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TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES

Briefing date 30.08.2022
Pakistan floods: One third of country is under water – minister

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Pakistan floods: One third of country is under water - minister
BBC News Read Article

Devastating flash floods have left a “trail of havoc” with one-third of Pakistan “completely submerged by historic flooding which has exceeded every boundary, every norm we’ve seen in the past”, the country’s climate minister Sherry Rahman has told BBC News. Officials estimate that more than 33 million Pakistanis – one in every seven – have been impacted by the flooding, according to the outlet. It adds that one-third of the 1,136 people killed since the monsoon began “are believed to be children”. Preliminary estimates of the economic damage wrought by the flood are higher than $10bn, Pakistan’s planning minister told BBC News, as the country appeals for international aid over and above a critical IMF loan that was approved on Monday. On Saturday, the UK government announced it had allocated up to £1.5m ($1.8m) for the flood relief efforts, the outlet adds, with the Queen reportedly saying “the UK stands in solidarity with Pakistan”. The Guardian points to other “critical factors” behind the high death toll – including “flash flooding and the destruction of river embankments”, as well as deforestation and destroyed dams.

Reuters reports that the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan – “home to millions of people” – was “largely cut off from the rest of the country” because of flood waters and damaged infrastructure, with food, medicine and power in short supply. Meanwhile, Balochistan in the south was reeling under “hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage” and “lost communication with the rest of the country”, with air, road and rail networks suspended, the newswire reported separately. In the province of Sindh, “which has had nearly eight times its average August rainfall”, BBC News reports that there were “displaced people in every village” and in one city “thousands of mud homes have sunk underwater” with only treetops visible “for miles”. The Washington Post says: “The floods have revived an old debate about whether developed, wealthier countries such as the US – the largest historical emitter of carbon dioxide – should help cover the costs of climate change for poorer countries.” Similarly, Prof Nida Kirmani at the Lahore School for Management Sciences tells the New York Times that “any flood relief given should not be seen as ‘aid,’ but as reparations for injustices accumulated over the past few centuries”. The paper adds that climate scientist Deepti Singh points out that instead of evenly distributed rainfall through the monsoon, the region is seeing strong cloudbursts: “Our systems are just not designed to manage that.” It notes that, according to the country’s national disaster management authority, 162 bridges have been damaged and 2,000 miles of roads washed away, while prices for basic food items – already high because of petrol prices – have quadrupled in the past few days as rains intensified again.

While the floods “have all the hallmarks of a catastrophe juiced by climate change, it is too early to formally assign blame to global warming”, reports the Associated Press. Pakistan received “the highest rainfall in at least three decades…running at more than 780% above average levels”, Abid Qaiyum Suleri tells AP News, while there has been a “400% increase in average rainfall in areas like Baluchistan and Sindh” – the most affected districts. Rehman tells the newswire that regions have received 14.8 inches of rain in a day – “nearly three times higher than the national average” – and that having “the largest number of glaciers outside the polar region” makes it more vulnerable to glacial lake outburst floods. Pakistan has contributed only 0.4% of the world’s CO2 emissions since 1959, the piece points out. However, it also notes that “not all of the problem is climate change” – the country saw “similar devastation” in 2010 when flooding killed “nearly 2000 people” but the government failed to “implement plans to prevent future flooding”. Pakistan Today quotes Joudat Ayaz, a senior official at the ministry of climate change, saying that “Pakistan [has been] over-punished for climate change”. He raises the issue of historical emissions “created by big polluting countries…basically, their ancestors”. The article cites Carbon Brief analysis showing which countries are historically responsible for emissions.

