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Briefing date 10.08.2023
Amazon nations fail to agree deforestation target

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Climate and energy news.

Amazon nations fail to agree deforestation target
Financial TimesRead Article

The leaders of Amazonian nations have failed to reach an agreement on a joint target to end illegal deforestation, the Financial Times reports. This was the outcome of a key summit hosted by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which has disappointed activists and Indigenous groups, as well as dealing “a blow to Lula’s ambition to persuade neighbouring countries to adopt his target of ending illegal deforestation by 2030”, the article says. At the close of the two-day summit in the rainforest city of Belém, the eight nations did agree to “advance a new common agenda” to tackle deforestation, promote sustainable development, support Indigenous peoples and take “urgent action to avoid the point of no return” in the Amazon, reportsBusinessGreen.Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, along with Brazil, all signed the Belém Declaration, creating a new alliance of Amazonian nations, as well as agreeing to establish a new scientific body to conduct research on the estate of the rainforest which will be reported annually, the article continues. “Several environmental groups described the declaration as a compilation of good intentions with little in the way of measurable goals and timeframes. However, it was lauded by others, and the Amazon’s umbrella organisation of Indigenous groups celebrated the inclusion of two of its main demands”, reports theAssociated Press

Despite the agreement, Brazil’s “relentless demand for oil has exposed rifts among Latin American neighbours over a unified plan to save the Amazon rainforest from destruction”, reports theTimes.The country would agree to ban oil drilling, as proposed by left-wing Colombian president Gustavo Petro, the article adds. The Amazonian leaders called on rich nations to help them develop a “Marshall-style plan” to help them protect the world’s largest rainforest, says theGuardian.The leaders note that ensuring the survival of the Amazon could not be solely up to them, as its resources were consumed globally, the article continues. The eight nations form part of a dozen that called on developed nations to fulfil their climate financing obligations, and contribute $200bn per year by 2030 to biodiversity, reportsReuters.As the summit came to close, a joint statement, titled “United for Our Forests”, was issued by the eight Amazonian nations together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, the Republic of Congo and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the article continues. The statement also “condemned the use of environmental measures that they said are disguised as trade restrictions, alluding to the European Union’s passage of a law prohibiting firms from importing goods linked to deforestation”, Reuters notes. The Amazon Summit was designed to “forge a united front among rainforest nations” ahead of the United Nations’ COP28 climate summit, the newswire adds.

“卢拉政府已经停止rot. Companies involved in illegal deforestation have been sanctioned, armed interventions have taken place to end illegal mining operations, and new conservation areas have been established”, states aGuardian编辑关注峰会。在卢拉的冷杉st seven months in office, deforestation has fallen by 42%, establishing a “transformed political context [that] was the catalyst for this week’s landmark regional summit”, the editorial notes. It concludes: “By changing the political weather, the Brazilian president’s election has opened a window of opportunity for the most valuable piece of green infrastructure on the planet. The world cannot afford for that opportunity to be missed. But the heavy lifting now required needs to be shared equitably.”

Hawaii wildfires: Six deaths confirmed as blazes engulf Maui
BBC NewsRead Article

Wildfires are sweeping the Hawaiian island of Maui, killing six people so far and leaving more injured, reports BBC News. Thousands have been left without power or phone service due to the fires, which are being driven from a nearby hurricane in the Pacific Ocean, the outlet continues. The category-four Hurricane Dora, which is more than 700 miles south of the Hawaiian state capital Honolulu, has seen winds reach up to 45 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 60mph, reports theIndependent.The wildfires swept into coastal Lahaina on Wednesday with “alarming speed and ferocity”, reportsLe Monde, “blazing through intersections and leaping across wooden buildings in the town centre that dates to the 1700s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.” Aerial footage has shown nearly entire blocks and homes flattened in Lahaina, with “smoking heaps of rubble lay piled high next to the waterfront and grey smoke hovered over the leafless skeletons of scorched trees”, the article continues. Some 271 structures were damaged or destroyed, reportsReuters,西岛几乎是铜t off with just one highway left open. As well as thousands of people being evacuated some fled into the ocean to escape the smoke and flame, the article notes. THe US coast guard rescued 12 people who had jumped into the sea off the coast of Lahaina, reports theIndependent.Search and rescue operations were underway yesterday as authorities look to assess the damage, reports theWashington Post.Authorities have said it is too soon to provide an exact number of those wounded, adding that “injuries extended beyond burns, including smoke inhalation, which one firefighter suffered”, the article continues. Dry conditions and forceful winds connected with Hurricane Dora have also ignited fires on the Big Island, the article continues, with officials warning residents of possible “imminent disaster due to property damage and/or bodily injury”. Additionally, another fire is “threatening buildings in the southern coastal town of Kihei, and a third fire raging in the inland mountainous region of Kula is yet to be contained”, reports theIndependent

