Today's climate and energy headlines:
- India PM Modi to attend Glasgow climate meet, environment minister says
- US climate credibility in doubt as legislative wrangles go down to the wire
- Climate change will bring global tension, US intelligence report says
- G20 split over coal, 1.5C climate limit ahead of Rome summit – sources
- Split over surge in energy prices overshadows EU climate strategy
- New terms in Oxford English Dictionary as language of climate crisis takes hold
- China’s power crisis: Zhejiang the latest province to float electricity prices after Beijing eases restrictions
- There are no real climate leaders yet – who will step up at COP26?
- The Times view on Putin and Xi missing the climate conference: Cop Out
- Next-generation ensemble projections reveal higher climate risks for marine ecosystems
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi will attend the COP26 climate summit in person reports a Reuters “exclusive”, based on an interview with the country’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav. The outlet calls the news “a boost for efforts to agree steeper emissions cuts in the fight on global warming”. The article notes that India and China are among the major emitters that “have not yet come forward with stronger pledges to cut emissions, known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs”. It quotes Yadav saying: “India’s NDCs are quite ambitious…We are doing more than our fair share. Our NDCs are more progressive than major polluters.” Reuters reports: “[India’s] cabinet, chaired by Modi, will decide the position to be taken at COP26, most probably within a week, a spokesperson of the environment ministry said. Government sources have told Reuters that India was unlikely to bind itself to a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” The Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph follows up the news about Modi and says that 120 world leaders have confirmed their attendance. A Reuters “factbox” lists the world leaders due to attend COP26, those that have said they will not be there and those yet to announce their plans. The i newspaper has an article on the schedule for COP26.
Meanwhile, BBC News reports: “Senior government climate change advisers have warned [UK prime minister] Boris Johnson against more foreign aid cuts ahead of the COP26 summit, the BBC has learned. In a letter to the PM, they expressed ‘deep concern’ at the cuts planned by the chancellor Rishi Sunak next week.” The letter comes from a group appointed by COP26 president-designate Alok Sharma, known as the “Friends of COP”, the broadcaster says. It quotes the letter saying: “The ability of the UK to act as a genuine, trusted partner for developing countries is of crucial importance to COP26’s success. Further implied cuts to overseas aid at the comprehensive spending review would send a signal that the UK is neither committed to, nor serious about, enabling a green global recovery from the pandemic, nor improving the resilience of the most vulnerable to climate change.” The Times reports: “The US is holding up negotiations to provide developing countries with $100bn a year to combat climate change, Boris Johnson has been warned. In a move that threatens the chances of an ambitious deal at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, America is understood to have rejected proposals to reassure poorer nations that the money would actually be delivered.” The Daily Telegraph says: “The summit…is highly unlikely to secure commitments that will keep global warming below 1.5C, officials and observers say.”
Separately, Reuters and Bloomberg report that US climate envoy John Kerry is to visit Saudi Arabia next week for talks ahead of the November COP26 summit. Elsewhere, the Press Association reports that the COP26 summit could cause a spike in cases of Covid-19, according to a scientific adviser to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Bloomberg previews negotiations at COP26 over Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on markets for carbon trading. Another Bloomberg article is titled: “The countries that could spoil global climate negotiations.” It points to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, India, Iran, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. The New York Times has a news analysis on Australia, calling it “one of the last holdouts among developed nations in committing to net zero emissions by 2050”. It says: “Neither fires nor international pressure has pushed it away from coal and other fossil fuels.” New Scientist has a piece on the “key players and big names at the COP26 climate summit”. BusinessGreen asks: “What does success look like for COP26?”
The US has yet to pass key climate legislation just 10 days before the COP26 climate summit, reports Climate Home News, saying this is “putting the credibility of its targets in doubt”. It continues: “Climate measures in president Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill and reconciliation bill are being scrapped or weakened by opposition from pro-fossil fuel senators in the Republican and Democratic parties. Analysts told Climate Home News that such failure would weaken the US’s negotiating position at COP26 and, therefore, the hopes for global ambition.” Reuters reports: “For months, US president Joe Biden and Democrats touted a $3.5tn Build Back Better plan as a transformational piece of legislation that would reshape the world’s largest economy for decades to come. They have spent recent days painfully deciding how to pare down parts of the plan, and which parts to scrap entirely as they seek to satisfy demands from within their own ranks to cut the size of the package.”
Ahead of a summit in Rome on 30-31 October, the G20 group of major economies is split on whether to agree commitments on phasing out coal and limiting warming to 1.5C, Reuters reports, citing “sources familiar with the negotiations”. It quotes “a G20 minister” saying: “Where I see the problem is in the commitment to 1.5C and in the phase out of coal and fossil fuels by China, India and Russia.” The piece continues: “Big polluters, such as China and India, have so far dug in their heels, however, and little progress has been made since G20 energy and environment ministers met in Naples in July, said three sources, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the talks.” But the article adds, citing one of the sources: “such intransigence was normal at this stage and that any concessions were unlikely to come before G20 climate sherpas meet face-to-face next Thursday and Friday, immediately before their leaders’ weekend meeting”. Reuters reports that “at least four” of the G20 leaders are not expected to attend in person, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping of China, but India’s Narendra Modi will be there. Another Reuters article reports on calls from Denmark, Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands and six other countries for the G20 to “hike their climate pledges”. It says the group have written a letter to Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, seen by Reuters, in which they write: “The window for taking decisive climate action is rapidly closing.”
“Like other rich nations, the UK is more talk than action on the climate crisis,” says climate activist Greta Thunberg in a comment for the Guardian. She says: “Since no one treats the crisis like a crisis, the existential warnings keep on drowning in a steady tide of greenwash and everyday media news flow. And yet there is still hope, but hope all starts with honesty. Because science doesn’t lie. The facts are crystal clear, but we just refuse to accept them.” Citing recent Carbon Brief analysis on historical emissions, Thunberg calls the UK: “A nation that is also among the 10 biggest emitters in history. Our emissions stay in the atmosphere for up to a thousand years and we have already emitted about 89% of the CO2 budget that gives us a 66% chance of staying below 1.5C. This is why historical emissions and the aspect of equity not only count – they basically make up 90% of the entire crisis.” She adds: “Being by far the biggest emitter in history, as well as the world’s number one oil producer, doesn’t seem to embarrass the US while it claims to be a climate leader. The truth is there are no climate leaders. Not yet. At least not among high-income nations.” Thunberg concludes: “But we need to remind ourselves that we can still turn this around. It’s entirely possible if we are prepared to change. Hope is all around us. Because all it would really take is one – one world leader or one high-income nation or one major TV station or leading newspaper who decides to be honest, to truly treat the climate crisis as the crisis that it is. One leader who counts all the numbers – and then takes brave action to reduce emissions at the pace and scale the science demands. Then everything could be set in motion towards action, hope, purpose and meaning.” A Guardian news article reports the contents of Thunberg’s comment for the paper.
According to a new study, climate change may cause a “greater decline in mean global ocean animal biomass” than previously thought. Researchers use the CMIP6 climate models and marine ecosystem models to analyse where and how species will change under both high-emissions and strong mitigation scenarios, then compare their results to the same analyses carried out with CMIP5 models. They find that, between the two sets of model runs, there is a “substantial spatial reshuffling” of where marine biomass will change. But when averaged across the entire ocean, the newer models show the biomass “declin[ing] more steeply”. The results, they write, “highlight the continued and urgent need” to better understand how marine ecosystems will respond to a changing climate.
Expert analysis directly to your inbox.