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Daily Briefing

19.12.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

19.12.2017 | 10:19am
DAILY BRIEFING Trump drops climate change from US national security strategy
Trump drops climate change from US national security strategy

News.

Trump drops climate change from US national security strategy

US president Donald Trump unveiled a new National Security Strategy on Monday that omits climate change as a global threat. Instead, the paper emphasised the need for the US to regain economic competitiveness, the Guardian reports. “America is in the game, and America is going to win”, the president declared. The closest Trump came to mentioning the topic of climate change was in his reference to his decision to pull out of the landmark Paris climate accord, the Independent says. In dropping climate change as a threat, Trump has “snubbed his own military leadership”, USA Today writes, since “security leaders — including Defence Secretary James Mattis — see climate change as a major security threat”. “Rising sea levels could threaten naval bases, and rising temperatures and more intense droughts and storms could fuel instability in volatile regions like the Middle East and North Africa”, USA Today says. Yale Environment 360 also carries the story.

The Guardian Read Article
BHP threatens to quit world coal body over climate policy

Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton is to withdraw from the World Coal Association due to differences over climate and energy policies, as well as the limited benefits it receives from membership in the industry association, the Financial Times reports. “The move reflects the growing importance of environmental, social and governance standards within multinationals, which want to protect their brands and insulate themselves from threats posed by of activists and consumer boycotts”, the Financial Times suggests. BHP Billiton is also considering leaving the US Chamber of Commerce due to the organisation’s criticism of the Paris climate agreement and its opposition to carbon pricing, and it has threatened to cancel its almost $2m yearly membership of the Minerals Council of Australia, the Guardian reports, if it does not cease campaigning on climate and energy issues. However the latest report says that it will remain a member of the mining council for now. Reuters also has the story.

Financial Times Read Article
Ofcom to investigate BBC climate change interview

Media watchdog Ofcom is to launch a broadcasting standards investigation into the BBC, after climate sceptic Nigel Lawson contested evidence about climate change on Radio 4’s Today programme. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed that there had been “no increase in extreme weather events” and that “mean global temperature has slightly declined” in recent years – claims that went unchallenged by the interviewer. Following complaints, the BBC admitted it should have challenged him and that the interview had breached its “guidelines on accuracy and impartiality”. A 2014 interview with Lawson also breached BBC rules. Press Association and the Mail Online also covered the story.

BBC News Read Article
Tata Steel makes progress with emission-cutting technology

An new steelmaking technology has entered a final stage of testing at Tata Steel’s plant in the Netherlands. The Indian group said its ‘HIsarna’ method removes several pre-processing steps, resulting in significant efficiency gains and at least a 20% reduction in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. It said that technology could eventually replace blast furnaces as a way of making steel. Steel is one of the biggest industrial sources of greenhouse gases.

Financial Times Read Article
Global warming: 8pc allotted for climate actions, says PM

The Pakistani prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that his government has set aside more than 8% of its budget for climate-related actions. He said that the government passed the Pakistan Climate Change Act, paving the way for setting up two new climate change institutions, the Express Tribune reports. “This will bring greater coherence to climate actions being taken by various ministries and agencies”, Abbasi said. He said that Pakistan’s climate policy was underpinned by three aims: saving human lives, promoting sustainable development and honouring the country’s international commitments.

The Express Tribune Read Article
Climate change targets 'highly challenging for Wales'

Meeting emissions reduction targets will be more challenging for Wales than the rest of the UK, the Committee on Climate Change has warned. The government advisors made a series of recommendations in a new report that include tightening house-building standards and increasing the use of onshore wind farms. Wales has a non-statutory target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, but the CCC has recommended a legally-binding target of 27%. Emissions in Wales fell by 19% from 1990 to 2015, compared with a 38% reduction for the UK as a whole.

