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Daily Briefing

12.09.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

12.09.2018 | 9:31am
DAILY BRIEFING Forest size of Yorkshire must be planted for UK to meet its climate targets, scientists warn
Forest size of Yorkshire must be planted for UK to meet its climate targets, scientists warn

News.

Forest size of Yorkshire must be planted for UK to meet its climate targets, scientists warn

As the UK endeavours to cut its emissions by moving away from fossil fuels, experts have warned that this will not be enough to meet the nation’s climate change targets. A new report commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy suggests that vast tracts of forest will need to be planted across the British countryside to suck CO2 from the atmosphere, so that the UK can achieve zero net emissions of by 2050. The report, which was conducted by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, also considered a number of other measures for removing CO2 from the air, such as restoring wetlands, improving farming methods, using chemicals to capture it directly from the air, and even building structures such as homes and bridges from timber instead of concrete and steel, the Times and the Guardian report. The scientists describe the plan as costly, BBC News reports, but necessary and achievable. However, they warn that there is no time to lose on bringing these strategies into effect. “A clear outcome of the report is that we need to act quickly,” said Professor Gideon Henderson, who led the project. “There is no silver bullet, but there are a wide suite of technologies and methods that have been suggested for greenhouse gas removal.” Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told the Guardian that the report “shows the UK can take its carbon emissions down to net zero by around mid-century and can do so affordably…If anything, it has over-estimated the amount of negative emissions the UK will need, and yet still concludes that we can deliver.” Carbon BriefBusinessGreen and New Scientist also covered the story. In related news, a cross-party group of politicians have called on the government to set a target to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions to zero before 2050, Press Association reports. Elsewhere, the UK’s environment secretary Michael Gove has written an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph suggesting that farmers who protect the countryside will be rewarded most when Brexit ends ‘perverse’ EU farm subsidies.

The Independent Read Article
Global hunger levels rising due to extreme weather, UN warns

Worldwide hunger has regressed to levels last seen a decade ago, a United Nations report has warned, reversing progress made on improving access to food. One in nine people were undernourished in 2017, with extreme weather such as droughts and floods identified by the UN as a main cause. The UN found that there are more undernourished people in areas of the world that are highly exposed to extremes of climate. The report focuses on 2017 and does not cover 2018’s extreme weather, which, the Guardian writes, “brought heatwaves and high temperatures to much of the northern hemisphere, accompanied by droughts in some parts of the globe and floods in others”. Robin Willoughby, head of food and climate policy at Oxfam GB, commented: “The extreme weather we have seen this year is likely to have exacerbated the crisis…A hotter world is proving to be a hungrier world.” A separate article in the Guardian, also covering the research, focuses specifically on the Pacific region. “Nutrition in Pacific countries is very sensitive to climate extremes”, the piece explains. “Recurring climate shocks…have undermined food security across the Pacific, increased dependence on food aid, and weakened the nutrition of those who live there.” The Daily Telegraph also has the story.

The Guardian Read Article
They Defied Trump on Climate Change. Now, It’s Their Moment of Truth.

Local leaders rebelling against the Trump administration’s position on climate change are meeting in San Francisco this Thursday, to proclaim their own commitment to upholding the Paris climate agreement. Lead by California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and including figures representing US states, cities and businesses, America’s Pledge will discuss ways that they can work together to reduce their emissions. “The stakes are high”, the New York Times writes. In addition to this year’s extreme weather, “the Trump administration has been pushing to roll back many of the most prominent federal climate policies”. Yesterday, an article in Vanity Fairwarned that: “Trump’s ‘insane’ new energy policy would put global warming on steroids”. The Guardian and Grist also carry the story.

