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Daily Briefing

11.07.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

11.07.2018 | 9:18am
DAILY BRIEFING EPA takes next step toward replacing Obama-era climate rule
EPA takes next step toward replacing Obama-era climate rule

News.

EPA takes next step toward replacing Obama-era climate rule

President Trump’s administration is “taking a big step forward” in its effort to replace former President Obama’s rule to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants, reports The Hill. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has this week sent a proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The OMB review, an internal process that checks for compliance with various laws and administration priorities, is the final step before the rule can be released publicly and made available for comment. Meanwhile, the Washington Post and The Hill report that several top aides to former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt are leaving the agency, less than a week after Pruitt resigned his post. The list includes strategic communications adviser Jahan Wilcox, longtime aide Lincoln Ferguson, deputy White House liaison Hayley Ford, and EPA spokeswoman Kelsi Daniell.

The Hill Read Article
Harvard study finds that during heat waves, people can’t think straight

New research suggests that people perform worse in problem solving and memory tests during spells of hot weather. The study, which assessed students living in dorm rooms with and without air conditioning during a heatwave in 2016, found that students without air conditioning performed an average of 13% worse in five measures of cognitive function. The results apply “to kids in schools, office workers – and often we find that temperature levels are too hot because there is no air conditioning”, the lead author told the Independent. The findings offer a real-life example of heatwaves hindering the abilities of otherwise healthy young adults, the author added. The Times also covers the study.

The Boston Globe Read Article
US withdrawal Paris agreement may affect climate change: Ban Ki-moon

A US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement could cause difficulties for raising climate finance for developing countries, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has warned. Speaking to CNBC at the Singapore International Water Week yesterday, Ki-Moon said he was “concerned now how to mobilise the necessary financial support for many developing countries who do not have the capacity to address this climate change issues…Therefore it is absolute necessary that the international community uses its political will to work on this matter”. He added that he “sincerely hope[s] that the US will come back as it realises it has a global moral political responsibility…the US is the only country now who is stepping back from this global agreement”.

Warmest May since 1900 to cost Norwegians $2.34 billion more for power this year

Extended spells of warm, dry weather in spring and summer this year will cost Norway households and industry over $2bn in additional power costs, the national energy regulator has warned. Reduced hydropower generation has pushed up electricity prices by around a third compared to the same time last year. Other factors have contributed to the high costs, including the price of coal, gas and CO2 emissions, which made power imports more expensive, says Reuters. In other Norway news, Reuters reports that hundreds of workers on Norwegian offshore oil and gas rigs went on strike yesterday after rejecting a proposed wage deal. And the FT reports that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has sold out one of Warren Buffet’s energy companies – and put two others under observation – because of their use of coal.

Reuters Read Article
Pessimism grows over expected start date for China carbon trading

The results of a new survey suggest China’s industry players are more pessimistic than ever about when they will begin trading in a national carbon market. According to an annual report by the China Carbon Forum, 19% of those surveyed expected China’s emissions trading scheme to be fully functional by 2020 or earlier, down from 47% in last year’s survey and 74% in 2015 when the question was first asked. The falling numbers may be because more industry players are being asked to contribute, one of the researchers tells the FT: “Before, only those who were optimistic may have responded [to our survey] so this year’s survey may actually better reflect reality”. Carbon Pulse also has the story.

The Financial Times Read Article
German coal trounced by renewables for first time

Renewable sources met more of Germany’s power demands than coal during the first half of 2018, new data from the German Association of Energy and Water Industries shows. Wind, solar, hydropower and biogas met 36.3% of Germany’s electricity needs between January and June, while coal provided 35.1%. Although renewables have hit notable benchmarks in the past in Germany, this is the first time that it has outstripped coal for such a long period of time, says EurActiv.

EurActiv Read Article

News .

Sir David Attenborough polar ship ready for launch

Britain’s new polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, is ready for launch this weekend, BBC News reports. The £200m vessel will replace the James Clark Ross and the Shackleton, which between them have almost 50 years’ service in support of UK polar science. The launch in Birkenhead – planned for Saturday if the weather and tide permits – will be attended by more than 2,000 people, made up of VIPs, staff, their families, and of course, Sir David himself.

BBC News Read Article

Comment.

How Brett Kavanaugh Could Reshape Environmental Law From the Supreme Court

Several commentators and news outlets look into the impact that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh could have on US environmental law. In the New York Times, reporter Brad Plumer notes that during Kavanaugh’s 12 years on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he “voted in a number of high-profile cases to limit Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules involving issues like climate change and air pollution”. “His legal philosophy was clear,” continues Plumer: “In the absence of explicit instructions from Congress, any far-reaching effort by the EPA to tackle environmental problems should be met with deep scepticism by the courts”. Similarly, Lawrence Hurley in Reuters writes that Kananaugh is “a long-time sceptic of business regulations, especially on rules limiting harmful emissions, although he has called global warming an ‘urgent’ issue”. For example, E&E News notes that Kavanaugh “ruled against an Obama-era EPA regulation aiming to phase out hydrofluorocarbons – greenhouse gases better known as HFCs”. While politics reporter for InsideClimate News, Marianne Lavelle, describes Kavanaugh’s history of rulings as “an extensive record of scepticism toward the government’s powers to act on climate change”.

Brad Plumer, The New York Times Read Article
Japan hit by worst weather disaster in decades: Why did so many die?

Last week, torrential rains, floods and landslides killed at least 176 people in western Japan and forced millions to evacuate in the country’s worst weather disaster in 36 years. Writing in Reuters, reporter Linda Sieg looks into some of the reasons behind the high death toll. The heavy rains were fuelled in part by remnants of Typhoon Prapiroon, notes Sieg. The amount of rainfall “was unprecedented and disaster experts said torrential rains are becoming more frequent, possibly due to global warming”. Takashi Okuma, an emeritus professor at Niigata University who studies disasters, told Sieg that “the government is just starting to realize that it needs to take steps to mitigate the impact of global warming”.

Linda Sieg, Reuters Read Article

Science.

Climate change could threaten cocoa production: Effects of 2015-16 El Niño-related drought on cocoa agroforests in Bahia, Brazil

Global warming could threat cocoa production in parts of Brazil, new research suggests. The research studied the effect of the 2015-2016 El Niño weather event, which caused severe drought across Bahia, a state of Brazil. It found that the severe droughts associated with El Niño caused cocoa tree mortality of up to 15% and crop yield declines of 89% in some parts of the state. The findings suggest that cocoa production could face large risks as droughts become both more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, the researchers say.

PLOS ONE Read Article

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