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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING China’s CO2 emissions surged in 2018 despite clean energy gains
China’s CO2 emissions surged in 2018 despite clean energy gains


China’s CO2 emissions surged in 2018 despite clean energy gains

Analysis by Unearthed on newly released official data from the Chinese government shows that “China’s CO2 emissions grew by approximately 3% last year, the largest increase in CO2 emissions since at least 2013, and all but ensuring global CO2 emissions also increased last year”. [This confirms preliminary estimates for China and the world during 2018, published in December, though Chinese emissions grew slightly slower than expected.] The Unearthed analysis highlights “six energy and climate takeaways”, which include that the “increase in coal demand was mainly driven by the power sector – coal demand for power generation increased by 5%”. Additionally, the analysis shows that “coal-to-chemicals – the dirtiest industry you never heard of – is back in vogue” and that “power generation from non-fossil sources grew by 29%, with wind power generation increasing 20% and solar PV 50%”.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that “emissions in Australia are continuing to rise, with the latest increases driven predominantly by an increase in liquefied natural gas production in Western Australia”. The paper adds: “Emissions for the year to September 2018 went up 0.9% on the previous year, according to the latest inventory, primarily due to a 19.7% increase in LNG exports, but there were also increases in stationary energy, transport, fugitives, industrial processes and waste sectors.”

Unearthed Read Article
Wildfires burn across UK amid highest winter temperatures ever recorded

There is continuing coverage of the record-breaking high temperatures recorded in the UK over the past week. The Independent focuses on the wildfires that have broken out across the country. Victoria Gill, the BBC News science correspondent, seeks to address the question: “Why are there UK wildfires in February?” She quickly moves on to address the specific question: “In a changing climate, is this the new normal?” She quotes Dr Friedericke Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, who says: “I am very confident to say that there’s an element of climate change in these warm temperatures.” Writing in the Conversation, Prof Philip James at the University of Salford explains: “Here’s how Britain’s changing weather is affecting wildlife.” He continues: “Birds may find there are fewer insects to eat and this results in fewer chicks fledging, which leaves their predators, including the sparrowhawk and the stoat, with less to eat. The disconnect between the arrival of insectivorous birds and the abundance of insects ripples through the ecosystem, affecting other animals and plants that at first sight may not seem linked to this seemingly benign change…As unseasonably mild weather brings about changes in plant growth that could accelerate climate change and widen the disconnect between elements of ecosystems, this unusual week may leave an even more worrying legacy.” The New York Times has a news feature on the UK’s record-breaking winter. Carbon Brief has also published a detailed summary of all the media reaction.

Separately, there is also widespread coverage of Australia’s record-breaking summer heat. The Sydney Morning Herald writes: “Australia has posted its hottest summer and the first season in which temperatures exceeded 2C above the long-term averages, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.” The Guardian adds: “The 2018-19 summer, which produced near 50C days and topped temperature highs across the country, has officially exceeded the previous record set in 2012-13, which was 1.28C above what is considered normal. Climate analysts say it falls into a pattern of human-induced global warming.” Reuters reports: “Australia’s east coast will endure hot, dry weather over the next three months…threatening wheat production in the world’s fourth-largest exporter.”

The Independent Read Article
UK working on post-Brexit carbon trading scheme -minister

Reuters reports that Claire Perry, the UK’s clean growth and climate minister, told a House of Lords select committee yesterday that the UK is working to establish a domestic carbon emissions trading system after Brexit which it hopes will be linked to the existing EU scheme. It adds: “Perry said a consultation on plans for the scheme would be published in April and the government would work on setting up the necessary systems for the trading scheme to come into effect from January 2021.” Meanwhile, Climate Home News reports that legal experts have told MPs that the draft environment bill would create loopholes around its guiding principles and too much government influence over its green watchdog. “There is also strong concern that the draft environment bill doesn’t extend to enforcing climate change policy,” adds Climate Home News.