New York Times Read Article
Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, says thinktank

Fossil fuel demand will peak in 2023, the thinktank Carbon Tracker has predicted. They project that a combination of explosive growth in wind and solar, slowing growth in energy needs, as well as climate change action will ensure that global demand for coal, oil and gas will peak in the 2020s. This poses a “significant risk” to financial markets, the Guardian reports, since trillions of dollars of assets could be left worthless. In comparison, the International Energy Agency and oil and gas companies broadly expect demand to peak in the mid-2030s. Kingsmill Bond, a strategist at Carbon Tracker, commented: “Fossil fuel demand has been growing for 200 years, but is about to enter structural decline. Entire sectors will struggle to make this transition.”

The Guardian Read Article
Jerry Brown: Trump's 'gross ignorance' main obstacle in climate change fight

The governor of California has accused Donald Trump of “gross ignorance” over climate change, as he signed a bill requiring California to remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it puts in by 2046. Jerry Brown told the Guardian: “I don’t believe Trump represents the present but he has the power, he has the Republicans hook, line and sinker”. He continued: “His unabashed acolytes will follow him over the cliff. Gross ignorance is dangerous. The battle is with Trump – that’s the number one fight. But once he’s out of there, dealing with climate change will still be a fight.” The Trump administration has sought to dismantle emissions rules for coal-fired power plants and loosen fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, the Guardian explains.

The Guardian Read Article
North Sea ‘at a crossroads’ as drilling sinks to 55-year low

A new report from Oil and Gas UK has cast doubt on the future of the North Sea oil industry, warning that it is “at a crossroads”. Only four new exploration wells have been drilled so far this year, lows not seen since 1965. Deirdre Michie, the trade body’s chief executive told the Daily Telegraph: “Record low drilling activity, coupled with the supply chain squeeze, threaten [the] industry’s ability to effectively service an increase in activity and maximise economic recovery.” The industry body also warned that a no-deal Brexit risks causing labour shortages serious enough to force shutdowns, the Financial Times reports.

Daily Telegraph Read Article

Comment.

Atlantic hurricanes: are storms getting worse?

“We won’t know the full scale of the damage until the season is over, but longer term trends indicate a worsening of the length and intensity of Atlantic storms”, write Daniel Levitt and Niko Kommenda in the Guardian. Their feature uses animation and a number of data visualisations to explain the trend. They attribute an increase in the number of named storms to climate change: “the world’s oceans continue to warm at a fast rate, which means hurricanes are more likely”. Elsewhere, a feature in the Washington Post investigates new research which has found that as the climate continues to warm, storms will intensify faster and more often, and in some extreme cases, grow so powerful that they might arguably be labeled ‘Category 6.’ “We’ve already seen the signs, in the past several years, of ultra-intense hurricanes that get that way by explosively intensifying”, Mooney writes. A powerful new computer model “finds that rapid intensification appears to be the key mechanism driving stronger storms in a warmer climate”, he explains.

Daniel Levitt and Niko Kommenda, The Guardian Read Article
Paris Conundrum: How to Know How Much Carbon Is Being Emitted?

Science “is not up to the task” of measuring our annual emissions of CO2, writes Fred Pearce, in an in-depth feature for Yale Environment 360 considering how the accuracy of carbon counting will affect the implementation of the Paris Agreement. “There is…no sure way of independently verifying whether national governments are telling the truth about their own emissions or of knowing by how much global anthropogenic emissions are actually increasing”. He describes this fact as: “distinctly alarming, given the contradiction between reports that anthropogenic emissions have stopped rising and atmospheric measurements showing that annual increases in CO2 levels have reached record levels”. The piece notes that accurate data “is essential to allow signatories of the agreement to assess progress and agree on new targets”.

Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360 Read Article

Science.

Drop-in biofuels offer strategies for meeting California's 2030 climate mandate

California could meet – and even exceed – it’s target to cut transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions entirely through “drop-in” biofuels, which blend liquid fuels derived from biomass with traditional fuels, a new study suggests. In 2015, California established a mandate that requires on-road GHG emissions to be reduced by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Using a bottom-up cost analysis, the researchers find this target can be met with drop-in fuels, although it would require use of biomass resources located outside the state. The scale of production would require 58m tonnes of biomass, equivalent to 20% of total available biomass residues in the US.

Environmental Research Letters Read Article

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