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Briefing date 15.04.2024
Strasbourg court’s Swiss climate ruling could have global impact, say experts

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Strasbourg court’s Swiss climate ruling could have global impact, say experts
The Guardian Read Article

The Guardian reports that last week’s ruling by the European court of human rights (ECHR) “could open the floodgates for a slew of new court cases around the world, experts have said”. The newspaper says the ruling that the Swiss government violated human rights by failing to do enough to cut emission was the first time the ECHR had ruled on climate change. It continues: “Lawyers, academics and campaigners will be poring over the 250-page judgement for months to come. But it is already clear that it marks a significant shift in the role that courts will play in addressing the climate crisis and how states will have to respond.” The Guardian explains: “The 17-judge panel did not prescribe exactly what Switzerland should do to address the problem, leaving it to the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers to come up with a solution. But it did lay out minimum governance standards that states should have ‘due regard’ to, such as setting carbon budgets and interim targets, keeping these updated and based on the best available evidence, and being transparent about how well they are being met.” The newspaper says that the rightwing Swiss People’s party “accused the court of overreach” and notes a “similar backlash” from some UK politicians and media. However, it says: “Jessica Simor KC, who represented the Swiss women in court, pointed out that the UK government maintains it has plans and policies to meet its legally binding carbon budgets. ‘If so, it is complying with its obligations. If not, it is acting contrary to the will of elected representatives,’ she wrote.” The paper adds: “The ruling opens the way for several climate-related lawsuits that had been adjourned at the court. One brought by Greenpeace Nordic against the Norwegian government seeks to prevent the expansion of fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic. Another is being brought by an Austrian man with a temperature-dependent form of multiple sclerosis who argues, like the Swiss women, that this makes him particularly vulnerable to heatwaves. It is also expected to bolster ongoing lawsuits around Europe.” Reuters notes that the ruling cannot be appealed and adds that the Swiss Federal Office of Justice “said it would analyse the ruling to determine the measures the country needed to take”. The Associated Press reports: “[Mary] Robinson, who was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, praised Tuesday’s mixed court decision as precedent-setting and change-triggering.” It says she told the newswire in an interview: “Many countries in Europe, if not all, will be vulnerable to litigation along those lines, that their countries are not doing enough to protect the human rights…If countries do not protect their people, then they may be undermining the human rights. That’s completely climate justice.” It quotes her adding: “I think this is an interpretation of a reality, which is that people are suffering from climate shocks. Governments are still not taking seriously enough their responsibilities.” Another Reuters article reports: “Governments and companies that are lax on climate action should be worried since this week’s European human rights court ruling against the Swiss government improves the odds that other such cases could win at the top court, legal experts said.” A third Reuters article says the Swiss government underestimated the older women bringing the case, according to one of the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, a frontpage story in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph reports: “[UK prime minister] Rishi Sunak has hit out at the ‘complete overreach’ of an ‘illegitimate’ ruling by the European court of human rights that imposes a duty on governments to achieve net-zero.” The newspaper explains: “The intervention from Downing Street comes ahead of a final round of votes on the Rwanda Bill, which could pass by the end of this week, allowing the government to press ahead with plans for deportation flights. However, there are fears among Tory MPs that the long-awaited flights could yet be thwarted by judges in Strasbourg. Sunak’s comments will fuel speculation that [he] is considering including a pledge in the Conservative Party’s manifesto to pull out of the ECHR, with sources saying this has not been ruled out.” The Daily Telegraph also carries a report on Céline Amaudruz, vice-president of the populist Swiss People’s party – which it describes as “the country’s biggest political party” – saying her country should pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights over the climate ruling. The newspaper says: “Political experts said her party would not be able to secure a majority to leave the Council of Europe and its court, but suggested the government could perhaps push for some reforms to it.” In related comment, world economy editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes for the Daily Telegraph under the headline: “The ECHR has become the enforcer for neo-Maoist green guards.” He says: “Climate lawfare in international courts is a calamitous way to decarbonise the world’s $200tn (£159tn) economy. It invites the destruction of what remains of political consent for net-zero, risking a visceral backlash across the western democracies.” A Financial Times “big read” is titled: “The pensioners and babies behind a new era of climate lawsuits.” Inside Climate News reports: “A recent wave of climate-related court cases could have broad implications for legal systems around the world.”

Climate targets oversight group backtracks after staff revolt
Financial Times Read Article

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the “world’s leading arbiter of corporate climate targets”, has “taken a step back after a staff revolt over its endorsement of controversial carbon credits”, the Financial Times reported on Saturday. The newspaper says the SBTi issued a letter on Friday saying there had been “no change” in its standards “after three days earlier stating that companies would be able to use carbon offsets to meet their climate goals”. The outlet adds that formal draft SBTi rules on offsetting are now due in July. On Friday, the Financial Times Moral Money newsletter had reported on the “dramatic staff rebellion” inside the organisation. Reuters reports: “Trustees of a climate targets verification group at the centre of a governance storm on Friday sought to assuage concern over their plan to allow offsetting of companies’ supply chain emissions.” Axios says the the SBTi “clarification” still “indicates the group is moving toward allowing some form of carbon markets’ involvement for counting company scope 3 emissions cuts” generated in companies’ supply chains or via the use of their products. Bloomberg says a meeting in London last month, billed as “a series of technical discussions on subjects such as emissions accounting”, had, according to some attendees “another motive: to make a case for why the Science Based Targets initiative, the biggest and most-respected verifier of corporate climate targets, is the primary impediment to the growth of a market that advocates deem critical in the fight against climate change”. The outlet reports: “In a world full of greenwashing, SBTi has become a broadly recognised gold standard in emissions accountability because of its strict criteria for net-zero plans. It currently limits how corporations can use offsets – credits that companies can buy to ostensibly cancel out their pollution – to achieve their green targets.” It continues: “The meetings last month were hosted by the Bezos Earth Fund, a supporter of growing the voluntary carbon market and one of two main funders of SBTi, as well as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the philanthropic organisation of Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, is a project-specific funder of SBTi. They were held in a workspace in London’s Clerkenwell district. Initially, nonprofits who want to maintain firm standards for corporate net-zero goals weren’t invited, though they were later added to the guest list, according to people familiar with the event. Two SBTi representatives were present and faced a barrage of implicit and direct requests to relax their position on carbon offsets from senior leaders of prominent carbon market standards and lobbying groups, the people said.” Climate Home News carries a comment by Chris Hocknell of sustainability consultancy Eight Versa who criticises the SBTi’s “rigid” rules and says: “The Science Based Targets initiative ignores the good a company’s products do in avoiding planet-heating emissions – only counting those from its operations.” A second Climate Home News comment by Silke Mooldijk of the NewClimate Institute is titled: “SBTi needs tighter rules on companies’ indirect emissions.”

'Crippling debt': Influential figures call for World Bank and IMF reforms to combat climate crisis
BusinessGreen Read Article

More than 100 influential figures, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, have called for major global financial reforms to tackle the “crippling debt” they say is holding back action on climate change, BusinessGreen reports. It says: “In a letter addressed to G20 leaders today, which comes as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepare to hold their critical annual “spring meetings” in Washington DC this week, scores of actors, musicians, politicians, economists and campaign groups have called for major reforms to the global financial architecture to support climate action, particularly in developing nations worldwide.” Reuters says emerging economies will pay a record $400bn to service their debts this year, according to a report by Boston University. It adds: “The Debt Relief for Green and Inclusive Recovery Project (DRGR) found that 47 developing countries would hit external debt insolvency thresholds, as defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the next five years if they invested the necessary amounts to hit 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement goals.” Another Reuters article says “debt-for-nature swaps” could provide $100bn in funding for climate action, according to another report.

