Daily Briefing | Cameron pledges £6bn to fight global climate change

  • 28 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
David Cameron

David Cameron | Shutterstock

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Indonesian pledge suggests no increase in emissions to 2030 
Indonesia would not increase its emissions over the next 15 years if it receives international financial support, according to Carbon Brief analysis of its climate pledge to the UN. It promises to cut emissions by 29 or 41% in 2030, against business as usual levels, with the top ambition conditional on external finance. Wide uncertainty remains over Indonesian emissions and the details of policies to reduce them. Carbon Brief 

Paris 2015: Flurry of country climate pledges 
There has been a late rush of intended nationally-determined contributions (INDCs), as a 1 October deadline for climate pledges to be considered in a UN review approaches. Carbon Brief is updating its tracker as the INDCs are submitted, as well as its tracker of climate finance requests.  Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Cameron pledges £6bn to fight global climate change 
Funding for the UK's international climate fund is to increase by around 50%, David Cameron has announced in New York. The move could anger Tory backbenchers, says the Telegraph. The £5.8bn pledge is for five years from 2016 to 2021, says the Guardian, with spending backloaded towards 2020.Carbon Pulse  , the Mirror, the Sun the Mail and others all have the story. Meanwhile China has unveiled a $3.1bn climate finance pledge, reports Business Green, while the Asian Development Bank is to double its annual climate spending to $6bn by 2020 says the Financial Times. US climate finance is "in limbo", says Reuters, because of a looming budget battle with Republicans.  The Telegraph 

Shell abandons contentious Arctic exploration after poor results 
Shell has abandoned its contentious Arctic drilling campaign off Alaska and is preparing to write off billions of dollars, after its exploration failed to find significant oil. Drilling did discover oil and gas, but not in sufficient quantities, says the Associated Press. The Arctic campaign has ended in failure, says theTelegraphReuters also has the story. Meanwhile the Financial Times reports on Italian firm Eni's Arctic drilling platform Goliat, a €5.6bn scheme that is the world's most northerly Arctic oil exploration project.  Financial Times 

U.N. Adopts Ambitious Global Goals After Years of Negotiations 
The UN has adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide nations' progress to 2030 at a meeting in New York. The goals include one on climate change, but as Carbon Brief explained last week, climate runs through many other goals. The BBC has a video report. Many outlets focus on Pope Francis's speech to the UN, where he said climate was key to sustainable development, reportsInsideClimate NewsDot Earth explores the root of the Pope's appeal among secular sustainability advocates. Politico's Michael Grunwald argues the Pope's "problematic" views are "wrong about climate". The Guardian has an annotated version of the Pope's speech to the UN. Business Green and the Guardian also cover the Pope's speech.  New York Times 

Motorists 'tricked' in car test abuses, claims report 
Car firms are claiming their cars are more fuel-efficient and emit less carbon dioxide than in reality, according to a report from NGO Transport and Environment covered by the BBC. It suggests the car emissions testing scandal goes well beyond VW's NOx "defeat device", with an average 40% gap between lab and real-world petrol and CO2 figures. Nearly two-thirds of supposed gains on CO2 emissions have been "purely theoretical", it says.  BBC News 

Business rounds on UK government for green energy U-turns 
UK government green policy reversals are described as "pure idiocy" by an renewable energy investor quoted in the Financial Times. It also quotes criticisms from unions and the Confederation of British Industry. The article reports on last week's news that Drax, the UK's largest power station, is pulling out of the White Rose carbon capture and storage scheme. The Guardian and Reuters also have the story.   Financial Times 

China-U.S. deal sets bar low ahead of Paris climate talks 
The US and China have outlined a "common vision" of the Paris climate deal, reports Reuters. It quotes experts saying the move is significant but "hasn't changed the world". The BBC says China is coming in from the cold on climate. Various outlets cover China's plans for national cap and trade scheme, including InsideClimate NewsNatureClimateWire and Reuters.The deal with China "turns the table" on Obama's foes in Congress, says another Reuters article.   Reuters 

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Indonesian pledge suggests no increase in emissions to 2030

  • 25 Sep 2015, 13:30
  • Simon Evans
Air pollution, some from forest fires, over Southeast Asia in October 1997

Indonesia, 1997 | Wikipedia

Indonesia would not increase its emissions over the next 15 years if it receives international support, according to Carbon Brief analysis of its climate pledge to the UN.

Its  intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) pledges a 29-41% reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to business as usual. The upper end of this range, conditional on "support from international cooperation", would see emissions in 2030 remain at recently reported levels.

