Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Climate crisis will displace 216 million in next 30 years
- Climate change: World now sees twice as many days over 50C
- US: ‘It’s a reality’ – Biden calls for urgency in California as climate crisis fuels wildfires
- US will help India with its target of achieving 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030: John Kerry
- Norway’s ‘climate election’ puts center-left in charge
- Energy prices rocket to new high amid global gas crunch
- UK: Government considering scheme to pay for home gas boilers – despite also planning funds to aid switch to clean heating
- Meat and dairy cause twice as many emissions as plant-based foods, says in-depth study
- Most plans for new coal plants scrapped since Paris agreement
- China to put carbon emission goals into medium- and long-term development strategy: climate envoy Xie Zhenhua
- Policy smog is holding back UK net zero progress
- We have a final opportunity to respond to climate change. Will we take it?
- Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods
The new “Groundswell 2.0” report from the World Bank finds that at 216 million people could be displaced from their homes by 2050 as a results of climate change, according to the Daily Telegraph. However, the newspaper notes that. according to the report, the number of affected people could be reduced by as much as 80%, if “immediate action” is taken. It adds that the report “does not tackle people who may be forced to migrate to different countries to find safety, although research has shown that this is also a growing phenomenon.” Reuters notes that climate migration “hotspots” will emerge as soon as 2030, adding: “Sub-Saharan Africa alone would account for 86 million of the internal migrants, with 19 million more in North Africa, the report showed, while 40 million migrants were expected in South Asia and 49 million in East Asia and the Pacific.” Associated Press highlights that the “216 million” refers to the most pessimistic scenario of future climate change, with a high level of emissions and unequal development, while the “44 million” number refers to “the most climate-friendly scenario, with a low level of emissions and inclusive, sustainable development”. The Hill, the Times and Bloomberg also cover the new Groundswell study. Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph covers the findings of an analysis from Chatham House, which warns that “drastic changes to the climate are likely to be ‘locked in’ by 2040 unless the biggest polluting countries ‘dramatically’ reduce their carbon emissions”.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Robert Glasser, the former United Nations Secretary General’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, has called climate change a “threat generator” and a “blind spot” in Australian security planning. The newspaper adds that Cheryl Durrant, who spent 30 years working at the Australian Defence Department, “said it was ‘bizarre’ that Australia was willing to commit to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the US alliance, but not take greater action on climate change.” Elsewhere, Reuters reports that UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called the “triple planetary threats” of climate change, pollution and nature loss “the single greatest challenge to human rights of our era”. It adds: “Her remarks come at the opening session of the 13 Sept-8 Oct session of the Human Rights Council, where climate change themes were expected to be central, alongside debates on rights violations in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Tigray, Ethiopia.”
Launching a news series of coverage focused on “Life at 50C”, BBC News analysis shows that “the number of extremely hot days every year when the temperature reaches 50C has doubled since the 1980s”. It adds: “They also now happen in more areas of the world than before, presenting unprecedented challenges to human health and to how we live. The total number of days above 50C (122F) has increased in each decade since 1980. On average, between 1980 and 2009, temperatures passed 50C about 14 days a year. The number rose to 26 days a year between 2010 and 2019. In the same period, temperatures of 45C and above occurred on average an extra two weeks a year.” Dr Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, is quoted as saying: “The increase can be 100% attributed to the burning of fossil fuels.” The methodology for the BBC’s analysis has been developed “with support from Dr Sihan Li of the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, and Dr Zeke Hausfather of Berkeley Earth and Carbon Brief”.
US president Joe Biden visited California yesterday as part of a two-day tour of the US West, to “survey wildfire damage” in the area, the Guardian reports. According to the paper, while Biden was in California, he also campaigned with the state’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall election on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal carries more details on Biden’s support for Newsom and the Los Angeles Times adds that “Newsom, who greeted Biden when he landed on Air Force One and accompanied him for a briefing on wildfires, praised his commitment with an implicit swipe at former President Trump”. Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes that Biden is also taking the opportunity to “renew his push for significant investments to combat climate change” and is seeking support for his infrastructure package. It continues: “Last month, the Senate passed the first part of Biden’s agenda, a $1 trillion bipartisan bill focused on the country’s physical infrastructure that includes funds for new climate-resilience initiatives. Now Democrats are hashing out the details of the second part, a $3.5 trillion bill that would fight climate change, expand Medicare and boost federal social services such as paid family leave and free community college.” And the Washington Post carries a separate piece entitled, “As the largest-ever US climate bill inches forward, a lobbying frenzy ensues”. The New York Times Reuters, Politico, ABC News and the San Francisco Chronicle also cover speeches from Biden on the wildfires. Elsewhere, the New York Times reports that “experts say there are limits to what the federal government can do to reduce the scale and destructive power of the fires, at least in the short term. That’s because much of the authority needed relies on state and local governments.” And the Washington Post carries more details on California’s wildfire season.