The Guardian, in an editorial on the floods, writes that while their impact was “[undoubtedly] made worse by a lack of preparedness”, “far from being a get-out clause for western governments and institutions …Pakistan’s government is right to expect more – especially from the rich nations that bear the greatest responsibility for global heating”. The editorial points to the fact that “climate finance…was among the unfinished business of the COP26 summit last year” and that “the principle underlying it goes beyond disaster relief or aid.” Elsewhere, the Hindustan Times’ Jayashree Nandi writes that “this isn’t a cricket match to keep score [of which country has more glaciers]. It is something far more serious,“ pointing out that rapid glacial melt combined with extreme monsoon rain put both India and Pakistan at risk, necessitating communication and cooperation. The Wall Street Journal reports that “the scale of the flooding from heavier-than-usual monsoon rains means that the country will need more financing than it had planned for”, even as the Business Standard writes that IMF’s executive board approved the revival of Pakistan’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan for S1.17bn on Monday. Pakistani news outlets, including the Express Tribune and Dawn report on audio leaks which implicate political parties’ attempts to “torpedo” the IMF bailout programme “amid devastation caused by floods”.

EU promises ’emergency intervention’ to rein in energy prices
Politico Read Article

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has said the EU is working on “an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market” to combat high energy prices, Politico reports. The outlet continues: “The remarks are a sign that the Commission has firmly broken with its earlier defence of EU power market design – and follows rising pressure in recent months from member governments arguing the system wasn’t designed to deal with the energy emergency unleashed by the price surge following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”. It adds that “the EU’s wholesale electricity market was designed to keep prices low, but it’s now achieving the opposite effect”, noting that “part of the problem is that the price of electricity is pegged to the price of the most expensive fuel required to meet demand for each day, called the merit order, which recently has been natural gas”. The Financial Times quotes Von der Leyen: “Currently, gas dominates the price of the electricity market…with these exorbitant prices, we’ll have to decouple…We’ll have to ensure renewable energies are generated at lower costs, that those costs are transferred to consumers and windfall profits used to help vulnerable households…We need an emergency instrument which would be triggered very quickly, in weeks perhaps.”

This comes as Ben van Beurden – the chief executive of Shell – warns that Europe may need to ration energy for several years, the paper says. The Guardian, the Daily TelegraphTimesReuters and Financial Times also cover van Beurden’s comments. Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes that electricity prices in Europe have “soared almost 10-fold in one year”. The Financial Times adds that the European gas price hit a record of €343 per megawatt hour last week – “more than double the figure at the end of July and seven times the price in the same period last year”. The paper covers a warning from economists that “Eurozone inflation will hit a double-digit rate in the autumn and remain higher for longer as a result of the surge in gas prices”. Elsewhere, Bloomberg reports that the European Union will likely be early in achieving its target of filling gas reserves up to 80% by November. And the Financial Times says that China is Europe’s “white knight”, as it is reselling some of its surplus LNG.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times covers criticism of Norway’s plan to reduce electricity exports: “The power grid operators of Denmark, Finland and Sweden have taken the unusual step of warning Norway that its proposal to stop exporting electricity amid concerns in Oslo over its hydro production undermined the European market.” Elsewhere, Politico and Reuters cover a pledge by the French economy minister that French households will not be affected by this increase in electricity prices, although Politico reports separately that “French prime minister Élisabeth Borne warned the government may have to ration energy this winter”. Elsewhere, the Financial Times reports that Denmark’s energy minister has “called for European governments to do more to ease the process of approvals for renewable energy projects”. Meanwhile, Politico reports that the energy crisis has “reviv[ed] Estonia’s polluting oil shale industry”.

UK: Boris Johnson – don’t give up on green energy
The Sunday Telegraph Read Article

In a farewell message due to be delivered this week, Boris Johnson will say that Britain “must not give up on investing in green energy in favour of short-term fixes for the cost of living crisis”, the Sunday Telegraph reports on its frontpage. The paper continues: “His comments will be seen as a warning to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to maintain his ambition to build a new nuclear reactor every year and secure a five-fold increase in offshore wind power by 2030, accounting for almost half the UK’s total electricity consumption. It will be seen as particularly relevant to Ms Truss, who has pledged to suspend green levies on energy bills and insisted that, while backing the existing target of reaching net-zero by 2050, it must be done ‘in a way that doesn’t harm businesses or consumers.’”

