Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Wind power overtakes coal for first time in UK
- China to invest $361bn in clean power by 2020
- Coral reef conditions are about to get a lot worse
- James Delingpole article calling ocean acidification 'alarmism' cleared by press watchdog
- Cuadrilla begins work at Lancashire fracking site
- All that glitters is not green: Costa Rica's renewables conceal dependence on oil
- Falcons, drones, data: A winery battles climate change
- Is faster economic growth compatible with reductions in carbon emissions? The role of diminished population growth
The Financial Times puts Carbon Brief’s findings that the UK generated more electricity from wind than coal for the first time in 2016 on its front page. Its article says that electricity generated from coal accounted for only 9.2% of the total last year, the first time that coal’s contribution has dropped below 10%. In 2015, it was responsible for 22.6% of total electricity generation. Meanwhile, wind farms generated 39 terawatt hours of electricity in 2016, compared to the 31 generated by coal-fired power plants. The Press Association also has the story.
China will invest $361bn into clean power generation by 2020, according to a newly-published blueprint from the National Energy Administration. The body said that the push for nuclear and renewables would create more than 13m jobs, and allow China to achieve 15% of its energy from non-fossil source by the end of the decade. Separately, the Financial Times looks at an increase in Chinese investments in green technologies overseas. In 2016, Chinese companies invested a total of $32bn, it says — far in excess of the volumes deployed by any other country.
According to a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports, this century could prove catastrophic for coral reefs around the globe. Scientists found that coal bleaching will affect 99% of reefs each year by the end of the century if current climate trends continue. Coral bleaching means that corals lose their colour, and it often precedes the death of the reef. Reefs close to the equator would see annual bleaching even earlier, adds Climate Home.
An article in the Spectator by climate sceptic writer James Delingpole suggesting that ocean acidification is not a problem for marine life has been cleared by Ipso, the press regulator. The piece was headlined: “Ocean acidification: yet another wobbly pillar of climate alarmism”. But Ipso said that the piece was neither misleading nor inaccurate, despite complaints, deeming that “the article was clearly a comment piece”. Carol Turley, a marine expert at the Plymouth marine laboratory, was among the various scientists who condemned the decision, calling it “deplorable”.
Fracking company Cuadrilla has begun work at a site in Lancashire, where it hopes to be able to extract shale gas in the future. Cuadrilla was granted permission to drill there in October, against the wishes of the local council. The first activities, which Cuadrilla chief Francis Egan called an “important milestone”, involved installing traffic measures designed to allow for the construction of a new access road into the field where the exploration will take place.
The fact that Costa Rica was able to produce 98% of its electricity last year without oil was widely reported, and has bolstered the country’s green reputation. But this hid the fact that the country’s consumption of oil is actually growing, once you factor in transport, writes Lindsay Fendt. Once you factor in the country’s gasoline-dependent transportation sector, renewables actually make up less than a quarter of the nation’s total energy use, she writes.
A feature in the New York Times looks at the way in which one wine company — Jacksons Family Wines — is adapting to the hotter, drier temperatures bought by climate change. The company, which produces supermarket staples, is based in California, which is facing a yearslong drought, and although grapes are surprisingly resilient, their crop is being affected. Their efforts mean that “the region’s wine country has become a laboratory for the reshaping of agriculture nationwide,” says the New York Times.
Slower population growth could help reduce carbon emissions while also improving per capita income, a new study suggests. Changing fertility patterns can affect carbon emissions via its impact on total population, the age structure of the population, and economic output, the researchers say. Using global data for 1950–2010, their analysis shows that a 1% decrease in population growth could increase per capita incomes by nearly 7% while still lowering carbon emissions.
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