The Carbon Brief Interview: Prof Chris Field

  • 10 Jul 2015, 14:00
  • Roz Pidcock

Prof Chris Field in Paris

Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's department of global ecology and professor for interdisciplinary environmental studies at Stanford University. He is the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) working group two (WGII) and US nominee for the chair of the IPCC.

Field on whether working on the IPCC is a burden on an author's time: "At least among the colleagues that I interact with, there's a genuine enthusiasm about being able to contribute in a constructive way to what's really the defining problem of our era."

On making the language of the IPCC as clear and simple as possible: "It's like trying to write poetry, but with hundreds of people shouting suggestions in different languages. So it's a real challenge, but I think it's the most important challenge we face."

On making sure the IPCC reports reach as wide an audience as possible: "I think there really needs to be a serious investment in making sure the products are understandable and I think the delivery of those products should be ambitious, should go beyond the printed word."

On mitigation versus adaptation: "Investments in adaptation and mitigation can actually be complementary to each other, especially if they're part of a broader strategy of sustainable societal development."

On the IPCC's focus on "most likely" scenarios: "If we really want to deal with the problem of climate change as the problem of managing risk, we need to be more ambitious about exploring the entire parameter space, including low probability, high consequence outcomes - the tails."

On where future research on impacts needs to focus: "We're only beginning to pull together the science on the question of whether changes in climate are really contributive to changes in patterns of human migration, changes in patterns of conflict, changes in risk, so people falling into poverty fast."

On carbon budgets: "[They] introduce the important point that no matter what the temperature target is, eventually CO2 emissions need to go to zero."

On whether 1.5C is still feasible: "The message is already clear, that if the world does want to strive to limit warming to 1.5C or less, we don't have very much of the carbon budget left."

On negative emissions technologies: "I don't have a good feeling for how far we ought to be pushing the negative emissions in our set of technology options in order to feel comfortable that we've explored the whole parameter space. But we ought to at least explore the range that people in negotiations will be talking about."

On scientists as advocates: "The fact that someone has a PhD behind their name doesn't mean that's all they are...If I speak as a parent, I speak from my personal experience and my aspirations for my own children."

On expressing his personal views if elected IPCC chair: "It would be irresponsible to ignore the strong identification that whenever I appear as IPCC chair, I will be identified as such, rather than as the parent of two lovely children."

On the IPCC's process for catching any errors: "In AR5 we were a lot more attentive to quality control than we were in the AR4."

On whether young scientists should aim to work on the IPCC reports: "I think that climate change is probably the defining challenge of the 21st century and there's a huge need for more expertise, especially expertise among scientists who are focused on testing and developing solutions for the climate change problem."

On climate sceptics: "I think that having an IPCC that is visible, transparent and has high quality leadership is going to be an important part of making sure that the science isn't marginalised in any country." 

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Scientists: 2015 is a critical year for 'bold action' on climate change

  • 10 Jul 2015, 12:30
  • Roz Pidcock and Robert McSweeney

The window for limiting climate change to 2C at a feasible economic cost is rapidly closing, but science is the basis for finding the right solutions. That's the conclusion of the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference in Paris this week.

Keeping global temperature rise to 2C or less will mean greenhouse gas emissions must be zero or even negative by the end of the 21st century, the conference's scientific committee says. That will require "bold action" starting now - delaying deep emissions cuts or not pursuing clean-energy technologies will only make solutions more difficult and more costly later down the line. "2015 is a critical year for progress," it warns.

Carbon Brief has been at the conference all week. Here's our summary.

A packed schedule

This week has seen thousands of experts come together for the largest scientific gathering on climate change before COP21 in Paris in December.

An event such as this was always going to attract a huge range of interests and disciplines, and the breadth of the programme didn't disappoint.

Climate change and its impacts were the focus on Tuesday when the conference opened, with talks ranging from measuring ice sheet loss from space to extreme events and how climate change is eroding the cultural heritage of Paris. Days two and three were more about weighing up the different options on the table for reducing emissions, with discussions on everything from limits to negative emissions to renewable energy in China. A highlight of the week on day two was a lunchtime debate about the  Guardian's Divestment campaign and the rights and wrongs of advocacy journalism. The week draws to a close today with a spotlight on what's next for climate science and policy, and questions of collective action and global governance.

