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Daily Briefing

11.08.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

11.08.2017 | 9:28am
DAILY BRIEFING Today programme criticised for inviting Nigel Lawson to come on and deny climate change, US report confirms 2016 as warmest year on record
Today programme criticised for inviting Nigel Lawson to come on and deny climate change, US report confirms 2016 as warmest year on record

News.

BBC’s Today programme criticised for inviting Nigel Lawson to come on and deny climate change

The BBC has been criticised for inviting climate sceptic Lord Lawson to voice his belief that global warming isn’t happening on yesterday’s Radio 4 Today Programme. Lord Lawson was able to make a number of claims, which went mostly unchallenged. Science broadcasters including Brian Cox and Jim al-Khalili criticised the decision. “For [the Today Programme] to bring on Lord Lawson ‘in the name of balance’ on climate change is both ignorant and irresponsible. Shame on you,” wrote Professor Khalili, a physicist and science broadcaster, who often makes programmes for the BBC. The Green Party has also lodged an official complaint, reports the Huffington Post Lord Lawson, who was responding to an intervention on the dangers of climate change by former US vice president Al Gore, said: “It’s the same old clap-trap. He’s the sort of bloke who goes around saying the end of the world is nigh.” However, the BBCdefended the decision to interview Lord Lawson, insisting it had a duty to inform listeners about all sides of a debate. It later silently corrected its article to address some of Lawson’s inaccurate claims. The interview and ensuing criticism has received wide press coverage, including in the TelegraphExpressiNews,Buzzfeed, the Radio Times, the Mirror and Politics HomeCarbon Briefyesterday published a detailed factcheck of Lawson’s claims, which was referred to by several outlets in the coverage of the interview, including the Independent and Buzzfeed. Climate Feedback also published a review of some of Lawson’s claims. Speaking later yesterday morning on LBC Radio, Al Gore accused the BBC of engaging in “climate denial”. “I had a personal experience with it this morning,” he said. “It’s really shocking.” This morning, the Today programme ran a partial corrective to the Lawson interview with contributions from Roger Harrabin, its environment analyst, and the Met Office’s Prof Peter Stott. Carbon Brief has published an audio recording of the exchange.

Independent Read Article
US report confirms 2016 as warmest year on record

A report compiled by a US government agency has confirmed that 2016 was the warmest year on record, as well as the third year in a row of record global warmth. The heat was the result of both long-term global warming and a strong El Niño weather phenomenon, the report said. The annual “State of the Climate” report was compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is based on contributions from nearly 500 scientists from more than 60 countries. It stands as the first comprehensive rebuke by the nation’s and world’s climate scientists to the presidency of Donald Trump, according to Think Progress. However, Politico notes that the report does not detail the link between climate change and human activities such as burning coal or gasoline. The report was also covered by CNBC, the Hill, the Washington PostClimate CentralAssociated PressReuters and Time.

BBC News Read Article
Britain spent 'twice as much on overseas fossil fuels as renewables'

The UK has spent more than twice as much overseas support on fossil fuels projects as on renewable ones so far this decade, according to research commissioned by the Catholic aid agency Cafod, reports the Guardian. The figures, which come from the Overseas Development Institute, show 46% of Britain’s £6.1bn energy spending in developing countries between 2010 and 2014 went on oil, coal and gas-fired schemes. This compares with just 22% for renewable energy projects. UK spending on fossil fuels overseas increased by more than half a billion pounds in the five-year period up to 2014, up from £2.2bn in 2009-2013, reports the Independent. Meanwhile only 8% of UK spending on energy in developing countries went to helping poor people access energy sources. The Express also covers the story, noting: “Despite committing the UK to invest in renewable energy, taxpayer money is being thrown into climate change affecting fossil fuels in developing countries.” Carbon Briefpublished a detailed explainer on fossil fuel subsidies earlier this year.

Guardian Read Article
Climate Change Has Influenced Timing of Europe’s Floods

A new study has found that the timing of floods has changed over the past 50 years across Europe because of changes in the climate, report Climate Central. The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, marks the first time a clear climate signal has been found in flooding on a Europe-wide scale. Understanding how climate change might influence flooding is difficult since so many other factors including urbanisation, deforestation or the dredging of rivers, also impact flooding. In some regions, such as southern England, floods are now occurring 15 days earlier than they did half a century ago, reports the BBC. “Climate change has impacted flood timing in Europe,” lead author Guenter Bloeschl of the Vienna University of Technology told a telephone news conference,Reuters reports. “But it did so in very different ways in different parts of Europe.” River flooding affects more people worldwide than any other natural hazard, with an estimated global annual average loss of $104bn, notes the Daily Mail. Such costs are expected to increase as a result of continued economic growth and climate change. The Express and Inside Climate NewsCarbon Briefalso covered the story.

Climate Central Read Article

Comment.

Green tide is turning against oil giants

In a column about “peak oil demand”, Samuel says: “Just like record companies and retailers, oil and gas firms are scrambling to get their heads around the coming disruption. Mainstream investors, even those holding companies like ExxonMobil, are pushing them to publish analysis of how decarbonisation will affect their assets and what they plan to do. These investors know that the fossil fuel industry is about to be caught by a gathering storm of electric vehicles, increasing energy efficiency and the plummeting costs of production for renewables…The decarbonisation of energy is coming. It’s time for governments, investors and the industry to plan for it, rather than sticking their heads in the sand.”

Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph Read Article
The rise of electric cars could leave us with a big battery waste problem

There is an unanswered environmental question at the heart of the electric car movement, writes freelance journalist Joey Gardiner in the Guardian: “what on earth to do with their half-tonne lithium-ion batteries when they wear out?” In the EU, as few as 5% of lithium-ion batteries are currently recycled, which leaves a potential environmental cost of pollution and wasted finite resources. “There are, however, grounds for optimism,” says Gardiner. “EU Regulations, which require the makers of batteries to finance the costs of collecting, treating and recycling all collected batteries, are already encouraging tie-ups between carmakers and recyclers.” But the problem is not yet solved, Gardiner notes: “the fundamental problem is that while the cost of fully recycling a battery is falling toward €1 per kilo, the value of the raw materials that can be reclaimed is only a third of that.” Instead, several major companies are patenting processes to reuse rather than recycle car batteries, Gardiner notes.

Josh Gardiner, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

Global patterns of drought recovery

How long it takes plants and trees to recover after a drought is a critical metric of drought impact. A new paper analyses three datasets of gross primary productivity and shows that recovery times — i.e. how long ecosystems take to bounce back to pre-drought growth rates — are strongly associated with climate and carbon cycle dynamics. They find that recovery is longest in the tropics and high northern latitudes and that drought impacts have increased over the twentieth century. If droughts become more frequent, the time between droughts may become shorter than drought recovery time, the paper says, leading to permanently damaged ecosystems and widespread degradation of the land carbon sink.

Nature Read Article
Changing climate shifts timing of European floods

A new paper analyses the timing of river floods in Europe over the past five decades using data from 4262 stations, and finds clear patterns of change in flood timing. Warmer temperatures have led to earlier spring snowmelt floods throughout northeastern Europe; delayed winter storms associated with polar warming have led to later winter floods around the North Sea and some sectors of the Mediterranean coast; and earlier soil moisture saturation have led to earlier winter floods in western Europe. The results highlight the existence of a clear climate signal in flood observations at the continental scale, the paper says.

Science Read Article

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