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Daily Briefing

13.11.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

13.11.2018 | 9:51am
DAILY BRIEFING Clean energy is surging, but not fast enough to solve global warming
Clean energy is surging, but not fast enough to solve global warming

News.

Clean energy is surging, but not fast enough to solve global warming

The “global march toward clean energy” still isn’t happening fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming, says the New York Times, reporting on this year’s World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The next two decades will see a “huge transformation” in the world energy system, the Times says, with wind and solar “poised to become dominant sources of electricity”. However, renewables – along with nuclear – “aren’t yet growing fast enough” to keep up with rising global energy demand. Natural gas is expected to overtake coal as the world’s second largest energy source after oil by 2030, notes Reuters. With global CO2 emissions projected to keep rising until 2040, IEA executive director Fatih Birol tells the Guardian that: “We have no room to build anything that emits CO2 emissions”. Current trends are “way too carbon-heavy to keep the eventual temperatures rise less than 2C above pre-industrial levels”, reports Axios. The IEA expects oil use in cars to peak within seven years, reports the Financial Times. Despite global car numbers continuing to grow, electric vehicles and more fuel-efficient engines will cut oil demand, notes Reuters. In other coverage of the report, the Guardian looks at Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal, the Wall Street Journal notes that the US is expected to produce half of global oil and gas output by 2025, and Bloombergsays that the report warns there is a risk of the world becoming too reliant on the rapid growth of US shale oil. Carbon Brief has in-depth coverage of the report’s highlights.

The New York Times Read Article
California wildfires 2018: Camp and Woolsey fires are rapidly spreading

There is continued coverage of the wildfires in California, with Vox reporting that the Camp Fire burning near Chico is now the most destructive fire in state history. So far, the fire has burned more than 113,000 acres of land, destroying 6,400 structures. Along with the Woolsey and Hill fires in southern California, they have forced 300,000 people to evacuate. At least 42 people have died in the fire, says Reuters, with more than 200 still unaccounted for. The Financial Timesand Reuters report that utility companies in the state could face liabilities from fires potentially ignited by electrical equipment as well as the cost of damages to its infrastructure. Following tweets from President Trump on the “gross mismanagement” of the forests being the reason behind the fires, several outlets focus on the potential causes. The Associated Press says that “both nature and humans share blame for California’s devastating wildfires, but forest management did not play a major role, despite President Donald Trump’s claims”. The New York Times factchecks Trumps comments, calling several of his statements “misleading”. “Fuel, wind, and long-term dry conditions: Those are the three facts that are really what’s causing this right now,” Heath Hockenberry, the fire weather program manager at the National Weather Service, tells Vox. In addition, “climate change is making conditions more favourable for wildfires in the American west”, says the Guardian: “Of the 20 largest wildfires in California’s recorded history, 15 have occurred since 2000, at a time when forests have become drier and warmer”. This “serves as an ever-more convincing argument for global warming”, says the Independent. The Intelligencer and NPR also cover the story, while the New York Times “The Daily” podcast also focuses on the fires, which have become a “year-round threat across the state”, it says.

Climate change protests leads to '22 arrests' over blockade

Environmental activists blockaded the UK’s energy department yesterday in a protest that led to at least eight arrests, BBC News reports. The protestors, who compare themselves to the sufragettes, the anti-apartheid movement and others, have declared Saturday as “Extinction Rebellion Day”, BBC News explains. This will be a day of non-violent civil disobedience in support of stronger action to tackle climate change, it says. In yesterday’s action, dozens of protestors had locked themselves together or glued themselves to glass windows outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, reports the Guardian. The protestors plan a fortnight of action, reports the Independent. Coverage from ITV News describes the protestors as “anti-fracking”, as does the Evening Standard.

BBC News Read Article
EU states call for tough action on deforestation to meet 2020 UN goal

The UK, France and Germany have called on the European Commission to launch a long-delayed EU action plan on deforestation by the end of the year, the Guardian reports. The “Amsterdam Declaration” group of countries, which also includes Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, argue that the EU should show “a leadership role” in support of a UN goal of halting deforestation by 2020, the paper adds. It notes that the letter comes as concerns mount over Brazil’s new far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who has pledged to build a highway through the Amazon and – during his election campaign – promised to relax regulations on the rainforest.

