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Daily Briefing

14.02.2018
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

14.02.2018 | 10:08am
DAILY BRIEFING US on track to become world’s largest oil producer
US on track to become world’s largest oil producer

News.

US on track to become world’s largest oil producer

The US is set to become the world’s largest oil producer in 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said, with output from shale fields offsetting robust demand growth and supply cuts by other producers. US crude output, which is up 1.3m barrels a day (b/d) compared to last year, will soon pass Saudi Arabia and could overtake Russia by the end of the year to become “the global leader”, the IEA said. The US has not been the global leader in oil production since the 1970s, notes the Times. The latest forecasts from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) expect both global oil demand and output from the US to rise more rapidly than expected this year, reports another Times article. Overall, the fast rising production in non-Opec countries is likely to grow by more than demand,” the agency said, reports the Telegraph. The “second great wave of US shale growth” is “a nightmare come true for the Opec cartel and Russia as they struggle through yet another year with production cuts of 1.8m b/d,” adds the Telegraph. Oil prices dropped to a two-month low after the IEA’s announcement, says Reuters, but have rebounded since.

The Financial Times Read Article
Exxon sues the suers in fierce climate-change case

ExxonMobil has launched a series of lawsuits against lawyers, public officials and environmental activists for “conspiring” against it in a coordinated legal and public relations campaign. The company claims that at least 30 people and organisations hatched a strategy against it at a meeting six years ago in La Jolla in California. ExxonMobil, along with several other oil and gas companies, has recently been sued by New York City and eight California cities and counties, which allege the companies knew for some time about the consequences of climate change but sought to obscure them. The company has dubbed the alleged crusade against it the “La Jolla playbook,” reports The Hill. The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are also investigating whether Exxon covered up information on climate change. “The attorneys general have violated Exxon Mobil’s right to participate in the national conversation about how to address the risks presented by climate change,” said Dan Toal, a lawyer who represents Exxon. “That is the speech at issue here – not some straw man argument about whether climate change is real.” Lawyers involved in the cases brought against Exxon say oil giant’s tactics are meant to intimidate and shift the spotlight away from claims of environmental damage. “It’s crazy that people are subpoenaed for attending a meeting,” said Sharon Eubanks, a lawyer who was at the La Jolla gathering. “It’s sort of like a big scare tactic: reframe the debate, use it as a diversionary tactic and scare the heck out of everybody.”

Bloomberg Read Article
Wind farms make up all EU’s net power growth

New wind farms across the European Union have single-handedly driven the net growth in power generating capacity as fossil fuel plants shut faster than they are built, according to a report from Wind Europe. In total, the strong rollout of onshore and offshore turbines added 15.6GW of new power capacity last year, the industry group said, setting new records in Germany, the UK and France. As a result, wind power is now Europe’s second largest source of electricity, behind gas-fired power plants, supplying almost a fifth of all electricity produced across the EU last year. “It’s further evidence that wind is mainstream and delivers bang for your buck,” said said Wind Europe boss Giles Dickson. But the group also warned that investment could stall if governments do not give a clear indication of their ambition for future wind power projects.

The Telegraph Read Article
Leaked draft summary of UN special report on 1.5C climate goal - in full

Climate Home News has published a leaked draft of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on 1.5C. The SPM is a first order draft and is currently open to review by experts and governments until 25 February. In a second article, Climate Home News picks out “11 takeaways” from the draft, including that “poor and coastal communities will be hit hardest” by climate change impacts, “scaling up negative emissions in line with the 1.5C goal may clash with efforts to end hunger”, and that the “draft takes a sceptical line on solar geoengineering”.

Climate Home News Read Article
South Africa declares drought a national disaster

South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicting southern and western regions including Cape Town, though the city pushed back the date of “Day Zero” when water supplies to the city will be turned off. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said after re-evaluating the magnitude and severity of the drought that it had reclassified it as a “national disaster”. However, a fall in water consumption – to below 550m litres per day for the first time – has allowed officials to push Day Zero back from 11 May to 4 June. Elsewhere, the New York Times says the atmospheric conditions that helped create the recent multiyear California drought have returned, “leaving the state dry and exceptionally warm this winter and its residents wondering if another long dry spell is on the way”.

