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TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES

Briefing date 15.11.2022
US and China restart climate talks

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News.

US and China restart climate talks
The New York Times Read Article

US president Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping “agreed on Monday to restart talks between their countries as part of international climate negotiations”, the New York Times writes, adding that this is a “breakthrough in the effort to avert catastrophic global warming”. The two men met for “more than three hours” yesterday ahead of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. They “emerged to say their representatives would return to the negotiating table”, the article says, highlighting that the announcement of the meeting “reverberated nearly 6,000 miles away” at COP27, where delegates and activists were “hoping for news that could spur more aggressive climate action from countries around the world”. Li Shuo, a Beijing-based policy adviser for Greenpeace, is quoted saying: “A lot is at stake…The US and China needed to send a signal that the existential threat to humanity posed by climate change was worth putting aside their differences.” The article notes that after the meeting, the White House released a statement saying the two leaders “agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts” on “climate change and other issues”. (China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a “readout”.)

Climate Home News, citing a report by the state new agency Xinhua, writes that the two countries “agree to work together to promote the success of [COP27]” and that climate change is one of their “common interests” and is “inseparable from the coordination and cooperation between China and the US”. Bernice Lee, an expert with the thinktank Chatham House, is quoted saying: “They are the two largest polluters, we are four days out from the end of COP27…It’s good that they are inching towards business as usual – but coming together only when the two sides feel like toning down harsh words and rhetoric is not enough.”

Meanwhile, citing a report by Xinhua, Caixin Global says that Xi “called upon” Biden to jointly “chart the right course” for “bilateral ties”. Xinhua notes that, during the meeting, Biden said: “The US side is committed to keeping the channels of communication open between the two presidents and at all levels of government, so as to allow candid conversations on issues where the two sides disagree, and to strengthen necessary cooperation and play a key role in addressing climate change, food security and other important global challenges, which is vitally important to the two countries and peoples, and also very important to the whole world”. The state-run newspaper Global Times notes that Xi said that though the two leaders have “remained in communication via video-conferences, phone calls and letters, none of them can really substitute face-to-face exchanges”. Teresa Ribera, Spain’s climate minister, tells Reuters that she is hopeful that the rapprochement would energise negotiations. “The two biggest emitters need to be cooperative and ambitious.” The Financial Times carries the reaction of UN secretary general António Guterres: “There is no way in which we can address the climate challenge that we face without the co-operation of all G20 members and in particular without the co-operation of the two biggest economies, the US and China. And I am very happy that the countries had a summit today.”

Finally, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy on climate change, said on Monday that “Beijing would like a COP27 deal that contains language similar to last year’s agreement” in Glasgow on targets for limiting global warming, and was “not opposed to mentioning 1.5C”, reports Reuters. Xie said: “Last year’s Glasgow decision already clearly says it, we should follow the Paris Agreement and Glasgow.” US special climate envoy John Kerry had said late last week that “a few countries” at COP27 had “resisted mentioning the 1.5C target in the official text of COP27, but he didn’t name them”, the newswire adds.

COP27 considers 'loss and damage' fund, but has yet to commit - draft text
Reuters Read Article

The UNFCCC published a draft text last night setting out what COP27 could agree on “loss and damage” financing, reports Reuters. It adds: “Nations are split over whether to agree to a new fund, even after they agreed for the first time to hold formal UN talks on loss and damage…The draft text says COP27 will launch a two-year process in which countries would work on how to provide funding to developing countries suffering ‘loss and damage’ and gave two options for what that process could deliver. Option one would see the process lead to ‘funding arrangements’ for loss and damage by November 2024. The draft said this could include a UN funding facility. Option two would delay until 2023 a decision on what the UN climate body’s role will be in a broader ‘mosaic’ of options to fund loss and damage.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian and Daily Mail carry the remarks of COP26 president Alok Sharma who has warned COP27 delegates that the possibility of limiting global heating to no more than 1.5C may be at risk. “We’ll either leave Egypt having kept 1.5C alive, or this will be the COP where we lose 1.5C,” Sharma said at the opening on Monday of the high-level ministerial roundtable on pre-2030 ambition.

In other COP27 news, Reuters says that the Czech Republic is “considering throwing its hat in the ring to host the UN’s COP29 climate summit in 2024”. Bulgaria has already signalled its desire to host the event. BBC News carries the views of 20-year-old UN advisor Sophia Kianni who says that young people are a more powerful force than ever at the UN climate summit this year. The Guardian has interviewed former US vice-president Al Gore at COP27 who says that fundamental reform of the World Bank could be completed within a year, to refocus its spending on the climate crisis and end its contribution to “fossil fuel colonialism”.

Finally, the Independent says that the G7 group of richest nations has “launched a new fund to help countries hit by climate disasters recover more quickly, but sceptics have warned it should not be a ‘distraction’ to commitments on loss-and-damage compensation”. Known as the “Global Shield, the news outlet says the pan is “led by Germany…the G7, and the group of 58 climate-vulnerable nations, referred to as V20” and “is set to kick off as early as next year”.