In other US news, Reuters reports that Illinois has approved $700m in subsidies to prevent two Exelon Corp nuclear power plants from closing. Meanwhile, Bloomberg says that “House Democrats are rebuffing President Biden’s call to end a raft of tax breaks cherished by the oil industry.” And Inside Climate News carries a piece entitled: “Indigenous tribes facing displacement in Alaska and Louisiana say the US is ignoring climate threats.”
US climate envoy John Kerry’s three-day trip to India ahead of Narendra Modi’s visit to the US and COP26 has been widely covered by the Indian media. The Indian Express reports that Kerry is in India for “the launch of [the] Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD)”, a dialogue Indian environment minister Bhupender Yadav “hopes will work to mobilise and deliver climate finance primarily as grants and concessional finance”. Kerry called “India’s target of achieving 450GW renewable energy by 2030 one of the most powerful goals set in the world’’ and that the “US will assist India in attracting finance and technology to achieve it”, “promote bilateral clean energy investment and trade”, help India “chart pathways for a clean transition…across transport, buildings and industry”, as well as “collaborate in building capacities to measure and manage climate risks”. It reports that while Kerry stressed “a net zero global standard by 2050”, Yadav “said that goals need to be set taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities”.
The international media also covers the story. The Washington Post reports that Kerry “said Monday that he remains hopeful that key world leaders, including India’s prime minister, will announce more-ambitious emissions reduction targets” ahead of COP26. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Kerry has said that postponing COP26 “ would be a ‘huge, huge mistake’”. It continues: “Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute in Kenya and one of the groups calling for postponement… But a group of 39 small island nations, which are among the most vulnerable to climate change, are insisting that the global gathering should take place as planned.” Meanwhile, Reuters reports that “the US said it is willing to collaborate with India to help realise its ambitious green energy target and exceed its commitments under the Paris Agreement”.
Meanwhile, in other India news, the Hindustan Times reports that the Indian government has said that the country “lost 6,811 people in the last three years to hydro-meteorological disasters, such as heavy rain, lightning, flood and cyclones”.
The New York Times reports that Norway’s Labour party has won the election with 26% of the vote. It continues: “Though smaller Norwegian parties with the most aggressive stance toward fossil fuels fared less well than expected Monday, the vote offered evidence that the climate issue may be shifting the balance of power to the left in some European countries, among them Germany, which is holding its own election in just two weeks.” It adds that the Labour party “was poised to form a coalition with the Center Party”, but that they may “also have to include a smaller left-wing party that has demanded a more aggressive response to tackle climate change, and that could make any coalition deeply divided over fossil fuels and taxes”. The Financial Times reports that the vote was “dominated by the future of oil and the climate crisis.” And Reuters adds that “Norway’s status as a major oil and gas producer has been at the heart here of the campaign, although a transition away from petroleum – and the jobs it creates – is likely to be a gradual one despite progress by pro-environment parties.”
In other European news, the Washington Post reports that the wildfires raging in Spain are “raising concerns about climate change”. The Guardian reports that wildfires in Spain are continuing for a sixth day and Reuters notes that some of the thousands of evacuees are starting to return home. The Times notes that the fire is “the biggest in the region for almost a decade”, adding that it “doubled in size in 24 hours”.
