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Daily Briefing

23.04.2021
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING This is ‘decisive decade’ to limit climate change impact, Biden warns
This is ‘decisive decade’ to limit climate change impact, Biden warns

News.

This is ‘decisive decade’ to limit climate change impact, Biden warns
Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph Read Article

There is an avalanche of coverage of the US-led virtual climate summit that started on Earth Day yesterday. In his opening speech, US president Joe Biden warned world leaders this is the “decisive decade” to avoid the worst impacts of climate change as he outlined targets for the US to halve its emissions by 2030, reports the Press Association. (See specific coverage of the US pledge below.) Despite “a few technical hitches”, the summit’s first session “provided a powerful roll call of leaders of major economies stressing the importance of tackling climate change – and in a number of cases setting out new efforts”, the outlet says. (The New York Times says that the summit was “plagued” by technical problems, including opening speeches by president Biden and vice president Kamala Harris being “beset with painful echoes”.) Biden described climate change as “the existential crisis of our time”, says the Hill, and warned that “no nation can solve this crisis on our own…All of us, particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up.”

In a speech that had many turning to Google, prime minister Boris Johnson said that tackling climate change was “not all about some expensive politically-correct green act of ‘bunny hugging’…this is about growth and jobs”, reports the Daily Telegraph. (Both the Independent and the Hill report that Swedish activist Greta Thunberg changed her Twitter bio to “bunny hugger” shortly after.) BBC News political correspondent Chris Mason adds: “The prime minister’s contribution to today’s virtual climate jamboree included familiar lines from him: the UK being the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’ power and him being a man keen on having your cake and eating it: ‘cake, have, eat’ as he put it.” Johnson also called on all countries to come the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November “armed with ambitious targets and the plans required to reach them. And let the history books show that it was this generation of leaders that possessed the will to preserve our planet for generations to come,“ reports the Guardian.

A “procession of world leaders” followed, says another Guardian article, including with Xi Jinping, president of China, urging countries to be “committed to harmony between man and nature” and stating that China will peak its emissions more quickly than other major economies. (More on China below.) The paper continues: “Substantive new announcements came from Japan, with the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, revealing it will slash emissions 46% by 2030, based on 2013 levels, an increase on its previous commitment. South Korea, meanwhile, committed to not financing any more overseas coal projects.” (More on these below, too.)“. In addition, “Canada also upped its goal, to a 40% to 45% reduction in emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels”, the paper says. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “delighted” to see the US “back to work together” on climate change, reports the Daily Telegraph.

In one “awkward technical glitch”, the speech by French president Emmanuel Macron was cut off to make way for Russian president Vladimir Putin so he could make his own address, reports the Independent. The paper continues: “The French president was in mid-flow when the live feed moved over to Mr Putin, who also looked surprised at the sudden change. Following Mr Putin’s statement, during which he said Russia was serious about tackling the climate crisis, Antony Blinken the US secretary of state, the chair of the summit, apologised for a ‘technical issue’, and returned the floor to Mr Macron.” The Daily Telegraph also reported on the technical malfunction, while Reuters notes that Putin said that Russia may propose introducing preferential terms and conditions for foreign investment in clean energy projects.

In other speeches, leaders “from Turkey to Brazil, Bhutan to Gabon, cajoled and castigated rich countries for failing to live up to their promise of supplying $100bn a year in climate finance”, reports Politico. It adds: “Hammered by the twin crises of climate change and Covid-19, some leaders, including Antigua and Barbuda’s Gaston Browne, asked for debt relief. ‘We are literally teetering on the edge of despair’, he said.” Bloomberg notes that “Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro explicitly tied his country’s efforts – including a pledge to curb deforestation – to financial assistance from wealthier nations”. At the same time as the summit, a new report from thinktank Carbon Tracker suggests that huge and ongoing falls in the cost of renewable energy mean that it could replace fossil fuels for global electricity generation by 2035, reports the Times. It adds that the study indicates that “the fossil fuel industry will be unable to compete with cheap wind and solar power, while millions of people in developing countries will have access for the first time to affordable and domestically produced electricity”.

Alok Sharma, who is leading the UK’s preparations for COP26, described the speeches as “real progress, but we have further to go”, reports the Times. However, Greta Thunberg was less impressed, releasing a video on Twitter that argued the targets were “very insufficient” and full of loopholes, reports the Financial Times. She said: “Let’s call out their bullshit…We are not so naive that we believe that anything will be solved by countries and companies making vague distant targets.”