BBC News Read Article
Climate review: Turnbull government will allow companies to purchase foreign carbon credits

The Australian government is to reverse its position and allow businesses to purchase emissions reductions in other countries – most likely at lower prices – to offset their own carbon production, in order to help meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. “When it comes to helping the environment, it doesn’t matter if you’ve reduced a tonne of CO2 here in Australia or in another country”, said environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg. However, the Greens accused the government of “outsourcing” climate policy by allowing firms to buy “dodgy permits from pig farms in China”. In 2011, the opposition leader Tony Abbott said that overseas permits involved money “going offshore into dodgy carbon farms in Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan”. The Guardian also has the story.

Sydney Morning Herald Read Article
Survey: Quarter of Brits more worried about climate change in 2017

British adults are more worried about climate change than they were a year ago, according to a YouGov poll by the charity 10:10. When questioned earlier this month 23% of 1,700 respondents said they were more worried about the issue than they had been at the same time last year, compared to only 3% who said they were less concerned. 43% said they expected their concerns to remain at the same level next year.

BusinessGreen Read Article

Comment.

What It’s Like Inside the Trump Administration’s Regulatory Rollback at the EPA

ProPublica reporter Talia Buford has written an in-depth feature exploring what the US Environmental Protection Agency is like under administrator Scott Pruitt, during the Trump administration’s efforts to rollback Obama’s climate regulations. “Since Trump was elected, dozens of environmental rules have been either opened for reconsideration or overturned altogether”, Buford writes. “Many of the rules were years or even decades in the making, and the sheer speed with which they’ve been cast aside has left the EPA staffers who helped craft them shaken”, she continues, “it has also deepened the chasm between the agency’s top decision-maker and his agency’s longtime staff”.

Talia Buford, ProPublica Read Article
Scientists have beaten down the best climate denial argument

The “cleverest” climate sceptics “settle on the least implausible argument”, says Dana Nuccitelli in the Guardian, “that equilibrium climate sensitivity…is low, meaning that the planet will warm relatively slowly in response to human carbon pollution”. “Many contrarians have wishfully argued that clouds will essentially act as a thermostat to control global warming”, he continues. But research suggests that “clouds amplify global warming”, says Nuccitelli, who runs through the key studies that support this. A new Nature paper “adds to the mountain of evidence ruling out the contrarian argument for an insensitive climate”, he says. “Clouds aren’t going to save us; only rapid cuts in carbon pollution can do that.”

Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

Genomic basis and evolutionary potential for extreme drought adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana

A new study investigates how the genetic variability in the same plant species across different locations affects how readily that plant can cope with severe drought. The researchers planted mustard cress seeds collected from over two hundred locations in North Africa, Spain, central Europe and northern Sweden. They found that varieties of mustard cress in Mediterranean and Scandinavian had higher drought survival and were thus more able to adapt to a changing climate through this century than those found in central Europe.

Nature Ecology & Evolution Read Article
Incentives for small clubs of Arctic countries to limit black carbon and methane emissions

Arctic countries working in small clubs can achieve much of the benefit of reducing black carbon (soot) and methane emissions as full cooperation across all Arctic nations, a new study suggests. Researchers developed a new method for quantifying the benefits of Arctic countries limiting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and their regional impacts. Well-designed clubs with as few as four members can realise more than 80% of the full group cooperation potential, the study finds, although the pivotal player in every effective club is Russia. Most other members of the Arctic Council “offer little leverage on the problems at hand”, the researchers note.

Nature Climate Change Read Article
An ecophysiological perspective on likely giant panda habitat responses to climate change

The amount of “highly suitable habitat” for giant pandas in China’s Daxiangling Mountains could decline to 16-69% of the current area by 2070 because of climate change and habitat loss, a new study suggests. Researchers explored the impact of climate change on panda habitat in the Daxiangling Mountains – taking into account their physiological, behavioural and ecological responses – as well as projections of bamboo forests. The areas with a suitable climate for pandas in the hottest month (July) would reduce 12-52% by 2070, the results show, while bamboo habitat is project to decline by 46-87% over the same period.

Global Change Biology Read Article

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