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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING EIB to phase out lending to fossil fuel projects by 2021
EIB to phase out lending to fossil fuel projects by 2021


EIB to phase out lending to fossil fuel projects by 2021

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to phase out lending for almost all fossil-fuel projects after 2021, including standard gas-fired power stations, the Financial Times reports. It says the bank is the first multilateral development bank to go so far in curbing fossil-fuel support due to climate change, with others such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development having stopped funding new coal plants. The FT explains that “certain low-emission gas projects will still be possible, as long as they meet a new lower emissions performance standard of 250 grammes of CO2 per kilowatt hour” of electricity generated. There will also be an exception supporting up to 75% of gas-plant project costs “in countries that face a particularly steep climb reducing their reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources”, the paper says, while a list of new gas pipelines can get funding if they are approved by 2021. CNN quotes EIB president Werner Hoyer saying: “We will stop financing fossil fuels and we will launch the most ambitious climate investment strategy of any public financial institution anywhere.” Bloomberg says incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wants the EIB “to become a climate bank and help unlock €1tn to shift the economy toward cleaner forms of energy”. BBC News says the decision will see the EIB end €2bn of annual investments in fossil-fuel projects, adding that it has funded €13.4bn of such infrastructure since 2013. The broadcaster says only gas plants using carbon capture and storage technology, combined heat and power plants or those blending renewable gases would be able to meet the new EIB emissions standard. Reuters says the “landmark decision…potentially deals a blow to billions of dollars of gas projects in the pipeline”. It quotes Andrew McDowell, EIB vice president, telling reporters: “This is an important first step – this is not the last step.” The newswire describes the EIB as “the biggest multilateral lender in the world” and adds that the 2021 deadline is a year later than originally proposed. The policy change will see the EIB prioritise lending for energy efficiency, low-carbon technology and electricity grid improvements, says Associated Press. It adds that in related news, the Swedish central bank has “ditched bonds issued by the Canadian province of Albert and the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia because authorities there are not doing enough to reduce CO2 emissions”, with this development also reported by the Financial Times and Reuters. Separately, Reuters reports that the European Central Bank is considering including climate change risks in future banking stress tests. It says this could begin in 2022.

Financial Times Read Article
Lib Dems will spend £100bn on combating climate change – Sir Ed Davey

The UK’s Liberal Democrats have pledged to spend an extra £100bn over five years on combating climate change and protecting the environment if they take power after the 12 December election, Press Association reports. Reuters also reports the party’s pledges on climate change, due to be made in a speech later today. It says the Lib Dems trail the ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour “and are expected to fall a long way short of winning the election…[b]ut they could have an important role if neither…win a majority and have to find a partner in order to form a government”.

Press Association via Belfast Telegraph Read Article


Deadly Australian fires ignite bitter battle over climate change

Environmentalists have clashed with the Australian government over the role of global warming in the country’s raging bushfires, says a Financial Times feature: “[T]he ferocity and timing of this year’s blazes have ignited a bitter debate about whether climate change is to blame. This has put focus on Australia’s lack of action to tackle the issue.” The paper says that talk of the link to climate change has been “angrily shouted down by the government”. It adds that the bushfires “follow a global wave of intense wildfires spanning California, Brazil, Alaska, Siberia and elsewhere, which scientists say are linked to climate change”. The Sydney Morning Herald has a comment on the discussion of the fires in Australia under the headline: “In London and Venice, the C-word isn’t a dirty word.” It notes how British prime minister Boris Johnson has said recent flooding in the UK is “almost certainly because of climate change”, while the mayor of Venice has also blamed his city’s floods on warming. The piece points to other examples of leaders linking extreme events to climate change. A Reuters article runs under the headline: “Flood, fire and plague: climate change blamed for disasters” while a Scientific American feature says “wild swings in extreme weather are on the rise…adding yet another climate-related threat that is already affecting humans and [the] natural world”. CNN reports that Veneto regional council “was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night – just after it rejected measures to combat climate change”, while BBC News says Italy has declared a state of emergency over the floods and Reuters reports on Venice residents “vow[ing] to stay despite flood devastation”. The Washington Post has a comment feature reflecting on “what Venice and its floods taught me about responding to climate change”. It says: “One of the great challenges of our time is deciding how we ought to adapt – with a single, heroic effort [such as the MOSE barrier being built to protect Venice] or with a lot of smaller things, building on existing defences and trying to learn from people of the past.” Meanwhile, on the far-right website Breitbart, the climate sceptic James Delingpole blames the Venice floods on “whichever idiot who decided all those years ago to build the city on a series of swampy islands at the edge of a lagoon”.

In other flood-related news, MailOnline reports on findings suggesting British summers will be “wetter than predicted…with frequent downpours leading to greater risk of flooding”. BusinessGreen carries a comment saying that “[the UK’s] devastating floods lay bare [the] urgent need for climate-resilient buildings.” Meanwhile, an Unearthed investigation covered by BBC News reports on “plans to build thousands of new homes in flood zones”. Separately, Climate Central reports that the Kennedy Space Center launch pads in Florida could be at risk of climate-related coastal flooding, despite plans to build a “massive dune along the coast”.

Jamie Smyth, Financial Times Read Article
Climategate: Science of a Scandal review – the hack that cursed our planet

The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan reviews a new BBC Four documentary, which aired last night, on the 2009 “Climategate” hacking scandal. She recaps the events, explaining: “[A]an anonymous hacker stole and shared thousands of emails between scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. They were seized on by assorted sceptics and deniers and used to cast doubt on climate change and global warming, helped by an uncritical media that leaned into the storm.” Mangan says of the documentary: “The media’s role was examined, though not thoroughly enough. We saw multiple clips of incompetent spokespeople being presented as if they were of equal standing to the scientists under attack or their representatives, and forever whipping up the furore further rather than digging down into the facts. The question of what truly constitutes balance in programmes, of course, has become all the more pertinent in the years since, as our major broadcasters seem to have accepted that it equates to equal air time for all, however unqualified or small a group they represent.” The Evening Standard also carries a review by David Sexton: “Climategate was…a scandal that wasn’t. Fake news. Even Delingpole [see above] has this week, ever so reluctantly, had to concede — in a mealy-mouthed way — that ‘Climategate did not offer definitive proof that the man-made climate scare is fabricated’. Or, to be a little clearer, any proof whatsoever.” BBC News has a clip from the documentary asking if the hacking slowed down action on climate change.

Lucy Mangan, The Guardian Read Article


Missing hydrological contribution to sea level rise

Changes in the amount of water stored on land is contributing to global sea level rise, rather than mitigating it as previously thought, a new study suggests. Producing new estimates of land water storage using data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, the researchers find that losses in land storage contributed around 0.32mm per year to global sea levels over 2005-15. The authors conclude that “this revised estimate is sufficient to nearly balance the budget of [global mean sea level] rise”.

Geophysical Research Letters Read Article


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