The Guardian Read Article
Trump hopes Opec won't cut production, says oil prices should be lower

US President Donald Trump said yesterday that he hopes there will be no oil output reductions, after Saudi Arabia announced that Opec was considering cutting oil supply next year. “Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and Opec will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!”, Trump wrote on Twitter. Earlier in the day, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Abu Dhabi that the kingdom plans to cut exports by 500,000 barrels per day next month, reports Axios. The Hill also has the story, and the Financial Times explains why “Saudi Arabia has opened the door to cutting crude production despite Russia saying that an excess of supply is short term”. In other oil news, the FT has an article on how oil majors are switching on “to a future in power generation”.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

Fracking fools

An editorial in the Sun attacks the “nitwits” who protested yesterday outside the offices of the UK’s energy ministry: “Eco warriors love scientific evidence until it conflicts with their blinkered beliefs. So they will insist Britain is a polluting country despite our carbon emissions falling to their lowest since 1890. [This date is taken from Carbon Brief analysis published earlier this year.] They will claim fracking causes dangerous earthquakes despite those tremors being weaker than a bouncing ball. We will never see a shale gas revolution if we pander to the sort of progress-averse nitwits who wasted precious police time in London yesterday gluing themselves to the energy department. How will Cuadrilla explore the potential to bring cheap energy to millions if it has to down tools for 18 hours after every minuscule disturbance? Let’s ignore the hysteria and raise the absurdly low limit on these ‘quakes’. Common sense must prevail.”

Editorial, The Sun Read Article
Midterms 2018: climate politics are polarised, but Democrats can still move forward

There is further commentary following the midterm elections in the US last week. Vox’s David Roberts looks at how Democrats “can move forward” with climate policies despite the decline in opportunities for bipartisan cooperation. Roberts looks at “three prongs” of a “go-for-broke strategy” of “fully champion decarbonisation”, [making] it a winning political issue”. These include: “Grind it out in Congress”, “Get funky in the states” and “Look to the future”. Meanwhile, writing in her “Harder Line” column for Axios, Amy Harder warns that “America’s divisive politics and the sheer math of cutting heat-trapping emissions indicate the world’s prospect of substantively tackling climate change is getting out of reach”. She likens the problem to setting out to run a marathon, but “instead you turn around and start running in the other direction”. Elsewhere, Joshua Rhodes – a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin – takes a closer look for Axios at why a proposed carbon tax in Washington state failed to pass despite a “blue wave”. And Daniel Cusick at E&E News says a “near blue sweep of Midwestern governorships” could resurrect the “Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord” that was mooted in 2007 – a compact among six governors to reduce their states’ carbon footprints and begin the transition to an energy economy built upon efficiency, renewables and carbon cap and trade.

David Roberts, Vox Read Article

Science.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets under 1.5C global warming

Exceeding 1.5C of global warming could cause “irreversible” changes to the Greenland ice sheet and cause parts of the Antarctic ice sheet to collapse, concludes a review article published in Nature Climate Change. Drawing on recent scientific research, the review finds that both ice sheets are likely to face tipping points “on millennial scales” at between 1.5C and 2C of warming. “For Greenland, this may lead to irreversible mass loss due to the surface mass balance-elevation feedback, whereas for Antarctica, this could result in a collapse of major drainage basins due to ice-shelf weakening,” the researchers say.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
Enhanced peak growth of global vegetation and its key mechanisms

Rising CO2 levels, an increase in nitrogen availability and the expansion of croplands have each played a similar-sized role in recent increases to global vegetation growth, a new study finds. The extent to which rising CO2 levels are behind recent increases to global plant growth, a phenomenon known as “global greening”, is an active area of research. The new study finds that increases in atmospheric CO2 accounted for 22% of the global greening observed over the past three decades. “The findings highlight the important roles of agricultural intensification and atmospheric changes in reshaping the seasonality of global vegetation growth,” the authors say.

Nature Ecology & Evolution Read Article

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