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Daily Briefing

09.10.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Eight EU countries call on Timmermans to raise 2030 climate goal to 55%
Eight EU countries call on Timmermans to raise 2030 climate goal to 55%

News.

Eight EU countries call on Timmermans to raise 2030 climate goal to 55%

The EU should raise its 2030 climate goal to a 55% reduction on 1990 levels, according to a letter sent by eight member states, reports Reuters. It says the letter to the bloc’s incoming climate chief Frans Timmermans calls for an increase from the existing target of at least a 40% reduction. German chancellor Angela Merkel has “spoken in favour of the 55% target”, Reuters notes, but did not sign the letter “after government ministries in Berlin failed to agree on a set of climate protection measures earlier this month”. EurActiv also reports that Germany was not among the countries signing the letter, sent by France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Luxembourg. A second Reuters article reports that the EU is to start work “immediately” on a carbon border tax to protect firms from being undercut by cheaper, more polluting imports. It says Timmermans told members of the European Parliament that, in his view, such a tax would be compatible with World Trade Organization rules. The piece also says that Timmermans personally favours a 55% by 2030 target over the goal of “at least 50%” suggested by incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Bloomberg also reports on the idea of an EU carbon border adjustment with the headline: “Trade rules emerge as weapon to fight climate change in Europe.” Meanwhile, Politico reports on a hearing with Valdis Dombrovskis, the incoming commissioner for economics and finance. Its “five takeaways” include the following: “Dombrovskis made clear that green finance will be a priority…including plans for a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to unlock €1tn of green investments over the next decade. The Latvian pledged this commitment would mean ‘fresh money’ rather than moving around existing funds.”

Reuters Read Article
Extinction Rebellion campaigners dig in against overpowered police

London’s Metropolitan Police have been “overwhelmed” by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests this week, the Times reports, despite efforts to prevent activists from setting up camps blocking roads in Westminster. It adds that the police had arrested 580 people since Monday morning. The Guardian reports that police had begun attempting to clear protest camps in the capital last night, after imposing a “section 14” order banning demonstrations across central London. Press Association reports that protestors have been warned to move on or face arrest, while the Independent reports that protestors “def[ied] police and glue[d] themselves to buildings”. EurActiv reports from Berlin that the XR protestors plan to block the city for a week, while Climate Home News has a “slow live blog” on the developing “October uprising”. The Independent reports that XR protestors have responded to comments from UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who has called the activists “uncooperative crusties”. The paper says protestors pointed out that Johnson’s own family are environmentalists. The New York Times has a feature on “Extinction Rebellion’s path to success”, charting the movement’s first meetings and current tactics. The Daily Telegraph is among those reporting that Daniel Hooper, a campaigner against road building in the 1990s who became known as “Swampy”, has joined XR actions. From Australia, the Guardian reports the comments of “veteran activist” Lyndon Schneiders, who says that the XR tactics risk “polarising” public opinion, according to the paper. The Guardian also reports on the “absurd” bail conditions being imposed on XR protestors in Australia. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that US celebrity Kim Kardashian has “praise[d] climate activist [Greta] Thuberg and hopes for [a] meeting”. An editorial in the Sun says XR protestors are “self-important nitwits” who are part of a “hysterical, middle-class doomsday cult”. It describes their demand for net-zero emissions in the UK by 2025 as “lunacy that would destroy the global economy and sentence the Third World to death”. Writing in DeSmog UK, Mike Small argues that “aggressive media attacks” on XR “should concern everyone”. Finally, Vox has an interview with philanthropists raising money for climate activists, including XR.

The Times Read Article
Hundreds of temperature records broken over summer

Almost 400 all-time high temperature records were set in the northern hemisphere this summer, BBC News reports, citing an analysis by “climate institute Berkeley Earth”. It adds that there were 1,200 locations that saw record-high temperatures for a specific month. Meanwhile, the Hill reports that in the US, September was the joint second-warmest recorded for that month, according to data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

BBC News Read Article
Corporations told to draw up climate rules or have them imposed

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned major corporations they have two years to agree on rules for reporting climate risks before global regulators impose their own standards, the Guardian reports. At a conference of the Task Force on Climate Disclosures (TCFD, the paper reports Carney saying: “The TCFD needs to reach a definitive view of what counts as a high quality disclosure before they become mandatory.” Carney also said yesterday that the physical impacts of climate change will be unevenly distributed and that the Bank of England will be the first regulator to “stress test” its financial system against various “climate pathways”, Reuters reports.

The Guardian Read Article

Comment.

It is our job to protect Britain from climate change, and Britain needs a reality check on the flooding to come

Writing for the Independent, the chairs of the Environment Agency and the National Infrastructure Commission, Emma Howard Boyd and Sir John Armitt, say the UK needs to plan for “at least a one-metre rise in sea level by 2100”. They write: “Global overheating is already changing our weather and increasing our risks of flooding…And in all future climate scenarios, we will experience a continued rise in sea level well into the next century.” They continue: “In other words, we can’t prevent all flooding and coastal change. But we can manage it better than our current approach, which is shaped by flood events in the past.” The pair also argue that “we cannot build our way out of future climate risks in many places”. They advocate a “nationwide flood resilience standard” to prepare for future flooding and coastal change, which they say should be embedded in the government’s forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy.

Emma Howard Boyd and John Armitt, The Independent Read Article
Big Oil should rebel against its customers

“Energy companies facing climate protests need to limit the wasteful use of their products,” writes columnist John Gapper for the Financial Times. He writes: “Given that the world will rely on fossil fuels for decades, even with the most stringent government policies to reduce energy use, oil companies face their own climate emergency. How can they retain social legitimacy when young Europeans protest against them?” He argues, in light of the ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests and the rise of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, that “just carry[ing] on” would be a “risky strategy” and that “bolder action is needed”. One option, Gapper suggests, would be to discriminate among fossil fuel users: “[D]iscriminating among clients and rejecting riskier ones is standard practice in banking and healthcare; why not adopt the same attitude to users of energy? Rationing EasyJet might be a step too far, but how about not making fuel for private jets?” He concludes: “It would probably frighten the directors of the oil majors to take such a public stand, rather than burnishing their images by sponsoring theatres. But they need their own rebellion.”

John Gapper, Financial Times Read Article
A flying trip to the Arctic with Justin Trudeau

In the New York Times, reporter Ian Austen describes an election campaign visit to the Arctic with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. The visit provided a scenic backdrop as Trudeau spoke to camera about his government’s record on the environment and cutting carbon, Austen writes, though he adds that reporters’ questions mainly focused on a recent TV debate with the prime minister’s main rival. Carbon Brief has just published an in-depth profile of Canada’s climate and energy policies, progress and emissions.

Ian Austen, The New York Times Read Article

Science.

Effects of ocean slow response under low warming targets

The authors examine how the deep ocean responds more slowly (ocean slow response) compared to the “fast ocean mixed layer” above, under the RCP2.6 scenario using CMIP5 modelling. They find that “the deep ocean continues to warm while radiative forcing decreases after reaching a peak. The deep ocean warming helps shaping the trajectories of global mean surface temperature and fuels persistent thermosteric sea-level rise.”

Journal of Climate Read Article

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