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Daily Briefing

02.07.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Countries face higher debt bills due to climate risks
Countries face higher debt bills due to climate risks

News.

Countries face higher debt bills due to climate risks

Countries that are vulnerable to climate change are paying significantly more to borrow from the financial markets, according to new research reported in the Financial Times. The paper explains: “The most vulnerable developing countries have already paid more than $40bn in additional interest payments on their governments’ debt because of their exposure to climate change risks. That is set to cost them a further $168bn in the next decade, the study by academics from Imperial College Business School and SOAS University of London found. The most affected countries include Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Bangladesh and Vietnam.” Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that “new research from the World Bank attempting to quantify how climate change will affect South Asia over the coming decades has warned weather changes risk badly denting the living standards of hundreds of millions in the region”. It adds that the bank has calculated that “under the worst case ‘carbon intensive’ scenario, living standards will fall by 6.7% for Bangladesh, 2.8% for India, 2.9% for Pakistan, and 7.0% for Sri Lanka, by 2050”.

Financial Times Read Article
White House backs off Trump's tweet claiming Saudi Arabia agreed to produce more oil

Associated Press reports that the White House has “backed off a tweet from President Donald Trump indicating he had convinced the king of Saudi Arabia to produce an extra two million barrels of oil per day”. The news follows the tweet from Trump on Saturday claiming he had asked King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to increase Saudi oil production – “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels” – to help bring down US oil prices, which have risen since the US stopped importing Iranian oil. However, the White House has been forced to clarify the tweet, saying that the king had agreed to increase production if needed, but said no specific amount was pledged. Reuters interviews a range of analysts under the headline: “Can Saudi Arabia pump much more oil?” It introduces the interviews with the sentence: “The kingdom, OPEC’s biggest member, can barely raise output by 1 million bpd to 11 million bpd and even that would be difficult, according to industry analysts who forecast a further oil price rally due to a lack of new supply.” The Financial Times quotes Jason Bordoff, former energy adviser to the Obama administration and founder of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said: “If the Saudis were really to go that high with production, that would leave no real buffer of spare capacity, which could actually be bullish for prices by exacerbating market fears about any future supply disruptions.”

Associated Press via MailOnline Read Article
India's huge solar ambitions could push coal further into shade

The Guardian reports that India is intending to launch a tender for 100 gigawatts of solar power. This is “10 times the size of the current largest solar tender in the world – another Indian project scheduled to open for bids next month”. The paper adds, though, that “analysts have said the country has neither the infrastructure nor the energy demand to warrant installing so much solar capacity in one go, saying the announcement reflects the scale of India’s ambition to become a renewable energy leader. It is one of several green power promises made by Delhi this month on the back of continually falling renewables prices, with implications for coal projects including the proposed Adani Group mine in Queensland, Australia.” Meanwhile, the Daily Mail financial pages run with the headline: “Think coal is dead? It could be about to soar.” It explains: “According to analysts, coal investments are not going to go up in smoke just yet. Though the amount of energy being generated from renewables is increasing, and some of the City’s top investors have started ploughing their cash into clean energy, there is still demand for dirty old coal. Analysts at investment bank Jefferies released a note to investors this month saying that ‘rumours of coal’s death are premature’.”

The Guardian Read Article
Scottish Power owner: ditch 'moonshot' green technologies

The Guardian speaks to Ignacio S Galan, chair of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, which controls Scottish Power in the UK. He tells the paper that the governments should abandon expensive “moonshot” green technologies – such as the £1.3bn Swansea tidal project, axed last week – in favour of wind and solar. He adds that the decision on Swansea must see the end of support for what he described as unproven technologies that are a distraction and waste of resources.

The Guardian Read Article
More Saddleworth-style fires likely as climate changes, scientists warn

The Guardian says that scientists have warned Northern Europe should brace itself for more upland fires like the one on Saddleworth Moor this week as the climate changes and extreme weather events become more common. The paper quotes Guillermo Rein, professor of fire science at Imperial College London, who says recent studies showed “climate change is expected to increase the fire frequency and severity of wildfire in Europe”, adding that the effect is predicted to be “even more pronounced in northern Europe, including the UK and Ireland”.

