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Daily Briefing

05.06.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Trump climate deal: Modi vows to go beyond Paris accord
Trump climate deal: Modi vows to go beyond Paris accord

News.

Trump climate deal: Modi vows to go beyond Paris accord
BBC News Read Article

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed his country will go “above and beyond” the 2015 Paris accord on combating climate change. Speaking at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Modi described the agreement as part of “our duty to protect Mother Earth”. Over recent days following Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, China and the European Union have restated their commitment to the agreement, while Mr Macron called Trump’s decision a “mistake both for the US and for our planet”. Speaking after a meeting with Macron, Modi said France and India had “worked shoulder to shoulder” on the Paris accord. “The Paris agreement is the common heritage of the world. It is a gift that this generation can give,” said Modi. Separately, the Daily Telegraph reports that the French president has met with Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York and UN climate envoy. Bloomberg made an unannounced visit to Paris after launching a coalition of US cities and corporations that intends to uphold the Paris accord while Macron led Europe’s charge to defend the pact. “Today I want the world to know the US will meet our Paris commitment, and through a partnership among cities, states, and businesses, we will seek to remain part of the Paris agreement process,” Bloomberg said at a joint press conference at the Elysee presidential palace. “The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it. We will meet our targets.” The Hill reports that Bloomberg has also pledged $15m from his philanthropic fund to cover the US’ share of the UNFCCC’s operating budget. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that US states accounting for more than 30% of the nation’s national gross domestic product have pledged to meet the country’s commitments for cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement, in defiance of Trump. California, New York, Washington and six other states have said they are committed to cutting emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels, which was the reduction proposed for the US by Barack Obama in the Paris Agreement. Separately, the Financial Times also reports that legal experts say Trump’s vow to immediately “cease all implementation” of the Paris agreement may prove more troublesome than he imagines. “I was shocked at how much of a kick in the teeth to international law that was,” says Farhana Yamin, a London lawyer who has worked on UN climate negotiations since 1991. “They have left themselves open to all sorts of legal problems.” The Times says that Shell has warned that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement risks exposing oil companies to a tough regulatory backlash from future US administrations.

Pence: 'For some reason' climate change is a key issue for the left
The Hill Read Article

The US broadcasters has aired plenty of reaction to the Trump decision over recent days with many of the primetime interview slots taken up with the views of key voices. Leading the way late last week was Mike Pence, the US vice president, who toured the studios seeking to defend the administration’s move. “We’ve demonstrated real leadership. We’ve demonstrated real progress,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News late on Thursday. “But for some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world.” In a separate press conference, the Guardianreports how EPA chief Scott Pruitt told reporters that said America has nothing to apologise for on climate change and retains a seat at the negotiating table, claiming: “After all, we’re the United States.” Media Matter for America notes how Pruitt selectively quoted in the press conference from a recent article by the controversial climate sceptic New York Times columnist Bret Stephens. On some of the other talk shows over the weekend, other big hitters also had their say. Al Gore, the Hill reports, told NBC’s Meet the Press that “promising to recreate the 19th century is not a visionary strategy for a successful 21st-century strategy”. John Kerry, Obama’s secretary of state and key architect of the Paris Agreement, also appeared on Meet the Press, saying the idea that Trump can go out and get a better deal is “like O.J. Simpson saying he’s going to go out and find the real killer. Everybody knows he isn’t going to do that because he doesn’t believe in it, because if he did believe in it, you wouldn’t pull out of Paris,” Kerry continued, the Hill reports. Dan Rather, the veteran US journalist and new anchor, told MSNBC that “it seems clear that [Trump]’s mad. He has some rage; he’s scared.” The Hill reports that Rather added: ““He just came back from his European trip and he was angry with the leader of Germany…and the new leader of France. So what you have here is a president who is lashing out in anger…[Americans] haven’t had a president this psychologically troubled since Richard Nixon. History will punish Donald Trump for this decision.” The Hill also reports that Fox News’s Kimberly Guilfoyle has revealed that Trump called her to discuss the Paris climate deal before formally withdrawing the US from the pact. “I spoke to him about it, and this was something that was very much so on his mind…“I think he did the brave and courageous thing…And, in fact, I told him that this morning at 8 a.m. when he called.”

