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Daily Briefing

19.11.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Amazon deforestation officially hits highest level in a decade
Amazon deforestation officially hits highest level in a decade

News.

Amazon deforestation officially hits highest level in a decade

Many publications report that deforestation in the Amazon has reached its highest level in a decade, according to satellite data from Brazil’s space agency. New Scientist reports that the Amazon lost nearly 10,000 square kilometres of forest between August 2018 and July 2019. This represents a 29.5% increase in deforestation in comparison to the previous year, BBC News reports. “Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Mr [Jair] Bolsonaro – [the far-right president of Brazil] – took office in January,” BBC News says. Unearthed notes that the uptick in deforestation coincides with Bolsonaro’s appointment to office in 2018. It adds: “Bolsonaro has made no secret of his contempt for conservation efforts. Since coming to power he has cut funding to environmental protection agencies, including to their fire protection departments, and called for opening up the rainforest and its indigenous territories to mining interest.” The Guardian’s coverage says that the Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest terrestrial carbon sink. It adds: “The clearance rate – equivalent to about two football fields a minute – is the fastest since 2008, pushing Brazil far off course from reaching its Paris Agreement goals to cut carbon emissions.” The story also appears in the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and CBS News, among other outlets.

New Scientist Read Article
Greens aim to appeal to environment-minded Labour supporters

The Guardian reports that the UK’s Green Party is hoping to win over “environment-minded” Labour voters by promoting itself as the only major party committed to net-zero emissions by 2030. The party’s co-leaders, Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley, are due to launch the party’s manifesto this morning in London. “Its main focus will be on the climate emergency and an economic vision based around equality,” the Guardian says. The manifesto launch will be followed by an election broadcast by Green MP Caroline Lucas that will tell voters the upcoming general election offers “the greatest – perhaps the last – opportunity to change course” for the UK, the Guardian says. Press Association reports that the manifesto will contain a pledge to spend “£100bn a year to tackle climate change”. PA adds: “Under the party’s plans, it would raise £91bn a year for the next decade for capital expenditure on tackling climate change. A further £9bn a year in operational spending would be funded through raising taxes, including corporation tax which would rise to 24%.”
The latest move from the Green Party comes after the Labour Party was persuaded to “soften” its own net-zero by 2030 target, the Guardian reports. The Labour conference had passed a motion setting 2030 as the target for net-zero emissions, the paper explains, adding that trade unions had raised concerns about the “risk to jobs and industry” – leading the party to “soften” its 2030 aim to a “target of significant progress” rather than a firm commitment. Labour’s decision – which was widely reported yesterday – came after the GMB trade union pushed back against a potential 2030 target. According to the Guardian, Tim Roache, GMB’s general secretary, had previously said: ““The proposal to do it by 2030 threatens whole communities, threatens jobs, and frankly GMB members in communities right up and down the UK have heard it all before. This will mean within a decade people’s petrol cars being confiscated. This will mean families can only take one flight every five years. Net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 is utterly unachievable.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that the chief of SSE, a UK energy company, has called Labour’s plans to nationalise energy networks “a huge mistake”.
Elsewhere, the Independent reports that Extinction Rebellion activists have begun a hunger strike outside the offices of the Conservative and Labour party headquarters in a bid to demand more urgent action on climate change. More than 200 activists in the UK have signed up to join the hunger strikes, the Independent reports. Other hunger strikes are being held across 27 countries, according to XR. The Guardian also covers the hunger strikes.

The Guardian Read Article
Renewable energy: Rise in global wind speed to boost green power

Several publications report on a new study finding that global wind speeds began to increase after 2010, following what BBC News calls “decades of decline”. The increase could boost the production of wind energy, BBC News says. It adds that the increase in wind speed could be caused by “changes in the patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation”. It also quotes study co-author Dr Adrian Chappell saying: “By ocean atmospheric circulation, we mean heating of the Earth’s surface which creates pressure gradients and thereby wind.” The Times reports that, according to the study, average wind speed in Europe, North America and Asia has risen by 7% since 2010. The study collected data from 9,000 weather stations, it adds. The Guardian also covers the research.