US, Japan and partners mobilise $20bn to move Indonesia away from coal power
Reuters Read Article

A coalition of countries will mobilise $20bn of public and private finance to help Indonesia shut coal power plants and bring forward the sector’s peak emissions date by seven years to 2030, the United States, Japan and partners announced today, reports Reuters. The Indonesia Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), more than a year in the making, “is probably the single largest climate finance transaction or partnership ever”, a US Treasury official told reporters. Reuters adds: “The Indonesia JETP is based on last year’s $8.5bn initiative to help South Africa more quickly decarbonise its power sector that was launched at COP26 in Glasgow by the US, Britain and European Union. To access the programme’s $20bn worth of grants and concessional loans over a three- to five-year period, Indonesia has committed to capping power sector emissions at 290m tonnes by 2030 – and with a peak that same year. The public and private sectors have pledged about half of the funds each.” The Financial Times and Bloomberg also cover the storu. Al Jazeera reports that Indonesia has “teamed up” with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a private power firm to “refinance and retire early the first coal-fired power plant under a groundbreaking new carbon emissions reduction project that moves from concept to reality”. The outlet adds: “The 660-megawatt Cirebon 1 power plant in West Java would be refinanced in a $250-300m deal on condition that it be taken out of service 10 to 15 years before the end of its 40- to 50-year useful life under a memorandum of understanding (MOU), ADB officials said.”

COP27: India lays out plan for long-term decarbonisation
Reuters Read Article

India has released a report at COP27 saying it will prioritise a phased transition to cleaner fuels and slash household consumption to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, reports Reuters. The newswire adds: “The report for the first time sketches out how the world’s second-biggest consumer of coal will meet its decarbonisation pledge made in 2021 as par of international efforts to limit warming to 1.5C.” India’s long-term plan “zeroes in on six key areas to reduce net emissions, including electricity, urbanisation, transport, forests, finance, and industry”. Reuters quotes Taryn Fransen, an international climate change policy expert at the non-profit World Resources Institute, who says that “what’s novel” about the plan is that focuses on “reducing consumption at the individual or household level, as well as its inclusion of carbon capture, use and storage”. The article ends: “India wants countries to agree to phase down all fossil fuels at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, rather than a narrower deal to phase down coal as was agreed last year, two sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters on Saturday.”

Separately, Reuters reports that Mexico has “pledged to deploy a further 30 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity by 2030”. The newswire adds: “Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard traveled to Egypt to attend the COP27 climate summit, where he met with US climate envoy John Kerry and over the weekend presented Mexico’s plans to invest some $48bn in developing renewable energy. The new solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric capacity would double Mexico’s renewable capabilities, from its installed capacity of around 30GW at the end of 2021, and bring solar and wind capacities to 40GW.”

Meanwhile, a third Reuters report says that in his first international trip after being elected on 30 October, Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “plans to deliver a speech [at COP27 tomorrow] with the message that ‘Brazil is back’ as a leader confronting climate change, two of his advisors told Reuters”.

UN chief urges G20 nations to work together on climate
Reuters Read Article

Reuters reports that “UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Monday heaped pressure on G20 nations to work together to slow global warming, saying their action, or inaction, would dictate the fate of the planet”. He told leaders meeting in Bali that the world was “on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”. The newswire adds: “Guterres has proposed a ‘Climate Solidarity Pact’, under which developed economies make additional efforts to limit rising global temperatures to 1.5C while providing financial and technical help to speed emerging economies’ transition to renewable energy sources.”

'Out of every crisis comes an opportunity': China, India, and EU could outpace emissions targets, study finds
BusinessGreen Read Article

The rapid deployment of clean energy should see the world’s largest emitting countries and trading blocs meet their emissions targets ahead of schedule, according to a new analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) covered by BusinessGreen. The outlet adds: “In a new report, the thinktank argued that China, the EU, and India are all on track deliver faster progress towards a clean energy economy than they have set out in their stated national climate targets and the official climate plans they have submitted to the UN under the Paris Agreement.”

Dubai’s National newspaper covers a new report by the International Energy Agency which concludes that “global coal demand has been stable at near-record highs for the past decade, and if nothing is done, emissions from existing coal assets would be enough to tip the world across the 1.5C limit”. The South China Morning Post also covers the report under the headline: “China faces uphill battle in coal transition, but ditching fossil fuel crucial to stave off climate change impact: IEA.” Reuters covers a separate report published by the Powering Past Coal Alliance which concludes that “rich nations have stuck to pledges to phase-out coal power despite the war in Ukraine to help reach their climate targets but expansion of China’s coal fleet risks counteracting the impact of the closures”.

Finally, the Guardian covers new analysis from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Changing Markets Foundation which shows that “the combined methane emissions of 15 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world’s largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia”.

