Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- One in six UK adults doubt human link to climate change – report
- Australia: Nations must work together through ‘conflict and crisis’ to reduce climate change risks, Albanese tells OECD
- China to cut industrial energy intensity by 13.5% from 2021-2025
- UK has insulation ‘challenge’, admits business secretary after critical report
- US: Environmental groups sue Biden administration for resuming oil and gas lease sales
- Half of the Germans rate Habeck’s energy management positively
- UK: Greenwashing must stop, says Financial Conduct Authority
- Yes, we need to talk about cutting energy demand
- The west must work with Russia to save the Arctic
- UK: This is the future climate hawks want to see
- Airliners powered by sustainable fuels remain a distant goal
- Detection and attribution of human influence on the global diurnal temperature range decline
- Climate change and gender in Africa: A review of impact and gender-responsive solutions
A large majority of people in the UK, some 72%, accept humans’ role in climate change, against 17% who say it is not mainly caused by humans, BBC News reports, based on the findings of a survey of 12,000 adults across six European countries. It says the UK share doubting humans’ role was “similar to Germany (18%) and Poland (16%), but much lower than Norway, where nearly a quarter of adults surveyed held that opinion”. The broadcaster adds: “Across the six countries surveyed, older people were more hopeful about our ability to slow climate change, according to the survey. Of those aged 55 and over, 60% thought it was not too late to do something about climate change, compared with 34% of 18-34 year-olds.” Bloomberg covers a different angle on the survey findings, reporting that “the public across Europe greatly underestimates the extent to which scientists agree on climate change”. It explains: “On average, people estimated that the proportion of scientists who agree that man-made climate change is happening is 68% when in reality, the figure is nearly 100%.” It says the survey was funded by a European Commission project on public trust in experts.
Australia’s new prime minister Anthony Albanese will use a speech to the OECD to launch a “clarion call for international cooperation on climate policy”, the Guardian reports, adding: “Albanese will say food insecurity fuelled by the climate crisis and war is now a significant challenge”. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: “Albanese will tell a leading global policy forum that developed nations must lift ambitions on tackling climate change and ensure they bring their poorer neighbours along with them.” It says a draft copy of the speech, due to be delivered on Thursday evening in Paris, “confirms” the Australian government will put its new climate target into legislation. Associated Press says the Australian government is “putting climate change at the top of its legislative agenda…with bills to enshrine a cut in greenhouse gas emissions and make electric cars cheaper, a minister said on Wednesday”. Separately, the Guardian reports that Australia’s climate minister is “poised to unveil a sweeping review into Australia’s carbon credit system after an expert whistleblower characterised it as a fraud and a waste of taxpayer money”.
In other Australian news, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the country’s energy market operator (AEMO) “is preparing for more coal-fired power stations to close down many years earlier than planned”. It continues: “In order to maintain reliable and affordable power during the transition to clean energy, AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman said that by 2050, wind and solar farms must grow ninefold and the amount of backup supply for renewables must triple.” The Guardian reports: “Work must begin urgently on five big transmission projects if Australia’s main power grid is to succeed in its ‘once-in-a-century transformation’ off fossil fuels without shortages and energy cost blowouts, the market operator said in its blueprint report.” In his “temperature check” column for the Guardian, Graham Readfearn unpicks claims of cheap Australian nuclear power and on the cost of battery storage, saying they “miss the mark”.
Reuters reports that China will reduce its industrial energy consumption per unit of output “by 13.5% over the 2021-2025 period by introducing new technologies, standards and financial services”, according to a “new action plan” published on Wednesday. The newswire says that industries now account for around “65% of total national energy consumption” and “more efficiency improvements” could contribute around “37% of the country’s planned carbon emission reductions from now until 2050”, citing the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The new action plan will focus on “traditional sectors like steel, nonferrous metals and construction materials, as well as growing high-energy consuming segments like data centres”, the article adds. Additionally, China Energy News reports on the same action plan. The state-run industry newspaper highlights that the plan asks to promote coal reduction and replacement in an “orderly manner”, and to promote the transformation of coal into “clean fuels, high-quality raw materials and high-quality materials”.
Meanwhile, a separate report by China Energy News, citing a CCTV report, writes that the monitoring data of the national grid shows that, under the impact of “continuous high temperature” from 24 to 26 June, the electricity load “hit a record high” in the provinces of Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi and Xinjiang.
