Climate change weekly wrap (March #2) – news, video + 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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Climate solved?
Global emissions stalled in 2014, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency Faith Birol said on Friday – cue mass twitter celebrations and mopping of brows. This was good news ahead of Paris, said Birol, where over 190 nations will come together in December and sign off on a pact to curb global warming.

But hold your horses, CICERO energy expert Glen Peters tweeted RTCC. These are energy-related stats, and don’t include cement emissions, which rose 2.3% in China. Plus the full report isn’t due out till June.

Coal business
China and India’s dirty lignite burning plants could be storing up trouble for investors. Many of the world’s most inefficient coal power stations are based in these countries, and could be forced out of action in the event of tougher rules to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The IEA reckons a quarter of these ‘subcritical’ plants will have to be shut down by 2020 to avoid dangerous warming.

In DC, John Kerry made his feelings on coal pretty clear. Investments in it are “destructive” he said. Governments had to stopped splashing the cash on fossil fuel subsidies. He would push the case for axing these handouts at the G20 and APEC summits this year, Kerry added.

Green Finns
This week Finland passed climate law, targeting 80% emission cuts on 1990 levels by 2050. Megan Darby had the story.

Watch the amazing Solar Impulse plane soar around the world – powered by the sun

Carbon bubble
Last year a senior Shell executive said the idea of stranded fossil fuel assets in a low carbon world was alarmist. This week the company’s annual report admitted that yes – new regulations and campaigns by NGOs could hit demand hard. Shell says a Paris climate deal needs to drive investments into CCS and offer a global carbon pricing system. But it’s still planning to drill in the Arctic, and Nigeria, and Iraq. And Kazakhstan too.

UK election special
The UK Independence Party have been hot on climate change this week. First its leader Nigel Farage admitted in an interview he had not “got a clue” about climate change. He added later: “My boys, who were spoonfed climate change all through school, used to think it was hilarious when I ranted at the Six O’Clock News about that bloody iceberg and that bloody polar bear HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.” In case you’re wondering, UKIP wants to ditch the UK’s climate laws.

Two days later Stuart Agnew, a Norfolk farmer and MEP, warned colleagues in the European Parliament that it was “madness” to cut emissions. The plants would lose their natural food, he said. We asked the head of climate impacts at the Met Office, who said that no, this was not the case.

Disaster risk
The first of three big UN agreements involving the climate and environment will be signed off in Japan next week. Megan Darby has the details.

Holy smoke
Small wisps are beginning to appear from the upcoming Papal encyclical on the environment, offering a clue on what it will include. Here’s the latest – via Ireland.

Zero. That’s the number of women in the running to be the next head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aka the IPCC.

Thomas Stocker wants to see the IPCC focus more on regional climate threats (Pic: University of Bern/Adrian Moser)

Thomas Stocker wants to see the IPCC focus more on regional climate threats (Pic: University of Bern/Adrian Moser)

“This is personal to me. But you know what? The bottom line is it ought to be personal to everybody” – US secretary of state John Kerry lays his desire for a climate deal on the line during a speech in Washington DC.

Should climate scientists slash air miles to set an example? The UK’s Tyndall Centre on climate change – one of the premier climate science establishments, is planning to do just that. What do you think?

Foot in mouth
This week’s (inaugural) award goes to US EPA chief Gina McCarthy. Who said the US wanted a legally binding climate treaty in Paris. And then realising it doesn’t, rapidly backtracked, with a little help from the State Department.

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