You can catch up on each day's best bits with Carbon Brief's  daily highlights.

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Daily Briefing | Climate 'vice' constricts bumblebees' natural ranges - researchers

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

Bumblebee | Shutterstock

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Climate and energy news

Climate 'vice' constricts bumblebees' natural ranges - researchers 
Climate change is threatening the survival of bumblebees, researchers say, significantly reducing the habitats in which they can survive. The natural ranges of these key pollinators are being compressed in both Europe and North America, and the analysis indicates that warming is having a greater impact than pesticides or land use change. The study used records from 1901 to 2010 to track 67 bumblebee species,  Reuters reports. "This paper is important because it reinforces our understanding that species will not all be able to shift their ranges in order to adapt to a changing climate," an associate editor for Science, who published the study, told  Time. Humans may have to help move them to cooler areas, the researchers suggest. But this idea of "assisted migration" is treating the symptom rather than the cause, says an editorial in  the Independent.  The Independent,  the Guardian and  Nature also carried the story.       BBC News 

Seas could rise 6 meters even if governments curb warming: study 
Sea levels could rise by at least six meters in the long term, even if governments achieve their goals for curbing global warming, according to a study published yesterday. Tracts of ice in Greenland and Antarctica melted when temperatures were around or slightly higher than today in ancient thaws in the past three million years, the researchers wrote in the journal Science. Such a thaw would threaten cities from Beijing to London, and swamp low-lying tropical island states.  The Daily Mail and  the Washington Post also featured the story.        Reuters 

Crazy eco rules that are turning modern homes into ovens: Experts warn drive for 'green' homes poses a potentially lethal risk 
Eco houses cut help to carbon emissions and reduce winter heating bills, but in summer can pose a health risk which worsens due to climate change, the Daily Mail writes. There's concern that standards for thermal insulation have led to overheating in the summer, something the National House-Building Council first highlighted in a 2012 study. It's feared heat-related deaths "will triple to 7,000 a year by the 2050s", the Mail says.       The Daily Mail 

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A Carbon Brief guide to the Our Common Future conference in Paris - Final day

  • 10 Jul 2015, 08:45
  • Roz Pidcock

In the biggest gathering of scientists ahead of COP21 in December, thousands of climatologists, social scientists, economists and policy experts have descended on the UNESCO headquarters in Paris today to kick off the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference.

There's an almost unfathomably large amount of research being presented here in the next four days. So here's Carbon Brief's selection of talks, posters and events caught our eye.

Carbon Brief will also be holding our final media workshop today. Come along and talk to us about how the media covers climate change, learn more about what journalists look for in a story and tell us about your own media experiences.

Come along to room VIII-Bis in the basement of the UNESCO building at 1:30pm today, sign up on the sheet outside our room or email to join in.

Friday 10 July

9am Joseph Stiglitz - Bridging the carbon gap in the context of the financial crisis

This morning promises an action packed plenary with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist and professor at Columbia University, kicking off proceedings with a talk about the economics of climate negotiations and what we should and shouldn't expect at the Paris COP in December. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1)

10-11am Panel Discussion

No shortage of big names this morning, with a second session in the main plenary featuring a discussion between Laurence Tubiana, founder of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Rachel Kyte, group vice-president of the World Bank, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK) and Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1)

12:50pm David Victor - The emergence of new structures for global governance

With the failure of top-down bargaining strategies, can bottom-up methods such as "building blocks" and "climate clubs" break the diplomatic deadlock? David Victor discusses. (UNESCO - Fontenoy Room IV)

4-6pm Closing plenary

To bring this week's proceeding to a close, Chris Field, chair of the conference's scientific committee, will summarise what's been achieved this week and what's next for climate science. The French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and Segoline Royale, the French minister for Sustainable Development, Environment and Energy, follow up with their take on what the next few month holds for climate science and policy. (UNESCO Main plenary room 1).