The Guardian Read Article
DR Congo: Oil drilling allowed in wildlife parks

BBC News reports that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has decided to allow oil exploration in two Unesco World Heritage Site wildlife parks, Virunga and Salonga: “The move is strongly opposed by environmental activists, who say drilling would place wildlife at risk and contribute to global warming. Around one-fifth of Virunga national park will be opened to oil drilling. The parks are home to bush elephants, critically endangered mountain gorillas and the bonobo, an endangered ape.” Reuters and the Independent also carry the story.

BBC News Read Article

Comment.

Keeping on track

An editorial in the journal Nature Climate Change looks back at the two and a half years since the Paris Agreement was secured: “The high points of collective ambition and achievement reached in Paris need nurturing to ensure results. Maintaining momentum in climate action requires investment and ongoing commitment from all actors…It is still early days but these first few years are crucial in cementing ongoing commitment and ensuring that the foundations are laid to achieve such targets.” Meanwhile, an editorial in the journal Climate Policy looks at international climate policy in the era of Donald Trump: “There is no room for any country or region of the world to remain a high-carbon reservation…Thankfully, such a scenario remains unlikely, even under the climate-sceptic Trump Presidency. Technological progress with low carbon energy technologies has been such that the economic and business case for them is becoming ever stronger. The calls by President Trump and like-minded politicians anywhere in the world to perpetuate a twentieth-century high polluting energy and industrial system now ring increasingly hollow in the face of mega-trends in the other direction.”

Editorial, Nature Climate Change Read Article
The dirty little secret behind 'clean energy' wood pellets

A feature in the Guardian visits a factory in Texas, where 578,000 tonnes of wood pellets are made a year, “which are destined to cross the Atlantic to satisfy a vibrant market for the product there”. The feature quotes William Schlesinger, a biogeochemist and member of the US Environmental Protection Agency advisory board: “Philosophically it looks good but practically it looks pretty bad in many cases…When you cut down existing trees and burn them, you immediately put carbon dioxide in the air. None of the companies can guarantee they can regrow untouched forest to capture the same amount of carbon released. The whole renewable forest industry is kind of a hoax in terms of its benefit as climate mitigation.” Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday has a feature under the headline: “Tycoon Elon Musk ‘to build the world’s biggest battery’ in Britain as part of £400m plans to carpet a swathe of Kent marshland with almost a million solar panels.” The Sun has today followed up on the Mail on Sunday’s story.

Tom Dart & Oliver Milman, The Guardian Read Article
The practically cost-free way to slow global warming that Trump won’t adopt

The Washington Post focuses on a new study published in Science last week that showed that the natural gas industry could do much more to capture its fugitive methane emissions: “The good news is that the problem would be easy to fix…What is missing is the government pressing laggard natural gas operations to improve. Some states have sensible rules; others do not. The Obama administration developed a strong slate of regulations addressing methane leakage, but the Trump administration is pressing to roll it back. Not every regulation Obama officials favoured made sense. But, once again, in its anti-regulatory fervour, the Trump administration is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg summarises the key message coming out of the World Gas Conference in Washington DC last week, with the headline: “Big oil pushes gas as fossil fuel answer to global warming.”

Editorial, Washington Post Read Article
Dark Side of the Sun

The Irish edition of the Times carries a lead editorial lamenting that “Ireland is woefully unprepared to deal [with climate change]”. It adds: “It is…long past time that our politicians woke up to the reality of global warming. Ireland’s record in this area is disgraceful. Addressing climate change may not be a popular policy with the public — quite the contrary — but our politicians have a responsibility to show leadership in tackling what is arguably the greatest challenge mankind has faced since the second world war.” The Irish Examineralso carries an editorial on “ignoring climate change” saying that the current heatwave “exposes our vulnerability”.

Editorial, The Times Read Article

Science.

Achieving a climate justice pathway to 1.5C

A new “perspective” paper explores whether the 1.5C limit to global warming can be achieved “without undermining human rights and restricting the right to development”. The authors discuss the risks of action and inaction to identify a “fair and just transition”. They also compare the risks posed to human rights from climate impacts with the risks posed by climate action, finding that “rights-informed climate action can maximise benefits for people and the planet”.

Nature Climate Change Read Article

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