Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- UK: Liz Truss advised King Charles to stay away from COP27 climate summit
- In Brazil’s election, the future of the Amazon is at stake
- EU won’t back climate damage fund talks at COP27, says draft
- UK: Thousands protests against soaring energy prices and climate crisis
- Opec+ plans substantial oil production cut to prop up prices
- Drax: UK power station owner cuts down primary forests in Canada
- China: US urged to sincerely support Pacific Island countries in tackling climate change and achieving development
- UK: Bills are high and people are scared but trust me – the government is on your side
- To understand the scale of the climate emergency, look at hurricanes
- Emerging unprecedented lake ice loss in climate change projections
In a frontpage exclusive, the Sunday Times reports that King Charles “has abandoned plans to attend next month’s COP27 climate change summit after Liz Truss told him to stay away”. The newspaper reports: “He had intended to deliver a speech at the meeting of world leaders in Egypt. Truss, who is also unlikely to attend the Sharm el-Sheikh gathering, objected to the King’s plans during a personal audience at Buckingham Palace last month.” The newspaper adds that the move comes “amid suspicion that the government may water down, or abandon, its environmental target to achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050” [the UK’s net-zero target was enshrined in law in 2019]. BBC News reports that Buckingham Palace has confirmed that King Charles, who has long been an environmentalist, will not attend COP27. “With mutual friendship and respect there was agreement that the King would not attend,” a palace spokesperson tells BBC News. On Sunday, cabinet minister Simon Clarke denied that Truss ordered the King to stay away from COP27 and claimed that “the decision had been mutually agreed by the government and the palace”, the Press Association reports. On the same day, environment minister Mark Spencer told an event that the King has “other priorities” since ascending the throne and suggested that his son, Prince William, would be better placed to attend COP27, the Guardian reports. However, the Daily Mail reports that Prince William will also not be attending the summit. Separately the Daily Mail also reports that Conservative minister Tobias Elwood has said it was “wrong” for Truss to advise the King to stay away from COP27 and that the monarch should “consider going anyway”.
It comes as there is continued reports on Truss’s support for fossil fuel expansion in the UK. The Financial Times reports that the UK regulator will this week announce a new licensing round “prioritising” the fast-tracking of new oil and gas in the North Sea. The FT reports: “New permits, which will be awarded in the first licensing round in nearly three years, would do little to alter Britain’s overall dependence on imports, which is expected to grow over the next three decades even as demand for hydrocarbons is falling.” Separately, the FT reports that “Odey Asset Management and a number of top funds committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions have invested in British fracking company IGas Energy, as they take advantage of the UK government’s decision to lift the ban on the controversial process”. On Twitter, a Sun reporter suggests that the government has plans to convince local communities to agree to tracking by “promising schools and GP surgeries”. Meanwhile, the Independent reports on official documents obtained via freedom-of-information request showing “the government was warned renewables were the best solution to the energy crisis a year before Truss’s push for new oil and gas projects”. The Daily Telegraph carries an interview with new environment minister Ranil Jayawardena, who “played down” the environmental consequences of fracking and dismissed the link between climate change and meat consumption. The Daily Telegraph also reports the UK exported a record amount of energy to continental Europe this spring amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Independent speaks to experts about why Brazil’s election is a “critical moment” for the Amazon rainforest and global efforts to tackle climate change. It comes as BBC News this morning reports that Brazil’s election is going into a second round in which left-winger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. BBC News says: “With almost all the votes counted, Lula had won 48% against Bolsonaro’s 43% – a much closer result than opinion polls had suggested. But Lula fell short of the more than 50% of valid votes needed to prevent a run-off.” The Guardian also reports on the importance of Brazil’s election for the Amazon. (See recently published Carbon Brief analysis on how a Bolsonaro election loss could cut Brazilian Amazon deforestation by 89%.)
Politico reports on a draft negotiating plan suggesting that the EU “won’t back developing country demands for a new fund [for loss and damage] to be created at the COP27”. The publication says: “The document, which may change before being finalised by finance ministers on 4 October, underscored the need for more action to be taken by the EU in response to the snowballing damages from climate change in poorer countries. But it made no mention of meeting vulnerable country demands for the talks in Sharm El-Sheikh in November to include discussions on the new fund. The draft instead backs a more general discussion, launched at COP26, on ‘funding of activities to avert, minimise and address loss and damage are discussed’. (See Carbon Brief‘s recently published Q&A for an in-depth breakdown of why developing nations are demanding a new climate fund for loss and damage.)
Thousands this weekend gathered across the UK to protest about soaring energy prices and climate change. The Press Association reports that there were demonstrations in cities including London, Glasgow and Belfast on Saturday. On Sunday, around 250 campaigners from the group Just Stop Oil marched through central London and occupied Waterloo Bridge, according to a second PA story. The Guardian adds that the group also occupied Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge over the weekend. Separately, the Guardian also reports that an activist from the group End UK Private Jets defaced a memorial for the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised millions during Covid.
Elsewhere, the i newspaper speaks to people living in council homes with among the poorest energy efficiency ratings in the country. It says: “During the winter, the ground floor of healthcare assistant Julie Kubula’s Nottingham home is so cold she can use it as a fridge.” In addition, the Guardian reports that the owner of British Steel, the UK’s second-biggest steel producer, is seeking an urgent package of financial support from the government, citing “exceptionally high energy and carbon prices”. A second Guardian story speaks to chief climate adviser Lord Deben, who says it’s “not too late” to insulate homes this winter. Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that electronics store Currys has reduced the brightness of its TV screens on display in an attempt to save money amid high energy prices. Finally, the Times reports that “Britain is at ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter because of Russia’s war in Ukraine and undersupply in Europe, the energy regulator said”.