UK taxpayers face paying more to tackle climate change
Daily Mail Read Article

The Daily Mail claims that the “British taxpayers face paying more to help developing countries tackle climate change after Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement left a £2.3billion black hole”. Following the pledge by developed countries at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 to mobile £100bn a year by 2020 of public and private money, the Mail notes how Trump has confirmed the US will now renege on the US’s contribution. “Now other rich nations – including the UK – could be called on to cover the cost. International Development Secretary Priti Patel yesterday indicated she would be reluctant to plug the financial gap left by Mr Trump’s decision to pull out…”Asked whether the UK could contribute more, she told the Daily Mail: ‘It is not always about money, it is about ways of working and how to achieve effective outcomes. I think we can work more effectively in making sure that every pound that goes in to the fund is achieving what it is meant to do.'”

Nikki Haley says Trump has accepted that the climate is changing and pollutants are partly to blame
Los Angeles Times Read Article

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, insisted over the weekend that Trump has accepted that the climate is changing and carbon emissions are partly to blame. “President Trump believes the climate is changing,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” programme. “And he does know that pollutants are a part of that equation.” She added: “Just because we got out of a club doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the environment,” Haley said. She didn’t say how she knows Trump’s views. Her views have been reported widely, including by the Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Times. The New York Times has a feature looking at Trump’s stance on climate change and concludes that “no one can say” whether he still thinks it is a “hoax”, as previously stated.

Boris Johnson: Let’s not wave fingers at Donald Trump
Politico Read Article

The UK disagrees with the U.S. president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement but will continue to work with Washington to tackle climate change, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said. “Let’s see what Donald Trump does before we rush and wave fingers at him, accuse him of this, that or the other,” Johnson told BBC Newsnight on Friday evening. Asked why Prime Minister Theresa May had not signed the joint letter condemning Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement alongside France, Germany and Italy, the British foreign secretary said: “Because as you heard the prime minister say herself, she doesn’t have to tag along with a bunch of other signatories to sign a letter.” DesmogUK has an article showing how the UK’s climate sceptic lobbyists and politicians reacted to Trump’s decision.

Scientists dispute the 'tiny, tiny' impact of Paris deal
BBC News Read Article

Climate scientists have taken issue with some of the research used by President Trump to bolster his case for withdrawal from the Paris agreement. The President argued that even if the accord was fully implemented it would only have a “tiny, tiny” impact. But researchers have told BBC News that the President was “cherry picking in the extreme” in his use of the facts. They say that the Paris deal could make the difference between tolerable and dangerous levels of warming. “This is cherry picking in the extreme,” said Prof Niklas Höhne, who works with the Climate Action Tracker to monitor likely emissions levels. “He picked the study that has the least impact of the Paris agreement on the global temperature increase.” The study on which this assertion was based was carried out by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 and published in 2015. Crucially the study didn’t include all the commitments made by countries in the run up to the meeting in the French capital at the end of 2015 that agreed the wide-reaching Paris deal. Another major question is that the study presumed that none of the actions proposed would continue past 2030. The Daily Mail also highlights how the MIT authors have taken issue with Trump’s misinterpretation of their work. Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Brad Plumer has an analytical feature entitled, “Meeting the Paris Climate Goals Was Always Hard. Without the US, It Is Far Harder.”

Used car batteries will power homes
The Times Read Article

Old electric vehicle batteries are to be sold to households to store power in their homes under plans announced by Renault. The company, Europe’s biggest electric carmaker, has struck a deal with the domestic battery provider Powervault to repurpose old batteries when they are no longer fit for use in cars. Powervault said that using the “second life” batteries would enable it to offer home storage for about £3,000, a 30 per cent discount on new lithium-ion home batteries, and should boost take-up. Only a few thousand UK households are thought to have installed batteries, but it is considered a fast-growing market as technology costs fall. The New York Times has a feature looking at different technologies being used to story power.