Indonesia's pledge is significant. It is ranked in the top 10 and possibly even the top five emitting nations. However, there is wide uncertainty over its emissions, which are dominated by variable deforestation and fires. Carbon Brief has run the numbers on the pledge to gauge what it means.

No finance request

Indonesia's INDC says it aims to decarbonise its economy "in a phased approach". This pathway will be incorporated in its national development plan for 2019-2024, it says. The INDC extends an existing pledge to cut emissions by 26% against business-as-usual (BAU) emissions in 2020.

The INDC says the 2030 emissions targets will be met through:

"Improved land use and spatial planning, energy conservation and the promotion of clean and renewable energy sources, and improved waste management".

It adds that inefficient energy use has been encouraged by fossil fuel subsidies, which President Widodo has  started to reduce. However, the INDC lacks specifics on the policy priorities it sets out.

Unlike a  draft, the final INDC also omits a request for $6bn of  international climate finance to fund its 41% conditional pledge. This figure had been reported by the  Guardian.

Andhyta Utami, researcher with World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia, tells Carbon Brief it is not clear why the finance request had been omitted. However, the figure had caused confusion, Utami says, because it clearly excluded much higher investment needs towards a pledge to source 23% of Indonesia's energy from renewables by 2025.

A separate  government document costs the renewables target at $108bn, she adds. Utami says:

"Indonesia could be more transparent on how much international assistance it will need to reach its conditional target...It should publish its financing needs before Paris." 

Utami also expressed concern over the make-up of the 23% goal, which represents a significant and  ambitious leap compared to renewables' current 4% share of the country's energy mix. Bioenergy, including biofuels and biomass from crops such as palm oil, are slated to make up 10% of Indonesia's energy mix in 2025, potentially putting pressure on already-threatened forest lands.

The  WRI argues that solar, hydro and ocean energy should make up the majority of the renewables target instead. This would ease the pressure on land, which the government also expects to make Indonesia self-sufficient in food.

Alongside growing renewables, Indonesia has  major plans to expand its coal-fired electricity generation, with coal use in the country already having doubled in a decade. This expansion is rapidly increasing emissions and will squeeze the country's ability to stick to its climate pledge.

Coal expansion could "undermine" Indonesia's efforts on renewables, WRI says. Coal is not mentioned in Indonesia's INDC. 

Uncertain emissions

As well as being hazy on policy and financing needs, it is also difficult to gauge the ambition of Indonesia's INDC emissions targets. This is despite the document including a projected figure for BAU emissions in 2030 of 2.9bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e).

The pledge to reduce emissions by at least 29% compared to this trajectory means an effective cap in 2030 of 2GtCO2e. With the more ambitious 41% reduction compared to BAU, the cap would be 1.7GtCO2e. The  UK's emissions are 0.5GtCO2e and China's around 12.5GtCO2e.

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Daily Briefing | UK energy policy under fire as Drax quits carbon-capture project

  • 25 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Inside the cooling tower in power station

Inside a cooling tower | Shutterstock

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Paris 2015: Tracking requests for climate finance - updated 
Carbon Brief is tracking the financial elements to the INDCs, including requests for money, domestic funding and any overall price tags that countries have attached to their plans. It has been updated to include new submissions by countries including Eritrea and Indonesia.    Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

UK energy policy under fire as Drax quits carbon-capture project 
The frontpage of the Financial Times leads with the exclusive story that Drax - which operates the UK's largest coal-fired power plant - has decided to "abandon five years of planning for a carbon capture and storage system next to its huge North Yorkshire power station". It adds: "A £1bn UK climate-change plan has been thrown into turmoil after the Drax power company said it was pulling out because government green policy reversals made it too risky to proceed...[It] is the most visible sign yet of how green energy subsidy cutbacks are jolting investors." Peter Emery, the Drax board member chairing the group developing the White Rose carbon capture project, told the FT that several "critical reversals" in government support for renewable energy had made "a severe impact on our profitability". He added: "We've also got concerns about the government's future support for the low carbon agenda and that's left us in a position where we are no longer confident we can persuade our shareholders that this is an attractive investment, given the obvious risks. The government has to make difficult decisions based on affordability and, in turn, so are we." The FT described his remarks as a "thinly veiled dig" at Amber Rudd, the energy and climate secretary. The FT's  Lombard column remarks that "another leaf has dropped from the blighted tree of Conservative green credentials". It adds: "The stance of an energy department led by the appropriately-named Amber Rudd has switched from positive to neutral. The electorate is disinclined to give a damn...The no-show will save Drax capex. But the move shows management's faith in ministers' pledges is ebbing." The  Telegraph,  Daily Mail and  Carbon Pulse all follow-up the story.  Financial Times 