The Daily Telegraph reports the energy prices in the UK have spiked, reaching 11 times their “normal level”, as a combination of low wind speeds, low gas supply and power station closures “pile unprecedented pressure on Britain’s grid”. The Financial Times warns that the high prices could force many households to “desperate” measures. According to the newspaper, day-ahead power prices hit £540 per megawatt hour on Monday – the highest level since 2008. It adds: “Gas stocks in Europe, already low after the prolonged cold weather last winter, have taken longer to replenish after a curb on supplies from Russia. Increased demand from Asia for liquefied natural gas (LNG) has also pushed prices even higher.” The Conversation also notes that “the time-poor could suffer most” from the high electricity prices. The Guardian reports that coal power stations in the UK “are in line to be paid record sums to keep the lights on as energy prices reach fresh highs”, adding that “experts predict that UK wholesale energy prices will climb higher in the days ahead owing to forecasts of low wind speeds, which will limit the country’s renewable energy generation”. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Spain is announcing temporary reductions in tax to “cushion the blow to consumers”. Reuters adds that Spain plans to cap gas prices and “redirect energy company profits as part of a package to bring down soaring electricity prices”.
Bloomberg reports that “governments in the European Union should quickly approve a package of reforms aimed at deepening emissions reductions in order to help the region avert future spikes in energy prices, according to a leading think-tank.” The Wall Street Journal also covers the spike in energy prices. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that “Europe’s energy crunch is deepening, with gas and power prices hitting fresh records after the US warned the continent isn’t doing enough to prepare for what could be potentially a dire winter.” Bloomberg carries a piece entitled, “Europe’s energy crisis shows the downside of fossil fuels”, while Reuters highlights the possibility of rich taxpayers taking on more of the costs of decarbonisation in a piece entitled: “High gas prices demand creative climate thinking.”
Official documents seen by the Independent show that the government is considering using taxpayer money to install gas-powered central heating in 15,000-20,000 low-income homes over 2022-26 – “despite also planning funds to help people switch to low-carbon heating”. The newspaper continues: “However, the UK is also imminently due to unveil its long-awaited strategy for cutting CO2 emissions from Britain’s homes. It is expected that this strategy will offer grants to help people make the transition to low-carbon home heating. Jess Ralston, an analyst at the Energy, Climate and Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a UK non-profit, said the plans were ‘wasteful and baffling’ – and risked locking the poorest in society into expensive and unhealthy heating systems”. Similarly, the Guardian reports that experts “condemn” the plans on the grounds that “effective subsidies for new gas boilers run contrary to government targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions”. The Daily Telegraph says “a ‘wasteful’ government scheme will see 20,000 households paid to install gas boilers, just a decade before they are set to be phased out”.
In other UK news, there is widespread coverage of protests from the climate protester group “Insulate Britain”. The Guardian reports that protesters – who are calling for the UK government to “fully fund an overhaul of insulation of all homes in Britain by 2030″– blocked numerous junctions on the M25 yesterday. According to the the Daily Telegraph, at least 74 activists were arrested. BBC News and the Daily Mail also cover the protests. Separately, Yale Environment 360 and Bloomberg report that more than 200 environmental activists were murdered in 2020 – the highest annual number to date.
Meanwhile, BBC News reports that armed police are preparing for their biggest deployment ever – at COP26 – during which time a total of 10,000 police officers will be deployed on each day. Elsewhere, BBC News has published the results of a global survey which finds that nearly 60% of young people “said they felt very worried or extremely worried” about climate change. The Guardian adds that four in 10 young people “fear having children due to climate crisis”.
In other UK news, the Scotsman reports that Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will fund the UN youth talks, after the UK “decline[d] to pay”. And a separate piece in the Scotsman reports that the Scottish Conservatives have put forward “a motion as part of their opposition time in Holyrood that calls for MSPs to support ‘new oil and gas projects’, including the controversial Cambo oil field”. Meanwhile, DeSmog reports that the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a “climate science denial group” – will give evidence to parliament this morning on the net-zero transition. According to the outlet: “The GWPF is currently working with backbench MPs who are campaigning against what they call the “punishingly high” cost of the government’s targets to cut emissions to net zero by 2050. South Thanet MP Craig Mackinklay, who is leading a ‘Net Zero Scrutiny Group’ of backbenchers, has said it will use GWPF research to this end.”
The Independent unpacks a new study which finds that meat and dairy products cause twice as many emissions as plant-based foods. According to the newspaper, the study analyses the emissions from 171 crops and 16 animal products in 200 countries. It continues: “Meat and dairy products account for 57% of total food emissions, whereas plant-based foods cause 29%, the analysis found. The remaining emissions are driven by other products such as cotton and rubber.” The Guardian leads its coverage of the study with the subheading: “Production of meat worldwide emits 28 times as much as growing plants, and most crops are raised to feed animals bound for slaughter.” It adds that, according to the research, “the raising and culling of animals for food is far worse for the climate than growing and processing fruits and vegetables for people to eat”. The New Scientist adds that rice produces the most emissions out of all plant-based foods, while beef production contributes the most to animal-based emissions.