The Guardian view on Trump and climate change: galvanising the globe
Editorial, The Guardian Read Article

A number of UK newspapers have published editorials over recent days in the wake of Trump’s decision. Today, the Guardian says: “It is another indication of US readiness to abandon global leadership, and it is a gift to China, ambitious to be seen as a mature and reliable global player, and already a world leader in renewable energy technology. There will not be immediate consequences for the planet, but the time available for effective action is already perilously short; even the threat of a backward step by the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases could carry serious consequences.” It adds that, given the resolute international defiance towards Trump, “All of that makes Theresa May’s response even more of a disgrace. In this election week, it is worth remembering that she put her relationship with Mr Trump ahead of solidarity with European leaders…While no one doubts Mrs May’s commitment to Nato or her desire to stay in as many common European organisations as Brexit allows, she is showing some of the instincts of an isolationist. Like much of her sceptical party, she appears uninterested in climate change. The Tories’ hug-a-husky days are truly over.” Meanwhile, an editorial in the Financial Times says: “It is both an abdication of responsibility for the single biggest threat the world faces and a deliberate effort to undermine the principle of multilateral action.” The Daily Mail uses its editorial to says that “climate accords, they’ve earned a sorry reputation for exporting pollutant industries to other parts of the globe – at a crippling cost to Western economies. With the exception of Mrs May, major European leaders signed a letter of protest after Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement in his bid to save American jobs from migrating to smog-belching China. Wouldn’t they be better advised to join him in seeking less damaging means of protecting the environment?”

Comment.

Trump Pulls out of Climate Deal, Western Rift Deepens
Editorial, Der Spiegel Read Article

The German news weekly is scathing of Trump’s decision: “His speech was packed with make-believe numbers from controversial or disproven studies. It was hypocritical and dishonest…Trump’s withdrawal is a catastrophe for the climate.” But it also has the inside account of how other leaders tried – and failed – to persuade Trump at the recent G7 meeting: “Finally, it was Merkel’s turn. Renewable energies, said the chancellor, present significant economic opportunities. “If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she warned. Xi Jinping is clever, she added, and would take advantage of the vacuum it created. Even the Saudis were preparing for the post-oil era, she continued, and saving energy is also a worthwhile goal for the economy for many other reasons, not just because of climate change. But Donald Trump remained unconvinced.”

Why Abandoning Paris Is a Disaster for America
Foreign Policy Read Article

The influential magazine is scathing of Trump’s decision: “The decision will have serious, irreversible repercussions for the United States and the world. The president’s justifications for leaving the agreement are also just plain wrong. First, contrary to the president’s assertions, America’s hands are not tied and its sovereignty is not compromised by the Paris climate pact. The Paris agreement is an accord, not a treaty, which means it’s voluntary. The genius (and reality) of the Paris agreement is that it requires no particular policies at all — nor are the emissions targets that countries committed to legally binding…There are many reasons why pulling out of Paris is a bad idea. (In addition to those above, there’s the fact that, like most divorces, this is a years long legal process that requires more than a tweet or a speech.) Trump can bluster that he’s putting America first, but climate change is real and will become far more dire in the coming years. The need for action to address it will remain urgent. The rest of the world won’t be standing still and neither should we if we want to advance American security and prosperity.”

Trump's reneging on Paris climate deal turns the US into a rogue state
Joseph Stiglitz, The Guardian Read Article

The influential economist joins a wide range of people criticising Trump over his Paris Agreement decision: “Trump has thrown a hand grenade into the global economic architecture that was so painstakingly constructed in the years after the end of the second world war. The attempted destruction of this rules-based system of global governance – now manifested in Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is just the latest aspect of the US president’s assault on our basic system of values and institutions…We now also know that the world cannot count on the US in addressing the existentialist threat posed by climate change. Europe and China did the right thing in deepening their commitment to a green future – right for the planet, and right for the economy…The good news is that the majority of Americans are not with Trump. Most Americans still believe in Enlightenment values, accept the reality of global warming and are willing to take action. But, as far as Trump is concerned, it should already be clear that reasoned debate will not work. It is time for action.” The Guardian also publishes opinion pieces by Jonathan Freedland, Jamie Henn, Vicki Arroyo, Simon Jenkins and Lenore Taylor.

