Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Australia waters down Pacific Islands plea on climate crisis
- Lightning strike and wind farm fault triggered blackout chaos
- China and allies challenge UN chief's climate vision
- Government's shift to relax shale gas fracking safeguards condemned
- In November next year, Glasgow could witness an event that changes the world
- How one billionaire could keep three countries hooked on coal for decades
- Wildfire impact on environmental thermodynamics and severe convective storms
Australia has blocked Pacific Island leaders from agreeing on a joint declaration to take more stringent action on climate change and phase out coal, report the Guardian and others. Eighteen Pacific Island leaders including Australia’s Scott Morrison, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama met for almost 12 hours at the Pacific Island Forum, report the Guardian and others. Some had hoped that all countries would commit to limit temperature rise to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – but the leaders instead agreed on “an opt-out” clause for such policies. A second story in the Guardian reports that the talks “twice collapsed” as Morrison came to blows with Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, over Australia’s “red lines” on climate change. Insiders told the Guardian that there was “heated discussion” over the Australian delegation’s insistence on ridding the leaders’ communique of “references to coal, setting a target of limiting global warming to below 1.5C and announcing a strategy for zero emissions by 2050”, the Guardian says. Several Pacific Island leaders “expressed disappointment” at the forum’s failure to unanimously endorse the communique – called the “Tuvalu declaration” – which they intend to present at the UN in a bid to force more action on climate change, the Financial Times reports. An opinion piece by researcher Nicky Ison in the Guardian calls Morrison’s actions “a betrayal of the Pacific”, “immoral” and “completely unnecessary”. Reuters also has the story.
The Times reports on its expectations for the “initial analysis” from National Grid into the cause of the UK’s recent power cut, which is due to be submitted to energy regulator Ofgem today. “A technical fault at the world’s largest offshore wind farm was among a series of failures that resulted” in the blackout, the Times says. “Hornsea One wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire and Little Barford gas-fired power plant in Cambridgeshire both suddenly reduced their electricity output shortly before 5pm last Friday. This removed about 5% of national power supplies and contributed to blackouts that left a million homes without power and caused paralysis on the train networks.”
Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph carries a story on its front page regarding “constraint payments” to Hornsea One windfarm. It says the site received “nearly £100,000…after being ordered to reduce its output” over Saturday night and Sunday last weekend. The Daily Telegraph says “constraint payments” are a tool used by National Grid to balance supply and demand on the system and quotes the windfarm owner Orsted noting that 1,600 such payments were made over the weekend. The Telegraph story is based on information from John Constable, director of the anti-wind lobby group the Renewable Energy Foundation and a contributor to the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Emerging nations are calling on rich countries to meet their pre-2020 climate targets and ramp up climate finance at a meeting in Brasilia, Climate Home News reports. A draft seen by Climate Home News suggests environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China (Basic) will “put the onus on industrialised nations to lead carbon-cutting efforts”. Climate Home News says: “In a pointed message to UN chief António Guterres, they wrote that the climate summit he is hosting in New York next month ‘should be fully respectful of the principles and provisions of the [UN climate convention]’. That is code for countries with bigger historic emissions and more money shouldering greater responsibility for action.”
Environmental groups have “voiced fears that the government is preparing to row back on fracking regulations after officials said they were considering reviewing earthquake safeguard rules”, the Guardian reports. The regulations on shale gas fracking are contested by industry because they bring an “immediate halt to fracking if even a minor tremor of 0.5 on the Richter scale is recorded”, the Guardian says. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said they “would consider opening a review of the existing fracking rules”, the Guardian says, following the outcome of a study by the Oil and Gas Authority.
Claire Perry, minister and the UK’s nomination for president of the 2020 global UN climate change summit to be held in Glasgow, writes in the Scotsman on why the event “should be the most important since the meeting that led to the landmark Paris Agreement”. The purpose of Glasgow’s Conference of the Parties (COP) is to “commit to shared action and it has been the actions of each of the four nations that make up our United Kingdom that has allowed us to bid for this event with confidence”, Perry says. “We have been in the vanguard of climate action and, as we leave the EU, we have an opportunity to set a gold standard for environmental policies. But we cannot do it alone.”
The New York Times carries a feature on the Adani coal mine project in Australia. The mine, which has been subject to controversy over its environmental impact and costing issues, is spearheaded by the $14 billion Adani Group – “a sprawling conglomerate with interests in energy, agribusiness, real estate and defence, among other sectors”, the New York Times says. The group, and its leader, Gautam Adani, “leveraged both business acumen and politics to realise its plan, securing generous support from the Indian government to build its latest coal-fired power plant”, the New York Times reports.
Emissions from wildfires can impact the formation of severe storms, a new study says. The study says that “both the heat flux and aerosol emissions” from wildfires can “increase low-level temperatures and mid-level thermal buoyancy significantly, causing stronger upward motion that lifts more supercooled water to higher levels”. The rising of super-cooled water can lead to bigger hail stones enhanced lightning, the research says.
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