China to announce climate pledge as Xi visits Washington 
China's President Xi Jinping, who is visiting the US, is set to unveil a landmark pledge on climate change and curbing harmful emissions, White House Officials have said. A White House official told reporters that Mr Xi would announce on Friday plans to launch a national carbon emissions trading scheme in 2017. The "cap-and-trade" scheme would see Chinese companies charged to emit pollutants beyond a certain level. China would also make a "very substantial financial commitment" to developing nations to help them move to low-polluting technologies, the Associated Press quoted the official as saying. The  Guardian said the move "would make China the world's biggest carbon market, overtaking the European Union, and could strengthen global efforts to put a price on carbon". The  Hill said the announcement was "instantly controversial among Republican lawmakers who highly doubt China will live up to its commitments", whereas the  New York Times says: "Mr Xi's pledge underscores China's intention to act quickly and upends what has long been a potent argument among Republicans against acting on climate change: that the United States' most powerful economic competitor has not done so."Carbon Pulse notes that "China had originally intended to start the market in late 2016, but in recent months it has looked increasingly likely that the launch would be pushed to 2017 to give officials more time to prepare". It adds: "The delay means the seven pilot markets are likely to operate a year longer than originally intended."  Associated Press said "officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity so they wouldn't pre-empt China's official announcement, said it's hoped the announcement will give impetus to a broader global treaty on climate change at a Paris conference in December". The  Financial Times also carries the story.  BBC News 

Renewable electricity overtakes coal for first time in UK 
The UK generated more of its electricity from renewable sources than from burning coal for the first time in the second quarter of 2015, according to new figures released by DECC. A record high of 25.3% of the UK's power came from wind, solar, biomass and hydro-electric sources in the three months to June, up from just 16.7% in the same period the year before. By contrast the share of electricity from the UK's ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations fell to 20.5%, down from 28.2% a year previously. The  Guardianand  BusinessGreen also carry the story.  Daily Telegraph 

AP Interview: India says reducing poverty is climate justice 
In an interview with AP, Prakash Javadekar, India's environment minister, says that India will confirm plans its next week for a fivefold increase in renewable energy by 2020. But it will continue to champion poor countries in their demand that industrialised nations should assume the brunt of responsibility for decades of climate-warming emissions. Javadekar said India's INDC will be released on October 1 and will include targets not only for increasing renewable energy, but also for curbing its emissions intensity, or how much carbon dioxide the country produces divided by its GDP. The pledge will not include targets for cutting overall emissions, and it will not include a projection for when India's emissions growth might peak.  Associated Press 

Shell, BHP and GE to advise governments on climate change 
The oil group, Royal Dutch Shell, has teamed up with the McKinsey management consultancy and other large companies to advise governments on how to combat global warming without weakening their economies. Coal miner BHP Billiton, the US General Electric conglomerate and at least two big environmental groups are also backing a $6m "energy transitions commission" to create a blueprint for a greener global economy in the next 15 years, the Financial Times has learnt. But the commission, due to be formally unveiled at a conference in Texas on Monday, is already under fire from some climate campaigners asking if a body supported by fossil fuel companies can offer objective guidance on global warming.  Financial Times 

U.S. climate finance in limbo, risking 'trust gap' before Paris 
A looming federal budget confrontation and Republican hostility to UN global-warming talks threaten a US down payment into a key climate-aid fund, money considered vital to a climate deal in Paris this December. President Obama had requested $500m in the 2016 budget for the first tranche of its $3bn pledge into the Green Climate Fund. But Congressional Republicans have vowed to oppose that spending request, with some US officials now starting to warn island states and developing countries of the looming shortfall.  Reuters 

Pope Francis Skirts Environmental Tussles in Address to Congress 
In his New York Times blog, Andy Revkin notes how Pope Francis showed during his address to a joint session of the US Congress that "he is as adept at navigating political environments as he was impassioned about defending the global environment in his encyclical". He adds: "Words like carbon, climate and ecology were absent from his speech. He's wisely saving that message for the United Nations on Friday." The  Guardian, the  Hill and  InsideClimateNews also examine how the Pope chose to raise climate change in his speech. Separately, the  Guardian carries a story about Paul Ehrlich has written a commentary in Nature Climate Change describing the papal encyclical as "raving nonsense" for not dealing with human population control.  Nature Climate Change has published a special issue on the papal encyclical.  New York Times Dot Earth 

