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Daily Briefing

19.06.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING UK ‘likely’ to host critical climate conference next year
UK ‘likely’ to host critical climate conference next year

News.

UK 'likely' to host critical climate conference next year

The UK is “likely” to host next year’s UN climate talks after reaching a deal with its main rival Italy, report BBC News and others. Under the partnership deal, the UK will host the main event and a preliminary meeting will be held in Italy, BBC News reports. An official decision is expected in the coming days – though the UK-Italy bid is unlikely to face any serious challenges, Climate Home Newsreports. “Turkey has also expressed an interest to host the conference, but there are little signs it stands a chance of winning,” it adds. The Financial Times says the bid signals that “the UK is likely to play a leading role in climate diplomacy as president of the 2020 dialogue”. The FT adds: “The talks in 2020 are seen as being crucial for shaping the future direction of the Paris climate agreement, the global accord signed by nearly 200 countries, because the signatories will be required to produce new climate targets that year.” Jonathan Bartley, the co-leader of the Green party, tells the Guardian that the bid reinforces the need for major policy changes in the UK. He said: “To be the hosts when you are still pursuing the failed policy of fracking, massively subsidising fossil fuels, planning on expanding aviation and traffic, and building substandard energy-inefficient homes, would be a massive embarrassment.” ReutersPA and BusinessGreen also have the story.

BBC News Read Article
Ex-chief scientist fears for UK climate plan if Boris Johnson is PM

The UK’s former chief scientist Prof Sir David King has “expressed alarm” at the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming prime minister, the Guardian reports. King told the Guardian that he served as the UK special representative for climate change when Johnson was appointed foreign secretary in 2016. Johnson oversaw a 60% cut to King’s team of climate attaches across the world from 165 to 65, King tells the Guardian. King adds: “The cuts were devastating because it was just at the point that we had to deliver the Paris agreement.” He also says that the cuts cost the UK its leadership position at climate negotiations. King confronted Johnson on the issue in a meeting early in 2017, according to the Times. “He seemed to be unaware of the cuts that had been made,” King tells the Times. “First of all he assured me that there would be no more cuts — and secondly he did ask me not to take this into the public domain.” The Times also carries a long interview with King, which covers his ideas for tackling climate change, including by “refreezing the Arctic” and growing vast underwater kelp forests.

Elsewhere, Environment Agency chief Sir James Bevan has told the Daily Mirrorthat “a lot of people will die” if urgent action is not taken to tackle climate change.

The Guardian Read Article
Tory leadership race: Teen challenges contenders on climate change

The contenders for the Tory leadership race faced a challenge on climate change from a 15-year-old climate striker during a live debate broadcast on BBC One last night, BBC News reports. During the programme, climate striker Erin asked the candidates to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. “None of the leadership hopefuls agreed to bring forward the deadline, and Erin said she was not impressed,” BBC News says. The international development minister Rory Stewart told the audience that he was “deeply proud” of the new 2050 target and “it was the most ambitious set by an advanced industrial economy”, BBC News adds. (Carbon Brief has produced an in-depth Q&A on the UK’s net-zero target.) The environment secretary Michael Gove “thanked the girl for her activism, though added that he wished the strikers hadn’t missed school”, according to the National.

Elsewhere, several publications carry a new poll finding that 69% of people in the UK want urgent political action to tackle climate change. HuffPost reports that three quarters of those questioned in the survey said they were concerned about climate change, with 71% wanting their MP to back plans to “protect nature and curb rising temperatures”. The poll of 2,000 people was carried out by Opinium on behalf of the Climate Coalition and Greener UK, HuffPost reports. The Guardian and BusinessGreen also cover its results.

BBC News Read Article
Eight EU countries to phase out coal by 2030

Eight of the EU’s 28 countries have committed to phasing out coal for electricity production by 2030 to tackle climate change, AFP reports. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, accepted the pledges yesterday as contributions to the bloc’s efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement, AFP says. “More and more member states are making the political commitment to phase out coal in the next decade,” EU climate and energy commissioner Miguel Arias tells AFP. The Financial Times reports that EU leaders will meet tomorrow to debate whether to adopt a bloc-wide target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. “An EU assessment on Tuesday found that the bloc is currently not on track to meet its 2030 target to draw 32% of electricity from renewable sources, because countries’ individual energy policies are insufficient to meet the collective goal,” the FT adds. EurActiv reports that Hungary has “quietly lent its support” to the 2050 target, but “sees nuclear power as the main way of meeting the target”.

