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Daily Briefing

12.10.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

12.10.2018 | 9:25am
DAILY BRIEFING ‘Insufficient’: CCC warns Grayling and Clark green transport strategy is still stuck in the slow lane
‘Insufficient’: CCC warns Grayling and Clark green transport strategy is still stuck in the slow lane

News.

'Insufficient': CCC warns Grayling and Clark green transport strategy is still stuck in the slow lane

BusinessGreen reports that the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, and Greg Clark, the business secretary, warning them that their plan for decarbonising road transport is not ambitious enough to meet legally binding climate targets. BusinessGreen writes: “In a letter dated October 11 setting out the committee’s detailed analysis of the government’s “Road to Zero” transport plan, CCC chair Lord Deben said the strategy is ‘insufficient’ to drive the emissions cuts needed under the fifth carbon budget.” Deben also criticises the Department for Transport for publishing recent forecasts developed using the National Transport Model, which, BusinessGree says, almost completely ignores the ambitions of the “Road to Zero” strategy. Meanwhile, the BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin has published “Six climate questions for ‘Green GB'” on the BBC News website: “Next week, ministers are likely to ask their advisers how Britain can reduce carbon emissions in line with that target. They’ve declared what they’re calling Green GB Week – a celebration of the UK’s achievement as a world leader in tackling climate change whilst increasing the economy. But will they make the huge carbon cuts still needed on these six key issues?” Harrabin’s issues are: transport, heating, energy, waste/recycling, food and the countryside, and technology. Separately, Bloomberg covers a new report by Aurora Energy Research, which concludes that “Britain’s battery market will grow by $7.9bn by 2030”. The Independent reports that the “UK government has said it is planning to financially support the multi-million-pound expansion of an oil refinery in Bahrain, just days after scientists warned a global effort to move away from fuel fossils was vital to prevent climate catastrophe”. The paper adds: “The state-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) has sought international backing for upgrades to increase the output capacity of its processing plant in Sitra by more than a third to 360,000 barrels a day. The project is expected to cost well in excess of £3.8bn. UK Export Finance – the government credit agency which underwrites loans and insurance for risky export deals as part of efforts to boost international trade – said it was considering financing the refinery expansion.” Finally, DeSmog UK says anti-fracking protestors are claiming that “today is pivotal”, with the High Court due to rule later on whether it will lift an injunction against Cuadrilla, allowing the company to finally start fracking in a field in Lancashire.

BusinessGreen Read Article
UK growers warn of shortages of onions, potatoes and other vegetables after extreme weather decimates crops

Vegetable yields have fallen by as much as 50% in some parts of the UK, following a year of extreme weather events, reports the Independent. It adds: “Farmers have warned of the likelihood of shortages of major crops including potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks, parsnips, cabbages and Brussels sprouts, with consumers and retailers expected to see biggest impacts in the new year. The year began with the ‘Beast from the East‘, which brought freezing weather to the UK in February, followed by an unusually wet spring that delayed planting. Then a record-breaking summer heatwave took its toll on growing crops.” James Pearson, of Suffolk Produce, which grows about 10% of the UK’s onions, tells the Independent: “When crops were coming in we stuck a temperature probe into them and some were reading 40C. The stress this has put on the crops has not really been seen before and nobody really knows how well things are going to store.”

The Independent Read Article
Brazil's Bolsonaro plans more power plants in the Amazon: adviser

Brazil’s presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro would tackle chronic energy shortages by expanding nuclear and hydroelectric power in the Amazon despite environmental concerns, the adviser overseeing his infrastructure plans has told Reuters. The news agency adds: “He said a Bolsonaro administration would complete the massive Belo Monte hydro dam on the Xingú river, a tributary of the Amazon, which has been criticized for displacing indigenous communities and causing damage to the sensitive biome. Shelved plans for other dams in the Amazon basin could also be revived.” The far-right Bolsonaro is far ahead in the polls to win the 28 October runoff. In March, Carbon Brief published a detailed climate-and-energy profile of Brazil.