Thursday 9 July

9am Fatih Birol - Strengthening climate ambition in the energy sector

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, kicks off this morning's plenary with a summary of what the energy sector needs from COP21, including a concrete long term emissions goal, setting the conditions for a peak in emissions, and the possibility to review countries' pledges every five years. Ottmar Edenhoffer and Saleemul Huq follow with keynote talks on the global state of play in mitigation and adaptation. (UNESCO - Main plenary hall)

11:30am Billy Pizer - Socioeconomics and instruments for transforming the energy sector

Carbon markets are expanding across the world, but the separate trading systems are in sharp contrast to how carbon market "architecture" was envisioned 15 years, says Pizer. Come along to hear more about how and whether they can better link together. This is part of a wider socioeconomics session from 11:30-1pm, encompassing a special focus on policy tools for mitigation in China, India and Brazil. (UNESCO - Fontenoy room XI)

4:30pm Li Shuo - Challenges and opportunities for renewable energy development in China

A look at the rapid growth in renewable energy deployment in China, the country's ambitious targets for wind and solar energy generation and the challenges it faces in better integrating renewable energy into the grid and further reforming its aging power market. This is part of a larger session from 4:30-6pm on China's climate policies. (UNESCO - Fontenoy room XI)

5:30pm Pete Smith - The limits to negative emissions

A session on the environmental and economic implications of different carbon-negative technologies. This includes direct CO2 removal from the atmosphere, which is expensive, but has little environmental impact, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which is cheaper, but potentially uses a lot of land. The talk is the first in a larger session on negative emissions for climate change stabilisation from 5:30-7pm today. (UPMC Jussieu - Amphi 34)

6:50pm Steve Smith - Climate legislation in the UK

The UK has traditionally been seen as a progressive nation in terms of climate action, in part due to its target to reduce emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 as part of the Climate Change Act. This talk summarises the Act, the role of the Committee on Climate Change, set up to monitor progress towards this goal, and the key costs and technologies needed to achieve it. (Jussieu - Amphi Durand)

Conference -icebreakerDay 1 at the conference. Credit: Our Common Future under Climate Change. More photos from the conference can be found on Flickr.

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Analysis: The climate change papers most featured in the media

  • 09 Jul 2015, 16:00
  • Robert McSweeney
Front covers of the most influential climate papers

Climate papers | Carbon Brief

In this week's series on the top climate change papers, we've seen which ones scientists think are the  most influential and which are the most cited by other researchers.

But what neither of these measures captures is what impact new papers have in the wider world. So with the help of Altmetric, Carbon Brief looks into which research articles have made the biggest splash in the news and on social media.

Media mentions

Altmetric tracks when academic papers are mentioned in online news articles and on social media platforms, such Twitter and Facebook. It collates these mentions and gives each paper a  score for how much attention it received. Featuring in a major national newspaper will contribute a bigger score to a paper than being in a niche publication. A paper with no mentions will score zero, for example, while an article with a score of  over 20 has received significant attention from journalists or perhaps caused a stir online.

To match our analysis of the most cited climate change papers, Altmetric ran a keyword search for papers mentioning "climate change" or "global warming". You can do the same thing with the Altmetric Explorer.

We also experimented with using the word "climate" as the search term, but using such a common word raises a problem. Altmetric have told us that their searches produce a maximum of 10,000 papers, as the word "climate" appears in so many, the "best" matches that Altmetric finds aren't necessarily the papers with the highest scores. So rather than risk losing some of these high scorers, we went with "climate change" or "global warming" as our search terms.

From the resulting list, we filtered out all the entries that were news, editorials and books, leaving just research articles to analyse, which we then cut down to a top 100. One point to note is that Altmetric only started tracking papers in July 2011, so this analysis only covers papers published over the last four years.

So what research have we all been reading and tweeting about?