The Guardian has a video of Biden’s speech, while the New York Times has the video highlights of the first day’s speeches. BBC News has an explainer on the Paris Agreement and why the US rejoined, while the Press Association has a “climate jargon buster”. The Hill has “five takeaways” from the first day of the summit.

US: Biden unveils sweeping climate goal — and plans to meet it even if Congress won't
Politico Read Article

The White House yesterday announced its updated pledge under the Paris Agreement, committing to cut US emissions of greenhouse gases in at least half by 2030, reports Politico. The announcement came ahead of the climate summit, with the target committing to cutting emissions by 50 to 52% compared with 2005 levels — “a far more aggressive goal than the one former President Barack Obama proposed half a decade ago”, Politico says. The outlet notes that “it’s a goal the White House insists the US can meet even if Congress rejects Biden’s calls for trillions of dollars in green infrastructure spending”. A White House factsheet provided a “broad outline as to the kinds of policies the administration is considering for reducing emissions, like reducing tailpipe emissions and increasing vehicle fuel efficiency”, notes the Hill, which adds: “But administration officials told reporters that they see multiple pathways to achieve the cuts.” The factsheet also said the US will remove CO2 from industrial sectors like cement through carbon capture, and it will produce green hydrogen from renewable energy, nuclear energy or waste to power, reports E&E News. It adds: “The administration will also tackle other greenhouse gases such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons. It will increase reliance on nature-based solutions to climate change, such as carbon sinks on public lands and in the oceans.”

The Financial Times Energy Source column looks at the “seismic” implications for the US energy sector. Although details “remain scant”, the paper says that “efforts will probably focus on the administration’s big infrastructure push, which is likely to include hundreds of billions of federal dollars in clean technology spending and green tax credits. It could also include “clean energy standard” (CES) legislation to mandate an 80% reduction in emissions from the power sector by 2030”. Politico says Biden’s ambitious climate pledge come down to one main question – “how much greener can he make the US power grid?” Another Politico piece notes that “the White House hasn’t set any specific targets yet for agriculture, which accounts for 10% of all US emissions”. The Guardian reports on analysis from Climate Action Tracker (CAT) that shows the new US pledge takes the world closer to holding global warming below 2C. However, CAT shows that “to be in line with a 1.5C temperature rise, the US would need to cut emissions by 57-63% below 2005 levels”, the paper notes. Bloomberg says that the US goal “is the most ambitious climate goal yet by an American leader”, but “isn’t the most far-reaching goal on the international stage, coming in behind the UK and the European Union”. And an analysis piece by Times environment editor Ben Webster notes that the US’s “bold pledge” is difficult to compare with those of other countries because different baselines are used. The New York Times has a piece unpacking the various baselines, noting that using 2005 “makes the US target look a bit better, because it omits a period when emissions were rising”, while the 1990 baseline favoured by European countries “makes Europe look more ambitious, since it has been cutting for longer”. The Associated Press also explains the different baselines. For more on the US, Carbon Brief yesterday published its climate and energy profile for the country.

US pledges to double international climate finance at Earth Day summit
Climate Home News Read Article

At the climate leaders summit, US president Joe Biden also promised to double US international climate finance by 2024 and triple funding for adaptation, reports Climate Home News. Biden said that “good ideas and good intentions aren’t good enough, we need to ensure that financing will be there to meet the moment on climate change”. The outlet unpacks the commitment, noting: “The increase in finance is set against the average climate finance delivered during Barack Obama’s second term, 2013-16. While no dollar figure is given in the plan, administration official Leonardo Martinez-Diaz told Climate Home News the baseline was around $2.8bn, with $500m of that going on adaptation. Adding in contributions to multilateral development banks and mobilised private finance, the total could reach around $15bn a year, he said.” Biden’s plan also calls for ending international investments and support for “carbon intensive fossil fuel-based” energy projects, reports the Hill, except for in limited circumstances where there’s a “compelling development or national security reason.” However, it “doesn’t lay out which types of fossil fuels it considers carbon intensive, though coal is likely to be included since that’s the most carbon intensive fossil fuel”, the outlet notes. Reuters adds: “In a fact sheet, the White House said US agencies, working with development partners, would prioritise climate in their investments, expand technical assistance and increase funding for adaptation and resilience. It said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would release a new Climate Change Strategy in November 2021, at [COP26].” The financial commitment “disappointed environmental activists who say it falls far short of what the US should be spending”, reports Bloomberg. Joe Thwaites, an associate with the World Resources Institute’s Sustainable Finance Center, tells the outlet that the money amounted “to little more than a quarter of public climate finance in 2024”. He added: “This is insufficient to address the needs described by vulnerable countries today, and nowhere near the balance with mitigation finance called for in the Paris Agreement.”