Elsewhere, the Guardian says: “Leading green Conservatives have backed Boris Johnson’s call for his successor to invest in renewable energy, amid concern that the Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss could rely more on fossil fuels to combat soaring prices.” Johnson has penned a comment piece in the Daily Mail, writing that: “The months ahead are going to be tough, perhaps very tough…And yet I have never been more certain that we will come through this well – and that Britain will emerge stronger and more prosperous the other side.” Johnson goes on to discuss the importance of green energy for improving energy security: “With every new wind farm we build offshore, with every new nuclear project we approve, we strengthen our strategic position. We become less vulnerable to the vagaries of the global gas price and less vulnerable to Putin’s pressure…We are going to build a new reactor every year and will have a colossal 50 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 – almost half our total electricity consumption. This British Energy Security Strategy is just a part of a vast programme to make the economy more productive and competitive.”

Elsewhere, MailOnline says that, in his final week, Johnson plans to sign off on a new £30bn nuclear power plant.

UK: Tories rush to drill for more oil in North Sea
The Times Read Article

A lead Times story reports that “Liz Truss will approve a series of oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea in one of her first acts as prime minister as part of a long-term plan to ensure Britain’s energy security”. [The new licencing round was already announced in March.] The paper says that Kwasi Kwarteng and Jacob Rees-Mogg “have been meeting oil and gas companies to negotiate a deal to secure energy supplies this winter”, adding that “the pair have a two-pronged approach that involves securing more gas from Norway while maximising domestic production”. It adds that Rees-Mogg could be the new energy secretary under Truss. Meanwhile, a source close to Liz Truss has told BBC News that Truss “would prioritise tax cuts over giving direct payments to every household to help cover the cost of rising energy bills, if she were to become prime minister”. Politics Homes reports that Truss supporter Lord Frost “said tax cuts were the right approach to helping households adjust to higher prices, but conceded further support would likely be needed for those on benefits”. Elsewhere, the Independent covers the results of a poll, which finds that “Tory voters say Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak lack solutions to energy crisis”. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that energy secretary George Eustice “has said the energy price hike crisis is at the top of both Tory leadership candidates’ in-trays”. Meanwhile, the Times reports that a former Tory energy minister is urging both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to “stand by the Conservative manifesto pledge to keep a ban on fracking”. And Sir Ed Davey – leader of the Liberal Democrats – told the Daily Telegraph that “his party would run on an anti-fracking platform against the Conservatives in by-elections and at the next general election if the next Tory leader tried to resume the drilling as prime minister”. Davey added that he “remains proud that he was the person who ‘basically stopped’ fracking in the UK, despite the current energy crisis”, the paper says. Elsewhere, MailOnline reports that “fracking firms are preparing to offer people a 25% cut in their energy bills if they back drilling sites in their local area”. The paper notes that “Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have both indicated they will lift the ban on the controversial technology… But both Tory leadership candidates have suggested they will allow new drilling to go ahead only in areas where the plans are supported by communities.”

In other UK news, the Independent and the Guardian report that the closure of a coal power station in Nottinghamshire is expected to be postponed to increase domestic energy production. The Times covers a suggestion from experts that “the government could reduce energy bills by tens of billions of pounds by subsidising the cost of gas burnt in power stations”. Meanwhile, the i newspaper outlines “why the drive for net-zero is not to blame for the rising cost of energy”. Meanwhile, a new poll finds that 23% of adults in the UK plan to keep their heating off this winter, due to high energy prices, the Guardian reports. The paper continues: “About 70% said they would turn their heating on less, while 11% said they were considering taking out a loan to cover extra costs. That figure rose to 17% for those with children.” The poll was conducted before the regulator Ofgem announced the energy price cap would increase by 80% from October – a decision which will increase the average gas and electricity bill from £1,971 to £3,549 a year – the paper adds. The Independent and MailOnline also cover the results of the poll. Meanwhile, the Guardian covers warnings from chancellor Nadhim Zahawi that “things would be ‘really hard; for middle-earners, as well as society’s most vulnerable”. According to the paper, Zahawi said: “My concern is there are those who aren’t on benefits. If you are a senior nurse or a senior teacher on £45,000 a year, you’re having your energy bills go up by 80% and will probably rise even higher in the new year – it’s really hard.” Zahawi “has become the first senior minister to suggest that households should cut their energy consumption”, the Times reports. “Energy bills could double again to £7,300 by April”, the Belfast Telegraph reports via the Press Association. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that energy bills for larger homes could hit £10,000. According to the i newspaper, the cost of living crisis could push 1.7 million households into homelessness this winter. The Conversation reports that if the government’s “reasonable worst case scenario” plays out this winter – in which gas shortages combine with particularly cold weather – the UK “could experience its first large-scale blackout in decades”.

