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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Climate change: UK CO2 emissions fall again
Climate change: UK CO2 emissions fall again


Climate change: UK CO2 emissions fall again

Finalised statistics of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 show a drop of 2.7% from 2016 and 42% since 1990, reports BBC News. The “mass closure of coal-fired power stations” contributed to the drop, the article notes, but “huge challenges remain to reduce emissions” in transport, farming, homes and parts of industry. Regarding CO2 emissions, Carbon Brief’s deputy editor, Dr Simon Evans, tells BBC News: “[This] shows roughly a third (of the reduction) is down to a cleaner electricity mix based on renewables and gas instead of coal.“ (For more, see Carbon Brief’s new analysis.) Transport emissions have fallen just 2% since 1990, notes the Press Association, “and now account for more than a quarter (27%) of the total greenhouse gas output – a bigger share than energy supplies, businesses, homes, agriculture or other sectors”. This has been driven, in part, by the boom in online shopping, says the Times. The Independentreports that environmental groups have accused the government of ignoring the “elephant in the room” and investing in new roads at the expense of the nation’s future climate targets. The final figures “mean the UK has now officially met the second carbon budget” under the Climate Change Act, says BusinessGreen. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement: “We’ve made significant progress in cleaning up the power and waste sectors while scaling up our low-carbon electricity to record highs.”

BBC News Read Article
US becomes UK’s top oil supplier for first time since Suez

The US has become the biggest exporter of oil to the UK for the first time since the Suez crisis, reports the Financial Times, as the production of shale oil “starts to supplant North Sea supplies”. Figures from January from the cargo-tracking company Kpler show the US supplied the equivalent of almost one in every four barrels of crude oil processed in UK refineries, more than Norway, Russia, Nigeria or Algeria.

In other oil news, the Times reports that BP’s profits have trebled to more than $10bn in 2018. A combination of higher oil and gas prices and increased production boosted profits. Oil and gas production from BP’s operations was just over 3.7m barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2018, says the FT – up 2.4 % from the previous year. BP’s share price rose by more than 3% after the announcement, says CNBC. BP is just the latest oil giant to “smash analysts’ earnings estimates” for the fourth quarter of last year, says Bloomberg, after similar announcements from ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.

Financial Times Read Article
Belgian minister resigns over school-strike conspiracy claims

A Belgian environment minister has been forced to resign after falsely claiming the country’s intelligence services held evidence that climate change demonstrations by schoolchildren were being directed by unnamed powers. Joke Schauvliege, a minister in Flanders, provoked criticism after suggesting the protests were a “set-up” and “more than spontaneous actions of solidarity”. Her comments prompted a denial by the Belgian state security services, who said they “have not reported anything about this to Schauvliege…neither verbally nor in writing”. Schauvliege announced her resignation at a press conference yesterday, says Politico. She was one of four Belgian ministers responsible for climate policy.

The Guardian Read Article
Scotland's first minister signs climate change agreement with New Jersey governor

Nicola Sturgeon has signed a joint agreement with the governor of New Jersey to tackle climate change, reports the Press Association. The deal was announced at a meeting with Phil Murphy yesterday as part of a visit to North America. It commits Scotland and New Jersey to sharing experience and best practices on tackling climate change, as well as promoting business and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low-carbon economy. Sturgeon said: “Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet.“ The first minister signed a similar agreement with governor of California Jerry Brown on a previous visit to the US in 2017.

Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph Read Article
US Senate environment panel okays Trump's pick to lead EPA

A key Senate committee approved Donald Trump’s new pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday, reports Reuters, putting Andrew Wheeler a step closer to becoming the permanent head. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was nominated by Trump last month to replace Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-10 to approve Wheeler and send him to the full Senate for consideration, says the Hill. All Republicans on the committee voted for Wheeler and all Democrats voted against.

In other US news, a draft of the Green New Deal, obtained by Bloomberg, is expected to include “guaranteed jobs, health care, and housing”, but “doesn’t explicitly include the ban on fossil fuels called for by some supporters”. The document “provides early details of how Democrats plan to define what is quickly becoming a centerpiece of their agenda on Capitol Hill”, says Bloomberg. It calls for 100% power from “clean, renewable and zero emission energy sources” and for reaching “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”, but “omits specific language sought by some progressives”, notes Bloomberg. A spokesperson responded that “the document has yet to be completed and is still changing”. Carbon Brief has an explainer on the Green New Deal.

Reuters Read Article


The glaring hole in Trump’s address: Climate change

President Trump’s State of the Union address last night omitted “any reference to the threat looming above all others: climate change”, writes Washington Post Reporter Ishann Tharoor. “That’s no surprise,” says Tharoor, as “Trump is an avowed climate sceptic who casts environmentalist efforts as challenges to American sovereignty, not ways to stave off a planet-wide disaster”. Tharoor looks back at some of Trump’s comments on climate change and how he is “certainly at odds with the global scientific community — including leading scientists in the United States and even in his own government”. Trump’s “inaction and indifference is already part of a broader political legacy likely to be remembered in decades to come”, Tharoor concludes. Also covering the speech, the Hill notes that Trump did not mention coal when he declared that his administration has “unleashed a revolution in American energy”. Vox said “nobody expected him to mention climate change. But if he were truly taking on the biggest challenge and opportunity facing America, climate change would be right up there”. It added that the some Democrats invited climate scientists to attend the speech. The omission of climate change from the address drew opprobrium from senator Bernie Sanders, reports NewsweekCarbon Brief has an interactive timeline of how climate and energy have featured in all of the State of the Union addresses since 1989.

Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post Read Article


Warming trends in summer heatwaves

Summer heatwaves have become two to three times more likely in England from the 1800s to today, a new study finds. The research considers a “summer heatwave” to be a six-day period where temperatures exceed 28C – a threshold that after breached will cause buildings to overheat, the authors say. “Our analysis relies solely on the observations and does not involve large‐scale numerical models. It provides a quantitative verification for models that are used to attribute heatwave activity,” they add.

Geophysical Research Letters Read Article
Global exposure to rainstorms and the contribution rates of climate change and population change

A new study assesses the effects of climate change and population growth on the number of people exposed to rainstorms worldwide. The modelling study finds that, at present, population growth is having the largest effect on the number of people exposed to rainstorms, particularly in Asia and Africa. However, “the number of countries whose climate change effect is greater than that of population change is gradually increasing, and this number reaches more than a quarter of the total when the late 21st century period is compared with the mid-21st century period”, the authors say.

Science of the Total Environment Read Article


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