Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Britain, Canada ally to boost support for global coal phase-out
- Trump’s Answer to Global Warming, in Bonn? Drill, Baby, Drill!
- US strategic supremacy is alive and well, led by energy
- UK funds rank worst for climate change impact
- Global climate action must be gender equal
- Should coastal planners have concern over where land ice is melting?
- US biofuels policy contributes to global warming: study
- Climate action by China, India to offset Trump: study
Reuters secured the exclusive that today will see the UK and Canada launching a new “coal phase-out” alliance called “Powering Past Coal” at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The Marshall Islands is also behind the alliance: “The pact is expected to attract at least another nine countries, a source close to the matter told Reuters. Mexico, France, Finland, New Zealand, Italy and an African country, are expected to sign up on Thursday, as well as at least 20 other entities including US states, Canadian provinces and businesses.” Meanwhile, elsewhere at the COP, the political element of the talks ratcheted up significantly yesterday with a wave of leaders and ministers addressing delegates. Reuters reports that “France, Germany urge more action on climate after Trump quits”. Angela Merkel, reports the Guardian, said in her speech that climate change will “determine the wellbeing of all of us”. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, used his speech to pledge financial support to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which Donald Trump has said will no longer be funded by the US. “They will not not miss a single euro,” he said, according to the Hill. BBC News also carries this story about the IPCC funding, adding that the UK government has also pledged to double its funding to help cover the US shortfall. The Financial Times reports that campaigners were upset that Merkel, who is in the midst of delicate coalition talks, had not used her speech to set out how Germany plans to move beyond coal. The Independent focuses on the speech by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres who said that climate change is the “defining threat of our time”. BBC News reports on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech. Scotland’s first minister said her government would “come to an early decision” on when it would aim to have net zero emissions. Meanwhile, at the talks themselves, Climate Home News reports that developing countries have won concessions on pre-2020 climate action, an issue that had been holding up the talks since they started last week: “Moroccan diplomats, who were charged with brokering a resolution, found unanimity on Wednesday morning. The final document will put pressure on rich countries to take action on carbon cuts and climate finance.” Reuters says that EU ministers have used the occasion of the talks to meet and discuss how to finally ratify the 2012 Doha Amendment as a united bloc. Coal-reliant Poland is resisting among the EU bloc. “The Doha Amendment [which would extend the Kyoto protocol up to 2020] must be endorsed by at least 140 countries for it to come into force. As of the end of October, 84 countries had ratified it, according to the United Nations’ climate website,” explains Reuters. Politico says that the alliance between the EU and China is under strain due to the issue of “differentiation” [a recognised division between rich and poor countries], which it says China is seeking to inject back into the talks. The New York Times says that delegates are “tiptoeing around the single largest topic of discussion here — the American retreat from leadership on climate change and the Trump administration’s moves to undermine domestic global warming policy and international climate diplomacy”. E&E News notes that two of the Trump officials at the talks have gone home “for family reasons”. The Guardian reports that indigenous groups have won greater climate recognition, whereas DesmogUK focuses on how “industry is betting big on CCS as a ‘shield’ for fossil fuels” at the talks.
British funds rank worst in Europe for climate change impact, in a sign that UK asset managers are lagging behind their peers when assessing the investment risks of global warming. According to new research organised by CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), only a fifth of funds run by portfolio managers based in the UK received top scores for climate impact, taking into account factors such as portfolio holdings, compared with 60% in Sweden. Ben Caldecott, director of the sustainable finance programme at the University of Oxford, told the FT that asset managers in general are “doing incredibly little to properly understand environmental risks, particularly climate risks, and to effectively integrate this into their decision making”.
US renewable fuel mandates are contributing to global warming, boosting carbon emissions as farmers turn carbon-rich areas like wetlands and forests into cropland to grow corn, soy and wheat for biofuels production, according to a study by scientists at the University of Wisconsin. Reuters adds: “The scientists said it could take 50 years for biofuels to reduce carbon emissions as they were designed to do, since any reduction stemming from blending them into petroleum products is offset by more carbon emissions from clearing new farmland.”
Global warming is likely to be slightly less severe than previously expected thanks to stronger climate policies by China and India that will offset less US action under President Donald Trump, according to a new study by Carbon Action Tracker (CAT). However, current policies mean the world is still headed for a warming of 3.4C by 2100, down from 3.6C CAT predicted a year ago.
The New Yorker’s environment writer zooms in on how Donald Trump’s administration has been engaging with the world at COP23 in Bonn: “One way to interpret what the Trump Administration is up to with its absurd denials of climate science is as a play for time. Someday, the world will have to get serious about climate change, and at that point fossil-fuel use will have to decline dramatically. Whatever the Administration can do to put off that day will benefit American producers of fossil fuels. In a world where energy demand is continuing to rise, many tens of billions of dollars stand to be made. However incompetent the Administration may be in other realms, it has proven itself remarkably adept in this one…Whatever happens (or doesn’t) this week in Bonn, the Trump Administration and its cronies in the fossil-fuel industry—the two groups are, admittedly, often interchangeable—are making it that much harder to curtail emissions. The future that’s being ‘locked in’ looks increasingly grim.”
Evans-Pritchard notes that both the IEA and OPEC have now “capitulated” over the fact that US shale gas means the US will achieve “unparalleled dominance” of global oil and gas supply by the mid-2020s. However, he adds: “What they do not acknowledge – the Déformation professionnelle of the oil culture – is that it will be followed by a Chinese and Indian switch to post-fossil transport in the 2030s. The imperatives of climate policy will force this shift to electrification, Trump or no Trump. This sequence has grim implications for Russia and the hydrocarbon regimes that have failed to diversify, and for the oil majors with such a heavy weighting on the London Stock Exchange. It means the cyclical recovery of crude prices may be stunted, and painfully slow, before giving way to “peak oil” and irreversible decline as electric vehicles and electric short-haul aircraft reach critical scale.” His pay-off? “Energy ascendancy gives the US another a quarter century of formidable clout. But note too that the pioneer of EV disruption is an American company: Tesla.”
The Marshall Islands president writes in the Guardian that women bear the heaviest brunt of global warming and are less empowered to contribute to solutions. But she says that at COP23 in Bonn this week governments will agree on a Gender Action Plan: “In the next two years, the plan will aim to increase the number of female climate decision-makers, train male and female policymakers on bringing gender equality into climate funding programmes, and engage grassroots and indigenous women’s organisations for local and global climate action.”
A new study investigates “sea level fingerprints” – the regional impacts of sea level rise as land ice melts and the Earth’s gravitational field is altered. The researchers apply their technique to 293 major port cities around the world, creating a new diagnosis tool for coastal planners. The findings show, for example, that London “is significantly affected by changes on the western part of the Greenland Ice Sheet”, whereas sea level projections for New York “are greatly sensitive to changes in the northeastern portions” of the same ice sheet.
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