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Daily Briefing

11.01.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

11.01.2019 | 9:41am
DAILY BRIEFING Ocean warming is accelerating faster than thought, new research finds
Ocean warming is accelerating faster than thought, new research finds

News.

Ocean warming is accelerating faster than thought, new research finds

There is a widespread coverage of a new paper in the journal Science that shows the warming of the world’s oceans is accelerating more quickly than previously thought. In a story on its frontpage, the New York Times says the “oceans are heating up 40% faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago”. The paper speaks to study co-author Zeke Hausfather – Carbon Brief’s US analyst – who says that the oceans “are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth”, noting that “2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans”. Lead author Dr Lijing Cheng tells Reutersthat records for ocean warming had been broken almost yearly since 2000. The vast majority of the extra heat from climate change is stored in the oceans, explains the Times, but it has been a challenge to measure reliably. The new study combines the findings from multiple studies that use the latest measurement techniques, including a network of almost 4,000 floats deployed across the oceans since the year 2000. The data from four different research groups now generally match the ocean heat content projections from the newest climate models, notes Axios, which “which indicates that these models are accurately simulating the Earth’s radiation budget”. InsideClimate News notes: “The four studies discussed in the analysis show that the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment, published in 2013, had underestimated the amount of heat the oceans have absorbed”. A warmer ocean is contributing to increasingly destructive weather patterns around the world, co-author Dr Kevin Trenberth tells BuzzFeed News. He says: “It’s creating increased risk of flooding in places around the world and we’ve seen a number of examples of that – in Japan in July and in India in the monsoon season and so on. It has consequences that really matter.” This warming could also translate into an extra 30cm of sea level rise by the end of the century, says the Guardian. The HillUSA TodayCNNIFL Science and MailOnline all cover the research, while the study’s authors discuss their research in more detail in a guest post for Carbon Brief.

The New York Times Read Article
UK expects to make retrospective power capacity payments –minister

The UK expects to make retrospective payments to companies under its capacity market scheme, which pays providers for making electricity available at short notice, says minister for energy and clean growth Claire Perry. The EU ruled last November that the UK must halt payments under the scheme, pending an investigation by regulators. In a letter to the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, Perry says she expects the inquiry to rule in favour of reinstating the scheme, with an opening decision expected in early 2019 and final decision later in the year. The UK would then “expect to make deferred payments to those capacity agreement holders who have continued to meet their obligations during the standstill period”, she adds.

Reuters Read Article
Hitachi to suspend all work on UK nuclear plant

Hitachi plans to put a UK nuclear power project on hold as negotiations with the UK government over funding hit an impasse, reports Nikkei Asian Review. The Japanese industrial conglomerate’s board is expected to officially decide next week to suspend all work on the Wylfa Newydd scheme – which includes the construction of two reactors on the Welsh island of Anglesey – including design and preparations for construction. Hitachi will freeze the roughly 300bn yen (£2.17bn) in assets held by its British nuclear business and write down their value, potentially booking a 200-300bn yen loss for this financial year. The move would bring to a halt Japan’s last active overseas nuclear project.

Nikkei Asian Review Read Article
Hundreds of environmental groups pressure Congress by backing Green New Deal
Hundreds of environmental organisations signed a letter yesterday backing a rapid transition away from fossil fuels in the US. The groups, led by Friends of the Earth and the Climate Justice Alliance, told members of the House of Representatives in an open letter that lawmakers should pursue the Green New Deal, a climate change-fighting concept that calls for 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and the decarbonisation of other major industries. Several hundred organisations signed the letter, notes Axios, although “it does not include a number of the largest players in climate politics, like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund”. Carbon Briefpublished an explainer on the Green New Deal last month.
The Hill Read Article
Minister urged to drop new coal-mining plans in Northumberland

James Brokenshire, the UK minister for communities and local government, will today start examining whether to allow mining for coal near a wild stretch of Northumberland beach, reports the Guardian. The Highthorn open-cast mine project, proposed by the Banks Group, aims to extract three million tonnes of coal from 250 hectares of land behind the sand dunes of Druridge Bay. His predecessor, Sajid Javid, threw out the plans last year, citing among other environmental reasons the “substantial” adverse effect on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, notes the Guardian. However, the high court overruled Javid’s decision in November and the ultimate decision now lies with Brokenshire.

The Guardian Read Article

Comment.

Are the days of the private car really over?

In October last year, BBC News South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt wrote a piece on the potential demise of the private car. Now he follows it up by asking the experts: “how likely it is that the age of the private automobile really will soon be over?” Rowlatt investigates the viability of electric vehicles, driverless cars and “autonomous ride-hailing networks”, finding that the age of the private car is not quite over. He concludes: “So it’s clear it is going to take much longer than 10 years before fully automated vehicles are approved, and therefore the full robo-taxi revolution can begin in earnest. It will happen – but just not as quickly as many hoped.”

Meanwhile, writing in the Conversation, scientists Grant Wilson and Iain Staffell draw on recent analysis by Carbon Brief on UK electricity generation to discuss how “at some point over the next decade, electrical demand will stop falling as electric vehicles gain market share from fossil fuel vehicles, and electrical heating for homes becomes more popular”. If all the cars and taxis on British roads where electric, they note, the UK would need the equivalent of three Hinkley Point C nuclear power stations to charge them over the year. And elsewhere, Axios has two articles on electric vehicles. The first reports that oil giant ExxonMobil is “actively considering whether to invest in electric-charging stations”. And the second looks at “new developments in early 2019 provide a glimpse into the next wave of automakers’ accelerating preparation for the mainstreaming of electric vehicles”.

Justin Rowlatt, BBC News Read Article
How the fossil fuel industry got the media to think climate change was debatable

Amy Westervelt, a Washington Post reporter who covers climate and gender, discusses how media coverage of climate change has been “perpetuated a decades-old practice, one that has been weaponised by the fossil fuel industry: false equivalence”. “Documents uncovered by journalists and activists over the past decade lay out a clear strategy,” she explains: “First, target media outlets to get them to report more on the ‘uncertainties’ in climate science, and position industry-backed contrarian scientists as expert sources for media. Second, target conservatives with the message that climate change is a liberal hoax, and paint anyone who takes the issue seriously as ‘out of touch with reality.’” “Data on how effective this strategy has been is hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence of its success abounds,” says Westervelt, who then takes a tour through a series of examples.

Amy Westervelt, The Washington Post Read Article
Greenland's residents grapple with global warming

Reuters reporter Maria Caspani travels to the town of Tasiilaq in southeastern Greenland to see how residents are being affected by rising temperatures. She speaks to locals who say it has become increasingly hard to reach usual hunting grounds with sled dogs due to unpredictable weather, thinning ice or no ice at all. “Every year we see the glaciers, the landscape, the ice sheet melting and melting,” one fisherman says: “What we know from our ancestors is almost gone and we cannot take it back. We have to find new tools.” Reuters has also published an accompanying “photo essay” from the trip.

Maria Caspani, Reuters Read Article

Science.

Projecting the future levelized cost of electricity storage technologies

A new study in Joule looking at the projected cost of 9 different electricity storage technologies up to 2050 finds that lithium-ion batteries will become the “most competitive” in the majority of applications from 2030 onwards. “Investments in alternative technologies may prove futile unless significant performance improvements can retain competitiveness with lithium ion,” says the paper. It concludes that pumped hydro, compressed air and hydrogen are best for “long discharge applications”.

Joule Read Article

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