere, says lead author  Rachel Tilling from University College London.

And the results suggest that Arctic sea ice volume rebounded to similar levels seen before the record low in 2012.

Chilly summer

Tilling and her colleagues used 88m individual measurements, from October 2010 to November 2014, taken by the European Space Agency  CryoSat-2 satellite. The data show that between the summers of 2010 and 2012, sea ice volume declined by 14% - that's 1,279 cubic kilometers of ice melting into the sea.

But after this dramatic drop, the Arctic experienced a much cooler summer in 2013 - one more typical of a summer in the 1990s, Tilling says.

The chillier conditions cut the summer melt season short and allowed thick ice to hold steady on the northern coast of Greenland. The satellite data shows that by the end of the summer in 2013, the sea ice volume had grown 41% bigger than its diminished state in 2012. Sea ice then decreased again by 6% (of the 2013 volume) by the summer of 2014.

You can see this in the graphs below. The upper graph shows the CryoSat data as red stars against the long-term trend in sea ice volume from  computer models (red line). You can see the decline towards the record sea ice low in 2012 and the subsequent increase in 2013.

Read more

Daily Briefing | Climate talks advancing faster towards December deal

  • 20 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff

UN talks | Flickr

*Get the daily briefing in your inbox at 9AM - click here to subscribe**

The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Ottmar Edenhofer 
Carbon Brief speaks Ottmar Edenhofer, deputy director and chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and co-chair of the IPCC's working group III. Edenhofer discusses, among other things, the renaissance of coal in Africa, the papal encyclical, the future direction of the IPCC, and why BECCS is not "totally implausible".    Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

Climate talks advancing faster towards December deal 
A UN climate change deal is edging closer, according to a French government document seen by the Financial Times, as diplomats are making more progress than they have formally disclosed in public. The scramble comes as countries try to avoid a repeat of the last big summit in Copenhagen, which failed to seal a formal treaty. However, many important differences remain over the precise costs, legality and timing of the deal due to be signed in Paris in December. This means that any final accord could still be too weak to slow global warming. The French document was prepared for a two-day informal Paris meeting of ministers representing more than 60 countries starting on Monday and aimed at helping to sharpen the UN negotiations, the FT reports.    Financial Times 

Japan submits plan to UN to cut emissions by 26% by 2030 
Japan will cut greenhouse gas emissions 26% from 2013 levels by 2030, under a plan submitted to the UN on Friday. That commits the source of 2.65% of global emissions to steeper reductions than the US (18-21%) and EU (24%) over the same period, but the pledge to UN has been criticised by analysts as being less ambitious than it looks due to using 2013 levels as baseline. National pledges will form the foundations of a global pact in Paris this December attempting to prevent catastrophic climate change.    RTCC via the Guardian Environment Network 

The troubling reason why Greenland may melt faster than expected 
Fjords in West Greenland are much deeper than previously thought, meaning that the world's sea levels could rise faster than anticipated, because those outlet glaciers are more exposed to warm water. The findings, made by researchers at the University of California at Irvine, were published Geophysical Research Letters. The shape and depth of fjords have big implications for the ice sheet, which has been melting both from the top and the bottom and contains 20 feet of potential sea level rise in total.    Washington Post 

Oil majors to reveal climate strategy in October 
A coalition of Europe's top oil and gas majors are to reveal more on how they will contribute to a lower carbon future in October, shortly before countries meet to secure a UN climate pact. A spokesperson for BG Group told RTCC that chief executives from the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative would use a planned event to "announce next steps with regard to climate change solutions". The event is the latest sign that some of the world's top fossil fuel companies are seeking to position themselves as climate-friendly ahead of Paris - and also highlights a growing divide between OGCI members and the US oil producers Chevron and Exxon-Mobil.     Responding to Climate Change 

Read more

The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Ottmar Edenhofer

  • 17 Jul 2015, 14:30
  • Leo Hickman

Ottmar Edenhofer is deputy director and chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. In 2008, he was appointed the co-chair of working group III (WG3) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which focused on the "mitigation of climate change". In 2012, he was appointed director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.

 

Edenhofer on what next for the IPCC: "[It]needs a strong interaction, a strong cooperation between working group II and III, this is from my point of view the most important thing...We need a kind of [special] report which allows us to evaluate the short-term entry points in the effect of climate policy."

On renewables vs coal: "We have also seen that renewables have contributed to the reduction of emissions. But all this progress has been overcompensated by coal, and by the carbonisation, not just in China and India, but also in fast-growing Asian countries."

On Africa:  "The increase of emissions in Africa is basically driven by oil and gas, but now coal becomes more and more important. Africa could become the future China."

