Today's climate and energy headlines:
- 2017 UK's fifth warmest year on record, says Met Office
- Smart meters will let companies change cost of electricity every 30 minutes under 'surge pricing'
- Allow nuclear waste disposal in national parks, say MPs
- Analysts raise EU carbon price forecasts as market reforms begin to bite
- Largest king penguin colony shrinks 90% in 30 years
- US Supreme Court rejects Trump bid to halt climate change case
- Climate Change: We're Not Literally Doomed, but...
- Left or right, remain or leave — we are united in wanting a cleaner, greener future for our children
- Droughts, heatwaves and floods: How to tell when climate change is to blame
- FT Guide: The Energy Transition
- Detection of continental-scale intensification of hourly rainfall extremes
- Dependence between high sea-level and high river discharge increases flood hazard in global deltas and estuaries
The Guardian reports the key findings of the Met Office’s fourth annual State of the UK Climate report which is published today: “Last year was the fifth warmest on record for the UK, showing a clear warming trend above the long-term average, despite a wet summer last year and cold winter. The average temperature over the past decade, since 2008, was 0.8C above the 30 year average to 1990. Summers over that period have also been ‘notably wetter’.” The Guardian adds: “These figures do not take account of the recent heatwave and two-month dry spell over much of the country, which have caused wildfires and hazards across much of the country.” The Daily Express also carries the story. Tom Bawden writing for iNews the “in a sign of how weather that once felt warm has come to seem normal, the Met Office [has] revealed that last year was the fifth hottest since records began in 1910. And compared to the prolonged blistering heat we’ve seen this summer, last year seems positively mild”. He adds that climate sceptics “are looking increasingly foolish. It would be much wiser to acknowledge the scale or the threat and take dramatic action to tackle it.” Separately, MailOnline reports on a new study that finds that “freak superstorms are smashing Australia three times more often than usual”. Meanwhile, the Independent reports on another study by researchers at the University of Bristol which finds that “spiralling carbon dioxide emissions could give parts of Europe the kind of tropical climate that it has not experienced for millions of years”. The Daily Star covers the same study under the headline: “Brits to BOIL in tropical temperatures not seen for 56 MILLION years.” A feature in the New York Times” talks to people who found themselves on the front lines of climate change this year” – from Algeria and Oslo to Pakistan and Los Angeles.
For the third day in a row, the Daily Telegraph runs a story about smart meters on its frontpage. Today’s story claims that “smart meters will allow energy firms to introduce ‘surge pricing’, one of Britain’s biggest gas and electric providers has admitted for the first time”. This is the view, it says, of Keith Anderson, chief executive at Scottish Power. The Daily Mail picks up the Telegraph’s story, adding: “Scottish Power said new tariffs which lead to price shifts every half an hour will be put in place as soon as the energy regulator gives them the go ahead. The controversial scheme – which relies heavily on smart meters – could significantly change the way households consume energy.” An editorial in the Telegraph says: “The introduction of ‘smart’ meters into British homes is an all-too-familiar tale of eye-watering expense, botched decision-making, ignored warnings and buck-passing…The advent of smart metering can be traced to EU efforts to reduce carbon emissions as part of a campaign against global warming. The Labour government and then the Coalition bought into, and even enhanced, the targets for removing coal-fired power stations and curbing energy use. The meters were intended to back up this policy.”
The Guardian is among a number of outlets reporting that “highly radioactive nuclear waste could be permanently buried under national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), under government plans backed by a committee of MPs”. it adds: “Ministers’ attempts to choose a site in Cumbria for the £12bn facility were foiled in 2013 when the county council rejected the proposal. New plans by ministers were published in January and have now been backed by the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) select committee of MPs, who said the safest site should be chosen, regardless of location.” The Independent says: “Getting rid of radioactive waste is a tricky business, and some of the wilder suggestions in the past have included dumping it in the sea and blasting it into space.” Separately, the Times reports that “multibillion-pound plans to build a nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria are likely to be abandoned within months unless a buyer is found”. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the UKs energy market regulator has “given the go-ahead to National Grid to build a power grid upgrade to connect the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset”.
Reuters reports that analysts have raised their forecasts for carbon prices in the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) to 2020 “after a bullish start to the year and on expectations that plans to reform the market will significantly curb oversupply”. It adds: “Analysts expect EU Allowances (EUAs) to average 18.59 euros/tonne in 2019 and 20.76 euros/tonne in 2020, according to the survey of eight analysts by Reuters…The forecasts were up 34 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from prices given in April, when the forecasts were for 13.86 euros for 2019 and 18.36 euros for 2020.” Last December, Carbon Brief published a Q&A titled: “Will the reformed EU Emissions Trading System raise carbon prices?”