China to secure coal supply, steady prices with production reserve system
Yicai Read Article

China will establish a coal production reserve system by 2027 to guarantee “supplies of [coal] to power plants” and “stabilise thermal coal prices”, says Yicai. According to a joint document released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the National Energy Administration (NEA), China will aim to achieve annual production of 300m tonnes of coal by 2030 for its reserves, the financial news outlet adds. Science and Technology Daily also covers the news, saying that the document aims to facilitate the role of coal as “a bottom-line guarantee in energy supply”, adding that it calls on stakeholders to focus on developing “large-scale modern open-pit coal mines and highly secure shaft coal mines”. Industry outlet BJX News says that coal reserve production capacity can be used for “extreme” circumstances such as “drastic uncertainties in the international energy market, extreme weather or sudden changes in the supply and demand situation”.

Meanwhile, economic newswire Jiemian reports that premier Li Qiang presided over an executive meeting of the State Council, at which an action plan for energy saving and emission reductions in 2024-2025 and a work plan for promoting dual control of carbon emissions were approved. State-run industry newspaper China Electric Power News reports that the NEA has issued a policy which aims to “fully leverage the role of new energy storage” in the grid by promoting connection to the grid and dispatch of energy storage projects. The Communist party-affiliated newspaper People’s Daily quotes NDRC deputy director Zhao Chenxin saying that the recently-released action plan to promote large-scale equipment renewals and trade-ins of consumer goods is the overarching policy in a new ‘1+N’ policy grouping, with more policies under development which outline standards for levels of technology, energy efficiency and emissions to encourage trading in old equipment.

Reuters reports that commerce minister Wang Wentao said during his Europe trip that China “fails to understand how the EU Commission carries the banner of sustainable and green development [but also] takes protectionist actions…generating more and more risks”. Another Reuters article says that “for all the hype around China’s rise in the green energy sector, exports of the ‘new three’ [solar panels, lithium batteries and electric vehicles] accounted for only 4.5% of total shipments in 2023”. State news agency Xinhua says that “data analyses…show no evidence of overcapacity. In the new energy vehicle industry, for example, demand is growing rapidly”, adding that “the growth potential in third- and fourth-tier cities and rural markets in China is huge, providing sufficient demand support for [electric vehicles]”.

Europe trails China and US after ‘monumental’ energy mistakes, IEA chief says
Financial Times Read Article

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has told the Financial Times that Europe made “two historical monumental mistakes” in energy policy by what the newspaper describes as “relying on Russian gas and turning away from nuclear power”. It says: “The Paris-based Birol’s intervention comes as the EU leaders prepare to debate the bloc’s economic competitiveness this week.” It quotes Birol saying: “The existing industries, especially the heavy industries, are experiencing, and going to experience, a significant cost disadvantage compared to other major economies such as China and the US.” The FT also quotes Danish climate and development minister Dan Jørgensen: “[He] said that to maintain citizens’ support for the Green Deal, the EU needed to ‘do our homework’ and ensure that climate policy was integrated. This had to be done in a way that ‘does not hurt our competitiveness, does not hurt our employment, does not lead to more inequality but actually does the opposite…it’s extremely timely that we have a discussion about what this looks like.’”

Meanwhile, Birol has coauthored an article with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, published on the commission’s website. The pair say that Europe ended winter with gas storage almost 60% full, a record. They write: “This didn’t grab the headlines, but it matters. Because it shows that Europe has finally loosened the grip that Russia had over its energy sector. Europe has taken its energy destiny back into its own hands.” They continue: “What did we do? Europe acted quickly and we acted together…By now, the EU’s main supplier of natural gas is Norway, a trusted ally. But, most importantly, we worked on a structural response to this crisis, by investing massively in renewable energy, by boosting energy efficiency.” They add: “We are in a climate emergency. In the economy of the future, competitiveness and sustainability must go hand in hand. Affordable prices for energy are a key factor. But cheaper gas does not relieve Europe and other major economies of the responsibility to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible, and to help other countries do the same. To do so, we need to tackle all sources of emissions, including emissions from gas.” Separately, Politico has an explainer titled: “Does the EU have what it takes to fight China on green tech?”

