Today's climate and energy headlines:
- BP to keep a lid on emissions to 2025
- Kids sue Rick Scott for ‘immoral’ silence on climate change
- Canada: Trudeau vows to push ahead with pipeline plans in spite of protests
- Volcano eruptions to become more common ‘thanks to global warming’
- Green investors urge Morrisons to join global warming fight
- Greenpeace says coral at Amazon mouth should bar Total oil drilling
- Australia: Northern Territory lifts fracking ban, opening up 700,000 sq km to gas exploration
- The courts are deciding who's to blame for climate change
- Letters: Not even the remotest corner of the Commonwealth remains unaffected or unthreatened by climate change
- Experimental effects of climate messages vary geographically
- Special feature: Climate Change, Policy, and Carbon Sequestration in China
- Reduction of tree cover in West African woodlands and promotion in semi-arid farmlands
BP has taken its first clear steps in the battle to tackle climate change, reports the Telegraph, vowing to cap its greenhouse gas emissions until 2025. A new strategy sees the firm plan to cut 3.5 million tons of carbon from its operations each year. BP said it will keep carbon emissions flat over the decade to 2025 even as its oil and gas output is set to grow, Reuters reports. The firm aims to do this through higher production of gas, reducing leakage of methane and limiting flaring of excess gas, Reuters adds. But environmental leaders dismissed the new strategy as “greenwash” and a lightweight response to climate change, reports the Guardian., since it has no target for its biggest contribution to warming: the burning of oil, coal and gas. “Who cares about operational emissions?,” said Tom Burke, the chairman of environmental thinktank E3G and a former BP adviser. “The problem is they have nothing to say on their product. This is a 20th century response to a 21st century problem.” Separately, Shell has urged shareholders to reject a resolution from activist investors that would tie it to firm targets for cutting carbon emissions from its products, the Financial Times reports. Ben van Beurden, Shell chief executive, promised to “show leadership” in the shift towards a lower-carbon energy system but said the group could only move as fast as society allowed. Reuters also has the story.
A group of children on Monday filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, claiming he “endangered” their future and violated their constitutional rights by not doing anything to combat climate change. The eight young Florida residents are demanding that the state begin working on a court-ordered, science-based “Climate Recovery Plan,” the Miami Herald reported. Inside Climate News and The Hill also report on the new lawsuit.
Justin Trudeau has said Canada’s government is prepared to use taxpayer dollars to push forward plans for controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, the Guardian reports. The move comes despite protests and efforts by a provincial government to halt the project on environmental grounds. Reutersreports that Canada’s government had only 24 hours notice that it would be thrust into a political and economic crisis by an ultimatum from Kinder Morgan to resolve the impasse or it would walk away. The deadline left Trudeau scrambling for options in a dispute that could damage his re-election chances, according to Reuters.
The melting of Ice in the north and south poles due to warming, could lead to the eruptions of volcanoes, the Express reports. Ice sheets and glaciers can help to maintain the structure of volcanoes and mountains, but researchers studying ice sheets and volcanoes in Canada said they found a correlation between high temperature, ice melting and landslides. Professor David Rothery, a geoscientist at The Open University, said: “Eruptions are triggered by a complex array of factors. I suspect that many eruptions caused by glacial melting might happen eventually anyway, given enough time – but this research shows that warming could increase the chances of those eruptions happening sooner rather than later.”
Investor action group ShareAction is pushing Morrisons to increase its climate goals before its annual general meeting. The group urged Morrisons, the only big four supermarket to own its own farms, to increase its use of renewable energy and electric vehicles. Several of its rivals, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Asda’s owner Walmart, have already signed up to an initiative to limit global warming to below 2C.
Plans by French major Total plans to drill for oil should be banned, Greenpeace said on Monday, due to a coral reef near the mouth of the Amazon extending further than previously thought. Scientists aboard a Greenpeace ship documented the existence of coral in the area off the northern coast of Brazil in an area that could hold up to 14 billion barrels of petroleum. “Now that we know that the Amazon coral overlaps the perimeter of Total’s two blocks, the Brazilian government has no choice but to deny the license for the company to explore for oil in the region,” Greenpeace said in a statement. Carbon Brief discussed Brazil’s coral reefs and plans for BP and Total to drill in the region near the mouth of the Amazon river in its climate and energy profile of Brazil published last month.
The government of the Northern Territory in Australia has lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing of onshore gas, the Guardian reports. The move will open up more than half of the territory’s land mass to the controversial practice, with the first exploration fracking by petroleum firms expected to occur in early 2019. Meanwhile, consultancy Wood Mackenzie has said it expects China’s shale gas production to reach 17 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2020, nearly double the 2017 level, reports Reuters. Nearly 700 new wells will come onstream by 2020 at three key projects. But this still means China is set to fall short of its 2020 target of 30 bcm shale gas production, the Financial Times reports. Carbon Brief last year wrote a detailed explainer on the return of fracking in the UK and what it could mean for the climate.
“There are numerous ongoing legal challenges in an effort to determine who’s responsible for climate change,” writes Dana Nuccitelli for the Guardian in a piece looking at cases against Shell and Exxon and the US government. “At the heart of these legal challenges lies the question – who bears culpability for climate change and liability for its costs and consequences?” …”There’s plenty of blame to go around for the mounting climate costs, but so far, taxpayers are footing the whole bill. There may eventually be a court case in which the fossil fuel industry, like the tobacco industry before it, is held responsible for its role in deceiving the American public about the dangers of carbon pollution.”
As heads of government from the Commonwealth meet in London this week, a group of faith leaders from every Commonwealth country have written a letter urging governments to commit to “urgent action on climate change adaptation and mitigation, in line with the Paris Agreement”. Setting out the ways different parts of the world are being affected by climate change, they continue: “The Charter of the Commonwealth affirms the foundations for cooperation between nations. But it is time to turn words into action.”
New research maps the responsiveness of the US population to communicating the scientific consensus on climate change. A national randomised survey experiment shows that, on average, public perception of the consensus increases by 16 percentage points after the consensus “message” is communicated. However, there is substantial variation across different states and local areas, the researchers find, with responsiveness highest in more conservative parts of the country.
A series of articles in a “Climate Change, Policy, and Carbon Sequestration in China” special feature examine how the distribution and magnitude of carbon stores and carbon sequestration in China vary in response to climate change and other human activities. Together, the articles “document how policies such as ecological restoration and improved crop residue management have contributed to increased carbon sequestration in recent decades”.
Farmland expansion causes “a considerable reduction of trees in woodlands” in West Africa, a new study says, but safeguarding of trees by rural communities in the Sahel “contradicts simplistic ideas of a high negative correlation between population density and woody cover”. Researchers used high resolution satellite imagery to map woody vegetation across tropical West African drylands. The results show woody cover in farmlands along all semi-arid and sub-humid rainfall zones is 16%, on average only 6% lower than in undeveloped savannahs. However, farmlands in sub-humid zones have a greatly reduced woody cover (21%) as compared with savannahs (33%), the researchers say.
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