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Daily Briefing

02.08.2021
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING China, India miss UN’s extended deadline for climate pledges
China, India miss UN’s extended deadline for climate pledges

News.

China, India miss UN's extended deadline for climate pledges
Climate Home News Read Article

Some of the world’s largest emitters have missed a UN deadline to submit updated climate pledges, Climate Home News reports, including China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Some 110 countries met a 30 July deadline, it adds, noting that UN Climate Change called the total “far from satisfactory”. The publication quotes one climate policy expert saying there remains a “gigantic gap” between existing climate pledges and what would be needed to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. Associated Press says the UN issued a statement on the deadline miss on Saturday. Reuters also has the story, saying a group of smaller countries submitted their pledges at the end of last week “raising pressure on big emitters including China to do the same ahead of a major UN climate summit in November”. The newswire quote Patricia Espinosa, UN climate chief, saying only 58% of parties met the 30 July deadline and calling on those that did not do so to “redouble their efforts”. It explains that the deadline was set by the UN for inclusion in a report on the collective impact of countries’ pledges. It adds: “Countries that miss the deadline for inclusion in the UN report can still submit new pledges before the [COP26] summit in November, by which time every country is expected to submit a new pledge.”

Meanwhile, the Independent reports in a story on the frontpage of its Saturday digital edition that British prime minister Boris Johnson has been “urged to step up efforts to secure agreement on stemming global warming” at COP26. The paper quotes Lord Deben, chair of the UK government’s advisory Climate Change Committee, saying: “We need to bring forward clear policies across all sectors to deliver our world leading targets, and use every diplomatic lever available to secure firm and ambitious commitments on emissions reductions and climate change finance.” The Times reports that Johnson “has given his support to plans to allow thousands of delegates treated with Russian and Chinese vaccines to attend the COP26 climate change summit despite cabinet opposition”. The paper says he is “facing a cabinet split” over the idea of allowing delegates into the country without quarantine. It adds: “A government source said the prime minister was determined to have a physical COP26 in Glasgow in November, although they added that the decision was not yet final.”

Eight dead from fires and floods as climate emergency sweeps Turkey
The Times Read Article

“A climate emergency is unfolding in Turkey as floods engulf villages in the east of the country and forest fires continue to rage in the west,” the Times reports. It says more than 100 forest fires have burned since last Wednesday killing eight people and displacing thousands. The paper adds: “Turks across the country have come face to face with the brutal effects of global warming over the past month…The disasters now point the spotlight on Turkey’s preparedness for climate change. It was one of the first signatories to the 2015 Paris climate agreement but has failed to ratify the treaty.” The Guardian reports that the “heat intensity” of wildfires in Turkey was the highest on record, citing satellite analysis by the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. The paper reports: “Few domestic reports mentioned broader climate trends that are heightening the dangers of fire in Turkey and elsewhere. Climate scientists have long predicted the Mediterranean will be hit hard by rising temperatures and changes in rainfall, driven by human emissions. Future wildfire risk is projected to increase in southern Europe, according to the last report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Turkish climate scientist Levent Kurnaz said recent weather had created conditions for easy ignition.” The Financial Times says: “Wildfires are an annual occurrence in south-west Turkey’s pine forests…Yet the scale of the current conflagration is remarkable, and some are blaming climate change for the disaster.” It adds: “Several other Mediterranean countries are battling blazes this summer, including Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon and Italy, and scientists have said the extreme weather events across the globe this summer may be the result of global warming.” Reuters reports that “firefighters battled for a fifth day to contain blazes still raging in coastal resort towns”. The Daily Mirror covers the wildfires in Turkey and reports: “While the government investigated the possibility of arson, others argued climate change may be to blame. A heatwave across southern Europe has led to wild fires in nearby nations such as Italy and Greece.” Meanwhile, another Guardian story reports that Italy has recorded more than 800 wildfires over the weekend, in a piece that also links the events around the Mediterranean to global warming: “Fanned by soaring temperatures and strong winds – with experts saying that global heating increases the frequency and intensity of such blazes – Turkey is suffering its worst fires in at least 10 years.” Reuters reports from neighbouring Greece, where it says the authorities “warned the public against unnecessary work and travel on Friday as temperatures hit 40C”. It quotes one researcher saying: “We are constantly recording maximum record temperatures all these years, which means that climate change is here.” Separately, the Daily Express reports: “hellish 50C African desert air to bake Europe in week-long freak event”. The Daily Mirror reports on the story in an article with a frontpage trail that says: “At last…a heatwave is on the way.” The article adds: “Another heatwave is on the horizon, sun-starved Brits will be delighted to learn – but there will be nearly two weeks of rain and storms before then.” A brief accompanying Daily Mirror editorial notes: “The seesawing summer weather goes on, with the prospect of another heatwave after the heavy rain and floods.”

