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Daily Briefing |

TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES

Briefing date 06.10.2021
Rich countries fall $10bn short in climate finance pledges

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News.

Rich countries fall $10bn short in climate finance pledges
Bloomberg Read Article

Wealthy nations are trying to make up for a $10bn shortfall in the $100bn annual target for climate finance they were supposed to have met in 2020, according to Bloomberg. Citing “people familiar with the plans”, the news outlet reports that rich countries estimate they have so far raised $88-$90bn and are seeking to “reach or even exceed” the $100bn goal in 2022. Spain, Norway, Sweden are expected to boost their contributions ahead of COP26 in order to help close the gap, and Italy – identified by the Overseas Development Institute as one of the “significant laggards” in climate finance – is also is working to pledge more than $1bn, Bloomberg continues. It adds that the failure of rich nations so far to make good on their climate finance pledges has been a “sticking point” for poorer nations as the COP26 climate summit approaches.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, COP26 president-designate Alok Sharma said “we need the biggest emitters – the G20 is responsible for 80% of emissions – to step up to the plate and deliver in Glasgow”, praising climate activist Greta Thunberg for galvanising people to act and holding a “mirror” up to his generation, the Press Association reports. Separately, Sky News reports that business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will “kick off a search for a climate change expert to join his department’s board as the government tries to make a convincing case of its green credentials ahead of the COP26 summit”.

CNBC and Italy’s Corriere Della Sera have covered Carbon Brief’s analysis from Tuesday that examines historical responsibility for climate change. CNBC notes that the US “by some distance” is responsible for the largest share of CO2 emissions from 1850 to the present day. (See Carbon Brief‘s analysis in full). Separately, BBC News has covered Carbon Brief’s new analysis of disparities in climate-science publishing, reporting that “climate change academics from some of the regions worst hit by warming are struggling to be published”.

In more COP26-focused news, the Guardian reports that 100 people from around the world are to take part in a Global Citizens’ Assembly to discuss climate change over the next month, before presenting their findings at the summit. People will be chosen by lottery to take part in online discussions that will culminate in November, it adds.

There are also reports of trouble in the lead-up to the event, with the New York Times reporting that “challenges abound”. Despite the event kicking off in a few weeks “the Marshall Islands chief negotiator still doesn’t know how many people from her country are coming with her. An activist from Kenya has no idea when, or if, he will get vaccinated against Covid19, while another from Mexico has flown to the US to get a dose”, the newspaper states. It adds that the UK government “are still trying to figure out how to get Scotland’s health labs ready to process coronavirus tests in case of an outbreak”. Meanwhile, the Guardian follows up on a story from yesterday, reporting that “multiple participants” said that the cost of renting COP26 event spaces at the conference “is considerably higher than it was at COP25 in Madrid, with some saying it had increased by as much as 30%.” BBC News reports that a fresh pay offer is expected to be made to engineers at local train operator ScotRail, who have voted to take part in strikes during the event in Glasgow.

Finally, world leaders are gearing up for the summit, with Reuters reporting that Brazilian environment minister Joaquim Leite has said his nation plans to show the world at COP26 that it can address climate change “while remaining a top agricultural powerhouse”. The piece adds that far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been “blasted internationally for not doing enough to stop deforestation”. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald says that prime minister Scott Morrison has “played down the need” for him to attend COP26 in person, stating that his “first responsibility” was to explain the government’s climate policies to Australians. Another Reuters piece features comments from former US vice-president Al Gore from the Reuters Impact conference, where he said that “China could surprise the world at Glasgow” by bringing forward its climate targets. The South China Morning Post says that Chinese leader Xi Jinping will not now attend the crucial G20 meeting in Rome a few days ahead of COP26.