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Daily Briefing | Pope Francis backs Barack Obama on climate change

  • 24 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Welcome message for Pope in New York

A New York welcome | Shutterstock

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Explainer: How does climate change fit within the Sustainable Development Goals? 
On Friday in New York, countries will adopt a set of Sustainable Development Goals that will guide global development up to 2030. Climate change plays an important role in what the UN is calling the "post-2015 development agenda": Not only has climate change been given its own, dedicated target, but it is also integrated into almost all of the other goals.  Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Pope Francis backs Barack Obama on climate change 
Pope Francis has used his first US visit to push for action on climate change by backing President Obama's move to impose strict controls on carbon emissions in the power sector, the Financial Times reports. The plan has been fiercely opposed by US business groups and congressional Republicans. "Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to future generations," the pope said, addressing 11,000 people gathered on the south lawn of the White House. The Pope is likely to repeat the message when he speaks to Congress on Thursday morning - a "tough crowd", according to the Hill. En route to the US, Francis dismissed criticism that his views on climate change and against unfettered capitalism made him a leftist. Scientific American and the Guardian also carried the story, including a video of the Pope's speech, while the NYT Dot Earth blog offers a fresh view of the climate encyclical.  Financial Times 

Scientists pinpoint signs of climate change as early as 1940 and it began in Africa | Daily Mail Online 
By running simulations from as far back as the 1870s, researchers have detected what they believe to be the first signs of climate change as early as the 1940s, in parts of Australia, south east Asia and Africa. These regions generally exhibited a narrow range of temperatures, making it easier to spot a trend of warming, the MailOnline reports. The study, using 23 climate models based on temperature data, gives an insight into the global impacts that have already been felt by global warming and possible effects that will be seen in the future, such as extreme rainfall. Mail Online 

Russia rejects criticism of greenhouse gas plan, will not amend: top Putin adviser 
Russia has rebuffed calls for a more ambitious pledge to cut carbon emissions, after its current plan was branded inadequate by environmentalists. Russia pledged in March to keep its emissions at 25-30% below the level it generated in 1990, the year before the Soviet Union and its vast industrial complex collapsed. Although it is the world's fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases Russia's industrial base today is much smaller than in 1990, which green groups say will make its pledge too easy to fulfill.  Reuters 

EDF: Investors shun Hinkley Point because they think it will go wrong 
Major problems in the construction of the European Pressurised Reactor technology at sites in France and Finland have made would-be investors wary of the proposed £24.5bn nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, that is also due to use the technology. They fear it will suffer cost overruns and delays, the boss of energy giant EDF has admitted, in a frank interview with French financial daily Les Echos. The Telegraph 

UK, France and Germany lobbied for flawed car emissions tests, documents reveal 
Countries publicly calling for investigations into VW emissions rigging scandal have privately fought to keep loopholes in car tests for carbon emissions, the Guardian reports. The UK, France and Germany lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes from a test devised in 1970 - due to be replaced in 2017 - that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed, and raise fuel bills for drivers. Vehicle emissions are responsible for 12% of Europe's carbon emissions.  The Guardian 

Abbott considered investigation into 'exaggerated' Bureau of Meteorology temperature data 
Former Australian PM considered asking a taskforce to investigate whether the Bureau of Meteorology was exaggerating temperature data records, following the publication of such claims in the Australian newspaper, according to document obtained under freedom of information laws. Environment minister Greg Hunt pushed for Abbott to drop the idea.  The Guardian 

Clinton pitches North American climate treaty 
If elected President Hillary Clinton would launch negotiations with Canada and Mexico on a North American climate compact that would build on the Clean Power Plan and regional emissions trading schemes, she said yesterday. But she stopped short of saying she would seek a mandatory carbon market for the three nations. California and Quebec have already linked their regional emissions trading schemes, with Ontario expected to join as well.  Carbon Pulse

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Explainer: How does climate change fit within the Sustainable Development Goals?

  • 23 Sep 2015, 13:50
  • Sophie Yeo

On Friday in New York, countries will adopt a set of  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide global development up to 2030.

The SDGs take the form of 17 goals, accompanied by 169 targets that give precise information about what should be achieved.

They do not skimp on ambition. If countries succeed in meeting the goals, by 2030 there will be an end to poverty, hunger, child labour, AIDS and various other problems that blight millions of lives globally.

Climate change plays an important role in what the UN is calling the "post-2015 development agenda". "Sustainable development" - a notoriously difficult term to define - becomes impossible unless global temperature rise is tackled, according to the final document:

"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development."