In the US, the Hill reports that governors of western states facing “severe fires” have asked President Biden “for federal action on climate change and forest management”. A New York Times video report covers the ongoing Dixie fire in northern California. A feature in the Guardian reports on the areas neighbouring the fire: “Smoke, closed businesses and constant worry have changed life for those living with disaster on their doorstep.” The Hill reports under the headline: “Researchers paint bleak picture of forest fires beyond 2030.” Citing a new study, it says: “[D]ry mountain forests in California and other Western states will likely see ever-worsening fires for the next decade, followed by a period of fewer fires with less intensity.” It adds that the reduction in fires was expected, by the study, because there would be few trees left to burn. BBC News environment reporter Mark Kinver uses the broadcaster’s monthly “then and now” feature to look at how wildfires are changing: “Although fires have long been part of natural history, scientists are voicing concern that recent fires are becoming more frequent, more intense and more widespread.” Finally, a piece for the Conversation says the summer of 2021 has “changed our understanding of extreme weather”.

Tory backbenchers prepare to fight cost of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
ITV News Read Article

A number of Conservative MPs are planning to set up a group to oppose policies towards the government’s net-zero climate goal, reports ITV News political editor Anushka Ashtana. She says the group is due to launch later this summer or in early autumn and is “expected to be comprised of at least a few dozen [MPs]”. The piece reports: “They don’t want to deny the science, but they do want to rail against what [prospective group leader and MP for South Thanet Craig] Mackinlay has described as an ‘overwhelming Westminster consensus’ around the urgency of getting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 – whatever the cost.” [The Conservative government was elected on a manifesto in which Boris Johnson gave the net-zero by 2050 target as one of his personal signature “guarantees”.] The broadcaster says a “key figure” in the group will be Steve Baker, noting that he recently became a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. [The foundation is a climate sceptic lobby group that has never revealed its funders.] ITV News continues: “Mackinlay and co are not going to argue against the ambition itself – but the speed and cost – highlighting the eye-watering price tag of £1.4tn by 2050 recently suggested by the Office for Budget Responsibility [OBR] as the gross investment required over 30 years.” [The OBR noted that the cost would actually be £0.3tn, net of savings, and that delaying action “could double the overall cost” incurred by the government.] A frontpage story for today’s Guardian reports the prime minister is facing “rebellion over ‘intolerable’ hunger and poverty in home counties”. It says Baker is “urg[ing] ministers not to ignore the cost of living crisis in constituencies like his”. In a frontpage story for Saturday’s edition of the Times, the paper reports: “Householders have been warned to brace themselves for the biggest energy bills rise in a decade with more than half facing an increase of about £150 a year.” The piece says “an international rebound” has caused UK gas prices to reach “their highest levels since 2005 in recent weeks while wholesale electricity prices have tripled in a year to a 13-year high”. The paper quotes Mackinlay saying: “The main driver of this current price hike is broadly due to wholesale gas prices.” Another Times article reports that energy regulator Ofgem has “defend[ed] [the] shock rise” in bills under the government’s price cap: “Jonathan Brearley, chief executive, has said the expected rise will primarily reflect surging global gas prices, which have pushed wholesale gas and electricity costs in the UK to highs not seen since the Noughties.” The Guardian reports that global gas prices are at a 16-year high and that the increase has triggered “[c]alls for social tariff on UK energy bills as rises push extra half million homes into fuel poverty”. A business leader for the Observer argues in favour of a social tariff to protect vulnerable housesholds, as well as schemes to boost their energy efficiency. And the Daily Mail reports that the higher upfront cost of electric vehicles “risks putting people off…despite the cars being cheaper to run”.

