Today's climate and energy headlines:
- In depth: Trust high but progress slow at UN climate talks in Bonn
- Oxygen is an overlooked factor in past climate, study suggests
- The Carbon Brief Interview: Christiana Figueres
- Climate change could cut growing days of plants and crops by 11%
- Bonn meeting ends with last-minute compromise on Paris climate text
- UN welcomes oil groups' help to fight global warming
- Australia 'overstated' emissions to make climate target look ambitious
- Climate sceptic researcher investigated over funding from fossil fuel firms
- U.N.: Pope's encyclical may have 'major impact' on climate talks
- Tony Abbott brags that he halted the spread of 'visually awful' wind farms
- Divestment: It is not all or nothing
- Bonn climate summit brings us slowly closer to a global deal
- Spatial coherence and change of opposite white spruce temperature sensitivities on floodplains in Alaska confirms early-stage boreal biome shift
- Unambiguous warming in the western tropical Pacific primarily caused by anthropogenic forcing
- The dispersal of alien species redefines biogeography in the Anthropocene
Diplomats have completed the latest round of UN talks on
climate change, intended to whittle down a draft text into
something that could form the basis of a UN climate agreement this
December. After two weeks of negotiations the text now stands at 85
pages, but the final deal signed in Paris is expected to come in at
around 15 pages, so progress might seem minimal. But behind the
scenes, trust between parties is growing. Simon Evans and Sophie
Yeo report from Bonn.
It’s well established how carbon dioxide, methane and water
vapour affect our climate. But a new study suggests another gas may
have played a role in Earth’s long climate history – oxygen.
Natural variations could help piece together the Earth’s past
climate, and explain why climate models tend to simulate
temperatures 100m years ago that are lower than scientific evidence
An exclusive interview with Executive Secretary of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Bonn
climate change conference. Carbon Brief speaks to Christiana
Figueres on defining success in Paris, how the IPCC can complement
the UNFCCC, and the feasibility of the 1.5C climate limit.
The number of days each year when conditions are suitable
for plants to grow could fall as the climate warms, according to
new research. Researchers in Hawaii found rising temperatures and
falling soil moisture could curtail growth of plants and crops
across much of the tropics. But other scientists, not involved in
the study, tell Carbon Brief the new research may have
overestimated the negative impacts of climate change.
Climate and energy news.
Climate change negotiators meeting in Bonn yesterday came up
with a last-minute compromise that observers hope will put the
talks on track for a new global agreement on greenhouse gases. The
talks in Bonn were a staging post on the way to a “crunch
conference” in Paris this December. The UN said progress had been
made towards streamlining the text of a new climate agreement, but
with just four pages cut in two weeks, many NGOs are calling for a
faster pace, the BBCreports. The World Resources
Institute said progress had been “slow” and did not match strong
signals for ambitious climate action from outside the negotiations.
Laurence Tubiana, special representative for the Paris climate
conference, said the talks had gained the trust of parties. “I’m
feeling optimistic after these two weeks,” she said. “We should
not be frustrated and disappointed.” The climate negotiations also
resulted in a “surprise deal” to compensate developing nations that
agree to preserve their forests, Gristwrites. RTCCalso carried the story.
The UN will accept an unusual offer from six of Europe’s
largest oil and gas groups to help it fight global warming as
countries work on sealing a new international climate change
agreement due in December. The proposal from companies including
Royal Dutch Shell and Britain’s BP was “very, very welcome”, the
UN’s top climate official, Christiana Figueres, told the Financial
Times. Chief executives of the six companies wrote to Figueres in
May saying they wanted to help countries devise a global
carbon-pricing system ahead of the climate agreement. The move laid
bare a transatlantic rift between some of the world’s largest
energy groups, after US oil producers, Chevron and ExxonMobil,
declined to join.
Australia is on course to meet its carbon-cutting goal for
2020 – but the government deserves little credit, writes RTCC.
Energy analysts say it “systemically overstated” projections of
carbon dioxide, failing to reflect slower emission growth from its
slackening economy. Set to meet a 5% cut on 2005 levels by 2020, a
report by RepuTex found that the country is using erroneously high
forecasts and “pocketing the difference”.
Dr Willie Soon from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics is being probed over a failure to disclose more than
$1.2m from the energy industry when submitting articles. A handful
of academic journals have asked Willie Soon – who is frequently
held up as an authority by those who reject the underlying science
behind climate change – to explain himself the the Climate
Investigations Center (CIC) told the Guardian. Soon is also under
two parallel ethics investigations by the Smithsonian, a
spokesperson for the institution said.
Pope Francis is likely to have a major impact in spurring UN
negotiations on global warming with an encyclical on the
environment next week, the UN’s climate chief said yesterday. “Pope
Francis is personally committed to this issue like no other pope
before him,” Christiana Figueres told a news conference at the
climate talks in Bonn. She predicted that the encyclical, a letter
sent to bishops, due next Thursday would add a moral dimension to
work on climate change for many believers, Reuters reports.
Figueres, who met the Pope at the Vatican last year for a private
audience, is in “little doubt” of his commitment to using his
position to make a difference, RTCCwrites.
With a 22,300-mile coastline, offshore winds and almost
perpetual sunshine, Australia could be leading the world in the
transition to renewables. But that is unlikely to happen under
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has proclaimed coal to be “good for
humanity” – and who revealed that he detests wind farms, calling
them noisy and “visually awful”, the Independent reports. Abbott
said that he had halted the spread of wind farms by slashing the
amount of energy to be generated by renewable sources by 2020.
Climate and energy comment.
With tiered divestment fast emerging as one of the most
influential investment trends in recent history, fossil fuel majors
would be wise to adapt their business plans accordingly, writes
James Murray of Business Green. The tiered approach to divestment
demonstrates how those – including London Mayor Boris Johnson –
suggesting that full-blown fossil fuel divestment will push the
energy industry and the global economy off a cliff edge are “so
wide of the mark”.
Negotiations are slow, but in Bonn they seemed to be
starting to move firmly towards a new global climate agreement in
Paris, Henry says. As always, “the devil is in the detail”, he
says. How much ambition, finance, energy, and teeth and we’ll see
in an ultimate Paris agreement rests on the work to be done and
goodwill between now and then.
New climate science.
Warming in Alaska is causing a shift in the distribution of
trees, a new study says. Rising summer temperatures have seen
growth of the white spruce tree decline to record low levels in
Interior Alaska, while making higher elevations and the western
part of the state more suitable, the study finds. The changes had
been predicted from model simulations, but the results show they
are already underway, the researchers say.
A warming trend in the tropical western Pacific Ocean over
the past 50 ?years has already emerged beyond natural variability,
new research finds. Researchers use climate model simulations to
show the warming is primarily caused by human influences on the
climate. Projections for the future suggest further temperature
increases will far exceed the warming seen so far, the researchers
Humans are causing a shift in the geographical distribution
of animal species, but climate controls where they go next, says a
new study. Researchers compared the global distribution of native
gastropods with those inadvertently introduced along trade routes.
They found that native snails and slugs are limited by how far they
can physically travel, whereas the human-assisted snails can travel
as far as climatic conditions will allow.
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