Not only has climate change been given its own, dedicated target, but it is also integrated into almost all of the other goals. Many of the targets directly reference the need to tackle climate change and its impacts in some form or another.

What was the process?

Governments instigated the process of designing the SDGs in June 2012, when they met in Brazil for the Rio+20 conference, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

Here, it was decided that there should be a new set of goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - a more modest set of eight goals that are set to expire in 2015. These would continue to build on  Agenda 21, the 700-page guidebook for development adopted by the UN in 1992.

The MDGs registered many successes: the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than half; more than 6.2m malaria deaths were averted; and development assistance from developed countries increased by 66%, according to the  2015 progress report.

However, it also points out that there are limitations to their achievements, with progress patchy across regions, and hundreds of millions of people still living in extreme poverty.

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Daily Briefing | Clinton comes out against Keystone XL pipeline

  • 23 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff

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From the archives: the science behind the papal encyclical 
This week, Pope Francis visits the US for the first time. On his five-day tour, he is expected to "greet millions of America Catholics and address thorny issues like climate change," reports the BBC. In June, the Pope published his encyclical on climate change and the environment - the product of a year of consultation between scientists and the Vatican. Carbon Brief delved into the scientific detail of the 184-page document.  Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Clinton comes out against Keystone XL pipeline 
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton says she opposes the Keystone XL oil pipeline and that she doesn't think it's "in the best interest to combat climate change." Since declaring her candidacy for president earlier this year, Clinton had refused to take a position on the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would would carry crude oil to US refineries from Alberta's oil sands in Canada. But now says the debate over its construction is a "distraction to the important work we have to do on climate change". Reuters also cover the story, and the a> has a video of Clinton's announcement at a campaign meeting in Iowa. At the same event, Clinton also announced she will release a plan in the next few days for a clean energy agreement among the US, Canada and Mexico, reports Reuters.  The Hill 

Funds worth $2.6tn pledge to dump coal 
2000 individuals and 400 institution controlling about $2.6tn in total assets have made commitments to cut back or sell out of their holdings in fossil fuel companies. The largest investors that have sold or made commitments include the French insurance group, Axa, Norway's largest fund manager, Nordea Asset Management, Norway's state pension fund, and the University of California. These funds have sold or pledged to sell their shares in coal companies, which have performed very poorly in recent years, says the FT. Leonardo DiCaprio is among the group, promising to divest his personal wealth and his charitable foundation's funds, reports the GuardianMailOnline, the New York Timesa>,BusinessGreen and Reuters also have the story. Meanwhile, the Independent reports that Goldman Sachs, Nike and Starbucks are among the Fortune 500 companies that have pledged to source 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy.  The Financial Times 

Al Gore puzzled by UK cuts to renewable energy support 
Former vice president of the US, Al Gore, says he is "puzzled" by the Conservative government's measures to roll back support for renewable energy. In a speech yesterday, Gore said he couldn't understand the rationale behind a series of government actions to cut subsidies for solar and wind power and end support for energy efficiency in homes. The UK government is at risk of squandering a hard-earned reputation for leadership on climate change, Gore warned in his "forthright" intervention, says James Murray in BusinessGreen. Murray also reports Gore's "cheeky" reply when asked about the influence of George Osborne over climate policy: "Cameron is your Prime Minister, right?", said Gore. The BBC and RTCC also cover the story.  The Guardian 

UK risks missing its carbon targets, climate advisers warn 
The UK risks missing its carbon targets and harming investment because of recent cuts to green measures, warns the the government's statutory climate advisers. The government is creating confusion among potential investors in the low carbon economy, says Lord Deben, the chairman of the committee on climate change, in a letter to energy secretary Amber Rudd. The lack of long-term signals from government "could well lead to stop-start investment, higher costs and a risk that targets to reduce emissions will be missed", Deben warned.  The Guardian 

US-China Climate Change Deal: Presidents Obama And Xi To Discuss Emissions Goals At White House 
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping will make climate change a top focus during meetings in Washington this week, reports the International Business Times. The leaders are expected to build on last autumn's joint agreement to curb US and Chinese carbon emissions and boost development of cleaner energy supplies. "This year, having made those commitments, needs to be a year of implementation, as our two countries demonstrate commitment to implement those goals with concrete steps," Brian Deese, Obama's senior adviser on climate change, said last week.   International Business Times


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Daily Briefing | Progress on cutting fossil fuel subsidies alarmingly slow-OECD

  • 22 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Crude oil from oil pipe

