Climate Live: NASA’s Hansen says he was “too optimistic” about climate change, US youths pursue climate court action & Olympic aquatic centre takes Gold for non-HFC use

By John Parnell

– The day’s top climate change stories as chosen by RTCC
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– Updated from 0900-1700 BST (GMT+1) 

Latest news – Monday 6 August

1725 The US Import-Export bank will lend $2bn to South Africa for renewable energy projects. The deal goes into effect immediately.

1630 Is this the most ridiculous fossil fuel subsidy going? Italy’s state utility provider Enel is struggling. The combination of over investing in new fossil fuel plants and the unexpected boom of renewables (solar in particular) has left some oil-fired plants running just a few days a year. The ink was drying on a deal over the weekend that will see these plants awarded funding for year long running costs. In April, the country cut subsidies for the booming solar sector.

1530 One of the architects of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), the consultancy Ecofys, has been chosen to help develop a carbon trading scheme in China. The company will assist the Tianjin Climate Exchange in piecing together a regional trading platform.

1330 A report has estimated that “carbon negative” electricity production, could cut the world’s emissions from electricity production by a third and the EU’s by a half. By extracting CO2 from the atmosphere in biomass, and using that in a carbon capture and storage (CCS) enabled power plant, the same carbon can re-enter long term storage.

1215 UK climate change minister Greg Barker has sought to continue healing rifts over UK green policies. Speaking at a trade event he told delegates: “The Prime Minister promised this coalition would be the greenest government ever. We meant it in 2010 and we mean it now.” The UK government has been on the end of criticism over its perceive blocking of renewable energy in favour of gas.


1100 Olympics Greenwatch – the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has awarded a ‘Gold’ to the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park for using ammonia for its refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Ammonia is one of a number of ‘natural’ cooling agents which have either no or a low global warming potential (although it’s not perfect – being highly toxic and emitting Co2 during production).

Synthetic refrigerant chemicals hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are often thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Globally, HFCs account for about one per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and this could rise to nearly 20% by the middle of the century unless urgent action is taken.

RTCC reported recently that Brazil, China and India had become the first countries to break their Rio+20 pledges with an HFC ban block. You may also be interested in our eco-review of the main stadia at the London Games.

1005 A Cambridge University mathematician and a UCL climate scientist have warned that adapting to climate change must be discussed publicly. The pair point to the recent extreme weather in the US as an example of the future impacts society could face adding: “We must begin to discuss the risks and impacts of a climate disaster, since our institutions and processes appear incapable of preventing it.”

0855 NASA scientist James Hansen has apologised for being too optimistic with his climate change predictions. Hansen said that while his projections of temperature increases have been correct, he underestimated the speed at which they could impact extreme weather patterns.

0850 US youths are continuing their coordinated climate change court action across all 50 states. An appeal is under way in Washington State after a case brought against its governor and three agencies was thrown out.

0845 Research in New Zealand has offered clues as to how the 10 ft bird in New Zealand outsmarted natural climate changes 10,000 years ago leaving humans as a more likely factor in its extinction. The Moa was able to track its natural habitat as climate change altered those boundaries. The conclusion is that over-hunting and habitat destruction were more likely culprits in its downfall.

0840 The abysmally low price of carbon in the EU has knocked €800m off the value of the bloc’s fund to get carbon capture and storage off the ground. The technology can remove CO2 from power station emissions and put it into long term storage within rock formations. However, the EU fund was linked to the price of carbon and at around €7 a ton, the value of the fund is declining.

0835 US climate change envoy Todd Stern has been quoted as saying that the two degrees warming limit should be removed from the new globally binding climate change deal. Stern believes that a rigid target like two degrees could hold up progress on a global deal.

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Reading list

Bryan Walsh has written an excellent piece in Time: Why the Drought Won’t Be Getting Better Any Time Soon—and Why This One Won’t Be the Last

As difficult to deal with as they are to pronounce: Seven diseases climate change is creating favourable conditions for

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