Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Scientists nearly double sea level rise projections for 2100, because of Antarctica
- EDF says Hinkley Point is on track as engineers reportedly call for delay
- Government's plan for secure power generation 'unfit for purpose'
- Energy companies warned against building new power stations
- Engineers are telling the truth about Hinkley Point
- What does the science really say about sea-level rise?
- Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise
The disintegration of huge ice cliffs in Antarctica on top of a warming atmosphere could double scientists’ best estimate of sea-level rise to two metres by 2100, according to new research. The UN climate panel’s 2013 assessment of a metre by the end of the century contained only a minimum contribution from Antarctica, but the new study argues 1.14m could come from Antarctica alone, reports BBC News. Lead author Prof Robert DeConto told The Guardian that changing the rate of sea-level rise from millimetres per year to centimetres would make it an issue of “retreat, not engineering of defences.” Taking decades rather than centuries, the disaster scenario could play out much sooner than scientists expected, says The New York Times. The Daily Mail, The Independent, Reuters, TIME, New Scientist, Climate Central and Ars Technica all covered the new research.
EDF has insisted that its plans to complete the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset by 2025 remain on track, despite reports yesterday that some of its own senior engineers and a board member had called for it to be delayed. In an email to Reuters on Wednesday, the energy giant dismissed the reports as “unfounded rumours and fantasy information”. Writing in today’s Financial Times, EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz reasserts his confidence in the controversial project. He says, “EDF is fully confident that it will deliver this project on time and on budget”, adding that Hinkley Point C will be operational in 2025 and that there is “no plan whatsoever to change this date”. Today’s Times is reporting independent analysis claiming that Areva, the French company that developed the EPR reactor earmarked for Hinkley, is repricing the technology before a final investment decision, which could see building costs rise rise by nearly £2 billion.
A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has condemned the government’s scheme to secure the UK’s power supply as wasteful, expensive and failing to meet any of its own objectives. Under the capacity market scheme, consumers are “hit by a double whammy” of costs, says IPPR, by paying for subsidies to support coal plants while simultaneously paying for policies aimed at discouraging them. Elsewhere, The Times is reporting comments by Paul Massara, former chief executive of npower, that safety margins are perilously slim, putting Britain at risk of blackouts for four winters. BusinessGreen examines what the effect of closing two more of coal-fired power stations, Eggborough in Yorkshire and Fiddlers Ferry plant in Cheshire, might be on the UK’s energy system. However, a last minute reprieve means Fiddlers Ferry looks, too, looks likely to remain open for an additional year, reports Carbon Pulse.
A new study by Oxford scientists casts doubt on the chances of meeting the climate goal struck in Paris at the end of last year, with the finding that energy companies new only keep building new coal and gas plants for one more year if the world is to limit global temperature rise to 2C above preindustrial levels. The study’s conclusions kill any notion governments may have had over the window of time they have left to act, says Climate Home.
When did a major investment decision last go ahead successfully against the explicit advice of a company’s engineers? This is the point we have reached in the tortuous saga of Hinkley Point, writes the FT’s Nick Butler. Politicians can dream up projects and make them look attractive but it’s the engineers who have to deliver. Now that their doubts are out in public, they can hardly be dismissed, he says. Elsewhere, Nils Pratley in The Guardian writes that the government’s bet on Hinkley” is looking weaker with every passing week”.
Sea level scientists John Church and Peter Clark examine claims made in a high-profile recent study led by US climatologist James Hansen, which warned of several metres of sea level rise by the end of this century. They write, “the seeds for a multi-metre sea-level rise could well be sown during this century. But in terms of the actual rises we will see in our lifetimes, the available literature suggests it will be much less than the 5 m by 2050 anticipated by Hansen and his colleagues.”
A new study in Nature finds that Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. Using a couple ice sheet and climate dynamics model that included previously under-appreciated processes, such as the collapse of marine-terminating ice cliffs, the study expands on others that have hinted at the ice sheet’s vulnerability by examining its behaviour during the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago).