Daily Briefing |
TODAY'S CLIMATE AND ENERGY HEADLINES
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Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children
- IEA: Electricity powers past fossil fuels to claim investment top spot
- London's Iconic Black Cab Company Rebrands for Electric Future
- EU parliament extends exemption for foreign flights from carbon emissions scheme
- ‘Limited window’ to rethink decision to leave Euratom, says UK nuclear industry chief
- This Map Shows Warming’s Fingerprints on Weather
- Commentators who don't understand the grid should butt out of the battery debate
- Scientist Michael Mann on Climate Scenarios
- The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions
- A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era
Having one fewer child is the greatest impact individuals can have in fighting climate change, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters. Also reporting the study, the Daily Mail says the carbon footprint of an individual living in a developed country would be reduced on average by an extra 58.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year by not having a child, based on current emission rates. The next best actions are selling your car, avoiding long flights, and eating a vegetarian diet. The study shows jetting off on just one summer holiday is so bad for global warming that it wipes out the benefits of 20 years of recycling, a front page story in the Telegraph says.
The growing prominence of clean energy helped the electricity sector attract more capital than oil and gas extraction projects for the first time in history, according to new analysis released yesterday by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Clean energy’s share of global investment rose six percentage points since 2014 to hit a record 43 per cent of total supply investment in 2016`, while spending on energy efficiency measures climbed 9% and electricity networks spending rose by 6%. Power generation and electricity grid expansions took in $718bn, 42% of the $1.7tr invested in energy last year, reports Bloomberg, while oil, gas and coal supply by contrast reaped $708bn, a drop from last year. “Oil and gas was the largest investment source for 100 years. This changed in 2016,” Laszlo Varro, chief economist of the IEA, said on a conference call. “With robust investment in renewable energy, increased investment into electricity networks, electricity is now the biggest area of capital investment.” Meanwhile China, the world’s largest energy investor, saw a 25% fall in coal-fired investment and the US saw a sharp decline in oil and gas investment, reports Energy Live News, while India was the fastest growing major energy investment market, with spending up 7%. Carbon Brief covered the analysis using seven charts to show why the IEA thinks coal investment has already peaked.
Hundreds of London’s black cabs powered by batteries instead of diesel fuel will appear on the roads of Amsterdam next year, Bloomberg reports. The 225-vehicle deal is the first international sale for Chinese firm Geely’s new electric taxi, with the cars set to be delivered from a factory near Coventry, England, in the first quarter of 2018. BusinessGreen reports that as of yesterday the London Taxi Company (LTC), which is wholly owned by Geely, is now named the LEVC, or London Electric Vehicle Company.
A European Union parliamentary committee voted on Tuesday to extend the exemption of international flights from the EU’s charges for carbon emissions until the start of 2017. The committee said it made sense to wait for implementation of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) October deal on a global market-based measure for offsetting airline emissions. “It is sensible that we extend the exemption for international flights to and from the EU until there is greater clarity on the ICAO scheme,” said Julie Girling, member of the European Parliament, who is steering the legislation through the EU legislature. “However, unlike the European Commission, I believe this exemption must be time limited so that we can be sure that the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) will deliver its objectives.”
Brexit doesn’t inevitably mean leaving Euratom Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association has said. However he warned there is very little time for the government to rethink its decision on leaving the international body, which governs civil nuclear power in Europe. The statement comes amidst fears that leaving the organisation at the end of the two-year Brexit process in March 2019 does not leave enough time for the UK to replicate these vital functions. The Government yesterday declined to say whether or not the Health Department was formally consulted before the announcement that Britain would quit the agency, which health experts fear could disrupt treatments for cancer patients, report the Evening Standard, which also quotes former Tory leader William Hague as saying there was an “excellent case for staying” in the international body. Meanwhile in an article in the Financial Times David Allen Green article says he “cannot see how the UK can [pull back from leaving Euratom] without either revoking or amending the Article 50 notification sent in March, and even that route may not be possible”.
The field of climate science that looks for the fingerprints of climate change on extreme weather events has been growing rapidly in recent years, writes Andrea Thompson in Climate Central in an article on Carbon Brief‘s interactive map pulling together studies on how climate change affects extreme weather around the world. Nearly two-thirds of the 137 studies did find such an influence, in particular those looking at heat waves.
Criticising South Australia’s battery for not meeting peak demand is akin to raging at your smartphone because it can’t send a fax, argues Ketan Joshi in an article in the Guardian. “If the ecosystem of misunderstanding that has enveloped energy policy discourse for decades loses its lustre, the transition to a low-carbon, reliable, cheap grid might be quicker than we expect.”
Following his controversial New York Magazine cover story on climate change worst-case scenarios, published on Sunday, David Wallace-Wells responds to criticisms of the story made by climate scientist Michael Mann on Facebook and publishes the full transcript of his earlier call with Mann during research for the article. Meanwhile a Vox article by David Roberts defends the original piece and addresses much of the criticism levelled against it in recent days. “Most people simply have no idea how scary climate change is. However that terrible urgency is communicated, the world is better for it.”
Numerous actions are recommended by governments and NGOs to help individuals reduce their carbon footprint and associated contribution to climate change. However, the actions recommended are often not the most impactful. A new paper examines 148 possible actions that individuals could take. They identify four in particular that result in large emission reductions: having one fewer child, living car free, avoiding airplane travel, and eating a plant-based diet. The authors suggest that focusing on incremental changes with much smaller impacts may not be as productive.
A new compilation of 692 temperature proxy measurements from around the world including from trees, ice, sediment, corals, speleothems, documentary evidence, and other archives provides an unprecedented view of the Earth’s temperatures over the past 2000 years. These proxies by-and-large show modern global temperatures higher than anything experienced over the past two millennia. These results are robust no matter what proxy type is selected, and for most regions of the world.