Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Administration officials meet to develop climate strategy
- EU to aim for 100% emission cuts in new ‘mid-century roadmap’
- Landowners veto fracking over liability for abandoned shale gas wells
- Conservative Chile presidential candidate calls for all-renewable grid
- Charities in new climate change challenge to Scottish government
- Fiji's climate leadership: 'We are all in the same canoe'
- Demand for electric vehicles could crash power grid
- How Electric Cars Can Create the Biggest Disruption Since iPhone
- When media sceptics misrepresent our climate research we must speak out
- Hurricanes: A perfect storm of chance and climate change?
- Sulfate geoengineering impact on methane transport and lifetime: results from the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP)
- Which temperature and precipitation extremes best explain the variation of warm vs. cold years and wet vs. dry years?
Politico reports: “Trump administration officials huddled at the White House on Wednesday in a bid to chart a more cohesive energy and environmental policy strategy, including a game plan for communicating its position on climate change, according to three people familiar with the meeting.” The plan is to go beyond the administration’s early efforts, which have focused on overturning Obama-era regulations, Politico adds.
The European Commission is preparing to update the EU’s 2050 climate roadmap, Euractiv reports. This could raise the existing target of an 80 to 95% cut in emissions below 1990 levels, it reports, citing one “well-placed industry source” who says the new roadmap “will aim towards 100%”. The commission is preparing to launch a consultation “with a view to updating…[the plan] in 2018,” Euractiv says.
Fracking could be blocked in large parts of the countryside because of a dispute between the government and landowners over liability for abandoned shale gas wells, reports the Times. The Country Land and Business Association, which represents more than 30,000 landowners, is advising members to consider refusing permission for fracking until they receive assurances that they will not be held liable for any environmental damage. The concern relates to the risk of liabilities being passed to landowners if a shale firm becomes insolvent.
Chilean presidential candidate Sebastien Piñera, who is leading in the polls for this November’s elections, has pledged to shift to a 100% renewable electricity grid by 2040, Reuters reports. Piñera also wants a 100% electric public transit system. The country already has close to 50% renewable power.
Campaigners want the Scottish government to strengthen the forthcoming Scottish Climate Change Bill, report the BBC and Herald Scotland. The government has already said it would set one of the world’s most ambitious climate goals – a 90% cut below 1990 levels by 2050, the BBC adds. But NGOs say it should aim for a 77% cut by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. A consultation on the bill closes at midnight tonight.
Fiji’s prime minister made an appeal for climate cooperation at the UN general assembly, as he outlined plans for the next round of climate talks in November, reports Climate Home. In his speech, Frank Bainimarama told leaders: “If we view this as some sort of negotiation in which each country tries to preserve its narrow national interests, we will all lose. We will be powerless to protect our own people from the consequences of climate change.” Fiji will preside over the COP23 international climate talks in Bonn, this November.
The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee is to investigate the challenges posed to grid by the rise of electric vehicles, reports the Times. The article provides no support for its headline, instead quoting the committee’s statement that electric vehicles “create substantial challenges for the electricity grid”. Carbon Brief published a series of factcheck articles after a rash of similarly-misleading headlines about electric vehicles, which are expected to add just 10% to UK electricity demand.
The combination of electric and autonomous cars “could transform how people travel and confound predictions that battery-powered vehicles will have a limited impact on oil demand,” write Jessica Shankleman and Hayley Warren for Bloomberg. They point to a range of advantages, such as the lack of mechanical complexity of electric cars, which will help them reach parity in terms of ownership cost with oil-fueled vehicles by 2020 for vehicle fleets, five years earlier than for private cars.
Two authors of this week’s high-profile climate paper write in the Guardian: “Our climate paper underlined that strong action towards the 1.5C Paris goal is perhaps more valid than ever, but reading some of the media coverage you might think the opposite was true.” Myles Allen and Richard Millar write: “Crucially, the reason for the correction was not that we had a new estimate of the climate response, or warming per tonne of CO2 emitted – we used exactly the current consensus range – but that we took better account of past emissions and where human-induced warming has got to already.” At Climate Feedback, several other climate scientists respond to the widespread coverage of the paper which “greatly misinterpreted” its findings. Meanwhile the Economist covers their research under the headline and subhead: “There is still no room for complacency in matters climatic. New estimates of permissible carbon dioxide emissions notwithstanding.” The article adds: “Even if the Oxford paper’s new budgets were copper-bottomed truths…they would hardly provide the respite they might seem to. No one expected the constraints of the previous 1.5C budget to be met, and meeting the new constraints would still be challenging.”
After a succession of intense and deadly tropical storms in the Atlantic, has some sort of climate threshold been crossed, asks BBC environment correspondent Matt McGrath. He writes: “The answer is mostly no, but with worrying undertones of yes…What has happened this year is that a number of natural variable factors have come together and helped boost the number and power of these cyclones. In the background, climate change has loaded the dice.” For example, he says this season has been particularly warm in the Atlantic hurricane-forming region, with temperatures 0.5 to 1C above average. Elsewhere, the Hill reports that Americans are “divided by party on global warming’s role in hurricanes”.
The injection of sulfate (SO2) aerosols into the lower stratosphere to cool the earth is found to potentially impact atmospheric methane (CH4) lifetime by affecting the atmospheric chemistry of CH4. Two climate–chemistry coupled models are used to explore the above radiative, chemical and dynamic mechanisms affecting CH4 transport and lifetime in a world with large tropical lower troposphere sulfate injections. The CH4 lifetime may become significantly longer (by approximately 16 %) with a sustained injection of 8 Tg SO2 per year, resulting in an increase of tropospheric CH4 of around 200 ppbv offsetting some of the cooling associated with SO2 injections.
Climate change is expected to lead to an intensifying of climate extremes. A paper using daily temperature and precipitation records worldwide between 1911 and 2010 looks at how extreme warm, cold, wet, and dry years differ from one another and average years. They find that extreme warm years are primarily characterized by more warm nights, while extreme wet years are characterized mostly by more occurrences of heavy precipitation events (> 10 and 20 mm), which are 60% more likely in extreme wet years and 50% less likely in extreme dry years. The authors suggest that these findings can be used as key indices when analyzing climate model projections and looking at ecosystem response to climate change.
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