The world’s largest king penguin colony has shrunk nearly 90% since the 1980s, according to new research published in the journal Antarctic Science. BBC News explains that aerial and satellite images show breeding pair numbers have fallen 88% over the past three decades. It adds: “Research published in February says some of the birds populations could be at risk from climate change.” Agence France-Presse, via the Guardian, also carry the story, adding: “Climate change may play a role. In 1997, a particularly strong El Niño weather event warmed the southern Indian Ocean, temporarily pushing the fish and squid on which king penguins depend south, beyond their foraging range.”
The US Supreme Court has rejected a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to put the brakes on a lawsuit filed by young activists who have accused the US government of ignoring the perils of climate change. Reuters reports that in the lawsuit, which began in 2015, 21 activists aged 11 to 22 have said federal officials violated their rights to due process under the US Constitution by failing to adequately address carbon pollution such as emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The Hill also carries the story.
In her latest column for Scientific American, the Nasa climate scientist Dr Kate Marvel writes: “I don’t think climate change will destroy the actual planet or make the human species go extinct. But, you know what? I believe we can aim for something a little bit better than “not doomed.” If, at the end of the day, the most positive thing I can note in my diary is ‘FAILED TO GO EXTINCT’, then that was probably not a good day. There is space for action between “everything is fine” and ‘we’re doomed’. That space is shrinking fast, but the gap is not closed yet. It shouldn’t take an apocalypse to make us do the right thing.”
Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP, and Alex Sobel, a Labour MP, have written a joint comment piece in the Times arguing that “a warming planet is one of the most serious long-term threats our country faces, a fact long acknowledged by defence chiefs”. They continue: “The landscapes and institutions we cherish are at acute risk from temperature rises. Our farmers, fishermen, NHS workers and firemen are among those expected to feel the full force of a projected increase in heatwaves and floods. It’s why the UK has proudly led global efforts to tackle this menace for the past two decades. That leadership is the cornerstone in the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth and developing countries globally. And it’s leadership that is expected at home: nearly 70% of Britons want the UK to remain part of the Paris agreement on climate change, which targets mid-century zero emissions…This is an agenda that should unite the country. It draws on support across the political spectrum.”
Nature News has published a detailed feature on how climate scientists are now attributing individual weather events to climate change. It interviews, among others, Dr Friederike Otto, a climate modeller at the University of Oxford, who just last week (as reported by Carbon Brief) published the preliminary results of a rapid attribution study into this summer’s European heatwave finding it was made as much as five times more likely due to human-caused climate change. The Nature News feature goes on to say: “The work by Otto’s team joins a rapidly growing corpus of studies on climate attribution. From 2004 to mid-2018, scientists published more than 170 reports covering 190 extreme weather events around the world, according to an analysis by Nature, which builds on previous work by the publication Carbon Brief. So far, the findings suggest that around two-thirds of extreme weather events studied were made more likely, or more severe, by human-induced climate change.” Separately, Nature News also has an editorial titled: “Pinning extreme weather on climate change is now routine and reliable science.”
The Financial Times has launched the second instalment of its new guide to the “energy transition” – the long-term restructuring of the energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewables. The second part focuses on “citizens and consumers” and includes features on how to “know which individual actions will make the greatest impact” and also how “FT readers say carbon pricing is key to energy debate”. It also includes a comment piece by Ed Crook on why “plans to tackle ‘market failure’ of fossil fuel consumption stumble in the US Congress”.
Climate change has driven an increase in hourly rainfall extremes across Australia, new research shows. The study finds that, from 1966-2013, the magnitude and frequency of hourly rainfall extremes increased across the continent – raising the risk of flash flooding in urban areas. The researchers also find that the observed changes can not be “explained by changes in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation or changes in the seasonality of extremes” – suggesting climate change has played a role in driving up extremes.
The risk of combined coastal and river flooding along the world’s deltas and estuaries is likely to grow as sea levels rise, a new study finds. “When river and coastal floods coincide, their impacts are often worse than when they occur in isolation; such floods are examples of ‘compound events’,” the researchers say. “We discuss several implications, showing that flood risk assessments in these regions should correctly account for these joint exceedance probabilities.”
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