'Made in Australia' act aims to beef up manufacturing, clean energy
Nikkei Asia Read Article

The Australian government plans to introduce a “Future Made in Australia Act” to support domestic manufacturing and “the transition to renewable energy”, Nikkei Asia reports, citing comments by prime minister Anthony Albanese. It says: “The proposed law would bring together existing subsidies and funds to support industry and cover new initiatives expected to be announced in next month’s budget.” The outlet explains: “The act will focus on sectors building green technology or feeding clean-energy supply chains, such as hydrogen, solar panels, batteries and critical minerals. The next step will be to introduce the legislation to parliament, where the ruling Labor party will need support to pass it through the Upper House.” Reuters reports: “Australia will launch subsidies and incentives modelled on similar efforts in the United States and Europe to help the giant commodity exporter bolster domestic manufacturing and promote industries it sees as vital to national security…While it comes with no price tag, at least A$18bn ($12bn) worth of incentives for renewable hydrogen, solar and manufacturing will be subsumed within the new policy rubric and additional announcements are likely in next month’s budget.” The Guardian says there will be “strict tests” for public funding under the scheme, according to treasurer Jim Chalmers. It quotes him telling ABC: “We’re looking for where we can make our businesses more competitive, build the capacity of our people and our regions…Become part of that net‑zero global economy, turbocharge the private sector, get value for money.”

India forecasts searing heat ahead of world’s biggest election
Bloomberg Read Article

India’s weather department has predicted a hotter-than-normal summer “with temperatures picking up just as India prepares for a six-week long election from the middle of April”, Bloomberg reports. The outlet adds: “Political parties have already started organising mega outdoor meetings, but protection from the scorching sun is not always guaranteed. At least 13 people died in April last year due to heat stroke at an event in Maharashtra, according to media reports.” Meanwhile, another Bloomberg article reports: “India has invoked an emergency provision to order its idling gas-fired power stations to operate during the summer, as electricity demand starts to rise…The South Asian nation is already in the grip of a scorching summer that’s driving up electricity usage.” Reuters says India also asked companies to “extend operations of imported coal-based plants until 15 October to meet anticipated high demand for electricity”. It adds: “The South Asian nation registered an 8% rise in electricity consumption in the financial year that ended last month, and demand is expected to rise in the hot summer months.”

UK climate minister stands down ahead of general election
Bloomberg Read Article

Energy minister Graham Stuart has left the UK’s Conservative government, Bloomberg reports, “as he prepares to face a tight election”. The outlet continues: “Stuart’s move suggests he may be concerned about his chances of defending his seat at a general election that prime minister Rishi Sunak has indicated is likely to take place in the second half of the year. With Labour enjoying a lead of 20 or so points in national surveys, pollsters project the Tories will lose scores and possibly hundreds of seats. While Stuart has a majority of more than 20,000, YouGov analysis this month shows the seat may swing to Labour – a prediction backed up by the Electoral Calculus website. Sunak’s office named Justin Tomlinson, a former junior minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, as Stuart’s replacement.” It adds: “As minister Stuart was responsible for energy security and net zero. In December he attended the United Nations COP28 climate change talks, where he was criticised for flying back and forth between the UK and Dubai during the two-week summit. He also reportedly clashed with his boss, energy secretary Claire Coutinho, over her plans to scrap a so-called boiler tax which was designed to drive the uptake of heat pumps.” The Press Association, Reuters, BusinessGreen and Politico also have the story. Another Press Association article says Stuart’s resignation as energy minister triggered a “mini reshuffle”.