How G.O.P. Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science
New York Times Read Article

A long feature by the NYT looking at the recent history of the Republican party and how it found itself, collectively, taking a position at odds with the scientific evidence on climate change. The turning point came nine years ago: “It was called the “No Climate Tax” pledge, drafted by a new group called Americans for Prosperity that was funded by the Koch brothers. Its single sentence read: ‘I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.’ Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, was the first member of Congress to sign it in July 2008.”

Inside Trump’s climate decision: After fiery debate, he ‘stayed where he’s always been’
Ashley Parker Philip Rucker and Michael Birnbaum, The Washington Post Read Article

The Washington Post carries an in-depth article about the internal dynamic within the Trump White House which helped persuade the president to make his decision on Paris Agreement: “Trump had never liked the Paris accord. He viewed it as a “bad deal” and during the campaign had promised his base he would “cancel” the climate pact that he believed was hurting American workers. His final, deliberative verdict was the same as his initial, gut-level one, according to this account of Trump’s decision-making process, which is based on interviews Thursday with more than a dozen administration officials, Trump confidants, Republican operatives and European diplomats. Even so, the president listened and moderated months of often heated, and at times downright contentious, discussions among his own advisers, as well as scores of outsiders…During meetings with the president, Bannon, Pruitt and their allies came armed with reams of documents filled with numbers and statistics showing what they said would be the negative effects on the U.S. economy if the United States remained in the climate deal. They were, in the words of one Republican in frequent contact with the White House, “ready to go to trial.” “They were presenting facts and figures,” Conway said. “They were really important. That was the evidentiary case.” Some of those opposed to pulling out of the pact, however, said that much of the data the other side presented was either erroneous, scientifically dubious, misleading or out of date.”

The cool logic of Trump trampling on Paris
Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times Read Article

Niall Ferguson, the rightwing historian, is among the voices chosen by the UK newspapers to defend Trump’s decision. “Let’s not make a fetish of the Paris agreement. It is not Nato. It is not even Nafta. It is a non-binding accord, dependent on voluntary commitments…The Paris agreement asks democracies to make sacrifices for future generations. They have become quite bad at that. It asks rich countries to make sacrifices for poorer countries. This, too, has become a hard sell. It asks the American empire to bind itself to a supranational agreement. The empire does not like doing that, which is why it is also not a member of the International Criminal Court and has not ratified the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. The Paris agreement asks a country in the midst of a fossil-fuel revolution (the extraction of shale gas and oil) to restrain its development.” The Daily Telegraph commissions Nigel Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor and founder of the climate sceptic lobby group Global Warming Policy Foundation, to stick up for Trump: “[His] decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement has dealt a hammer blow to an elite consensus which has built up around the issue of climate change. That consensus has placed cutting carbon dioxide emissions above people’s jobs and protecting the environment.” Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker repeats his weekly mantra that climate change is not an issue worth worrying about and the Paris Agreement is “meaningless”

Science.

Impact of poleward moisture transport from the North Pacific on the acceleration of sea-ice loss in the Arctic since 2002
Journal of Climate Read Article

Stronger transport of moisture from the North Pacific towards the Arctic Ocean has contributed to the accelerated loss of sea ice in late summer and early autumn in recent times, according to new research. The authors found the resulting sea ice loss leads to increased evaporation in the Arctic Ocean, increasing of the specific humidity, thus acting as a positive feedback to the sea ice loss.

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Get a Daily or Weekly round-up of all the important articles and papers selected by Carbon Brief by email. By entering your email address you agree for your data to be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.