Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Climate change already a health emergency, say experts
- Climate change: EU aims to be 'climate neutral' by 2050
- Britain's support for Arctic oil and gas incompatible with climate goals – lawmakers
- Global food system is broken, say world’s science academies
- Germany to double donation for UN climate change fund
- Great Barrier Reef: record heatwave may cause another coral bleaching event
- New technologies, not Paris climate agreement, will do the job
- Climate scientists aren't in it for the money but for the truth
- Are the G20 economies making enough progress to meet their NDC targets?
- The likely implications of the new IMO standards on the shipping industry
Publications around the world cover the findings of an international report assessing the risks posed to human health by climate change. The second Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change finds that “people’s health is being damaged today by climate change through effects ranging from deadly heatwaves in Europe to rising dengue fever in the tropics,” the Guardian says. In addition, billions of hours of agricultural work has been lost as a result of warming temperatures, particularly in the world’s most vulnerable regions, the Guardian reports. The Daily Telegraph focuses on the report’s findings on how climate change could impact mental health, with the headline: “Heatwave Britain could see rise in violence, suicide and self harm, major report warns.” The report warns that global warming could “aggravate” risks to mental health, according to the Daily Telegraph, with some research suggesting extreme heat could be associated with “spikes” in “aggression, violence, self-harm and suicide”. The Daily Telegraph also carries an opinion piece warning that this report shows that “time is running out to act”. The New York Times reports on the risks posed by extreme heat: “Among the biggest threats humans face in a warming climate is heat stress, which not only kills people directly but can also lead to kidney and cardiovascular disease.” The health risks posed by heat are greatest for “ageing and urban populations”, Reuters adds. The Financial Timespulls out five key charts from the new report. Wired covers the report with the headline: “The climate apocalypse is now, and it’s happening to you.” InsideClimate News and the Independent also cover the report, as does Carbon Brief. Buzzfeed covers a second report from the Medical Journal of Australia, which also warns of grave risks posed to human health by climate change.
The European Union has confirmed that it plans to become the first major economy to go “climate neutral” by 2050, BBC News reports. Under the plan, emissions after that date would have to be offset by “planting trees or by burying the gases underground”, BBC News says. If fulfilled, the plans would mean that the EU would become the first major economy to reach net zero, the Independent says. The Washington Post also has the story. The draft long-term climate strategy published yesterday by the European Commission must be agreed with EU governments and the European Parliament.
Reuters reports that the UK’s support for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic is “incompatible” with its international climate change commitments, according to MPs. The Environment Audit Committee report says that the government “should cease encouraging British business to explore oil and gas opportunities in the Arctic and call on other nations to adopt a similar approach,” Reuters says. The Independent carries quotes from the committee chair Mary Creagh: “If there is anywhere in the world that the principles of sustainable development should apply, it is the Arctic.” Politics Home also has the story.
A major new report finds that the global food system is “broken” – “leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe”, the Guardian reports. The report, from 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world, finds that the global food system is responsible for a third of all emissions – “which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined,” the Guardian says. In addition, the food system now faces increasing threats as a result of climate change, it adds, including from extreme weather such as floods and droughts. MailOnline also has the story.
Germany is to double its donation to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund, Deutsche Welle reports. The German government plans to pledge another €750m ($850m) to the UN Green Climate Fund over the next two years, having already paid in a previous pledge of the same sum, according to the country’s development minister Gerd Müller, Deutsche Welle says. Overall, Germany intends to spend €10bn annually to tackle climate change by 2020, it adds.
Record-breaking heat in Queensland will further increase sea temperatures, heightening the risk of another coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef next year, the Guardian reports. The warning comes from reef scientist Prof Terry Hughes – who was recently interviewed by Carbon Brief – who tweeted that record-breaking heat in the Australian state was “terrifying”. “An early summer heatwave breaks all records, lifting the chances of another episode of coral mortality on the Great Barrier Reef next Feb/March,” Hughes said. Meanwhile, a second story in the Guardian reports how Indian mining firm Adani plans to start work on its Queensland coal mine “immediately”.
“A credible climate action plan needs several things,” writes Dieter Helm in the Financial Times. “It needs the truth, not spin, about costs. It needs to recognise that top-down approaches like Kyoto and Paris are not going to work.” [In fact, the Paris Agreement is driven by bottom-up “Nationally Determined Contributions” set by each party to the deal.] This is because “crucial world leaders” such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro “are not sympathetic to multilateral policies driven by the UN”, he says. Instead, “we need new technologies”, he adds: “The world in which we have to tackle climate change is made up of robots, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and with this comes enormous flexibility in energy consumption.”
Claims that “climate scientists are in it for the money” are “false”, writes scientist Adam Sobel for CNN. “In fact, the scientists working on the NCA [National Climate Assessment] were paid nothing to do it. It’s true that they are professionals, and thus are paid their regular salaries to do climate science, which includes studying global warming and reporting on their findings,” he says.
Only six G20 countries are on track to meet their emissions pledges under the Paris Agreement, a new study says. The researchers compare projected greenhouse gas emissions in the G20 economies under current climate policies to those under the targets in their respective nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The results suggest China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and Turkey are projected to meet their unconditional NDC targets with current policies, the authors say. Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Republic of Korea, South Africa and the US all require further action to achieve their targets, the study adds. Insufficient information is available to assess Saudi Arabia, the researchers note, while emission projections for Brazil and Mexico are “subject to considerable uncertainty”.
New International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards to reduce sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships “might paradoxically end up slowing down” the shift away from traditional bunker fuels, a new study suggests. The researchers assess the impact of the new IMO SOx standards – due to come into effect in 2020 – on marine bunker fuels, which account for up to 7% of global oil demand. The authors conclude that the standards could slow “what might have otherwise been a more rapid transition” to other fuels. For example, marine transport would collectively “need to show a reduction in demand if oil consumption were to reach an inflection point”, the authors say.
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