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Briefing date 09.10.2023
Labour vows to reinstate 2030 new petrol car sales ban

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Climate and energy news.

UK: Labour vows to reinstate 2030 new petrol car sales ban
Financial Times Read Article

The opposition Labour party would reinstate a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 if it wins power at the next election, due by January 2025, the Financial Times reports, citing comments by shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds. The newpaper continues: “The party would also impose new binding targets for councils and regional authorities to roll out charging points for electric vehicles to improve the patchy national network, Reynolds said in an interview with the Financial Times…Reynolds will on Monday set out Labour’s new ‘plan for the automotive sector’ in his speech to the party’s annual conference in Liverpool. It is the first of several sectoral plans that will underpin the party’s industrial strategy.” Another article in the Financial Times says shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will use her conference speech today to “announce new curbs on Labour’s plan to invest in new low-carbon energy production by pledging that every £1 invested by the party’s proposed ‘national wealth fund’ will have to attract at least £3 of private-sector investment”. The newspaper continues: “Under the party’s current plans, a Labour government would borrow up to £28bn a year to invest in a ‘green prosperity plan’ that would exceed US president Joe Biden’s similar Inflation Reduction Act on a gross domestic product per capita basis. The money will be spread over a variety of schemes, ranging from the national wealth fund to a domestic insulation programme and a Great British Energy corporation, which would invest in low-carbon energy schemes. Reeves wants it to take equity stakes in projects including eight new ‘gigafactories’ for electric vehicle batteries, six clean steel plants and nine ‘renewable-ready’ ports.” An “exclusive” in the Daily Mirror says Labour’s Ed Miliband will use his speech to announce “an Energy Independence Act designed to shield the country from external shocks and cut costs for consumers”. The newspaper says: “In his keynote speech today on Monday, Miliband will attack the Tory record and say: ‘You’re paying record energy bills because they left us exposed to Putin’s war. ‘Every time the Tories turn their back on a clean energy future, they leave us more exposed to fossil fuel dictators, driving up bills and making Britain weak.’” The paper adds: “Labour said the Energy Independence Act would put in place the reforms needed to make the UK electricity system fully based on clean power by 2030 with the largest expansion of renewable power in the country’s history. If the party wins power the new law would also establish the party’s national wealth fund to invest billions in green businesses.” The Guardian also carries an “exclusive” on the plans, titled: “Ed Miliband to announce Labour plan to boost energy independence and cut bills.” The paper says: “Party says bill would enable UK electricity system to be fully based on clean power by 2030.” Politico reports: “Unions, business and green policy experts fear the ‘moon shot’ promise to hit net-zero electricity by the end of the decade is doomed to fail.” The Daily Telegraph reports: “Rachel Reeves will on Monday vow to ‘hardwire’ net-zero policies into the planning system, as she unveils a string of new moves aimed at boosting house-building in the UK…The focus on net-zero is a notable point of difference from Rishi Sunak, who put delaying some interim green targets at the forefront of a political relaunch last month.” The Sunday Times carries an interview with Reeves: “Ahead of the Labour Party conference, the shadow chancellor says she wants a planning revolution and thinks she can pacify the nimbys with cheaper bills.” The Times reports under the headline: “Rachel Reeves vows Labour overhaul of planning system.” It says: “Reeves will pledge to ‘hard-wire’ net-zero into the planning system to speed up the construction of onshore wind turbines and other green energy sources.”

Analysis by Guardian environment editor Fiona Harvey says: “The Conservative government’s hostility to net-zero and environmental policy will make it tougher for Labour to pursue green growth and mend the damage to the UK’s economy and climate goals if elected, experts have warned.” The Guardian reports “[A]s net-zero becomes increasingly central as a battleground, other findings around attitudes towards the climate crisis showed there was an awareness of it across all social groups, with more working-class voters saying the government is not doing or spending enough to try to reduce carbon emissions (34%). At the same time, there were stark signs that Sunak’s recent pivot away from green polices and tactics such as campaigning around London’s Ulez driving charge could find more widespread traction. A total of 53% of working-class voters agree that it is important to combat the climate emergency but ‘people like me should not be paying the cost of policies to reduce global carbon emissions’.” Several right-wing newspapers carry hostile reporting on Labour’s plans, with the Daily Express reporting under the headline: “Tory MPs warn Keir Starmer’s hunger for new homes ‘will end green belt’.” The Daily Telegraph says: “Sir Keir Starmer’s plan to reinstate the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is only supported by a quarter of Red Wall voters, new polling shows.” The newspaper continues: “51% agreed with the statement that there is a ‘war on motorists’, with only 17% saying they did not feel that was the case. The survey was carried out by pollsters Redfield and Wilton for the Alliance of British Drivers, which is urging Sunak to scrap the ban.” Another Daily Telegraph article is titled: “Labour plots to ‘rewire Britain’ with electricity pylons across countryside.” The Daily Mail reports the news with the headline: “Labour vows to tear up planning laws to fast-track the construction of thousands of pylons across the UK.”

