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Daily Briefing

28.05.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Greens surge as parties make strongest ever showing across Europe
Greens surge as parties make strongest ever showing across Europe

News.

Greens surge as parties make strongest ever showing across Europe

A record 71 greens have been elected to the European Parliament, the Guardian reports, saying this “gives them every chance of becoming kingmakers in a newly fragmented parliament”. Europe’s greens made gains across the continent, reports the Independent, which along with several other outlets calls the shift a “green wave”. Writing in the Spectator’s “coffee house” blog, editor Fraser Nelson also calls it a “green wave” and says the group may be “kingmakers” in the new European parliament. Pointing to the UK commentariat’s focus on Brexit and populism, Nelson writes: “This is a Europe-wide trend, reflected in the UK. It challenges the idea of voters taking their allotted space in a left vs right, or even globalist vs nationalist spectrum. In recent years, we have seen this time and time again: the political class thinks the election is about one question, and a huge group of voters use it to answer another question.” The greens finished second in Germany, the Times reports, saying the party was the “chief disrupter” of the country’s historical two-party politics. Green parties finished third in France and fourth in the UK, adds Reuters. This put the party ahead of the ruling Conservatives in the UK, notes the Guardian. Greens also came second in Finland, while they trebled their vote in Ireland, notes BusinessGreen, under the headline: “European elections: Green wave sweeps Europe.” The leaders of Europe’s greens say they will use their newfound leverage to push for urgent climate action and other priorities, says the Guardian. They will “demand significant policy concessions” before joining any alliance in the newly formed European parliament, reports Forbes, which says priorities can be expected to include strengthened EU climate goals for 2030 and 2050. The strong showing for Europe’s greens “could boost climate action” from the bloc, reports the Associated Press. In Quartz, Akshat Rathi writes: “If there was one cause that won [the elections] without a doubt, it was the climate crisis.” An editorial in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times reflects on the strong showing for the country’s greens in the elections, under the headline: “Green voters might see red when they face carbon taxes.” The paper says Europe’s greens will have a “significant influence” in the new European parliament. It adds that carbon taxes and other measures “will make casual Green voters see red”. DeSmog UK profiles the “climate science deniers” from the UK’s Brexit Party, that have been elected to the European parliament, including party leader and returning MEP Nigel Farage.

The Guardian Read Article
Theresa May announces resignation throwing green Brexit plans into chaos

British prime minister Theresa May’s resignation on Friday throws doubt over her promise that the UK would work closely with the EU on climate change after Brexit, reports BusinessGreen. “It’s unclear whether May will choose to rush through approval for a net zero [greenhouse gas emissions] law, given she will likely face calls not to bind her successor’s hands on matters of policy,” BusinessGreen says, adding: “But equally a last-minute push on climate could offer May – and her Cabinet colleagues – a chance to secure a legacy, beyond Brexit, from her premiership.” It says that leadership hopeful Boris Johnson is reportedly considering putting environmental issues at the heart of his bid.

BusinessGreen Read Article
School strike for climate: Protests staged around the world

There is widespread coverage of Friday’s worldwide youth climate strikes. BBC News says “more than a million people” in at least 110 countries were expected to take part, according to organisers. The strikes were inspired by Swedish activist schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, BBC News adds. Thunberg is quoted byReuters saying: “If the EU were to decide to seriously fight the climate crisis, it would mean a decisive global change. And the EU [parliamentary] election should reasonably only be about this. But it isn’t.” Reuters puts the total number joining Friday’s protests at 1.8m, citing “a tally on the Facebook page of the Fridays for Future movement, a network of young climate protesters”. The Independent puts it at 1.5m protestors. CNN says the number is a “record”. Around 125 separate protests took place across the UK, reports the Press Association. The GuardianHuffington Post UKTimeITV NewsFrance 24Al JazeeraAssociated Press, the Washington PostVox and others all have the story. VICE has a video on the school climate strike phenomenon. Separately, BBC News reports that London’s Metropolitan Police is pushing for charges to be brought against more than 1,100 peaceful protestors arrested during the Extinction Rebellion climate action last month. The force’s deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor says the move is designed to deter others from employing similar tactics, BBC News adds. The force has called for changes to the law governing protests, reports the Guardian. Another Guardian article reports criticism of the police plans, from Labour’s shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti. Meanwhile the Australian Associated Press reports that Extinction Rebellion protestors have staged a “die-in” at a museum in Brisbane, Australia. Finally, Reuters reports that Extinction Rebellion activists on Friday blocked the entrance to Norway’s central bank, calling for the country’s sovereign wealth fund to stop investing in companies that burn coal.