Elsewhere, a wildfire that razed thousands of hectares of forest in Odemira in the Alentejo region in southern Portugal is now under control, reportsReuters.Authorities have said that firefighters will remain on the ground as a precaution following the “huge blaze that erupted over the weekend”, it adds. Meanwhile, in Russia, smoke from wildfires has engulfed the far eastern city of Yakuktsk, reports a separateReutersarticle. Russia’s forestry services say emergencies have been declared in seven regions due to fires, with around 4,000 people involved in fighting them, it continues. And theAssociated Presssays that the “death toll in recent flooding in China’s capital rose to 33, including five rescuers and another 18 people remain missing, officials said on Wednesday, as much of the country’s north remains threatened by unusually heavy rainfall”.

UK: Zac Goldsmith is 'very tempted' to support Labour at next election
BBC NewsRead Article

Zac Goldsmith, who recently quit the government due to its alleged climate-change “apathy” is “very tempted” to back Labour, reports BBC News. Talking to BBC’s HARDtalk, the Conservative peer said he was “desperately hoping the Conservative party comes to its senses”, the article continues. BBC News quotes Goldsmith as saying: “The simple truth is there is no pathway to net-zero and there’s no solution to climate change that does not involve nature, massive efforts to protect and restore the natural world. And, at the moment, I’m not hearing any of that from the Labour party if I do, if there’s a real commitment now the kind of commitment, frankly, that we saw when Boris Johnson was the leader, then I’d be very tempted to throw my weight behind that party and support them in any way I could.”. Goldsmith resigned from the Conservative party in June, reports theTimes, writing in his resignation letter that “the problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our prime minister, are simply uninterested. That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis.” His new comments aise the prospect of defections “as part of 1997-style haemorrhaging of support to Labour, with donors and other senior figures switching sides”, reports theIndependent.It points to defections by Christian Wakeford MP and former Conservative minister Claire Perry O’Neill, as well as leading donors and business figures, such as Gareth Quarry and Iain Anderson. Concern among “environmentally minded Conservatives” has increased in the aftermath of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip byelection, notes theGuardian, where the party “narrowly clung on to because of opposition to the extension of London’s clean air zone”. Following this, prime minister Rishi Sunak has announced more than 100 drilling licences in the North Sea to “max oil” reserves, a review of low-traffic neighbourhoods and defended his continued use of a private jet, the newspaper continues. However, Labour sources have indicated that it is unlikely Goldsmith will try to switch his party allegiance in the House of Lords, notes the Guardian. Additionally, they “pointed to his London mayoral campaign against Labour’s Sadiq Khan in 2016, which critics said relied on dog-whistle racism, to suggest he would probably not be accepted into the party anyway”, the article continues.