Crude oil | Shutterstock

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The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Nebojsa Nakicenovic 
Without social change, 2C scenarios will be out of reach says Prof Nebojsa Nakicenovic, candidate chair for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in an in-depth interview with Carbon Brief. He also discusses the length of IPCC reports, the need for the IPCC to evolve and the feasibility of biomass carbon capture (BECCS).   Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Progress on cutting fossil fuel subsidies alarmingly slow-OECD 
Major nations are "alarmingly slow" in keeping their pledge to cut fossil fuel support, says the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in a widely covered report. Support for the fuels fell to $160bn last year, the OECD says -- but it adds that there is no time to be complacent, reports  BusinessGreen.  RTCC reports OECD chief Angel Gurria's comments that the support makes the world's top economies "schizophrenic" on climate change.  The Guardian also has the story. In contrast to most other articles, which incorrectly label the figures "subsidies",  Carbon Pulse reports them as "support", with the OECD explicitly saying this support does not necessarily represent harmful subsidies. Reuters 

UK policy hitting credibility on climate change, says CBI 
Recent reversals on green policy are damaging the UK's credibility on climate change, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). They send a "worrying signal" on the UK as a place for low-carbon investment, says CBI chief John Cridland. In comments reported by  The BBC, Lord Stern says some of the moves were "potty".  Financial Times 

Amber Rudd rejects concern over £24bn Hinkley nuclear plant cost 
Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd has shaken off calls for a rethink on the Hinkley nuclear deal after critics said it would cost more than gas, onshore wind or solar capacity. The Financial Times compares the costs of various power sources. A cost comparison table for  The BBC uses expected rather than actual recent costs of UK wind and solar, giving the impression that they remain more expensive than the nuclear deal.  Gerard Wynn says the £2bn loan guarantee given to the scheme "stretches" the public value test set it must pass.  Financial Times 

China could develop and own nuclear plant in Britain -UK finance minister 
Chancellor George Osborne has given his blessing to a Chinese-built and owned nuclear plant in the UK, on a visit to the country.  The Guardian says the approval is believed to be part of the deal to secure Chinese backing for the Hinkley Point plant in Somerset.  Scientific American reports on a study that found the world could replace all of its fossil-fuelled power plants with nuclear ones within 30 years.  Reuters 

Indonesia promises to cut carbon emissions by 29% by 2030 
The Guardian reports on Indonesia's draft climate pledge to the UN, saying it is considering a target to cut emissions by 29% by 2030 compared to business as usual. The draft has a higher 41% goal conditional on $6bn of international climate finance, the Guardian says. Indonesia's climate pledge has yet to be officially lodged with the UN.  The Guardian 

India's energy mix to have 40% renewable sources by 2030 
In a preview of India's pledge to the UN climate process, Business Standard says the country will aim to cut its emissions intensity 35% below 2005 levels by 2030. The paper's headline -- that 40% of India's energy mix will be renewable by 2030 -- appears to be incorrect. The article instead says 40% of its power capacity, or 350 gigawatts, will be renewable. A preview for  RTCC also looks at India's renewable capacity targets, saying 350GW would double India's current goals for wind and solar.  Business Standard 

Arctic melting will cost the global economy £33 trillion by end of next century, scientists calculate 
Greenhouse gases released from melting Arctic permafrost will add £33tn to the cost of climate change between now and 2200, according to scientists' calculations reported by The Independent. The figure is equivalent to more than half of current annual global GDP. The results show the need for urgent action to slow warming, the scientists say.  The Washington Post,  Climate Central and  RTCC also have the story.  The Independent


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The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Nebojsa Nakicenovic

  • 21 Sep 2015, 16:50
  • Roz Pidcock
International Symposium & Public Lecture “Science-Policy in a Global Context with Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic

Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic | Flickr

Nebojsa Nakicenovic is the  deputy director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and a former professor of energy economics at the Vienna University of Technology. He has been involved in the IPCC since the first assessment report, serving as a convening lead author of the  Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. He is now running to succeed Dr Rajendra Pachauri as IPCC chair.

On producing shorter, more accessible reports: "It would be very desirable to have products that can be produced at a shorter scale, that can more reflect the concerns that are there."

On the workload for IPCC scientists: "I think there are scientific rewards...But the burden is large, I have no doubt about it that the burden is very large."

On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Clearly climate is connected strongly to almost all of the facets of sustainable development."

On assessing countries' INDCs: "I think there is a role the IPCC and the scientific community to look at how consistent they are with some of the long term pathways"

On the feasibility of BECCS: "There is nothing automatic about it, removing such large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere is a real tall order."

On meeting the 2C target: "Most important is the social change…Without that, I think scenarios like 2C and below will be out of reach."

