Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Environment Agency warns of serious water deficits for England
- Premature Birth Rates Drop in California After Coal and Oil Plants Shut Down
- Grace mission launches to weigh Earth's water
- Shell investors revolt over pay and maintain pressure over climate change
- Climate change could be driving antibiotic resistance across US
- BP pulls plug on gasfield plans amid new American sanctions
- Oil price rise puts the heat on Narendra Modi’s government
- Negative emissions – Part 1: Research landscape and synthesis
- Validating Conspiracy Beliefs and Effectively Communicating Scientific Consensus
England could face significant water supply troubles by 2050 unless action is taken to reduce water wastage and use, the Environment Agency has warned in a major report. They found that water companies were losing three billion litres of water a day through leakage, or enough water to supply 20 million people every day. In total a third of water taken from the natural environment is wasted. The study found that population growth and climate change are the biggest pressures on a system that is already struggling, the BBC writes. Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the agency, told the Telegraph: “Industry must innovate and change behaviours in order to reduce demand and cut down on wastage – and we all have a duty to use water more wisely at home.”
A US-German satellite mission was launched yesterday from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, in an effort to weigh the water on Earth. The Grace-FO satellites will sense tiny variations in the pull of gravity while they orbit the planet, that result from movements in mass. “These could be a signal of the land swelling after prolonged rains, or of ice draining from the poles as they melt in a warming climate”, the BBC explains. The satellite duo are replacing another pair of satellites which comprised the first Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), which ran a “transformative” mission from 2002 to 2017. The Daily Mail and Bloomberg also covered the launch, including a video of lift-off.
Closing power plants that run on fossil fuels can almost immediately reduce the risk of premature birth in pregnant women living nearby, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers examined the records of 57,000 births by mothers who lived close to eight coal- and oil-fired power stations across California, in the year before the plants were shut down and in the year after, when the air quality had improved. “The results add fresh evidence to a robust body of research on the harmful effects of exposure to air pollution, especially in young children—even before they’re born”, Inside Climate News writes. Lead author Dr Joan Casey commented: “We were pretty shocked by it—to the point that we did many, many additional analyses to try to make it go away, and didn’t succeed.” The Independent also carries the story.
More than a quarter of Shell’s shareholders voted against chief executive Ben van Beurden’s €8.9m (£7.79m) pay package for 2017 at its annual general meeting on Tuesday – but not enough to stop the pay report being approved. During the same meeting Shell “won a vote of confidence in its approach to climate change”, the Financial Times reports, as 94% of shareholders cast votes against a resolution that would have obliged the oil giant to set firm targets for reducing its carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate deal. Activists had been hoping to improve on the 6.3% backing they had for a similar resolution last year, but instead saw support shrink to 5.5%. However, about about half the questions related to climate change during the four-hour AGM, the Guardian notes. Reuters leads with: “[investors] put pressure on the oil and gas giant to commit to hard targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to battle climate change”.
A team of epidemiologists have found that higher local temperatures and population densities correspond with a higher degree of antibiotic resistance in common bacterial strains, the Mail Online reports. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Toronto found that found that an increase of 18F(10C) is associated with increases of antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli (4.2%), K. pneumoniae (2.2%), and S. aureus (3.6%). Derek MacFadden, the study’s lead author, told the Mail Online: “The effects of climate are increasingly being recognised in a variety of infectious diseases, but so far as we know this is the first time it has been implicated in the distribution of antibiotic resistance over geographies”.
US sanctions in Iran have forced the oil giant BP to suspend plans to drill in a North Sea gasfield co-owned by Iran’s national oil company, the Times reports. BP said that it had shelved the plans while it sought “clarity on the potential impact on the field of recent US government decisions regarding Iran”. The disruption was announced on the same day that BP reported a fresh round of job cuts that will lead to the loss of more than 500 roles worldwide. The Telegraphalso has the story.
A feature in the Financial Times explores how record-high fuel costs are having “far-reaching effects across India’s economy”. When global crude oil prices fell in 2016 the government levied new excise duties on petrol and diesel to stabilise prices and prevent a surge in demand. “Since then, New Delhi has come to depend heavily on those revenues”, Kazmin writes. But after global crude oil prices hit a four-year high last week India’s fuel pump prices have jumped to “among the highest in south Asia”. This is a “painful economic dilemma confronting Narendra Modi ’s government as it wrestles with soaring fuel pump prices in a politically sensitive election year”, Kazmin writes.
A trio of new papers provide a comprehensive review of research into negative emissions technologies. The first paper provides an overview of the research landscape, the second looks at the costs, potentials and side effects, and the thirdfocuses on innovation and upscaling. The papers were published to coincide with the negative emissions conference in Gothenburg this week, from which Carbon Brief is reporting.
Validating an individual’s belief about the existence of conspiracies makes him or her more likely to accept the scientific consensus on climate change, a new study claims. “We present experimental evidence that such validation leads individuals who previously believed human-induced climate change is a hoax to become more believing in human-induced climate change following exposure to scientific consensus information,” the researchers say.