Trio of scientists win Nobel prize for physics for climate work
The Guardian Read Article

Three scientists have been awarded the Nobel prize in physics for their work on complex physical systems “including how humanity influences the Earth’s climate”, the Guardian reports. Half the award was given to Dr Syukuro Manabe and Dr Klaus Hasselmann as a pair, for their physical modelling of the climate, “quantifying variability and reliably predicting global heating”, it continues. BBC News notes that Manabe, a senior meteorologist at Princeton University in the US, demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere could increase the Earth’s temperature and, in the 1960s, led the development of physical models of the climate. (See Carbon Brief’s 2015 in-depth interview with Manabe.) A decade later, Hasselmann created a computer model that linked together weather and climate, the article adds. “The climate models that have built on the winners’ research form a crucial part of the evidence on which leaders at [the climate summit] COP26 will base their decisions,” it notes. According to the Los Angeles Times, Hasselmann’s work helped to explain why climate models “can be reliable despite the seemingly chaotic nature of the weather”, adding that he also worked on ways to “look for specific signs of human influence on the climate”. Manabe told reporters that he believed his award reflected the recognition of the importance of climate change by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’, which hands out the prize, according to Reuters. Indeed, the Financial Times quotes Thors Hans Hansson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, who said that “the discoveries being recognised this year demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations”. Another Reuters piece quotes the third winner of the physics prize, Dr Giorgio Parisi, who said climate change is a “huge threat” to humanity and added that it is very important for governments to act as quickly as possible. Sky News also focuses on the comments by Parisi, who is credited for discovering the “hidden rules” behind seemingly random movements and swirls in gases or liquids in the early 1980s. A piece in the Conversation by Dr Pushp Raj Tiwari, a climate modeller based at the University of Hertfordshire, states that his fellow modellers deserve the prize given that the climate models they pioneered “are unequivocal and have been proven right time and again”.

Meanwhile, a separate Reuters piece quotes a previous Nobel prize winner, Prof Lars Peter Hansen, an economist at the University of Chicago, who says that central banks are currently not up to the challenged posed by climate change. He tells the newswire: “Their toolkit is relatively limited and I do worry about them projecting the ability to do stuff… that they don’t have the power to do successfully”.

UK: Gas prices surge to record high
The Times Read Article

UK gas prices increased to new all-time highs yesterday “as Europe’s energy crisis deepened”, the Times reports. It also adds that oil prices globally “also jumped to fresh three-year highs of more than $83 a barrel on fears of a supply shortfall”. The newspaper adds that household energy bills could rise by as much as a third, or £420, to almost £1,700 a year from April “if wholesale gas prices do not abate in coming months”. EU governments are in discussions about whether the surge in energy prices requires a coordinated response, according to Reuters. It notes that while Brussels says the price crunch “should spur a faster green transition to reduce countries’ exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices”, some governments have warned that high energy bills could erode public support for ambitious climate policies. France and Spain are among the EU nations calling for a coordinated effort from the bloc in order to “increase our bargaining power” , while urging an overhaul of power markets, Bloomberg adds. The Daily Telegraph reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin has weighed in on the crisis, blaming the shift to renewable power for causing “hysteria and confusion” in European markets. The newspaper says the comments follow “widespread speculation that Moscow is withholding supplies to put pressure on Germany to approve a major new pipeline connecting the two countries, Nord Stream 2”. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that a group of EU lawmakers has questioned the pipeline’s compliance with the bloc’s laws, in a move that underscores “tensions over the controversial project”. A piece in Energy Monitor is titled: “Recent events complicate the idea fossil fuels are more ‘reliable’ than renewables.”

Separately, the Daily Telegraph reports that Lord Martin Callanan, a junior minister in the business and energy department, has “admitted” that using hydrogen to replace natural gas as a green alternative in boilers is “pretty much impossible”.

India asks biggest coal miner to boost output, help cut imports
Bloomberg Read Article

India’s coal crisis continues to make headlines. Bloomberg reports that at a time when “nearly 45% of the country’s 202 gigawatt (GW) coal fleet had stocks of three days or less…India is pushing state-run Coal India Ltd, the world’s top miner of the fuel, to boost production…and meet longer-term ambitions to curb imports”. Federal coal secretary Anil Kumar Jain tells Bloomberg: “We can keep pushing our [domestic] companies to over-deliver”, while also saying that his government is “accelerat[ing] efforts to eliminate imports of thermal coal by 2024”. Bloomberg also reports that “India’s power minister Raj Kumar Singh has warned that the nation could be handling a supply squeeze for as long as six months”. Business Standard, however, reports that “government officials said there was no energy shortage in the country and fears of scarce electricity supply are ‘unfounded’”.

