Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- UK: Crown Estate picks five sites for floating wind farms
- China’s raw coal production significantly increased from January to May
- Sydney floods: Man dies after being pulled from river as thousands evacuated
- Events like Italian glacier collapse likely to increase as planet heats
- UK: Climate protesters glue themselves to Constable masterpiece at National Gallery
- Germany to overhaul law to bail out energy firms stricken by Russia woes
- Polish PM: The green transition cannot come at the cost of European security
- Climate fight no place for US self-interest
- The Times view on motorway protests: Fuel price fury
- The expansion of natural gas infrastructure puts energy transitions at risk
The Crown Estate – the British monarch’s property corporation (it is neither UK government property nor part of the Queen’s private estate) – has identified five locations to develop the first commercial-scale floating offshore wind farms, the Times reports. It continues: “The areas in the waters around South Wales and the South West peninsula were chosen based on where the energy platforms could be built most quickly, taking into account shipping routes, fishing activity and the environment. These will be whittled down to smaller sites in collaboration with marine and government bodies and market players.” The paper adds that the government wants to produce up to 5GW of floating offshore wind by 2030. The new turbines will deliver 4GW of floating offshore wind power by 2035, fuelling almost 4m homes, the Guardian reports. Sky News adds that “further development in the Celtic Sea could generate another 20GW by 2045”.
In other UK news, the Independent has published an analysis stating that “three major energy decisions are due to be made this week that will play a significant role in setting the agenda on how the government is responding to the climate crisis, the cost of living crisis and changing energy demands”. Perhaps the most controversial of these is the plan to open the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years, the paper says. Meanwhile, the paper notes that scientists are due to complete a government-commissioned review of fracking which could allow drilling for shale gas to go ahead. It continues: “With the huge amounts of greenhouse gases [fracking expansion] will release, both the mine and the return of fracking depend on the government disregarding its own climate targets.” Finally, it reports that the government will decide on whether to give planning permissions to the Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk this week.
Elsewhere, the Mail on Sunday reports that “British Gas owner Centrica has signalled it will throw its financial might behind the Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk, bringing a significant boost to the project”. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce has warned that Boris Johnson “must give approval” for a new mini nuclear reactor in the next six months, or “risk delaying a project vital to his green energy revolution”, the Daily Telegraph reports. And Sky News reports that “households with fossil fuel cars and gas boilers are shelling out £1,180 more on their annual bills compared with their electric counterparts”.
Meanwhile, the Independent reports that parts of the UK could hit 35C later this month – prompting possible water use warnings. Separately, the online newspaper asks what role climate change plays in worsening heatwaves around the world.
According to the state broadcaster CCTV, the latest data from the China Coal Industry Association shows that, from January to May in 2022, the country’s raw coal production and coal supply capacity significantly increased, China Energy News reports. According to the spokesperson of the association, in the first five months of this year, the national coal production reached 1.81bn tonnes, an increase of 10.4% year-on-year; the national average daily production of raw coal exceeded 12m tonnes, reaching a record level; and the national coal supply capacity increased significantly, the article notes.
Separately, on Saturday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and five other departments issued an action plan for the digitalisation of the consumer goods industry to help expand the supply of green consumer goods, China Energy News reports. The state-run newspaper also reports that on Friday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) – China’s top economic planner – issued a budget investment of 7bn yuan ($1.05bn) to support pollution control, energy saving and carbon reduction. Elsewhere, Reuters reports that a heatwave will sweep China over the next two weeks, exposing more than 250 million people to temperatures above 40C.
Meanwhile, state-run newspaper China Daily carries an article titled, “Nation helps islands tackle climate challenges”, in which Henry Puna, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, is quoted saying during a meeting with China’s state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi: “We welcome China’s climate change commitments as we look ahead to the COP 27 (climate conference) in Egypt and call on all our international partners to submit enhanced nationally determined contributions in line with the 1.5C pathway and net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Elsewhere, the South China Morning Post reports that China Power International Development (CPID), the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of state-owned State Power Investment, has agreed to buy 7.5bn yuan ($1.12bn) worth of clean-energy projects from its parent company. The outlet writes that the “injection of the wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy projects amounts to 2.15GW (gigawatts) of generating capacity – 7.4% of CPID’s total capacity” at the end of 2021. This would “help the company meet its goal of having over 70% of its total capacity and over half its revenue come from clean energy” by the end of 2023, the outlet adds.
Finally, Reuters writes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “hopes of significant economic stimulus in China” are “combining to boost Australia’s commodity exports to record levels, at least for now”.