Meanwhile, a feature in the Sunday Times runs under the headline: “Boris Johnson’s green dream is already turning toxic.” It reports that “different parts of government and the COP26 team are at daggers drawn over the details” of how to reach the UK’s climate goals. It continues by saying that following last year’s energy white paper and the recent transport decarbonisation plan: “Three big reports are now due to set out the UK’s approach before COP26. In the third week of August the government will publish a hydrogen strategy, designed to shift consumption away from fossil fuels. Officials have looked at putting a levy on household gas bills to subsidise hydrogen producers. But Johnson has decreed that consumers should be insulated from higher bills. That will be followed by a heat and building strategy that will outline how consumers will be encouraged to swap their gas boiler for a hydrogen device or a heat pump, which draws heat from the air or the ground. Households account for nearly a fifth of carbon emissions. New gas boilers will be banned from 2035, with all gas boilers gone by 2050. The boiler strategy had been due to be published a month ago but is now delayed until September amid rows about how to pay for it. Plans to supply ‘green cheques’ to people to switch are regarded as a ‘non-starter’ by the Treasury and the business department. Instead, work is continuing about how to help the least well-off transition to new technology, landing the middle classes with higher energy bills, estimated at an extra £170 a year. The third report will be the biggest, the comprehensive net-zero strategy, which will tie together all the other strands and outline how the UK reaches the goal.” A comment for the Times by Simon French, chief economist of investment bank Panmure Gordon, runs under the headline: “Carbon taxes that only benefit the well-off will fail at the ballot box.” The Daily Telegraph reports on the hydrogen strategy, which it says will be published in August and will promote ideas such as hydrogen trains. The paper reports: “Government insiders played down reports last week that the push for hydrogen would result in soaring domestic bills, in part because the roll-out of hydrogen was only very limited.” The piece notes also reports: “Separately, Lord Lawson of Blaby, a director of the [climate sceptic lobby group the] Global Warming Policy Forum, wrote to Boris Johnson, the prime minister, warning of ‘extraordinary’ and ‘highly implausible’ costs of ‘decarbonising the economy’.” Elsewhere, PoliticsHome reports that government officials are “scrambling to bid for Treasury cash ahead of a spending review expected to be held this Autumn”. It says the review “is still set to reflect the government’s ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and could be scattered with green spending”. It adds: “No date has been set for the review, which usually accompanies the forecast but there is speculation that doing it before the UK hosts the COP26 climate summit at the end of November could be a chance to showcase green investment to the world.”

After months of work, US senators unveil $1tn infrastructure bill
Reuters Read Article

Senators in the US have introduced a “sweeping $1tn bipartisan plan to invest in roads, bridges, ports, high-speed internet and other infrastructure”, Reuters reports, adding that some are predicting it could pass this week. The newswire adds: “Senators said the 2,702-page bill included $550bn in new spending over five years for items such as roads, rail, electric vehicle charging stations and replacing lead water pipes on top of $450bn in previously approved funds.” Reuters also reports: “If the bill passes the Senate, it must be considered in the House of Representatives, where some Democrats have blasted it as too small and the Democratic leadership has paired it with a $3.5tn ‘human infrastructure’ bill to pour money into education, child care, climate change and other priorities.” Another Reuters article reports: “electric vehicle backers say infrastructure bill falls short”. The Hill, citing “experts”, reports that President Biden’s target for 40% of car sales to be electric by the end of the decade “can be achieved but will require robust action from both the government and the private sector”. Bloomberg reports that the infrastructure bill could give a “$6bn lifeline” to “struggling nuclear power reactors”, citing a draft seen by the publication.

In other news from the US, the Financial Times reports that the oil and gas industry is “stepping up lobbying efforts to dilute looming rules that mandate climate change disclosures, in a sign of the fierce corporate resistance to a tougher new environmental regime in Washington”. The New York Times carries a video of President Biden “address[ing] concerns over climate change and rising temperatures as fires in the Western states continue to burn”, in which he says: “We’re in for a long fight.” An article for Forbes asks if the Biden administration can “get the clean energy standard across the goal line”, looking at the proposal to require electricity firms to get 100% of their supplies from zero-carbon sources by 2035. A New York Times article reports: “Hundreds of scientists and policy experts left the government during the Trump administration. The jobs remain unfilled nearly six months into President Biden’s term, slowing his climate agenda.”

China shuts nuclear reactor at Taishan plant over ‘minor fuel damage’
AFP via South China Morning Post Read Article

A reactor at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant was shut down for “maintenance” due to minor fuel damage, the plant’s operator said on Friday, reports AFP via South China Morning Post. The halt of operation came after an increase in radioactivity levels previously sparked fears of a leak, the report says. The Times and Newsweek also carry the story. The plant’s French co-operator said earlier this month that it would “shut down” the nuclear reactor “if the facility were in France” due to suspected fuel rod damage. (Carbon Brief’s China Briefing has more.)