Elsewhere, the Independent reports that a campaign group plan to sue Ofgem over the 80% price cap rise. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that “Downing Street has faced widespread disbelief at the refusal of ministers to appear on TV and radio to answer questions about the increase in energy price cap”. This comes as the Independent reports that home insulation installations dropped 50% this year. The Press Association reports that “around 100 protesters gathered outside Ofgem headquarters in London on Friday urging consumers to withhold payment for “astronomical” energy price hikes they could not afford”. However, Ofgem has warned that refusing to pay energy bills will push up prices for others, according to the Times. The Times also reports that “people struggling to heat their homes amid rising energy prices will be able to gather at art galleries, community centres and libraries earmarked as communal ‘warm banks’ in council-led initiatives around the country”. Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports incorrectly that “electric vehicles will be more expensive to run than petrol equivalents from October”. (The author of the article has since admitted the article’s error was a “subbing mistake”.) The i newspaper also runs a similar piece. [A factcheck by Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans estimates a current saving of £64 per tank of fuel equivalent when driving an EV.]

In other UK news, the government has confirmed that sales of peat to amateur gardeners will be banned in England from 2024 as part of a pledge to restore peatlands, BBC News reports. The ban will not affect professional horticulturalists, the Independent notes. The Guardian also covers the news.

Germany: Robert Habeck expects gas prices to fall
Die Zeit Read Article

German economy minister Robert Habeck assumes that gas prices will soon fall due to the rapid filling of German gas storage facilities, reports Die Zeit. It says that German gas storage facilities are currently almost 83% full and, at the beginning of September, the 85% mark should be reached, which was only originally planned for the start of October. The outlet explains that, from October, Germany could obtain gas from France, according to the Federal Network Agency, which is “in new intensive talks with France”, said the president of the authority, Klaus Müller. Bloomberg also covers Habeck’s statement and reports that “European natural gas and power prices plunged the most in months after Germany said its fossil fuel stores are filling up faster than planned”. It says benchmark Dutch futures and German power slumped more than 20% on Monday, “paring the dizzying rally” seen in the past few weeks. However, Reuters reports that Germany faces the “bitter reality” that Russia will not restore gas supplies to the country, Robert Habeck said on Monday, ahead of the planned halt by state “energy giant” Gazprom of exports to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Moreover, the German energy group Uniper has applied for further government loans for €4bn in addition to the previous credit line of €9bn, which was “fully exhausted”, the company said, reports Manager MagazinReuters says it raised the bill for bailing out the utility group to an “eye-watering” €19bn and quotes Uniper’s head Klaus-Dieter Maubach as saying: “We are working at full speed with the German government on a permanent solution to this emergency, otherwise Uniper will no longer be able to fulfil its system-critical function for Germany and Europe.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Habeck, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, “is trying to correct his first major misstep” with the gas levy, which will see Germans pay a few cents extra per kilowatt-hour of gas, meaning an average four-person household will pay €480 more a year. The outlet explains that the levy was meant to support companies suffering from supply shortages financially, but it emerged that companies ranking in record-high profits could also benefit from the surcharge. Reuters also has the story. Habeck has also told Bloomberg that the Berlin government is working hard to “find a new market model”. He is quoted saying: “We need functioning markets and, at the same time, we need to set the right rules so that positions in the market are not abused”. Europe’s energy crisis will be high on the agenda when chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ministers meet for a two-day cabinet retreat in Meseberg outside Berlin starting today, notes the outlet.

