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Daily Briefing

16.05.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

16.05.2018 | 9:32am
DAILY BRIEFING Investment in UK clean energy suffers ‘dramatic and worrying collapse’
Investment in UK clean energy suffers ‘dramatic and worrying collapse’

News.

Investment in UK clean energy suffers ‘dramatic and worrying collapse’

A group of MPs says there has been a “collapse” in UK clean energy investment in the past three years, report the Financial Times and BusinessGreen. The MPs on the House of Commons environmental audit committee “blamed the trend on a succession of Conservative-led policy decisions”, the FT adds. The MPs say current policies are not strong enough to meet legal climate change targets, report Reuters and the BBC. It lists the policy changes behind the investment slump, including “a ban on new onshore wind farms [and] withdrawing subsidies from solar”. The BBC report also covers a separate public accounts committee report, which says the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive has resulted in carbon cuts of only half the anticipated level. This amounted to a policy “failure” that puts legal obligations in jeopardy, the MPs say, according to BusinessGreen. The Daily Mail also covers the renewable heat incentive, which it says “could be open to fraud” and which it describes as “Chris Huhne’s pet scheme”.

Financial Times Read Article
Government’s green subsidy tinkering to cost bill payers an extra £1.5bn

A tweak to the UK government’s auction for low-carbon subsidies has “backfired” and add £1.5bn to energy bills over 15 years says the Telegraph, reporting findings from the National Audit Office. The auction “was initially lauded as a major success after prices steadily fell to new lows…[but] prices could have fallen lower,” it adds. The £100m annual overpayment amounts to more than half of the total £176m awarded in last September’s auction, says the Times. It says: “The majority of the extra costs are understood to relate to one wind farm, the 860-megawatt Triton Knoll project off the coast of Lincolnshire.” If this windfarm had received the same subsidy as two other windfarms in the auction, the subsidy bill would have been £62m lower, the Times adds. The Financial Times also has the story. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that British windfarms generated more electricity than nuclear power for the first time in the first three months of 2018.

The Telegraph Read Article
EU to withhold 16 percent of carbon permits next year to curb oversupply

Some 265 million CO2 allowances will be withheld from EU Emissions Trading System (EUETS) auctions in 2019 as a new policy to curb oversupply kicks in, reports Reuters. The new market stability reserve, which takes effect from January 2019, is one of a series of recently agreed reforms to the EUETS, explained in a Carbon Brief Q&A last December.

Reuters Read Article
Global surge in air-conditioning set to stoke electricity demand

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the spread of air-conditioning in hot countries is set to create a huge increase in electricity demand, report the Financial Times and New York Times. Without improvements in energy efficiency, new air conditioning units by 2050 could increase electricity demand by the equivalent of the consumption of the US, EU and Japan combined, the IEA suggests.

Financial Times Read Article
'Feel good' factor not CO2 boosts global forest expansion

Researchers have refuted the idea that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the key cause of recent forest expansion, reports BBC News. Rather than CO2 “fertilisation” boosting forest cover, the scientists say rising incomes are allowing farmers to focus on good quality soils, abandoning marginal lands to forest regrowth, the BBC adds.

BBC News Read Article

Comment.

‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change

Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting a plan to address climate change, writes Brad Plumer in the New York Times. Plumer explains: “While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid.” Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit CO2, he adds.

Brad Plumer, New York Times Read Article
Comment: The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change

Sea-level rise is mainly due to thermal expansion but nothing to do with climate change, claims noted climate sceptic Fred Singer says in a comment for the Wall Street Journal. He says: “Efforts to determine what causes seas to rise are marred by poor data and disagreements about methodology. The noted oceanographer Walter Munk referred to sea-level rise as an ‘enigma’; it has also been called a riddle and a puzzle.” In contrast, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report says: “It is very likely that there is a substantial anthropogenic contribution to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s.”

Fred Singer, Wall Street Journal Read Article

Science.

Factors affecting forest area change in Southeast Asia during 1980-2010

A new study assesses the drivers of deforestation and reforestation in southeast Asian countries, such as Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, from 1980-2010. Food production was negatively correlated with forest area change during 1980–2009, the research shows. “This indicates that more food production drives deforestation, but higher efficiency of agriculture is correlated with forest gain,” the researchers say. “We also found a U-shaped response of forest area change to social openness, suggesting that forest gain can be achieved in both open and closed countries, but deforestation might be accelerated in countries undergoing societal transition.”

PLOS ONE Read Article

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