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Daily Briefing

Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

14.09.2017 | 9:57am
DAILY BRIEFING Old King Coal’s reign at Drax ‘could end as quickly as 2020’
Old King Coal’s reign at Drax ‘could end as quickly as 2020’


Old King Coal’s reign at Drax ‘could end as quickly as 2020’

Drax, formerly the UK’s largest coal-fired power station, could build one of the world’s largest batteries, at 200 megawatts (MW), and the UK’s largest gas plant, at up to 3,600MW, report the Times and others. The plans, announced yesterday, could see the site stop burning coal as soon as 2020, the Times adds. Half the coal units at Drax have already been converted to burn biomass, the Financial Times notes. The shift at Drax is in response to government plans to phase out unabated coal by 2025, it says, noting that “the economics of large gas plants were called into question this week by the results of the government’s latest energy subsidy auction…[with offshore wind] cheaper than power from…the forecast cost of…new large gas plants”. Business Green also has the story.

The Times Read Article
Carmakers demand slowdown on EU emission targets

An expected EU car emissions target of 70 grammes per km by 2025 would be a mistake, says European carmakers’ association ACEA, according to the Times. ACEA says electric vehicle uptake is too slow and investment in recharging infrastructure too limited. The association instead proposes a 20% reduction in CO2 per km by 2030, to 76g, reports Reuters, with even this conditional on consumer uptake of electric cars. Meanwhile the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) says Europe needs to develop next generation batteries but also look at more efficient combustion engines, reports another Reuters article. A separate report from UK industry group Energy UK says the country should speed progress on electric car infrastructure, reports Energy Live News.

The Times Read Article
China, EU and Canada to take lead on climate at Montreal meeting

Major economies will meet in Montreal to discuss climate change at talks convened by China, Europe and Canada. The US has signalled it may flesh out its approach to the Paris Agreement at the talks, Climate Home reports, citing “several sources” including “one senior climate diplomat” who says: “We are expecting to hear something from the US at this ministerial about their re-engagement with Paris. It is likely to be quite Paris-specific as they intend to engage actively and constructively in the work programme – they are characterising it as ‘active and constructive’.…The message [is] that they are exploring terms that do not involve any quest to renegotiate Paris.”

Climate Home Read Article
Big investors take aim at banks over climate change risk

A coalition of institutional investors managing more than $1tn wants 60 of the world’s largest banks to take action on climate change, reports the Financial Times. The group has written to the chief executives of banks including HSBC, Lloyds and Deutsche Bank asking for information about their exposure to climate-related risks and their plans to get in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the paper says. A second Financial Times article looks at the share price record of a range of renewable energy firms, saying: “Investment on renewables have not paid off as much as hoped”.

Financial Times Read Article
Study: Asia's glaciers face massive melt from global warming

One third of the ice in Asia’s glaciers will be lost by the end of the century even if the world limits warming to 1.5C, reports the Associated Press. This will affect water supplies for millions of people, it adds. This is a best-case scenario, says AFP, with up to two-thirds of Asian glacier mass lost by the end of the century if emissions aren’t curbed. Carbon Brief has the details of the new research. Meanwhile E&E News reports that the Rocky Mountains’ largest glaciers “are melting with little fanfare”.

Associated Press Read Article


Feature: The great nutrient collapse

“Could CO2 have an effect on human health we haven’t accounted for yet? The answer appears to be yes,” writes Helena Bottemiller Evich for Politico, in a feature on how “the atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse”. The article traces the history of research on the relationship between rising CO2 levels and the falling nutritional content of food.

Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico Read Article
Taking the Pulse of the Planet

The accumulation of heat in the oceans and sea level rise are better measures of global warming than average surface temperature, say a group of researchers writing in the American Geophysical Union’s magazine, Eos. “Natural temperature variability is much more muted in the ocean than in the atmosphere, owing to the ocean’s greater ability to absorb heat,” they write. This means, for example, scientists only need nine years of ocean heat data to detect a long-term trend, compared to 27 years for surface temperature. These ocean measurements “could provide vital signs for the health of the planet”, they conclude.