In other news from the UK, the Guardian reports: “Some of the UK’s biggest construction companies, property developers and estate agencies have written to [Conservative prime minister] Rishi Sunak to warn that his weakening and postponement of green policies will harm investment in housing and cause hardship for many people.” Bloomberg reports: “The UK is considering plowing hundreds of millions of pounds more into its electric-car subsidy fund, people familiar with the matter said, as part of the government’s response to US president Joe Biden’s package of green subsidies.” The Daily Mail reports that the Conservative government is due to consult on ways for local communities to benefit if they agree to renewable energy projects in their area. The article is titled: “Communities which allow onshore wind farms to be built nearby could request a new GP or a nursery in exchange under plans being considered by ministers.” Separately, Sunak “plans to restrict the installation of solar panels on swathes of British farmland, which climate campaigners say will raise bills and put the UK’s energy security at risk”, the Observer reports. It explains: “Sunak will further dilute green policies, say campaigners, by giving new powers to planning officials in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). These would allow officials to block any solar project that can be argued to ‘put food security at risk’ – that is, anywhere food is grown.” City AM says it “understands the solar industry is less concerned about the proposals than former prime minister Liz Truss’ targeted plans to reduce panels on farmland last year”. Another Guardian article is titled: “Ministers ‘misrepresented’ UK climate advisory body, say scientists.” Elsewhere, the Sunday Times carries an interview with Julia Pyke, co-managing director of the firm set up by French state-backed utility EDF to develop the proposed Sizewell C new nuclear plant in Suffolk. The Guardian reports: “‘This is political expediency’: how the Tories turned on 15-minute cities.”

The Sunday Times reports on how energy firms have “turned against” the environmental and social policy costs that are added to electricity bills. It reports: “Suppliers including Centrica, E.On, Octopus and EDF have joined Ovo in warning Lord Callanan, the minister for energy efficiency, that the levies on bills are now having the perverse effect of deterring people from switching to electric cars and heat pumps. They are calling for an overhaul of the system to make electricity cheaper to move people away from gas.” It continues: “The industry that once welcomed such levies now wants them removed from power bills as quickly as possible…Chris O’Shea, chief executive of British Gas-owner Centrica, believes ‘green’ programmes should be funded through general taxation instead…[Philippe Commaret, managing director for customers at EDF, also] argues that they should be funded directly from taxation or by shifting the levies more evenly on to gas bills.” Meanwhile, the UK’s right-leaning media continue their attacks on heat pumps, with a “news” article in the Daily Telegraph titled: “Why heat pumps will never work in Britain.” A comment in the Spectator, by columnist and author Ysenda Maxtone Graham, is titled: “Hell is a heat pump.” (Energy Monitor reports: “Facing recent attacks by the British prime minister, the heat pump industry has been buoyed by a recent IEA [International Energy Agency] report finding that net-zero goals cannot be met without the technology.”)

US treasury pushing development banks for progress on next phase of reforms by April
Reuters Read Article

The US government “is pushing the World Bank and regional multilateral development banks to complete work on new rules for leveraging shareholder capital commitments to boost lending capacity by April 2024”, Reuters reports, citing a “treasury official”. The newswire continues: “Some experts argue that developing and emerging economies need $2.4tn per year to meet global climate challenges – a number that far exceeds the amount of financing now available.” It adds: “The World Bank last month released proposals that would boost its lending to developing countries by an additional $100bn over a decade as part of ongoing changes aimed at expanding the bank’s mission to include climate change. The Treasury official said World Bank governors were expected to sign off on the new measures this week and mapped out previously unreported details on the callable capital issue, including the timetable for action.” In related news, Reuters reports: “A new tool launched on Monday to track reforms by the World Bank and the five biggest multilateral development banks (MDBs) shows that broad changes are ‘firmly in play’ but progress in implementing them has been limited thus far.”

