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Daily Briefing

29.08.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Brazil announces South American meeting on Amazon, accepts Chile’s help
Brazil announces South American meeting on Amazon, accepts Chile’s help

News.

Brazil announces South American meeting on Amazon, accepts Chile's help

There is continued worldwide coverage of the political reaction to the Amazon fires. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday that he would meet with other South American countries in September to set common policy for the Amazon, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, “his foreign minister told Reuters the nation should be seen as an environmental hero”, the article adds. Bolsonaro also accepted Chile’s offer of four aircraft to help fight the fires – “an indication that Bolsonaro, a far-right conservative, is forging closer ties with neighbouring countries than with European nations”, Reuters says. However, the Daily Telegraph reports that Bolsonaro has now accepted £10m in aid to fight the fires from the UK. But he also “doubled down” on his refusal to accept aid from G7 countries until he receives a “personal apology” from French president Emmanuel Macron, who labelled him “a liar” last week, the report adds. BBC News reports that ministers close to Bolsonaro said he is also unlikely to accept G7 aid unless it would have the “total governance of the Brazilian people”. The Hill reports that the September meeting will involve every Amazon country except Venezuela.

Meanwhile, an investigation by Reuters finds that Bolsonaro’s government is actively “undermining” the country’s environment agency, which is tasked with protecting the Amazon rainforest. Reuters’ findings are based on “interviews with ten current and former employees, public records and a review of internal government reports”. Elsewhere, a report from BBC World Service looks at how the fires could damage progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement. Carbon Brief has produced an in-depth summary of the media’s coverage of the Amazon fires.

Reuters Read Article
Greta Thunberg: Climate change activist sails into New York City

Many publications report that Greta Thunberg has arrived in New York after a 15-day, 3,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic. She will now be participating in UN climate summits in New York City and Chile, BBC News reports. The New York Times reports that she arrived “with a message” for president Donald Trump. “My message to him is just to listen to the science, and he obviously doesn’t do that,” she told reporters on her arrival, according to the New York Times. The Washington Post covers the story with the headline: “A teen activist refused to take a gas-guzzling plane to a UN summit. She just arrived by boat to cheers.” The article reads: “When she docked at the North Cove Marina near the World Trade Center, Thunberg was met with raucous cheers and chants of ‘Greta! Greta!’ She carried a sign that read ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet,’ or ‘School strike for the climate’.” Her arrival in New York had been delayed by rough seas, the Guardian reports. Her arrival is also covered by Reuters, the Hill and the Independent. Elsewhere, BBC News asks: “Why are young climate activists [like Greta Thunberg] facing so much hate?” The Conversation carries a piece with the headline: “Greta Thunberg made it to New York emissions-free – but the ocean doesn’t yet hold the key to low-carbon travel.”

BBC News Read Article
Climate change linked to increase in UK flooding – study

Several publications report on a new study finding that floods in parts of the UK are becoming more severe as a result of climate change. Press Association reports that the new research found flood events are becoming increasingly severe in the north-west of Europe – including the UK – but are decreasing in severity in the south and east of the continent. The Independent reports that the north of England and southern Scotland will be the areas “worst affected” in the UK. These regions could see an 11% increase in river flood levels per decade as the climate warms, it adds. MailOnline and InsideClimate News also report on the study, which is published in Nature. The Guardian carries a separate report which finds some parts of the north could “run dry by 2035” as a result of climate change.

Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph Read Article
Germany approves aid for coal regions just before they go to polls

Germany’s cabinet backed a draft law on Wednesday to funnel billions in financial support to regions affected by plans to phase out coal – days before two of them hold crunch state elections, Reuters reports. The draft law commits state aid totalling €40bn (£36bn) spread over the next 20 years, “mostly to four regions affected by the plans to phase out coal by 2038 – part of Germany’s transition to renewable energy, known as the ‘Energiewende’”, Reuters says. Elsewhere, the Financial Times reports that a decline in new windfarms has “sparked concern” in Germany.

Reuters Read Article
Adani mine would be 'unviable' without $4.4bn in subsidies, report finds

The Adani coal mine project in Australia would be “unbankable and unviable” without government subsidies totalling AUS$4.4bn, according to a report seen by the Guardian. The report, by the Institute of Energy, Economics and Financial Analysis, a research institute that supports sustainable energy, concluded that the project would “benefit from several Australian taxpayer-funded arrangements – including subsidies, favourable deals and tax concessions – over its 30-year project life”, the Guardian says. “The project would be further supported by public handouts, tax breaks and special treatment provided to Adani Power, the proposed end-user of the thermal coal in India.” Elsewhere, a second story in the Guardian reports on how the Australian government is pressuring Unesco over how it will define the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Guardian Read Article

Comment.

Jair Bolsonaro, the Trump ally who is allowing the fires in the Amazon in Brazil to burn

The New Yorker profiles Jair Bolsonaro, the “far-right” president of Brazil. It reads: “Last year, Bolsonaro was elected the president of Brazil, after running a nationalistic campaign that echoed, in many ways, the politics of Donald Trump. A climate-change sceptic, Bolsonaro argued that more land in the Amazon rainforest should be opened for farming, mining, and logging. Under his leadership, Ibama’s [the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] budget has been cut by 24%. Bolsonaro has also repeatedly threatened to transform the Tamoios reserve into a Brazilian Cancún, brimming with tourist hotels.” Elsewhere, the New York Times takes a deep look at the fires currently burning in Africa, Indonesia and Siberia – as well as in the Amazon. A New York Times podcast also looks into the reasons why the Amazon is on fire. Writing to the Guardian, Bert Schouwenburg, a trade union advisor, says the fires “make a mockery of the European commission’s claim that a blockbuster free-trade agreement with the Mercosur (South American common market) countries will enhance what they euphemistically refer to as ‘sustainable development’.”

Carol Pires, The New Yorker Read Article

Science.

Reframing the carbon cycle of the subpolar Southern Ocean

Horizontal circulation in the subpolar Southern Ocean has more of an influence on how it releases and takes up carbon than previously thought, a new study suggests. The prevailing view was that the carbon cycle was largely controlled by “vertical overturning circulation and shelf-sea processes”, the researchers say. But new observations of the swirling ocean current called the Weddell Gyre indicate that horizontal circulation works in tandem with the vertical circulation to drive regional carbon uptake. The study concludes: “These results demonstrate that reframing the carbon cycle of the subpolar Southern Ocean is an essential step to better define its role in past and future climate change”.

Science Advances Read Article
Changing climate both increases and decreases European river floods

A new study identifies changes in the volume of water in European rivers over the past five decades – which are “manifestations of a changing climate”. Analysing “the most complete database of European flooding so far”, the researchers find that “increasing autumn and winter rainfall has resulted in increasing floods in northwestern Europe; decreasing precipitation and increasing evaporation have led to decreasing floods in medium and large catchments in southern Europe; and decreasing snow cover and snowmelt, resulting from warmer temperatures, have led to decreasing floods in eastern Europe”. “The flood changes identified here are broadly consistent with climate model projections for the next century,” the researchers say, “suggesting that climate-driven changes are already happening”.

Nature Read Article

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