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DAILY BRIEFING Under Trump shadow, climate talks set 2018 deadline to agree rules, World’s poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy, & more
Under Trump shadow, climate talks set 2018 deadline to agree rules, World’s poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy, & more


Under Trump shadow, climate talks set 2018 deadline to agree rules

As the climate talks in Marrakech drew to a close over the weekend, many media outlets are giving their summaries and verdicts. Though the shadow of Donald Trump’s presidency loomed large at the start, the Paris Agreement “got a renewed vote of confidence”, with nearly 200 heads of state agreeing to work out a rule book at the latest by December 2018, says Reuters. A separate articlesays that based on the mood in Marrakech, Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement “is likely to dent rather than derail the pact”. Similarly, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says the UN Paris Agreement is definitely not quaking at the knees, with minister after minister “going out of their way to emphasise how strongly they back it.” The Washington Post reports that the tone in Marrakech shifted from panic to more measured realism once it became clear that China remains seriously committed to the accord. The most likely outcome of a U.S. retreat isn’t a Beijing-Brussels axis to replace the Beijing-Washington one but a multi-polar world of shifting alliances among the EU, China and big polluters like India, reportsPolitico. But India’s silence on Trump has been noted, with diplomats keeping their cards close to their chest in Marrakech, says Climate Home’s Ed King. The Telegraph reports comments by the French President, Francois Hollande, over the weekend that should Donald Trump be tempted to pull the US back from the Paris Agreement, “there will be forces, amongst them American democracy, who will ensure that it is respected.” Meanwhile, environmentalists are now moving on to a war footing, says The Guardian, with a surge in fundraising, planned court challenges and protests. The effect of Trump’s election has been to galvanise rather than dampen action on climate change, said Sunday’s iNews.

Reuters Read Article
World's poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy

On the last day of the Marrakech climate conference, representatives from 47 of the world’s most poorest nations pledged to generate all their future energy needs from renewables between 2030-2050. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group which includes Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Haiti, has said they will update their national plans to cut emissions before 2020. The plan, named the Marrakech Vision, will see countries “strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances”. Among those covering the announcement were The Guardian, Carbon Pulse, BusinessGreen, Climate Home and Inside Climate News. Some nations will face intense challenges weaning their economies off fossil fuels, says Reuters. In the Philippines, for example, coal accounted for nearly 45% of power generation in 2015, and the country plans to build more than 20 new coal-power plants.

BBC News Read Article
Obama puts Arctic Ocean off limits for drilling in last-ditch barrier to Trump

The Obama administration has blocked new oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The Department of the Interior’s offshore drilling plan for 2017-2022, released on Friday, bans exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska, and limits activity in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska. President-elect Donald Trump could take steps to reverse the decision, having vowed to roll back restrictions on oil and gas companies, says BBC News. Trump would be unable to toss out the five-year plan immediately, explains The Washington Post. The new administration would first have to prepare a supplemental report, which could take as long as two years, and then organise a lease sale for companies interested in drilling. Overturning the ban won’t be simple for Trump if oil prices stay low, says Inside Climate News. While environmentalists were quick to praise the ban, House speaker Paul Ryan joined with oil industry leaders in voicing his opposition, reports The Hill, arguing that it “posed more barriers to American energy development”.

The Guardian Read Article
Donald Trump expected to slash Nasa's climate change budget in favour of sending humans back to the moon - and beyond

US President-elect, Donald Trump, is set to slash Nasa’s budget for monitoring climate change and instead favour efforts focusing on space exploration, reports The Telegraph. NASA’s funding has gone up 50% under President Barack Obama, receiving $1.92 billion in funding this year. An adviser to Trump on space policy says Nasa has been reduced to “a logistics agency concentrating on space station resupply and politically correct environmental monitoring. Walker told The Telegraph, “We would start by having a stretch goal of exploring the entire solar system by the end of the century.”

