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Daily Briefing

19.06.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

19.06.2017 | 9:14am
DAILY BRIEFING Merkel: Pope wants her to fight to save Paris climate deal, Scientists fear new EU rules may ‘hide’ forest carbon loss, & more
Merkel: Pope wants her to fight to save Paris climate deal, Scientists fear new EU rules may ‘hide’ forest carbon loss, & more

News.

Merkel: Pope wants her to fight to save Paris climate deal

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, says Pope Francis encouraged her to work to preserve the Paris Agreement on climate change despite the US withdrawal from it and shared her goal to “bring down walls” between countries, not build them. Merkel and Francis met for about 40 minutes Saturday in the Apostolic Palace, focusing on the Group of 20 summit that Germany is hosting in Hamburg on July 7-8. Reuters reports that the day before the two met, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said Pope Francis was concerned that any harm to the environment will be like a “boomerang that will come back…especially to poor people” with ever worsening effects. He added that Donald Trump is sending US energy production “back to the past” with his decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and to promote the coal industry. He said future energy jobs would be in renewables, such as wind or solar power, rather than coal. Sanchez Sorondo criticised what he called the poor level of teaching of science in the United States, compared to many European countries such as Germany. “The German people are more educated in sciences and believe in science,” he said. “The real situation of the Earth today, of the planet, is described by scientists,” he added. To anyone on the surface the Earth can seem flat but scientific findings mean “it’s difficult to say the Earth is not round”.

Associated Press Read Article
Scientists fear new EU rules may 'hide' forest carbon loss

Leading researchers have condemned attempts to change the way carbon from trees will be counted in Europe. The scientists fear that millions of tonnes of CO2 from forests will disappear from the books if the changes go ahead. The BBC explains: “As the European Union tries to put in place wide-ranging plans to restrict future carbon emissions, officials want to ensure that accounting for the impact of forests on the atmosphere should be based on sound science. To this end they want to cap the use of forestry at the levels seen between 1990 and 2009. If countries want to harvest more trees in future than they did during this period, the loss of carbon would count towards the country’s overall emissions. However several countries including Austria, Finland, Poland and Sweden want a change in these rules so that increased harvesting in the future should not be penalised.” But around 40 forestry experts from across the world have signed a letter arguing that if the rules are amended, it would “hide” roughly 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year – equivalent to two-thirds of France’s annual emissions. The letter from the scientists was published in Euractiv last Friday.

BBC News Read Article
BRICS meeting highlights climate change, trade, terrorism

Climate change, trade and terrorism have been highlighted today at a Beijing meeting of foreign affairs officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known collectively as the “BRICS” nations. AP says the five nations are seeking to further align their views on key issues at a time when Donald Trump is withdrawing the US from multilateral arrangements such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane pointed to climate change as a major concern. “There is one climate and for future generations we must employ every effort at our disposal to reverse the effects of climate change,” she said.

Associated Press Read Article
The latest threat to Antarctica: an insect and plant invasion

The Observer carries a news feature on Antarctica and its changing environment: “Antarctica’s pristine ice-white environment is going green and facing an unexpected threat – from the common house fly. Scientists say that as temperatures soar in the polar region, invading plants and insects, including the fly, pose a major conservation threat. More and more of these invaders, in the form of larvae or seeds, are surviving in coastal areas around the south pole, where temperatures have risen by more than 3C over the past three decades.” The paper adds that global warming is the “main driver” of the greening of Antarctica: “As a result, the Antarctic’s scarce plant life – which currently grows on only 0.3% of the continent – has responded dramatically, according to British researchers writing in Current Biology.”

The Observer Read Article

Comment.

