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Daily Briefing

04.07.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING UK to put climate crisis and environment at the heart of overseas aid
UK to put climate crisis and environment at the heart of overseas aid

News.

UK to put climate crisis and environment at the heart of overseas aid

A number of news outlets cover the government’s announcement that, as the Guardian says, the “UK will have an ‘ethical’ development policy that puts the climate emergency and environmental protection at the heart of overseas aid, with more than £190m to be spent directly on climate-related issues in the first initiative”. It adds: “Rory Stewart, the international development secretary, said he hoped this sum would soon be doubled and ‘run to billions rather than hundreds of millions’ within a few years. But he noted even this would not be enough given the massive international lack of funding for the climate.” Stewart is reported as saying: “Particularly in the midst of a leadership campaign, people talk as if we are spending eye-watering sums [on international aid], but … the global funding gap on climate change is $2.5tn. We are only just scratching the surface.“ The Daily Telegraph notes that the announcement came during London Climate Action Week. It reports: “Mr Stewart, who has said that he would be unable to serve in a cabinet led by Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson, said that any successor should put the climate at the heart of their aid policy.” The Press Association also carries the story.

Meanwhile, Climate Home News reports that ministers from Uganda and the Gambia have met the UK’s development secretary to ask for more say over how climate finance is spent. In 2017, using data obtained via freedom of information requests, Carbon Brief mapped how the UK spends its climate finance around the world.

The Guardian Read Article
National Trust to ditch fossil fuel investments from its £1bn portfolio

Most of the UK’s national newspapers report that the National Trust – Europe’s largest conservation charity – has announced that, according to the Telegraph, it is “to drop all of its investments in fossil fuels, including stakes in Shell and BP, while shifting its focus towards green energy start-ups and assets that benefit the environment, nature and people”. The newspaper adds: “Over the next three years, 4% of the charity’s portfolio that is invested in fossil fuels, worth £45m, will be sold off. Roughly £25m of this pot will be immediately re-invested in private companies operating in green areas such as wind energy, battery storage technology and water efficiency. The remainder will be divided across the rest of the portfolio, with the intention of investing more in these green start-ups if the companies do well.” The Guardian adds: “The organisation, which looks after 780 miles (1,250km) of coastline, 248,000 hectares (612,000 acres) of land and more than 500 historic houses, castles, monuments and parks, said it would withdraw the vast majority of its investments from fossil fuels within 12 months, and the entirety within three years.” The Daily MailFinancial Times and Press Association are among the outlets also covering the story.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a feature on how “Harvard says fighting climate change is a top priority, but it still won’t divest from fossil fuels”.

Daily Telegraph Read Article
Gas and oil firms reclassified under non-renewables on London Stock Exchange

Oil and gas companies listed on the London Stock Exchange have been reclassified under a “non-renewable energy” category in a move designed to distinguish between heavily polluting companies and greener producers, reports the Guardian. It adds: “The change has been made by the index provider FTSE Russell, which now groups companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Cairn Energy, Petrofac, Premier Oil and Tullow Oil, formerly labelled oil and gas producers, in the non-renewable energy sector. Coal companies, previously classified under basic materials/mining, also now come under non-renewable energy. Green energy producers, most of which were grouped under alternative energy, have been reclassified under renewable energy. They include the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems and the Spanish offshore wind group Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. There are no UK companies listed under renewable energy.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the “consulting firm Moody’s Analytics says climate change could inflict $69tn in damage on the global economy by the year 2100, assuming that warming hits the 2C threshold”.