UK: No global security without net-zero, Grant Shapps warns Tories
PoliticoRead Article

There can be “no global security unless the world hits its climate targets”, says the UK’s energy security and net-zero secretary Grant Shapps, reportsPolitico.这样已经宣布计划主持一次能得到nal summit on energy security next year. The summit will be held in London in the spring, to coincide with the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine and will focus on “averting another global energy crisis like that experienced in 2022 or the oil shocks of the 1970s”, Shapps tells the outlet. It will include a discussion on the needs to diversify from fossil fuels, the article adds. Politico quotes Shapps, saying: “We can’t have global security without net-zero. There’s no global security if millions of people are having to uproot because of weather patterns.” The article adds: “Tory right-wingers will be equally nervous about the prospect of China taking a seat at the table when Shapps convenes his summit in London next year…Shapps said the conference would be an opportunity for leaders to consider how to ‘rewire energy security’ so that countries were no longer over-reliant on any single energy source…The event would not be ‘an alternate COP,’ Shapps said, referring to the UN climate summit taking place in Dubai this November. ‘This needs to be a real-world, gritty energy security conference where we are talking about the realities of the world that we live in,’ he said.”

Climate activists outraged over Biden claim he ‘practically’ declared US emergency
The GuardianRead Article

US president Joe Biden has said that he “practically” declared a national emergency on the climate crisis, despite not actually saying it, reports the Guardian. When asked if he intends to declare a climate emergency during an interview with the Weather Channel that aired on Wednesday, Biden said “I’ve already done that,” a move that has vexed climate campaigners, the article continues. Speaking from the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Biden said his administration was doing everything it could to fight climate change, adding “We’ve conserved more land…We’ve rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, we’ve passed a $368bn climate control facility…we’re moving,” reports theIndependentForbeslabelled the comments as Biden’s “latest gaffe”, highlighting that declaring the climate crisis a national emergency would “allow him to access more money and grant him the ability to ban US crude oil exports and speed up the manufacturing of electric vehicles”.

India succeeds in reducing emissions rate by 33% over 14 years: sources
ReutersRead Article

India’s emissions intensity rate fell by a “faster-than-expected” 33% in 14 years, according to three unnamed government sources privy to the country’s latest report to UNFCCC yet to be ratified by cabinet, Reuters reports. The officials attribute the “continuous reduction” in India’s emissions intensity to an increase in forest cover and renewable energy generation, which, according to one, “shows the country has been able to completely decouple its economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.” According to another official quoted, “the progress made…should help India avert pressure by developed nations to stop using coal”, which still accounts for 73% of India’s energy mix.

The country’s coal minister, Pralhad Joshi, has told parliament that “domestic coal production rose 9.2% year-on-year up to July 2023”,Mintreports, while the renewables minister RK Singh has said, according toMint, that solar parks now account for 10.2GW of collective installed capacity. Singh said that there would be “no retirement or repurposing of coal-based power stations be done before 2030”,Down to Earthreports. A comment piece by R Srikanth in theHinducalls for an “accelerat[ed] deployment of small nuclear modular reactors” at existing and decommissioned thermal power plants using technology transfer and finance from the Green Climate Fund. AnotherDown to Earthstory quotes a union forest minister for state telling parliament that “[d]eforestation cannot be attributed as a factor causing adverse impacts on India’s environment”.

Elsewhere,IndiaSpendreports that a new amendment to India’s forest conservation act means that 28% of the country’s forest cover – “equivalent to three times the size of Sri Lanka” – will lose protection. Leaders from the north-eastern border state of Nagaland tell theHindustan Timesthe new law is “anti-tribal” andMongabaycarries a comment piece by Pia Sethi on what the law means for a region whose forests comprise at least a quarter of “the country’s total dense forest cover”. TheIndian Expressreports that India’s former climate minister Jairam Ramesh has resigned as chairman of a parliamentary committee on science, forests and climate change to protest bills being “bulldozed” through. Separately,Hindustan Timesreports on a new study that maps the link between El Niño and the monsoon, while UNICEF warns that 76% of south Asia’s children “are exposed to life-threatening heatwaves caused by the climate crisis”, according to theIndependent

In other business and climate news, India’s commerce and finance ministries are examining the possibility of imposing a carbon tax on “some imports” in response to the EU’s levies, theTimes of Indiareports. “It is depressing that India sees its place in the sun only in the context of a Chinese economic sunset”, writesBusiness Standardcolumnist Kanika Datta, pointing out that “raising tariffs on key electronic components produced at optimum cost elsewhere…makes India uncompetitive in electronics exports…likewise with solar panels, though India has set itself stiff targets for alternative energy”.

