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Daily Briefing

22.03.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING UK insurers to be scrutinised by BoE over climate change planning
UK insurers to be scrutinised by BoE over climate change planning

News.

UK insurers to be scrutinised by BoE over climate change planning

The Bank of England has advanced plans to test lenders against a climate-related shock, its governor Mark Carney said in a speech yesterday, reports the Financial Times. Next month, the Prudential Regulation Authority – the part of the BoE which supervises the UK’s largest lenders and insurers and runs annual stress tests – will ask UK insurers to consider how their businesses would be affected in different physical and transition risks scenarios, said Carney. Companies will be “expected to embed fully the consideration of climate risks into governance frameworks, including at board level”, Carney said in his speech, reports Reuters.

Meanwhile, insurers have warned that climate change could make cover for ordinary people unaffordable, the Guardian reports. Premium rises are already under discussion with clients with a high concentration of assets in vulnerable parts of the California, Ernst Rauch, chief climatologist of reinsurance firm Munich Re, told the Guardian.

Financial Times Read Article
Germany fails to back EU net zero climate target

The German government has refused to back a call for an EU-wide net zero emissions target by 2050, Unearthed reports. According to leaked documents seen by Unearthed, Germany’s position ahead of this week’s EU summit fails to support legislating a target that would require member states to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. France and much of western and northern Europe have backed the target. “The target it unlikely to be adopted without the support of Germany,” says Unearthed. “The papers reveal a growing rift between two distinct groups of countries,” says Euractiv, which has also seen the documents.

On Wednesday German chancellor Angela Merkel assembled top aides to form a “Climate Cabinet” will meet regularly to devise policy to cut carbon emissions in sectors from power generation to agriculture, says Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Forum for Democracy (FvD) – an anti-immigration populist party – has won the most votes in elections for the upper house of parliament in the Netherlands, reports the Guardian. FVD campaigned on a platform calling for more direct democracy and less immigration, and against what its leader, Thierry Baudet, refers to as “climate-change hysteria”, adds the Guardian.

Unearthed Read Article
Mount Everest: Melting glaciers expose dead bodies

Expedition operators are concerned at the number of climbers’ bodies becoming exposed on Mount Everest as its glaciers melt due to global warming, writes BBC News. “Bodies are being removed on the Chinese side of the mountain, to the north, as the spring climbing season starts,” it adds. The bodies of two-thirds of the nearly 300 mountaineers who have died on the peak are thought still to be buried in the snow and ice, says BBC News. The Independent and the Guardianalso have the story. Meanwhile the MailOnline reports on new research which suggests that “thawing permafrost in high-altitude mountains has been contributing to rising levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere”.

BBC News Read Article
25 states are at risk of serious flooding this spring, US forecast says

Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states of the US will have an elevated risk of some flooding from now until May, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reports the New York Times. In total, 25 states could experience “major or moderate flooding,” the NOAA said. “The flooding this year could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years, even worse than the historic floods of 1993 and 2011,” Mary C. Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service, told reporters. The Hill and Associated Press also have the story. Meanwhile, Reuters reports scientist comments that climate change played a hand in the deadly floods in the US upper Midwest that have damaged crops and drowned livestock.

The New York Times Read Article
Bernie Sanders campaign becomes 2020's first to promise to offset carbon emissions

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has become the first in the 2020 race to promise to offset carbon emissions produced while travelling the country, reports the HuffPost US. “Climate change is already a central plank of Sanders’ second White House bid,” the article adds. The Hill also has the story. Meanwhile, Jay Inslee, another candidate for the Democratic candidacy, shared more of his thinking about his climate and energy platform, Axios reports. He indicated it will not be constructed around a single big idea analogous to Medicare for All, says Axios. “Instead, look for a constellation of policies.”

Separately, “top Democratic lawmaker” Paul Tonko on Thursday unveiled a new policy outline for future climate change legislation meant to appeal to the Republican party, reports the Hill.

Representatives of America’s clean energy companies are withholding their support for the green new deal, reports Reuters. An article in the Financial Timesasks if there is enough copper for a green new deal. And a Conversation article looks at how a universal basic income could make a green new deal feasible. Finally, the Guardian reports that Labour members in the UK have launched a grassroots campaign to push the party to adopt a radical green new deal, inspired by US activists.

HuffPost US Read Article
Top oil firms spending millions lobbying to block climate change policies, says report

The largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies, including Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil, spend nearly £153m a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change, according to a new report from InfluenceMap, says the Guardian. “Increasingly they are using social media to successfully push their agenda to weaken and oppose any meaningful legislation to tackle global warming,” adds the Guardian. A Vice article argues BPs call to limit methane emissions are “hot air”. And another Guardian article says ExxonMobil could lose its lobby privileges at the European parliament after it “failed to show up for the first hearing into climate change denial”.

The Guardian Read Article

Comment.

Britain has its first new deep coal mine in decades – a result of pretending climate change isn't political

The UK is widely seen as a climate leader, writes Rebecca Willis, researcher in environmental policy and politics at Lancaster University. “…And yet, at a planning committee meeting in the northern English county of Cumbria, where I live, local councillors have voted unanimously to approve a new deep coal mine.” “How can a country with such strong ambitions to reduce carbon emissions, approve a plan to increase them so significantly?” asks Willis. She argues that a side-effect of the consensus on climate change in the UK has been that politicians have not talked about it very much. “Now, we need carbon savings right across the economy, through changes to transport, housing, land use and industry. This in turn means changes in the jobs we do, what our houses look like, and how we travel… In short, there is a need for proper political debate on climate change.”

Rebecca Willis, The Conversation Read Article

Science.

Assessing contributions of major emitters' Paris‐era decisions to future temperature extremes

Temperature extremes can damage aspects of human society, infrastructure and ecosystems. The frequency, severity and duration of high temperatures are increasing in some regions, and are projected to continue increasing as greenhouse gas emissions rise. While the international Paris Agreement aims to limit warming through emissions reduction pledges, none of the major emitters has made commitments that are aligned with limiting warming to 2C. This paper examines the impact of the world’s three largest greenhouse gas emitters’ (EU, USA and China) on the occurrence of future extreme temperatures. The results show that future extremes depend on the emissions decisions made by the major emitters, and that by implementing stronger climate pledges major emitters can reduce the frequency of future extremes.

Geophysical Research Letters Read Article
An energy balance model for palaeoclimate transitions

Simple energy balance models (EBMs) can be a useful tool to study past changes in the Earth’s climate. This study presents a new EBM that incorporates the greenhouse warming effects of both carbon dioxide and water vapour, and also includes ice–albedo feedback and evapotranspiration and has three regional variants: Arctic, Antarctic and tropical climates. The authors find that the climate system may possess multiple equilibrium states, both warm and frozen. The EBM suggests that climate can undergo transitions between these states. This paper proposes that such changes have actually occurred in Palaeoclimate transitions, and the results are in good agreement with the geologic record.

Climate of the Past Read Article

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