Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Katowice: COP24 Climate change deal to bring pact to life
- Carney plans to test UK banks’ resilience to climate change
- UK fracking policy faces court challenges
- Make climate crisis top editorial priority, XR campaign urges BBC
- Investors push Exxon to list emissions targets in annual reports
- The Guardian view on COP24: while climate talks continue, there is hope
- At last, divestment is hitting the fossil fuel industry where it hurts
- Increasingly powerful tornadoes in the United States
- Why could the coffee crop endure climate change and global warming to a greater extent than previously estimated?
There is extensive coverage of the deal reached by delegates from 196 states at COP24 in Katowice, Poland on Saturday night. The deal saw delegates agree on a “common rulebook for all countries” that aims to “make the Paris [Agreement] operational in 2020”, BBC News reports. The regulations aim to “govern the nuts and bolts of how countries cut carbon, provide finance to poorer nations and ensure that everyone is doing what they say they are doing”, BBC News reports. But, “last-minute rows over carbon markets threatened to derail the two-week summit – and delayed it by a day,” BBC News reports. A story in the Guardianoffers more details on the delay, which it says was caused by a “row over carbon credits”. “These credits count towards countries’ emissions-cutting targets,” the Guardian says. “Brazil, which hopes to benefit from its large rainforest cover, insisted on a new form of wording that critics said would allow double counting of credits, undermining the integrity of the system.” This issue has been put off until next year, the Guardian says. A second story in the Guardian says the talks lacked the “drama, excitement and eventual breakthrough that marked the Paris Agreement of 2015” but did provide “important steps forward in putting” it into practice. A second BBC News story draws out five key takeaways from COP24. The Daily Telegraph reports that the deal “allows flexibility for poorer nations, which claim they suffer greater impacts of rising temperatures triggered by more developed countries”. The pact “also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters,” the New York Times says. The Financial Times reports that the deal has been “hailed as a success”. “I think that on balance the outcome is fantastic,” Teresa Ribera, environment minister for Spain, tells the FT. “We have all created something which seems to be very difficult – almost 200 countries agreeing on such a detailed rulebook with so many technical decisions.” Climate Home News reports that the deal was “immediately hailed as a victory for multilateralism” by some parties. Climate Home News also published a live blog of the “final scramble” in Katowice “as it happened”. Vox reports how a deal was forged “despite Trump”, while USA Todaysays the deal “leaves the door open for the US to rejoin”. Politico reports that the deal is an “elegant compromise”, while Associated Press reports the deal provides “reasons to be thankful for”.
However, much of the coverage leads on criticisms of the deal reached by delegates. A separate story in the Guardian reports that scientists have warned that the deal is “inadequate” and “lacks urgency”. It could “fail to halt devastating rise in global temperature”, the Guardian reports. Johan Rockström, director designate at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, tells the Guardian: “My biggest concern is that the UN talks failed to align ambitions with science. We continue to follow a path that will take us to a very dangerous 3-4C warmer world within this century.“ Press Association reports that the rules have received a “mixed reception”, notably for “postponing decisions on pledging more ambitious action to fight global warming and on regulating the market for international carbon emissions trading”. Reuters says the “fractious” talks “showed the limits of international action to limit global warming in a polarised world”. Some environmental groups called the deal “morally unacceptable”, the Independent reports. According to the Independent, Jennifer Morgan, executive director at Greenpeace International, said: “A year of climate disasters and a dire warning from the world’s top scientists should have led to so much more. Instead, governments let people down again as they ignored the science and the plight of the vulnerable. People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable.” The pact fails to “address the galloping pace of climate change”, the Washington Post says. EurActiv covers the deal with the headline: “Nations agree on Paris Agreement rulebook, fail on climate ambition.” The Sydney Morning Herald covers the story with the headline: “Climate deal falls short, fails to set binding targets.” CNNreports that “after 30 years, leaders are still fighting about basic truths of climate science” – alluding to the fact that states failed to “welcome” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5C of global warming. Carbon Brief has in-depth analysis of the talks.
The Bank of England is to include the impacts of climate change in its UK bank stress tests from as early as next year, reports the Financial Times. It says the move would be “an unprecedented move for a central bank of a major financial centre”. The story is based on an FT interview with Mark Carney, Bank of England governor, who tells the paper he is weighing whether the risks and opportunities from climate change should be part of the “exploratory scenario” stress test from 2019.