On carbon pricing: "We are not obsessed by carbon pricing. We have done an analysis and we have shown that the low relative price of coal was the incredibly important main driver of the carbonisation pathway in the world. This is an empirical fact."

On the Paris climate: "I do not see a single price signal from Paris. But we could start, so to say, instead to defining pledges or allowing pledges in terms of policy packages, and also then to combine this with the Green Climate Fund, where people get rewarded for increasing their ambition level."

On the equitable use of coal: "We should not say that Africa is not allowed to use any coal. They can use coal to a certain extent, but then other countries, in particular, the Annex-I countries have to use less coal."

On limiting temperature rise to 1.5C: "[It] is incredibly challenging...We have to think about the requirements. On the negative emissions side, the requirements are really very challenging and very demanding."

On negative emissions technologies, such as BECCS: "We should not say it's totally implausible. But what does it mean, or what does it imply, is that we need land-use management techniques and land management tools, and we haven't thought about this."

On whether we need the UNFCCC: "I would be, from my point of view, not wise to abolish the UNFCCC, but it would be also, on the other hand, overly optimistic to rely exclusively on the UN process."

On the papal encyclical: "I am not in agreement with the encyclical when the encyclical says that in some parts of the world degrowth might be a option for climate policy."

On climate sceptics: "We might have a rational debate, and I hope we can facilitate this debate. As long as these people want to listen, and these people also want to have a dialogue, instead of just trying to fight for the vested interests."

On talking about climate change with his children: "My daughter understands very well that if you try to change the system in such an unprecedented scale, you have to take into account some unknown things. And she is concerned about this, but she has no strong interest in the underlying scientific debate. My son has a strong interest in that, and he understands this very well."

On whether humanity can succeed in tackling climate change: "I hate to say now we are in a wonderful world of renewables. This is not the case. But for me human history is not a tragedy, we are not doomed to fail. It is a drama. We have to take the right decisions, and I would like to discuss the options we have now."

 

CB: The IPCC has decided to continue producing assessment reports, on a 5-7 year cycle. Would you have preferred to see smaller, more frequent reports on specific regions, as some have suggested? Or are you happy with the status quo continuing?

OE: First of all, I would like to highlight that in October I will no longer be co-chair of WG3, so, in that sense, I'm not responsible for carrying out these reports. Basically, I see two challenges for the IPCC. The first one is what we need is in the sixth assessment cycle is a better understanding of differential impacts. So, what are the impacts of climate change between 1.5-2.5C? That's very important because the IPCC report now is very inconclusive about these differential impacts. But it is important to understand because otherwise we have no clear understanding why exactly we should rely [on], or we should stick to the 2C target. So something like this: we need the differential impacts and, in particular, we want to understand what will happen between 1.5 and 2 because this is an unresolved issue. And this has to be combined with the differential mitigation costs and risks so we are in good shape, but these two perspective have to [be brought] together. Therefore, the IPCC needs a strong interaction, a strong cooperation between working group II and III, this is from my point of view the most important thing. And also to provide scenarios which are consistent for an assessment between working groups II and III. So, in that sense, this is something which is quite important.

The second aspect is that I am not so much concerned about special reports in specific regions. What we need is a kind of report which allows us to evaluate the short-term entry points in the effect of climate policy. So this sounds a little bit academic, but why is this so important? And I would like to describe what I mean. In a recently published  paper in the PNAS[Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America], we have shown that we are in the middle of a coal renaissance. Which basically means that we see, in particular, in the  non-annex 1 countries that the share of coal on the primary energy is on the worst-case business-as-usual scenario. So we are far away from a departure of the business-as-usual scenario. Why is this the case? It is the case because of the fact that coal is cheap relative to gas and oil, but also relative to the renewables. We have seen a remarkable progress in the renewables sector. We have also seen that renewables have contributed to the reduction of emissions. But all this progress has been overcompensated by coal, and by the carbonisation, not just in China and India, but also in fast-growing Asian countries.

The second important insight is that we see a renaissance of coal in Africa. Incredible, large-scale coal renaissance, in particular, in countries which are economically successful. So, up to now, the increase of emissions in Africa is basically driven by oil and gas, but now coal becomes more and more important. Africa could become the future China. So up to now, so we do not see, or we do not count Africa as a main emitter, but it could be the case in 10 or 20 years when they have built up the whole infrastructure. And Africa is now at a bifurcation point. So what does this mean for a short-term entry point? It does mean that exactly in a time where people in Africa, decisionmakers, decide at what path that they should go, so we need a strong [market] signal. And we need a policy which makes low-carbon technologies much more competitive compared to coal.

