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Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Norway’s $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration
Norway’s $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration


Norway's $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration

Many publications report the news that the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£770bn) of Norway’s assets, is to end investments in pure oil and gas exploration and production companies. The Guardian reports the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has announced it will phase out oil exploration from its “investment universe” – but will still hold stakes in firms that have renewable energy divisions, such as BP and Shell. BBC News reports that GPFG hopes the move will leave it less exposed to volatile oil prices. However, Norway’s finance ministry said oil will still be “central to Norway’s economy”, BBC News reports. Climate Home News reports that the move comes after “a year of deliberations”. “Norges Bank, which manages the fund, had advocated diversifying,” Climate Home News says. The Financial Times explains how the idea of divestment turned from “taboo” to “topping the political agenda” in Oslo. A second FT story explores how the decision will leave major oil firms such as BP and ExxonMobil “spared but shaken”. Quartz lists the 134 oil and gas companies that “Norway plans to dump from its $1tn fund”. The GPFG will gradually sell off $7.5bn of assets in the firms, amounting to a fifth of the oil and gas stocks the fund holds, Quartz adds. The move is the “biggest divestment from hydrocarbons yet”, says New ScientistBusinessGreen also has the story.

The Guardian Read Article
Poverty and climate more important than Brexit, says Corbyn

The UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that tackling climate change and poverty “are far greater priorities for Labour and the country” than Brexit, the Guardian reports. Speaking at Scottish Labour’s annual conference, Corbyn said: “We are facing a climate crisis. There’s no bigger threat to our future. And fundamentally, the destruction of our climate is a class issue.” Corbyn said Labour would commit to a target of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, the Guardian adds.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that the UK chancellor Philip Hammond is to use his Spring Statement this week to “unveil a series of green measures”. The chancellor will say he has heard calls from young people to act on climate change, the Daily Mail says, and will “pledge to preserve the environment for future generations”. Green measures likely to be discussed include energy efficiency in homes and new rules to force new-build homes to have low-carbon heating. “He will look into whether all airlines should give passengers the option to pay to offset their carbon emissions when booking their flights,” the Daily Mail says. Hammond will also announce measures to protect ecosystems and biodiversity in UK territories, such as the Falklands, the Independent says.

The Guardian Read Article
Prime Minister champions role of offshore wind in post-Brexit Britain

The UK prime minister Theresa May has used a Brexit speech at a wind farm in Grimsby to “champion” the “role of offshore wind in post-Brexit Britain”, BusinessGreen reports. May praised the offshore wind industry as a “hugely important” sector for generating skilled work and clean power for the UK, BusinessGreen reports. May also promised to ensure that the UK maintains an equal or higher standard of environmental protection to the EU after Brexit, but did not say how this would be achieved.

The news comes as five leading green organisations have called on May to delay Brexit to avoid losing environmental protections created by “decades of campaigning”, the Guardian reports. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, Green Alliance, E3G and ChemTrust have said the prime minister should try to extend article 50 because the government has failed to live up to its promise that existing environmental standards would be maintained or even enhanced, the Guardian reports. Meanwhile, Climate Home News reports how Belfast’s bid to be added to the post-Brexit environment law for England could pose border issues after the UK leaves the EU.

BusinessGreen Read Article
Climate change could bring Zika and malaria to Britain, the Department of Health fears

The Daily Telegraph reports how the UK Department of Health “fears climate change could bring Zika and malaria to Britain”. The department has announced up to £56m for research into the potential health impacts of climate change, air pollution and global pandemics, the Daily Telegraph reports. “The department is concerned that climate change will lead to more extremes of hot and cold weather which could have a serious impact on the health of the nation,” the article reads.

The Daily Telegraph Read Article


Christiana Figueres: 'Fearless women will lead on climate action'

Christiana Figueres, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016, has written of her hopes for “fearless women” to lead on climate action for Pacific Standard. “This is such an important time for more women to step up, take on more leadership roles, work multilaterally, and make bold, brave decisions,” she says. “Many women have already recognised the unique gravity of this moment. Intrepid female leaders like Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin, Isra Hirsi, and Nakabuye Flavia have mobilised hundreds of thousands of young people demanding urgent climate action.” The Guardian carries an interview with Greta Thunberg.

Christiana Figueres, Pacific Standard Read Article
Private jets receive ludicrous tax breaks that hurt the environment

The Economist writes that private jets are “horribly polluting” and “often – and outrageously – subsidised”. The recent boom in private air travel “is a result of tax breaks, which are even more generous than those lavished on ordinary airlines”, the Economist says. “In Europe firms and individuals can avoid paying value-added tax on imported private jets by routing purchases through the Isle of Man. This scheme has cut tax bills by £790m ($1bn) for imports of at least 200 aircraft into the European Union since 2011. America’s rules are loopier still. Donald Trump’s tax reform allowed individuals and companies to write off 100% of the cost of a new or used private jet against their federal taxes. For some plutocrats this has wiped out an entire year’s tax bill.”

The Economist Read Article


A climatology of thunderstorms across Europe from a synthesis of multiple data sources

A new paper explores the annual cycles and variability in thunderstorm activity across Europe. Using sounding measurements, surface observations, and lightning data from various sources, the researchers find that “thunderstorms are the most frequent in the central Mediterranean, the Alps, the Balkan Peninsula, and the Carpathians”. Annual thunderstorm activity peaks in July and August over northern, eastern, and central Europe, the study finds, and during May and June over western and southeastern Europe. “Trend analysis of the mean annual number of days with thunderstorms since 1979 indicates an increase over the Alps and central, southeastern, and eastern Europe with a decrease over the southwest,” the authors note.

Journal of Climate Read Article
Changes in extreme precipitation in the northeast United States: 1979–2014

The north-east US has seen a statistically significant increase in extreme rainfall since 1979, a new study says. Using daily data from 58 weather stations, the researchers analysed extreme precipitation, defined as the top 1% of days with rainfall. The findings show an increasing trend of 0.3mm per year, caused by “both an increase in the frequency of extreme events and the magnitude of extreme events”. The results also show a 317% increase in 24-hour periods with more than 150mm of rainfall – from 6 events between 1979–1996 to 25 events between 1997–2014. “Increasing trends in extreme precipitation were most robust during the fall months of September, October, and November, and particularly at locations further inland,” the researchers say.

Journal of Hydrometeorology Read Article


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