Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Shell launches $300m forest plan to offset carbon emissions
- Global warming is shrinking glaciers much faster than scientists thought, study finds
- Earth will take millions of years to recover from climate change mass extinction, study suggests
- Adani's Australian coal mine moves closer, wins key environmental approval
- How we get to the next big battery breakthrough
- A guide to sustainable eating
- Global glacier mass changes and their contributions to sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016
- Climate damages and adaptation potential across diverse sectors of the United States
- Comparative net energy analysis of renewable electricity and carbon capture and storage
Several publications report that Shell is launching a $300m forestry programme in an attempt to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The Financial Times reports that the energy firm will invest the money over three years in various carbon offsetting schemes, including large forests in the Netherlands and Spain, and will “start offering motorists the option of purchasing carbon offsets when they buy petrol or diesel at the pump”. The Times reports that this “one cent per litre voluntary levy” will initially launch in the Netherlands this month and then will be rolled out at Shell’s petrol stations in the UK later this year. In a statement, a Shell representative said its new fund would be used “to invest at scale in forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems around the world”, the Times reports. Reuters adds that Shell aims to reduce “its net carbon footprint” by 2-3% within three years. The Daily Telegraph and BusinessGreen also carry the news.
Associated Press and others report on a study published in Nature finding that glaciers are melting “much faster than scientists thought”. The study shows glaciers are losing 369bn tonnes of snow and ice each year, AP reports. “The most comprehensive measurement of glaciers worldwide found that thousands of inland masses of snow compressed into ice are shrinking 18% faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013,” AP adds. “The world’s glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s.” USA Today says that the largest losses came from glaciers in Alaska, followed by those in southern South America and the Arctic. MailOnline also has the news.
The Independent reports on a study suggesting that species on Earth could take “millions of years” to recover from climate change. For the study, the researchers assessed how long it took biodiversity to recover from past “mass extinction events” – events where a large proportion of Earth’s species have gone extinct over a short time period. “Previous mass extinctions have come about as a result of asteroids or periods of natural climate change,” the article says. “From this study, it’s reasonable to infer that it’s going to take an extremely long time – millions of years – to recovery from the extinction that we’re causing through climate change and other methods,” Dr Andrew Fraass, from the University of Bristol, told the Independent. MailOnline and the Metro have versions of the story.
Plans for a new coal mine in Queensland, Australia inched closer to reality today as the country’s environment minister signed off on the project’s groundwater management plan, Reuters and others report. The Guardian reports that the groundwater plan was approved “despite questions over modelling” raised by federal scientists. The Sydney Morning Herald notes that the minister’s decision follows “intense pressure from her Queensland colleagues to sign off on the plan before the federal election”. Separately, the Guardian reports that the Australian government has been warned it could face legal challenges “if it rushes remaining approvals for the Adani coal mine before the election”.
In the last article of a series titled “Batteries: Big Oil’s big challenge”, Quartz writer Akshat Rathi looks at “how we get to the next big battery breakthrough”. “The potential of batteries remains huge, but given the challenges ahead, it’s better to look at every claim about new batteries with a good dose of skepticism,” he says.
The New York Time’s personal health columnist Jane E Brody writes a guide for eating in a way that is healthier and better for the planet. “Have you given serious thought to the planetary effects of what you eat and made changes that will protect not only terra firma and surrounding waters but also your health and the well-being of generations to come?” she asks. “Even if environmental issues are not high on your list of concerns, health should be.”
Ice mass loss from the world’s glaciers “may be larger than previously reported”, according to a study published in Nature. Using data from more than 19,000 glaciers, the researchers find that meltwater added 27mm to sea levels between 1961 and 2016. The research also suggests the contribution from glaciers to sea level rise could be larger than that from the Antarctic ice sheet.
Climate change is likely to bring new challenges to the US, a study finds, including by causing “hundreds of billions of dollars” of damage to sectors including coastal property and the labour workforce. The sector-by-sector analysis also finds that high global-warming scenario would cause costly increases in extreme temperature mortality by the end of the century. “There are no regions that escape some mix of adverse impacts,” the authors say.
Investing in renewables could give a better return in terms of net energy than fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, a study says. The analysis uses modelling to take an in-depth look how the “energetic returns” of both techniques could differ. The results show that “renewables plus storage provide a more energetically effective approach to climate mitigation than constructing CCS fossil-fuel power stations,” the authors say.
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