On a low carbon transition: "One shouldn't look at this transformation into a low emissions world as something one have to fear, it could be a huge opportunity for humanity, if we do it right."

On the IPCC's mandate to be policy-relevant but not prescriptive: "I think the definition is evolving with time."

On scientists as advocates: "Science definitely needs to speak and I think the views of scientists...can benefit our collective views about the future and what needs to be done"

On social media: "I think that the IPCC has to keep up with the times, the world is changing. There are other ways of communicating and this should not be ignored."


CB: With the 5th assessment report [AR5] done and dusted, how do you look back on it? How do you think it has been received?

NN: Well, first of all let me thanks you for this, for taking this interview. To come to your question about the fifth assessment report, I think it has been received quite well. The fifth assessment report was a significant advance. In particular, I'm not just referring to the substance, but also to the outreach functions and the way it has been presented with the regional workshops. I think this all has helped, and let me also say that I think things have changed in the world. I think the fifth assessment report came out somehow just at the right time because this year, 2015, is a very special year. We will have, next week in New York, the sustainable development goal summit and end of the year, Paris. This is all putting much stronger emphasis on the need for action and I think climate is an important part of the overall transformations ahead for our society. In addition to the substantive contribution of the IPCC, I think it is coming at the right time and these messages are very relevant for these processes that I think many people are concerned about.

CB: The IPCC has, of course, confirmed that there will be an AR6 [sixth assessment report]. How do you think its scope or function might differ, then, from AR5? Or how might it signal a move forward for the IPCC?

NN: I think it is definitely decided the structure will stay the same. There was talk before the Nairobi plenary of perhaps restructuring the working groups, the three important pillars of IPCC working groups one, two and three - and the decision is quite firm that that will stay as it is. I'm not aware that a definite decision has been made about the structure of AR6, but I'm quite certain that eventually there will have to be an assessment report. So, from my point of view, one of the biggest challenges for the new assessment, AR6, would be to have even more integration than we had in AR5. AR5 went beyond AR4, but I think for AR6, a major challenge is to try to link climate change together with vulnerabilities and impacts, together with loss and damage notions, and together with economic and social aspects of mitigation and adaptation. I think this is where the big challenge is. And the reason is this year in New York, the sustainable development goals will be adopted, goal number 13 is on climate; in Paris, we will know roughly how the commitments look by various countries. I think IPCC is the main scientific body to look into those areas, those issues in an integrated fashion. Therefore, my view is that the sixth report, whatever form it takes, might be one of the most important ones because one could argue that the world has changed. Since Kyoto, there has been quite a lot of talk about the possible action, and there has been some action; even in the private sector, but certainly by many governments. But the big, let's call it, heavy lifting; the big efforts are still ahead of us and I think that's why the sixth report is so important.

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Daily Briefing | Nuclear plant project a step closer as Osborne makes £2bn guarantee

  • 21 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Cooling towers of atomic power plant

Cooling towers | Shutterstock

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Paris 2015: Tracking country climate pledges 
Carbon Brief is tracking country pledges to the UN climate deal. Now updated with Grenada's INDC. Also see our  financial tracker for updates on how much money is needed to implement the climate plans.   Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Nuclear plant project a step closer as Osborne makes £2bn guarantee 
Chancellor George Osbourne has announced a £2bn government guarantee for the Hinkley Point power plant project during his five-day tour of China. The guarantee means taxpayers will step in to repay developers if the project goes bust. This will make it easier for EDF and partners to secure the necessary financing for the project, says  The Telegraph. The Treasury has made it clear that more money will potentially be available in the long term, says  Sky News. The nuclear plant is expected to receive Chinese investment.  BBC economics editor Robert Peston says it is "striking" that Osbourne is doubling his "political and economic bet" on the Chinese economic when it is looking at its most fragile for 30 years.  Bloomberg and  Reuters also covered the story.    The Guardian 

EU united for ambitious, binding agreement at Paris talks, says climate chief 
The EU has finalised its positions ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris this December. The bloc is calling for reviews of countries' emissions reduction pledges every five years, and for all countries to reduce their emissions to near zero or below by 2100. The phrase "climate neutrality" replaced the earlier "decarbonisation", emphasising the need to phase out all greenhouse gases, The Guardian points out.  Politico says the EU's position could lead to potential conflict with the US administration.Reuters says that Poland's forthcoming election complicated the debate, as its right-wing party has campaigned to protect the coal industry.  Carbon Pulse also covered the story.    The Guardian 