Reuters Read Article

Comment.

Don’t jump to conclusions about climate change and civil conflict

A Nature editorial discusses a new Nature Climate Change paper that suggests that research tends to overstate the links between climate change and conflict. Establishing whether global warming promotes violence “is difficult, if not impossible, in many cases,” the editorial says. “Results so far are largely ambiguous and have been frequently questioned by political scientists, economists, social scientists and climate experts, on various grounds.” However, “done correctly, climate–conflict research is certainly valuable,” Nature says. “Rigorous investigation into how climate change might affect — and perhaps violently disrupt — societies or human civilisation at large has its place. But first, researchers in the field must improve their methods.”

Editorial, Nature Read Article
Trump’s climate denial backfires, drives more media coverage of the issue

“President Trump’s attacks on climate science and policy… drove media coverage of climate change last year,” writes Think Progress reporter Jeremy Deaton. Delving into analysis by Media Matters for America, Deaton says that “following a year of lagging coverage of climate change, 2017 saw network news programs scramble to report on Trump’s full-scale assault on federal climate policy”. Deaton’s main takeaways from the analysis include that “networks failed to explain how climate change is fuelling extreme weather”, “news outlets gave an uncontested platform to climate deniers” and that “Americans are more worried than ever about climate change”.

Jeremy Deaton, Think Progress Read Article
Coal jobs won’t come back – but there are other ways to help coal country

“It was always obvious that Donald Trump would never be able to keep his promise…that he would bring coal jobs back to battered mining communities,” writes Jason Walsh, senior policy advisor in the White House during the Obama administration, in a commentary piece for Reuters. “Government data for 2017 shows that more states lost coal mine jobs than gained them; nationally, the number of these jobs increased by only a few hundred,” Walsh says, “and the total remains less than one-third the level of the mid-1980s”. “These coal mine job numbers don’t represent resurgence,” Walsh argues. “Rather, they reflect what Trump and his enablers have denied: that it’s primarily markets, not federal policies, that affect the coal industry.” As the US power sector continues to transform itself, the “critical test will be whether community leaders and policymakers in coal country transform their communities to keep pace”. “To do so they’ll need to work through the inertia encouraged by political double-talk to build more diversified, resilient economies,” Walsh concludes.

Jason Walsh, Reuters Read Article

Science.

Climate and health implications of future aerosol emission scenarios

A future with large amounts of atmospheric aerosols could see less global warming but a larger increase in the number of premature deaths, a new study says. Using modelling, the researchers compared a climate scenarios with either “LOW” or “HIGH” aerosol emissions. “In LOW, the rate of warming peaked at 0.48 C per decade in the 2030s, whereas in HIGH it was the lowest of all simulations and never exceeded 0.23 C per decade,” the researchers say. However, in the LOW scenario, premature mortality at 2030 was below 299 ,900 deaths per year, whereas in the HIGH scenario, premature deaths exceeded 2, 780, 800. The researchers conclude: “Our results show potential trade-offs in aerosol mitigation with respect to climate change and public health.”

Environmental Research Letters Read Article
How will climate change affect endangered Mediterranean waterbirds?

Climate change could have varying impacts on endangered waterbirds in the Mediterranean, a new study says. Global warming is expected to affect Mediterranean wetlands by causing decreases in water availability and, therefore, increases in water salinity. Using modelling, the researchers investigated how these environmental changes could impact the success of 69 species of waterbirds living in a wetlands environment. “Environmental suitability for the guilds of diving birds and vegetation gleaners will decline in future climate scenarios, while many small wading birds will benefit from changing conditions,” the researchers say.

PLOS ONE Read Article

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