Meanwhile, a story in the Guardian says that the EU commission has warned that the UK’s climate plan is “unclear” and missing “key details” on areas such as “boosting renewable energy and cutting subsidies for fossil fuels”.

AFP via Yahoo News Read Article
Husky photograph reveals troubling reality of melting ice in Greenland

Many publications report on “an extraordinary photograph” showing huskies pulling sleds through ankle-deep meltwaters on top of the Greenland ice sheet. The photograph was taken last week by climate scientist Steffen Olsen in the Inglefield Gulf in northwest Greenland, the Independent reports. The photo is also featured by, among others, the GuardianBBC NewsMetroLad Bible and ITV News.

The Independent Read Article

Comment.

The Times view on Boris Johnson and Heathrow’s third runway: Expansion Rebellion

An editorial in the Times remarks on the Heathrow expansion and “why it should never have been given the green light”. It reads: “Virtually doubling Heathrow’s capacity is not the answer. The number of flights using the airport will rocket from 476,0000 annually now to 756,000 by 2050 – the year that Britain aims to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. There is no such thing as a net-zero jumbo jet.” It adds that Boris Johnson once promised to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the Heathrow expansion, but “when the moment for political bravery arrived, he couldn’t be bothered to turn up in parliament to vote against it”. Elsewhere, an editorial in the Daily Mirror writes on the links between climate change and flooding: “Wild swings can be reduced if we change how we live to tackle climate change and installing flood defences is cash well spent.” In the US, an editorial in the New York Post writes on what it calls a “bogus climate-change law from New York’s cynical leaders”.

Editorial, The Times Read Article
Heathrow’s expansion plans make a mockery of the zero emissions strategy

Green party MP Caroline Lucas writes in the Guardian that Heathrow’s planned expansion would “make a mockery of the zero emissions strategy”. She says: “The truth is that aviation growth and our expectation of cheap flights cannot continue. The draft aviation strategy is an opportunity to address this, starting with a commitment to ensuring aviation makes a fair contribution to actual reductions in UK carbon emissions.”

Caroline Lucas, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

Temperature extreme records: World Meteorological Organization metrological and meteorological evaluation of the 54.0°C observations in Mitribah, Kuwait and Turbat, Pakistan in 2016/2017

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has officially confirmed temperature extremes of 53.9C in Mitribah, Kuwait on 21 July 2016 and 53.7C in Turbat, Pakistan on 28 May 2017. A WMO committee “agreed that quantity and quality of documentation of both observations were excellent”, the accompanying study explains. “The Mitribah, Kuwait temperature is now accepted by the WMO as the highest temperature ever recorded for Asia,” the paper says. The authors add that “the two observations are the third and fourth highest WMO‐recognised temperature extremes and, significantly, they are the highest, officially recognised temperatures to have been recorded in the last 76 years”.

International Journal of Climatology Read Article
The effect of global change on mosquito-borne disease

When projecting changes in mosquito-borne diseases, focusing solely on the effects of climate change “is insufficient to predict future risk”, a new review paper finds. “Although many global processes, such as land-use and socioeconomic change, are thought to affect mosquito-borne disease dynamics, research to date has strongly focused on the role of climate change,” the authors note. Future research on the topic should “consider growing evidence for additional factors that modulate disease risk”, the authors suggest, as well as adopting “new technologies, including developments in remote sensing and system dynamics modelling techniques, to enable a better understanding and mitigation of mosquito-borne diseases in a changing world”.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases Read Article
Thermal stress induces persistently altered coral reef fish assemblages

Mass coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures has resulted in lasting changes to fish communities in the Seychelles, a new study suggests. Using a 23-year dataset, researchers found that communities changed “fundamentally” after coral bleaching in 1998. Large predator fish such as snappers and very small fish such as damselfish dramatically reduced in number and were largely replaced by seaweed-loving fish like rabbitfish, the study finds. With bleaching events likely to become more frequent as warming continues, the authors warn that “fish communities historically associated with coral reefs will not re‐establish, requiring substantial adaptation by managers and resource users”.

Global Change Biology Read Article

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