China issues national guidelines to catalyse hydrogen energy industry
South China Morning PostRead Article

China has unveiled its first guidelines to establish standards for the hydrogen energy industry, “targeting the introduction of a system that includes more than 30 national and industry-level standards covering the production, storage, transport and usage of hydrogen energy by 2025”, reports the South China Morning Post. “The government hopes the standards will help to realise the full potential of hydrogen energy’s role in China’s energy consumption,” adds the outlet. The Chinese outletEnergy Magazinealso covers the policy. It quotes Zhao Zuozhi, from Siemens Energy, who says that “to achieve carbon neutrality and substantial emissions reduction, ‘green hydrogen’ is an extremely important and indispensable component”. The Chinese financial outletYicaiquotes Dai Yande from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), who says that “carbon neutrality is an inevitable choice for China’s high-quality development”.

Meanwhile, theFinancial Timeswrites in a “big read” that “China is by far the lowest-cost and biggest supplier of many of the key building blocks for clean technologies”. It adds that, “in the context of a worsening technological cold war with the west, those capabilities could become a source of leverage for China”. An online solar news siteTaiyang Newswrites that, according to the Chinese ministry of industry and information technology, the production of various solar PV components in China, spanning from polysilicon to modules, witnessed a year-on-year surge of over 65% during the first half of 2023. TheDaily Telegraphhas an article by its economics editor Szu Ping Chan, who writes that top economic advisers to Berlin say that “German electric cars are too expensive” compared to Chinese imported EVs.

In other news,China Dailyhas an editorial, titled: “Biden administration needs to put money where its mouth is to put a floor under relations.” The state-run newspaper has anothercomment pieceby Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, who writes that “the precipitation brought by Typhoon Doksuri underscores the need for preventive measures to safeguard China’s grain security” and the damage on crops “has sent shockwaves through both the domestic and foreign grain markets”TheSouth China Morning Posthas a comment piece by Shi Jiangtao, titled: “Floods highlight how China’s grand ambitions for the Beijing area carry a heavy cost for outlying areas.”

TUI: Heatwaves likely to affect where and when we holiday
BBC NewsRead Article

Heat and climate change could cause people to take their “summer” holidays in the autumn and spring, as well as choose cooler destinations, the CEO of travel firm TUI has said, reports BBC News. Sebastian Ebel said that holidaymakers may now choose Greece – which has been devastated by heatwaves and wildfires – in November, benefitting the travel industry, it continues. July’s wildfires in Rhodes have cost TUI €25m (£21.5m), the article notes. TheFinancial Timeshas covered the story on its frontpage, saying tourists in Belgium could soon be joined by thousands more as heatwaves push people out of traditional holiday spots. The story is also covered on theTimes’frontpage, opening: “A dip in the North Sea followed by a bowl of moules-frites and large Duvel beer could soon replace the classic combination of the Mediterranean, paella and sangria for holidaymakers seeking cooler climes for their summer escape.”

Climate and energy comment.

Blind faith and bans won’t get us to net zero
Juliet Samuel, The TimesRead Article

右倾报纸在英国继续their relentless attacks on net-zero policies via their comment pages. “We need solutions to help with the energy transition before we bet the economy on hitting the 2050 net-zero target,” writes the climate-sceptic commentator Juliet Samuel in the Times. “Anyone worried about the huge costs and practicalities of net-zero policy was best off staying quiet for fear of being labelled a denialist dinosaur”, she writes. Net-zero policies have not worked, she claims, because the government’s primary tool, the target, is insufficient and “downright damning”. She highlights targets such as the sale of all new cars being electric by 2030 (new petrol and diesel hybrids will be available till 2035) arguing the target has been set with the assumption that green alternatives will be available on the desired timescale in a “grossly irresponsible” move. Pointing this out gets one marked down as a “climate denier”, she continues, while “self-appointed climate martyrs” place impractical policies upon the British people and politicians engage in a “sort of doublespeak”. She adds: “Instead of fixating upon how many magic costless zeroes they can attach to pledge cards and placards, climate campaigners ought to engage with the practical problems of the energy transition.”