The Telegraph Read Article
America’s frackers prepare for good times under President Trump

America’s frackers may be on the verge of a comeback as Donald Trump vows to rollback restrictions on oil and gas companies and open up more of the country to exploration, says Robin Pagnamenta. Oil men “can barely contain their glee at the election of Donald Trump”, he says. In their sights is the Woldcamp shale, a region 500 miles west of Houston that the US Geological Survey last week estimated contains 20 billion barrels of oil. About 40 billion barrels have been pumped from the UK North Sea since the 1970s. Turning to coal, while most doubt Trump can fulfill his promise to revive the industry, a small sub-section of the coal sector that mines metallurgical coal for steel making is gearing up for a Trump-inspired boom, says Reuters.

The Times Read Article
North Pole above freezing in sign of 'sudden' and 'very serious' climate change

Temperatures near the North Pole have risen above freezing, with the US Weather Channel reporting that at least five buoys near the pole recorded temperature between zero and 1.2C on Tuesday last week. The Independent speaks to Prof Peter Wadhams, who says a warmer Arctic and a reduced the temperature difference between the Arctic and the tropics causes the jet stream to slow down and form “big lobes”. He says, ““Each of these lobes brings warm air up to the Arctic and takes cold air down to other places…It is very serious. It is an increasing concern that this is happening rapidly on so many fronts.” Wadhams believes the North Pole could be effectively ice-free within the next few years whereas most researchers estimate this will happen sometime between 2030 and 2050, the paper notes.

The Independent Read Article


Hammond must avoid more North Sea oil subsidies in the autumn statement

A group of oil researchers, think tank analysts and campaigners have written a joint letter calling on chancellor, Phillip Hammond, to resist calls from oil producers in the North Sea for another round of government subsidies and instead, put an end to the taxpayer-funded bonus for oil and gas companies. The letter reads: “The government must acknowledge that the transition to a low-carbon future offers a much larger benefit to the UK than continuing to chase uneconomic fossil fuel production. Removing existing tax breaks is critical for establishing a financial framework for a prosperous and clean energy future.”

The Guardian, Letters Read Article
What will the world actually look like at 1.5°C of warming?

Prof Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the University of Exeter, runs through the likely impacts with 1.5C of warming, the goal laid out in the Paris Agreement. We could conceivably see the first year above 1.5°C as early as the late 2020s, but not all impacts will be felt straight away. The fact that some changes like rising seas or biodiversity loss may happen slower than global temperature change shouldn’t lull us into a false sense of security, says Betts. While they may not be obvious in the first year above 1.5°C, some of these changes will probably be already locked in and unavoidable.

Richard Betts, The Conversation Read Article
Art of the deal: how Trump can win by playing climate game

If Donald Trump’s goal is to support American workers, a decision to end US participation in the new global climate regime would be misguided, says a commentary in Climate Home. Guy Edwards and Tory Hoffmeister, co-director and researcher at Brown University, argue it is time that Trump woke up not only to the threats posed by climate change, but also to the opportunities offered by a low-carbon transition. As a businessman, he’d do well to recognise that “the steep drop in the cost of renewable energy and the potential for expanded use of clean technologies has strengthened the idea that there is more economic risk in failing to combat global warming than in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.”

Guy Edwards and Tory Hoffmeister, Climate Home Read Article


Decreasing, not increasing, leaf area will raise crop yields under global atmospheric change

The boost to leaf growth of soybean plants caused by rising CO2 levels actually reduces crop yield, a new study says. Researchers grew soybean under current and elevated CO2 levels (550 parts per million). They found that at both current and future CO2 levels, soybean plants over-invest in growing their leaves at the expense of their seeds, reducing overall crop yield by 8-10%. Manually trimming off around a third of emerging leaves reverses this effect, the study finds, and boosts yield by 8%. Breeding or bioengineering soybean for lower leaf area could contribute to meeting rising demand for staple food crops, the researchers conclude.

Global Change Biology Read Article
Effect of retreating sea ice on Arctic cloud cover in simulated recent global warming

Retreating sea ice cover in the Arctic is causing an increase in cloud cover, a new study suggests, which may reinforce the loss of sea ice. Observed data show that Arctic cloud cover during October has been increasing as September sea ice declines. Using a computer model, the researchers show that this extra cloud traps heat – contributing to sea ice melt and causing a feedback loop.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Read Article


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