The UK government is facing a pair of legal challenges to its planning rules on fracking this week, reports the Guardian. In July, the government used its revamped planning rulebook to tell local authorities that they should recognise the benefits of shale gas and facilitate its extraction. The high court will hear a challenge from environmental NGO Friends of the Earth, which has been granted a judicial review that the group hopes will force the government to change its planning policy. The case “hinges on whether ministers and officials unlawfully failed to assess the change’s environmental impact”, the Guardian says. A second legal challenge is being brought by Joe Corré – founder of lingerie company Agent Provocateur and son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
The self-styled civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion (“XR”) is calling on the BBC to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and make the issue a “top editorial and corporate priority”. In a letter to the Guardian, XR writes that it will “hold a peaceful demonstration to call upon the BBC to convey the severity of the climate and ecological emergency we are experiencing, and the urgent action needed to address this”. Among the requests laid out in the letter are for “the BBC, its subsidiaries and its supply chain to agree to be zero-carbon by 2025” and for the BBC to only include spokespersons on climate change from thinktanks that are “fully transparent” on the sources of their funding. The demonstration will take place outside the BBC on Friday.
A group of shareholders led by New York state and the Church of England is asking ExxonMobil to set targets for cutting emissions, reports the Financial Times. It says the move is “a sign of growing investor pressure on fossil fuel groups to address global warming”. The investors want ExxonMobil to set short, medium and long term emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement and starting from its 2020 annual report, the paper adds. Reuters also has the story.
An editorial in the Guardian says the deal reached by delegates at COP24 “offers hope”. “The first thing to say about the compromise struck at climate talks in Poland at the weekend is that it came as a relief. Ever since President Trump’s announcement in 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the question has been whether the UN process could continue to work.” It adds: “Minds will now turn to the next deadline: 2020, when countries must demonstrate that they have met old targets and set new, much tougher ones.” An article in the Conversation by Prof Raphael Heffron, a researcher of energy law and sustainability from the University of Dundee, says the deal reached “shows global warming treaties can survive the era of the anti-climate ‘strongman’”. The Economist has in-depth analysis of the climate talks, noting that the meeting “ended positively” – “but there is a lot more to do if global warming is to be stopped”. The New Yorker carries a long read on how the US “squandered its leadership” at the talks. In the Daily Telegraph, energy editor Jillian Ambrose argues that it is “capitalism that will win the fight against climate change”. Elsewhere, the New York Times writes on “where we are now” that the talks are finished, while Politico offers five key takeaways from Katowice. DeSmog UK reporter Chloe Farand has a first-person narrative of her time covering COP24.
Writing in the Guardian, veteran author and campaigner Bill McKibben marks the 1,000th divestment from fossil fuels “in what has become by far the largest anti-corporate campaign of its kind”. The latest organisations to sell their shares – including “major French and Australian pension funds, and Brandeis University in Massachusetts” – bring the total size of portfolios and endowments in the campaign to just under $8tn (£6.4tn), McKibben says. It is becoming increasingly clear that divestment is “also squeezing the [fossil fuel] industry”, he notes. While divestment “by itself is not going to win the climate fight”, McKibeen says, it is “one crucial part of a broader strategy” by “weakening – reputationally and financially – those players that are determined to stick to business as usual”.
Tornadoes in the US have increased in strength by around 5% per year between 1994 and 2016, a new study suggests. The researchers develop a statistical model to estimate changes in tornado power in the US, allowing for the diurnal cycle, seasonality, natural climate variability, and the recent switch to a new scale to rate the damage caused. Part of the increasing trend “can be attributed to long‐term changes in convective storm environments involving dynamic and thermodynamic variables and their interactions”, the researchers say.
The impact of global warming on growing coffee “may be lower than previously assumed”, a new study says. The researchers summarise recent insights on how the coffee plant is affected by elevated atmospheric CO2 and provide new data of crop yields under high CO2 levels. Their findings “emphasise the role of CO2 as a key player for mitigating harmful effects of supra-optimal temperatures on coffee physiology and bean quality”, the researchers conclude. The study also suggests priorities for further research on how the coffee plant will respond “to present and progressive climate change”.
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