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Daily Briefing

18.12.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Coal demand will remain steady through 2023, International Energy Agency says
Coal demand will remain steady through 2023, International Energy Agency says

News.

Coal demand will remain steady through 2023, International Energy Agency says

Global coal demand is expanding after two years of decline, says CNBC, reporting the latest forecasts from the International Energy Agency (IEA). But “miners should brace for another period of sluggish growth”, CNBC says, adding: “The reason for coal’s stagnation remains unchanged from recent years: Developed nations are ditching the fossil fuel, while India and other emerging economies are turning to coal to quickly scale up electric power generation.” Reuters also has the story. The Australian Financial Review covers the IEA’s report under the headline: “Coal beats off critics to maintain share of power generation.” As Carbon Brief’s coverage notes, global coal demand remains well below a 2014 peak. Meanwhile, S&P Global Platts reports that French coal plant workers are striking to protest plans to close the country’s last five stations by 2022. And Reuters reports that Israel will stop the use of coal for power by 2030, “joining a host of other countries in an alliance that aims to transition to cleaner sources of energy”.

EU agrees deal to cut greenhouse emissions from cars

The European Union has agreed a compromise goal to cut CO2 emissions from cars and vans by 2030, reports Reuters. The deal will require new cars to emit 37.5% less CO2 on average, compared to 2021 levels, says the Financial Times, with a 31% target for vans. The deal is tougher than the 30% originally proposed by the European Commission, but weaker than the 40% wanted by the European Parliament, Reuters notes. The compromise has disappointed campaigners, it adds. Carmakers said the new targets were “totally unrealistic”, says the FT. Politico also has the story.

Reuters Read Article
Environment campaigners hit out at the UK government's strategy for aviation expansion

Campaigners have criticised the UK government’s new green paper on its aviation strategy, reports i News, saying the growth in passenger demand it anticipates “cannot be reconciled” with a sustainable economy. The paper notes the green paper’s admission that aviation could claim a 25% share of total UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, even if the sector is capped at 2005 levels. The long-awaited Aviation 2050 strategy sets a path for continued expansion and relies on international action to limit emissions, says BusinessGreen. It quotes the Aviation Environment Federation’s Cait Hewitt saying: “Rather than rein in [UK aviation] emissions it wants to allow airlines to paper over the cracks by buying carbon offsets.”

i News Read Article
Tinker Lane fracking well proves to be a cul-de-sac

The first shale gas well to be drilled in the east Midlands “drew a blank”, the Times reports. Fracking firm Igas announced yesterday that it had failed to find the gas-rich Bowland shale geological formation after drilling at its Tinker Lane site in North Nottinghamshire, the paper adds. The news is a setback for the UK’s hopes of developing a viable shale gas industry, it says. Separately, the Press Association says the National Trust has dropped its legal fight against seismic surveys for shale gas at its Clumber Park property. But the trust “has vowed to fight to protect the site from fracking”, it adds.

The Times Read Article

Comment.

COP24: UN climate deal brings hope, but more must be done

“The adoption of a common rule book by nations [at COP24] for reporting emissions and efforts made to cut them is welcome; however, the global body has to guard against inaction,” says a leading article in the print edition of the South China Morning Post. It says hopes the UN climate summit would lead to “bold steps towards cutting CO2 emissions and meaningful action to help developing countries adapt…were dashed” by the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia watering down an endorsement of a report on 1.5C. A comment piece from Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbum says: “Advanced and developing countries agreed to employ common rules. This was a good result of the latest meeting.” But it adds: “What was conspicuous throughout the conference was the decline in enthusiasm for the Paris accord.”

In the Guardian, global environment editor Jonathan Watts says the talks “set [the] stage for humanity’s two most crucial years,” citing scientists who argue that decisions made by 2020 will determine whether 1.5C of warming can be avoided. Writing in the Hindu, Sujatha Byravan argues that “key issues of concern for the poorest and developing nations were diluted or postponed,” pointing to a lack of finance and the removal of language on equity. BusinessGreen editor James Murray argues that despite disappointments: “The positive signal from COP24 is clear, and businesses are responding.”

Meanwhile E&E News has a summary of the talks that describes the deal on a Paris Agreement “rulebook” as a “fragile balance”. The Washington Post has analysis in the form of a Q&A, covering what was at stake and what happened at COP24 in Poland. DeSmog UK’s summary is published under a headline quote saying the rulebook signed off at COP24 “does not deliver what the world needs”. A second Guardian article reports that activists have “vow[ed] to step up protests around [the] world” to force governments to act on climate change. Finally, climate scientist Dave Reay writes for Nature about how he “stave[s] off despair” in the face of so little global action to tackle climate change. The intro says: “Dreams of soggy soil and seaweed keep him going.”

Editorial, South China Morning Post Read Article
Comment: New Congress will bring a green wave on climate change

“We need bold, revolutionary action on climate. And we need it now,” writes Democratic senator Edward J Markey in a comment for the Boston Globe. He adds: “Fortunately, the blue wave in the last election was also a green wave. We now have more members of Congress who want serious action on climate than ever before.” He says he will introduce legislation to confront climate challenges and outlines his priorities for infrastructure and tax rules, concluding: “In the 116th Congress, we will have that chance to make history. We must seize that change. Now is the time for a green New Deal.” Carbon Brief published an explainer of the “green new deal” earlier this month. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that: “Two-thirds of Americans believe action is needed to address global climate change…a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.”

Edward J Markey, Boston Globe Read Article

Science.

Agricultural non-CO2 emission reduction potential in the context of the 1.5C target

Stringent cuts to “non-CO2” greenhouse gases produced by agriculture, such as methane and nitrous oxide, could remove 3.9bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent from the atmosphere each year, research finds. This figure is roughly equal to around 8% of current global emissions. The most stringent plans for cutting greenhouse gases from agriculture would include dietary changes, the introduction of new technologies and a “carbon tax”, the research says.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
Consumers underestimate the emissions associated with food but are aided by labels

Adding “emissions guidelines” to food packaging – comparable to healthy-eating guidelines currently found on groceries – could prompt people to choose less polluting options, research suggests. A set of two studies finds that consumers “significantly underestimate” the emissions associated with food – “suggesting a possible blind spot suitable for intervention”, the authors say. “We find that providing consumers with information regarding the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the life cycle of food, presented in terms of a familiar reference unit (light-bulb minutes), shifts their actual purchase choices away from higher-emission options.”

Nature Climate Change Read Article

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