Meanwhile, in the US, Politico reports that Greta Thunberg urged a House subcommittee yesterday to end tax breaks for fossil fuel producers, saying their existence was a “disgrace” and she accused lawmakers who have failed to remove them as “proof that we have not understood the climate emergency”. Testifying virtually to the House Oversight Environment Subcommittee hearing, Thunberg said: “You get away with it now, but sooner or later people are going to realise what you have been doing this time. That’s inevitable. You still have time to do the right thing and to save your legacies, but that window of time is not going to last for long.“ Her comments come as the US Treasury Department has proposed eliminating some tax provisions used by oil, gas and coal producers to help pay for Biden’s $2.2tn infrastructure and climate plan, the outlet notes. The Financial Times and the Hill also have the story.

On the topic of Biden’s infrastructure plan, Reuters reports that US Senate Republicans yesterday proposed a $568bn, five-year infrastructure package as a counteroffer. The newswire notes that “the proposal, which falls below even the range of $600bn to $800bn that Republicans floated earlier in the week, focuses narrowly on traditional infrastructure projects and broadband access”. The Hill also has the story.

And, finally, Bloomberg Law reports that “a new coalition of [US] states is taking aim at the Biden administration’s approach to calculating the financial impacts of climate change”. The outlet explains: “Louisiana led nine other states Thursday in a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s decision to restore Obama-era values for an analytical tool called the social cost of greenhouse gases. Agencies use the metric to assess the harm caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. The Trump administration slashed the value, and the Biden administration reversed course in February.”

China’s Xi Jinping commits to working with US on climate, but does not announce new emissions targets
The Independent Read Article

Various Chinese and international media outlets have reported on Xi Jinping’s speech at the leaders climate summit. The Independent underlines Xi’s commitment to working with the US on climate change issues. It also highlights that Xi did not announce new emissions targets. VOA News picks up Xi’s pledge to “strictly control” coal consumption in the next several years and “phase down” fossil fuel between 2026 and 2030. Xi’s comments imply that China’s coal consumption, “by far the highest in the world, will reach a peak in 2025 and start to fall thereafter”, says Reuters. The Hill also picks up the story. The BBC says that despite “serious tensions” between Beijing and Washington, both sides “seem keen” to work together over climate issues. It reports that Xi “re-stated China’s climate promises, including moving to sustainable energy sources and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060”. However, the New York Times notes that “in a pointed reminder to his host, president Biden, [Xi] said that the industrialised countries of the West had a historic responsibility to act faster to reduce emissions”. The Hill reports the comments of former US vice-president Al Gore, who said he thinks China will “overachieve” on their 2060 net-zero goal.

For the same speech, state news agency Xinhua reports on Xi pledge to support “qualified” regions and “key” sectors and enterprises to reach carbon emissions peak first. Xi also stated that the country was drafting an action plan for peaking emissions, Xinhua says. It adds that the leader promised to “strictly control” coal-fired power projects during the 14th five-year plan period, which runs from 2021 to 2025. State newspaper the Global Times describes Xi’s address as “underscoring China’s ambition and contributions to the global fight against Climate Change, rekindling the concept of a shared destiny between human beings and nature”. Communist-Party-led newspaper People’s Daily focuses on Xi’s comments on the proposed timeframe for carbon neutrality. Xi is quoted saying the announced time between China’s carbon emissions peak and carbon neutrality “is significantly shorter than that of the developed countries”.