In other German news, Global Times reports that low water levels on the River Rhine due to this summer’s record drought have led German policymakers and industry to launch a Low Water Action Plan, according to the ministry for digital and transport. German minister of transport, Volker Wissing, is quoted: “We have to face the fact that in the long term, due to climate change, we will have to adjust to extreme periods of low water again and again.” To tackle bottlenecks on the Rhine, Europe’s busiest waterway, the ministry said that the number of ships adapted to low water levels would be increased, notes the outlet. Wissing has spoken out in favour of accelerating the deepening of the Rhine, reports Die Zeit, citing that environmentalists, on the other hand, “are critical of the intended deepening of the river”.

Additionally, Der Spiegel carries a column by Christian Stöcker criticising the climate “immediate program” of the Free Democrats politician and transport minister Volker Wissing. He suggests emissions in the transport sector would have to fall by around 275m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) by 2030. However, he says the program presented by Wissing is sufficient for a reduction of 13.66MtCO2. The German Environmental Aid has already announced a lawsuit against Wissing’s “proposal”, says the article.

Finally, Tagesschau reports that Germany has secured access to significantly more wind energy from Denmark, which guarantees at least three gigawatts of electrical power for Germany’s households. The electricity will be transported to Germany via the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm with a 470-kilometre-long power cable, the story says.

US: California to ban sales of petrol-only vehicles by 2035
BBC News Read Article

There is continuing coverage of California’s plan – approved by state regulators late last week – to phase out the sale of new petrol-only cars and light trucks by 2035. BBC News explains: “Under the rules, issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), 35% of new vehicles sold in the state must be electric, hybrid or hydrogen-powered by 2026. The regulations would apply to 68% of vehicle sales by 2030, and 100% by 2035.” It notes that the new rules “still have be approved by the US government before they can take effect”. The Financial Times Lex column describes California’s move as “punchy by US standards”. In its California Today newsletter, the New York Times says that “the rule doesn’t force California’s car shoppers to buy these vehicles, but instead creates fines for automakers who fail to comply with the targets”. It adds that “the penalties are high enough that experts believe automakers will go along with the new mandates”. However, “whether the rule works in practice will depend on whether consumers embrace electric cars and how rapidly automakers can ramp up production of cleaner vehicles, which could prove challenging”, says another New York Times article. It explains: “There is also the widespread expectation of legal challenges that could hinder the policy, and some experts said those challenges might have a decent chance of success because of the unusual process by which California is allowed to set some of its own pollution laws.” The paper’s Climate Forward newsletter looks at the environmental footprint of lithium, which is needed for the batteries of electric vehicles (EVs). The Hill reports that “almost immediately” following state approval of California’s plans, “officials in New York, Oregon, Washington state and Rhode Island announced plans to adopt the rule as well”. Meanwhile, Energy Monitor looks at the main incentives in the new Inflation Reduction Act for EV adoption across the US. (For more on the act, see Carbon Brief’s coverage.) And DailyMail.com looks at the challenge of installing enough charging points to support the expansion of EVs in the US.

In other California news, the Financial Times reports on how the state’s governor Gavin Newsom has been “a longtime proponent of shutting down” California’s last nuclear power station at Diablo Canyon, but “has reversed course and embarked on a last-minute effort to extend its operation by a decade”. The paper explains: “Newsom’s administration has cited ‘unprecedented stress’ on the state’s energy system as a reason for keeping open Diablo Canyon, which alone accounts for 9% of the state’s generation and 17% of its electricity from carbon-free sources. The California legislature will need to vote on whether to extend its operating life by Wednesday.” The Independent reports that weather forecasters “are predicting potentially ‘record-breaking’ heat in California later this week and over the Labor Day weekend, warning that extreme temperatures could pose serious health risks”. The Guardian reports on the disease known as valley fever, which is “derived from a fungus that lives in the US south-west’s soil [and] is on the rise as climate crisis dries out the landscape”. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the “harmful algae bloom that has now spread from the northern to the southern reaches of San Francisco Bay”, which is “the largest in over a decade”. The paper says: “The last major algae bloom in the bay, in 2004, was caused by a heatwave; that is not the case now. However, some say the record-breaking drought could be playing a role, and that more needs to be done to improve the bay’s water quality to prevent such algae blooms, which are expected to increase in intensity statewide with climate change.” Finally, Reuters reports that federal prosecutors said on Friday that a Texas oil company agreed to plead guilty to criminal negligence charges and pay nearly $13m for a crude oil spill that killed wildlife and fouled southern California beaches.

