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Daily Briefing

07.12.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

07.12.2017 | 9:26am
DAILY BRIEFING The most accurate climate models predict greater warming, study shows 
The most accurate climate models predict greater warming, study shows 

News .

The most accurate climate models predict greater warming, study shows

A new study attempts to narrow the range of uncertainty in climate model projections this century, finding the most accurate models have more warming by 2100, report Inside Climate News and others. The new research, published in the journal Nature, suggests up to 0.5C more warming than previously expected under a high emissions scenario, says Reuters. It quotes the study authors on the implications of their work: “Our results suggest that achieving any given temperature stabilization target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions that previously calculated.” The more accurate and hotter models seem to do a better job of representing cloud behaviour, the Washington Post explains, adding that some scientists aren’t “fully convinced” by the study’s findings. It quotes Gavin Schmidt, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “We should always remember that it’s the consilience of evidence in such a complex area that usually gives you robust predictions.” The Independent and Mail Online both lead their coverage on the study’s suggestion that a high-end emissions scenario is likely to lead to more than 4C warming by 2100.

Inside Climate News Read Article

News.

South Korea's KEPCO picked as preferred bidder for UK nuclear project

The South Korean state utility firm Kepco has been picked as preferred bidder to buy the NuGen new nuclear plant planned for the Moorside site in Cumbria, reports Reuters. The project had been in doubt after the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the nuclear arm of its owner Toshiba. Kepco secured its provisional agreement to buy the NuGen project against competition from China General Nuclear, reports the Financial Times. The Kepco move is a “significant boost for the UK government’s nuclear ambitions,” says the Guardian. Kepco is the world’s fifth largest nuclear developer, reports the TelegraphCarbon Brief looked at the importance of the Moorside scheme for UK climate plans earlier this year.

Reuters Read Article
EPA head pledges to protect climate scientists

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) will ensure that climate change researchers and other scientists at the agency are free to present their work in public, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has told senators, reports the Hill. The assurance comes in the wake of a recent incident where researchers were barred from presenting their climate findings at a conference, reports the Washington Post. In a letter to Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Pruitt did not explain why the EPA had cancelled those climate presentations, says the New York Times. Pruitt also did not address whether the agency had acted improperly, it adds, noting that he insists “procedures have been put in place to prevent such an occurrence in the future”.

The Hill Read Article
The Latest Bull Case for Electric Cars: the Cheapest Batteries Ever

The average price of lithium-ion battery packs has fallen 24% over the past year, to $209 per kilowatt hour, reports Bloomberg, citing Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis. This suggests the price will fall below $100/kWh – seen as a tipping point for the adoption of electric vehicles – by 2025, the piece adds. In a separate article, Colin McKerracher, BNEF head of advanced transport asks if electric vehicles will “dominate the future vehicle mix”. He says that “China is pushing the hardest,” in a market being held back by a lack of charging infrastructure and supply constraints on key raw materials for EVs. Another Bloomberg article says California could ban fossil fuel cars by 2040. Meanwhile Bloomberg also reports that mining firms are looking to take advantage of the EV boom, while Reuters reports that investors are “wean[ing] t themselves off oil as electric future beckons”.

Bloomberg Read Article
End of wind turbine ‘blight’ after Lake District campaign

A bid by wind developer Innogy to “repower” its ageing Kirkby Moor windfarm in Cumbria has been turned down, the Times reports. The windfarm is one of the UK’s oldest, with its 1992 planning permission stating the turbines must be removed next year. Innogy had hoped to replace the older turbines with newer, more powerful models. It could appeal the decision.

The Times Read Article

Comment.

Did Climate Change Worsen the Southern California Fires?

Seven of the 10 largest modern wildfires in California have occurred in the past 14 years, says Robinson Meyer, in an article for the Atlantic. Yet it is not “clear-cut” whether global warming has anything to do with this record, Meyer writes, before running through some of the biggest factors shaping the wildfires in California and how climate change is – or isn’t – changing them. In an editorial, the LA Times says: “There will be time for assessments after these firestorms subside. Were they natural or human-caused?” It adds: “What should make Southern California fearful is that climate change could mean a future of more frequent and more intense wildfires. Today’s fires will end, and what we do afterward — assessing how to better prepare, and how and whether to rebuild — will influence the damage from the fires next time.” Vox and Think Progress also look at the fires in the context of climate change.

Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic Read Article
There’s No Such Thing As ‘Sound Science’

“The easiest way to undermine good science is to demand that it be made ‘sound’,” writes Christie Aschwanden in FiveThirtyEight, in a feature exploring the origins and meaning of the term “sound science”. The term is being used to “weaponize” the “twin [scientific] ideals of transparency and rigor,” by those who “disagree with results produced by the scientific method,” she writes. This attack on science is being ramped up under the Trump administration, Aschwanden says, citing climate change as one area where the tactic is being used. She explains: “Proponents of ‘sound science’ have historically worked to amplify uncertainty, create doubt and undermine scientific discoveries that threaten their interests.”

Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight Read Article

Science.

Greater future global warming inferred from Earth’s recent energy budget

The world may face more global warming than what has previously been predicted, a new study suggests. In a new study, scientists found that climate models that can accurately simulate complex Earth processes, such as the behaviour of clouds, are most likely to suggest that Earth will face a greater amount of global warming by the end of the century. The results mean that “that achieving any given global temperature stabilization target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated”, the researchers say.

Nature Read Article

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