Climate Home News reports that India “is on track to exceed its target of delivering 450GW of renewable energy by the end of the decade, but it continues to expand its coal capacity”, expansion plans that campaigners said “threaten the lives and livelihoods of indigenous communities.” Experts quoted in the story note that “not a single foreign investor has expressed interest in financing new coal projects since Modi opened coal mining to private investment last year”. It continues: “India is yet to submit an improved 2030 climate plan to the UN and promised to do so by the COP26”, but “how the power crisis will impact its plan remains unclear.”

Liu Zongyi: What’s the significance of announcing ‘China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad’ right now?
Guancha.cn Read Article

Guancha.cn, a Chinese news and commentary website, has a Q&A to explain the significance of President Xi’s recent pledge that “China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad”. The outlet interviews Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the China and South Asian Studies Centre at Shanghai Institute of International Studies. Liu says that the announcement has sent three important messages. The first, he says, is to stress China’s ambition to deliver on the targets of peaking emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. The second is to send “positive signals” before COP26 for a possible climate cooperation between China and the US, Liu notes. The third is to show that China regards the UN highly for its role in the global endeavour of tackling climate change, he adds.

Meanwhile, People’s Daily, a newspaper run by the Communist Party of China, says that China’s solar power or photovoltaic industry has “great potential” under the country’s climate goals. Zhuang Shuxin, deputy secretary-general of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, is quoted saying that the 14th five-year plan period (2021-2026) is a “critical window” for the realisation of the emission peaking goal and the “key five years” for China to build a low-carbon and efficient new energy system. Another People’s Daily report says that the key to China’s two climate goals is to build a new power system “dominated by new energy”. The report cites experts in an industry forum.

In other China news, “new energy vehicles” became a buzzword on Weibo – the Chinese equivalent to Twitter – during the country’s National Day holiday after motorists had taken to the popular platform to complain about their experience travelling with electric cars, according to China Energy News. The outlet says that one driver had to spend five hours queuing and recharging her vehicle in a service station. It adds that a driving factor of such a delay is the gap between the number of “new energy vehicles” and recharging docks on the road. Additionally, Ling Xiao, the former vice president of China National Petroleum Corporation, a major state-run oil and gas company, is under investigation on suspicion of “seriously violating discipline and law”, reports Jiemian News. The outlet cites a notice from the provincial corruption watchdog of Sichuan. It said Ling had turned himself in before being put under “disciplinary” inspection and investigation.

Finally, the Financial Times reports that China has started unloading “a small number of Australian coal shipments despite an unofficial import ban” in a move that emphasises “the intensity of the power crunch facing the world’s second-largest economy”. Reuters adds that an estimated one million tonnes of Australian coal have been in bonded warehouses, uncleared by customs, along the Chinese coast for months.

World's largest miners pledge net zero carbon emissions by 2050
Reuters Read Article

The world’s top mining companies have committed to a goal of net-zero direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, according to Reuters. The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has issued an open letter signed by the 28 chiefs of the world’s largest miners, whose operations cover 650 sites over 50 countries, which says they will report annually on their progress to decarbonise, the new wire adds. The Hill also has the story, noting that the ICMM include the likes of Anglo American, Mitsubishi Materials and Glencore.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that some of the world’s biggest companies are signing up for a coalition created by US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry “to scrub notoriously dirty industries”. Among those in the so-called First Movers Coalition, set to launch at COP26, are major shipping and cement companies.

The Guardian reports that the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents the majority of the global shipping industry,has submitted the plans to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), calling for “a carbon levy on shipping, a new fund for the development of low-carbon technologies and a 25% cut in emissions by 2030, moving to zero emissions from shipping by 2050”. Elsewhere, BusinessGreen reports that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) used its Annual General Meeting in Boston to approve a resolution calling for the global air transport industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

World Meteorological Organization says world ill-prepared for “looming water crisis” due to climate change
The Washington Post Read Article

A new report from the World Meteorological Organization warns that most countries are ill-equipped to handle a “looming” global water crisis caused by climate change and population growth, the Washington Post warns. It states that floods, droughts and other water-related disasters are on the rise due to global warming even as “swelling populations and dwindling resources around the globe have led to increased water scarcity in multiple regions”. It states that already more than 2 billion people live in “water-stressed countries” where they do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Reuters says the the report “calls for more financing and urgent action to improve cooperative water management, naming the need for better flood warning systems in Asia and drought warning systems in Africa”.

Comment.