In other US news, the Guardian reports that Mississippi’s governor, Tate Reeves, declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the state braces itself for massive flooding that was predicted for today. And DeSmog reports on how “a powerful Washington DC consulting and PR firm, with a long history of waging influence campaigns for fossil fuel corporations, is under scrutiny by a congressional committee as part of a broader investigation into the decades-long efforts by the oil industry and its allies to block action on the climate crisis”.

Efforts to pass global ocean protection treaty fail
BBC News Read Article

A fifth effort to pass a global agreement to protect the world’s oceans and marine life “has failed”, reports BBC News. Talks to pass the UN High Seas Treaty had been ongoing over two weeks in New York, but governments “could not agree on the terms”, reports the outlet. It was hoped that an Ocean Treaty would create “marine protected areas” to allow biodiversity to flourish, and require environmental assessments for heavy industry such as deep-sea mining, writes the Independent. There are currently “no legal protections” for the “high seas” – some two-thirds of international waters which are not “bound to any one country, and open to shipping, fishing and research for all”, the outlet continues. “While progress has been made, particularly on ocean sanctuaries, members of the High Ambition Coalition [an intergovernmental group including the European Union and its 27 member states] and countries like the USA have moved too slowly to find compromises, despite their commitments,” said Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, reports the Guardian. Some groups, such as the Pacific islands and the Caribbean group, had “pushed to complete the agreement”, said Meller, but countries in the global north had “only started working to reach compromises in the final days of negotiations”, the outlet writes. The outcome of the talks risks “seriously jeopardising a promise made by dozens of countries to protect 30% of oceans by 2030”, writes the Independent.

Major sea-level rise caused by melting of Greenland ice cap is ‘now inevitable’
The Guardian Read Article

Melting of the Greenland ice sheet will cause at least 27cm of sea level rise, regardless of how much the planet warms, according to new research covered by the Guardian. The paper reports that, “even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight”, the ice sheet would lose at least 110 tonnes of ice. The Washington Post adds that this accounts for more than 3% of the ice sheet’s volume. The estimate “paints a bleaker picture than that predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by the end of the century”, the Times says. The paper goes on to quote the lead author of the study: “It is a very conservative, rock-bottom minimum. Realistically, we will see this figure more than double within this century,” he said.” The Independent also quotes the study’s lead author: “In the foreseeable scenario that global warming will only continue, the contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea level rise will only continue increasing. When we take the extreme melt year 2012 and take it as a hypothetical average constant climate later this century, the committed mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet more than doubles to 78cm.” Associated Press covers the paper under the headline: “Zombie ice from Greenland will raise sea level 10 inches”. Other outlets including the New York TimesMailOnline and Forbes also cover the study.

Elsewhere, the Independent covers new research which finds that “animals with longer lifespans that give birth to a smaller number of offspring are less vulnerable to extreme weather than those that live for a short time and have many young”, while MailOnline reports that earlier springs could kill off bumble bees. Meanwhile, Bloomberg covers a study which finds that “most Americans significantly underestimate the level of public support for government climate and clean energy policies”. Elsewhere, AP reports that “dangerous heat” will hit three times more often in the future. And Reuters reports that “worsening droughts, storms and torrential rain in some of the world’s largest economies could cause $5.6tn in losses to the global economy by 2050”.

This comes as the Guardian reports that “an article in the Nature Climate Change journal argues that non-violent direct action taken by experts is effective”. The article says: “Civil disobedience by scientists has the potential to cut through the myriad complexities and confusion surrounding the climate crisis”, according to the newspaper.

