Loading...

Follow Climate Change News on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Instead of tit-for-tat retaliation to US tariffs, trade partners should link their response to climate goals and kill two birds with one stone.

Countries affected by US tariff increases are weighing their options for retaliation. Many of the same countries have pledged to lead the fight against climate change.  By basing their countermeasures on the carbon footprint of US goods, these countries can defend their trade interests and underscore their commitment to climate action.

Last week, the simmering trade conflict between the US and many of its trade partners entered into a new phase.  After increasing tariffs on imports such as washing machines, solar cells, soya beans, steel, and aluminium during the first half of 2018, the White House announced on July 10 that it would target an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports with new tariffs. China has already promised to strike back in kind.

As countries consider how to respond to US protectionism, they have a rare opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  So far, trade partners have taken the traditional route of dollar-for-dollar counter-tariffs on politically sensitive goods.  The result is a trade war that risks spiralling out of control.  A better option would be to target US goods based on their carbon intensity, drawing attention to climate priorities in a language the White House understands.

In a new comment in Nature magazine, we discuss the potential for so-called “border carbon adjustments” (BCAs) to strengthen climate action in the current tariff standoff.  BCAs are tariffs or other carbon constraints imposed on carbon-intensive imported goods.  They help prevent relocation of jobs and investment due to uneven climate action, and thereby alleviate a central hurdle for political leadership on climate change.  They also incentivize laggard countries to engage in climate cooperation as a way of averting such constraints.

The Nature comment links our research on BCAs with the ongoing trade conflict prompted by US tariff increases.  Economic studies have shown that properly designed BCAs can be an effective tool to level the competitive playing field and enable sustained climate leadership.  Unlike existing measures to address uneven climate efforts, including exemptions and rebates, they do not mute the effect of emission-curbing policies.  With adequate procedural safeguards, moreover, BCAs can be implemented in a way that respects international trade law requirements.

Read more at Trump Is Wrecking the Climate and Free T rade.  Here Is a Common Solution for Both.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon.

The study, presented July 16, 2018 at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as 15 years, according to the study's senior author, Paul Barford, a UW-Madison professor of computer science.

"Most of the damage that's going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later," says Barford, an authority on the "physical internet" -- the buried fiber optic cables, data centers, traffic exchanges and termination points that are the nerve centers, arteries and hubs of the vast global information network.  "That surprised us.  The expectation was that we'd have 50 years to plan for it.  We don't have 50 years."

Read more at Buried Internet Infrastructure At Risk As Sea Levels Rise
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
China and the European Union on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate change pact and called other signatories to do the same, saying action against rising global temperatures had become more important than ever.

Following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the United States from the agreement, China and the European Union have emerged as the biggest champions of the 2015 accord, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. 

Read more at China, EU Reaffirm Paris Climate Commitment, Vow More Cooperation
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The natural gas “bridge” to sustainability may be shorter than expected.


In its role as a bridge natural gas seems to have a comfortable future. First, it will replace coal and nuclear “baseload” plants, and then, as renewables grow to supply the bulk of power, it will provide flexibility, filling in the gaps where variable renewables (wind and solar) fall short. By playing these multiple roles, natural gas will long outlive coal and prove useful well into the latter half of the 21st century.  It will enjoy a long, slow exit.

Or so the story goes.

Around 2015, though, just five years into gas’s rise to power, complications for this narrative began to appear.  First, wind and solar costs fell so far, so fast that they are now undercutting the cost of new gas in a growing number of regions.  And then batteries — which can “firm up” variable renewables, diminishing the need for natural gas’s flexibility — also started getting cheap faster than anyone expected.  It happened so fast that, in certain limited circumstances, solar+storage or wind+storage is already cheaper than new natural gas plants and able to play all the same roles (and more).

The cost of natural gas power is tethered to the commodity price of natural gas, which is inherently volatile.  The price of controllable, storable renewable energy is tethered only to technology costs, which are going down, down, down.  Recent forecasts suggest that it may be cheaper to build new renewables+storage than to continue operating existing natural gas plants by 2035.

That means natural gas plants built today could be rendered uncompetitive well before their rated lifespan.  They could become “stranded assets,” saddling utility ratepayers and investors with the costs of premature decommissioning.

