Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Invest in 'green' firms or risk being wiped out by climate change, Bank of England tells the City
- UK 'does not need and must not build new gas plants'
- Dipton opencast mine protesters dig in ahead of deadline
- Fears for post-Brexit climate laws as UK green watchdog plans revealed
- Defiant Erdogan has harsh words for US
- 11 ways the Paris climate deal is working in the real world
- Green watchdog: Is the Treasury trying to make it easier to break the law?
- To get conservative climate contrarians to really listen, try speaking their language
- Politically informed advice for climate action
- Future climate risk from compound events
- Uncertainty in forecasts of long-run economic growth
- Forest resources of nations in relation to human well-being
Efforts to stop global temperatures from climbing to dangerous levels require substantial changes to the structure of the economy, the Bank of England warned yesterday, the Telegraph reports. Speaking to the Green Finance Initiative and Green Finance Committee in London, executive director Sarah Breeden said older technologies could be rendered worthless and while companies that are more environmentally friendly could be rewarded. “Once climate change becomes a clear and present danger, it may already be too late,” she said. The speech came just before a report from the campaign group Positive Money, published today and reported in the Financial Times, urged the Bank of England to put climate change “front and centre” of its mandate to boost green investment. The report said the Bank’s concern for financial stability will look “incoherent” unless the BoE does more to boost investment in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The report said the Bank of England should print money for the government to invest in the low-carbon economy and offload fossil fuel assets, the Independent reports. Meanwhile, BusinessGreen reports on a new study from the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford which found up to a fifth of global power generation assets could be stranded if the world were to meet its climate goals.
The UK does not need to build any new large gas-fired power plants to keep the lights on, according to a new report from environmental group WWF and thinktank Sandbag. The report suggests renewables will replace polluting fuels as the UK phases out coal in the lead-up to 2025, with wind and solar surpassing coal’s contribution to the energy mix by 2022. Charles Moore, Analyst at Sandbag, said: “Amazingly, the UK’s coal phase-out will not require a ‘gas bridge’ as many predicted: surging renewable energy ensures that gas use in the power sector has already peaked.”
Campaigners are digging in to stop what they say will be the devastation of opencast mining at a beauty spot in the north-east of England, the Guardian reports. The group has 16 working days left before mining company Banks Group needs to begin digging Pont valley, Co Durham, under its current planning permission. Protesters are planning a series of public demonstrations in the days leading up to the deadline.
Concerns have been raised over enforcement of climate laws when the UK leaves the EU, after the government excluded climate change from a proposed post-Brexit green watchdog, reports Climate Home. The department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) consultation document, which sets out to establish a body that could issue “advisory notices” if the government fell short of its duty to implement environmental law, would not be empowered to take the government to court, nor would it cover “matters related to climate change”. DEFRA argued this was covered by existing bodies, mainly the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), however CCC chair Lord Deben has said this was not good enough.
In London yesterday, Turkish President Erdogan lashed out at the United States and described a “bleak” global outlook reminiscent of the lead-up to the Second World War, the Times reports. In a foreign policy speech at the Chatham House, Erdogan criticised President Trump’s “unilateral decisions” to pull out of the climate change agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, describing a “bleak picture” of a collapsing world order. A Carbon Brief country profile took an in-depth look at Turkey’s rising emissions and unique position in the world of international climate negotiations.
“Climate negotiations are becoming ever-more detached from the starburst of activity released by the Paris deal,” write Climate Home journalists in a piece looking at how businesses, researchers, governments and citizens are coming up with new ways to combat climate change. The piece covers a variety of measures, from Chile’s 2017 plan to reform its coal-heavy power sector to Indian Jadav Payeng, who has almost single-handedly grown a 550 hectare forest.
“Why would anyone want regulatory enforcement mechanisms to be weakened, unless they expected to break the law?” asks BusinessGreen editor James Murray, in a blog looking at the new consultation on the post-Brexit environmental watchdog. “[T]he proposals in their current form would deny the watchdog the ability to launch proceedings against the government, would result in little more than stern letters as a deterrent, and would fail to cover crucial climate policies.” Legitimate questions about the watchdog’s resources and budgets remain largely unaddressed, says Murray. “It would be extremely informative if someone with the power to compel the Treasury to answer were to ask if it really is the barrier to a more robust watchdog, and if so what is its rationale for establishing a toothless authority?”
“It’s a well-studied fact that facts don’t speak for themselves,” writes Jamie Freestone, a PhD student in literature at The University of Queensland. “This is especially apparent with climate change. Some brilliant studies in the past ten years have shown that people respond to narratives about climate change, not raw facts.” But how many climate change campaigns are specifically targeted at people with a conservative worldview? Freestone goes on to detail what different narratives targeted at conservatives might look like.
Climate policymakers unexpectedly received an extension in the remaining budget of carbon dioxide emissions for a 1.5C budget in September 2017, writes Oliver Geden, head of EU division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), in a comment piece for Nature Geoscience. But “policymakers cannot be expected to take a sudden carbon budget extension as a welcome opportunity to step up mitigation efforts, only because meeting 1.5C now seems a little less unrealistic,” he argues. To open a new chapter in climate policy, we therefore need an approach that avoids reassuring policymakers that all is still well. “[C]arbon budgets have only been able to influence climate policy talk, not decisions, let alone actions”….”in order to make evidence-informed policymaking a reality, we need politically informed advice”. A second comment piece in Nature Geoscience by CICERO director and scientist Glen Peters argues for the “need to move on from a unique carbon budget, and face the nuances”. He writes: “I argue that carbon budgets can confuse rather than clarify, and that – given the mismatch of their global scale with decision making at the country level – they are not as relevant for policy making as it may have originally seemed.”
The risk of climate-related extremes may be underestimated because they often occur in combination rather than as single events, a new paper argues. Traditional risk assessment methods typically only consider one driver and/or hazard at a time, the researchers say, yet “compound events” mean multiple extremes – such as droughts, heatwaves and/or wildfires – can strike at the same time. “A better understanding of compound events may improve projections of potential high-impact events, and can provide a bridge between climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision makers,” the researchers conclude.
There is more uncertainty in long-term economic growth rates than is assumed in climate change scenarios, a new study suggests. Using statistical modelling and expert prediction, researchers developed estimates of uncertainty in long-run projections of global and regional per capita economic growth rates for the 21st century. Both methods show larger uncertainty than in the full range of existing climate scenarios, the researchers say, which implies there is a greater likelihood of extreme climate-change outcomes beyond even the most severe scenario.
A shift from shrinking to expanding forests across the world is a result of human development rather than rising atmospheric CO2 levels or a warming climate, a new study suggests. The trend in global forest cover correlates positively with UNDP Human Development Index, the researchers find, likely because more developed economies invest in forest management programmes and use modern agricultural methods on good farmlands, leaving marginal lands for forest expansion. The findings suggest that the large carbon sink that forests provide will persist “if the well-being of people continues to improve”.