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Daily Briefing

15.04.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Students bring fresh wave of climate strikes to UK streets
Students bring fresh wave of climate strikes to UK streets

News.

Students bring fresh wave of climate strikes to UK streets

Thousands of students and activists have taken to the streets of more than 50 British towns and cities to demand urgent action on climate change for the third time in as many months, reports the Guardian and many others. According to the “Youth Strike 4 Climate movement”, sizeable protests took place in London, Sheffield, Manchester and Brighton – as well as in other cities around the world – on Friday. The Independent says the schoolchildren were “taking the day off school” to call for the government to declare a state of climate emergency. However, the Herald notes that protestors “took time out of their Easter holidays to join the demonstration”. Both the Press Association and the Guardian have pictures of the best placards and banners.

On Saturday, the protests continued as campaigners started arriving in London “ahead of expected mass demonstrations aimed at forcing the government to take urgent action on climate change and wildlife declines”, reports the Press Association. From today, protestors will converge on five locations in the city, creating a “festival” of action, says campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR). About 2,300 volunteers have signed up with XR to obstruct some of the capital’s busiest roads for at least three days, says the Guardian. The five locations are: Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Parliament Square, notes MailOnline. The protesters “are planning to paralyse London by blocking roads and glueing themselves to Tube trains”, says the Times. The XR group is also organising dozens of the events in the US, says another Guardianpiece. In a statement, the group said: “Extinction Rebellion is taking action on the streets of cities all over the world – from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver – over multiple days to demand that governments take necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency”, reports the Evening Standard. The Daily Express and the Sun also cover the story.

The Guardian Read Article
China targets nuclear fusion power generation by 2040

China aims to complete and start generating power from an experimental nuclear fusion reactor by around 2040, a senior scientist involved in the project has said. China has already spent around 6bn yuan ($893m) on a large doughnut-shaped installation known as a “tokamak”, which uses extremely high temperatures to boil hydrogen isotopes into a plasma, fusing them together and releasing energy. Song Yuntao, deputy director of the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Hefei Institute of Physical Science, said that while technological challenges remain immense, the project has been awarded another 6bn yuan in funding, and new construction plans are underway. In other nuclear news, the Guardian and Reuters report that workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have begun removing fuel rods from a storage pool near one of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns eight years ago.

Meanwhile, Reuters also reports that China’s energy regulator has said it will give priority to the construction of wind and solar projects that can operate without subsidies this year, and will cap new subsidised capacity.

Reuters Read Article

BBC News.

Seychelles president delivers speech in Indian Ocean calling for better protection for world's seas

The Seychelles president has given a speech from below the surface of the Indian Ocean to call for better protection for the world’s seas, reports BBC News. Broadcasting from a submersible at a depth of 124 metres, Danny Faure said a healthy ocean was “the beating blue heart of our planet” and it was “under threat like never before”. He added: “We have managed to seriously impact this environment through climate change. I can see the incredible wildlife that needs protection. Over the years we have created these problems, we must solve them and we must solve them together.” The Seychelles, a chain of islands off eastern Africa, faces an existential threat from climate change and rising sea levels, says the New York Times. Faure spoke during a visit to a British-led science expedition exploring the Indian Ocean depths, notes the Associated Press.

The New York Times.

The Finns Party campaigned against climate action. It came in 2nd.

The nationalist Finns Party narrowly missed coming first in general elections in Finland after campaigning against climate action, the New York Times reports. At yesterday’s election, the eurosceptic Finns Party rivals received 17.5% of the vote, says Reuters, finishing second to the Social Democrats on 17.7%. While most parties had competed to offer “ambitious climate goals”, the Finns Party “has seized on climate as a new front in the culture wars, warning its conservative, working-class supporters that they are being betrayed by urban elites”, says the New York Times. In a recent televised debate, Finns Party politician Matti Putkonen argued that aggressive environmental measures will “take the sausage from the mouths of labourers”.

Comment.

The Guardian view on Extinction Rebellion: one small step

“The idea that we can change the whole basis of our planetary economy without pain and inconvenience for the global middle classes is simply false,” says the Guardian in an editorial on the Extinction Rebellion protests in London this week. If the protests are successful, “it will be costly for the demonstrators, some of whom plan to be arrested, burdensome for bus passengers who can’t get to work, and vexing for car drivers who (unlike those in emergency vehicles) will be held up”, the Guardian says. But “should it fail, the long-term costs of climate change will be immense for almost everybody now alive and for all our descendents, too”. Also in the Guardian, columnist George Monbiot writes that “protest movements like YouthStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion make it harder not to see what we face”. And yet, “people discover more inventive means of shutting their eyes and shedding responsibility”, Monbiot warns. “Underlying these excuses is a deep-rooted belief that if we really are in trouble, someone somewhere will come to our rescue: ‘they’ won’t let it happen. But there is no they, just us.” Finally, the Guardian also carries an opinion piece from Clive Lewis, Labour MP and shadow minister for sustainable economics. Commenting on the youth strikes on Friday, he writes that it is “now up to all British politicians to heed their call” for a green new deal for the UK.

Elsewhere, in an “undercover investigation”, Mail on Sunday reporter Holly Bancroft attended Extinction Rebellion training sessions where she saw “plans for illegal protest” and took part in “role-play scenarios of activists clashing with the police”. The article also “reveals” that energy minister Claire Perry held meetings with the Extinction Rebellion group on the sidelines of climate talks in Poland in November. Perry told the paper that she had a ‘good and productive chat’ with the activists. Perry invited the group for talks after they protested at an event, noted a DeSmog UK article in December.

Editorial, The Guardian Read Article
Climate Change: The Facts — David Attenborough shows that the truth hurts

Several papers have published reviews of the new BBC climate change documentary, “Climate Change: The Facts”, due to be aired this Thursday. In a 5-star review, the Financial Times says “Sir David Attenborough might as well be narrating a horror film” as a “panoply of profs line up to explain that the science on climate change is now unequivocal”. While “it’s mostly doom and gloom”, the FT warns, “fortunately for our nerves the last 20 minutes focuses on what needs to be — and can be — done on an international and personal level”. The programme is “an excellent primer on climate change, sprinting through the basics of the science, why we have failed to cut carbon emissions and how we might reduce future warming,” says the New Scientist’s Adam Vaughan.

Elsewhere, Vox carries an interview with Attenborough by science reporter Brian Resnick, and the Guardian’s economics editor Larry Elliott looks at why “world leaders ignore David Attenborough at their peril”.

Suzi Feay, Financial Times Read Article

Science.

Global emissions pathways under different socioeconomic scenarios for use in CMIP6: a dataset of harmonised emissions trajectories through the end of the century

A new paper presents “a suite of nine scenarios of future emissions trajectories of anthropogenic sources, a key deliverable of the ScenarioMIP experiment within CMIP6”. The data provides results from integrated assessment models for “14 different emissions species and 13 emissions sectors…for each scenario with consistent transitions from the historical data used in CMIP6 to future trajectories”. “The set of scenarios is bounded on the low end by a 1.9Wm−2 [Watts per square metre] scenario, ideal for analysing a world with end-of-century temperatures well below 2C, and on the high end by a 8.5 Wm−2 scenario, resulting in an increase in warming of nearly 5C over pre-industrial levels,” the authors note.

Geoscientific Model Development Read Article

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