BBC News Read Article
IEA rings alarm bell on phasing out nuclear energy

Nuclear plant retirements in western countries could threaten climate goals and electricity supplies unless their lifetimes are extended, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report covered by Reuters. Nuclear is currently the world’s second-largest source of low-carbon electricity after hydro, Reuters notes, but reactor fleets in the US and Europe average over 35 years old. It quotes the IEA report saying: “Without policy changes, advanced economies could lose 25% of their nuclear capacity by 2025 and as much as two-thirds of it by 2040.” Reuters adds: “IEA director Fatih Birol said on a webcast that the agency is not asking countries who have exited nuclear to reconsider, but said that countries who did decide to keep nuclear should do more to support the industry.” The Financial Times also has the story.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

We’re stepping up – join us for a day to halt this climate crisis

Writing in the Guardian, a group including activists, scientists, politicians and others backs a global climate strike on 20 September. They write: “On 20 September, at the request of the young people who have been staging school strikes around the world, we’re walking out of our workplaces and homes to spend the day demanding action on the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat that all of us face.” The one-day strike “will not be the last”, they add. The group includes former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, climate scientist Prof Michael Mann and former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, among others. BusinessGreen asks if green professionals should join the strike.

Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and others, The Guardian Read Article
Japan should snuff out reliance on coal-fired thermal power

“Japan is internationally ill-reputed for being negative about going coal-free,” says an editorial in the Asahi Shimbun. It backs recent moves by Japan’s environment ministry to toughen its environmental assessments of new coal plants, which led to the cancellation of a planned development, as well as the decision by Mitsubishi Financial Group to stop financing new coal. The editorial says: “Even a state-of-the-art, coal-fired thermal power plant unit emits twice as much CO2 as a natural gas-fired counterpart in generating the same amount of electric power.” It calls on the ministry of trade and industry to “keep step” with the environment ministry and says already-approved plants should be reviewed. Pointing to planned coal phaseouts in the UK, Germany and elsewhere the editorial criticises the Japanese government’s failure to embrace such a policy. It concludes: “There is a need…to stop building new coal-fired thermal plants and plant units and phase out the existing ones. Japan should take a bold step toward a coal-free energy policy.” Separately, Reuters reports that a group of Japanese firms have set up a consortium to help improve climate risk disclosures.

Editorial, The Asahi Shimbun Read Article

Science.

Sea-level driven land conversion and the formation of ghost forests

A review in Nature Climate Change explores the emergence of “ghost forests”, which are created when low-lying forest land is submerged by rising sea levels. Ghost forests are “are one of the most striking indicators of climate change along the Atlantic coast of North America”, the authors say. They add that the amount of land covered by ghost forests could double in the next 80 years.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
Effects of warming climate and competition in the ocean for life-histories of Pacific salmon

Sockeye salmon – a keystone of North American fisheries – could be getting smaller at the time of catch as a result of warming, a study finds. Ocean warming is causing sockeye salmon to leave their natal grounds earlier, the authors say, which leads to them taking longer to reach full maturity. These changes could have caused the average size of salmon caught by fishermen to become smaller, according to the study.

Nature Ecology & Evolution Read Article
Potential for low-cost carbon dioxide removal through tropical reforestation
Removing CO2 from the atmosphere by planting tropical forests could be a “low cost” way of tackling climate change, a study says. The research estimates that CO2 removal from tropical reforestation could be increased by 5% at a cost of $20 per tonne of CO2. However, “avoided deforestation” – leaving forests intact – could be up to nine times more cost effective than reforestation overall, the study finds.
Nature Climate Change Read Article

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