Reuters Read Article
German ‘climate protection law’: Critics call for alternatives to sector objectives

EurActiv reports that “Germany is at odds” over the first draft of its national “climate protection” law. It adds: “Five European countries – France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Scotland and Ireland – already have a form of ‘climate protection law’. Germany’s coalition agreement means the Bundesrepublik has to come out with its own. Two weeks ago, the coalition committee postponed the matter. A week later, German environment minister Svenja Schulze took the initiative and passed her paper on to the German Chancellery. The framework law should arrive at the parliament by the summer break, she hopes. The bill is now on the table and has sparked a debate about the best way to approach the climate objectives for 2050.” Politico chooses a much stronger headline: “Climate policies threaten to blow apart Germany’s ruling coalition.” It continues: “That’s because the draft — presented last week by environment minister Svenja Schulze, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — is about more than climate and energy policies. It’s also a way for the battered SPD to try to gain political traction ahead of May’s European election and a series of state polls in eastern Germany later this year.” Under Schulze’s proposal, Germany would cut emissions by at least 95% by 2050 and introduce emission budgets for the country’s major economic sectors, such as transport, agriculture, buildings and energy.

EurActiv Read Article
Banks around the world opt to offload coal

Germany’s Deutsche Welle covers a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which finds that the 100 global financial companies that have cut back on coal funding include 40% of the top 40 global banks and at least 20 globally significant insurers. This amounts to “over US$6 trillion of investments under management, or about 20% of the coal industry’s global assets”. IEEFA adds in a statement: “Since 2013, coal exit announcements have occurred at a rate of over one per month from globally significant banks and insurers holding more than $10bn worth of assets under management.”

Deutsche Welle Read Article


Green New Deal – Trumpism with climate characteristics?

The founder of BloombergNEF writes in his latest essay about the differences between 2009 – the year of the Copenhagen COP – and today: “First, we know far more about the hard science of climate change now than we did in 2009…Second, in 2009 it was still plausible to claim there were no alternatives to fossil fuels…The third major difference between 2009 and 2019 is that a decade after the financial crisis, much of the population has still failed to recover economically.” He continues: “Western voters are disenfranchised, resentful of incumbent decision-makers, and volatile. Those too young to vote have caught the vibe. The climate strike movement, sparked by the preternaturally determined 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, has now spread to 14 countries. Anyone who thinks it will fizzle out any time soon has forgotten what it is to be young. Also tapping into the zeitgeist – bravely and with much gusto – is up-and-coming political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Liebreich then takes a detailed walk through her proposal for a green new deal, before concluding: “For opponents of the GND, the risk is more long-term and strategic than tactical – do they really want to dig themselves in as implacable opponents of climate action, particularly if public sentiment is moving away from them on the issue?”

Michael Liebreich, BloombergNEF Read Article


Survival rate of China passenger vehicles: A data-driven approach

The average lifetime of a car in China increased by almost two and a half years after a change to the national compulsory “scrappage scheme” for motor vehicles, a new study suggests. Using national sales and registration data, the researchers assessed the impact of changes to the scheme in 2013, which increased the “vehicle kilometres travelled” limit from 500,000 km to 600,000 km and removed the upper vehicle age limit of 15 years for passenger vehicles. The results show an increase in median vehicle lifetime of 2.4 years—from 10.5 years in 2012 to 12.9 years in 2016. “The overall increase in vehicle lifetime and survival rate from 2012 to 2016 will increase total fuel consumption by 2.5–3.7% in China,” the authors conclude.

Energy Policy Read Article
Benefits of the Paris Agreement to ocean life, economies, and people

Implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change “could protect millions of metric tons in annual worldwide catch of top revenue-generating fish species, as well as billions of dollars annually of fishers’ revenues, seafood workers’ income, and household seafood expenditure”, a new study suggests. Using a collection of climate-marine ecosystem and economic models, the researchers explore the effects of implementing the Agreement on fish, fishers, and seafood consumers worldwide. The findings suggest that “75% of maritime countries would benefit from this protection, and that ~90% of this protected catch would occur within the territorial waters of developing countries”.

Science Advances Read Article


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