Elsewhere, in theDaily Telegraph“retired engineer” Bryan Leyland argues that nuclear power is safe and the “only way to go green”. (The newspaper does not tell its readers that Leyland has a long history of promoting climate denial in New Zealand and is also an “academic advisor” to a UK climate-sceptic lobby group.) Renewable energy is a “foolish fantasy”, he writes, arguing wind power is becoming more expensive leading to offshore wind projects being abandoned as uneconomic. He concludes: “Governments need to face the fact that wind and solar power can never deliver their net-zero dreams of low cost, reliable, emissions free electricity. They have only two realistic options: switch to nuclear power, or abandon net-zero.” Also in theDaily Telegraph, Allister Heath, the climate-sceptic editor of its Sunday edition, argues that the public still isn’t being told the “full, horrifying truth about the net-zero permanent revolution”. The “restrictive architecture of carbon budgets and climate committees is killing democratic choice”, he writes, arguing that the carbon budgets being enshrined in law makes a “mockery” of coming general elections as policies required to reach these targets leave “gravely limit[ed] room for political manoeuvre”. Heath calls for a shadow Climate Change Committee producing alternative models: “Net zero is on autopilot, and the deadline too tight to avoid crippling restrictions, a huge increase in the national debt and rolling blackouts.”

Finally, a letter to the editor in theTimes从杰斯Ralston能源主管能源的d Climate Intelligence Unit, highlights the economic benefits of net-zero. The Office for Budget Responsibility has said that continued reliance of gas will mean adding 13% of GDP to national debt by 2050 if there is another energy crisis, she says, adding that the Treasury has said the cost of inaction outweigh any investment needed, and net-zero has been described in a report by a Conservative former minister as “the economic opportunity of the 21st century”. The letter finishes: “The UK risks getting colder and poorer as the world accelerates green investment. The truth is the greatest threat to our economic prosperity is the cost of not-zero.”

New climate research.

Coral reefs benefit from reduced land-sea impacts under ocean warming
NatureRead Article

Coral reefs hit by marine heatwaves are better able to survive severe heat stress when they are less affected by other impacts coming from the land and sea, such as wastewater pollution and overfishing, a new study says. The researchers combine surveys of reef change with a “unique” 20-year time series of land-sea human impacts that “encompassed an unprecedented marine heatwave in Hawaii”. The results reveal that “reefs with increased herbivorous fish populations and reduced land-based impacts, such as wastewater pollution and urban runoff, had positive coral cover trajectories” before the heatwave. In addition, these reefs “also experienced a modest reduction in coral mortality following severe heat stress compared to reefs with reduced fish populations and enhanced land-based impacts”. The authors conclude that “integrated land-sea management could help achieve coastal ocean conservation goals and provide coral reefs with the best opportunity to persist in our changing climate”.

When the fraction of attributable risk does not inform the impact associated with anthropogenic climate change
Climatic ChangeRead Article

A new paper expresses caution when using the “Fraction of Attributable Risk” (FAR) metric for attributing the contribution of human-caused climate change to the impact of an extreme weather event. The paper explains that FAR has been used to “estimate the fraction of observed impacts (e.g. lives lost or economic damage) that can be associated with [climate change] by multiplying realised impacts by the FAR (IFAR = Impact×FAR)”. However, the author notes, this calculation “only produces reliably useful results when the weather or climate phenomena in question can be easily conceived of as a discrete binary ‘event’ (i.e., the entirety of the event either occurs or it does not)”. The calculation “inflates” the impacts associated with climate change in these circumstances because it “assumes that there would have been zero impact had the geophysical value chosen to define eventhood not been exceeded”. A2022 paperby different authors also noted that FAR “is not generally appropriate when estimating the magnitude of the anthropogenic signal behind a specific impact” of a weather extreme.

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