UK: Wind farms chief issues warning on energy profits levy
The Times Read Article

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest green energy companies has warned that it will “reconsider” its investment plans if the government imposes a windfall tax that it regards as unfair on renewable power generation, reports the Times. The newspaper continues: “Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, said the wind farms group accepted the need to pay more tax, but only subject to certain conditions. He said a windfall levy should be applied to the entire power generation sector, should tax only genuine windfall profits and should provide generous tax breaks for investment in renewables. This week Jeremy Hunt is expected to increase the energy profits levy on North Sea oil and gas producers imposed in May from 25% to 35% and to confirm that it will be extended in some form to the power generation sector, replacing proposals for a revenue cap drawn up by Liz Truss’s administration.”

In other UK news, the Daily Mirror carries an “exclusive” about how the UK under a Labour government would push a “new international law of ecocide” and will support developing countries struggling under the impact of climate change, the shadow foreign minister David Lammy will announce at COP27 tomorrow. The newspaper adds: “Lammy will [say] that Labour would put the environment at the top of the international agenda by pushing for climate action to ‘become a fourth pillar of the UN’, under Britain’s ‘first ever green foreign policy’.”

The Guardian view on COP27: this is no time for apathy or complacency
Editorial, The Guardian Read Article

The Guardian, alongside more than 30 other media outlets around the world, has published a joint editorial calling for fossil fuel companies to pay a “climate tax”: “Rich nations should deliver on the promise of previously committed funds – such as the $100bn a year from 2020 – to signal their seriousness. As a bare minimum, a windfall tax on the combined profits of the largest oil and gas companies – estimated at almost $100bn in the first three months of the year – needs to be enacted. The United Nations was right to call for the cash to be used to support the most vulnerable. But such a levy would only be the start. Poor nations also carry debts that make it impossible to recover after climate-related disasters or protect themselves from future ones. Creditors should be generous in writing off loans for those on the frontline of the climate emergency. These measures need not wait for coordinated international action. Countries could implement them on regional or national levels. A nation’s cumulative emissions must be the basis of its responsibility to act. While private finance can help, the onus is on big historical emitters to stump up the money.” (The Guardian also carries a news stories about the joint editorial.)

In other comment, the Conversation carries the views of Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a veteran of the UNFCCC negotiations. She says: “Despite frustrating sclerosis in the negotiating halls, the pathway forward for ramping up climate finance to help low-income countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy is becoming clearer.” She then list “four signs of progress” at COP27, including that “new rules are emerging to strengthen those voluntary carbon markets”.

For Energy Monitor, Philippa Nuttall explains “why climate action will fail without more women at the table”. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson focuses on the fraught topic of loss and damage: “I’m not optimistic that there will be a breakthrough. And we in the developed world will come to regret our leaders’ inaction.” The Guardian carries a comment piece by Ndileka Mandela who says that “world leaders need to appreciate the importance of local authorities in nations most affected by climate change”.

Finally, the Guardian‘s “big idea” feature is provided by Dr Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief’s climate science contributer who also leads a climate research team at Stripe. He writes: “With the world on course to exceed 1.5C warming, taking carbon out of the atmosphere, as well as lowering emissions, will become increasingly important…We should not oversell the role of carbon removal. The vast majority of the time it is cheaper to reduce emissions than to remove CO2 from the atmosphere after the fact. Models that limit warming to 1.5C show that we need to reduce global CO2 emissions by around 90%, while only using carbon removal for around 10%. But 10% of the solution to a problem as big as climate change is still something we cannot afford to ignore. In 2021 the world spent a total of $755bn on reducing emissions. We should probably aim to spend about 1% of that money on carbon removal technologies.”

Science.

Trends of extreme US weather events in the changing climate
Proceedings of the National Academies of Science Read Article

The risk of a 100-year high temperature extreme – that is, a temperature extreme so severe it is predicted to occur only once every hundred years – has more than doubled since 1979, according to new research. Using 41 years’ worth of data, scientists explore changes in the risk of extreme temperature and rainfall events across the continental US. While they find that the risk of extreme high temperatures has increased across all months, the trends for rainfall are less uniform, with risks increasing in December and January but decreasing throughout the spring and summer. The authors declare: “There is a critical need for high-quality data and improved statistical analysis methods to extract crucial trends in disastrous weather events around the world.”

Adoption of plant-based diets across Europe can improve food resilience against the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Nature Food Read Article

A new study finds that adopting the EAT-Lancet diet – a set of dietary guidelines aimed at promoting both human and planetary health – would help the EU and UK compensate for the decrease in food production caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. Researchers model the impact of dietary change on crops, fertiliser use, greenhouse gas emissions and other measures of sustainability. They find that reducing added sugars and animal products “would be sufficient to compensate for almost all” of the food exports lost from Russia and Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict. These changes would also result in improvements in water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in croplands, the authors say.

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