Meanwhile, gas’s environmental reputation has suffered from a series of reports, most recently a study in Science, showing that gas’s lifecycle methane emissions are much higher than previously estimated and could virtually erase any climate advantage gas has over coal, rendering it a bridge to nowhere.  (See author and activist Bill McKibben for an extensive exploration of this point.)

Even if methane emissions are reduced, they can’t be reduced to nothing.  And the US needs to completely decarbonize — get to net-zero carbon emissions — by mid-century.  Natural gas simply isn’t compatible with a net-zero-carbon future unless a massive infrastructure is built to capture and bury its carbon emissions.  Until and unless that happens, natural gas must eventually be eliminated.

Luckily, there is good news.  While it is far too early to say that we’ve reached the end of the natural gas bridge, we can perhaps say that the end has come into sight — somewhat hazy, but you can see it if you squint just right.

Here’s how this post is going to go.  We’ll take a look at recent prices of renewable energy and storage relative to natural gas.  We’ll run through several recent examples of regulators or utilities either turning against natural gas or enduring political blowback for supporting it.  Then we’ll check out a couple of recent reports that try to quantify the threat to natural gas.  And then we will conclude with some big takeaways.
...
One thing we know:  energy changes faster than we think it will
Of course, we shouldn’t forget that forecasts out to 2050, like BNEF’s, are best seen as a genre of science fiction.  Nobody knows what the world is going to look like in 2050.  The energy sector is already changing with vertiginous speed.  In the past 10 years, developments in clean energy have come so fast and furious that forecasts have been revised again and again.  Even 10-year forecasts have been rendered goofy.

There’s no reason to think the pace of change will slow any time soon.  Quite the opposite.

So there’s a great deal we do not, and cannot, know.

We don’t know where the price of natural gas will go, what policymakers will do, or what kinds of economic or other disruptions might be in store.  More to the point, though, we scarcely have any idea what clean energy is capable of.

We don’t know what’s possible once gigawatts worth of electric vehicles are connected to the grid and charged or discharged depending on needs.  We’ve barely scratched the surface on demand response and have only the faintest glimmer of what we can do with millions of appliances hooked up to the grid for use as thermal storage or flexible demand.

We cannot predict what new industries or uses might arise around dirt-cheap renewable energy, or what kind of demand might swarm in to absorb the abundant energy underneath the duck curve, once markets are properly aligned.  We talk a lot about smart grids that can support transactive power systems, but have barely begun to build and connect them.

We have no idea what’s going to happen.

But we do know a few things.  We know the US needs to decarbonize as fast as possible (as all developed nations do), and that eventually the federal government will get its act together.  We know that natural gas, at least without carbon capture and sequestration, is not compatible with a zero-carbon future and must eventually be eliminated.

We know that clean energy resources, in all their varied glory, can do all the things natural gas power plants can do.  We know that the cost of natural gas power is tethered to the price of natural gas and has little room to fall, while the cost of clean energy is tethered only to technology, which has gotten and is continuing to get cheaper and cheaper.

And we know that clean energy has defied all our forecasts, maturing and falling in cost faster than even the most optimistic advocates predicted.  We should have some confidence that will continue.

Natural gas still has enormous global momentum.  But it has already gotten risky to build a new gas plant in the US.  The UK is turning away from gas.  So is South Australia.  It will happen first in developed markets that already have adequate capacity and then, depending on how cheap clean alternatives get, growing markets next.

Clean energy is approaching in natural gas’s rearview mirror, fast, always faster than anticipated.  Think about what today’s forecasts will look like in 10 years.  Which side would you bet they err on?

Read more at Clean Energy Is Catching Up to Natural Gas
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The first five months of 2018 were the fourth warmest in global records going back to 1880, according to NOAA.  Along the way, a number of extreme heat events have occurred already this year.  In recent weeks across the Northern Hemisphere, these records have included an impressive number of all-time highs (an all-time high is the warmest temperature reported on any date at a given location).

Setting an all-time high is no small accomplishment, especially for locations that have long periods of record (PORs). All-time highs are especially noteworthy when you consider that, on average, the planet is warming more during winter than during summer, and more at night than during the day.  Urban heat islands are no doubt contributing somewhat to the heat records achieved in large urban areas, but the extreme heat of 2018 has also played out in remote rural areas without any urban heat islands.

