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Daily Briefing

11.02.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

11.02.2019 | 9:21am
DAILY BRIEFING UK pupils to join global strike over climate change crisis
UK pupils to join global strike over climate change crisis

News.

UK pupils to join global strike over climate change crisis

Thousands of pupils are expected to walk out of lessons at schools across the UK next Friday in protest over the “escalating climate crisis”, the Guardian reports. The planned school strike is part of a movement that began in August, when Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg held a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament. Since then, “up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week are taking part in 270 towns and cities worldwide”, the paper explains. In a separate piece, the Guardian interviews a 13-year-old student taking part in the protest, while an Observer article notes that the planned strike “poses a dilemma for heads”. The Times Educational Supplement also has the story – and the news also triggered a splash in the Daily Express. The head teachers’ union has backed the strike, according to MailOnline.

The Guardian Read Article
Australia calls emergency meetings as climate crisis intensifies

Australia’s government has called emergency meetings to tackle flooding in northern Queensland, “amid a climate crisis that is simultaneously scorching parts of the country with devastating forest fires and drought”, the Financial Times writes. “The confluence of severe climatic events…is raising questions about global warming”, the paper says, but Australia’s prime minister “has so far refused to address the issue”. Andrew Pitman, director of the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales, commented: “There is no plausible explanation of the heat extremes other than the background climate has warmed…climate change loads the dice and we are seeing this now”. The Guardian also has a story on Australia’s response to the extreme weather: “Amid record temperatures, severe flooding and devastation of wilderness, the political message from the government is business as usual”.

Financial Times Read Article
Climate change seen as top threat, but US power a growing worry - poll

Climate change is the top security concern in a poll of nearly 28,000 people in 26 countries around the world, reports Reuters. The poll, carried out by the Pew Research Centre in the northern hemisphere summer of 2018, shows worries about climate change have “increased sharply since 2013”, Reuters notes. Climate change was the top global threat in 13 of 26 countries, it adds, and there have been double-digit percentage point increases in concern on the issue in countries including the US, Mexico, France, the UK, South Africa and Kenya.

Reuters Read Article
Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

Today’s Guardian has a frontpage story on a global review of insects, which finds that “insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline”. Over 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, according to analysis in the journal Biological Conservation. While intensive agriculture – including the heavy use of pesticides – is the “main driver of the declines”, climate change and urbanisation are also “significant factors”, the Guardian says.

The Guardian Read Article
Losing climate change race a 'disaster for Africa,' UN says

The head of the United Nations has warned that the world is losing the race with climate change and “this can be a disaster for Africa”, Associated Press reports. Speaking ahead of a summit of the African Union, Antonio Guterres said that Africa will pay a “higher price” over climate change, despite the fact that the continent “doesn’t contribute much” to the problem.

Associated Press via ABC News Read Article
Under Trump, EPA inspections fall to a 10-year low

The US Environmental Protection Agency inspected fewer industrial facilities during 2018 than at any time over the past decade, according to data released last Friday and picked up in the Washington Post. The government agency “relies on inspections of manufacturing facilities, oil and gas operations, and power plants to identify and crack down on polluters across the country”, the article explains. While there has been a “modest” decline in these inspections since 2012 due to budgets cuts, the trend “has accelerated since Trump took office”, the paper notes. The Hill also carries the story.

The Washington Post Read Article

Comment.

The Times view on fracking: Rock On

“The government needs to help, not hinder, shale gas and oil drilling”, begins an editorial in the Times. The UK “could benefit from fracking”, the paper argues, yet “regulatory zeal and misguided legal challenges have delayed shale production and threaten to stymie it altogether”. The piece draws comparisons with the US shale boom: “Fracking in the US has cut energy bills, created jobs and rejuvenated depressed regions. It could do the same in Britain.” Meanwhile, an editorial in today’s Sun leads with: “UK ought to stop running scared of eco-warriors and give fracking green light”. Carbon Brief has published a Q&A on what UK fracking could mean for the climate.

