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Daily Briefing

18.06.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Ambitious plan to cut emissions and make Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050
Ambitious plan to cut emissions and make Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050

News.

Ambitious plan to cut emissions and make Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050

Many outlets in Ireland and the UK report on a major new climate plan unveiled yesterday by the Irish government, following earlier reports of leaked versions. The Irish Times describes the “highly ambitious plan” to cut carbon emissions up to 2030, supported by annual increases in carbon tax, with an aspirational (and non-binding) goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The Guardian notes that Ireland is among the worst offenders for emissions in the EU, saying the new plan contains more than 180 measures to address this issue. Both the Irish Timesand the Irish edition of the Times focus on comments from taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the plan seeks to find a common ground on climate change and will “nudge people and businesses to change behaviour”. The Irish Times and TheJournal.ie also feature lists of the key measures proposed under the new plan, including those addressing Ireland’s highest emitting sectors such as agriculture and transport. In a separate article, the paper also quotes Friends of the Earth Ireland director Oisín Coghlan describing the action as the “biggest innovation in Irish climate policy in 20 years”.

BBC News and the Press Association focus on the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, although national broadcaster RTE notes comments from the Irish Green Party that the plan fails to sufficiently address public transport. More criticism from opposition politicians is reported by Independent.ie, with accusations the plan was “fudging” the net-zero pledge and had not been properly costed.

The Irish Times Read Article
Italy is set to drop its bid to host COP26, paving the way for the UK to hold the UN’s flagship UN climate change summit

BuzzFeed News reports that the UK is in “prime position” to host the COP26 climate summit next year as Italy intends to withdraw its candidacy. The online publication previously stated that the UK government was lobbying the Italians to drop their bid to host the critical UN summit and had instead pitched a collaborative proposal in which they hosted a number of meetings before the event takes place. Citing an unnamed British diplomat, it also reports that “once final details have been ironed out”, the agreement would be formally announced at the climate change conference currently underway in Bonn. The news comes shortly after the announcement of a 2050 net-zero target by the UK government. (Read Carbon Brief’s in-depth Q&A about that announcement.)

BuzzFeed News Read Article
New York approves ambitious climate change plan to lead the US on environment

Politicians in New York state have reached a deal to create “one of the most ambitious climate bills in the US”, according to the Independent. Struck on Sunday night, the publication reports this deal includes “lofty goals”, including a carbon neutral target for 2050, in which 85% of emissions are cut and the remainder are offset or captured. The Wall Street Journal also reports on what is describes at the “tentative deal” on a bill, termed the Climate and Community Protection Act. The Huffington Post also carries the story, noting that if enacted it would make the state only the second after California to aim for carbon neutrality by the middle of the century.

The Independent Read Article
Australia quizzed by EU and China on whether it can meet 2030 Paris climate target

As delegates gather for a UN meeting in Bonn to discuss international progress towards climate targets, the Guardian reports that the EU and China have issued a joint question to Australia about whether it can meet its commitments as its domestic emissions continue to rise. In a further question from the EU and Canada, Australia’s Morrison government was questioned about its use of “carry-over credits” from the Kyoto protocol in its latest carbon budget. This decision was criticised by other parties in the nation’s recent election, which was ultimately won by the ruling Coalition despite its perceived lack of commitment to climate policies. (Read more about the government’s pledges to cut emissions in this Carbon Brief piece produced ahead of the election.)

Meanwhile, the Guardian also features a piece on a “major report” – the Australian National Outlook 2019 – that warns the nation risks “drifting into the future” unless it tackles significant challenges including climate change. Broadcaster ABC also reports on the new findings, which were compiled by the national research agency CSIRO. Elsewhere, Reuters reports that Australia has lowered its forecast for wheat exports for the coming season by nearly 18% as drought “wilts crops in the world’s No.4 exporter of the grain”. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning HeraldAge and Canberra Times report comments from the International Trade Union Confederation’s general secretary, Sharan Burrow. Amidst controversy surrounding the recently approved Adani coal mine, the papers say she warned Australian unionists against putting coal jobs ahead of environmental concerns, noting that “there are no jobs on a dead planet”.