‘Grownup’ leaders are pushing us towards catastrophe, says former US climate chief
The Observer Read Article

Political leaders who present themselves as “grownups” while slowing climate action are “pushing the world towards deeper catastrophe”, the Observer reports, based on comments by former US special envoy for climate, Todd Stern. It quotes him saying: “We are slowed down by those who think of themselves as grownups and believe decarbonisation at the speed the climate community calls for is unrealistic…They say that we need to slow down, that what is being proposed [in cuts to greenhouse gas emissions] is unrealistic…You see it a lot in the business world too. It’s really hard [to push for more urgency] because those ‘grownups’ have a lot of influence.” The newspaper continues: “Stern said that, in fact, delaying action to cut greenhouse gas emissions was leading to disaster, given the rapid acceleration of the climate crisis, which he said was happening faster than predicted when the Paris Agreement was signed. ‘Look out your window – look at what’s happening, look at the preposterous heat. It’s ridiculous.’” It quotes him adding: “All hard questions of this magnitude should be considered by way of a ‘compared to what’ analysis. The monumental dangers [the climate crisis] poses warrant the same kind of ‘compared to what’ argument when leaders in the political and corporate worlds balk at what needs to be done.”

UK: Weather damage insurance claims ‘are worst on record’
The Times Read Article

Last year saw a record £573m of weather-related insurance claims in the UK, the Times reports, citing figures from the Association of British Insurers. It reports: “High levels of flooding, burst pipes and storm damage resulted in a 36% increase in such claims compared with 2022. The rise in claims caused by weather damage was driven largely by storms Babet, Ciarán and Debi, which swept across Britain last autumn.” It quotes an adviser from the association saying: “Extreme weather events may not feel so rare as they used to as we grapple with a changing climate. Insurers continue to be there for affected homeowners, with payouts hitting record levels after a particularly difficult autumn and winter, with seemingly countless storms, from Agnes onwards, leading to significant flooding.” The Financial Times says of the figures: “A succession of severe storms last year left UK home insurers on the hook for £573m in weather damage, the highest since the data began to be tracked seven years ago. The record level of claims underscores the challenge that climate change poses to the industry and to homeowners through rising premiums.” The newspaper adds: “There were a record 37 extreme weather events around the world last year that led to payouts of more than $1bn each, according to figures from insurance broker Aon, with storms, floods and wildfires providing a particular challenge for underwriters.In some of the worst-hit areas of the US, several insurers have pulled back from offering home insurance, contributing to an affordability crisis.”

In other news from the UK, the Press Association says households with heat pumps, electric vehicles and insulation are more “energy patriotic”, according to a report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. The Daily Telegraph says heat pumps are “still getting a cool reception from homeowners with £183m in potential grants remaining unclaimed”. Meanwhile, a feature in the Times says: “Water firms have been blocked from new developments for 30 years but changes to the planning system and fears about climate change mean they may finally get their own way.” A comment for the Sunday Times by former minister Liam Fox is subtitled: “With sewage and plastic pollution the world is poisoning its most important resource. When will we start to respect our rivers and seas?” Another Times feature reports on the Viking carbon capture and storage project in Immingham in northeast Lincolnshire. Sky News reports: “Three of the ‘big four’ boiler manufacturers for the UK cannot guarantee customers will be refunded the so-called ‘boiler tax’ that companies added to new boilers earlier this year.” Finally, at his substack, Joss Garman, an executive director of the European Climate Foundation (which funds Carbon Brief) writes with Ruth Davis, deputy director of global programmes at RSPB, on the opposition Labour Party’s options for rural environment and climate policy.

EU gears up to sue Germany if it doesn’t change divisive gas tax
Politico Read Article

Politico reports that the EU will sue Germany if the country does not revise a “controversial” law that puts a levy on all gas leaving the country. The neighbouring countries say “it is harming their efforts to diversify away from Russian energy”, a senior European Commission official tells Politico. The outlet notes that Germany’s neighbours say the law could “violate EU rules on gas storage and undermine the bloc’s single market – driving up prices and incentivising them to buy cheaper Russian energy”. Politico says that, under EU law, the commission can commence an “infringement procedure” against a country for violating Brussels’ rules, potentially resulting in financial penalties, a process that typically involves multiple compliance requests before court intervention and can span months or years.