Editorial, The Times Read Article
One cheer for the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a “quite-extraordinary document” begins an opinion piece by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. It is a “blueprint for fighting climate change that manages to confirm every conservative critique of liberal environmental activism”, he writes, and “there’s a pretty easy story to tell here about why, if the Democratic Party makes the Green New Deal vision its own, that shift will empower climate-change sceptics…And also possibly help Donald Trump win re-election”. But, Douthat continues, “let me temper this critique by finding two positive things to say about the Green New Deal”. By moving away from an emphasis on pricing carbon and “toward a focus on direct spending, the left might be moving away from theoretical efficiency toward political feasibility”, he argues. The piece concludes: “I also want to mildly praise the resolution’s anti-incrementalism…there are virtues in trying to offer not just a technical blueprint but a comprehensive vision of the good society, and virtues as well in insisting that dramatic change is still possible in America”. Elsewhere, letters to the Los Angeles Times suggest that the Green New Deal is “a gift to Trump’s reelection campaign”, while Politico writes that Republicans are “giddy” as Democrats embrace the deal. A piece in Vox examines how the deal wants to replace American trains with high-speed, lower carbon rail. The Hill examines what “key” 2020 candidates are saying about the Green New Deal. Carbon Briefhas an explainer on the deal.

Ross Douthat, The New York Times Read Article
The end of coal in Germany could come much quicker than you think

The German coal commission’s report “represents a death sentence for the coal industry and will send a powerful negative message to investors, producers, consumers and employees,” writes Nick Butler in the Financial Times. This means the end of coal as a major power source in the country “could come much more quickly than the authors of the report expect”. Separately, a comment in the Sydney Morning Herald runs under the headline: “Coal miners derided [the] climate action ‘sideshow’. Now it’s the main event.” The piece, by two of those arguing the case, notes how a judge in New South Wales recently refused a new coal mine on climate grounds. “We suspect we are only beginning to understand how profoundly influential this judgment will be on the legal landscape in Australia. This won’t be the last project consigned to the dustbin of history on the grounds of climate change. It is just the first.”

Nick Butler, Financial Times Read Article
Lonely, unfit and hooked on air-conditioning - is this the summer of the future?

A feature in the Sydney Morning Herald explores the consequences of “freakishly hot weather this summer”, with the hottest day Australia in January reaching 49.5C. “The record-smashing temperatures of recent weeks have made it very clear: climate change has arrived,” writes Nicole Hasham. “Depictions of a world almost too hot for humans are no longer an abstraction. Summer has changed, and so must we.” Consequences include a life increasingly lived indoors, reliant on expensive air conditioning and with less exercise, she writes.

Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald Read Article

Science.

Consultants and the business of climate services: implications of shifting from public to private science

A new study looks into the “global trend away from delivering ‘climate information’ towards producing ‘climate services’ for decision-makers” and the role played by public and private organisations. Drawing on an in-depth study of adaptation consultants in Australia, the researchers argue that “an emphasis on climate services shifts the incentives for climate science away from the public interest towards the ongoing pursuit of profit”. “There is a subsequent diversion of effort away from publicly accessible and transparent climate information to private knowledge for discrete clients,” the article concludes, which “undermines the knowledge required for societies to adequately respond to the scale, speed and severity of climate change”.

Climatic Change Read Article
The potential for climate engineering with stratospheric sulphate aerosol injections to reduce climate injustice

Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), a form of “solar geoengineering’, has the “potential to reduce risks of injustice related to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs)”, a new paper argues. Evidence from modelling studies suggests that SAI could reduce many of the key physical risks of climate change, the researchers say. As many of these risks will be felt by countries that are historically low emitters of GHGs, reducing them through SAI “thereby has the potential to reduce the injustice associated with anthropogenic emissions”, the researchers say. A second paper on solar geoengineering, published Climatic Change, quantifies its potential impact on vegetation – finding that it “improves the conservation outlook under climate change”.

Journal of Global Ethics Read Article

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