Lijing Cheng and others, Eos Read Article
Coal's problem is not climate change

“Coal’s long-term problems stem not from politics but from physical properties that make it an inferior source of energy compared with oil, gas and (arguably) renewables,” writes Reuters columnist John Kemp. It is this, rather than climate campaigners or the Obama administration that is to blame for the industry’s struggles, he says. Separately, Business Green reports findings suggesting it will be cheaper to build and operate new gas plants than continue running old coal in the US by 2021. The findings, from analysts Carbon Tracker, say closing coal could save $10bn a year.

John Kemp, Reuters Read Article
The Guardian view of offshore wind: cheaper and greener

“The precipitous drop in the price of electricity from offshore wind turbines should be a tipping point for green technology,” says a Guardian editorial that compares the cost of offshore wind in an auction this week to the price agreed for the HInkley C new nuclear plant, saying that scheme “looks like a dinosaur even before it arrives on earth”. The editorial then says: “It is worrying that we have not heard a whisper from ministers about a clean growth plan to meet [the UK’s legally-binding] emission targets that takes into account the cost-effectiveness of wind.” The piece signs off noting that wind generated more electricity than coal last year, as first reported by Carbon Brief, as well as that UK CO2 emissions in 2016 fell to levels last seen in Victorian times – another Carbon Brief finding.

Editorial, The Guardian Read Article
Britain needs an energy revolution - stop the terrible renewable subsidies

“Britain still has significant trouble with its energy retail market, its power generation, and its energy strategy. All three require decisive government action,” writes Nick Timothy in the Telegraph. The former joint chief of staff to prime minister Theresa May was architect of the Conservative Party’s 2017 election manifesto and has a well-known dislike of the Climate Change Act, which he has called an “act of monstrous self-harm”. In his article, Timothy writes: “[To get lower energy prices] will require a new approach to reducing carbon emissions. There is no need to abandon our international commitments, and no need to abandon the Climate Change Act. We should, however, change the trajectory of Britain’s decarbonisation plans, so a greater share of the reduction comes later, through technological innovation, rather than earlier, through the imposition of higher energy costs and lower industrial output.” Timothy supports an end to support for renewables, reducing the UK’s carbon price and “fully…exploit[ing]” the UK’s shale gas reserves, but does not say what kind of “innovation” he has in mind. He refers to an auction for low-carbon electricity supplies this week, but does not mention that it showed offshore wind has joined onshore wind and solar in being cheaper than government estimates of the cost of new gas-fired generation, as Carbon Brief explained. Elsewhere in the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes that “the economic argument over wind power has been settled”. He adds: “If you are looking for a turbo-charged venture to lift British fortunes after Brexit, offshore wind is as good as it gets…We could in theory be an aeolian superpower by the 2030s or 2040s, trading places with Saudi Arabia to become the energy sheikhdom of the northern seas.”

Nick Timothy, The Telegraph Read Article


Gendered vulnerabilities to climate change: insights from the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia

The “everyday realities and experiences” of climate change disproportionately affect women living in semi-arid parts of Africa and Asia, new research finds. Using water scarcity as an example, the research stresses the “importance of moving beyond the counting of numbers of men and women to unpacking relations of power, of inclusion and exclusion in decision-making, and challenging cultural beliefs that have denied equal opportunities and rights to differently positioned people, especially those at the bottom of economic and social hierarchies.”

Climate and Development Read Article
‘1.5°C to stay alive’: climate change, imperialism and justice for the Caribbean

The legacies of empire may have increased the Caribbean’s vulnerability to climate change, new research suggests. These legacies include unequal power in diplomatic decision making and indebtedness, which could leave Caribbean states reliant on financial aid and without the funds to focus on climate adaptation. Many countries in the Caribbean have called for strong climate targets, captured in the campaign slogan: “1.5C to stay alive”. However, the international community has failed to adopt this target, the paper argues, instead favouring the interests of more developed nations.

Third World Quarterly Read Article


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