Elsewhere from China, the nation will aim to drop the share of coal in its total primary energy consumption to under 56% in 2021, reports state-run chinanews.com, citing an instruction from the National Energy Administration. The authority has released a series of goals for this year, including keeping the ratio of electricity in end-use energy consumption at around 28% and dropping “energy intensity” by 3%, the report adds. Finally, former governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan has stated that the carbon market and carbon price will be the “key links” in China’s pursuit of carbon neutrality, reports Shanghai Securities News. Zhou called both elements “very important”, the article says. Gillian Tett – chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large, US, for the Financial Times – writes that, despite some of China’s “depressing” moves in support of coal recently, “the bold rhetoric in this week’s climate summit may also offer a seed of hope; or, at least, a spur for some creative thought”. Finally, Carbon Brief reports on a new study that finds China’s pledge to achieve “carbon neutrality” before 2060 is “largely consistent” with the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

South Korea's Moon vows to end new funding for overseas coal projects
Reuters Read Article

In his speech to the leaders summit, South Korean president Moon Jae-in announced that his country would end all new financing for overseas coal projects and would soon set a more ambitious schedule for slashing carbon emissions, reports Reuters. The newswire continues: “The announcement makes official parts of a ‘Green New Deal’ proposed by Moon’s ruling party last year, which set ambitious goals of net-zero emissions by 2050, an end to funding of overseas coal plants and introduction of a carbon tax.” Moon said that “to become carbon neutral, it is imperative for the world to scale down coal-fired power plants”, but noted that developing countries that would struggle due to their dependence on coal “should be given due consideration and access to proper support”. Moon added that South Korea plans to “additionally raise” its Paris Agreement pledge and report it to the United Nations later this year, says the outlet, but he didn’t specify the new number.

Elsewhere in Asia, Nikkei reports that Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga laid out a 2030 target of cutting Japan’s emissions by 46% from the country’s 2013 level. Suga told the summit: “A goal of 46% in reductions would mean that Japan will raise our current target by more than 70% and it will certainly not be an easy task,” the outlet reports. It add: “The new goal is loftier than Japan’s original target of a 26% reduction from 2013, when emissions were at their highest. The nation is striving to keep pace with the US and Europe in moving toward a global goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and intends to accelerate a push into renewable energy.” BusinessGreen also reports on Japan’s new target.

Australia resists calls for tougher climate targets
BBC News Read Article

At the climate summit, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison “resisted pressure to set more ambitious carbon emission targets”, reports BBC News. In his speech, Morrison said: “Our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create…Future generations… will thank us not for what we have promised, but what we deliver.” The Guardian describes the speech as “an implicit rebuttal of the consistent international criticism Australia faces after more than a decade of toxic partisanship about climate policy”. It adds: “Morrison emphasised the country’s rapid rollout of solar and wind power, which has continued without an overarching federal energy policy, and said Australia was ‘on the pathway to net-zero’ despite not joining the more than 100 countries who have formally adopted the target.” The Guardian has a video of the speech.

Ahead of the summit, the Guardian reported that Australian prime minister Scott Morrison had confirmed that the country would not be increasing its emissions reduction target at the event. The paper continued: “Morrison held open the prospect of Australia strengthening its medium term position, currently a cut of 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030, later in 2021 – either at the G7 meeting in the UK mid-year, or in the lead up to COP26.” However, the paper added, “the prime minister also dug in behind Australia’s heavily criticised track record on abatement, declaring Australia’s current policy commitments were ‘serious’. He contended his government had ‘a good story to tell’.” Morrison also said that Australia had reduced its domestic emissions by “some 36%” from 2005 levels. However, the Guardian Australia’s environment editor Adam Morton notes that “no explanation has been offered as to why this is a valid way to count emissions cuts – it has no precedent in the global debate”. Writing in the Guardian, Prof Frank Jotzo from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy says that Australia’s current target “is totally inadequate compared with those from our best friends and allies”.

US: Biden plans to nominate ocean scientist Rick Spinrad to head NOAA, the country’s premier climate science agency.
The New York Times Read Article

President Biden has nominated Rick Spinrad – a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University – to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the New York Times reports. Spinard is a former chief scientist at NOAA and Biden’s decision “drew quick praise from the scientific policy community”, according to the newspaper. After “tension” with former president Trump, who “publicly sparred with the agency’s scientists”, the paper adds that this could be “a new chapter” for NOAA. The Washington Post notes that NOAA is “the government’s leading agency for weather, climate and ocean science” adding that Trump was unable to get his nominations to lead the organisation confirmed. Biden has announced his picks for other posts, the Hill adds, including senior adviser at the National Wildlife Federation Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

British Airways owner makes sustainable jet fuel pledge
Press Association via the Belfast Telegraph Read Article