Don’t blame green targets for Grenfell – insulation saves lives

Bell takes issue with some commentators in the right-wing press which have sought to somehow blame “green targets” for the Grenfell Tower disaster: “So was this disaster, as rightwing newspapers have been quick to suggest, the fault of what former prime minister David Cameron was once said to have termed ‘green crap’ – some unnecessarily expensive, lefty lifestyle fad? No. In fact, it takes a very particular type of blinkeredness to try to pin the Grenfell fire on energy-efficiency measures. That is because insulation, done properly, saves lives. As we try to see what we can learn from this disaster, it’s vital we’re clear on this. Insulation is a way of tackling both cold homes and climate change, both of which disproportionately affect poorer people.” Carbon Brief has also published a factcheck highlighting how selective and misleading these claims to be. On Saturday, Tony Parsons, the Sun columnist, tried to blame the disaster on “our modern world and its obsession with greenhouse gases and carbon emissions”. Meanwhile, Lloyd Alter in Treehugger quotes Carbon Brief in his own article showing those seeking to say that “green targets” are to blame for the Grenfell fire “wrong”.

Alice Bell, The Guardian Read Article
Record levels of green energy in UK create strange new world for generators

The Observer carries a feature noting how last weekend “something remarkable” happened to the UK’s power grid: “For a brief period, a record 70% of the electricity for the UK’s homes and businesses was low-carbon, as nuclear, solar and wind crowded out coal and even gas power stations. That afternoon was a glimpse into the future, of how energy provision will look in 13 years’ time because of binding carbon targets. On what one grid manager called ‘stunning Sunday’, the carbon intensity of producing power – a key measure of progress towards climate goals – dropped below the “magic number” of 100g of CO2 per kilowatt hour for the first time.” Yet this poses some “profound questions” for conventional generators and grid managers. For example, “negative power prices”. “In Germany, lower power prices driven by the country’s green energy boom have wiped billions off the share prices of energy giants E.ON and RWE. But will the likes of EDF and British Gas owner Centrica, which own nuclear and gas plants, face the same fate in the UK?” Separately, Bloomberg reports that “UK Natural Gas Has Worst Week Since 2012 as Demand Collapses”. It explains: “Prices fell as much as 40 percent from last week’s levels as maintenance on the Interconnector link with Belgium restricted exports, undermining demand already hurt by the prolonged shutdown of Britain’s biggest gas storage facility. On top of that, above-normal temperatures across Europe eased the need for heating.”

Adam Vaughan, The Observer Read Article
Why batteries are more important than Brexit

Butler says that the tight UK election result means the government can no longer seek to “amend” the Climate Change Act – an “act that is unpopular with many backbenchers”. However, there’s “a more positive and more important issue for ministers to deal with: the development of a strategy to establish a strong position in the most exciting part of the energy business – batteries and the wider technology of electricity storage. This requires clear decisions to be made.” He adds: “The world of research on electricity storage is very competitive and if the UK is not careful the projects with the highest potential will be snapped up by other countries. The time to act is now, not in six months. The urgency is reinforced by the prospect that President Donald Trump will cut academic research funding in the US as part of wider budget cuts, potentially leaving whole teams of researchers at a loose end.”

Nick Butler, Financial Times Read Article

Science.

Assessment of sea ice-atmosphere links in CMIP5 models

A new study examines the evidence behind the suggestion that declining Arctic sea ice could drive unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes, such as the extremely cold winter of 2009/10. The results of a new study, which the authors describe as “uniquely comprehensive cross-season and cross-model”, show no support for a relationship between declining Arctic sea ice and the atmospheric patterns that drive cold European temperatures. The paper concludes that whilst links may exist between diminishing sea ice and extreme cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere, CMIP5 model experiments do not show this to be a leading order effect in the long-term.

Climate Dynamics Read Article
An overview of energy storage and its importance in Indian renewable energy sector: Part I – Technologies and Comparison

With the massive growth of renewable energy sources, energy storage can play a substantial role in renewable energy integration in India, according to new research. The paper compares the potential for a number of energy storage technologies, including pumped hydro energy storage, compressed air energy storage, battery energy storage, flywheel, supercapacitors, hydrogen energy storage, superconducting magnetic energy storage, and thermal energy storage. Lowering renewable energy intermittency, with increased user-friendliness and accessibility of electrical energy in remote places are the priorities alongside reducing emissions, say the authors.

Journal of Energy Storage Read Article

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