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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Greta Thunberg sets sail from UK to attend New York and Chile climate summits
Greta Thunberg sets sail from UK to attend New York and Chile climate summits


Greta Thunberg sets sail from UK to attend New York and Chile climate summits

There is blanket coverage of the news that teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has set sail from Plymouth on the south coast of the UK, bound for UN summits on global warming in New York and Chile. Channel 4 News says the sailing is on a “zero-carbon racing yacht, which has no kitchen…[or] toilet”. Thunberg gave a speech before departing, says BBC News, in which she said: “There’s always going to be people who don’t understand or accept the united science, and I will just ignore them, as I’m only acting and communicating on the science.” The broadcaster, and the Daily Telegraph, report her comments that she does not expect to persuade US president Donald Trump of the need to tackle climate change, saying: “I’m not that special. I can’t convince everyone.” Sky News, the Times, the Guardian (trailed in its front-page photo), MetroUSA Today, the IndependentPress Association and Reuters, among many others, also cover the story. Meanwhile, Press Association reports that “pro-Brexit businessman Arron Banks [has been] criticised for [a] tweet about Greta Thunberg”, noting Banks “later defended his comment” as a “joke”.

Channel 4 News Read Article
National Grid rules out wind power as cause of power cut

Sky News reports its interview with the chief executive of National Grid, John Pettigrew, on Friday’s major power cut, in which he said there was “nothing to indicate [the power cut had] anything to do with the fact that we’re moving to more wind or more solar”. The broadcaster says a gas-fired power station and an offshore windfarm are believed to be behind the outage, adding Pettigrew’s comment that: “At this point in the investigation there doesn’t seem to be anything about the technology. It is about the size of those two generators failing.” The government has set out the terms of reference for a review of the circumstances, reports Press Association. The Energy Emergencies Executive Committee “will examine what happened to cause the outage and what can be done to prevent a repeat”, it says. The committee will report its initial findings within five weeks and provide a full report within 12 weeks, says Reuters. The Financial Times says the government investigation “raises far-reaching questions about [National Grid’s] performance”. It says the committee will ask whether National Grid had sufficient rapid-response backup supplies, citing analysts saying it would have added just £2 to annual household bills to have held enough reserve to prevent the power cuts. In a blog for the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), co-director Prof Keith Bell asks what happened to the electricity system on Friday. He explains that the “basic general rule used by many system operators around the world” is to carry enough reserve to cover “any single unplanned event”, adding: “Unfortunately, on Friday afternoon at soon after 16:52, two sources of power were lost within less than a minute of each other.” He lists questions to be answered including whether these events were independent or somehow connected. He adds that one additional potential issue was significant lightning activity in the East of England around the time of the outages. Bell also says: “There is no indication that the event had anything to do with the characteristics of wind as a source of electrical energy”. BusinessGreen also reports on the government investigation’s terms.

Sky News Read Article
Fracking causing rise in methane emissions, study finds

The Guardian is among several publications reporting new research from Cornell University in the US, which, the paper says, shows that: “The boom in the US shale gas and oil may have ignited a significant global spike in methane emissions.” The Guardian quotes a scientist not involved in the new study saying that the work is “highly contentious in the academic community and further work is needed to constrain uncertainty before conclusions such as this can be robustly backed up”. The IndependentPress Association and DeSmog UK all report the study’s findings. Meanwhile Bloomberg says that the Trump administration plans to end regulations on methane emissions that oil companies “want to keep”.

The Guardian Read Article
Green projects hit but 60% of ₹1tn in coal cess sits idle

More than 60% of the revenue collected under India’s 50 rupee-per-tonne (70¢) carbon tax on coal is unspent, reports the Times of India. It says the funds collected so far under the “coal cess” – which recently increased to ₹400 per tonne ($5.60) – amount to more than ₹1tn ($14bn), of which only a fraction has been allocated to the country’s National Clean Energy Fund.