The owner of British Airways has become the first European airline group to commit to powering 10% of its flights with “sustainable” jet fuel by 2030, reports the Press Association. The International Airlines Group (IAG) said it will buy a million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel every year, enabling it to cut its annual carbon emissions by two million tonnes by the end of the decade, the newswire explains, adding that sustainable jet fuel “is produced using materials other than crude oil, and produces around 70% less carbon emissions”. UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said that “IAG’s agenda-setting commitment is clear evidence of the progress we are making”, the PA reports. In a statement, IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said that government support would be “critical” to helping attract investment to get sustainable aviation fuel plants up and running and producing sufficient volumes for the future, reports Reuters. It adds: “IAG plans to invest $400m in developing sustainable aviation fuel over the next 20 years, including building a household waste to sustainable jet fuel plant in the UK.” BusinessGreen also has the story. Elsewhere, the Financial Times has a short video explainer on the “intriguing” alternatives to kerosene for powering aircraft.

Comment.

Biden climate summit day one: US leadership has a ways to go
Leslie Kaufman and Eric Roston, Bloomberg Read Article

It is “a sign of how far expectations on climate have shifted in the months since President Trump” that Biden’s commitments at the leaders summit “fell flat with some, particularly leaders of countries most at risk from climate change”, write Bloomberg’s Leslie Kaufman and Eric Roston. In their takeaways from the first day, the pair note that US officials had suggested that their metric of the summit’s success would be how many new pledges to reduce greenhouse gases the event inspired – “against that bar, the summit didn’t shine”. They note that the climate finance was “a major sore point” and the new US emissions pledge “got very mixed reviews”. The piece says: “The summit ended months of speculation, going back to the 2020 presidential campaign, over how Biden would bring the US back into the international fold. The ultimate answer was a huge leap compared to the past four years of US climate policy, but only a modest step on the scale of global action.” A Los Angeles Times editorial describes the updated US pledge as “an appropriate and reachable goal”, but cautions that Biden’s speech had “lots of vision, not a lot of details”. The Economist says that, while there were “lofty declarations and flurries of press releases”, it “was in other ways unprecedented: a sign of Mr Biden’s resolve to assert American leadership on climate after years of abdication under Donald Trump”.

Several comment pieces discuss how part of the summit’s purpose was – in the words of New York Times staff writer Kate Aronoff – to repay the “sizeable trust deficit” that the US has built up with the rest of the world. She continues: “This week’s summit offers a decent summary of recent history: Globe-trotting officials talking up US leadership and pressuring other countries to do more, with little to show for themselves at home. Rebuilding trust and reckoning with the climate crisis demands a sea change in US foreign policy – tweaks around the edges will not do.” Vox‘s Ella Nilsen and Alex Ward also discuss why rebuilding trust in the US is “going to be a tough sell”. Washington Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor warns that “though Biden hopes to reassert US climate leadership on the world stage, he still faces a steep challenge in his backyard”. He explains: “Republicans in Congress will seek to stymie new green legislation, while the fossil fuel industry’s lobbyists in Washington are already making the case that the Biden agenda means a loss of US jobs and rising prices for the American consumer.” An example comes from the same paper, with Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen – who focuses on “politics, populism, and American conservative thought” – arguing that the summit “will predictably attract fawning headlines as world leaders trip over themselves to promise massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”, but “less covered will be how extraordinarily difficult it will be to keep those promises”. He says that “dramatically reducing emissions” in transport, electricity generation and industry will “require wrenching, expensive change”. A Wall Street Journal editorial argues that Biden “doesn’t have legal authority to decree sweeping emissions reductions across the economy” and says he is “essentially doing an end-run around the Constitution, which requires approval by two-thirds of the Senate for the President to enter a treaty”. New York Times climate reporter Brad Plumer takes a more positive view of the challenge of cutting emissions, but notes that hitting the US target “could require a rapid shift to electric vehicles, the expansion of forests nationwide, development of complex new carbon-capture technology and many other changes”.

In other US comment, New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman writes on “getting real about coal and climate”, Kate Aronoff in the New York Times explains why the US “needs to rethink its foreign policy if it has any chance of meeting its climate commitments”, and a Chicago Sun Times editorial says that Illinois “has a lot riding” on Biden’s climate plans. Finally, writing in the Washington Post, Prof Daniel W Drezner – a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University – looks at the “climate change bargaining game” that Brazil is playing with the US.