France urges swift deal on EU power reform to counter US subsidies
Financial Times Read Article

“The US will be the main winner if a Franco-German divide over nuclear power prevents a long-awaited reform of Europe’s electricity market being finalised, France’s energy minister has warned,” the Financial Times reports, based on an interview with Agnès Pannier-Runacher. It reports that she told the newspaper “that the sweeping overhaul of EU rules was needed as soon as possible to give businesses visibility on power prices, at a time when the US was luring industry with president Joe Biden’s clean energy subsidy programme under the Inflation Reduction Act”. Separately, the Financial Times reports that the European Commission “is considering whether to investigate China’s use of subsidies to promote the country’s wind turbine manufacturers, a leading official said on Friday, despite the angry reaction from Beijing over a similar probe into electric vehicles”. It adds: “Didier Reynders, the acting competition commissioner, said cheap Chinese imports could threaten European businesses.” Reuters reports: “The European Union’s investigation into subsidies for China-made electric vehicles (EV) exported to Europe could do more harm than good, BMW’s chief financial officer said on Friday, warning of a potentially big backlash from Beijing.” Separately, the Financial Times says the EU is “drawing up a plan to postpone tariffs on electric vehicle sales between the UK and the bloc for a year in an attempt to defuse a row over the new rules, which are due to come into effect in January”.

Death toll in floods in Indian Himalayan state rises to 74 – govt officials
Reuters Read Article

The number of deaths due to flooding in India’s Himalayan state of Sikkim has risen to 74, Reuters reports, citing government officials. It adds: “At least 101 people were still missing after a cloudburst triggered torrential rains and an apparent avalanche, causing major flooding in the Teesta river last week.” The New York Times reports: “A glacial lake’s overflow swept away more than 100 people in the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India. Climate change is aggravating the threat of such phenomena.”

In other extreme weather news, Bloomberg reports: “Climate change blamed as Europe’s cities see autumn heatwaves.” The i newspaper reports: “October heatwaves set to become more likely and Britain must prepare, climate scientists warn.” Reuters reports: “Australia’s weather bureau said on Friday that areas of severe rainfall deficiency had expanded after the driest September on record, putting farm production in one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters at risk.” Separately, the Press Association reports: “Whales and dolphins face major threat from climate change – pioneering study.” The Financial Times says, as part of a special report on investing in Morocco, that “persistent drought strains” the country’s economic prospects. In the UK, BBC News reports: “Flooding risk remains high in parts of Scotland despite rain easing.” It adds: “Hours of heavy and persistent rain on Friday and Saturday caused major disruption around the country with some areas continuing to experience problems on Sunday.” An editorial in Scotland’s Daily Record responds to the floods under the heading: “Weird weather a sign of crisis.” It says: “Last month was the hottest September on record. Temperatures were recorded that left many scientists alarmed. It is clear we are experiencing a full-blown climate emergency. Sadly, it comes at a time with a Tory government in power that will do as little as possible to rise to the challenge. The next UK government must make helping to tackle climate change a priority.” The Times reports: “A historic courthouse building in Cumbria has partially collapsed into a river after heavy rainfall.” The Daily Telegraph reports under the headline: “Record-breaking autumn heat fuels giant pumpkin bonanza.” It adds: “But climate scientists express concern over global temperature records and the impact on tree health amidst unseasonable warmth.”