BBC News Read Article
Exclusive: Investors step up pressure on global energy watchdog over climate change

Reuters reports that Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), is facing new pressure from investors and scientists concerned about climate change to overhaul the agency’s annual World Energy Outlook. A letter to Birol, signed by 65 parties including pension funds, insurers and large companies, urged him to “do more to support the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement to avert catastrophic global warming”, Reuters reports. The group want Birol to rethink the outlook, which they say helps shape expectations in financial markets over how quickly the world could transition from a fossil fuel-dominated energy system to cleaner sources of power, according to Reuters. “Signatories are not satisfied, in particular, with the IEA’s work to map out a pathway for achieving the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement and urged the organisation to produce a ‘fully transparent’ scenario for doing so,” Reuters says. “That would include reliably limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial times without banking on early stage technologies to suck carbon from the air, and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” Such changes could “unlock faster investment in renewables and better identify possible risks to the value of oil, gas and coal companies”, according to the letter’s signatories, Reuters reports. Carbon Brief recently published its own in-depth analysis on this year’s outlook, including a comparison between the IEA’s “sustainable development scenario”, which corresponds to a 66% chance of limiting warming to 1.8C this century, to other pathways towards 1.5C.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

David Attenborough on climate change, Greta Thunberg and becoming a ‘fishetarian’

In a wide-ranging interview with the Times 2, a daily lifestyle supplement of the Times, Sir David Attenborough discusses his views on meat eating, the effect of activist Greta Thunberg and the role that climate change could play in the upcoming UK general election. On the latter, he tells Damian Whitworth: “Europe has been dominating our thoughts for – what is it? Four years? And meanwhile the rest of the world goes to pot. I wish people were concentrating on [the environment and climate change]. It seems of crucial importance.” On the expansion of renewable energies, he says: “The world is coming to its senses. It may be too late, but it is coming to its senses. Solar panels, electric cars. And there’s a groundswell. It hasn’t been led by the government, but nonetheless you got the impression that the ordinary man in the street – if there is such a person – is actually aware of what’s happening and anxious to do their bit.” On Thunberg, he says: “She’s truly remarkable and she’s stirred the world. There have been suggestions that we might [meet] and as far as I’m concerned I would have been delighted and I think as far as she was concerned she would have been. It’s just we haven’t been able to manage it.”

Damian Whitworth, The Times Read Article
Climate change hits the young hardest. What will we tell our children?

In the Daily Telegraph, Chris Van Tulleken, a professor in infectious diseases at University College London and scientific broadcaster, reflects on the findings of the latest Lancet Countdown report, which found that children born today will face unparalleled health risks from climate change. He says: “Consciously or not, children have started to realise that the standards we, as adults, demand from them are not ones we are holding ourselves to. Through the school climate strikes, they are discovering a form of political power. This may be the lever for change that saves us from ourselves.”

Chris Van Tulleken, The Daily Telegraph Read Article

Science.

Acceleration of global N2O emissions seen from two decades of atmospheric inversion

Emissions of nitrous oxide – a long-lived greenhouse gas – have accelerated in the past two decades, a new study finds. According to the findings, the steady rise in N2O emissions in the atmosphere could linked to an increase in nitrogen particles released to the environment from agricultural practices. “The regions of East Asia and South America made the largest contributions to the global increase,” the authors add.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
A reversal in global terrestrial stilling and its implications for wind energy production

The speed of global winds is increasing, a new study finds, which could help to boost the production of renewable energy from wind turbines. The increase in global wind speed comes after a period of decline – known as “global terrestrial stilling”, which, according to the new study, lasted until 2010. “We use wind data from in situ stations worldwide to show that the stilling reversed around 2010 and that global wind speeds over land have recovered,” the authors say.

Nature Climate Change Read Article

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