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Daily Briefing | Budget 2015: Green energy companies hit as Chancellor slashes renewables subsidies

  • 09 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
George Osborne outside Number 10 with red briefcase

George Osborne | Flickr

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How volcanic eruptions changed climate and human history 
Dr Joseph McConnell explains his new findings on how volcanic eruptions have changed the climate throughout history.      Guest post: Dr Joseph McConnell 

A Carbon Brief guide to the Our Common Future conference in Paris 
Thousands of climatologists, social scientists, economists and policy experts are in Paris at the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference, the biggest such gathering ahead of the COP21 UN climate talks in December. Carbon Brief brings you updates from day two.     Carbon Brief 

Analysis: The most 'cited' climate change papers 
Carbon Brief seeks out the most cited papers on climate change, and measures which authors have been the most prolific.     Carbon Brief

Budget 2015: Key climate and energy announcements 
What does the summer budget mean for climate and energy in the UK? Carbon Brief looks at the implications of the changes to the Climate Change Levy and road taxes.      Carbon Brief 

Climate and energy news

Budget 2015: Green energy companies hit as Chancellor slashes renewables subsidies 
The impacts of Chancellor George Osborne's summer budget comes under scrutiny today, as journalists look at what it means for energy and climate. The scrapping on the renewables exemption of the Climate Change Levy ends an effective subsidy payment to renewables firms of more than £5 for every unit of electricity they generate, reports The Telegraph. The news caused shares in Drax to tumble by 28%, reports The Financial Times. In a separate  Telegraph article, commodities editor Andrew Critchlow reports that the north sea oil exploration received "soundbites" rather than meaningful support. The Independent looks at the removal of tax exemptions for low-carbon vehicles. Carbon Brief also covered the story.     The Telegraph 

Email Shows Exxon Was Studying Its Climate Impact in the '80s 
An email by a former Exxon employee shows that the oil giant knew about climate change in 1981, earlier than has previously been reported, and before it was being widely discussed by the public. It impacted their decision not to develop a major gas field in Asia at the time. The Guardian reports that Exxon nonetheless went on to fund climate denial for 27 years.      Inside Climate News 

Republicans assail DHS officials for focusing on climate change 
At a hearing of the US Department of Homeland Security, Republicans have blasted the Obama administration for making climate change a top priority. The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review said that global warming was a top security risk - something that GOP politicians took issue with. "Are the American people to believe that the increased operations by ISIS are due to hot weather or a shortage of water?" said one Republican, Scott Perry.       The Hill 

Climate denial conspiracy theories - contentious study republished 
A paper linking climate denial to conspiratorial thinking has been republished, after it was previously withdrawn due to fears that it could lead to lawsuits. The paper caused a backlash on climate sceptics' blogs when it was first published, leading the author to gather further evidence. Dana Nuccitelli looks at the history of the controversial study in The Guardian.      RTCC 

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How volcanic eruptions changed climate and human history

  • 08 Jul 2015, 18:00
  • Dr Joseph McConnell
Night eruption volcano Stromboli Glowing rocks falling down in Phase2

Erupting volcano | Shutterstock

A guest post from Dr Joseph McConnell, a research professor at the Desert Research Institute, which is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education in the US.

Throughout human history, large volcanic eruptions have affected the year-to-year variability of the  Earth's climate and even triggered crop failures and famines. These events may also have contributed to disease pandemics and the decline of agriculture-based societies.  

In our study published today in the journal Nature, we used ice-core records to provide a new reconstruction of the timing of nearly 300 individual volcanic eruptions extending as far back as the early Roman period. And then we worked out the radiative forcing of these eruptions - or how they have affected the energy balance of the Earth.

Summer cooling

When volcanoes erupt, they inject large amounts of sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. These combine with oxygen and water to form  sulphate aerosols, which shield the Earth's surface from incoming solar radiation and cause cooler temperatures for as long as two years after an eruption.

We derived our reconstruction of past eruptions by looking for these aerosols in more than 20 individual ice cores extracted from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

These new records show that large volcanic eruptions in the tropics and high latitudes were the dominant drivers of climate variability, responsible for numerous and widespread summer cooling extremes during the past 2,500 years.

Our study shows that 15 of the 16 coldest summers recorded between 500 BC and 1,000 AD followed large volcanic eruptions - with four of the coldest occurring shortly after the largest volcanic events.