Typhoon Koinu turns south off China's coast, headed for Hainan
Reuters Read Article

China is bracing for the impact of Typhoon Koine, Reuters reports: “Typhoon Koinu, which lashed Taiwan with rain and wind last week, on Sunday turned south over the sea off the coast of China’s Guangdong province towards the resort island of Hainan, with its intensity nearly unchanged from a day earlier.” It continues: “The slow movement of the typhoon over the warm waters of southern China raises the potential for very heavy rainfall as storm clouds linger over the area for a relatively long time.” The Independent says Hong Kong “suspends flights and shuts schools as Typhoon Koinu approaches”. Another Independent article says: “China warns of big waves, wind and rain as Typhoon Koinu approaches.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post writes that the White House has begun preparing for a November meeting in San Francisco between presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, aiming to “stabilise” bilateral relations. The Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post (SCMP) writes that Qatar is seeking involvement in the “long-discussed” China-Persian Gulf free-trade agreement, following an approximately $29bn gas deal agreed earlier this year and increased Chinese support in developing solar energy, according to Qatar’s consul general in Hong Kong. The energy news site Recharge writes that the United Arab Emirates “unveiled its significant entry into large-scale wind power” weeks before COP28, with a 104 megawatt wind power project equipped by the Chinese giant Goldwind. The state news agency Xinhua writes that Chinese energy companies are continuing work for the inaugural “associated gas processing plant” in Iraq’s Halfaya oil field, which will help reduce the country’s carbon emissions. Separately, the World Bank continues to indirectly fund some of the region’s largest coal developers, writes conservation news web portal Mongabay, adding that the International Financial Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm, has backed “at least 39 coal projects…across China, Indonesia and Cambodia”.

Elsewhere, Shanghai-based outlet Sixth Tone has published nalysis of how “summers in China have been getting hotter and longer”, using data from more than 30 cities. In a commentary for SCMP, David Dodwell compares the construction of a high speed railway by Indonesia “in partnership with” China to the UK’s own decision to “take a hatchet” to HS2, writing that “in the struggle to get to net-zero…it raises questions about whether or how Western economies can afford to build the new infrastructure necessary.” SCMP also carries an opinion article on climate finance by Andrew Sheng, a former central banker, who writes that “rich countries have a moral duty to take the risk of funding and leading global climate action and addressing social inequities”.

Far-right, conservatives gain in German votes in blow to Scholz
Reuters Read Article

Voters in the German states of Bavaria and Hesse “dealt the parties of chancellor Olaf Scholz’s fractious centre-left coalition a sharp rebuke…with economic woes and migration fears boosting the opposition conservatives and the far right”, Reuters reports.  It adds: “Analysts said this would further stoke tensions in a coalition that has struggled to find common ground, with Scholz accused of failing to show the leadership needed to impose order and tackle crises, from the war in Ukraine to the green transition.” A feature in the Financial Times previewing the state elections says: “Green-bashing in Bavaria: German parties face voters’ reckoning.” It says the Christian Social Union (CSU’s) Markus Söder, the state’s prime minister, “has made Green-bashing the leitmotif of his campaign”. It adds: “There is no doubt…that the CSU’s rhetorical fusillades against the Greens – its unfounded claims that they want to force Germans to go vegan and use gender-neutral language – are falling on fertile ground.” Elsewhere, climate-sceptic columnist Andrew Neil writes for the Daily Mail under the headline: “Everywhere, there’s a growing public revolt against net-zero, forcing politicians across Europe to renege on green virtue signalling.” In other news from Germany, EurActiv reports: “Germany may slash electricity taxes to near-nothing amid flagging heat pump sales, a move backed by liberal and conservative politicians as well as the renewable energy lobby.”

World breaches key 1.5C warming mark for record number of days
BBC News Read Article

Analysis by BBC News shows the world “breach[ed] a key warming threshold [1.5C]” on “about a third of days in 2023”, the broadcaster reports. It explains: “But BBC analysis of data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that, up to 2 October, around 86 days in 2023 have been over 1.5C warmer than the pre-industrial average. That beats the 2016 record well before the end of the year.” It adds: “When political leaders gathered in Paris in December 2015, they signed an agreement to keep the long-term rise in global temperatures this century ‘well below’ 2C and to make every effort to keep it under 1.5C. Breaching these Paris thresholds doesn’t mean going over them for a day or a week but instead involves going beyond this limit across a 20 or 30-year average.”

UK: Green energy magnate to switch support from Just Stop Oil to Labour
The Guardian Read Article

Dale Vince, the renewable energy entrepreneur, is to stop giving financial support to direct action protest groups such as Just Stop Oil, the Guardian reports. In a comment for the Guardian, Vince writes: “The next [UK] election will be the most important in my lifetime. Rather than finance protest, I’m urging people to vote to save the planet.” He explains: “Under the current government, protest cannot work. I would go so far as to say that anything that could feed the Tories’ culture-war narrative is counter-productive. In order to ‘just stop oil’, first we need to just stop the Tories; to me that is simple, unarguable logic. So I’m going to dedicate my time, energy and funding to the coming election through a new campaign announced today: Just Vote.” Vince also has a column for the Daily Express, in which he writes that he plans to focus his efforts on a new campaign, dubbed “Just Vote”, which he says is designed to “inspire, educate and empower more people – particularly the next generation…to exercise their democratic right”. The Daily Telegraph also has the story. In related news, the Daily Telegraph reports the comments of naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, who it says has “admitted that environmental protests from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Just Stop Oil (JSO) are failing”.

Climate and energy comment.

‘I wasn’t the obvious choice’: meet the oil man tasked with saving the planet
Fiona Harvey, The Guardian Read Article

For the Guardian, environment editor Fiona Harvey interviews Sultan Al Jaber, the president-designate of the COP28 climate summit due to be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November. She writes: “He is the United Arab Emirates’ choice to head up the climate talks – and he also happens to be head of the national oil company. What’s the problem with that, he asks.” Al Jaber says of his role: “The best feedback and advice I got was the uncensored feedback that I received from NGOs and civil society.” Discussing fresh investment by the oil and gas company he heads, he says: “There is a complete misunderstanding. We are not expanding production, we are expanding capacity. All we’re doing is adding another 600,000 barrels of capacity, which can be produced only if and when the market needs it…It’s the consumer who contributes to increasing CO2 emissions, not the producer.” Harvey writes: “Repeatedly, I ask Al Jaber about the phase down and phase out of fossil fuels required to reach net zero, and the attempts by more than 80 countries to push Cop into agreeing a phase-out. Repeatedly, his answers suggest he believes that fossil fuel extraction can continue, even while the climate crisis unfolds.” Discussing his appointment to head the national oil company, following a role at government-backed renewables firm Masdar, he says: “The reason [the president of UAE] selected me is simply because he wanted disruption. I was sent to transform Adnoc, to decarbonise Adnoc and to future-proof Adnoc. I was not sent to Adnoc to maintain business as usual.” Harvey notes: “Al Jaber’s fluent rhetoric serves to obscure a single obdurate fact: the world cannot go on with a burgeoning fossil fuel industry.”

In related news, Reuters reports: “The United Arab Emirates is refashioning state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in the image of an international oil major by stepping up its global expansion and finding new revenue streams to maximise earnings for the Gulf state. Like Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the UAE wants to exploit its fossil fuel resources while there is still strong demand for oil and gas and to spend the revenue on diversifying its economy to lessen its dependence on hydrocarbons.”

If you want our countries to address climate change, first pause our debts
William Ruto, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Akinwumi Adesina and Patrick Verkooijen, The New York Times Read Article

The New York Times carries a joint comment from the president of Kenya William Ruto, the chair of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, the president of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina and the chief executive of the Global Center on Adaptation Dr Patrick Verkooijen. The group write: “When poor countries are forced to default on their foreign debt, as Ghana and Zambia have done, they pay a heavy price. Cut off from credit of any kind, spending on health, education and dealing with the damaging effects of climate change comes to a juddering halt. Countries in the West often plead with us to invest in the kind of ambitious resilience projects we need to survive in a warming world. But in Africa, we can’t fix the climate issue unless we fix the debt issue.” They continue: “[I]nstead of receiving funds to address the climate crisis, Africa is borrowing at a cost up to eight times higher than the rich world to rebuild after climate catastrophes. This is why Africa urgently needs a pause in debt repayments so that it can prepare for a world of ever greater climate extremes. The Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Marrakesh, Morocco, that begin Monday are a good place to start.” 

