Today's climate and energy headlines:
- World's top 20 airlines falling short on climate change commitments, study finds
- Former defence leaders warn White House it's 'dangerous' to downplay climate change
- HSBC faces call to end all new coal power financing
- Obama warns climate change will make global politics more toxic
- Exxon and Chevron plan for Permian shale boom
- Climate change strikes by pupils must have limit
- Comment: Markets aren't buying denial on climate change
- Physical and optical characteristics of heavily melted 'rotten' Arctic sea ice
The world’s top 20 airlines are falling short of the demands of the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a study funded by investors with $13tn under management, report the Independent and others. None of these airlines have an emissions target beyond 2025, according to the research by the Transition Pathway Initiative at the London School of Economics, the Independent adds. The fast-growing aviation sector accounts for 2% of global emissions, notes Reuters. None of the top 20 airlines have a clear plan to cut emissions after 2025, says BusinessGreen, with hopes instead pinned on the industry-wide offsetting scheme currently under development. [Carbon Brief has an in-depth explainer on this scheme, known as Corsia.] CNN, BBC News and EurActiv also cover the new research.
A group of 58 former military and national security officials have written to Donald Trump to warn against his plans for a committee to dispute administration climate change assessments, reports NPR. The letters says: “It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics. Our officials’ job is to ensure that we are prepared for current threats and future contingencies. We cannot do that if the scientific studies that inform our threat assessments are undermined.” The government’s official position is that climate change is a threat to national security, NPR says, adding: “The White House appears to be singing a different tune.” The Washington Post also covers the letter, quoting its warning that: “Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security.” The letter writers were organised by the American Security Project and the Center for Climate and Security, according to the Hill. Separately, the Hill reports comments from Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski that climate change is already “directly impacting” her state.
Meanwhile, a new study suggests Trump administration actions to deregulate the economy could raise US emissions by 200m tonnes of CO2 per year by 2025, reports Reuters. This would “hobble global efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”, Reuters says. Separately, Politico and Reuters report that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote “within weeks” on the proposal from some Democrats for a “green new deal” to tackle climate change. The plan has been “relentlessly attacked by Republican leaders”, Politico adds. Finally, Hillary Clinton, as well as climate campaigner and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, have ruled themselves out of the running for the 2020 presidential election, report the Guardian and CNN. Bloomberg says he will instead be launching a new campaign called “Beyond Carbon”, which he describes as a “grassroots effort to begin moving America as quickly as possible away from oil and gas and toward a 100% clean energy economy”.
Investors are pressuring banking giant HSBC to end all financing of new coal-fired power stations, reports the Financial Times. The bank has already excluded funding for such projects in all but three countries – Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. The FT includes a chart showing the “banks with the highest loan exposure to extreme fossil fuels” including coal, “ultra deep” oil and tar sands. The exemption for three countries was due to run until 2023, reports the Guardian, adding that other banks such as Standard Chartered and Barclays have “blanket exclusion policies” on new coal finance.
Separately, Climate Home News reports that the Turkish supreme court has blocked a new coal plant in the country, in response to a suit filed by more than 2,000 opponents. [See Carbon Brief’s profile of Turkey for more on its coal plans.] In other coal news, mining giant BHP has bought a stake in a Canadian firm that hopes to extract CO2 from the air, reports Reuters. Bill Gates is also an investor in the firm, Carbon Engineering, reports the Australian Financial Review. A senior BHP executive has insisted that continuing to extract coal is not “irreconcilable” with addressing climate change, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Elsewhere in Australia, the Guardian reports that a deal has been signed to develop two “massive” new coal-fired power stations in New South Wales. Another Guardian article reports comments from the South Korean firm behind a coal mine in the state that was blocked on climate change grounds. The firm says the mine would have made a “negligible contribution” to warming, the Guardian reports. In China, Reuters reports that the authorities will extend anti-smog measures against polluting sectors such as coal for another year. China’s capital city Beijing is now the eighth most polluted in the world, according to a new study also covered by Reuters, with New Delhi the worst.
The world’s inability to effectively tackle the climate change will toxify global politics, says former president Barack Obama, according to the Hill. It quotes Obama saying: “Imagine when you have not a few hundred thousand migrants who are escaping poverty or violence or disease, but you now have millions. Imagine if you start seeing monsoon patterns in the Indian subcontinent changing so that half a billion people can’t grow food and are displaced…Think about what that does to the politics of the world – not just the economics of it, not just the environment.” Obama was speaking at an event in Calgary, Canada, also covered by Global News. He urged Canada to do more to tackle climate change, according to the Globe and Mail, saying there had been “lip service” to upholding the Paris Agreement in the country.
Two of the world’s largest oil and gas companies have “sharply lifted their expectations for production in the Permian Basin, the heartland of the US shale boom”, reports the Financial Times. ExxonMobil and Chevron have revised their projections for the early 2020s, in a move the paper says “demonstrate[s] [their] confidence in the continued growth of the country’s oil and gas production…[and] lay[s] down a marker for Opec, the oil producers’ cartel ”. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters also cover the news.
The aim of school climate “strikes” is “laudable”, says an editorial in the Scotsman, adding: “On this particular subject, the children have been teaching the rest of us a lesson that we really do need to learn.” But it continues, “there has to be a limit on the number of days that such strikes will be tolerated”. Separately, Press Association reports that councillors in Edinburgh have decided that striking pupils should not be punished for their absence. Meanwhile, Irish leader Leo Varadkar has said he welcomes similar strikes in Ireland, reports RTÉ. A feature in Rolling Stone explores how “Greta Thunberg’s lone strike against climate change became a global movement”. National Geographic says “support is surging” for a climate lawsuit being brought by a group of US teens.
In a comment for Bloomberg, Noah Smith explains new research that has found that futures prices “followed the same warming trend that the scientific models predicted a decade in advance”. Smith adds: “This agreement between markets and models is important, because it means that investors either believe what the models say, or rely on other data to draw the same conclusion. By refusing to bet that recent warm years were an anomaly that will revert to the mean, market participants are basically ignoring conservative claims that climate scientists have misled the public to exaggerate the threat of warming. When forced to bet, investors bet on warming.”
A research team investigate the properties of “rotten” sea ice in the Arctic. “Rotten” ice can loosely be defined as ice that is “heavily melting”, the authors say, or filled by water, air or a contaminant, which causes it to have a honeycomb-like structure. “If such rotten ice were to become more prevalent in a warmer Arctic with longer melt seasons, this could have implications for the exchange of fluid and heat at the ocean surface,” the authors say.