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Daily Briefing

21.11.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

21.11.2018 | 9:12am
DAILY BRIEFING Subsidy cut deals blow to wind farms
Subsidy cut deals blow to wind farms

News.

Subsidy cut deals blow to wind farms

The government has “slashed” the financial support on offer for new offshore wind farms, the Times reports. The move will force developers to find further cost savings for projects to go ahead, it adds, noting the £60m a year budget is barely a third of the value of subsidies awarded in the last auction in 2017. The lower-than-anticipated level of support sparked “fierce criticism” of potentially jeopardising UK climate goals, BusinessGreen reports, with executives describing the funding allocation as “very disappointing”. “The government is really turning the screws on the offshore wind industry in this auction,” Richard Howard, an analyst at Aurora Energy, tells the Daily Telegraph. “In order to be successful, projects will have to be brought in at a lower cost than any offshore wind project in the UK to date.” Reuters also has the story, noting the auction will be held in May next year. Writing in the Times, energy minister Claire Perry praises the success of the UK’s offshore wind industry, adding: “As the industry continues to thrive and drives down the cost of energy generation, so too does the reliance on the taxpayer to help the sector grow.” Separately, offshore wind blade firm MHI Vestas has said its Isle of Wight factory is set to create hundreds of jobs, ITV News reports.

The Times Read Article
House Dems demand records on Trump’s climate rollbacks

House Democrats are demanding records from the Trump administration’s rollbacks of numerous climate change policies at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Hill reports. The letter is “likely an opening salvo” to more extensive investigations planned by the Democrats once they take over the majority in the lower chamber, says the Hill. Axios reports that climate politics are “having a moment” among House Democrats, pointing to plans to revive the select committee on global warming and clean energy that operated when they last had power. A separate Reuters article says the EPA is set to propose new, lower targets for the final three years of the country’s renewable fuel programme.

The Hill Read Article
10 countries demand net-zero emission goal in new EU climate strategy

Energy and environment ministers from 10 EU countries have signed a joint letter to EU commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete calling for “a clear direction” towards net-zero emissions, Euractiv reports. The EU executive is scheduled to launch its vision for 2050 next week, which will include eight different options or pathways for how to move the bloc’s economy onto a Paris-compliant trajectory, Euractiv adds. In the joint letter, the ten countries said they “encourage the commission to set a clear direction towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050”, adds Euractiv. BusinessGreen also has the story. Meanwhile, Climate Home News reports that Hungary is “eyeing an end” to coal-fired power generation by 2030. Associated Press reports that five environmental groups including Greenpeace have said 10 utility companies are responsible for the majority of premature deaths caused by coal plants across Europe.

Euractiv Read Article
Marshall Islands first nation to submit new, binding climate targets

The Marshall Islands have became the first country to submit new, binding climate targets to the United Nations this week, a government statement reviewed by Reuters shows. Under the Paris Agreement, countries have to submit new or updated pledges by 2020 to the and then every five years after that so that deeper emissions cuts can be achieved. The Marshall Islands’ two new pledges are to reduce emissions by at least 32% by 2025 below 2010 levels and by at least 45% by 2030.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

Fuel to the fire

ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten takes a look at how the impacts of a US law intended to reduce dependence on fossil fuels has “unleashed an environmental disaster” in Indonesia, in a collaboration with the New York Times. “In the mid-2000s, western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels – an ambitious move to reduce CO2 and curb global warming,” writes Lustgarten, adding: “But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.”

Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica and New York Times Read Article
I was arrested at a climate change protest – it was worth it

“On Saturday, at about 12.30pm, I was arrested for obstructing (thoughtfully sitting on) a public highway, namely Lambeth Bridge,” writes artist Gavin Turk. “I wasn’t alone…I believe that at least 80 other people were arrested.” Turk says he is adding his support to Extinction Rebellion, the new civil disobedience movement. He adds: “The international art world, to which I’m attached, requires the traffic of heavy art objects all over the globe – the cultural ebb and flow of images and ideas certainly has a huge carbon footprint. So I guess direct action is needed in this area too.” DeSmog UK has a story on hopes that Extinction Rebellion “could be the start to a new form of international mobilisation for climate action”. Meanwhile, BusinessGreen editor James Murray writes that there is “a strong case” for seeing the new wave of protesters as “broad allies in the push to build a sustainable economy”. The Times has a story on the different tactics of ten year old Elsie Luna: she went to the London offices of several of the world’s biggest oil companies and “politely asked the doormen if she could speak to the boss”.

Gavin Turk, The Guardian Read Article
Shut out of China, US coal exporters find favour in India, for now

US coal exporters affected by tariffs as part of the ongoing trade dispute with China, have so far managed to find other buyers in Asia, mainly India, writes Clyde Russell for Reuters. China imposed a 25% tariff on US coal imports in August as part of its retaliation against US tariffs on its exports, Russell adds. He concludes: “Overall, while it seems that US coal exporters have been able to find markets in Asia to replace lost volumes to China, it may be at the cost of having to accept lower prices, and to become more reliant on sales to India, a country that has a government policy of reducing coal imports to zero.”

Clyde Russell, Reuters Read Article

Science.

Decreased takeoff performance of aircraft due to climate change

The average takeoff distance of aircraft in summer could increase by as much as 11% by the end of the century because of climate change, a new study suggests. The researchers explore the impacts of rising temperatures on the takeoff performance of aircraft, including takeoff distance and climb rate. Using the Boeing 737-800 aircraft as an example, the results show that it could require an additional 170m of takeoff distance in future summers, with variations among different airports.

Climatic Change Read Article
Potential shift from a carbon sink to a source in Amazonian peatlands under a changing climate

The peatlands of the Amazon could switch from being a carbon sink to a carbon source by the end of the century, a new study suggests. The researchers use a biogeochemistry model to estimate the carbon accumulated in the “Pastaza-Marañon” basin in the Peruvian Amazon from 12,000 years ago to the end of this century. Rising temperatures accelerate peat carbon loss, the researchers find, and the basin may lose 0.4bn tonnes of carbon by 2100. If similar loses are seen in the rest of the Amazon peatlands, the region would become a carbon source, the authors say.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Read Article
Smoke radiocarbon measurements from Indonesian fires provide evidence for burning of millennia-aged peat

Around 85% of the smoke produced in the massive wildfires in Indonesia during the 2015-16 El Niño originated from burning peat, a new study shows. The researchers collected samples of air in Singapore during September and October 2015 and carbon-dated the aerosols within them. The results suggest that smoke plumes reaching Singapore originated primarily from peat burning, the authors say, and the average age of the carbon predated the Industrial Revolution.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Read Article

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