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Daily Briefing

19.03.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

19.03.2018 | 10:19am
DAILY BRIEFING Government scrutinises energy security amid Russia tensions
Government scrutinises energy security amid Russia tensions

News.

Government scrutinises energy security amid Russia tensions

Officials are reviewing UK energy security “as political tensions between Russia and the UK continue to escalate”, reports the Telegraph. It says quarterly energy data later this month will “lay bare the UK’s reliance on Russia for winter gas”. [In fact, as Carbon Brief’s latest factcheck points out, Russia has supplied much less than 1% of UK gas demand so far this year.] For the Times, energy editor Emily Gosden writes that ministers are being accused of complacency after a series of shocks to critical infrastructure, including a breakdown at the UK’s soon-to-close largest gas storage site, due to cold weather. While the UK is not reliant on shipments of gas from Russia, the Times notes, it could still be affected by knock-on disruption if Russia closed the taps to central and eastern Europe. Another Telegraph article quotes oil and gas industry voices claiming the UK could be “held to ransom” by Russia. In his weekly column for the Times, climate sceptic hereditary peer Matt Ridley says: “Our dependence on Putin-controlled gas supplies could come to an end if a British company finally cracks the process [of nuclear fusion].” For the Financial Times, the recent cold snaps have “exposed” the UK’s reliance on gas for heating. It says: “Hitting targets for greenhouse gas emissions will require [a] costly switch from fossil fuels.” The Times is one of several papers to report that the government has urged National Grid to step up its defences against cyberattacks, in the wake of the Russian spy scandal. A second Telegraph article says: “British cities would be uninhabitable within days and the country is only a few meals from anarchy if the National Grid was taken down in a cyber attack…security experts have warned.” Separately, the Mail Online reports Trump administration claims that Russia is behind a two-year campaign of cyber attacks on the US grid.

The Telegraph Read Article
Billion-dollar polar engineering ‘needed to slow melting glaciers’

A series of giant engineering projects at the poles are needed to slow the disintegration of the world’s main glaciers, according to “controversial proposals” from researchers, outlined by the Observer. The ideas include “underwater walls, artificial islands and huge pumping stations that would channel cold water into the bases of glaciers”, it explains. The geoengineering approaches to delaying glacier melt come from a comment piece in the journal Nature, published last week.

The Observer Read Article
Ban new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, not 2040, says thinktank

Bringing forward the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel cars would almost halve oil imports and largely close the gap to reaching UK climate targets, says a report from thinktank Green Alliance covered by the Guardian. A 2030 ban could also help the UK seize the industrial opportunity from the growing demand for electric vehicles, the report suggest. The Guardian notes that the transport sector became the UK’s single largest source of carbon emissions in 2016 as power generation has switched away from coal.

The Guardian Read Article
Few companies link perks to climate change targets

Only around 10% of firms link pay and incentives for senior managers to climate change objectives, says the Financial Times, reporting new findings from the NGO CDP and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, a business and environmental grouping. The study found high awareness and understanding of climate risks but minimal incentives to change corporate behaviour. BusinessGreen also covers the findings.

Financial Times Read Article

Comment.

UN Arctic chief: ‘Climate change isn’t linear – it’s accelerating’

In an interview with Euractiv, Jan Dusík, UN Environment Programme chief adviser on the Arctic and Antarctic and Thierry Lucas, acting head of UNEP’s Brussels office discuss climate change at the poles. Lucas notes: “One thing to remember is that this change isn’t linear. It is accelerating and there will be tipping points when it comes to factors like methane emissions.”

Sam Morgan, Euractiv Read Article
Editorial: Welcome an electric world. Worry about the transition

“Oil shaped the 20th century…the 21st century will see [its] influence wane,” says a leader in the Economist. “Cheap natural gas, renewable energy, electric vehicles and co-ordinated efforts to tackle global warming together mean that the power source of choice will be electricity…It will also make the world cleaner and safer—reassuringly dull, even. The trouble is getting from here to there. Not just oil producers, but everyone else, too, may find the transition perilous.” In an accompanying special report, the Economist looks at how the “Middle East and Russia are ill-prepared for the low-carbon future”, with traditional oil producers continuing to argue clean energy is not a threat to their business models. In the Observer, Guardian energy editor Adam Vaughan looks at the impact of the clean energy transition on utility firms. “Companies face [a] world where [the] falling cost of solar and wind power pushes down prices,” he writes. This means that “by and large, companies are being broken up and becoming more specialised”.

Editorial, The Economist Read Article
Where Are America’s Winters Warming the Most? In Cold Places

US winters are warmer than they were 30 years ago and some of the coldest parts of the country have warmed the most, explains a New York Times feature based around a series of maps and graphics. It notes that 23 of the past 30 winters in the US were warmer than average for the 20th century.

Nadja Popovich and Blacki Migliozzi, New York Times Read Article
Comment: The Paris Agreement is deeply flawed - it's time for a new deal

“The Paris [Agreement] is built on the assumption that highly speculative technologies are going to save us from climate catastrophe; specifically one called BECCS, or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage,” writes Dr Jason Hickel, an anthropology lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, for Al Jazeera. “But BECCS has never been proven at scale; it is science fiction. In order to work as the Paris deal hopes, it would require plantations covering two to three times the size of India – a third of the planet’s arable land…In other words, BECCS might help with climate change, but only by pushing us into other crises.” Hickel concludes: “If we take BECCS out of the equation, things get more serious. Rich nations will need to reduce their emissions by more than 10% per year…it’s ultimately going to require that we step off the treadmill of endless economic growth and consumerism – and fast.”

Jason Hickel, Al Jazeera Read Article

Science.

A spatial assessment of the forest carbon budget for Ukraine

The forests of the Ukraine are a smaller carbon sink than previously thought, a new study finds. Using satellite data and forest statistics, the study presents a new forest cover map for Ukraine at a 60 metre resolution. Estimates of carbon storage suggest Ukraine’s forests have served as a net carbon sink, absorbing more than 11m tonnes of carbon a year. But this is around 25% less than the official values reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the paper says.

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change Read Article

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