Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Cars and coal help drive 'strong' CO2 rise in 2018
- WHO: Health benefits outweigh costs of meeting Paris Agreement climate goals
- Climate change: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than at any time in last 400 years, researchers warn
- Brazil warns against sidelining poorer countries on climate
- Climate change made UK heatwave 30 times more likely – Met Office
- France protests: Fuel tax rises in 2019 budget dropped
- A black hole of coal is swallowing worldwide green good intentions
- Nonlinear rise in Greenland runoff in response to post-industrial Arctic warming
A “booming global market” for cars has helped drive CO2 emissions to an all-time high in 2018, according to researchers, the BBC reports. The research, from the Global Carbon Project (GCP), says this year’s emissions are projected to rise by 2.7%, which BBC News adds is “much bigger than 2017’s 1.6%”. The main factor in the near 3% rise, however, has been coal use in China, adds BBC News. The research “dash[es] hopes” a plateau of carbon emissions in recent years would be maintained, the Guardian says. The findings “smash[…] hopes” that the world had reached peak emissions, says the Independent, which attributes the rise to “growing energy demands combined with an unwillingness by many nations to let go of coal and oil”. The GCP is a team of researchers from 50 universities and institutes who study energy statistics and economic forecasts. They say the results show the chances if avoiding dangerous climate change are diminishing, with a projected increase of CO2 emissions to 37.1bn tonnes in 2018, the Times says. The scientists compared the quickening rate of CO2 emissions to a “speeding freight train”, says the New York Times. Study lead author Prof Corinne Le Quéré, a climate change researcher at the University of East Anglia in England, tells Associated Press the increase is a surprising “reality check” after a few years of smaller emission increases. “But she also doesn’t think the world will return to the even larger increases seen from 2003 to 2008,” AP adds. The MailOnline coverage notes that Britain is “one of just 19 countries where emissions have been reduced and the economy has grown over the last decade”. India, the third-highest contributor to CO2 emissions, is expected to see a 6.3% rise in emissions from 2017, the Hindu reports. The findings were widely covered elsewhere across the media, including in Quartz, BusinessGreen, Axios, the Washington Post, the Hill, Reuters, the Financial Times and the Scotsman. Carbon Brief also covers the new data.
Meeting global climate goals could save one million lives a year by 2050 says a widely-covered World Health Organisation (WHO) study, reports BusinessGreen. Overall, the WHO report finds economic benefits of improved health would far outweigh the costs of taking climate action, BusinessGreen adds. Cutting fossil fuel use would help reduce emissions and also avoid air pollution, notes the Guardian’s coverage. It adds that the WHO report had been requested by leaders at the UN climate summit meeting in Poland this week and next. According to Reuters: “Maria Neira, WHO’s director for public health, said exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year.” The WHO report says meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in avoided ill health, according to CNN.
Greenland’s ice sheets are melting faster than at any time in the last 400 years, report the Independent and others. The new research finds runoff from the ice sheet is increasing due to climate change, the Guardian reports, adding that sea levels “may rise more rapidly due to Greenland ice melt”. It adds that the Greenland ice sheet is the largest single source of meltwater adding to the world’s ocean volumes. InsideClimate News quotes lead author Luke Trusel in its headline, saying ice melt has gone into “overdrive”. For MailOnline and the Daily Express, the melting rate is “unprecedented”. The Sun also has the story.
Brazil has warned against freezing developing nations out of negotiations at the ongoing UN climate summit, the Associated Press reports. It quotes J. Antonio Marcondes, Brazil’s chief negotiator at the talks, saying: “What must be avoided at all costs is developing countries being sidelined or presented with take-it-or-leave-it texts.” Meanwhile, environment minister Catherine McKenna has said that Canada will be ready to set tougher emissions-cutting plans when the Paris agreement kicks in by the end of 2020, says Canada’s National Observer. Politicosays the EU has invited others to “join ambition camp” at the climate talks. An overnight briefing on the talks from BusinessGreen meanwhile says that businesses are “banding together” to call for the development of “sound” carbon accounting mechanisms. Climate Home News has an explainer on the “rulebook” being agreed in Katowice at the summit. “These are the guidelines that will define how climate action is implemented, and accounted for, over the coming decades,” it says. Separately, Poland’s Michal Kurtyka, president of the COP24 talks, tells Reuters he is working towards an ambitious deal that respects “the letter and the spirit” of Paris. He also says it is the energy ministry, not the president, that sets policy, adds Reuters. And a Politico story sets out why in Katowice, the host city of the climate talks, “coal is king no more”.
The sweltering heat that hit the UK this summer was made 30 times more likely by human-caused climate change, the Guardian reports. The Met Office analysis said that without rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, “such heatwaves would happen every other year by mid-century”, the Guardian adds. The new computer modelling analysis compared the actual climate with that of the natural climate which would have occurred without human-induced emissions, says Sky News. Without warming the odds of a UK heatwave in any given year were less than half a percent, BBC News says, but a changing climate means this has risen to 12%, “or about once every eight years”. BBC News quotes Prof Peter Stott, who carried out the analysis and announced the findings at global climate talks in Katowice, Poland: “Climate change has made the heatwave we had this summer much more likely, about 30 times more likely than it would have been had we not changed our climate through our emissions of greenhouse gases.” The Sun says temperatures this summer have only been equalled three times since 1910, and notes Met Office findings that by mid century there will be a 50% chance of summers as hot as this year, “making the sweltering conditions the norm”. The Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Telegraphand Carbon Brief are among other outlets covering the findings.
“Outside of the desperate and the deluded, everyone knows that the world is in the early stages of a truly catastrophic climate change,” says an editorial in today’s Guardian. “We know what to do. We can see how to do it. There’s only one problem: we do almost nothing.” The editorial points to figures out today from the Global Carbon Project showing global carbon emissions this year will be higher than ever before. It concludes: “We must also learn somehow to disrupt the political and economic feedback loops which are driving our civilisation to the brink of catastrophe.”
Meanwhile, an editorial in the Irish edition of the Times says the “warming goal of 1.5C…seems to be slipping out of grasp”. “The point of the Poland climate conference is to create a set of rules which will commit the signatories to more concrete measures,” it continues. “One of the tasks of the delegates should be to adapt this rule book to bind China into the same conditions as other countries. This would help to persuade the US to return to active climate diplomacy, if not in the Trump presidency then in the next.” But “above all”, government policy and spending should focus on mobilising private capital, it concludes.
Nature also has an editorial on the UN talks, which argues incoming Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s withdrawal of his country’s offer to host the next UN climate conference in 2019 shows “global warming is far from the top of the political agenda in some countries”. “But it also acts as a reminder that political cooperation remains the only effective defence we have against the worst effects of climate change – which would mean a more hostile world for us all,” the editorial says.
The rate of melting of the Greenland ice sheet in recent decades is “exceptional over at least the last 350 years”, a new study finds. The researchers developed a record of surface melt intensity and runoff back to 1650 by analysing melt layers in ice cores from western Greenland. They then linked these layers to broader melt processes across Greenland in the modern era. The findings suggest that increases in ice sheet melt “closely follow the onset of industrial-era Arctic warming in the mid-1800s”, but that the magnitude of melting “has only recently emerged beyond the range of natural variability”. “Continued atmospheric warming will lead to rapid increases in Greenland ice sheet runoff and sea-level contributions,” the authors conclude.