The Times of India Read Article
ITV News launches 'major' climate change series at top of News at Ten to 'make people sit up and take notice'

One of the UK’s major news broadcasters devoted two-thirds of its flagship News at Ten to climate change on Tuesday night as part of a “major” new series, reports PressGazette. It quotes ITV News acting editor Rachel Corp saying the Earth on the Edge series was made to “make people sit up and take notice” and show them the issue is “not just the stuff of reports”. The series launched with a focus on deforestation, with ITV News saying it “travel[led] to the frontlines of the global deforestation crisis” – in Ghana, Ukraine and Colombia. PressGazette says ITV News will feature “a big segment…at least monthly from now on”, on topics including “water shortages, extreme heat, rising sea levels, overpopulation and pollution”. The publication notes that the UK’s Sky News last month appointed its “first dedicated climate change correspondent”. BusinessGreen also reports on the new ITV News climate change series.

PressGazette Read Article


Teenage activists and an IPCC triumph

“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a well-timed blueprint for action,” says an editorial in Nature. Last week’s special report on land and climate change – covered in depth by Carbon Brief – arrived “in time for several international meetings”, the editorial says, pointing to meetings in August and September of UN meetings on biodiversity, desertification and then climate change. Combating these problems are “even more difficult” due to the separate UN structures and treaties on each topic, Nature argues, adding that the IPCC report “stands out” by recognising that these threats “are interlinked”. It adds: “The UN conventions could do much more to adopt such an approach.” The editorial continues by pointing to the “assured” support of the next generation for the latest science. It says: “As government delegates get ready for Delhi, Nairobi and New York, they must prepare to answer why, if children can understand the meaning of the IPCC assessments, adults cannot do the same?”

Editorial, Nature Read Article
Coal is now the emperor with no clothes

“Only a few elites and some junior miners [coal mining firms] benefit from perpetuating lies about the cheap cost of using coal and its reliability over renewable energy,” write the directors of several NGOs, Bobby Peek, Makoma Lekalakala and Melissa Fourie, in a comment piece for South African publication Business Day. They continue: “In the real world, export markets for SA [South African] coal are closing…Coal exports out of Richards Bay Coal Terminal declined 4% in 2018 alone, ascribed directly to the weaker global demand.” Meanwhile Reuters columnist Clyde Russell writes under the headline: “Coal may be dying, but growth in the seaborne market says not yet.” The amount of coal shipped around the world has increased by 2% in the year to date, he says, but adds: “Of course, the fact of a relatively strong performance in the first seven months doesn’t necessarily alter the outlook for longer-term decline. Given that much of seaborne coal’s growth will depend on what happens in China and India, it’s bearish that both these countries are taking steps to limit future imports.”

Bobby Peek, Makoma Lekalakala and Melissa Fourie, Business Day Read Article


The global and regional impacts of climate change under representative concentration pathway forcings and shared socioeconomic pathway socioeconomic scenarios

A new study looks at the annual and regional frequencies of extreme events under various climate change and socioeconomic scenarios. If future global warming is extremely high, “the global average annual chance of a major heatwave increases from 5% now to 97% in 2100, the average proportion of time in drought increases from 7% to 27%, and the average chance of the current 50-year flood increases from 2% to 7%”, the authors say. The authors add: “The range in the estimated impacts can be large, due to uncertainty in future emissions and future socio-economic conditions and scientific uncertainty in how climate changes in response to future emissions.”

Environmental Research Letters Read Article
Forest loss in Brazil increases maximum temperatures within 50 km

Deforestation in Brazil can drive up temperatures felt within a 50km radius, a new study says. Forest loss can cause warming by altering the colour and roughness of the landscape, which, in turn, causes incoming sunlight to interact with the landscape differently. For the new analysis, scientists studied air temperature datasets taken from intact and deforested land in Brazil’s Amazon and Cerrado regions.

Environmental Research Letters Read Article


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