Reuters Read Article
New wind farms could thrive in Norway without subsidies - state grid

Reuters reports that Norway’s state-owned grid operator has said that declining costs and rising power prices now mean that major new wind farms could be built in the south of the country without subsidies. “The development of increased European and Nordic power prices combined with continued declining operating and development costs has made it profitable to build wind power without subsidies in Norway,” said analysts Statnett in a report for Norway’s energy regulator NVE. Statnett did not give a figure for the amount of new wind capacity that could be built, says Reuters. In March, Carbon Brief published a Q&A on what is meant by “subsidy-free renewables”.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

The latest report on global warming makes grim reading

There is continuing reaction and commentary in response to the publication of the IPCC special report on 1.5C earlier this week. The Economist has a lengthy feature which drills down into the report and how it was put together, concluding that “what hope it does offer risks being frittered away”. In the Financial Times, Tim Harford says “let’s innovate our way out of climate change; economic growth does not have to destroy the planet”. In the Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Warner writes: “We need to think of climate change not as a threat, but as an economic opportunity that can be cured by market forces. The IPCC needs to adjust its message accordingly. Even deniers might then come to accept the science.” In Vox, Mary Annaise Heglar writes: “The dominant narrative around climate change tells us that it’s our fault…Don’t give in to that shame. It’s not yours. The oil and gas industry is gaslighting you.” In the Conversation, Prof Arthur Petersen at UCL says that “the scientists will find it hard to admit that the scenarios they have conjured up are not at all realistic – they are more like a pipe dream”. Meanwhile, Desmog UK shows how “climate science deniers [have] respond[ed] to IPCC 1.5C report with anger, fear and distortion”.

The Economist Read Article
Here’s why hurricanes are rapidly exploding in strength

“The unforgettable thing about record-setting Hurricane Michael will always be how rapidly it became a near-Category 5 storm,” writes Chris Mooney. He adds: “This process of ‘rapid intensification’ — extremely dangerous near a coastline — is something we keep seeing lately…Climate scientists have begun to focus on hurricane rapid intensification as an increasingly prevalent feature in the world we’re entering. Simply put, with warmer seas, storms ought to be able to pull this off more often.” John Schwartz in the New York Times also looks at why Michael “caught forecasters off guard”: “It is too early to say how much global warming contributed to Michael’s ferocity. But as the world heats up, we can expect stronger storms, said Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.” Meanwhile, in the Guardian John Abraham argues that the “victims of Hurricane Michael are represented by climate deniers”: “It is a wonder that a state like Florida, which will get pummeled by Michael, could vote for someone that denies climate change. Think of how backwards the situation is – the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has reportedly been banned from using the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’. This policy reportedly went into effect when Florida elected a science denier, Rick Scott, to governor.”

Chris Mooney, Washington Post Read Article

Science.

Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Production Sites in the United States: Data Synthesis and National Estimate

This study used site-level methane (CH4) emissions data from over 1000 natural gas production sites in eight basins in the US to investigate CH4 emissions characteristics and develop a new national emission estimate. The distribution of site-level emissions is highly skewed, with the top 5% of sites accounting for 50% of emissions. High emitting sites are predominantly also high producing; however, low production sites emit a larger fraction of their CH4 production. They estimate leakage as a percent of basin-level CH4 production ranging from 0.90% for the Appalachian and Greater Green River to >4.5% in the San Juan and San Joaquin basins. Their total CH4 emissions estimate is 2.3 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate and likely attributable to the disproportionate influence of high emitting sites.

Environmental Science & Technology Read Article
Climate change vulnerability assessment of species

Assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to conserve them. The last three decades have seen exponential growth in the number of studies evaluating how, how much, why, when, and where species will be impacted by climate change. This study provides an overview of the rapidly developing field of climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA). They stress the importance of identifying the full range of pressures, impacts and their associated mechanisms that species face. They outline four CCVA assessment approaches: trait‐based, correlative, mechanistic and combined approaches and discuss their use. They also describe how CCVAs can be used to inform IUCN Red List assessments of extinction risk.

WIRES climate change Read Article

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