Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Climate change is driving mass migration, says Attenborough
- 'Projected shortfalls': Government confirms UK on track to miss carbon targets by widening margin
- Climate goals could sink oil demand from mid 2020s, large asset manager says
- Chile reveals venue, climate champion for COP25 summit
- Rio Tinto ready to quit Minerals Council if it doesn't support Paris climate targets
- Combien de CO2 pourrez-vous émettre dans votre vie si le réchauffement est contenu à 1,5 degré?
- Letter: Concerns of young protesters are justified
- A carbon tax is the nudge the world needs
- What survival looks like after the oceans rise
- Marine heatwaves reveal coral reef zones susceptible to bleaching in the Red Sea
Mass migration from Africa to Europe will accelerate unless more is done to tackle climate change, naturalist Sir David Attenborough has told attendees at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meeting in Washington, reports the Times. The paper quotes Attenborough on the link between migration and warming saying: “It is happening in Europe. People are coming from Africa because they can’t live where they are. If things go so more parts of the world become uninhabitable, that’s what will happen.” The Guardian also covers his speech, quoting him saying: “I find it hard to exaggerate the peril. This is the new extinction and we are half way through it. We are in terrible, terrible trouble and the longer we wait to do something about it the worse it is going to get.” Separately, Reuters reports that UK chancellor Philip Hammond told the IMF on Thursday he would use meetings in Washington this week to “urge fellow international policymakers to find ways to achieve sustainable economic growth and tackle climate change”. Hammond called on world leaders to put climate change and sustainable growth at the centre of their economic strategies, reports BusinessGreen. Meanwhile, the Washington Post carries an interview with Attenborough, under a headline that says he is now “talking about climate change like never before”. Attenborough tells the paper the US reversal on climate change policy is “a big blow” that makes it “more and more urgent that we keep going”. He also endorses the youth climate strikes, saying: “You don’t solve anything by striking. But you do change opinion, and you do change politicians’ opinions. And that’s why strikes are worthwhile.”
The UK government has confirmed it is on course to miss its carbon targets for the mid-2020s onwards, reports BusinessGreen, with the shortfall against the legally binding goals having worsened since projections made last year. “The results will inevitably spark fresh calls for the government to urgently come forward with new policies to close a now widening ‘emissions gap’ that has been apparent ever since ministers acknowledged their 2017 Clean Growth Strategy was not expected to deliver on the UK’s medium-term carbon targets without additional policy action,” BusinessGreen reports. Carbon Brief will publish in-depth analysis of the latest UK energy and emissions projections later today.
Oil demand could start to fall from 2025 if countries impose strict climate change policies, according to new scenarios developed by asset manager Legal and General Investment Management, picked up by Reuters and others. The firm, which managers assets worth £1bn ($1.3bn), says oil demand could fall to 40% below today’s levels by 2040 and would plateau from 2030 even in the absence of strong climate action, Reuters adds. The firm’s scenarios suggest the costs of tackling climate change will be lower than expected, reports Quartz. It quotes the company’s head of commodities saying: “Disruption is coming to energy markets no matter what…policy [aligned with climate goals] just changes the timing.” BusinessGreen also has the story.
The COP25 UN climate talks will be held in December 2019 in a purpose-built structure in Santiago, Chile, reports Climate Home News. The Chilean hosts of the meeting held a launch event yesterday naming a recycling entrepreneur as “climate champion” for the summit, responsible for coordinating action by business, civil society and others, Climate Home News adds.
Global mining giant Rio Tinto is threatening to quit its membership of industry associations, including the Minerals Council of Australia, if the groups fail to come out in support of the Paris Agreement on climate change, reports the Guardian. The firm published a statement last night setting out its expectations of the industry bodies it belongs to, the Guardian says.
There is continued coverage of Carbon Brief’s analysis of intergenerational equity in relation to the world’s remaining carbon budget, if warming is to be limited 1.5C. A feature in Le Monde says the analysis could give reason to some to believe the old adage that things used to be better, with children born today having to considerably limit their carbon footprints in comparison to those of their grandparents. However, it concludes by stressing that clean-tech innovations such as electric cars and renewables mean that children born in 2017 might not take such a view.
The concerns of youth climate protestors (who will take to streets around the world again today) “are justified and supported by the best available science”, write a long list of prominent climate scientists in a letter to Science magazine. The group, which includes Dr Katharine Hayhoe, Prof Jean-Pascale van Persele, Prof Michael E Mann and 19 others, continue: “The current measures for protecting the climate and biosphere are deeply inadequate…The enormous grassroots mobilisation of the youth climate movement — including Fridays for Future, School (or Youth) Strike 4 Climate, Youth for (or 4) Climate, and Youth Climate Strike — shows that young people understand the situation. We approve and support their demand for rapid and forceful action.”
A carbon tax “would pull billions of levers in a complex economy, saturated in fossil fuels”, writes Tim Harford in the Financial Times, in a comment that is critical of the proposed “green new deal”. He explains: “The other risk of a huge centrally planned response to climate change is that of a huge centrally planned response to anything: clumsy megaprojects chosen for their political or bureaucratic acceptability rather than because they deliver the biggest results for the lowest cost.” But Harford rejects binary choices in tackling climate change, concluding: “I would rather a green new deal than inaction, and a carbon tax alone is not the ideal response. But such a tax is the long-overdue, all-embracing response to climate change that America, and the world, badly needs. Everyone who cares about climate change should be advocating for it.” Separately, a feature from EurActiv looks at the prospects for a minimum carbon price in Germany, noting that the government “continues to be divided on the matter”. CLEW says that Angela Merkel has told the German parliament that the government is “exploring” a carbon price. A news item from Reuters reports that carbon prices on the EU Emissions Trading System have reached a 10-year high this week on the news that the UK’s departure from the EU is being extended.
The New York Times Magazine continues its special edition called “The Climate Issue” with a photo essay on the survivors of a Bangladeshi town lost to devastating storms in 2007 and 2009. “Despite being responsible for only 0.3% of the emissions that cause global warming, Bangladesh is near the top of the Global Climate Risk Index, a ranking of 183 countries and territories most vulnerable to climate change,” writes Andrea Frazzetta. She continues: “For Bangladesh, the effects of climate change are happening now. Cyclones are growing stronger as temperatures rise and are occurring with more frequency.”
As the Earth’s temperature continues to rise, coral bleaching events become more frequent. Some of the most affected reef ecosystems are located in poorly‐monitored waters, and thus, the extent of the damage is unknown. Marine heatwaves can be used to detect coral reef zones susceptible to bleaching. This study looks at marine heat waves over the past 30 years based on satellite data over the Red Sea. They find that marine heat waves are effective in identifying areas where bleaching has been reported, but that bleaching conditions extend farther and occurred more frequently than previously thought. They propose that their approach could be used to reveal bleaching‐prone regions in other data‐limited tropical regions.
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