The Times view on climate change action: Friends of the Earth
Editorial, The Times Read Article

There is widespread reaction to the Biden climate summit across the opinion pages of the UK newspapers. An editorial in the Times welcomes the “sea change from the Trump administration’s rejectionism”, but noted that the “Paris process is an exercise in international peer pressure, the best and only chance at a common effort to combat climate change”. It concludes: “Glasgow will rely on peer pressure and good faith to deliver on the commitments. While many countries have enshrined their targets in domestic law, there is no international forum to hold them accountable. That said, much of the pressure for change comes domestically…The best of climate diplomacy leans on the instincts of governments to be, or seen to be, responsible members of humanity as well as self-interestedy securing their own future.” An editorial in the Independent says that “for the first time in years, Earth Day can be celebrated with a renewed sense of optimism and hope”. An editorial in the Daily Express says that Boris Johnson “understands that the race to switch to a green economy has nothing to do with sentimental ‘bunny hugging’ but is, in fact, a chance to trigger a technological boom…Going green is not about limited our freedom to travel or pushing up energy costs…This newspaper has great green ambitions because we believe the UK can lead the new industrial revolution.” But the Daily Telegraph, which has a long history of promoting climate sceptic views, runs an editorial arguing that “science and the market, not socialism, will fix climate change”. It continues: “The threat of an even higher burden [than economically recovering from Covid] in the form of, say, higher green taxes is a terrible mistake. They should be green tax credits instead. To succeed, this revolution must be powered by the private sector, not the dead hand of the state, which has failed to achieve so many of its social goals before.” (The same newspaper also runs a column by the climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg under the headline: “Biden’s climate alarmism will do more harm than good.”

Meanwhile, the Independent uses the timing of the Biden summit to launch a new campaign on its digital frontpage, which its climate correspondent Daisy Dunne explains aims to “shine a light on UK support for fossil fuels”. The newspaper invites Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, to highlight that “in the UK we are waiting until 2025 to implement only disclosure [from companies about the compatibility of their actions with the Paris climate goals]; that is the pace of business as usual, not an emergency, and it lets other countries off the hook too”. The Independent also carries comment pieces by Mike Berners-Lee and Vanessa Nakate.

Separately, the frontpage of Metro trails a long feature by Alex Wilkins on how the “UK became a world leader in decarbonisation”. The article, which quotes Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans talking about hydrogen, says that “by looking at the UK, both past, present and future, a blueprint for the rest of the world begins to emerge”. Other opinion pieces include: a take on the Biden summit by diarist Quentin Letts in the Times; Philip Dunne, the Conservative MP who chairs the environmental audit committee, also in the Times on why “we need to continue cutting carbon, not corners, if the UK is to meet its legal obligations on climate and be viewed as a credible leader on the world stage”; Gillian Tett in the Financial Times on why “the US and China must work together to help small economies reduce emissions”; and Prof Piers Forster in the Conversation on why “early decisions matter” when it comes to meeting long-term climate pledges.

Finally, editorials in both the Sun and the Daily Mail attack the latest Extinction Rebellion protest. The Daily Mail says: “With every criminal act, Extinction Rebellion zealots further damage the fight against climate change. Do these self-professed saviours of the planet really think destructive antics win hearts and minds? Most people do want a cleaner environment – of that, the Mail’s successful campaigns against litter and plastic are proof positive. And Boris is vowing to accelerate the green revolution. But by indulging in vandalism, these ‘eco-warriors’ repel the very public they need to engage.” The Sun adds: “[We have] doubts Boris and Biden can pull off the carbon reductions they promised yesterday without economic hardship and political disaster. But at least the PM is selling it in the right way. If the eco revolution can be a job-creating economic goldmine not involving deterrent taxes, crippling costs or diet edicts, the public will back it. What, though, do the increasingly irrelevant XR mob imagine they are contributing when every infantile ‘protest’ further repels ordinary people? These middle-class hippies have been indulged too long.”

Science.

Global changes in oceanic mesoscale currents over the satellite altimetry record
Nature Climate Change Read Article

Ocean eddies play a key role in mixing heat, carbon and nutrients, helping regulate both regional and global climate. However, it remains unclear how eddies have varied over the past few decades. Climate model predictions generally do not resolve mesoscale eddies, which could limit their accuracy in simulating future climate change. This paper finds a statistically significant increase of ocean eddy activity using two independent observational datasets. Eddy-rich regions show a significant increase in variability of 2% to 5% per decade, while the tropical oceans show a decrease in variability. This has important implications for the exchange of heat and carbon between the ocean and atmosphere.

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