Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Climate change driven by humans made heatwave 'twice as likely'
- More than one million smart meters currently in 'dumb' mode
- EU energy chief pushes for tougher emissions targets
- Heed the warnings: climate change and ‘no deal’ Brexit present a real threat
- Unprecedented heat cannot be ignored
- One man and his Tesla: an electric car's journey from Brighton to Edinburgh
- Potential impacts of 1.5°C and 2°C global warming on rainfall onset, cessation and length of rainy season in West Africa
- Climate action for food security in South Asia? Analyzing the role of agriculture in nationally determined contributions to the Paris agreement
The BBC and many others report on findings that climate change resulting from human activities made the current Europe-wide heatwave more than twice as likely to occur. The preliminary report found that the “signal of climate change is unambiguous” in this summer’s heat, the BBC says, and that the scale of the heatwave in the Arctic is unprecedented. While the result is preliminary, the scientists say the signal of climate change is “unambiguous”, says theGuardian. “The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Friederike Otto, at the University of Oxford and part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium that did the work. The Mail Online, which also covers the story, has a box on the “several leading theories” of what is causing the summer 2018 global heatwave, including climate change. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail takes a more cynical line, arguing academics have “rushed out” the study and pointing out the analysis has not yet been reviewed by other scientists. The Independent, the Times and New Scientist also cover the study. BusinessGreen talks to ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac about the increased risk of litigation relating to extreme weather events as scientific understanding and evidence of climate change rapidly improves. Carbon Brief‘s analysis of the study explains that while the results have not yet been peer-reviewed, the methods underlying the findings are well established and have been published in previous attribution studies. Meanwhile, the MailOnline reports on findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US that at least 118 all-time heat records have been set or tied around the world. “We now have very strong evidence that global warming has already put a thumb on the scales, upping the odds of extremes like severe heat and heavy rainfall,” said Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh. Similarly, InsideClimateNews interviews several scientists about the “climate signal” of the heatwave.
As many as one in 10 smart energy meters in Britain is “operating in dumb mode”, says the Telegraph, reporting on findings published earlier this month by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG). This means they do not send meter readings to suppliers or display usage in pounds and pence, the panel of MPs said. The Daily Telegraph covered smart meters multiple times over the weekend, including a front page story in Saturday and today’s editions. The Saturday story covers comments from Mike O’Brien, minister of state for energy in 2008 when Britain’s smart meter revolution was launched, who says he “got rid” of his own smart meter as he didn’t use it. Today’s story includes comments from Sir Edward Davey, the former Liberal Democrat energy secretary who accused companies of attempting to create a “barrier to switching” to ensure they keep their customers by rolling out smart meters that make it more difficult to switch suppliers. The Daily Mail also has the story.
EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete is pushing for member states to formally adopt a new set of carbon reduction target ahead of UN climate talks later this year, the FT reports. The new proposed target would see the EU increase its carbon reduction target to 45% by 2030, up from the current target of 40%, relative to 1990 levels. This would require the approval of member states through the council of ministers.