China: Sichuan uses 5,000 solar panels to boost power supply
Global Times Read Article

Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, reports that a total of “5,000” solar panels were “put into use at an expressway section linking southwest China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces” last Wednesday. The panels are “expected to generate 4220MW (megawatts) annually, in an effort to boost power supply and ease the power crunch in the province”, the article adds. A separate Global Times article writes that China’s “two oil giants”, PetroChina and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), have reported “record-high first-half profit amid stratospheric global oil prices”, with total profits “hitting 150bn yuan ($21.85bn), inching close to their whole-year profits for 2021”. The outlet writes that it is “vitally important” for China’s “major energy producers to scale up production and supply of oil and natural gas amid global market fluctuations and an uncertain external environment, so as to ensure China’s energy security”, citing “industry insiders”.

Meanwhile, an analysis by CNN notes that China’s response to its “energy crisis” will have an “impact on the rest of the world”, adding that the country of 1.4 billion people is the world’s “largest emitter of carbon dioxide, accounting for 27% of global emissions”. The article writes that some analysts say “boosting coal capacity is only part of China’s answer to the much-needed energy reform”.

Elsewhere, BBC News reports that “after more than 70 days of extreme temperatures and low rainfall, China has seen its worst drought on record”. The Independent and Climate Home News have published pictures from the drought. Meanwhile, the New York Times writes that “dry weather in southwestern China has crippled huge hydroelectric dams, forcing cities to impose rolling blackouts and driving up the country’s use of coal”. And the South China Morning Post has published an editorial entitled: “Climate change is real and resolve is needed to mitigate the effects”. Finally, the Guardian reports that “rain across central China this week is expected to relieve the country’s worst heatwave on record, but weather agencies are now warning of potential floods, while analysts say the energy crisis exacerbated by the months-long drought is not over”.

Comment.

Surging UK energy prices are a national emergency
Editorial, Financial Times Read Article

There is extensive commentary across the UK newspapers reacting to the energy crisis, especially Ofgem’s sharp rise in the price cap for energy bills. An editorial in the Financial Times says: “The government must overcome its apparent aversion to raising awareness on how enterprise and society can ration gas and electricity use. Explicit support for businesses, ideally through the tax system, to incentivise green investments – for example in insulation and solar panels – will also keep future bills down. A halfhearted focus on this in the past has exacerbated today’s energy bind.” An editorial in the Times says: “Nothing should be off limits for the government in considering how to defuse the crisis, and there needs to be honesty about trade-offs. This will require acknowledging that a ‘net zero’ strategy on carbon emissions will have costs as well as long-term benefits. These can’t just be wished away…It should stress a national commitment to overcome this economic shock and a long-term programme to economise on energy. This will require a bipartisan commitment to devising a plan for greater energy security and a more diverse range of energy sources. Expanding a nuclear energy programme, fracking for natural gas, and maintaining gas storage facilities require a commitment that previous governments have not shown.” The Guardian stresses in an editorial that it is “time to back back control” of “broken markets”, adding: “The need to rebalance the public and private sectors, and rein in market excess is becoming the new common sense in UK politics.” Another Guardian editorial says: “Long-term answers – more renewables and a sustained energy efficiency drive – are essential parts of the response. But this is now an immediate crisis. It cannot be parked until the energy supply market has been transformed. It requires immediate action as well as generational change. The price of energy must be capped. The cost of doing this must be paid for by increased borrowing and by higher taxes.”

Meanwhile, an editorial in the Sun looks at the prospect of Liz Truss becoming the next prime minister next week: “She must impose swingeing further windfall taxes on war-profiteering oil giants – and brook no argument. She must avoid total catastrophe. We are not yet convinced she gets it. As monthly bills triple, her promise to axe green levies will barely make a dent. Tax cuts, while welcome, will not help the poorest. Restarting fracking, also vital, provides no immediate hope.” Another Sun editorial says the nation must “get insulating”: “The energy crisis alone should make it obvious that we cannot afford to waste a single kilowatt. So it is shocking to find the number of homes being padded out to reduce heat loss has more than halved this year. And the number of insulation installations being carried out is at its lowest since 2018. Householders faced with astronomical heating costs need lagging for their homes, not a government lagging behind.” The pro-Truss Daily Mail uses an editorial to drive home its worldview: “Miss Truss says she will strengthen the UK’s energy security to avoid future shocks. That’s not only welcome, but eminently sensible. For too long we have been beholden to unreliable renewables and turbulent global markets – and in the latest eye-watering bills, the chickens have come home to roost. This paper welcomes her pledge to tap the North Sea’s vast oil and gas reserves, massively ramp up nuclear power and begin fracking for cheap shale gas. After all, in the US where fracking is king energy bills are a fraction the size of ours. But that means Miss Truss sticking to her guns. She must face down the irreconcilable eco-lobby and the obstructionists. Why not, though, win round communities living in the shadow of fracking operations or nuclear plants by offering them free energy?” A further editorial in the Daily Mail argues: “By pursuing ‘net-zero’ at insane speed to try to placate the unappeasable green lobby, our scientifically illiterate politicians failed to safeguard energy security. To extricate ourselves from this mess, the next PM must remove all obstructions to oil and gas drilling, fracking and nuclear power. The grim alternative is staying firmly on a path to poverty.” (In another editorial, the Daily Mail attacks “eco-wreckers” for disrupting a fuel depot with an anti-oil protest and, thus, delaying copies of the Mail from being distributed as a “priority”.)