Meanwhile, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that a year after Germany’s nuclear phase-out, Germany’s power supply in Germany “is secure”, according to economy minister Robert Habeck. “Today we see that the power supply remains secure, electricity prices have also fallen after the nuclear phase-out and CO2 emissions are also decreasing”, he says. However, the industry still has complaints about high electricity prices, reports Die Zeit. It notes that the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) complains that German electricity prices are still twice as high as in 2019, while, together with taxes, grid fees and surcharges, the costs are sometimes even four times as high as in other countries.

Finally, Tagesschau reports that German transport minister Volker Wissing has warned of potential weekend driving bans if the ruling coalition will further delay reforms to the Climate Protection Act, as the transport sector may struggle to meet its climate targets. Reuters says Wissing “attracted backlash” for the comments, calling it “the latest dispute within Berlin’s ruling coalition over decarbonising”. It adds: “According to the current climate protection law, the ministry responsible for underperforming sectors must launch an immediate program to put them back on track. The transport minister has so far resisted introducing such a program for the sector, saying incoming amendments to the climate protection law would allow the sector to miss its CO2 cuts target if Germany’s total emissions target is met. The transport ministry said reforming the sector is more challenging than other areas of the economy because it affects people’s everyday lives which cannot be changed quickly.” The newswire says of Wissing’s ban threat: “The letter was heavily criticised by the coalition partners and environmental groups as irresponsible scaremongering at a time when Germans’ appetite for more green policy has seemed subdued.” Politico also covers the story. 

US: Biden administration raises costs to drill on public lands
The Hill Read Article

The US Interior Department has finalised a rule making it more expensive to drill for oil and gas on public lands, reports the Hill. It says parts of the rule, including raising royalty payments and charging higher rent, were set out in the Inflation Reduction Act. It says that the rule will also “make it more expensive for drillers to abandon their oil wells after use instead of cleaning them up”. The outlet adds: “The rule comes one day after the administration moved to cut costs for producing renewable energy on public land.” Reuters also has the story. The New York Times has an explainer on the new rule. A second article from the Hill reports: “The Biden administration on Friday finalised lightbulb efficiency rules first proposed in late 2022. The final rule will more than double the required efficiency level for the most common lightbulbs, from 45 lumens (the unit of measurement for light intensity) per watt to more than 120 lumens per watt.” The Associated Press reports: “Environmentalists protest Biden administration approval of huge oil export terminal off Texas coast.”

Oil prices fall after Iran attack as market draws down risk premium
Reuters Read Article

Global oil prices fell on Monday morning “as market participants dialled back risk premiums following Iran’s weekend attack on Israel that the Israeli government said caused limited damage”, Reuters reports. It says prices for Brent oil fell 0.5% and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate by 0.6%. The newswire quotes a consultant saying the outlet continues to be uncertain, depending on how Israel responds. BBC News also reports on the slight fall in oil prices. It reports: “Energy analyst Vandana Hari said: ‘Clearly, the oil market does not see the need to factor in any additional supply threat at this point.’” The Financial Times reports: “Oil and Asian equity markets were muted on Monday following Iran’s military strike on Israel as traders shrugged off fears the conflict could escalate into a full-blown war and curb supplies from the region.” It adds: “Experts warned that a severe response from Israel could ratchet up the conflict, restricting oil supplies from the region and pushing up prices…An exacerbation of the conflict risks shocking an already tight oil market globally as demand escalates in big economies such as the US and China while Opec+ producers constrain supply.” Meanwhile, Nikkei Asia says the global oil market will be oversupplied in 2025 due to a slowdown in Chinese demand, according to the International Energy Agency. It reports: “Supply will exceed demand by 200,000 barrels a day, marking the first glut in two years. China is a key factor. The nation’s daily oil demand is expected to grow by 300,000 barrels in 2025, down from 500,000 in 2024.” The outlet adds: The agency sees a gradual easing of demand, based on Chinese economic growth flagging and ‘the rapid domestic uptake of oil-substituting technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) and high-speed rail.’”