UK needs a rapid plan to hit its green power goal
Editorial, Financial Times Read Article

An editorial in the Financial Times says UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to shift the UK to net-zero electricity generation by 2035 “sets the right tone ahead of next month’s COP26 climate talks”. However, it notes: “Visions without policies are worth little. The government needs not just to set the target but to spell out rapidly and credibly how it will achieve it.” The newspaper adds that the government has made slow progress on advancing its decarbonisation plans this year, adding that the 2035 goal is “not just about decarbonising existing generation. It means expanding capacity to cope with wider electrification of the economy to replace fossil fuel burning by vehicles, homes and industry.” It also says that coordinated efforts are needed to deal with the variability of renewable sources, including large-scale batteries, pumped hydro projects and “proposals to use excess power on windy days to produce green hydrogen”. Finally, the editorial says the government “cannot afford to delay the go-ahead and financing decisions” for two further large-scale nuclear power plants on top of Hinkley Point C in Somerset “to which they are said to be committed”, as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) with natural gas.

“Achieving all of this will entail a vast mobilisation of public and private sector resources. It would stretch the most capable government…Sadly, its record in managing everything from Covid to today’s gas and petrol crises hardly inspires confidence.” Brooke Masters, chief business commentator at the Financial Times, writes that while the “whole world has been hit by rising energy prices…Britain has proved uniquely vulnerable in part because of its poorly thought out approach to decarbonisation”. In her view, although battery technology to address the variability of renewables is improving, in the short term “the answer must be natural gas”.

Meanwhile, an editorial in the Daily Telegraph states that with the on-going issues ranging from Covid recovery to worker shortages, “economic recovery must be the top priority”. It concludes: “Vague talk about levelling up and the pursuit of zero-carbon policies will take the country only so far and possibly into a stagflationary cul-de-sac. We need to hear more from the prime minister today about policies that prioritise economic recovery and growth if he wants to scotch all talk of a crisis.”

The Guardian view on Insulate Britain: the art of protest
Editorial, The Guardian Read Article

A Guardian editorial addresses the on-going Insulate Britain protests, which have been blocking roads in a bid to raise awareness of the need to insulate the nation’s draughty and energy-inefficient homes. Despite their worthwhile cause, the newspaper says that “activists aiming to influence policy through the power of protest must always be mindful of public opinion. And reaction to the M25 and other blockages should give pause for thought .” It concludes: “Activists are right that the climate problem cannot be left to politicians; this was tried and it didn’t work…But in the build-up to next month’s crucial UN negotiations, and with a serious threat to civil liberties hanging over it, their movement should aim to stay a broad church.”

Columnist Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail takes a less sympathetic approach to the protesters, writing: “Because this lot are so annoying, so arrogant and smug they make a person want to rush out and buy the nearest gas-guzzling 4×4 just to exact some small act of revenge for the misery of the past few weeks.” However, Vine does add that “of course, we need a plan to counter global warming”. In the Daily Telegraph, former Labour MP Tom Harris asks why Labour isn’t “siding with ordinary working people against Insulate Britain”. He states: “The obvious conclusion presents itself: they are frightened (and the word is entirely appropriate) of upsetting the environmental lobby, including many of their own activists.”

The cheap and easy climate fix that can cool the planet fast
Hayley Warren and Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg Read Article

Bloomberg has an interactive piece exploring the impact of methane on global warming and how efforts to curb methane emissions could be a relatively straightforward way of addressing the problem. “Move quickly enough on methane, and the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C becomes far more feasible,” it states. The piece includes interactive charts and maps of the world’s major methane sources.

Another big interactive feature in the Financial Times looks at the climate impact of an electric cars, exploring the different components, where they are made and what their environmental impact is. It coincides with a “big read”, titled: “Pick-up trucks and climate politics: will American drivers go electric?”

Science.

New climate science Economic disparity among generations under the Paris Agreement
Nature Communications Read Article

A new study suggests that people born before 1960 will see a reduction in “lifetime” per-capita GDP due to climate change mitigation, while those born after 1990 will see a net increase. The authors model the economic costs and benefits of climate change mitigation for 169 countries, for a range of age cohorts, over 2020-2100. The study finds that people born in lower-middle income countries after 1990 are most likely to see economic benefits from climate mitigation, but adds that age cohorts are not expected to see benefits in many higher income countries. “Our findings highlight the challenges in building consensus for equitable climate policy among nations and generations,” the authors conclude.

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