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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Caroline Lucas urges parliament to ‘seriously consider’ tax on meat
Caroline Lucas urges parliament to ‘seriously consider’ tax on meat


Caroline Lucas urges parliament to 'seriously consider' tax on meat

Parliament must “seriously consider” a tax on meat to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Green party MP Caroline Lucas will today tell the Oxford Farming Conference, reports the Guardian in an exclusive. Lucas will say a meat tax in the UK could be offset for more sustainable meat producers through more money for environment-friendly agriculture schemes, the Guardian adds. “If the world’s diet doesn’t change, we simply can’t avoid the worst effects of climate change,” Lucas will say. Environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday told the conference that wide-ranging reform is urgently needed in the industry so it can capitalise on new technologies, safeguard the natural environment, and adapt to a changing climate, reports BusinessGreen. But farming group Nature Friendly Farming Network also said at the conference that the government’s vision for post-Brexit farming does not provide enough protection for the environment, putting food production at risk, reports the Independent. Martin Lines, chair of the network and an arable farmer in Cambridgeshire, told the Independent he was not entirely reassured by the minister’s pronouncements, saying: “He’s saying a lot but there’s not enough detail…Poor farming practices need to be challenged and changed – any farmer that is delivering poor practices needs help and support in changing their farming methods.” (The Independent also has an article asking how realistic Gove’s “green Brexit” vision is.) BusinessGreenreports comments from Minette Batters, head of the National Farmers Union, at the conference that UK farmers should aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 or earlier. Meanwhile, the Daily Express carries an article entitled “Welcome to Veganuary!” on the trend to pledge to go vegan for the first month of the year. The article includes comment from Emma Weinbren, food trends editor at the Grocer magazine, that sales of meat-free and vegan items have increased by 14.3% over the past year. Rich Hardy, head of campaigns at Veganuary, suggested stark warnings from scientists about the environmental cost of meat are what have persuaded many Britons to give veganism a try, says the Express. Meanwhile the Daily Mirror reports that Italian restaurant chain Zizzi has launched its first ever vegan four cheese pizza.

The Guardian Read Article
UK upends economic orthodoxy that growth needs more power

Widespread news coverage continues of Carbon Brief analysis, published yesterday, which showed UK electricity generation in 2018 fell to the lowest level since 1994 even as its economy has grown. Bloomberg notes that: “Britain is consuming less electricity even as its population grows, upending assumptions that expanding economies need to be coupled with rising power consumption.” EdieUtilityWeekPowerMagHerald ScotlandreNEWS.bizMontelBusinessGreen and iNews have all covered the story since yesterday. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror and the Belfast Telegraph give additional tips from the Energy Saving Trust on how to save energy in 2019.

Bloomberg Read Article
House energy panel to dedicate first hearing to climate change

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold its first hearing under the chamber’s new Democratic majority on climate change, reports the Hill. Frank Pallone, who became the panel’s chairman when the new Democratic-majority House was sworn in yesterday, said climate will come before other major issues within the committee’s jurisdiction, including healthcare and technology, says the Hill. “Part of the reason why we want to deal with climate change first is because of the necessity, because of what’s happening, the acceleration of global warming,” Pallone told reporters. InsideClimate News has an article looking at the push for a Green New Deal from new congress members. “I think the energy of the activists and the new members is actually crucial for us to pass meaningful climate legislation,” says Paul Bledsoe, a strategic advisor to the Progressive Policy Institute. “…The question, Bledsoe adds, “is how to channel that vision into popular and politically powerful messages, policies and, ultimately, actionable legislation.” (Carbon Brief published an explainer on the Green New Deal last month.) Meanwhile, Axios reports that key Trump cabinet positions have been filled by former lobbyists. Former oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt, who became acting secretary of the Interior on Wednesday following the departure of Ryan Zinke, is “just the latest in a revolving door of special interests to take over key positions in the president’s cabinet,” says Axios. A USA Today article, meanwhile, looks at how local governments in the US are spending millions to protest against climate change.

The Hill Read Article
Efforts to make buildings greener are not working

“Ever since the Romans began to build with fired-clay bricks and concrete, construction has been a polluting industry,” says Moelv in an article looking at how rules “zero energy” buildings do not go far enough to make buildings green. A second Economist article looks at why more buildings should be made of wood: “The energy required to produce a laminated wooden beam is one-sixth of that required for a steel one of comparable strength,” it says.

The Economist Read Article
Al Gore: America is close to a ‘political tipping point’ on climate change

“Al Gore is mostly done with politics these days…[but] remains engaged on his signature policy issue: climate change,” says Atlantic staff writer Dovere ahead of a detailed interview with Gore on the topic. When asked where he sees the politics of climate change right now, Gore replies: “I think that we are extremely close to a political tipping point. We may actually be crossing it right about now… More and more people on the conservative side of the spectrum are really changing their positions now. This election, in 2020, is almost certainly going to be different from any previous presidential election in that a number of candidates will be placing climate at or near the top of their agenda.”

The Atlantic Read Article

BBC News.

Hotel to operate on battery power in Edinburgh

The Gyle Premier Inn in Edinburgh is claimed to be the first hotel in the UK to be powered by battery, reports BBC News. The Gyle Premier Inn has installed a five-tonne lithium battery, which will charge from the national grid in off-peak periods and power the 200-room site for several hours each day. Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, said the trial of battery storage technology would help its commitment to halve its carbon emissions by 2025. The hotel expects the battery will save the it £20,000 a year on its energy bill, the BBC adds.

BBC News Read Article


Climate change would lead to a sharp acceleration of Central African forests dynamics by the end of the century

Impacts of climate change on Central African forests, which contain a great number of different species, are still largely unknown. This study examines results from a long-term experiment done in the Central African Republic to build a model of the expected impacts of climate change on the region. They projected future changes to forests up to the end of the century, under both a constant climate and Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5. Projections under climate change showed a general increase in growth, mortality and recruitment. This acceleration in forest dynamics led to a strong natural thinning effect, with different magnitudes across species. These differences caused a compositional shift in favour of long-lived pioneers, at the detriment of shade-bearers.

Environmental Research Letters Read Article


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