As of July 13, the U.S. Records summary page maintained by NOAA showed that 18 U.S. locations had set or tied all-time highs so far this year, as opposed to 10 locations that set or tied all-time lows.  There is an even sharper contrast between the number of all-time warm daily lows (40) and all-time cool daily highs (5), which has been a common pattern in recent years.
...
The increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves is among the most obvious and well-documented effects of climate change.  For the globe, The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report noted that “a large amount of evidence continues to support the conclusion that most global land areas analyzed have experienced significant warming of both maximum and minimum temperature extremes since about 1950” and concluded that “it is . . . very likely that human influence has contributed to observed global scale changes in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes since the mid-20th century, and likely that human influence has more than doubled the probability of occurrence of heat waves in some locations.”

Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh published a 2017 study showing how a relatively small shift in the global average surface temperature of just 1°C (1.8°F) in the past century has dramatically increased the odds of extreme heat events.  In the case of the July 2018 California heat wave, Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is working to conduct extreme event attribution studies in advance of an event, said in an interview with axios.com, "[i]n probabilistic terms, climate change increased the chances of the heat wave by about 20 to 50 times," adding that there is at least a 99% likelihood that human-induced climate change "increased the severity of this heat wave."

Read more at Heat Records Falling Around the World in 2018
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
ExxonMobil has announced it will leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate lobby group known for its attempts to block climate action.  Campaigners cautiously welcomed the decision, though said Exxon had to do more to prove it was committed to addressing climate change.

Exxon’s decision comes after opposition to ALEC’s attempt last December to get the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its position that climate change proposes a risk to human health.

ALEC links corporations to state legislators with the aim of drafting legislation to inhibit or repeal pro-climate policies.  The group is bankrolled by the Koch brothers, the US’s leading climate science denial funders.  The Nation reports that “no-one knows how much the Kochs have given ALEC in total, but the amount likely exceeds $1 million”.

ALEC also has strong support from a US “web of denial” in its mission to block climate action, with backing from climate science denial organisations such as the Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation.

Exxon’s decision to leave ALEC comes after other corporate giants also decided to cut ties with the group, including BP, Royal Dutch Shell Group, and Ford.

The decision to split from ALEC has been cautiously welcomed by environmental organisations as a significant step towards climate action from Big Oil companies.

Ben Ratner, Senior Director of the Environmental Defence Fund, described it in a press release as an “important statement”, since companies “seeking to show corporate social responsibility” should “distance themselves from groups that pursue agendas harmful to public health and the environment”.

Read more at Exxon Leaving ALEC: Important But Insufficient Step in Addressing Company's History of Climate Science Denial, Campaigners Say
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Stronger westerly winds in the Southern Ocean could be the cause of a sudden rise in atmospheric CO2 and temperatures in a period of less than 100 years about 16,000 years ago, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

The westerly winds during that event strengthened as they contracted closer to Antarctica, leading to a domino effect that caused an outgassing of carbon dioxide from the Southern Ocean into the atmosphere.

This contraction and strengthening of the winds is very similar to what we are already seeing today as a result of human caused climate change.

"During this earlier period, known as Heinrich stadial 1, atmospheric CO2 increased by a total of ~40ppm, Antarctic surface atmospheric temperatures increased by around 5°C and Southern Ocean temperatures increased by 3°C," said lead author Dr Laurie Menviel, a Scientia Fellow with the University of New South Wales (Sydney).  Stronger westerly winds in the Southern Ocean could be the cause of a sudden rise in atmospheric CO2 and temperatures in a period of less than 100 years about 16,000 years ago, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

The westerly winds during that event strengthened as they contracted closer to Antarctica, leading to a domino effect that caused an outgassing of carbon dioxide from the Southern Ocean into the atmosphere.

This contraction and strengthening of the winds is very similar to what we are already seeing today as a result of human caused climate change.

"During this earlier period, known as Heinrich stadial 1, atmospheric CO2 increased by a total of ~40ppm, Antarctic surface atmospheric temperatures increased by around 5°C and Southern Ocean temperatures increased by 3°C," said lead author Dr Laurie Menviel, a Scientia Fellow with the University of New South Wales (Sydney).

Read more at Strengthening West Winds Close to Antarctica Previously Led to Massive Outgassing of Carbon
Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview