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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING London under threat of ‘sinking’ as global warming makes sea levels rise, new report finds
London under threat of ‘sinking’ as global warming makes sea levels rise, new report finds


London under threat of 'sinking' as global warming makes sea levels rise, new report finds

London is among several cities at risk of major flooding, according to an analysis released by Christian Aid, the Independent reports. London’s sinking problem is “largely a vestige of the last ice age when glaciers that weighed Scotland down and lifted up the south like a see-saw melted and reversed the effect”, writes the Independent. Other cities such as Jakarta, Shanghai and Houston that are already sinking will become increasingly vulnerable to storms and flooding as a result of global warming, the Guardian reports. The threat to cities from sea level rises is increasing because city planners are failing to prepare, Christian Aid added in its report. The Mail Online also covers the story.

The Independent Read Article
Legal challenges to Britain's Heathrow expansion set for March

Five legal challenges against planned expansion of Heathrow Airport will be heard at a full two week hearing in March next year, a judge said on Thursday. The judicial review will see the government defend its airports National Policy Statement against claims on the grounds of air quality, climate change and noise. The Daily Mail reports that campaigners described the plans for a third runway as a “threat to the planet” as the group of councils and environmental charities challenged the government’s decision to approve it. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the project would be a “retrograde step” in tackling climate change, saying: “It isn’t just our community, this is our planet itself,” the Daily Mail adds.

Reuters Read Article
Scientists say halting deforestation 'just as urgent' as reducing emissions

A group of 40 scientists spanning five countries has released a statement warning that the role of forests in combating climate change risks being overlooked by the world’s governments, the Guardian reports. The scientists says halting deforestation is “just as urgent” as eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Protecting and restoring forests would achieve 18% of the emissions mitigation needed by 2030 to avoid runaway climate change, it adds.

The Guardian Read Article
Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Plastics Are Predicted to Rise

A sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the petrochemicals such as plastic, fertiliser and pharmaceuticals threatens to erode climate benefits from reductions in other sectors, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The New York Times notes petrochemicals are currently the largest industrial energy consumer and the third-largest industrial emitter, but that the report found that direct greenhouse gas emissions from petrochemicals would increase 20% by 2030, with plastics the main driver. Reuters reports that rising petrochemical use will drive global oil demand to 2050, offsetting slower consumption of motor fuel. The IEA said there is a policy “blind spot” when understanding the ramifications of this trend, the Financial Times says.

New York Times Read Article
Wind Farms May Actually Warm the US, Controversial Study Finds

Two new papers released on Thursday find that wind farms generate comparatively low power for the area they take up, and that installing lots of them could heat up the surrounding land, Earther reports. The study finds that a dramatic, all-out expansion of wind power in the US would impact the nation’s temperatures, the Washington Post reports. “Any big energy system has an environmental impact,” said David Keith, a study co-author. “There is no free lunch. You do wind on a scale big enough … it’ll change things.” The researchers estimate it would take 100 years for the savings in greenhouse gas emissions from those windfarms to counteract the localised warming in the US, New Scientist reports. But New Scientist notes that the scale of windfarms considered in the study is very large, and also that wind turbines simply redistribute heat that’s already in the air. MIT Technology ReviewCosmos Magazine and Bloomberg all cover the study. Business Insider notes that the warming effect is a local effect, different from the global warming and climate change caused by burning fossil fuels, and quotes co-author Lee Miller who said the study is not a reason to stick with fossil fuels but is concerned the “results will be misconstrued and misinterpreted”. Meanwhile, the American Wind Energy Association runs a fact check on the study and coverage of it, arguing that “the fact is wind power remains one of the most effective and affordable ways to reduce carbon pollution”.

Earther Read Article
I will let miners strip the Amazon, vows Brazil poll favourite Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil, home to the largest remaining rainforest in the world, may soon elect a president who believes that the Amazon should be exploited for its mineral resources. the Times reports. Jair Bolsonaro, 63, is a far-right congressman and former army captain who is leading the polls going into the first round of elections on Sunday. He has repeatedly gone on record defending Brazil’s farmers against those trying to protect the forest, and has criticised government commitments to protect set aside forest for indigenous people, protected from the threats of logging and mining. Brazil has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to about 40% below its 2005 levels; most of this would be achieved by reducing deforestation. Carbon Brief took an in-depth look at Brazil’s emissions and climate policies in a profile earlier this year.

The Times Read Article


Climate change apathy, not denial, is the biggest threat to our planet

‘There are reasons to think the world is, finally, getting to grips with climate change,” writes Leo Barasi, author of The Climate Majority: Apathy and Action in an Age of Nationalism. “But this is wishful thinking.” Persuading people to cut down on things they enjoy for the sake of the climate might seem impossible, he says, but this can be overcome if it’s tackled in the right way. Daunting though the barriers are, “they can be beaten with political leadership and honesty”.

Leo Barasi, The Guardian Read Article
Vietnam's children and the fear of climate change

In a feature focusing on Vietnam, the BBC looks at a project which asks children vulnerable to the flooding to draw pictures, as part of research into young people’s attitudes on global warming. The piece focusses on children living in the Mekong Delta, a huge plain of rivers and rice-fields. This is one of the world’s greatest centres for rice production and home to 18 million people, but lies only just above the surface of the ocean and is vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

David Shukman, BBC News Read Article


Observation-based solar and wind power capacity factors and power densities

Power density is the rate of energy generation per unit of land surface area occupied by an energy system. The power density of low-carbon energy sources plays an important role in the environmental consequences of energy system decarbonization as the world transitions away from high power-density fossil fuels. Lower power densities mean larger land and environmental footprints. The power density of solar and wind power remain surprisingly uncertain. This study provides a refined range using US data from 1990–2016. The mean power density of 411 onshore wind power plants in 2016 was 0.50 Watts per square meter. The mean 2016 power density of 1150 solar power plants was 5.4 Watts per square meter. Wind power has a 10-fold lower power density than solar, but wind power installations directly occupy much less of the land within their boundaries. The environmental and social consequences of these divergent land occupancy patterns need further study.

Environmental Research Letters Read Article


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