Elsewhere, according to another Reuters article, the China government said on Wednesday that it will “subsidise refiners if global oil prices hit above $130 a barrel”. The newswire says this announcement from the ministry of finance “reiterates an existing fuel policy that closely tracks international markets, but also with a goal to shield consumers from price shocks”. Finally, CNOOC, a Chinese oil “giant”, said it will “increase spending on clean energy so that its carbon emissions peak by 2028, as well as bringing forward its net-zero deadline to 2050”, reports Bloomberg, citing the company’s climate action plan released yesterday.
UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has “admitted that more needs to be done on home insulation, after a highly critical report by climate advisers”, the Press Association reports. The newswire says Kwarteng “defended the government’s record…while also indicating that a fresh scheme on insulation may be in the pipeline”. Another Press Association story reports that energy minister Greg Hands said of a proposed new coal mine in Cumbria that it was a “planning decision” and that the UK was not planning a return to coal for power. A third Press Association article reports the comments of environment secretary George Eustice saying he is “optimistic” that technology will cut emissions from farming. It adds: “The environment secretary faced MPs at the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) after independent climate advisers warned his department, Defra, was ‘really, really failing’ to deliver its part in cutting emission to zero overall by 2050, known as net-zero.”
In other news from the UK, the Times reports that energy regulator Ofgem “has insisted it can deliver a £21bn overhaul of the UK’s regional energy network without extra charges on household bills”. It says the spending plan, which are subject to consultation, would include £2.7bn for “expanding capacity to allow more renewables, electric vehicles and heat pumps to be connected to the grid”. The Press Association also has the story. It quotes Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley saying: ““We’re determined to get the best possible deal for consumers and the proposals we’ve published today will mean that substantial additional investment can be made to deliver net-zero without placing any further pressure on bills.” In related comment for the Times, chief business commentator Alistair Osborne writes that the draft spending plan for Britain’s 14 electricity distribution network operators “looks to have got it about right”.
Separately, Bloomberg reports that the UK government has “asked the nation’s grid operator to ensure Britain has enough natural gas to heat homes and keep the lights on this winter if Russia cuts shipments to Europe”. And Sky News says that “a leading geologist who advised the government on fracking has told Sky News that in his view the UK ‘could have another go’ at the controversial shale gas extraction method”.
A coalition of environmental groups has sued the Biden administration for restarting oil and gas lease sales on federal lands, the Hill reports. It says the sales are the first since a temporary freeze in January 2021, issued by President Biden shortly after entering office. Reuters says the current administration’s first sales “garnered thin industry interest”. It reports: “A drilling industry group blamed the limited interest on policies that have made oil and gas development on federal lands more difficult, such as higher royalties on production and Biden administration efforts to stop new leasing.” Associated Press also has the story, reporting that the auctions are taking place “after a federal court blocked the administration’s attempt to suspend such sales because of climate change worries”.
Der Spiegel reports that, according to a survey, 50% of Germans find that economy and climate protection minister Robert Habeck is doing well in managing the energy crisis. However, the mood in some parts of the country is significantly different, notes the German news magazine: in the east, negative reviews outweigh positive ones and in contrast to the west. Meanwhile, Stuttgarter Nachrichten reports that Habeck has confirmed the government’s commitment to step in financially in the event of Russian oil supply failing to reach the PCK refinery in Schwedt. “This promise has been made”, said Habeck at a rally in the centre of Schwedt, adds the outlet.
In other energy news, the Daily Telegraph reports that the “German government has taken control of three liquefied natural gas ships from Russian energy giant Gazprom”. The US supplier of vessels for LNG said Germany’s energy network regulator assumed control of three vessels “for an indefinite period” after Berlin took ownership of Gazprom Germania in April, which has since been renamed Securing Energy for Europe.
Finally, Manager Magazin reports about Mercedes-Benz’s plans for the transition to electric cars by the end of the decade. According to the strategy, from 2025 Sindelfingen will be the home of the S-Class luxury sedan and its electric counterpart, the EQS, while the smaller vehicles will be manufactured in Rastatt and Hungary from 2024.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is “threatening to fine capital-raising firms that make misleading environmental claims”, the Times reports. It adds that the FCA has said it sees “a clear rationale” for regulatory oversight of outside consultants that “verify” environmental claims. The Times continues: “Regulators have become concerned about the accuracy of claims made for the booming business of ‘ESG badged’ bonds.” It says investors “welcomed the move” towards greater scrutiny and regulation. City AM reports the news under the headline: “FCA throws weight behind ESG regulation.”