Labour abandons support for new Heathrow runway 
Labour has dropped its support for a third runway at Heathrow, with new leader Jeremy Corbyn strongly against the project. The runway was recommended by the Davies Commission earlier this year, and had previously had the support of the Labour party. The move risks another split among Jeremy Corbyn's new shadow cabinet, The Times reports, with Labour party figures divided as to whether to back the runway.    The Times 

Drilling for Arctic oil is not viable yet, says IEA chief 
Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, has warned of the difficulties of drilling for oil in the Arctic, even as the Obama administration has given Shell the go-ahead to drill in the Alaska. The technological and environmental risks are high, while the drilling itself remains costly - though he stopped short of recommending a ban. "I believe that Arctic oil is not for today, and not for tomorrow - maybe for the day after tomorrow," he told The Guardian.     The Guardian 

Plunging oil prices put question mark over $1.5tn of projects 
A new report by energy analysts Wood Mckenzie says that falling oil prices could render $1.5 trillion of spending on future energy projects uneconomic and unlikely to go ahead. This includes projects in the shale-producing heartlands of North America, says The Financial Times. Just half a dozen new projects will be approved this year, and 10 or 11 in 2016, compared with an annual average of 50 to 60, says the report.    The Financial Times 

Turnbull government signals new approach to climate policy 
There are signs that new Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is already tweaking Abbott's climate change policy, despite his initial pledges to leave it in place. Staff at the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation have been transferred into the environment department. Sources tell The Guardian this is a sign that the agencies are no longer slated for abolition, as they had been under Abbott. Another  Guardian article says that Turnbull said that the current climate policies are not "written in stone".    The Guardian

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Daily Briefing | Last month was planet Earth's hottest August for at least 135 years, according to US scientists

  • 18 Sep 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
Hot weather warning at Kata Tjuta

Hot weather warning at Kata Tjuta | Flickr

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Paris 2015: Tracking requests for climate finance 
While every country is expected to address its emissions as part of the UN's forthcoming climate agreement, there is an expectation that the efforts of poorer nations will be supplemented by international aid. Carbon Brief is tracking the financial elements to the INDCs, including requests for money, domestic funding and any overall price tags that countries have attached to their plans.   Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Last month was planet Earth's hottest August for at least 135 years, according to US scientists 
Last month was the hottest August ever recorded on Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. August was 0.88C warmer than the average temperature for the month during the 20 century, and that figure was 0.09C higher than the previous record hottest August, which was last year. There are signs that the warmer temperatures are starting to impact Antarctica, the scientists said. The update published yesterday also says 2015 is 97% likely to be the hottest year on record, the  Guardian reports. The US agency's data follows a report by the UK Met Office earlier this week which predicted that 2015 and 2016 will be the warmest - or near-warmest - on record.  The Hillalso carried the story.   The Independent 

Republicans to break rank with party leaders in call for climate change action 
Eleven House Republicans have broken ranks with leaders of their party and called for action against climate change, the Guardian reports. The mini-rebellion staged yesterday takes place a week before the pope visits Congress, and appears timed to put pressure on Republican presidential candidates and congressional leaders to soften the party's sceptical stance on climate change. "It is unclear how the Republican leadership will respond", Goldenberg writes.  The Hill also carried the story.   The Guardian 

Green energy cuts 'to cost 20,000 jobs' 
Cuts to the solar subsidies threaten to trigger up to 20,000 job losses and a collapse in investment in Britain's renewable energy industry, the government was warned yesterday. In a letter to ministers, international companies including Ikea and Panasonic, as well as the TUC and Energy UK and Renewable UK, the industry associations, have called on the government to reconsider. Cuts of 90% to the "feed-in tariff" for generating power from new rooftop solar panels were announced after growing pressure on the Department of Energy & Climate Change to cut its budget.   The Times

El Nino will cause more damage to drought-ridden California, experts say 
El Nino has been hailed as the 'saviour' that will end California's four-year drought, but scientists have warned the weather system may still behave erratically, with one scenario bringing even more dryness to the region. They claim that El Nino will add another year of drought to the north, while bringing flooding to the south.   Mail Online 

Global warming 'pause' never happened, scientists say 
The notion of a global warming pause, or "climate hiatus," suggests that the rising of global surface temperatures has significantly slowed during the past 15 years. But two new studies, released within days of each other, are adding to the evidence that the pause may not exist, the Washington Post reports. "Our results clearly show that, in terms of the statistics of the long-term global temperature data, there was never a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown in global warming", Noah Diffenbaugh, co-author of one of the papers, told  RTCC.   Washington Post 

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