The Guardian Read Article
Heatwave nudged the planet to its hottest June, European forecasters say

There is continuing coverage of the extreme heat experienced across large parts of Europe over recent days. The New York Times reports the findings of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which concludes that “the heatwave that smothered much of Europe at the end of June helped raise average global temperatures to a record for the month”. The Guardian says the heatwave was caused by an “unprecedented plume of hot air” which pushed northwards from Africa. It adds: “All-time temperature records are commonly broken by tenths of a degree, but this exceeded the previous record, set during the heatwave of August 2003, by an extraordinary 1.8C.” Prof Hannah Cloke of the University of Reading writes in the Conversation that the new data shows “temperature records weren’t just broken for Europe – they were completely obliterated”. She continues: “Is this climate change? What we scientists can say with absolute confidence is that as the world heats up, potentially lethal heatwaves will become more common in many parts of the world, including Europe.” Earlier this week, Carbon Brief explained how scientists have concluded that the record-breaking heatwave that struck France last week was made at “least five times more likely” by climate change. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has an article on “how the climate crisis could change fire season in Alaska and strain nationwide resources”.

The New York Times Read Article
EU top jobs leave big climate questions

Climate Home News takes a look at the climate credentials of the “EU’s newest leaders”. It says: “After days of tense negotiations in the midst of an unprecedented heatwave, EU leaders finally agreed on the candidates to take on the bloc’s top jobs and set the political direction for the next five years…The new intake will determine how urgently the EU can achieve consensus on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and agree to ramp-up its 2030 targets. But the records of four nominees announced on Tuesday only hint at where climate change will rank in their list of priorities.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Angel Gurria, the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), gave a climate speech yesterday in which he said that politicians who fail to act on climate change will pay the price electorally. “It’s going to blow up in our faces,“ he said.

Climate Home News Read Article

Comment.

We need to talk about nuclear power

In his latest essay, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance says it’s time to have a serious debate about nuclear power: “I mean really talk, in a truth-and-reconciliation, moving-forward kind of way, not a let’s-all-shout-slogans-at-each-other, my-tribe-versus-your-tribe kind of way. Serious people are finally talking about decarbonising national economies by mid-century, but such talk must be accompanied by credible plans – and no plan can be considered credible if it does not deal explicitly with nuclear power.” His conclusion? “My take on the nuclear debate: wind and solar alone can’t provide enough zero-carbon power to decarbonise the economy in the near term; the overwhelming priority is to keep existing nuclear plants open; when it comes to new plants, the current generation of plant designs won’t cut it on economic grounds; and for goodness sake, let’s get serious about developing SMRs and researching the generation of nuclear technologies that might even follow them.”

Michael Liebreich, BloombergNEF Read Article
Emission impossible? Harsh facts on climate change

Kuper takes a downbeat view of tackling climate change in the FT: “Blaming inaction on climate deniers such as Donald Trump is a comforting way for liberals to absolve ourselves. However, new leaders such as Elizabeth Warren — for whom green is an add-on ideology — won’t save the planet either…Many politicians are now promising ‘green growth’. Maybe one day we will indeed enjoy renewable-powered overconsumption. However, for the next two decades at least, until greener technologies arrive, cutting emissions will hurt.” He adds: “Anyway, all this would be an almost pointless national sacrifice unless other countries followed suit. It takes global collective action to limit climate change. Conservatives enjoy mocking greens who own frequent-flyer cards, but there’s no point going carbon-neutral if everyone else carries on merrily while Brazil razes the Amazon rainforest…Before long, political debate will revolve around which huge engineering projects to finance…Once some engineering-savvy climate leaders emerge, we can finally start taking climate change seriously.”

Separately in the FT, Benjamin Jones writes in the “Commodities Notes” column that the price at which EU ETS allowances trade hands has more than tripled to about €25 per tonne of CO2 since 2018, but that “policymakers should explore more environmentally progressive import tax” because the ETS price is fuelling an industrial output “exodus”.

Simon Kuper, Financial Times Read Article

Science.

Processes determining heatwaves across different European climates

A study looks at the atmospheric factors driving heatwaves from 1979-2016 in different parts of Europe. It finds that, in the UK, heatwaves are often driven by “subsidence” in the atmosphere. This occurs when cool dry air rises and causes atmospheric pressure to also rise, which in turn can lead to the formation of high pressure systems, bringing warm weather. “Overall, the results of the present study provide a guideline as to which processes and diagnostics weather and climate studies should focus on to understand the severity of heatwaves,” the authors say.

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society Read Article

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