Climate change weekly wrap (May #2) – news, video and analysis

All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics 


By Ed King

Welcome to RTCC’s weekly wrap, where we pull together the top stories from the past week, and highlight key events to look forward to over the next 7 days.

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Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum told Megan Darby why he is standing up to his country’s powerful shipping lobby. “We don’t want to have a situation where the tail is wagging the dog,” he said.

He was speaking a day after the UN’s shipping body, the IMO,shelved proposals from de Brum to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the sector, agreeing only to do so “at an appropriate future date”. Emissions from shipping could rise by 50-250% by 2050, analysis by the IMO reveals.

China coal
More intrigue from China with latest data suggesting coal use continues to fall. Greenpeace data-crunchers say consumption from January-April was down 8%. In 2014 it fell 2.9%. China – in case you have been asleep for the past decade – is the world’s largest carbon polluter.

EU hypocrisy
Brussels is great at handing out advice. Not so good at taking it. We revealed on Thursday that the European Commission has dropped its demand on member states to cut their subsidies for oil, gas and coal. That’s despite the UN, IMF and World Bank saying it’s one of the best ways to curb global emissions.

Quote of the week 
“Consumerism is a key ingredient to the recipe of the end of the world. Consumption based on fossil fuel is eating the planet alive” – we meet Reverend Billy, climate crusader

UK election
Prime Minister David Cameron won plaudits from green groups for appointing Amber Rudd as UK energy and climate chief. Rudd, previously climate minister, is a vocal supporter of solar energy and has warned previously of the dangers global warming could pose the country.

UN climate talks
Diplomatic hotlines are buzzing as envoys criss-cross the world working out how a global pact could work. This week G7 energy ministers said they were in agreement over the need for an ambitious climate deal that would offer “deep” cuts. They said little on specifics. That will wait until the G7 summit on June 7-8.

G7 leaders at the 2014 Hague summit (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

G7 leaders at the 2014 Hague summit (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

Meanwhile in a teleconference UN climate chief Christiana Figueres pushed the line that a deal would boost economic growth. Some scientists like Kevin Anderson at the Tyndall Centre say growth needs to fall to ensure the 2C target is met. Figueres clearly disagrees. She did say Paris will not be a “silver bullet”. Good news for carbon emitting werewolves.

Stat of the week
Sea level rise sped up over the last two decades rather than slowing down as previously thought, say scientists in a new report

Around the world
Why Australia’s coal habit is as bad as Saudi Arabia’s oil habit, Myanmar’s government is being pushed into building 10 new coal plants, the US decision to allow Shell Arctic drilling is akin to “climate denial” and the World Bank says carbon pricing is not enough to solve climate change.

Wonky analysis
Will the Paris climate pact have any teeth? At all? We look at two studies released this week outlining the legal options. Note: it may hinge on whether the word “should” is used instead of “shall”. Time for us all to scrub up on modal verbs.

Improving RTCC
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For your diary
11-15: IMO Environmental Committee (London)
18-22: SE4 ALL Forum (New York)
18-22: UN SDG negotiations (New York)
19-21: World Hydropower Forum (Beijing)
20-21: Business & climate summit (Paris)
26-28: Carbon Expo (Barcelona)

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