Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Chile to close eight coal-fired power stations
- Companies see $1tn in climate risk, but more in potential reward
- Climate change an ‘unconscionable’ threat to peace: German foreign office
- Biden and Warren propose ambitious plans on climate change, reflecting Democratic urgency
- Teen activists face US government in crucial hearing over climate trial
- Donald Trump tells Prince Charles US is 'clean' on climate change
- The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response
- Ice thickness and bed elevation of the northern and southern Patagonian icefields
Chile, which is to host this year’s COP25 UN climate summit in December, has announced a plan to close eight coal-fired power stations over the next five years as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2050, AFP reports. These coal plants currently account for a fifth of the country’s power capacity, it adds. In total, Chile gets around 40% of its electricity from 28 coal plants, AFP says, adding: “The goal is to replace them all by 2040 and become fully carbon-neutral by 2050.” Climate Home News also has the story, noting that French firm Engie has last week opened a new coal plant in Chile. Meanwhile, BBC News reports on a “row” over Chinese-backed plans for a new coal-fired power station near a world heritage site in Kenya. “Activists in Kenya are marking World Environment Day with a protest against plans to build the country’s first coal-fired power station,” BBC News explains. “[T]he planned power station to be built by Chinese contractors with borrowed money would increase [the country’s] emissions by a factor of seven – and Kenya would have to import the coal.” It adds that two-thirds of Kenya’s electricity currently comes from renewable sources, notably hydro and geothermal.
Companies see up to $970bn in direct and indirect climate risks, such as taxes or market shifts, according to an analysis of thousands of corporate disclosures by non-profit CDP, reported by Bloomberg and others. The firms expect to see more than twice this total – some $2.1tn – in opportunities for new climate-friendly products and services, Bloomberg adds. The analysis is based on returns from nearly 7,000 firms, reports CNN, which adds that the companies’ responses show that “80% of the largest companies expect climate change to result in major changes including extreme weather patterns”. Nevertheless, CDP says that many firms are failing to account fully for the climate risks they face, reports the New York Times. Reuters, Wired and BusinessGreen all have the story. Separately, Reuters reports that scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts are partnering with consulting firm McKinsey to study the impacts of climate change on companies.
A diplomatic statement drafted by Germany’s foreign office says governments must invest to avoid conflicts driven by climate change, reports Climate Home News. The “Berlin Call for Action” statement was circulated among ministers from a dozen countries at a climate security conference yesterday, it adds. “Sharpening the UN’s response to climate change is a top priority for Germany during its two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the [UN] Security Council, which began this year,” reports Deutsche Welle. It quotes German foreign minister Heiko Maas at Tuesday’s conference, saying: “Climate change acts as a catalyst: It makes conflicts more likely.” Deutsche Welle says the three-point German action plan outlines goals for the UN to be “as proactive as possible” in preventing climate-related conflicts and to pilot efforts to incorporate climate change into foreign policy across the board. EurActiv also has the story.
Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are the latest to publish their climate plans, reports the LA Times. Biden’s plan is an “aggressive $1.7tn, 10-year plan to combat warming that goes considerably further than the environmental agenda of the Obama White House”, the paper says. Warren’s plan would spend $2tn over 10 years to trigger a “green manufacturing boom”, it adds. The New York Times also covers both plans, noting Biden’s aim to reach net-zero carbon by 2050. BuzzFeed News, BusinessGreen, Reuters, the Hill, Axios, Washington Post, Politico and InsideClimate News all cover Biden’s plan. Axios and the Hill also cover Warren’s climate proposals.
There is widespread coverage of a hearing in the “Juliana” youth climate case in the US, where 21 teens are hoping to sue the government over its lack of action on cutting emissions. On Tuesday, attorneys petitioned a panel of judges arguing that the case should go to trial, reports the Guardian. The lawyers are “optimistic” that the case will proceed, reports the LA Times. Government attorneys argued the lawsuit should not go forward, reports the Washington Post, saying that the plaintiffs do not have legal “standing” and that “there is no fundamental constitutional right to a ‘stable climate system.’,” according to the paper. The New York Times reports the news under the headline: “Judge gives both sides a grilling in youth climate case against the government.” CNN, InsideClimate News and Associated Press also have the story.
Prince Charles spent 90 minutes with President Trump – 75 minutes longer than scheduled – trying to convince him of the dangers of climate change, reports the Guardian. It adds: “[B]ut the president still insisted the US was ‘clean’ and blamed other nations for the crisis, the president has revealed.” Trump was speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, where he said: “[Prince Charles] is really into climate change and I think that’s great. What he really wants and what he really feels warmly about is the future. He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate, as opposed to a disaster, and I agree.” The Guardian adds that Trump was asked if he accepts the science of climate change and quotes his answer: “I believe there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change, now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather you can’t miss.”
Writing in the Guardian, nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz responds to “critics of the green new deal [who] ask if we can afford it” by saying that is affordable “with the right fiscal policies and collective will”. He continues: “[M]ore importantly, we must afford it. The climate emergency is our third world war. Our lives and civilisation as we know it are at stake, just as they were in the second world war.” Stiglitz argues: “The war on the climate emergency, if correctly waged, would actually be good for the economy…The green new deal would stimulate demand, ensuring that all resources were used; and the transition to the green economy would likely usher in a new boom.”
The icefields of northern and southern Patagonia collectively hold more than 40 times the ice of the European Alps, a new study suggests. Using ground observations and airborne gravity and radar sounding methods, the researchers created the most complete ice density map of the area to date. The findings suggest that the region holds around 4,750 cubic kilometres of ice – with some glaciers as much as a mile thick.