Meanwhile, the Politburo of the Communist Party of China – the supreme decision-making body of China – has instructed that officials must avoid using “campaign styles” to reduce emissions and that they should “resolutely contain the blind development of dual-high projects”, Xinhua says. Following the Politburo meeting, Reuters says steel futures in China fell 6% on Monday “after Beijing updated its stance on carbon reduction work, raising worries of an adjustment in output cuts”. Separately, China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, reports that the country has opened its first “near zero-carbon” comprehensive refuelling station for “new energy” vehicles in Tianjin. A series of equipment using renewable energy is expected to cut the station’s carbon emissions by 4,575 tonnes annually, the channel notes.

In other China news, Caixin reports that the exploration area of a Sinopec oil field was swamped after floods hit the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang in mid-July. The financial publication cites social media videos posted by Sinopec before confirming the news with “a person close to the matter”. Elsewhere, Sina, one of China’s biggest news portals, reports that a subway station in Guangzhou was flooded by rainwater during downpours on Friday. On a similar topic, Science magazine reports that the flooding that swamped the subway system in Zhengzhou is “a warning for other major cities”.  Finally, a comment for Project Syndicate by Daniel Gardner, emeritus professor of Chinese history and environment at Smith College in the US asks if “China will kick its coal habit”. He notes: “Worryingly, the country’s previous forward momentum now appears to have shifted into reverse.”

Nuclear warning over taxpayers’ cash for Sizewell C
The Sunday Times Read Article

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has warned the government against taking a stake in the planned Sizewell C new nuclear plant, the Sunday Times reports. Responding to reports the government could take a stake if China General Nuclear is removed from the project, the paper quotes Davey, “who as energy secretary in the coalition government helped to broker the nuclear deals with China”, saying: “The critical test will be whether this government sticks to the deal and keeps the British taxpayer out of this. Anything that passes nuclear’s costs on to the taxpayer … will be a total betrayal of taxpayers and cost every household in Britain a small fortune.” A feature in the Sunday Times, headlined “Britain’s nuclear winter”, says: “Relations with China are in the deep freeze. So too may be our nuclear industry’s future.” It says: “[T]he future of the UK’s nuclear industry is up in the air after reports that the government is exploring ways to remove state-owned China General Nuclear (CGN) from the proposed £20bn Sizewell C nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast, amid mounting concerns about Beijing’s influence in critical infrastructure projects.” The piece adds that CGN is a minority investor in the Hinkley C plant currently under construction in Somerset, a junior partner in Sizewell C and controlling shareholder in the proposed Bradwell B plant: “If the government removes CGN from Sizewell, the Chinese could pull out of all three, leaving a multibillion-pound black hole in Britain’s nuclear plans.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that EDF, the majority owner of the Hinkley and Sizewell plans, is planning to make hydrogen at the latter site: “The $28bn Sizewell C nuclear station is touted as an anchor for Britain reaching net-zero emissions, yet its reactors will compete with wind farms over the North Sea horizon. On gusty days, where will the plant’s excess power go? Toward making hydrogen.” The piece quotes Julia Pyke, the scheme’s finance director, saying: “It’s not nuclear versus wind versus solar – we need to use everything and cooperate to make the most of the technologies…Ideally, you’d have the electrolyser supplied both by nuclear and by wind.” Another Bloomberg story reports on high wholesale electricity prices in the UK saying they have “climbed so high that the cost of a new controversial nuclear plant [Hinkley C], criticised for being too expensive, is now looking reasonable”.

Beyond Meat boss backs tax on meat consumption
BBC News Read Article

The boss of the world’s largest plant-based meat firm, Beyond Meat, has told BBC News that he supports a tax on meat to get people to cut their consumption of animal products, the broadcaster reports. In an interview with BBC News, Ethan Brown says: “For a few dollars at the centre of your plate, you can communicate what you’re about, you don’t have to go and buy that Tesla right away or some other electric vehicle, you can start by just doing something really simple, which is changing the protein at centre of your plate.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times carries a transcript of its news briefing podcast under the headline: “How climate change is steering the future of food.” Separately, Climate Home News reports that Ethiopia’s new climate pledge to the UN is pushing a shift from beef to chicken “to limit the rise of methane emissions”. The publication explains: “The East African nation country has more livestock than anywhere else in Africa. The sector, dominated by cattle, accounts for 48% of national greenhouse gas emissions, according to its improved climate plan submitted to the UN.”

South Africa's power giant lays out plan to move away from coal
Bloomberg Read Article

State-owned power company Eskom, which generates most of South Africa’s electricity using coal, has set out plans to move away from the fuel, Bloomberg reports. It says the firm’s chief executive has set out a plan to borrow money from development finance institutions to build replacement capacity including solar, gas, wind and hydro power.