Our team of 24 scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden verified the timing of these events with the help of tree ring data. To align the two types of data, we used a distinctive signature of an extra-terrestrial cosmic ray event around 774-775 AD, which would could see in the tree rings and ice cores.

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Budget 2015: Key climate and energy announcements

  • 08 Jul 2015, 16:30
  • Simon Evans

PlusONE |   Shutterstock

A £910m blow to renewable energy firms and an end to a road tax incentive for lower-carbon cars were among the climate and energy announcements in today's first Conservative budget since 1996.

Chancellor George Osborne's summer budget was widely expected to mention the levy control framework (LCF), which limits subsidies for low-carbon energy schemes. Well-placed sources and heavily-briefed political correspondents at the Telegraph and Financial Times had hinted at a review of the LCF budget.

Instead, Osborne announced tax changes that will cost renewable energy generators £910m in 2020/21, a review of other green taxes faced by businesses and an end to the commitment to increase environmental taxes' share of government revenue.

Details of further departmental spending cuts will be announced in a spending review this autumn. Carbon Brief runs through today's key announcements on climate and energy.

Support for clean energy

The biggest financial impact for the energy sector in today's budget stems from changes to the Climate Change Levy, a tax on energy use paid by businesses. Electricity from renewable sources had been exempt, resulting in effective support of £5 per megawatt hour of output.

Osborne plans to remove the renewables exemption. Analysts say this could wipe 5-6% off the income for onshore windfarms and make some planned projects unviable. Shares in Drax, the coal- and biomass-fuelled power station in Yorkshire, had fallen by a quarter this afternoon.

The Treasury says ending the levy exemption will generate £490m during 2015/16, rising to £910m in 2020/21. Contract rules for some schemes mean they may be able to claim compensation if a change in the law puts them at a disadvantage, so the government may face legal action.

Industry group Renewable UK called the decision "punitive" and accused the government of making retrospective changes penalising already-operating projects.

Those expecting news on the LCF spending limit for clean energy support were disappointed today. The LCF has previously been fixed up to 2019/20, though there are concerns the limit may be breached. The Committee on Climate Change among those calling for early clarity on how much money will be available after 2020.

Today's budget did not mention the LCF at all, however, though press reports suggest a review may still be announced with a final decision next year.

Osborne also failed to mention the Carbon Floor Price, the UK's top-up carbon tax. The chancellor froze this at £18 per tonne of carbon dioxide until the end of the decade in last year's budget. It is due to increase rapidly through the 2020s. Without this increase, ministerial assertions that coal's share of the UK electricity mix will fall to 1% by 2025 will be on shaky ground.

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Analysis: The most 'cited' climate change papers

  • 08 Jul 2015, 13:10
  • Robert McSweeney
Front covers of the most influential climate papers

Climate papers | Carbon Brief

On Monday, we  revealed the results of our survey of scientists in which we asked them to name the "most influential" climate change papers of all time. The most popular nomination was a  seminal paper by Syukuro Manabe and Richard T Wetherald published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences in 1967.

Now, we turn from the subjective to the objective and look at which are the most "cited" climate change papers. Here, Carbon Brief analyses which papers have had the biggest impact in the academic world, and who wrote them.

Thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers are published about climate change every year. These articles form the bedrock of climate science, underpinning the assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With so many papers from so many journals, some inevitably sink without trace. But others become the centrepiece of their field or spark new areas of research.

Published papers

There are various databases to search through which list the thousands of academic papers published each year. Amidst options such as Google Scholar and Web of Science, we plumped for Scopus, the world's largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.

In Scopus, we searched for any academic paper with the phrase 'climate change' or 'global warming' in its title, abstract or keywords. We also tried using just 'climate' for the searches, but that produced a very broad range of articles. As we wanted to look at both the top papers and all papers far beyond the top 100, we wouldn't have manually been able to filter out all the non-climate papers for the analysis. So we went with 'climate change' and 'global warming', though this does mean that some climate change papers without those terms in the title, abstract or keywords would miss out.

But in response to queries from some climate scientists, we've also, for comparison, included the top 10 'climate' papers at the end of the article.