“A man died after being rescued in an unresponsive state from an overflowing river in western Sydney after torrential downpours”, reports the Independent. “About 50,000 residents in New South Wales, most in Sydney’s western suburbs, have been told to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders”, writes Reuters. “The New South Wales State Emergency Service reported more than 5,300 requests for assistance on Monday night, including 252 flood rescues, mainly of drivers stuck in cars and residents needing to be relocated”, writes the Guardian. Some areas “have received a month’s rain in the past two days”, Reuters writes; while the Washington Post carries a graphic from the BBC which shows “Australia’s most populous city received significantly more rain from Friday to Monday than London…averages in a year”. In an attempt to explain the “‘unusually extreme’ rain and weather that caused Sydney’s fourth major flood in two years”, the Guardian writes: “The rain wasn’t a surprise – a deluge was forecast mid-last week – but the amount of water dropped on the city on Saturday was greater than expected.” In the Guardian, Greg Mullins, a former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and a climate councillor, writes: “Australia lost a critical decade of preparation under a former federal government that repeatedly failed to heed the advice of scientists and experts.”
In other Australian news, the Guardian reports that “environmental advocates have accused the Queensland government of ‘blowing’ its modest emissions reduction targets after the release of a 30-year plan for the state’s resources sector, which they describe as a severely weakened version of earlier drafts that suits the coal sector”.
“Events like the collapse of a glacier on the Marmolada mountain, which has killed at least seven people, are likely to become more common as the planet heats, according to scientists”, reports the Guardian. “Thunderstorms have hampered the search for more than a dozen hikers who remain unaccounted for a day after a huge chunk of an Alpine glacier in Italy broke off, sending an avalanche of ice, snow and rocks down the slope”, the paper reports in a separate story. “Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, said the incident was ‘without doubt’ linked to climate change”, writes BBC News. The Financial Times quotes Aldino Bondesan, a glaciology professor at the University of Padova: “We are observing an ice melting pace that is happening two or three times as fast as 20 years ago”. “According to studies by the Italian National Council for Research (CNR), the Marmolada glacier will have melted by 2050 due to the effects of climate change”, the paper continues. Pope Francis tweeted: “The tragedies that we are experiencing with climate change should force us urgently to pursue new ways that respect people and nature”, reports Reuters. The New York Times and MailOnline also have the story.
Meanwhile, BBC News reports that “Italy has declared a state of emergency in five northern regions surrounding the Po River amid the worst drought in 70 years”.
Two climate protestors from Just Stop Oil glued their hands yesterday to the frame of a “masterpiece” by English painter John Constable at London’s National Gallery, the Independent reports. The paper adds that the demonstrators “also attached their own version of the painting, which was intended to represent ‘an apocalyptic vision of the future’, set against the bucolic scene depicted Constable’s the Hay Wain.” One protestor said: “I’m here because our government plans to license 40 new UK oil and gas projects in the next few years,” the Guardian reports. The Daily Telegraph runs the story under the title, “Constable masterpiece The Hay Wain damaged in Just Stop Oil protest”, adding that the protesters were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
Elsewhere, the Times reports that home secretary Priti Patel has urged police to “take a zero-tolerance approach to fuel campaigners”, who have been targeting motorways in their “go-slow” protests over high fuel prices. The police’s new powers to stop protestors include imprisonment, the Press Association adds. The Sun runs the story under the title: “Fears fuel protests could last months as Priti Patel demands police get tough on drivers causing motorway mayhem.” The paper notes that police arrested 12 activists from “Fuel Price Stand Against Tax” on the M4. Meanwhile, MSN reports that former footballer and broadcaster Gary Lineker has defended climate protestors who sat on the track during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Reuters reports that the German government will be able to buy stakes in energy companies suffering from the rise of import gas prices, according to draft legislation, as “Berlin bolsters its defences in a deepening economic war with Moscow”. An article says that the law could allow the government to impose emergency levies on consumers and may come this week though it was unclear how quickly it might exercise that right. Reuters quotes German chancellor Olaf Scholz after meeting with trade union and employers association leaders to discuss the cost of living crisis: “We must brace ourselves for the fact this situation will not change in the foreseeable future, in other words, we stand before a historic challenge”. The Financial Times reports that this tactic will be imposed as a “measure of pain” on one of the energy firms – Düsseldorf-based Uniper – which has 200TW hours of long-term supply contracts with Russia, but since mid-June, it has received only 40% of what was due. Forced to cover the supply shortfall in the spot market, the business is losing about €35m a day, the FT adds.
Meanwhile, Der Spiegel reports that the first German LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven will be built in “turbo”. Uniper chief Klaus-Dieter Maubach says that “the quick granting of approval for the early start of construction shows the importance of the LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven for the state’s security of supply”. The outlet details that the economy and climate minister Robert Habeck promised in May to set up an LNG terminal within just ten months, “which is actually impossible in Germany”. The floating LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven will provide around 8.5% of current German gas requirements per year, explains the media outlet. However, Reuters reports warnings from the head of Germany’s energy regulator Klaus Mueller that €15bn of credit lines provided by the government to buy gas for storage facilities may not be enough, according to an interview in the WirtschaftsWoche magazine.