In other coal news, a comment for the Japan Times asks what Japan and South Korea will need to do to meet their pledges to end overseas coal finance. Meanwhile, Press Association via Belfast Telegraph reports that four “huge cooling towers” have been demolished at the site of the former Eggborough coal-fired power station in Yorkshire, England, which closed in 2018. Separately, the Nashville Tennessean reports on the demolition of the state’s oldest coal-fired power station, which closed in 2017. A comment for the publication argues it is time for the state to “move beyond coal” adding that coal plants “cost more to operate than it costs to build utility-scale solar plants”.

Comment.

The Times view on sharing the climate burden: Fair Cop
Editorial, The Times Read Article

An editorial in the Times notes there are less than 100 days until the COP26 summit and says: “The global climate conference in Glasgow in November is heading for failure unless rich countries can come up with financial assistance for poorer countries.” The editorial also bemoans the fact that the UK “has spent the past week debating whether it is necessary to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher”, an idea promoted by Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s COP26 spokesperson. The piece adds: “this frivolous debate risks diverting attention from the immensity of the task ahead to ensure this crucial summit does not end in failure”. The Times editorial continues by noting that it is “troubling” that the government “has yet to set out in any detail” how it intends to meet the UK’s climate goals. It says: “The plan expected in the spring is now promised in the autumn amid reports that the Treasury is balking at the cost.” The editorial adds: “If a rich country such as Britain is balking at the cost, then so are poorer countries. Indeed since richer, industrialised countries are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, poorer countries reasonably ask why they should pay the cost of a problem they did not cause…That is why the success of COP26 hinges on a substantial financial package for poorer countries.” The piece concludes by arguing that it would be “short-sighted” for the Treasury to block green spending: “While the bill for tackling climate change is unquestionably high, the bill for doing nothing is far higher…COP26 can be a success but only if the government can raise its ambition beyond the level of the dishwasher.”

Meanwhile, the Times reports that Alok Sharma, the UK’s COP26 president, is said to be “pissed off” about Stratton’s “green tips”. The paper reports: “The Times has been told by several sources that Alok Sharma…is concerned by her comments. The claims were strongly denied by a source close to Sharma.” A comment in the Sunday Times by political reporter Charlotte Ivers writes: “[W]ith India – the world’s third-largest polluter – failing to attend a COP26 pre-meeting last week, I can’t help but feel that discussion of our decadent commitment to a quick rinse of plates might be something of a distraction…All this feels indicative of a broader problem: our government’s addiction to gesture politics.” A tongue-in-cheek comment piece in the Times by Red Box editor Patrick Maguire weighs in on Stratton’s widely reported comments, saying she has “ignor[ed] the spin doctor’s handbook”. The Independent reports Stratton saying the UK’s 2050 target is “too far away” and that “we have to feel the fierce urgency of now”. It quotes her saying: “Net-zero is the glide path. What we have to be doing more quickly – the science is clear – [is] we have to be changing our carbon emissions output right now.” The Times also reports her comments, quoting her saying: “Every bit of society is moving in tandem towards net-zero in 2050 but let’s be honest that’s too far away.” The Daily Mail also has the story, reporting: “[Stratton] said the long-term nature of the target should not be seen as a reason for ducking difficult decisions now.” In an article by its political editor Glen Owen, the Mail on Sunday reports that Stratton “makes going green a very personal affair as she switches from traditional sanitary products to eco-friendly menstrual cups”.

Our biggest enemy is no longer climate denial but climate delay
Ed Miliband, The Guardian Read Article

“Nothing is more dangerous than the illusion of action – which is all Boris Johnson’s Tories are offering,” writes Ed Miliband, former Labour leader and shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, in a comment for the Guardian. He writes: “The most dangerous opponents of change are no longer the shrinking minority who deny the need for action, but the supposed supporters of change who refuse to act at the pace the science demands…The UK government is a case in point. There is a chasm between the boosterish rhetoric of the Johnson government and the reality.” Miliband adds: “Nothing is more dangerous than the mirage of action shrouding the truth of inaction, because it breeds either false confidence that we will be OK or cynicism and despair about meaningless political promises.

Meanwhile, in a Daily Telegraph article trailed on the paper’s frontpage, Nick Timothy, author of the manifesto that lost then-prime minister Theresa May her majority, writes under the headline: “Net-zero zealots take no notice of the hardship their haste will cause.” In the Spectator, columnist Patrick O’Flynn writes under the headline: “Boris Johnson’s dangerous eco-obsession.”

