Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Resource extraction responsible for half world’s carbon emissions
- 'Change now or pay later': RBA's stark warning on climate change
- Greenpeace hits back at Trump tweet on climate change denial
- Igas turns up heat on shale gas exploration at Misson
- Grown-ups get a scolding on climate
- Oil’s not well
- Narrating China's belt and road initiative
- Crises and emissions: New empirical evidence from a large sample
Extraction industries including mining and farming are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss, according to a new study by UN Environment covered in the Guardian. Rising material extraction is putting “a more dangerous level of stress on the climate and natural life-support systems than previously thought”, says the newspaper. Since 1970, extraction of coal, oil and gas has increased from 6bn tonnes to 15bn tonnes. It adds that minerals, such as sand and gravel for concrete, have increased nearly fivefold to 44bn tonne and biomass harvests have risen from 9bn to 24bn tonnes. The report finds that each person in the wealthiest countries used an average 9.8 tonnes of materials in 2017, including oil, gas, food and wood, reports MailOnline.
Australia’s central bank has warned climate change is likely to cause economic shocks and threaten the country’s financial stability unless businesses take immediate stock of the risks, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The Reserve Bank’s deputy governor, Guy Debelle, said on Tuesday that challenges for financial stability may arise from both physical and transition risks of climate change, adds the paper. “What if droughts are more frequent, or cyclones happen more often?” he said. “The supply shock is no longer temporary but close to permanent. That situation is more challenging to assess and respond to.” Debelle added that warming needs to be thought of by policymakers and business as a trend and not a cyclical event, reports the Guardian. Trevor St Baker, the coal baron and Liberal National party donor, has criticised Debelle for his speech, saying the warning was “totally inappropriate” and suggesting he lacked technical understanding of how the electricity market worked, says another Guardian article. Another Sydney Morning Herald article says Australia’s National party has briefed its MPs on party polling showing that climate change is a key issue for voters in their federal seats. The research showed voters were most concerned about the cost of living, but that climate change also ranked as one of their top issues, says the Herald. Lenore Taylor, editors of Guardian Australia, has written a Guardian piece entitled, “Enough scandalous time-wasting on climate change. Let’s get back to the facts.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, four working groups have been set up to deal with the risks climate change poses to the country’s financial system, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said yesterday, reports City A.M. A Daily Telegraph article by Ingrid Holmes, head of policy and advocacy at Hermes Investment Management, argues investors “have a duty” to act against climate change, but that progress is “erratic”. She adds: “As an industry, we must embrace this approach and move beyond simply allocating capital to becoming stewards of capital.”
Greenpeace has hit back against Donald Trump for tweeting comments sceptical of climate change from former member Patrick Moore, reports BBC News. Trump’s tweet quoted Moore, who he claimed was a founder of Greenpeace, as saying: “The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science.” Moore had appeared on Fox News programme Fox & Friends. Greenpeace has said Moore was not a founder, but a nuclear lobbyist who does not represent the group, adds BBC News. Greenpeace added that Moore “frequently cites a long-ago affiliation with Greenpeace to gain legitimacy in the media, and media outlets often either state or imply that [he] still represents Greenpeace. He does not.” The Hill reports that Greenpeace also distanced itself from comments from Moore criticising Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the green new deal. Yahoo News also covers the comments.
Shale gas explorer Igas has announced a discovery at its site in north Nottinghamshire, the Times reports. However, Igas also said set limits on earthquakes caused by fracking could prove “prohibitive”, the Times adds. The firm said it would consider submitting a planning application this year to frack at the site.
Inspired by a Swedish teenager, students around the world on Friday will protest against political inaction on climate, says a New York Times editorial. Referring to Greta Thunberg’s speech to world leader in Davos in January, the editorial adds: “Hers was not a tone grown-ups welcome from a 16-year-old. But Greta Thunberg is someone they should listen to. In fact, must listen to.” The “grown-ups” should listen “because the alarm is being sounded by kids like Greta who, unlike President Trump and other wilful deniers of the obvious, have realised that they stand to inherit a wounded world their elders are failing to protect”, adds the editorial. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal carries an opinion piece arguing that “on climate, the kids are all wrong”.
“It seems there are still decades of industrial life left in the North Sea,” says an editorial in the Scottish Sun: “The only question now is whether we can afford to use this new-found supply.” The editorial notes that the official position of the Scottish government is that “the challenges of climate change are real and urgent”. It argues that “no government which opposes nuclear power stations and wants to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles across Scotland by 2032…can pretend that they also back drilling for more oil”.
A new paper explores the formation of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), an ambitious infrastructure programme designed to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond. As the BRI was being developed, it gradually shifted “from a periphery strategy into a global initiative”, the author notes. However, “Chinese local governments have actively deployed their preferred narratives to influence and (re‐)interpret the BRI guidelines of the central government in order to advance their own interests”, the paper says. As a result, the wider perception of the BRI being Beijing’s masterplan to achieve its geopolitical goals pays “insufficient attention to the BRI’s domestic contestation and overstate the BRI’s geopolitical implications”, the paper concludes.
Financial crises over the last few decades have generally led to a fall in CO2 and methane emissions in affected countries, a new study says. The researchers assess the impact of different types of financial crises on a variety of pollutant emissions categories for a sample of 86 countries between 1980 and 2012. The impact of each crisis depends on the wider economic conditions in each country, the researchers note. For example, during a recession, the a crisis “had a positive impact on both methane and nitrous oxide emissions”; however, “if a financial crisis hit an economy when it was engaging in contractionary fiscal policies, this led to a negative response of CO2 and production-based emissions”.
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