Meanwhile, the Guardian covers a new study in which a herd of cows were “potty-trained” to use a toilet area in their barn. According to the newspaper, this means that the cows’ urine could be collected and treated. It adds that this prevents the urine from leaching into the soil where it is converted into nitrous oxide – “the third most significant greenhouse gas after methane and carbon dioxide”. The Daily Telegraph‘s coverage of the study notes that 11 of the 16 cows in the study learned to successfully use the “MooLoo”, which “captures their waste and disposes of it before it turns into nitrous oxide”. The story has received extensive global coverage – including by New Scientist, AP News, the Independent, Bloomberg, the India Times and MailOnline.
The Guardian unpacks new research by E3G, which finds that more than three-quarters of the world’s planned coal plants have been “scrapped” since the 2015 Paris climate deal was signed – meaning that 44 countries no longer have any planned coal plants. According to the newspaper, the research “suggests the end of the polluting energy source is in sight”. In its coverage of the reports, Reuters notes that proposed new coal power capacity globally has dropped by 76% since the signing of the Paris agreement, adding that “pressure grows on Asia to cancel new coal projects”. It notes that Asia is “still at the centre of the world’s remaining pipeline”, noting that “action by six countries alone – China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh – could remove over four-fifths of planned projects before construction”. BusinessGreen also covers the report and Carbon Brief has published a guest post written by the researchers. Meanwhile, a separate Reuters article reports that an alliance of 35 NGOs have pressed the Bank of China to stop financing coal power plants outside of the mainland. The South China Morning Post also notes the pressure being put on China to stop building more coal power plants “soon”, noting that “China commissioned 76% of new capacity globally last year, up from 64% in 2019”.
China will put its goals of reaching peak emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 into its medium- and long-term development plans, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy on climate, said at a forum in Beijing on Saturday, according to Global Times. The state-run newspaper writes that the move aims to “further fulfil the promises made to strengthen global climate cooperation”. Xie also mentioned that a “special working group” had been established to design a policy system targeting carbon emission reductions, according to the article. Yicai, a Shanghai-based financial outlet, reports that the policy system, called “1+N”, will use emissions reduction as its “strategic direction” to promote “a synergy of pollution reduction and carbon reduction and a comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development”. Xie introduced the ideas and content of the policy system for the first time at the forum, Yicai adds. China Daily and China News Service, both state-run outlets, also cover Xie’s remarks.
Meanwhile, in an article in Forbes, energy and climate journalist Ken Silverstein writes that China’s ban on Australian coal has given US coal producers “breathing space”. The piece says that “China needs reliable trading partners that can feed its growth and that want to expand along with it”. It adds: “To that end, China drastically cut the tariffs that it had placed on American coal exports. That has helped it replace Australian supplies while it tries to normalise US trade relations.” An opinion piece in China’s Global Times focuses on Chinese President Xi and US President Biden’s call last week. The column, written by Wen Sheng, reads: “The ‘candid’ and ‘straightforward’ discussion between the two leaders about the current state of China-US relations and other global affairs is an indication that Washington has, finally, realised that engagement between the world’s two major powers is better than cut-throat competition and confrontation.” It goes on to say that “the Biden administration is now aware that it cannot make any meaningful progress without China’s participation and help”.
Furthermore, a Bloomberg article reports that China’s “poor regions” are “worrying about climate justice” in the country’s pursuit of net-zero emissions. The piece says: “As top officials work out how to deliver on Xi’s carbon-neutrality target, a key question is what deadlines they will set for different regions to reach peak emissions.” It notes that it is “an easy task” for big cities like Beijing, “where the majority of revenue comes from services and high-tech industries”. It adds: “But poorer provinces dependent on coal-powered industries such as chemicals and cement production will have to undergo painful transitions.” Elsewhere, China Dialogue carries a piece entitled, “Merkel’s mixed climate legacy”, stating that Angela Merkel is “facing criticism over insufficient climate action”. Similarly, the Times reports that “Merkel’s decision to hasten the end of nuclear power in Germany has been criticised by the leader of her party”.