The Guardian view on adapting to global heating: risks must be faced
Editorial, The Guardian Read Article

An editorial in the Guardian reflects on the challenge of adaptation, which it says is “particularly hard” because it “forces us to reckon with harms that cannot be undone and is sometimes viewed as jeopardising progress on reducing emissions, by drawing away resources and political will”. The editorial continues: “After all, if we can adapt to climate chaos, why bother trying to prevent it? Since this argument is a staple of climate deniers, such fears are well founded. But unless we are prepared to stand by as people’s lives are destroyed by extreme weather, adaptation is required.” The paper adds that adaptation in England means not only spending on flood defences but also “squaring up to vested interests” such as the “powerful construction industry”, given that a tenth of new homes built in the country since 2013 are on land at high risk of flooding. In the Observer, New York Magazine columnist David Wallace-Wells writes under the headline: “Adapt or die. That is the stark challenge to living in the new world we have made.” He adds: “From here, even an astonishing pace of decarbonisation will still deliver us a warmer world than we have today, full of more eye-opening extremes and more deeply disruptive disasters of the kind, we are learning this summer, that even the wealthiest and most climate-conscious countries are unprepared for.” Also in the Observer, an interview with Ana Raquel Nunes, a senior researcher at Warwick medical school in central England, quotes her saying: “Extreme weather events reveal the fragility and vulnerability of people and places. We need to prepare for the future – our energy and transport networks, our institutions, the places we live and work.”

COP26 and how the world will follow Yorkshire’s lead in global green race
Kwasi Kwarteng, Yorkshire Post Read Article

Writing for the Yorkshire Post, Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy writes that the COP26 summit in November “will be a unique opportunity for countries to agree urgent action to turn the tide on climate change so we can recover cleaner and rebuild greener”. He adds: “While world leaders thrash out a planet-saving deal, it’s worth recognising the immense progress already being made at home, particularly in Yorkshire – a climate conscious county leading by example.” Kwarteng points to the offshore wind port on the Humber estuary and Sheffield “being the UK’s largest supplier of electric vehicle batteries and motors”. In another comment for the Yorkshire Post, the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell talks of “our moral duty to fight climate change”. He notes: “I’ve lived here less than a year, but already the river has flooded twice and on both occasions the water level was higher than the marks on the wall a century ago. But we no longer put up plaques. What was a ‘once every century or so’ occurrence is now commonplace.” The Yorkshire Post explains in a news article that the comments are part of its launch of a “first ever climate change summit to champion environmentally friendly business behaviour as the UK recovers from the Covid pandemic”, being held in the county ahead of COP26. A related Yorkshire Post editorial runs under a headline saying: “climate crisis response will define this generation”.

Science.

The trap of climate change-induced 'natural' disasters and inequality
Global Environmental Change Read Article

A new paper explores the “vicious cycle” that keeps some countries “stuck in a disasters-inequality trap”. The authors investigate the connection between climate change-induced disasters, inequality and vulnerability by studying a panel of 149 countries over 1992–2018. The study finds that countries with higher levels of income inequality suffer greater damages when hit by a natural disaster. The authors add that inequality “is found to increase the number of people affected by disasters”.

More persistent summer compound hot extremes caused by global urbanisation
Geophysical Research Letters Read Article

Urbanisation has driven more hot extremes in urban areas than in surrounding rural areas, according to new research. The authors investigate  “compound hot extremes” – defined as a concurrence of daytime and nighttime heat – using data from more than 3,000 meteorological stations in urban and rural sites around the world over 1971-2014. The study finds “significant increases” in the frequency, duration and intensity of compound hot extremes over most urban stations, and calculates that urbanisation contributed to 12.5%, 15.4% and 16.7% of the increases, respectively. The authors add that urbanisation also contributes to an increase in daytime hot extremes, but has weaker impacts on their duration and intensity.

North Atlantic Oscillation in winter is largely insensitive to autumn Barents-Kara sea ice variability
Science Advances Read Article

New research investigating the link between Arctic autumn sea ice extent and the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) finds that “climate models are able to simulate periods of strong ice-NAO correlation, albeit rarely”. The authors interrogate a multimodal ensemble to determine “the dynamics that produce large spread in the ice-NAO relationship”. The study finds that winter circulation signals are “consistent with observations and not driven by sea ice”, adding that circulation anomalies over the Urals are “a decisive precursor” to the winter NAO signal”.

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