So how can this be implemented? The most important thing, it seems to me, is carbon pricing. Why is carbon pricing so important? Many non-economists challenge always economists and say: why are you so obsessed by carbon pricing? We are not obsessed by carbon pricing. We have done an analysis and we have shown that the low relative price of coal was the incredibly important main driver of the carbonisation pathway in the world. This is an empirical fact. We should not just talk about models. We should not just talk about obsessive thinking, we should just think about the underlying facts. And the underlying facts show exactly this. So we need a short-term entry point. Everybody in the field knows that it is incredibly complicated to implement a carbon price in countries. Why? Carbon pricing removes rents from the owners of coal, oil and gas. Carbon pricing can have a diverse distribution of impacts that you might create a lot of resistance from vested interests, from the owners of coal, oil and gas, which are normally quite powerful groups in a country. So what we have to do is we have to convince people that a short-term entry point, carbon pricing, can create revenues. The revenues could be used, at least partially, to invest in sanitation, to invest in clean water, to invest in telecommunication infrastructure, which improves the competitiveness of those countries. That is from my point of view quite important in a [IPCC] special report, highlighting these short-term entry points, and also the options, real-world decision makers like finance ministers have is, from my point of view, a very important thing. To be honest, I have doubts that the IPCC can carry out such a special report, but it seems to me that this is something which is incredibly important when the IPCC should remain relevant for the decision-makers. From my point of view, this is much more important than to have, again, just a deeper report about technologies. We should continue, we should up their technology, but this is something which we have done already in the fifth assessment report, but already we realise that institution matters, taxes matters, pricing system matters, emissions trading matters, and we have to understand what worked in the past, what didn't work in the past, what was the reason for that, and what kind of short-term entry points into climate policy the decision-makers have at hand.

Read more

Daily Briefing | Fracking to be allowed in protected wildlife areas after Government u-turn

  • 17 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Meadow Brown butterfly on a thistle

Meadow Brown butterfly | Martin Fowler

*Get the daily briefing in your inbox at 9AM - click here to subscribe**

Met Office: Wind data dispels doubt about cause of Heathrow high temperatures | Carbon Brief 
After the Telegraph attempted to cast doubt on Met Office weather records last week, Carbon Brief examines the data to see if it stands up to scrutiny.    Carbon Brief

Climate finance: Funding a low-carbon global economy 
Carbon Brief explains how politicians and financial institutions are approaching the challenge of paying for a low-carbon and resilient global economy for the future.    Carbon Brief 

NOAA State of the Climate report: Which seven records were broken in 2014? 
US weather agency NOAA has released its State of the Climate report for 2014. Carbon Brief sums up seven of the records broken last year.     Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

Fracking to be allowed in protected wildlife areas after Government u-turn 
The government has reneged on its promise to band fracking in sites of special scientific interest, arguing that it would be "impractical" to impose such widespread limitations on the shale gas industry. There are 4,000 SSSIs in England, more than 1,000 in Wales and 1,425 in Scotland, covering 8% of the country. Green MP Caroline Lucas told The Guardian that the new stance was "outrageous" and a sign that ministers "simply cannot be trusted when it comes to fracking." The Times also carries the story.    The Telegraph 

Polar bears don't go into hibernation-like state in summer, researchers say 
Contrary to widely held belief, polar bears do not reduce their food intake in the summer, when food is scarce, according to a new study. The findings bode ill for bears' ability to adapt to climate change, when longer summers mean there are fewer opportunities to hunt seals from the sea ice. It was previously thought they could enter a "walking hibernation". The expensive study has provided scientists with a set of difficult-to-gather data that has yielded "indisputable" results, reports the BBC.    The New York Times 

Annual checkup of Earth's climate says we're in hotter water 
Scientists at the US federal weather agency have released their 2014 State of the Climate report, laying out the dramatic changes taking place in the Earth's climate. The report pays special attention to temperature rise in the oceans, AP reports, with the co-author commenting that it was "just ridiculous."Carbon Brief looked in depth at seven of the records broken last year. The Guardian and The Daily Mailalso cover the story.    Associated Press via The New York Times 

Peak coal by 2020 could save China thousands of lives: study 
A new study by Natural Resources Defense Council, a US environmental think-tank, looks at the impact of coal in China. A peak in coal use by 2020 could save billions of dollars in environmental costs, reduce water consumption by nearly 30% and prevent tens of thousands of people from dying from coal-relating illnesses, its study says. While coal demand fell in China last year, this risks being unsustained without specific measures put in place, it says.     Reuters 

Read more