Amber Rudd, the former home secretary who was also the UK’s secretary of state for energy and climate change from 2015 to 2017, writes in the Sunday Times: “Climate change is here, and rising global temperatures are baked in. We will have to adapt – and help those most vulnerable to higher temperatures, often the poor, the elderly and the very young, to adapt as well. Yet adapting is not enough. We also need to reduce the emissions that are driving temperatures higher…Climate change is a global problem that requires global collective action…Like other global risks – immigration, poverty and disease – self-centred nationalism of the kind we are seeing from the current US administration provides an inadequate, feeble response…Both Brexit and future climate negotiations will require British leadership.” Saturday’s Guardian led its frontpage with an interview with Prof Michael Mann, one of the world’s most prominent – and outspoken – climate scientists. He said told the paper that the extreme heatwaves and wildfires wreaking havoc around the globe are “the face of climate change”, adding: “We are seeing our predictions come true. As a scientist that is reassuring, but as a citizen of planet Earth, it is very distressing to see that as it means we have not taken the necessary action.” The Financial Times‘s “Big Read” on Saturday also focused on the extreme weather. It quotes Prof Sam Fankhauser, director of the UK’s Grantham Research Institute: “People are starting to have the feeling that it might be a lot worse than some of the estimates suggest,” he says, referring to the economic modelling about the costs of climate change. The Financial Times also has a video titled: “Forest fires stoke climate change debate.” The Met Office has published a blog co-written by its chief scientist Prof Stephen Belcher and Prof Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. They write: “The temperatures we are currently experiencing may not yet be the ‘new normal’, but within a few decades they could be.” Meanwhile, many of the newspaper columns over the weekend have been discussing the heatwaves. The Observer‘s Andrew Rawnsley wrote yesterday: “You can’t run from climate change and you can’t hide. Not absent the ability to get to another planet suitable for human life. The question then becomes a political one: what, if anything, are we going to do about it?…We live on a windy island inhabited by a lot of clever people and surrounded by a lot of sea. With the right levels of public investment and well-targeted incentives for the private sector, this country could be a world leader in tidal and wave power.” In the Sunday Times, the former climate sceptic Nigel Hawkes says the 2018 heatwave has led to a “summer on steroids” concluding that “it’s time to bury the cynicism”. In the Irish edition of the Mirror, Siobhan O’Connor writes: “Earth is roasting and we can’t go around with our heads in the sand or thanking the man upstairs for granting us a hot summer – it’s not by chance that the planet is on fire…We aren’t quite as stupid as Donald Trump who has been denying climate change since he took up office, rather we are in denial and it’s suiting us to turn a blind eye as we enjoy weather that feels like California dreaming.” In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts uses the heatwave to attack his familiar foes, such as the Met Office, the Guardian, BBC, European Commission and, finally, “officialdom’s quasi-religious belief in the alleged disaster of man-made global warming”. In today’s Times, Marcus Linklater argues that even if climate sceptics cannot be persuaded by extreme weather they should consider that “it is the acidification of the oceans that should really worry us, because this can be measured accurately, using geological tests over millions of years, not just a few summers”. Meanwhile, the letters page of the Times today leads with a collection of letters headlined: “Climate change survival and energy policy.”
Several newspapers in the UK have published editorials focused on the implications of the heatwaves. Today’s Financial Times says: “As residual scientific doubts over global warning evaporate, the need for action by policymakers, businesses and private individuals becomes more urgent. Their response must combine ‘adaptation’ to make society more resilient to the inevitable future impact of climate change with ‘mitigation’ measures that cut carbon emissions…One of the most important issues is how and where we build homes…For many, this will be the hottest summer on record — and there is no denying that man-made climate change is to blame.” An editorial in today’s Independent bemoans the way the UK’s travel infrastructure fails whenever there is extreme weather: “While it would be wrong to overreact to each individual weather event, everything we know about climate change tells us that extremes are becoming more common. As a consequence, there is sense to considering, in a broad context, how the UK’s travel industry could improve its preparedness for ‘unusual’ weather.” Saturday’s edition of the Times carried an editorial arguing that “best way to respond to climate change is to use our human ingenuity”. It continued: “Technological ingenuity rather than arbitrarily reduced consumption or changes in behaviour are the best hope. When we devise methods for developed economies not to pollute their atmospheres, that will be the ultimate solution to struggling into work in the stifling heat.”
Adam Vaughan, the Guardian’s energy correspondent, journeys from Brighton to Edinburgh in an Tesla Model S in a bid to test the current state of the UK’s electric car infrastructure. “The road to zero still has a few speed bumps to overcome,” he concludes. One example: “The trip ended with 72 miles of range at an Edinburgh hotel whose electric car point held out the salvation of an overnight charge. But no, the space was occupied by a huge diesel car and the hotel would not move it. The Guardian had been ‘ICEd’, a term to describe the surprisingly common practice of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle owners blocking an electric car charger.”
The western and eastern Sahel could become “hot spots” for rainfall reductions under future global warming of 1.5-2C, a study suggests. A study using climate models shows that these regions could experience both shorter rainy seasons and the delayed arrival of rains as the climate warms. The researchers say: “The results of the study have application in reducing the impacts of global warming over West Africa.”
A new analysis of South Asian countries’ nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement shows that these nations have not committed to substantially reducing emissions from agriculture. “Large-scale adoption of income-enhancing technologies is the key to realizing agricultural mitigation potential in South Asia, whilst maintaining food security,” the researchers say.
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