In other comment from the US papers, an editorial in the Washington Post is titled: “Looking for climate hope? Look here.” It says: “One glimmer of progress is that more places are starting to price carbon emissions. A market-based approach that requires those who pollute to pay for it remains the most efficient way to reduce the emissions that drive global warming.” The newspaper adds: “Another encouraging sign is the growing openness to innovative ways to help countries pay for green development. Since 2021, several countries have entered agreements known as Just Energy Transition Partnerships, multibillion-dollar ventures leveraging public and private capital…Then there are the strides in climate technology. In a new report, the International Energy Agency concludes that existing technologies could deliver 80 percent of the emissions reductions necessary by 2030. The scaling up of renewables, improvements in energy efficiency, and surges in battery storage and production in recent years are especially worth celebrating.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal gives space to climate-sceptic commentator Bjorn Lomborg to write under the headline: “Will the World Bank choose climate change over poverty?”

For oil, it’s not 1973 again – but it could still turn ugly
Javier Blas, Bloomberg Read Article

Long-time oil market watcher and Bloomberg columnist Javier Blas writes: “Crude prices are likely to rise after the surprise Hamas attack on Israel, but there’s still plenty of capacity to tap.” He explains: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the world’s first oil crisis, the parallels between October 2023 and October 1973 are easy to draw: a surprise attack on Israel and oil prices rising. But the resemblance ends there. The global economy isn’t about to suffer another Arab oil embargo that would triple the price of a barrel of crude. Yet, it would be a mistake to downplay the chances that the world faces higher-for-longer oil prices.” A news article from CNBC reports: “The overall impact on oil markets from the attack on Israel by Palestinian militants Hamas will likely be limited, provided the conflict does not escalate further, energy experts said.” BBC News says: “Oil prices jumped by 4% on Monday on concerns that the situation in Israel and Gaza could disrupt output from the Middle East.” It quotes energy analyst Saul Kavonic saying: “The risk premium on oil is rising due to the prospect of a wider conflagration that could spread to nearby major oil producing nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia…If the conflict envelops Iran, which has been accused of supporting the Hamas attacks, up to 3% of global oil supply is at risk.” The broadcaster continues: “Around a fifth of global supply would be ‘held hostage’, Kavonic said, if passage through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil trading route is disrupted.” The Financial Times reports: “Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, jumped as much as 5.2% in early trading in Asia before pulling back to be up 3.7% at $87.69 [per barrel].” An S&P Global “factbox” says: “Hamas attack on Israel raises regional energy stakes.” It explains: “Global energy markets are closely watching the fallout from a major land and missile attack by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip on Israel on 7 October, amid concerns that further escalation of the conflict will spill over into higher oil and gas prices.”

In the Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, and Meghan L O’Sullivan, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, write under the headline: “Lessons from the 1970s energy crisis can help prevent the next one.” They write: “The shock of the Arab oil embargo has shaped nearly every aspect of American energy and foreign policy for the last half-century. The spectre of petrostates using oil as a geopolitical weapon has haunted politicians and led to an obsessive quest for ‘energy independence.’” They continue: “Such fears were allayed during the recent shale boom, which turned the US into a net energy exporter for the first time since 1952, but they have been revived by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and coercive energy tactics against Europe. The need for the world economy to make a transition to clean energy has further complicated the landscape.” Rather than “reach[ing] for policies from the 1970s”, however, they argue that “‘energy independence’ is a chimera…True energy security thus comes from using less oil, not just from importing less or producing more oil domestically.” The pair also argue for “the benefits of supply diversification” in relation to “critical minerals for everything from batteries to solar panels”. In the Sunday Times, meanwhile, columnist Matthew Syed writes: “[T]he era of fossil fuels is coming to an end…There are legitimate questions about the extent to which fossil fuels should be part of the transition, but the transition itself is non-negotiable.” He continues: “[P]erhaps the greatest challenge is geopolitical, a truth that scarcely features in most models of the transition. Renewable infrastructure requires a bewildering variety of raw materials, from neodymium in wind turbine magnets to lithium for batteries. Each nation will need access to almost all these materials, which are strewn across the subsurface of Earth. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see why this is a recipe for geopolitical turbulence.” Finally, Axios reports: “The US doesn’t necessarily need China’s minerals for EV boom, experts say.”