We then limited the search to give us only pure research articles, filtering out other publications such as book chapters, conference papers, review articles and editorials.

The search yields a total of almost 120,000 papers, as of the beginning of June this year. You can see below how the number of published papers about climate change took off during the 2000s.

Scopus -graph -1Total number of climate change papers published, by year. Data from Scopus. Credit: Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief

As the chart below shows, most of the papers relate to environmental science (25% of papers), earth and planetary science (22%) and agricultural and biological sciences (16%). But the search also unearths papers from social science (8%), medicine (3%) and even dentistry (0%, or 4 papers).

Scopus -graph -2Subject of climate change papers, by topic area. Data from Scopus. Credit: Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief

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Daily Briefing | Budget 2015: Osborne to review green energy subsidies

  • 08 Jul 2015, 09:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff
George Osborne outside Number 10 with red briefcase

George Osborne | Flickr

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

Reports show how UK and the world can achieve 'deep decarbonisation' 
In the UK, as well as across the world, emissions of greenhouse gases need to be urgently and radically reduced over the coming decades in order to limit the increase in global temperature. Two reports, released separately this week, spell out how these reductions can be made. Together, they paint a picture of how governments and businesses should tackle climate change up to 2030 and beyond.    Carbon Brief

The Carbon Brief Interview: Syukuro Manabe 
Carbon Brief interviews Syukuro Manabe, veteran of the field and co-author of the 1967 paper nominated by fellow climate scientist as the most influential study of all time. Manabe explains how climate models - and the computers they run on - have changed since his early work. He also talks climate sensitivity and the surprises and landmark moments in the climate science field.    Carbon Brief

Prof John Mitchell: How a 1967 study greatly influenced climate change science 
Why is a 1967 paper by Manabe and Wetherald considered one of the most influential studies of all time by climate scientists? In a guest post for Carbon Brief, Prof John Mitchell, former Met Office Hadley Centre chief scientist, explains why he thinks the paper has proved so significant.    Professor   John Mitchell 

A Carbon Brief guide to the Our Common Future conference in Paris 
Thousands of climatologists, social scientists, economists and policy experts are in Paris at the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference, the biggest such gathering ahead of the COP21 UN climate talks in December. Here's Carbon Brief's selection of talks, posters and events from the conference, which will be updated throughout the week.     Carbon Brief

Climate and energy news

Budget 2015: Osborne to review green energy subsidies 
Ahead of today's budget, the Financial Times reports that George Osborne is expected to announce a review of the Levy Control Framework budget for low-carbon energy subsidies after 2020. He will also drop a previous Conservative commitment to increase environmental taxes as a share of the total tax take, the FT says. There may also be a review of the carbon floor price, the UK's top-up carbon tax, and the climate change levy, a tax on non-domestic energy use. Business Green looks at what green businesses want from the budget.      Financial Times 

Obama's climate plan will survive even if Republican elected, EPA chief says 
It would be hard to set aside or slow down plans to limit carbon pollution from power plants even if a Republican enters the White House in 2016, says Gina McCarthy, head of the US Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy has criticised attempts by Republicans to cut the agency's budget, reports The Hill, which separately reports McCarthy's comments that she remains confident over draft carbon pollution rules, despite a recent Supreme Court defeat over mercury pollution regulations. AP and Bloomberg also have the story.     The Guardian 

Banks urged to halt coal finance before Paris summit 
A coalition of NGOs is urging banks to stop financing the coal industry, reports RTCC. Campaign organisers BankTrack say $500m of finance has flowed from 93 banks to coal projects since 2005. Meanwhile Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank and one of the largest providers of coal finance is to become a partner of the UN's Green Climate Fund, reports RTCC. Campaigners have criticised the move.      RTCC 

Accused of overcharging, UK energy firms could face price cap 
Large energy firms could face a price cap after the UK's competition watchdog found they had overcharged households by around £1.2bn a year between 2009 and 2013, reports Reuters, which adds the firms avoided the "worst-case scenario" of being forced to break up into separate energy generation and supply businesses. The Financial Times says the watchdog mainly blames inactive consumers who fail to seek out the cheapest energy tariff.     Reuters 

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