In the Financial Times, Helen Thomas says the UK government needs to reduce the “lack of clarity and detail underpinning the UK’s various green strategies and 10-point plans ”. She writes: “The UK has reduced coal use to less than 2% of power generation last year, from 40% in 2012, a regular political talking point. But self-congratulation is pointless when Climate Action Tracker ranks UK policy, along with the rest of Europe, as ‘insufficient’ against what is required to hit the Paris goal of limiting warming to well below 2C, in itself arguably not enough…Doing more does not just mean nurturing shiny, new technology or flinging money at business…It should mean prodding sectors to make decisions on the options available now.”
In the Guardian, financial editor Nils Pratley warns that the UK’s “overreliance on gas as ‘transition’ source of energy and system’s lack of resilience is being exposed”. He adds: “A few factors – wind speeds, for example – could reverse to relieve the immediate pressure. But one can also diagnose a basic overreliance in the UK on gas as the “transition” source of fossil fuel energy on the way to net zero. There’s not much resilience in the system, with so many nuclear plants due to come offline this decade.”
Various UK newspapers react to yesterday’s Insulate Britain protests. An editorial in the Sun says: “We welcome the 92 arrests. But these wreckers will only stop once courts truly reflect the economic damage they cause and the fury they generate, and dish out sentences which actually punish. These are the real enemies of the eco cause, which the Sun firmly supports: Deranged extremists who alienate millions of ordinary people.” An editorial in the Daily Mail follows a similar theme: “DO the nincompoops of Insulate Britain really think blockading the M25 will convert ordinary people to their green cause? Quite the reverse. Not only did their juvenile stunt backfire by causing pollution belching traffic jams, it infuriated those trying to get to work or school and impeded emergency vehicles. You could barely dream up tactics more likely to harden minds against environmentalism.” The Daily Mail’s climate sceptic columnist Richard Littlejohn also rages at the protesters: “No matter how much Boris Johnson’s government abases itself before the eco-mentalists, it’s never going to be enough. No demand is too trivial to prevent showboating protesters disrupting the rest of us going about our lawful business.” In the Daily Telegraph, former Conservative minister Norman Tebbit says “Extinction Rebellion must be stopped”, adding: “The internet and the social media have made it far too easy to whip up a mob on to the streets.”
Meanwhile, writing in the Guardian, veteran climate campaigner and author Bill McKibben laments the fact that 227 environmental protestors were killed last year: “The rest of us need to realise that the people killed each year defending their local places are also defending our shared planet – in particular our climate. The activities that flood our atmosphere with carbon – fossil fuel extraction and deforestation – are at the heart of so many of these killings. When people stand up to block a pipeline, or an illegal mine, or a new plantation slated for an old forest, they are also standing in the way of the activities that threaten us all.”
CNBC in the US carries an opinion piece by Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation. The piece highlights some of the main findings of the recent IPCC AR6 report and says: “If we stop pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere altogether, scientists believe we may be able to contain warming to 1.5C. If we fail, the consequences for our planet will be dire.” It notes that “vast amounts of funding” will be needed to reach net-zero emissions, citing the IMF estimate of $6-10tn. It continues: “These are huge sums, but they should not be viewed as a sunk cost – like the expense of cleaning up after flooding, wildfires, and other ravages of extreme weather. Greening our economies is above all an economic opportunity that will create jobs, drive innovation, and boost economic growth.” The piece then outlines three keep points that need to be addressed: firstly a global price on carbon, secondly funds for adaptation – especially in developing countries, and thirdly a “just” transition, so that “the cost of transforming economies to be greener and more resilient must be shared”. The piece notes that, according to research, investing $1.8tn globally until 2030 in five climate-adaptation areas could result in $7.1tn in net benefits. It concludes: “The world is not short of money or ideas needed to fight climate change. What we need now is for the international community to seize this historic opportunity and act together to create a greener, more equitable and prosperous world for us all.”
A new study finds that emissions from animal-based foods are twice as high as those from plant-based foods. The study analyses the emissions from 171 crops and 16 animal products in 200 countries. It finds that meat and dairy account for 57% of total global greenhouse emissions from food production, while plant-based foods account for 29%. The authors conclude: “Farmland management and land-use change represented major shares of total emissions (38% and 29%, respectively), whereas rice and beef were the largest contributing plant- and animal-based commodities (12% and 25%, respectively), and South and Southeast Asia and South America were the largest emitters of production-based GHGs.”
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