“By focusing only on energy supply, the world is ignoring some of the cheapest and quickest ways to fight the [energy] crisis,” write columnist Jason Bordoff and Harvard Kennedy School professor of the practice of international affairs Meghan O’Sullivan in an analysis article for Foreign Policy. They begin by noting calls from German economy minister Robert Habeck for Germans to “voluntarily chang[e] their consumption behaviour to conserve energy”, saying he “hit on a critically important and underappreciated solution to today’s energy crisis”. The pair continue: “Unlike many approaches being adopted, increasing efficiency can simultaneously reduce Russian leverage, counteract high energy prices and curb carbon emissions…[it] is among the fastest, cheapest and easiest ways to deal with all of these challenges.” They add: “With a far worse energy crisis still to come, policymakers around the world should make reducing energy consumption in the short, medium, and long term a central component of any strategy.” Bordoff and O’Sullivan argue that in contrast to the option of cutting demand, the “disproportionate focus on more extraction and infrastructure construction is not just worse environmentally, but, as energy iconoclast Amory Lovins warned a half century ago, it’s also harder and costlier”.
A related comment for Reuters Breakingviews, by columnist Lisa Jucca, says moving to cut energy demand now is a “no-brainer”. She writes: “[EU member states] shouldn’t wait until the weather turns cold to implement robust energy-saving measures…[T]ensions with Russia aren’t going away, and prices this winter could soar higher. The time to act is now.”
In certain areas “such as climate change and preservation of the Arctic”, the west “need[s] to work with Moscow, rather than against it”, writes Jason Pack, senior analyst for emerging challenges at the Nato Defense College Foundation, in a comment for the Financial Times. He continues: “As polar regions grow ever warmer, there are no winners from a failure of co-ordination on Arctic policy. Disappearing sea ice and warming temperatures are likely to lead to competition for resources, territorial disputes and increase maritime activity…The defence implications are also significant.”
In a comment for BusinessGreen, the site’s editor James Murray offers an “optimistic way to read” the latest progress report from the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), despite what he calls the “litany of policy failures and the paucity of political leadership [it] documented”. Murray explains that the CCC’s analysis “point[s] to a remarkably broad and robust consensus on how to deliver an accelerated transition to net-zero emissions and the huge benefits that would flow from decarbonisation. This consensus among political and business leaders, as well as the public, is now so well established that it is rarely commented upon, but it remains hugely important.” He continues: “The main thing stopping it happening at the pace and scale required is short termist, outdated, economic thinking, and a lack of political nerve…[O]ne way to help break the current political and policy log jam is to keep reiterating that this transition can be done, and is being done.”
For the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph editor Allister Heath writes: “It is no wonder that [Britain’s young people] are depressed, turning to the far-Left, embracing a demented woke ideology that pits groups and genders against one another, and even the kind of extreme green death-cultery which advocates zero children. The young need to be cut a fairer deal, or else Britain will be overwhelmed by a demographic and fiscal tsunami.”
A New York Times feature – part of a special report on “climate solutions” – describes how in late 2023 “an almost-empty commercial airliner is expected to lift off on a trans-Atlantic flight…powered solely by sustainable aviation fuel or SAF, jet fuel that is made from greener processes and raw materials that range from cooking oil, solid waste and crop residue to synthetic kerosene”. The piece continues: “[F]or the flight to signal a true change in the impact of air travel on the environment, the production of sustainable aviation fuels would have to ramp up to levels that are extremely ambitious and distant…For this and other reasons, some critics dismiss the flight as a headline-chasing gimmick.”
A second article for the special report looks at the liquified natural gas that is helping Europe move away from Russian supplies, but “may set back climate ambitions and prove a costly, short-term solution”.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities are the “dominant” driver of the worldwide decline in diurnal temperature range (DTR), a new study says. DTR – the difference between the daily maximum and minimum temperature – has been decreasing over the past several decades, the authors explain. They find that GHG emissions have “caused the global DTR to decrease by -0.32C during 1951–2018, close to the observed change of -0.41C”. In contrast, the authors add, “anthropogenic aerosols are the dominant contributor for Europe and have led to an abnormal increase in the DTR in this region”.
A new review paper identifies “five impact areas” where climate change affects women more negatively compared to men. These include: agricultural production; food and nutrition security; health; water and energy; and climate-related disaster, migration and conflict. The authors also find that “the lack of gender-disaggregated data undermines efforts to design gender-responsive interventions to enable women to cope with and adapt to climate change impacts”.