In other oil market news, the Guardian quotes Shell saying it “lobbies for, not against, the energy transition”, as part of its appeal against a landmark court ruling in the Netherlands. It reports: “The fossil fuel company is fighting the decision of a Dutch court in 2021 that forces it to pump 45% less planet-heating CO2 into the atmosphere by 2030 than it did in 2019. In court on Friday, Shell argued the ruling is ineffective, onerous and does not fit into the existing legal system.” Reuters reports: “Shell told a Dutch court on Friday that a European climate ruling against the Swiss government [see above] supported their appeal against a 2021 Dutch climate ruling because it confirmed that states and not courts should set rules on emissions reductions. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, however…said the exact opposite during the fourth and final day of hearings in Shell’s appeal against the 2021 Dutch ruling.” Meanwhile, a Daily Telegraph feature on speculation that Shell will relist in New York instead of London begins: “Endless hours have been spent imagining a world without oil as net-zero looms decades in the future. In London, however, stock exchange chiefs face the prospect of a more immediate – and more worrying – oil crisis: life without Shell.” It quotes one analyst saying: “Shell is attracting lower valuation due to negative sentiment towards oil and gas companies and [an] aggressive green agenda in Europe…An anti-business environment is growing, and the demonisation of energy companies does not help investment.” Separately, the Times reports that the UAE state oil company had considered buying BP. It says: “BP has been valued more cheaply than its international rivals and Shell, its closest London-listed peer, because investors have penalised it for embracing greener types of energy more keenly than other oil companies.”

Climate and energy comment.

One way to get China to clean up faster: build a ‘climate club’
Editorial, The Washington Post Read Article

An editorial in the Washington Post says the world “needs a climate club”, which it describes as “a tariff based on the carbon embedded in the imports into the US, the EU and other rich countries”. The newspaper explains: “It feels just that the world’s rich countries decarbonise first. They emitted most of the greenhouse gases currently in the air. But unless China, India and other large developing economies pare their emissions more aggressively, the just and the unjust will broil together.” It says a “climate club” could involve countries following the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism with harmonised policies: “If they harmonised their policies instead, creating a climate club in which they shared subsidies and other goodies, and set levies based on the carbon content in critical industries – taxing both imports and domestic products from high-emission producers – they would protect their local industry from dirtier competitors abroad. They would also provide high-emitting nations, such as China, with a powerful incentive to clean up their own production. And they would prevent fighting among themselves.”

Elsewhere, in the Diplomat, Abdul Waheed Bhutto, pro-vice chancellor at Dawood University of Engineering and Technology (DUET) in  Karachi, Pakistan, writes: “A move toward unified energy and environmental systems will not only tackle air pollution directly but also stimulate economic growth and promote regional integration.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg columnist David Fickling says a trade war between Europe, the US and China over electric vehicles would be “self-defeating for carmakers”. He writes: “If Brussels did end up raising tariffs on Chinese imports, the blowback could be devastating. European carmakers are already facing a tough market in China, thanks both to the weakness of local household spending and the competitive threat from cheaper locally made EVs. Retaliatory tariffs and hostile consumer sentiment could deal a knockout blow.” He concludes: “Compared to the naked protectionism being promoted by the US, Scholz could offer a more fruitful approach. Capitalists shouldn’t retreat into their shells at the first sign of competition. Instead, they should treat every danger as an opportunity to up their game. It’s ironic that the US, which pretty much invented the spirit of ebullient boosterism, is now the nation retreating from it most rapidly. Europe, and Germany, can show a better path.” Finally, for the Sunday Times, climate-sceptic columnist Dominic Lawson describes UN climate chief Simon Stiell as “yet another interminable prophet of doom”, in an article that puts “climate chief” in quotes.

New climate research.

A global database on coral recovery following marine heatwaves
Scientific Data Read Article

A new paper introduces the Heatwaves and Coral-Recovery Database – the “world’s most comprehensive database on coral recovery following marine heatwaves and other disturbances”. The database includes more than 29,000 data records spanning 44 years, from more than 12,000 sites in 83 countries. The authors say that “quantifying recovery from marine heatwaves is central to making accurate predictions of coral-reef trajectories into the near future”, and say that this data provides “essential information” to guide coral reef conservation efforts. 

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