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Daily Briefing

22.05.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING BP investors back climate change proposal amid activist pressure
BP investors back climate change proposal amid activist pressure

News.

BP investors back climate change proposal amid activist pressure

Investors in oil major BP voted overwhelmingly in favour of it reporting in detail how its investments are compatible with the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says, after a resolution was proposed by activist group Climate Action 100+. These reports could form the basis of shareholders’ decisions on the safety of their investments in the company, Bloomberg explains, and will come into effect next year. The move “is a clear signal for both the company and the industry to come up with stronger green strategies as they’re put under increasing pressure by activists and investors to cut emissions and play a bigger part in the energy transition”, Bloomberg writes. However, a second “more stringent” climate filing was not successful. The Financial Times also covers the story. An opinion piece by Matthew Vincent in the Financial Times’s Lombard column contrasts the policies of BP with Shell, which has “set targets for cutting greenhouse gases from all its products — and linked pay to them”, while BP has only set targets “for its own operations”. The commentary is critical of the management of BP: “If anyone should know which way the political wind is blowing — and how to respond to it — it is the management of a company supposedly committed to renewables.”

Bloomberg Read Article
Far-right MEPs could threaten EU climate policy, experts warn

An influx of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the far-right could pose a “toxic” threat to EU climate policy, according to senior MEPs and academics. The Guardian reports that populist parties are expected to take up a third of the parliamentary seats in the European elections tomorrow. “With key decisions looming on EU emissions targets, fears are growing that rightwingers could block or water down EU climate action,” the paper explains. Alexander Carius, the director of the Berlin-based Adelphi Institute thinktank, tells the paper: “Climate policy is going to be the new battleground between the democratic centre and rightwing populists attacking institutions and questioning the scientific foundation of decision-making.“ A study by the Adelphi Institute earlier this year found that found populist groups were using the electoral campaign trail to “raise tropes of scientific dissent, sovereignty, economic loss and a multilateral global elite to oppose the Paris climate agreement”.

The Guardian Read Article
Air pollution around Beijing rebounds as coal consumption rises by 13%

Air pollution levels around Beijing have increased by 6.5% versus the previous year, when the government’s winter air pollution action plan was in force, Unearthed reports. Air quality deteriorated as coal consumption increased during the past winter, according to analysis of government data by the Greenpeace Air Pollution Unit. Unearthed suggests that “future air quality gains are dependent on successfully reducing reliance on coal through accelerated clean energy investment and by setting strong coal reduction targets in energy plans and targets beyond 2020”. Elsewhere, Reuters reports that China has approved more than 20 gigawatts of subsidy-free wind and solar power projects.

Unearthed Read Article
Climate crisis more politically polarising than abortion for US voters, study finds

New data from Yale University has found that climate change divides Democrats and Republicans “even more that abortion”, the Guardian reports. When asked to rank topics important to them for the 2020 presidential election, Republicans put global warming last out of 29 issues, while Democrats placed the issue third. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale program on climate change communication, commented: “[Climate change] has climbed and climbed in importance for the Democratic base since the 2016 presidential election to the point that it’s now a top tier concern. We have never seen that in American politics before…And yet it’s dead last for conservative Republicans.” This growing alarm among Democrats “has already stirred the party’s presidential candidates”, the Guardian notes, adding that “it remains to be seen whether climate will fizzle out as a topic once a Democrat emerges to challenge Donald Trump”.

The Guardian Read Article
UK policies ‘inhibit’ Scotland hitting climate change target

The UK’s policies could “inhibit” Scotland from reaching its climate change target, Scotland’s climate change secretary has said, in comments picked up by the Scotsman. Roseanna Cunningham said that the UK government has to take decisions in “reserved” areas – where the UK government has reserved the power to legislate in Scotland – to enable Scotland to hit its proposed target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. She also criticised government plans to increase VAT on renewable technologies. Press Association also has the story.

The Scotsman Read Article

Comment.

The Guardian view on Greens in Europe: hopeful signs

“The European elections has a bracing message: that the environment is back on the political agenda,” says an editorial in the Guardian. “The remarkable achievement of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the school strikes movement she launched, combined with advances by Green Parties across Europe and the embrace of a Green New Deal by many potential Democratic presidential candidates, has been to shift the political mood in such a way as to give reason for hope as well as dread.” The piece concludes: “To halt the advance of rightwing populism and its anti-EU, anti-migrant rhetoric is the most urgent task facing Europe’s voters this week…But the role of Green politicians must not be overlooked, particularly when climate science denial is a key motif of the 21st-century far right.”

Editorial, The Guardian Read Article
UK should set conditions on a British Steel rescue

“The government should not throw good money after bad”, writes the Financial Times in an editorial, in reference to British Steel – which is owned by Greybull Capital – seeking its second government bailout within the space of a month. “Government bailouts of failing businesses are rarely a good idea”, the Financial Times suggests, “but the state should not abandon the plant”, noting that it “would be a hammer blow to the working-class community of Scunthorpe”, as well as a “national security issue”. It also cites environmental reasons for keeping it open: “There is little point in Britain shifting to low-carbon energy if the costs of the transition lead to more imports of steel from less green sources…Outsourcing production to China in response would do nothing for global carbon emissions.” The paper adds: “The price of further state support should be the removal of Greybull Capital from the equation.”

Editorial, Financial Times Read Article
Climate of fear

The Daily Mirror has a special edition edited by young people that includes an editorial about climate change. “Politicians are finally waking up to the urgent need for action on climate change”, the commentary begins. It continues: “Everyone can play their part in halting global warming but the responsibility rests primarily with our political leaders. More international pressure should be placed on countries which refuse to back the Paris accord, such as the US.” The paper also has an exclusive revealing that Springwatch presenter Chris ­Packham is “ashamed” of his ­generation for leaving the young to bear the burden of the climate crisis, as well as publishing a poll which found that climate change is a top issue among 1,000 British 13-to-18-year-olds.

Voice of the Mirror, Daily Mirror Read Article

Science.

Climate change, biological invasions, and the shifting distribution of Mediterranean fishes: A large‐scale survey based on local ecological knowledge

Fish species that are more tolerant of heat are increasingly appearing in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a survey of more than 500 fishers. The researchers surveyed both professional and recreational fishers across 95 locations and asked them if they had spotted any “new” species. “Overall, 75 species were mentioned by the respondents, mostly warm‐adapted species of both native and exotic origin,” the authors say.

Global Change Biology Read Article

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