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Daily Briefing

12.10.2017
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

12.10.2017 | 9:31am
DAILY BRIEFING UK to provide £557m funding for renewable subsidy auctions
UK to provide £557m funding for renewable subsidy auctions

News.

UK to provide £557m funding for renewable subsidy auctions

The British government has confirmed up to £557m of funding for the next clean electricity auctions for less-established renewables – a group which includes offshore wind, biomass, energy-from-waste technologies and some combined heat and power projects. The next so-called contracts-for-difference (CfD) auction will take place in spring 2019, although the government has not yet confirmed how much will be available for that particular auction. The announcement comes ahead of the imminent launch the government’s flagship Clean Growth Strategy, reports BusinessGreen and builds on the sharp cost reductions in offshore wind seen in last month’s clean energy auctions. Since 2015 the projected cost of offshore wind power has fallen by more than half. Carbon Brief last month wrote a detailed analysis of what the record low prices auction mean. Energy Live News, the Telegraph and the Financial Times also cover the story. Meanwhile the Times reports today that onshore wind – previously ineligible for the CfD auctions – on some Scottish islands will be allowed to compete for the subsidy contracts. According to the BBC Energy minister Richard Harrington said: “[R]emote island wind projects in Scotland, which have the potential to benefit the island communities directly, [will] have access to the same funding opportunities as offshore wind in the next renewables auction round.”

Reuters Read Article
Theresa May risks Tory backlash as she unveils energy price cap for 18 million households

Energy companies will be forced to introduce an “absolute” cap on prices under new draft legislation set to be unveiled by Theresa May. The new laws would force energy companies to limit energy prices in a bid to stop 18 million households from being “ripped off”. Under the plans Ofgem, the energy regulator, will introduce a strict limit for each region on the amount that companies can charge households for each unit of energy they use. However the cap will be a temporary measure that will run out in 2020, reports the Financial Times, in apparent concession to Tory MPs who are free marketeers and oppose intervention. Regulators have also indicated new laws will not be in force for this winter, a separate Financial Times article notes. The price cap could not come into effect until 2019, says the Times.

The Telegraph Read Article
Oxford set to become first place in the UK to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from city centre

New proposals are set to see Oxford become the first place in the UK to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from its city centre. Under the plan, all petrol and diesel taxis, cars and buses would be excluded from six central streets from 2020, with the area then be expanded in 2025 and 2030 to the entire city centre. In 2035 HGVs will be banned from the same zone. A six-week public consultation on the proposals will be launched next week. The Mail Online and BusinessGreen also have the story.

The Telegraph Read Article
Fossil fuels win billions in public money after Paris climate deal, angry campaigners claim

Funding for fossil fuel projects from the six main international development banks totalled at least $5bn in 2016 – the year after the Paris climate change deal was agreed – according to a report from Oil Change International (OCI). The new analysis also reveals that some of the taxpayers’ money given to coal and gas projects was counted as “climate” finance. Overall, funding for exploration for new oil and gas more than doubled to $2.1bn, OCI estimate. Meanwhile, a second report from think tank E3G suggests that in recent years the World Bank and European Bank for Development and Reconstruction (EBRD) have given similar levels of funding to fossil fuels as to climate-friendly energy projects. However the EBRD and World Bank dispute these figures. E3G judged the Inter-American Development Bank as the greenest, giving over five times more to climate-friendly energy projects than to fossil fuel schemes.

The Guardian Read Article
Satellites spy Antarctic 'upside-down ice canyon'

Scientists have identified a way in which the effects of Antarctic melting can be enhanced, reports the BBC. New satellite observations of the Dotson Ice Shelf show its losses, far from being even, are actually focused on a long, narrow sector, which in places has cut an inverted canyon through more than half the thickness of the shelf structure. If the melting continued unabated, it would break Dotson in 40-50 years, not the 200 years currently projected, however the ice will likely respond in some way to the imbalance.

