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Daily Briefing

30.06.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit, Trump Vows to Unleash the ‘Vast Energy Wealth’ of the US, & more
Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit, Trump Vows to Unleash the ‘Vast Energy Wealth’ of the US, & more

News.

Merkel issues warning to Trump ahead of G20 summit

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has promised to press on with multilateral efforts to combat climate change at the G20 summit next week, challenging the “America First” policies of US president Donald Trump. In a defiant speech to parliament a week before she will host a summit of the world’s top economic powers in Hamburg, Merkel did not mention Trump by name but said global problems could not be solved with protectionism and isolation. “These will not be easy talks,” Merkel said. “The differences are obvious and it would be wrong to pretend they aren’t there. I simply won’t do this.” The Timesreports this means that Theresa May is now “caught between Merkel and Trump over climate change”. It adds: “Downing Street said that ‘the UK was fully supportive of Germany’s G20 presidency’ after one-to-one talks with Mrs Merkel, and remained ‘committed to tackling global climate change’. Mrs May was careful not to echo Mrs Merkel’s more strident attacks on the US after Mr Trump withdrew from the Paris accord. The prime minister finds herself in an awkward spot.” In contrast, Climate Home has an exclusive which says that “Germany ‘massively weakened’ draft G20 climate plan to appease Trump”. It adds: “Germany’s G20 presidency dramatically weakened a climate action plan, gutting it of ambitious language and defining gas, and potentially even some coal power, as ‘clean technologies’, in an attempt to appeal to US president Donald Trump. The action plan was intended to be agreed at next week’s Hamburg G20 summit. Climate Home has seen two versions, drafted in March and May of this year. The latter shows the degree to which the German presidency has bent to the will of the Trump White House.” Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that the “Shell boss backs G20 call to come clean on climate risks”. In another article, the Telegraph says “G20’s super-regulator has called for sweeping new disclosures on climate risks, warning that up to $43 trillion of assets could ultimately be at risk for the fossil-fuel industry and a raft of other companies exposed to global warming”. In a commentary in the journal Nature Climate Change, Ottmar Edenhofer, Brigitte Knopf, Céline Bak and Amar Bhattacharya jointly write: “There is no longer a choice between climate policy and no climate policy. G20 finance ministers have to play a key role in implementing smart climate policies like carbon pricing. Yet they remain reluctant to take advantage of the merits of carbon pricing for sound fiscal policy.”

Reuters Read Article
Trump Vows to Unleash the ‘Vast Energy Wealth’ of the US

US president Donald Trump has said he is lifting an Obama-era policy that curtailed the financing of coal-fired power plants overseas, as he seeks to reorient the US government away from fighting climate change and toward American “energy dominance”. Trump told a crowd of executives, lobbyists and labourers at the Energy Department on Thursday: “We are now on the cusp of a true energy revolution…We are a top producer of petroleum and the No. 1 producer of natural gas. We have so much more than we ever thought possible. We are really in the driver’s seat.” The Financial Times says he “announced measures to put fracking, nuclear power and coal exports at the heart of the power sector”. Trump said: “The truth is we now have near limitless supplies of energy in our country…You know what, we don’t want to let other countries take away our sovereignty and tell us what to do and how to do it. That’s not going to happen.” The Washington Post says Trump promised that the Atlantic and Arctic could soon be open to oil drilling. ThinkProgress reports that environmentalists said the speech was a fitting end to Trump’s “dirty energy week”. Meanwhile, ThinkProgress separately reports that Murray Energy Corp, a US coal company, has lost its “war on coal” case following a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bloomberg Read Article
Climate change in the U.S. could help the rich and hurt the poor

A new study published in the journal Science details how global warming could disproportionately affect poor areas of the US, contributing to widening economic inequality among Americans. “The poor regions will get poorer and the richer regions will benefit,” said study co-author Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. “What we’re seeing here is that climate change will have a very large impact on the quality of life and economic opportunity in the coming decades for ourselves and our children.” InsideClimate News explains: “Without effective action to bend the upward curve of greenhouse gas emissions, parts of the American South could experience more than a 20% drop in economic activity due to global warming by the end of the century, according to a new analysis of the regional economic risks of climate change. The county-by-county analysis shows that the poorer regions of the country would be hit hardest, and that the nation as a whole could see as much 6% shaved off of its GDP by the end of this century. The analysis is based on a high-emissions trajectory that doesn’t take into account future voluntary efforts to reduce emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement.” The GuardianSan Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times also carry the story.

Washington Post Read Article
Offshore wind power could be 25% cheaper than Hinkley’s nuclear

The Times reports that the tumbling cost of offshore wind power could mean that it turns out to be 25% cheaper than energy from Hinkley Point nuclear plant when subsidies are awarded to new projects this year, the industry regulator has suggested. The paper’s energy editor writes: “Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, said he hoped the winning projects would emerge at a price of ‘£70 or less’ per megawatt-hour (MWh). That would compare with £92.50/MWh that was last year awarded to Hinkley Point for a 35-year contract, fuelling debate about the merits of the project and future nuclear plants.”

The Times Read Article

News .

'Very strong' climate change signal in record June heat

The June heatwaves that impacted much of the UK and Western Europe were made more intense because of climate change say scientists. Forest fires in Portugal claimed scores of lives while emergency heat plans were triggered in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The UK experienced its warmest June day since the famous heatwave of 1976. Human-related warming made record heat 10 times more likely in parts of Europe the researchers say. Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution programme and several outside partners produced the research: “It is the latest such attribution analysis to show that the warming that has occurred over the last century — nearly 2°F (1°C) — has already had a clear influence on such extreme heat events.” Climate Central reported the views of Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University climate scientist who wasn’t involved with the work: “Global warming has already put a thumb on the scales; it’s already tipped the odds.” Reuters also reports the story.

BBC News Read Article

Comment.

Money for climate

A judicious use of financial instruments today could protect the well-being of future societies, but investment and ambition needs to rapidly increase to achieve this outcome, says Nature Climate Change: “Progress is being made in green bonds and climate finance, but as is the case with emissions pledges the current levels are not enough to meet the aspirational targets. A shift in thinking and rapid action is need to close the gap between what is happening now and what is needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

Editorial, Nature Climate Change Read Article

Science.

The role of climate variability in extreme floods in Europe

In a new paper, climate scientists take a look at the role of both climate variability on floods in Europe. They focus on four different factors: extreme rainfall frequency, intensity, flood occurrence, and flood damage. They find that positive phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation and East Atlantic pattern are associated with more requent and intense seasonal extreme rainfall over large areas of Europe. They find a smaller but still significant role for El Nino and La Nina events. Overall natural climate variability is strongly linked to flood damage and occurrence, especially in southern and eastern Europe, and the authors suggest that these relationships can be used to improve flood damage forecasting.

Environmental Research Letters Read Article
Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

A new study in Science by a cross-disciplinary group of climate scientists and economists models the expected impacts of climate change for each individual county in the United States, based on climate model outputs of expected daily temperature changes. They find that the damages across the sectors they considered—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—cost roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per 1C warming. They find that the risk is very unequally distributed, with most damages in southern and southwestern states. They find that the the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income in a high-end business-as-usual warming scenario.

Science Read Article

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