The Guardian Read Article
Arrests made as climate change campaigners bring protests to Edinburgh

Several arrests have been made after climate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion Scotland blocked a main road in the centre of Edinburgh, according to the Press Association. It reports that protesters locked themselves together and glued themselves to the road as part of a wider effort to influence political discussions taking place over the coming days about Scotland’s climate change bill in the nation’s capital city. The Scotsman reports that a so-called “Holyrood Rebel Camp” has been set up outside parliament as part of the five-day action. The same paper reports that, in anticipation of work and travel disruption, parliament staff had been told to take their laptops home with them overnight. BBC News coverage of the incident notes the recent Committee on Climate Change recommendation that Scotland reach a net-zero target by 2045, a goal the protesters have branded “ecocide”.

Separately, the Press Association also notes a new report from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, warning “difficult decisions” will be needed to address a looming energy shortfall in Scotland. The Guardian covers the same report, picking up on the recommendation to consider new nuclear plants to deal with this issue, as well as building more windfarms and turning to hydrogen fuel. Elsewhere, the Scotsman reports on a potential scheme to electrify the Borders railway in Scotland.

Press Association via Belfast Telegraph Read Article

Comment.

The Times view on Ireland’s climate change plan: Getting Warmer

The Irish edition of the Times features an editorial about Ireland’s new climate change plan released on Monday. It commends the scope of ambition contained within the document, as well as the apparent aim towards a 2050 net-zero target. “Yet fine aspirations are meaningless without action. There are so many moving parts to this plan that it will become the subject of political horse trading,” the paper says, noting that “the real work is to come”. In particular, it points to the commitment to increase the existing carbon tax in Ireland, noting this strategy is opposed by leftwing parties and “will not be popular with many voters”. The Irish Times carries a similar message in its editorial, noting that while the steps laid out by the government are the “minimal” requirements needed to tackle climate change, it would be “churlish not to recognise them as real progress”. In a comment piece for the same paper, political editor Pat Leahy calls for the “nitty-gritty of policy action” to accompany broader climate change commitments.

The Irish Independent features a comment piece by Eddie Cunningham describing the new strategy as a “game changer for drivers”, adding that “life on the road will never be the same again” given the shift towards electric cars by 2030. The same publication includes another piece by Kevin Doyle commenting on Irish leaders preference for “nudge” tactics to tackle climate change. “A gentle push is unlikely to stop the apocalypse though. Taxes might,” he writes.

Editorial, The Times Read Article

Commment.

New York can win on climate and racial justice

A joint piece written by the leader of the anti-carbon campaign group 350.orgBill McKibben and racial justice campaigner Heather McGhee focuses on the intersection between social inequality and greenhouse gas emissions. Describing New York’s Climate and Community Protection Act as “arguably the strongest proposal of its kind in the country”, they note that action of this kind to tackle emissions could have the biggest impact on “working-class communities of colour” for whom “fossil fuel pollution is part of daily life”. They add: “Climate policy must be designed to remedy deep and often deadly inequities in pollution exposure while ensuring that the most polluted and climate-impacted communities benefit the most from the renewable energy transformation we need to tackle climate change.”

Heather C McGhee and Bill McKibben, The New York Times Read Article

Science.

Global assessment of primate vulnerability to extreme climatic events

Extreme weather events such as cyclones and droughts could pose a significant threat to the survival of many primates, according to a new global assessment. The research, which analyses the traits of different species in order to infer their vulnerability to extreme events, finds that 22% of primates are vulnerable to droughts and 16% are vulnerable to extreme cyclones. Animals most at risk were those living in the Malaysia Peninsula, North Borneo, Sumatra and the tropical moist forests of West Africa, the researchers say.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
Shifting habitats expose fishing communities to risk under climate change

Fishing communities in the mid-Atlantic US could face negative changes to their harvests as temperatures rise, research finds. Using modelling, the authors project that the amount of “suitable habitat” for fishing could shift northwards – leaving southern regions with less suitable habitat and northern regions with more suitable habitat. “A majority of fishing communities were projected to face declining future fishing opportunities unless they adapt, either through catching new species or fishing in new locations,” the authors say.

Nature Climate Change Read Article

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