Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Heatwave 2018: Think it’s hot here? Record highs leave world baking
- UN climate fund chief resigns for personal reasons while board meeting collapses
- China's Hebei vows more heavy industry capacity cuts by 2020
- UK judge postpones decision on landmark climate case
- Rising sea levels could cost the world $14 trillion a year by 2100
- MPs oppose plan to remove local role in fracking decisions
- Conspiracy theorists make monkeys of us all
- Flood damage costs under the sea level rise with warming of 1.5C and 2C
- Inclusive climate change mitigation and food security policy under 1.5C climate goal
- CH4 mitigation potentials from China landfills and related environmental co-benefits
Temperature records are being broken in a heatwave “enveloping the northern hemisphere”, says a front-page story in the Times. It recounts records in Oman, Canada, the US, Iran and the UK, which is set for the “longest unbroken spell of hot weather since the summer of 1976”, according to a second Times article. The front-page story quotes a Yale University scientist explaining that extreme weather events such as heatwaves and wildfires are becoming more common as the world warms: “We know that these kinds of events are very consistent with what we expect to be happening with climate change.” [The story concludes by saying: “Meteorologists attribute the northern hemisphere heatwave to…El Niño.” This is not accurate, as Carbon Brief’s climate analyst Zeke Hausfather explained on Twitter.] A Mail Online story is headlined: “Global warming to blame for all-time heat records being set worldwide”. The article adds: “While an isolated heatwave can be put down as an anomaly, the scale of this phenomenon points to global warming as the culprit, scientists said.” In the New York Times, an article explores the “unfamiliar words for unfamiliar times”, referring to the “UK heatwave” and “Irish drought”. It explains: “Climatologists say that it is hard to connect any single weather event to climate change, but that heat waves and extreme swings in precipitation are expected effects. As Britain and Ireland have sweltered, heat waves have also struck Scandinavia, the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, the Caucasus and southern Russia, and other regions.” The Independent also covers the UK heatwave, quoting WWF’s Mike Barrett saying: “Climate change can make extreme events such as heatwaves more likely”. Two stories from Reuters cover the US and Canadian heatwaves. Last year, Carbon Brief published a review finding that 85% of studies looking at links between heatwaves and climate change found the events had been made more likely or more severe because of global warming.
A meeting of the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) has collapsed after failing to approve any of 11 bids for climate finance, reports Climate Home News. It adds that the “fraught” meeting had a “bombshell finish” when executive director Howard Bamsey resigned for “pressing personal reasons”. Another problem facing the GCF is the replenishment process, it says, with the fund facing a shortfall after the US refused to honour an outstanding $2bn pledge. So far, the fund has committed $3.7bn to 76 projects aimed at helping developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, says Bloomberg’s report of the GCF meeting. The article quotes a consultant who attended the meeting describing it as “the low point…but hopefully it’s a canary in the mine and not a nail in the coffin”. Carbon Pulse also covers the news.
A series of Reuters articles cover Chinese provinces’ reactions to the country’s major new air pollution plan to 2020, published earlier this week. One explains how smog-prone Hebei said it would “slash steel capacity by 50% in some of its major cities by 2020, and will also shut cut coal mines, coking plants and cement factories”. A second Reuters article says China will boost rail freight volumes by as much as 30% by 2020, while a third Reuters piece says Jiangsu province – a major manufacturing hub – is launching “green loans” to fund green development and fight pollution. Meanwhile Tangshan province has ordered stricter targets for heavy industry and power firms, according to another Reutersarticle. The new Chinese plan to 2020 is aimed at tackling air pollution but says greenhouse gas emissions “will be reduced in concert”. For several key regions, coal use must be cut by up to 10% between 2015 and 2020, or at least capped.
A legal challenge hoping to strengthen UK climate targets has been put on hold after the High Court postponed a decision on proceeding to a full trial, Climate Home News reports. The case, brought by legal group Plan B, aims to force the UK to raise its ambition in light of the Paris Agreement. The UK government has pledged to ask for a review of the targets in light of the latest climate science, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes a report on 1.5C later this year, as Carbon Brief reported in April.
Mail Online reports “chilling new research” suggesting sea level rise could cost $14tn a year by 2100 if warming is not kept below 2C. The study, from the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre (NOC), says high-income countries would be hurt least because of protective flood defences, Mail Online adds. The $14tn figure relates to global annual flood costs due to median sea level rise of 0.86m by 2100 “without adaptation”, according to an NOC author quoted in the article. The Express website also covers the NOC study.
Reuters reports that UK government plans to transfer planning decisions on shale gas developments from local councils to the national level would be a “backward step” and “be harmful to local democracy”, according to a cross-party committee of MPs. The Press Association reports the MPs’ views that dealing with fracking applications under the “nationally significant infrastructure projects regime” is likely to exacerbate already-strained relations between local people and shale developers. Energy Live News also has the story.
“When influential politicians recycle vaccination scare stories and creation myths it’s time for science to fight back,” writes David Aaronovitch in the Times. He goes on to cite Donald Trump’s “interesting way with scientific evidence”, continuing: “As a layperson you’d have to have a pretty strong sense of your own expertise to override the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is happening and is a big problem.” Aaronovitch links these threads together, arguing: “The anti-vaccination and anti-climate change movements share a deep suspicion of the establishment, including public health officials and pharmaceutical companies. The movements bring together those who feel pushed around or think they know better, or both. They feel simultaneously humiliated by and superior to those who seek to instruct them.”
Without efforts to curb global warming, the annual damage costs of rising sea levels could hit $14tn a year by 2100, a new study estimates, or even $27tn a year if sea level rise hits 1.8 metres. For the Paris temperature limits, annual damages from sea level rise at 2C of warming are likely to cost $1.4tn a year more than at 1.5C, the researchers find. “Upper middle income countries” are projected to experience the largest increase in annual flood costs – as much as 8% GDP of national income – with China particularly at risk. Adaptation could potentially reduce these costs by a factor of 10, the researchers note.
An “inclusive policy design” can help avoid negative impacts on food security of land use measures taken to mitigate climate change, a new study suggests. Large-scale deployment of land-related options, such as afforestation and bioenergy production, has the potential to increase food prices, and hence raises food security concerns. However, food-security support through dedicated policies, such as international aid and bioenergy tax, can shield impoverished and vulnerable people from the additional risk of hunger, the researchers say.
A new study estimates the likely methane emissions from around 2,000 existing landfill sites in China and 500 planned new ones. Approximately 0.66m and 1.14m tonnes of methane will be released, respectively, from new and existing landfills under a 2030 business-as-usual scenario, the researchers say. This is 24% lower than estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the study notes.
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