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Daily Briefing

11.06.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING EU climate goals ‘just a collection of buzzwords’, say critics
EU climate goals ‘just a collection of buzzwords’, say critics

News.

EU climate goals 'just a collection of buzzwords', say critics

The Guardian reports on a leaked document setting out the EU’s priorities for the next five years, which have been criticised by environmental groups for being complacent on climate change. The five-page document – drawn up by the team of European Council president Donald Tusk – spans migration, trade and the EU’s place in the world, in addition to climate change, the Guardian says. The report calls for an “in-depth transformation of [the EU’s] own economy and society to achieve climate neutrality”, adding that EU policies should be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. However, a representative from WWF tells the Guardian that the EU needed to cut its emissions more rapidly. She is quoted saying: “Given the ecological emergency we are facing, climate action and nature loss must be prioritised in the coming mandate – but such promises are meaningless without fixed timelines for the EU to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.“ The document has been released online by Greenpeace.

The Guardian Read Article
Giant battery at UK’s largest onshore wind farm is a ‘significant step’

Press Association reports that a “giant” battery is to be installed at the UK’s largest onshore wind farm. The firm Scottish Power will install a purpose-built 50 megawatt battery at its Whitelee wind farm, near Glasgow, PA says. “This will store energy generated from the site’s 215 wind turbines, and will help maintain a supply of green electricity even when the wind is not blowing,” it adds. The Guardian reports that the plans represent the “most ambitious battery power project in Europe”. BusinessGreen and BBC News also have the story.

Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph Read Article
US renewables capacity overtakes coal for the first time

US renewables capacity has overtaken coal capacity for the first time, according to analysis of official data reported on by BusinessGreen. The data, released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and analysed by SUN DAY, a non-profit that promotes sustainable energy, shows that power capacity from biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind now accounts for 21.56% of US generation capacity, BusinessGreen says. By contrast, coal plants account for 21.55% – “a share that is expected to keep falling as coal plant closures in some states gather pace”, BusinessGreen reports. Forbes also has the story.

BusinessGreen Read Article

Comment.

How to save the planet

Ed Miliband, the former leader of the UK’s Labour party, writes for Prospect on how to tackle climate change and “fix” the economy. He says: “Some who accept the threat is real will nonetheless shrug that the climate fight is hopeless, and urge a policy simply of adaptation – preparing for the worst. We should not accept such defeatism. There is a vision of a better world implicit in this fight. History demonstrates that if we can only inspire people, we can achieve extraordinary things at unprecedented speed, against the odds. So what are we waiting for?”

Ed Miliband, Prospect Read Article
UK’s net zero emissions plan can help lead the world

In the Financial Times, Rachel Kyte, chief executive of Sustainable Energy for All and special representative of the UN secretary-general, writes that importance of the UK committing to net-zero emissions by 2050 “should not be underestimated”. She writes: “The faster industrialised countries decarbonise, the more room they create for developing countries that face the more difficult challenge of reducing emissions while also meeting basic needs and creating economic growth.” Meanwhile, the online version of the Daily Telegraph carries an opinion piece from Bjorn Lomborg calling the UK’s plans “climate madness”.

Rachel Kyte, Financial Times Read Article
Extinction Rebellion’s tactics are working. It has pierced the bubble of denial

Journalist and author Matthew Todd writes for the Guardian on how Extinction Rebellion has created “authentic hope” through “stating the terrible truth about the climate crisis”. He adds: “By giving talks to local communities across the country, it has humanised this crisis. Instead of flatly explaining that sea levels will rise, diseases will spread and crops will fail, it has made it clear this is about our children and us. It has expressed grief for our kids, for wildlife, for nature and fear at the degrading of the systems that keep us alive…Paradoxically, by stating the terrible truth, it has created authentic hope for the first time.”

Matthew Todd, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

The current and future global distribution and population at risk of dengue

New research maps the potential geographical range of dengue fever – an infectious disease spread by the Aedes mosquito – through the 21st century. The researchers used “statistical mapping techniques” to show the “global environmental suitability” for the virus as of 2015 and then projected out to 2020, 2050 and 2080. The projections “provide a key missing piece of evidence for the changing global threat of vector-borne disease and will help decision-makers worldwide to better prepare for and respond to future changes in dengue risk”, the authors say.

Nature Microbiology Read Article
Human domination of the global water cycle absent from depictions and perceptions

Only 2% of diagrams to communicate the global water cycle show “climate change or water pollution – two of the central causes of the global water crisis”, a new study says. Assessing 464 water cycle diagrams from around the world, the researchers say that omitting the role of climate change “effectively conveys a false sense of water security”. The findings “suggest that flaws in water diagrams reflect and reinforce the misunderstanding of global hydrology by policymakers, researchers and the public”. While “correct depictions of the water cycle will not solve the global water crisis”, the authors argue that it is “an important step towards equitable water governance, sustainable development and planetary thinking in the Anthropocene”.

Nature Geoscience Read Article
Antarctic offshore polynyas linked to Southern Hemisphere climate anomalies

A new paper looks at the causes of Antarctic “polynyas” – large openings of open water within sea ice cover. Using “autonomous profiling float observations” in 2016 and 2017, the researchers find that these openings during winter in the Weddell Sea “are initiated and modulated by the passage of severe storms”, rather than the ventilation of heat up through the ocean. Poleward shifts in southern hemisphere westerly winds and storm tracks under climate change could bring “a more frequently disturbed sea ice cover to the Weddell Sea region”, the authors conclude.

Nature Read Article

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