UK: Keir Starmer has transformed his party’s prospects. But he can’t bank on election victory
Editorial, The Observer Read Article

An editorial in the Observer backs opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer but says he would face major challenges if elected, including dealing with prime minister Rishi Sunak’s “strategy to actively sow division on climate and asylum policy because he thinks it will work to his electoral advantage”. The newspaper concludes: “From the housing crisis, to how we care for older people, to achieving net-zero: the country today faces monumental challenges that require political bravery and integrity. That will only come from a Labour government.” An editorial in the Guardian criticises Sunak, saying: “He has surrendered moral leadership on the climate emergency.” It adds: “The Green New Deal plan that Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, trumpeted at last year’s conference is a powerful idea, subsequently diluted. The party should be less squeamish about an economic strategy that indicates genuine and necessary repudiation of Sunak’s tired and reheated Thatcherite prospectus.”

Also writing for the Observer, author and broadcaster Gaia Vince criticises the “populist speech” given at last week’s Conservative party conference by home secretary Suella Braverman. She continues: “As the planet continues to heat in the coming decades, extreme events will become more frequent and severe, particularly across the tropics, where people’s homes, agriculture and infrastructure are threatened…As places become unliveable, people will move to safer areas, initially within their own countries, but as countries and entire regions are hit with multiple and cascading events, from chronic drought to flash floods, people will shift across continents. Nowhere will escape the negative impacts of this hotter world, but the far north will generally be safer.” She concludes: “Human mobility this century is a planetary issue that will affect every country and needs a pragmatic, coordinated approach from cities, states, regions and global bodies. It calls for visionary leadership to build agreements, create a safe, conflict-free transition and an inspiring new narrative around sustainable, flourishing cities of opportunity, diversity and innovation.”

In the New Statesman, policy and politics correspondent Zoë Grünewald writes under the headline: “On net-zero, the Conservatives are increasingly estranged from business.” She continues: “At the Tories’ annual party conference, industry seemed more supportive of the green transition than senior politicians.” Grünewald adds: “Industry leaders speaking to the [New Statesman] rolled their eyes at the government’s rhetoric and assured me that important targets are still being adhered to.” In the Mail on Sunday, columnist Dan Hodges writes: “It was going to be a major triumph for the Sunak government. ‘My client is a big green tech company,’ the business consultant explained to me, ‘and they were preparing to announce £3bn of new investment in the UK. But then they saw Rishi Sunak’s speech about rowing back on net-zero. So they said: ‘We can’t be associated with that. We’ll just wait a few months, and then make the announcement with Keir Starmer.’ This story partly explains why, next week, Labour will be anointed as the party of British business.” In contrast, omnipresent climate sceptic commentator Ross Clark writes in the Daily Telegraph: “Fears the recent watering down of green targets will harm UK PLC are unfounded. If anything, it will do the opposite.” Clark does not offer any evidence in support of his claim. In the Sunday Telegraph, climate-sceptic columnist Matthew Lynn pines for a UK shale gas industry, citing long-discredited figures for the amount of gas available.

In other comment from the UK, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) carries a comment by Richard Powell and Mala Rao, of the Applied Research Collaboration Northwest London and Imperial College London titled: “Balancing climate anxiety with hope: learning from collective climate activism.”

New climate research.

Migratory swans individually adjust their autumn migration and winter range to a warming climate
Global Change Biology Read Article

The “winter range” of the western palearctic bewick’s swan has shifted more than 350km closer to the breeding grounds since 1970, according to new research. The authors use multi-year GPS tracking data to assess how the swans’ winter migration is affected by temperature. They find that for every 1C increase in average December-January temperature, the swans spend the winter 118 km closer to their breeding grounds. “Our results imply that the observed range shift is for a substantial part driven by individual responses to a warming climate,” the authors say.

Climate-driven 21st century Caspian Sea level decline estimated from CMIP6 projections
Communications Earth & Environment Read Article

A new study estimates that the water level in the Caspian sea will drop by eight metres by the end of the century under a moderate warming scenario. The authors estimate sea level change in the Caspian sea using 15 models from the sixth coupled model intercomparison project under three future socioeconomic pathways. They find that evaporation will rise more rapidly than precipitation in the basin over the 21st century, resulting in an “increasingly negative water balance”. The authors say that sea level decline “will result in complete desiccation of the northern Caspian basin and will have adverse effects on ecosystems, coastal infrastructure, navigation, biodiversity, and economies of the entire Caspian region”.

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