The newspapers also carry a wide range of commentators and columnists reacting to the energy crisis. In the Times, Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies says “it is time to lay to rest once and for all the myth that the present leap in bills has anything to do with the costs of decarbonisation”. Also in the Times, Hugo Rifkind argues that “we need sustainable energy, whatever it takes”. And the Times also gives space to Thierry Garnier, the chief executive of Kingfisher, to say that “it’s time to put energy efficiency at the top of the agenda, with a bold but practical national plan”. In the Financial Times, Camilla Cavendish argues that “the energy crisis is making the green movement’s case”. Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer says: “There is a growing view among Conservative MPs that the handling of the energy crisis will define the fate of the new prime minister and determine their party’s prospects at the next election. Yet neither of the contenders has offered answers commensurate to the severity of the threat.” The Daily Telegraph carries Robert Jenrick, the former local government and housing secretary, saying that “this crisis has revealed the urgent necessity to strike a sensible balance between climate obligations and our economic and security needs”. Politics Home has Chris Skidmore, the former energy minister, arguing that “we must end our reliance on gas to tackle this crisis”. In the Financial Times, Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation thinktank says that “the scale of the crisis calls for a radical approach…we will have to cap energy costs below market rates”. The Lex column in the FT looks at how “realistic” it would be to reopen the UK’s coal mines: “A real sticking point is the damage coal mining wreaks on the environment.” Richard Black, writing for Climate Home News, says: “While climate contrarians attempt to pin soaring energy bills on the ‘cost of net-zero’, in reality these crippling prices are, along with escalating climate impacts and Putin’s cynical despotism, the cost of not zero. More fool us, in Britain and elsewhere, if we fail to learn the lessons this time.” In the Daily Telegraph, Camilla Tominey attacks the net-zero goals: “All the 2050 [net-zero] target has succeeded in doing is leaving a very nasty after-taste for ordinary taxpayers…The rush to decarbonise the economy, with no plan for how to achieve that over such a short period of time, threatens to become one of the most expensive mistakes in recent British history.” Also in the Daily Telegraph, Juliet Samuel has an article under the headline: “How governments and the cult of net-zero wrecked the energy market.” And in the Sun, Jeremy Clarkson rails against electric cars: “Because we can’t buy gas from Russia, and we can’t frack it from the hills of Lancashire because someone called Tarquin has glued himself to a lamppost in Preston, we are facing the very real prospects of power cuts.”

Science.

Greenland ice sheet climate disequilibrium and committed sea-level rise
Nature Climate Change Read Article

The “imbalance” of the Greenland ice sheet under the recent climate means it is committed to contributing “at least” 274mm to global sea levels in future, “regardless of 21st-century climate pathways”, a new study says. The researchers resolve the “disequilibrium” of the ice sheet “in perpetuity” under climate change, using “satellite-derived bare-ice extent, tidewater sector ice flow discharge and surface mass balance data”. If ice sheet melt was consistently as large as the high-melt year of 2012, this would commit 782mm to sea levels, which serves as “an ominous prognosis for Greenland’s trajectory through a 21st century of warming”, the authors say.

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