BBC News Read Article
Sturgeon pledges state energy firm to see off Corbyn

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the creation of a state-run energy company, reports the Times, in an effort to set the agenda in Scotland and head off the challenge from a resurgent Labour Party. Sturgeon said her government would set up a not-for-profit company by 2021 that will sell renewable energy to consumers “as close to cost price as possible,” the Telegraph reports. Energy Live News and the Herald also run the story.

The Times Read Article

Comment.

Britain’s switch to low-carbon energy could give a £21bn boost to the economy

The flip side to every cost is a revenue, write researchers Stephen Hall and Jeffrey Hardy, and what has received less attention in the effort to rapidly switch from fossil fuels to renewable or nuclear energy is the size of the opportunity that will be created for green growth and new investment. Modelling and scenario building is a great way to test out possible futures without having to experiment with the whole electricity system in real time. “Together with colleagues, we have analysed how new markets are created and destroyed within these UK electricity system scenarios. “Our work shows that in these new markets electricity utilities could access up to £21bn per year of new value by 2050. In context, that would be worth up to 30% of the total energy market that year.”

Stephen Hall & Jeffrey Hardy, The Independent Read Article
Here, Breathe This Coal

“The Trump administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan – and promote coal use – is clearly bad for the planet’s far-off future, because it will aggravate climate change,” writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times. “But I think the most effective strategy for the opponents of repeal is to focus on the here and now.” Coal plants release a stew of pollutants, he says, including mercury (which damages children’s brains) and particulate matter, which cause asthma, strokes, lung damage and heart attacks. The E.P.A. acknowledges part of the damage it is doing, “but in Pruitt’s E.P.A., keeping children from breathing coal doesn’t seem to be a priority”.

David Leonhardt, New York Times Read Article
Clean Growth Strategy: Delivering what the UK needs?

After a delay of nine months and at least three changes in its title, the government will publish its Clean Growth Strategy on Thursday, writes Richard Black of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). So what does it have to deliver? Legally, it has one job: to tell us how the government will meet the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 57% (from 1990 levels) during the period 2028-2032, as set out in the fifth Carbon Budget. “The indications are that the strategy may be less strategic than many people involved in the clean energy transition would like,” writes Black. “The last Carbon Plan… contains significant amounts of detail on sectoral targets and action points. To be credible, this Strategy needs to go down to the same level of detail, and make clear consistently the twin foci of 2030 and 2050. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t; but the nine-month delay from its original scheduled publication time, and the progressive change of titles ending with the change from ‘Plan’ to ‘Strategy’, have led some to question how specific it’s going to be.” BusinessGreen also has an analysis of what to expect in today’s new strategy.

Richard Black, ECIU Read Article

Science.

Reporting marine climate change impacts: Lessons from the science-policy interface

A new paper describes the role of “climate change report cards”, developed by the UK’s Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), in transferring evidence on climate change to end users. “Since publishing its first card back in 2006, the MCCIP cards have become established as the principal source of marine climate change impacts evidence for policy makers in the UK,” the researchers say. The study explores efforts by the by MCCIP “to ensure integrity and independence in the scientific translation process”, and “wider lessons learnt along the way (e.g. about communicating uncertainty) and the impact MCCIP has had on informing decision making.”

Environmental Science & Policy Read Article
The California drought: Coping responses and resilience building

The way that California prepared for, and responded to, the multi-year drought between 2011 and 2016 “can be considered an example for the rest of the country, and the world,” a new study says. Researchers analysed the impact of the drought on agricultural production and food security, as well as the coping responses of several actors. Despite water shortages, California continued to be the leading state for production of fruit and tree nuts and food security was not affected. The case study shows that “extreme events require extraordinary preparedness and response measures just to cope with them, not to mention adapting to them, and that building resilience is a long-term process,” the researchers conclude.

Environmental Science & Policy Read Article

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