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Daily Briefing

26.02.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING UK household energy bills set to be capped by next winter
UK household energy bills set to be capped by next winter

News.

UK household energy bills set to be capped by next winter
Financial Times Read Article

The government is to announce a bill capping “expensive” household energy bills in Parliament today. The Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill will require regulator Ofgem to cap tariffs until 2020 and will set an absolute cap on tariffs deemed to be poor value, which may protect up to 11m households in the UK. The move marks the biggest single intervention in the UK energy market since privatisation in the 1980s, according to the Financial Times. Announcing the bill, which the government hopes will become law before next winter, Theresa May said it would “force energy companies to change their way,” according to the Guardian. Energy UK, which represents gas and electricity suppliers, told BBC News that it was vital the cap did not stifle competition in the energy market. Reuters and the Independent also have the story. On Friday, the Guardian exclusively reported on the big six energy companies that are “routinely overcharge customers”.

After years of fighting, Idaho retains climate change in its education guidelines
New York Times Read Article

A years-long battle over whether Idaho would require its science teachers to include global warming in the curriculum has been resolved, with the State Senate education committee voting to adopt standards including sections on human-caused climate change. Idaho’s legislature removed all mentions of human-caused climate change from its teaching standards last year. The State Department of Education then put forward revised standards and supporting content, which were approved by the committee on Thursday on a 6 to 3 vote.

Court: Trump admin must enforce Obama methane leak rule
The Hill Read Article

The Trump administration must start enforcing an Obama-era rule limiting methane leaks from oil and natural gas drilling on federal land, a court has ruled. Judge William Orrick of the District Court for the District of Northern California has granted a preliminary injunction against the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), blocking efforts to delay enforcement of the methane leak rule. Meanwhile, Vox reports that US Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt cited the bible when defending his gas, coal and oil-friendly policies. “The biblical world view with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind,” Pruitt told the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Coal groups urge Lloyds of London to do more to fight coal-fired power
Daily Telegraph Read Article

Insurance company Lloyd’s of London is facing pressure to do more to distance itself from coal projects, the Daily Telegraph reports. Environmental organisations wrote to the company’s chief executive last week urging her to change the rules that insurance companies must abide by to be market members. Company executive Inga Beale told the Daily Telegraph that the company is looking into “the best way” it can help the world move to a low carbon economy, adding that she was working closely with the relevant market associations.

Comment.

Pessimism is sometimes an enlightened outlook
Pilita Clark, Financial Times Read Article

Calls from some academics to celebrate human progress and cast off pessimism do not “deal with one realm in which progress has been far more mixed: the environment,” writes business columnist Pilita Clark in the Financial Times. “To question how long this [solving climate change] will take seems not so much pessimistic as perfectly reasonable and perhaps even positively enlightened,” she writes. Elsewhere in the Financial Times, columnist John Dizard writes on how Trump’s plans for energy dominance are meeting resistance from environmental activists.

What Land Will Be Underwater in 20 Years? Figuring It Out Could Be Lucrative
Brad Plumer, New York Times Read Article

“As companies around the world grow concerned about the risks of climate change, they have started looking for clarity on how warming might disrupt their operations in the future,” writes Brad Plumer in the New York Times. Some of these companies are turning to a Silicon Valley start-up known as Jupiter, which offers to analyse local weather and hydrological data and combine it with climate model projections to assess potential localised climate risks, such as sea level rise and storm surges. Meanwhile, a separate article in the New York Timesinvestigates the growing threat of sea level rise in the village of Jean Lafitte in Louisiana.

Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration
Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone Read Article

Climate change could drive people living in parts of the US that are most at risk of weather extremes to move elsewhere, writes Jeff Goodell, a contributing editor to the Rolling Stone. “Climate change is going to remap our world, changing not just how we live but where we live,” he says. “In the not-so-distant future, places like Phoenix and Tucson will become so hot that just walking across the street will be a life-threatening event. Parts of the upper Middle West will become a permanent dust bowl. South Florida and low-lying sections of the Gulf Coast will be underwater.”

Science.

Human influence on Canadian temperatures
Climate Dynamics Read Article

Annual temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.7C since 1948 – rising at around the twice the rate of the global average. Using climate models, a new study estimates that around 1C of this warming can be attributed to human greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining 0.7C is likely a result of solar and volcanic influences, the researchers say, and natural fluctuations aided by the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and North Atlantic oscillation (NAO). Overall, the influence of both human and natural forcing “is clearly evident in Canada-wide mean and extreme temperatures”, the study concludes, “and can also be detected regionally over much of the country”.

The southern African climate under 1.5C and 2C of global warming as simulated by CORDEX models
Environmental Research Letters Read Article

Achieving the Paris Agreement is “imperative for Southern Africa”, a new study warns, as projected changes under both 1.5C and 2C of warming “imply significant potential risks to agricultural and economic productivity, human and ecological systems health and water resources with implied increase in regional water stresses”. The research suggests the south-western region, including South Africa and parts of Namibia and Botswana, are projected to experience the largest increases in temperature, which are greater than the global average warming. For daily rainfall totals, 2C is likely to cause “robust decreases” of 10-20% “over most of the central subcontinent and parts of western South Africa and northern Mozambique,” the researchers say.

Floridian heatwaves and extreme precipitation: future climate projections
Climate Dynamics Read Article

Heatwaves in Florida could become three times as frequent and last an average of six times longer if global greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, a new study suggests. Using 13 years of daily observed data and high resolution climate model simulations, researchers assessed future weather extremes under a business-as-usual scenario for 2070–2099. The results suggest a slight decrease in the average rainfall over Florida, the study notes, “accompanied by heavier heatwave-associated extreme precipitation events over central and southern Florida”.

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