Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions halved since 1990
- One in five UK mammals at risk of extinction
- Germany to miss 2020 climate target, government concedes in official report
- Tesla to slash tenth of workforce as Elon Musk says ‘profit is obviously not what motivates us’
- Climate change: U.S. sets records for hottest 3-, 4-, 5-year periods
- There's No Power Grid Emergency Requiring a Coal Bailout, Regulators Say
- Greens call for ban on gas and oil boilers in new homes
- The EU needs to update its climate ambition - here's how
- Earth Will Survive. We May Not
- Limiting global-mean temperature increase to 1.5–2 °C could reduce the incidence and spatial spread of dengue fever in Latin America
Scotland has met its annual climate change target for the third consecutive year, the Herald Scotland reports. The target is set under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The new figures show greenhouse gas emissions fell by 49% from 1990 to 2016. Emissions in 2016 were 10.3% lower than in 2015. However, when using an adjusted figure which takes account of Scotland’s participation in EU emissions trading, emissions were calculated to be 2.5% higher than 2015. Scotland’s falling emissions since 1990 has outpaced the rest of the UK, reports Energy Live News. The National and Insider also have the story. In March, the Scottish government released its new climate plan (covered by Carbon Brief) setting out how it plans to meet its emissions targets over the next 15 years. However, ministers last month announced plans to set a new higher target to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050, up from its current goal of 80%.
The red squirrel, the wildcat and the grey long-eared bat are among 12 species that have been put on the first “red list” for wild mammals in the UK, BBC News reports. The new study, from the Mammal Society and Natural England, finds almost one in five British mammals to be at risk of extinction. Factors such as climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and disease are to blame, the report said. Even some apparently common creatures such as rabbits have been driven into decline by human pressures such as harmful farming activities and climate change, the Independent reports. The Telegraph, the Financial Timesand the Guardian also cover the study.
Germany will miss its 2020 climate target, the government is to acknowledge in a report due for release today, reports Climate Home News. A draft of the report, which goes to cabinet for sign-off today, suggested Germany will only achieve a 32% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. The country’s target is a 40% reduction.
Electric car firm Tesla has released plans to cut its staff by 9%, the Independent reports. In an internal email, chief executive Elon Musk said the move was in part a matter of cutting redundant roles, but also acknowledged cash-flow issues. The reorganisation will mean Tesla shedding about 4,100 jobs, CNBC reports.
May 2018 ranked as the warmest such month on record in the continental US. But National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data shows the US has also now had its warmest 3-year, 4-year, and 5-year periods on record, reports Axios. Andrew Freedman, who recently joined Axios from Mashable, writes: “Even if individual months fail to break a heat record, such as April 2018, the long-term trend is clear.”
US power grid regulators yesterday told Congress that they see no immediate national security emergency to justify propping up coal and nuclear power plants with a government order, Inside Climate News reports. The Trump administration is considering requiring grid operators to buy power from uneconomical coal and nuclear power plants. However, all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) panel indicated there was no emergency in the country’s electricity markets, potentially undermining these efforts, reports Reuters.
The Irish Green Party is pushing for a ban on central heating boilers powered by oil or gas, reports the Irish edition of the Times. David Healy, the Green Party’s climate spokesman, said that if fossil fuel systems were not banned homeowners would one day have to pay to have them removed. “We can expect almost all buildings constructed in the next few years to be still in use well beyond 2050,” he said. Denis Naughten, the Irish environment minister, this week said that carbon taxes may be increased in Ireland’s budget in an effort to avoid EU fines due to Ireland’s failure to meet climate-change targets, the Times adds.
The world expects the EU to lead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in great part by raising its own domestic pledge, writes Manon Dufour and Quentin Genard of green thinktank E3G. “Sadly, the EU appears to be falling short of these expectations.” They add: “This lack of engagement is disappointing – but can be somewhat explained, if not forgiven, as the EU is agreeing on a domestic decarbonisation framework for 2030.” However, they argue there is still plenty to be done now, including setting higher energy efficiency and renewables targets for 2030, aligned the 2030 greenhouse gas target with the Paris Agreement, and updating the EU’s long term strategy for 2050 with a higher target.
“What does it even mean to ‘save’ the Earth?” asks Adam Frank, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester, in a piece for the New York Times. If astronaut William Anders had touched down on our planet three billion years ago, his first experience, should he take off his flight helmet, would have been a quick death by asphyxiation, writes Frank. “That Earth, already home to life, had air but no oxygen.” Frank goes on to argue that “our planet does not need our saving”. But “what Earth’s history does make clear…is that if we don’t take the right kind of action soon the biosphere will simply move on without us.” But this does not absolve us from the need for urgent action, says Frank. “It means we must become the agent for something the Earth has not seen before – a biosphere that is also awake to itself and can act for its future with both compassion and wisdom.”
Restricting global warming to 1.5C above preindustrial levels could reduce the spread of dengue fever in the Caribbean and Latin America, new research finds. The researchers find that limiting global warming to 2C could reduce dengue cases by about 2.8m cases per year by the end of the century compared with a no-policy scenario that warms by 3.7C. Limiting warming further to 1.5C produces an additional drop in cases of about 0.5m per year.
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