Finally, Handelsblatt carries an interview of the EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton, in which he says that Germany should leave its nuclear power plants connected to the grid longer: “It is extremely important to let the three German nuclear power plants that are still in operation run longer…At least for a few months and in a safe way, of course.“ Breton argues that extending the service life of the nuclear reactors, which are to be shut down at the end of the year, is in the interest of all of Europe, stating that “Vladimir Putin uses our dependence as a weapon against us”.
Poland’s prime minister – Mateusz Morawiecki – has penned an opinion piece in the Financial Times. “We are witnessing the formation of a new energy order” in which “we must be able to balance many different interests”, he says. He continues: “Until recently, the EU’s energy policy was concerned solely with climate change. Today, other member states agree with Poland, which has long emphasised the need to diversify energy sources, build up gas reserves and wean ourselves off Russian fossil fuels. In addition to climate protection, the energy security of countries is now paramount.” Morawiecki adds that Europe “must drastically reduce the costs of CO2 emission allowances”. He continues: “Rather than stimulating the development of green energy, the current Emissions Trading System (ETS) drives inflation and threatens to send millions of citizens into fuel poverty. That is why the Polish government has long called for changes that will block artificial increases in energy prices driven by financial speculators. At several European Council summits, I have argued that we must put an end to such speculation. This pressure has paid off. Today it looks as if our proposals will be implemented…The next step is to revise plans to extend the ETS to other sectors of the economy.” He concludes: “The green transition cannot come at the cost of basic security.”
The South China Morning Post has published an editorial arguing that the US has “yet again” put global climate change goals “in jeopardy”, following the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to limit the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions. The paper continues: “With President Joe Biden’s strategy now in turmoil, China and other nations have good reason to worry whether a looming crisis can be averted.” It says that Biden “showed resolve” by returning the US to the Paris Agreement, but adds that he “will have to review his strategy now that the court, three of whose nine judges were appointed by Trump, has determined lawmakers have the ultimate say on how electricity is broadly generated”.
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that the decision is “another step toward climate apocalypse”. He says: “It says something about the state of US politics that a number of environmental experts I follow were actually relieved by the ruling, which was less sweeping than they feared and still left the administration with some possible paths for climate action…I have a suspicion that at least some of the Republican justices understood the enormity of what they were doing and tried to do as little as possible while maintaining their party fealty.” He concludes: “The US is the only major nation in which an authoritarian right-wing party — which lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections yet controls the Supreme Court — has the ability to block actions that might prevent climate catastrophe.”
“Biden has to choose: climate change or human rights in China”, writes William Schneider Jr – under-secretary of state in the Reagan administration – for the Wall Street Journal. He writes that “electric-car batteries and solar panels rely on raw materials produced with forced and child labour”, adding that “the parallels between the economics of the solar-power and electric-vehicle industry today and the economics of American slavery in the 19th century are striking”. Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal‘s editor-at-large – Gerard Baker – has published an opinion piece outlining the media reaction to recent Supreme Court rulings.
The Times has published an editorial under the subheading: “The government needs to explain why the cost of the Ukraine war is worth paying.” The paper says it is “understandable” that people are angry over the high cost of fuel prices, but says that the government should not “give in to protestors”. It continues: “A prime minister with moral authority would have a decent chance of persuading voters to accept higher petrol prices as a cost of being stalwart allies to Ukraine and decent global citizens doing their bit to mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, Boris Johnson’s authority is severely shot.”
Meanwhile, a Daily Telegraph editorial argues that the chancellor needs to cut fuel duty. The paper notes that 20 years ago, protests against rising fuel prices “became a serious challenge to the authority of the Blair government”, and asks: “Is history repeating itself?” It continues: “The fuel price today is far higher than in 2000 and is having a serious impact on haulage costs and normal day-to-day motoring, with the bill for filling up now around £100 for many. The average price of a litre of petrol is 191.5p and 199p for diesel. In 2000, the government froze fuel duty in response to the protests but Rishi Sunak has already lowered the tax by 5p a litre yet the pump prices keep going up. The Competition and Markets Authority will rule this week on whether this has been passed on to motorists. But whatever the regulator concludes, the chancellor will need to cut the duty much more to avoid a summer of chaos on the roads to add to the disruption on the railways and in the air.”
Elsewhere, an editorial in the Sun calls climate protestors at Silverstone “hysterical dolts”.
A new “perspective” paper argues that expansion of natural gas infrastructure “hinders a renewable energy future and is no bridge technology”. The authors highlight that “natural gas is a fossil fuel with a significantly underestimated climate impact that hinders decarbonisation through carbon lock-in and stranded assets”. They propose five recommendations for greenhouse gas reduction, including “replac[ing] the ‘bridge’ narrative with unambiguous decarbonisation criteria” and “avoid[ing] additional natural gas lock-ins and methane leakage”.