The Opec+ alliance of oil-producing countries led by Russia and Saudi Arabia “is planning a substantial cut in production to prop up falling prices”, the FT reports. The group “is expected to discuss a production cut that could total more than 1m barrels a day at the meeting on Wednesday”, the FT says, adding: “This is by far the largest since early in the pandemic and equivalent to more than 1% of global supplies.” Elsewhere, Reuters reports on a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that global gas markets are expected to remain tight next year as “Russian pipeline gas supplies dwindle and gas demand falls in Europe in response to energy-saving measures and high prices”.
BBC Panorama reports that the UK power company Drax “is cutting down environmentally-important forests” in Canada, according to its own investigation. Drax runs the UK’s largest power station, a biomass plant based in North Yorkshire which produces energy from the burning of wood pellets. The company has benefitted substantially from government subsidies meant for renewable energy. BBC News reports: “The BBC has discovered some of the wood comes from primary forests in Canada. The company says it only uses sawdust and waste wood. Panorama analysed satellite images, traced logging licences and used drone filming to prove its findings. Reporter Joe Crowley also followed a truck from a Drax mill to verify it was picking up whole logs from an area of precious forest.” The investigation is reported on page 2 of the Daily Mail.
The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday “urged the US to sincerely support Pacific Island countries (PICs) in tackling climate change and achieving development”, and “refuted US’ smearing of China’s ‘economic coercion’ in the region”, reports the Global Times. The state-run newspaper says that the move comes following the “first-ever” summit between US and PICs with the White House releasing the “pacific partnership strategy, in which Washington made a pledge of providing more than $810m to ‘boost diplomatic engagement’”. The state broadcaster CGTN also covers the foreign ministry’s statement. Nikkei Asia writes that as US president Joe Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping “move toward a possible first face-to-face meeting” in November, former Obama administration diplomat Robert Hormats says “the two leaders should identify a few key areas where they can cooperate – such as the global economy and climate change”.
Meanwhile, an “in-depth” article by Caixin writes that the announcement last week that global “auto giants” Toyota Motor and Hyundai Motor will “start selling hydrogen fuel-cell passenger cars in China later this year” has “jolted the fledgling sector”. Separately, Economic Daily, a state-run newspaper, calls for a “scientific and rational view” of the coal chemical industry. It is “estimated” that the “modern coal chemical industry emitted 320m tonnes in 2020, accounting for 22.5% of the total emissions from the petrochemical and chemical industry”, the article adds.
In other news, the Global Times says that the “need” for winter heating in Europe has “pushed up market expectations” for European countries to “increase” imports of refined oil products from countries such as China. Citing experts, it adds that the “volatility” in the global crude oil market will make Chinese refiners “cautious toward lifting overseas sales”. The state-run newspaper China Daily writes that China’s foreign trade is “expected to maintain momentum this year despite various challenges like high raw material and energy costs”, according to a survey by a trade body supervised by the state council. Elsewhere, the South China Morning Post has published an article titled: “What impact will Nord Stream gas pipe sabotage have on China compared with Europe?” Finally, an article by China Dialogue says that a look at China’s constitution shows “environmental governance is the duty of the state and includes no recognition of environmental rights”.
The UK’s prime minister Liz Truss has written for the Sun laying out her response to the energy crisis. She says: “We are opening up more gas fields in the North Sea. We are getting on with delivering more nuclear energy and more renewables. We are accelerating all sources of home-grown energy production. Instead of relying on foreign supplies, by 2040 we’ll be a net exporter of energy.” The Sun also carries a comment piece by motoring presenter Jeremy Clarkson who is critical of mentions of climate change in the new BBC documentary series Frozen Planet II.
It comes as comedian and Guardian columnist Stewart Lee criticises Truss’s decision to scrap nature protections and her government’s association with climate sceptic thinktanks based at Tufton Street. He says: “Perhaps the unelected 2022 Conservative government’s most surprising achievement has been to radicalise the the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds…The RSPB revolution wasn’t on my Liz Truss Disaster Bingo Card. To be fair, neither was the instant collapse of the economy.” In the Daily Express, Wildlife Trusts CEO Craig Bennett is also critical of the government’s new natural proposals.
Elsewhere, an editorial in Times is critical of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s call for tougher action on climate misinformation. The newspaper says: “An example that Ms Ardern gave of the sort of misinformation and disinformation she thinks need to be suppressed was climate change denialism. There is certainly a broad scientific consensus on climate change. But although those who deny it may be wrong, they should be heard.” In addition, an editorial in the Daily Express describes climate activists’ decision to deface a Captain Sir Tom Moore memorial (see above) as “vile and selfish”.
Several publications continue to carry comment pieces about Hurricane Ian, which battered the eastern US and Cuba last week. Climate scientist Dr Peter Kalmus writes for the Guardian: “The full extent of the disaster will only be revealed in the coming days and weeks, although first looks are shocking. But we do know with certainty that Ian was supercharged by global heating through several well-understood fundamental physics pathways.” Elsewhere in the Guardian, climate scientist Dr Mike Mann and science author Susan Joy Hassol argue that storms such as Ian are “no longer an anomaly”. In addition, the Financial Times has a “big read” on how scientists are working to better forecast hurricanes as some evidence suggests they are intensifying amid global warming.
Seasonal lake ice across the world will be, on average, 0.23 metres thinner by the end of the century as a result of climate change, new research projects. The paper also projects that the average duration of lake ice coverage through the year will decrease by 38 days. The authors simulate the response of lake ice to greenhouse warming using the Community Earth System Model version 2, which includes a “lake simulator”. They find that lake ice loss in the Canadian Arctic is accelerated by “cold-season polar amplification”, while lake ice in the Tibetan Plateau “decreases rapidly due to a combination of strong insolation forcing and ice-albedo feedbacks”.