Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- China embarked on wind power frenzy, says IEA
- Countries will ratify climate agreement at the U.N.
- Delays at Hinkley ‘would harm industry’
- Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos makes slow progress in UK fracking drive
- The key to tackling climate change: electrify everything
- Climate action in support of a sustainable world
- Nicola Sturgeon: We all need to take steps to prevent catastrophic climate change
- EDITORIAL: Japan should speed efforts to join fight against global warming
- New study undercuts favorite climate myth ‘more CO2 is good for plants’
- Groundwater vulnerability on small islands
- Ocean acidification reduces demersal zooplankton that reside in tropical coral reefs
China has been building two wind turbines every hour, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has told BBC News. Harrabin explains in his report that this is the world’s biggest programme of turbine installation, double that of its nearest rival, the US. He adds: “The nation’s entire annual increase in energy demand has been fulfilled from the wind. But the IEA warns China has built so much coal-fired generating capacity that it is turning off wind turbines for 15% of the time. The problem is that coal-fired power stations are given priority access to the grid.” Last week, Carbon Brief pulled out seven charts from the latest IEA report showing how, globally, new renewables are outpacing rising demand for first time. Meanwhile, BusinessGreen reports on new World Energy Council figures which show that renewables now account for 30% of global power capacity.
With world leaders gathered in New York for the UN general assembly, all eyes on how many use the occasion to formally ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. “The Paris Agreement takes effect when it is formally adopted by at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” explains ClimateWire. “The move early this month by the world’s two top emitters, China and the US, to join the deal brought the total to 27 ratifiers covering nearly 40% of the world’s emissions.” Jonathan Pershing, the US special envoy for climate change, expects 30 countries to ratify this week, therefore taking the number past the 55-country threshold. ClimateWire explains that most eyes are now on the European Union. “The European Commission and European Parliament are all searching for alternatives, including the possibility of not waiting for national parliaments to finish their work before the European Parliament acts. There is precedent for this, but only on much more limited international agreements.” Nature News has also published a similar explainer. Meanwhile, Climate Central addresses the potential shadow hanging over the agreement’s progress – the US presidential election. John Upton explains “three ways Trump could abandon the Paris climate pact”.
Russia’s state-owned nuclear developer has warned EDF that delays or cost overruns at its Hinkley Point power project risk damaging the credibility of the wider industry. Kirill Komarov, deputy chief executive of Rosatom, the Kremlin-controlled company that is building more reactors than any other group, said that problems at other EDF projects, such as Flamanville in France, were having a detrimental impact on the reputation of the industry.
The Telegraph reports that the Jim Ratcliffe’s efforts to kick-start a British shale gas industry have suffered a setback after his company Ineos significantly downgraded its exploration plans for this year. In January, the company said it hoped to drill tens of “core wells” to take samples of shale rocks before the end of the year. “But the company has now conceded that drilling this year is no longer on the cards after finding the reality of shale exploration is rather slower than it hoped. It is yet to submit a single planning application,” reports Gosden.
Roberts argues that “conventional wisdom” has been that “electricity was dirty and the process of generating it and transmitting it involved substantial losses, so from an energy conservation point of view, the best thing to do was often to burn fossil fuel on site in increasingly energy-efficient devices”. But views have changed, he says, and sets out the three reasons why: “There is a path to zero-carbon electricity…Greener electricity lifts all electrical boats…New uses for electricity enable more renewables on the grid.” Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, Bjorn Lomborg returns to his familiar refrain that the next US president should have the “courage to forgo subsidising politically popular solar and wind”.
The UNFCCC executive secretary has written a comment piece in the week that the UN general assembly meets in New York. she writes: “Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement are not a given. The world needs to understand the urgency and complexity of what the international community has embarked upon. This is a multi-decadal effort to turn around two centuries of development based on fossil fuels and the mining of nature-based resources into an all-embracing sustainable path for every nation, man, woman and child. But I am confident that world leaders and the enormous groundswell of support from cities, companies, investors and citizens can propel ambition further and faster in support of our shared vision of a climate-secure and sustainable future.”
Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party writes in her column that “issue of climate change is one which is quite rightly never far from the headlines”. She sets out Scotland’s progress to date, as well as “even more ambitious targets”. She explains: “We’ll be bringing forward a new bill which will legislate for a reduction in actual Scottish emissions by at least 50% by 2020. And now that the USA and China have ratified the Paris Agreement, we will keep pressure on the UK Government to do likewise.”
Asahi Shimbun is one of the largest selling newspapers in the world and a highly influential publication in Japan. It has used its editorial column to say that “Japan should ratify the Paris Agreement”. The tone of the editorial is noteworthy: “The Japanese government has shown little enthusiasm for revitalizing its faltering efforts to stem climate change. Betting that the pact would take effect around 2018, the government apparently opted to wait and see the moves of big emitters before deciding on its response.” It adds that “relying on nuclear power generation should not be an option. To reduce its carbon footprint, Japan needs to expand the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power and geothermal energy, while making all-out efforts to curb energy consumption.”
Nuccitelli walks readers through a new study by scientists at Stanford University, which tested whether hotter temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels that we’ll see post-2050 will benefit the kinds of plants that live in California grasslands. “Those who benefit from the status quo of burning copious amounts of fossil fuels love to argue that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit plant life,” says Nuccitelli. “It’s a favourite claim of climate contrarians like Matt Ridley and Rupert Murdoch.” However, the study found that carbon dioxide at higher levels than today did not significantly change plant growth, while higher temperatures had a negative effect.
Small island states could suffer a decrease in groundwater because of declining recharge from rainfall, a new study suggests. Researchers compiled data and climate change projections for 43 small island developing states across the world. They find that 44% of islands are already in a state of water stress, and while groundwater recharge is projected to increase by as much as 117% on 12 islands in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, recharge is projected to decrease by up to 58% on the remaining 31 islands.
Ocean acidification could lead to a reduction of tiny marine animals – known as zooplankton – that live in the “demersal zone” near the seabed in tropical reefs, a new study says. Researchers analysed tropical coral communities around natural volcanic CO2 seeps as an analogue for future ocean conditions. They find a threefold reduction in the biomass of zooplankton in high-CO2 sites compared with sites without elevated CO2. Zooplankton are a major source of nutrients for corals, fish and other marine life, the researchers note.