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Daily Briefing

11.01.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

11.01.2017 | 9:17am
DAILY BRIEFING Donald Trump win ‘won’t sway world on climate’, Climate change drives birds away, & more
Donald Trump win ‘won’t sway world on climate’, Climate change drives birds away, & more

News.

Donald Trump win 'won't sway world on climate'

The election of Donald Trump as US president will not sway UK leadership on climate change, says climate minister Nick Hurd. Speaking to MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, Hurd said that Trump’s victory was “a very big rock chucked in the pool”, but that the world – including the UK – would continue working to curb emissions without the US if necessary. “There’s obviously some risk,” said Hurd, reports the Independent: “I don’t know what actual action Donald Trump is going to take, no-one here knows. We can speculate but we don’t know.” Hurd also said that the UK would “do what we can to influence others, and as the foreign secretary [Boris Johnson] makes clear, that includes the US administration,” reports Climate Home. Hurd was also quizzed on several other topics, including the government’s imminent emissions reduction plan, reports BusinessGreen. The plan, to be published by the end of March, will include a new “direction of travel” for the UK’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry, Hurd said, as well as setting out the government’s updated strategy for tackling emissions from the heat and transport sectors. “Frankly we have done a lot of the relatively easy stuff,” Hurd said: “Now we have got some tougher nuts to crack.” Finally, the Times leads with Hurd’s comments that it would be “irresponsible to future generations” to ignore the potential benefits of fracking. “Because we have seen the impact on the United States. We have seen what it is capable of doing. We owe it to ourselves to find out whether something similar can happen in the UK,” he said. Exploring for shale gas was consistent with the government’s commitment to tackling climate change, Hurd added.

BBC News Read Article
Climate change drives birds away

Birds and butterflies that prefer a colder climate are disappearing from parts of England because of rising temperatures and destruction of their habitat, a study finds. Scientists looked at more than four decades’ worth of bird and butterfly records from more than 600 monitoring sites in England. Cold-climate birds, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in the southeast and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common, reports the Guardian. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change,” said lead author Tom Oliver. Butterflies are faring a little better, says Oliver in The Sun: “Butterflies are coping much better but a lack of natural habitat is putting cold-associated species between a rock and a hard place.” But as the impact of climate change on wildlife is affected by the availability of good habitats, action can be taken to help, says Oliver: “We are not completely at the mercy of climate change.” The study recommends creating larger natural areas in strategic places to help species cope with a changing climate. Carbon Brief has all the details.

Times Read Article
Chinese plans to build Essex nuclear plant move a step closer

China’s hopes of building its own nuclear reactor in Essex have moved a step closer after the Government accepted its proposed design to begin safety assessment for use in the UK. The Chinese state nuclear group China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) won the chance to build a plant at EDF’s Bradwell site after agreeing to fund one-third of the proposed Hinkley Plant in Somerset. The safety review is expected to take about four years, says the Times, after which the reactor design it could be granted a licence to be built in Britain. A reactor of the same type is under construction in China at Fangchenggang. Meanwhile, the Telegraph also reports that developers hoping to build a series of tidal energy lagoons around Britain are facing a challenge from the RSPB. The charity says that any future lagoons should only be built once the Swansea Bay project is operational and its impact on wildlife can be assessed. Swansea Bay is not expected to be completed until 2022 at the earliest.

Telegraph Read Article
Former Exxon chief Tillerson takes the hot seat

Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, faces Congress today as the Senate begins considering his nomination to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of State. The hearing is expected to cover a range of issues related to Tillerson’s career at the oil giant and how it informs his views on foreign policy. Meanwhile, Think Progress takes a closer look at Rex Tillerson’s conflicts of interest on climate change, finding that they “run far deeper than his public statements would have you believe.” Also up before the senate in the near future will be Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt, says The Hill. However, Senator Tom Carper of the Environment and Public Works Committee says he first wants a response to the seven pages of questions Carper and other Democrats sent Pruitt almost two weeks ago. In a similar vein, Climate Central has, with the help of some climate experts, compiled a list of climate questions that Trump nominees should answer.

The Hill Read Article
World’s biggest carbon capture project in service on schedule

The world’s largest project capturing CO2 emissions from power generation has come into service in the US on time and on budget. The $1bn Petra Nova project, a joint venture between firms in the US and Japan, is capturing the CO2 from the equivalent of 240 megawatts of power generation, and covering its costs by using the gas for oil production. The use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery — squeezing more crude out of mature oilfields — has opened up a path to commercial viability for a technology that has been struggling to make headway. However, “the world’s oilfields cannot soak up all the emissions from power generation,” notes the FT, “and there is a paradox in trying to fight climate change by boosting fossil fuel production.”

Financial Times Read Article

Comment.

Republicans want to fight climate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won’t let them

“Talking to my Senate Republican colleagues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escaping,” writes Sheldon Whitehouse, the junior Senator from Rhode Island, “The conversations are often private, even furtive. One told me, ‘Let’s keep talking, but you can’t let my staff know.'” “The dirty secret is that climate change is not really a partisan issue in Congress,” he says, with many Republican senators introducing climate bills in the past. But having no limits to corporate spending on political campaigns allows “the fossil-fuel industry to roll heavy artillery out onto the political field,” Whitehouse argues: “This atmosphere has quashed any Republican effort on climate change, silenced serious climate debate in Congress and ended progress.”

Sheldon Whitehouse, Washington Post Read Article
Don’t ban fracking in Maryland

In an editorial, the Washington Post urges the leaders of the US state of Maryland to allow fracking. “Some lawmakers appear determined to push through a senseless ban on the technique,” says the Post, while Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan counters that fracking should be allowed to proceed, with serious regulation. “The governor is right,” says the Post. “Fracking’s major risks can be regulated to a minimum, as the Obama administration, various Western-state governors and others have concluded.” Gas burns “much cleaner than coal”, the Post says: “The fracking revolution has made the fuel very affordable, and substituting gas for coal has reduced carbon and other pollution.”

Editorial, Washington Post Read Article

Science.

Climate change damages to Alaska public infrastructure and the economics of proactive adaptation

New research quantifies the potential economic damages to Alaska’s public infrastructure from climate-driven changes in flooding, precipitation, near-surface permafrost thaw, and freeze–thaw cycles. It estimates that a business-as-usual, high emissions scenario (RCP8.5) could cost $5.5bn between 2015-2099, but that the bill could be reduced to $4.2bn with significant mitigation efforts (RCP4.5). The authors show how adaptation could considerably reduce the damage caused by road flooding, providing an annual saving of 80–100% across four study periods.

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