Global warming ‘slowdown’ did not exist, say scientists

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

(Pic: NASA)

(Pic: NASA)

By Ed King

Was there ever a pause in global warming? Was the so-called 15 year ‘hiatus’ in rising temperatures a glitch in the data?

A new study published in Science suggests warming did not – as is often claimed – slow down. It claims the rate of warming since 2000 has been the same as the previous five decades. “There is no slowdown in warming, there is no hiatus,” the Guardian quotes lead author Dr Tom Karl, director of Noaa’s National Climatic Data Centre.”

On twitter the debate is raging between scientists. Some think it’s vindication of their work over the past 15 years – others caution over leaping to conclusions.

For a deeper analysis head to the Carbon Brief.

UN climate talks

“We are deeply concerned at the slow pace”, the head of the Maldives delegation in Bonn told RTCC, speaking after four days of negotiations on plans for a global climate deal. Just 5% of the mammoth 90-page negotiating text has been cut – and with two more sessions of talks (September + October) some are getting worried they will run out of time to finalise the agreement by December.

What the Paris pact should and could deliver is still the matter of fierce debate. This week Poland’s climate chief Marcin Korolec, in many ways one of the architects of UN efforts to address global warming, said participation rather than CO2 cuts was a priority.

“This is the most important point… how to mobilise the biggest number of countries to be part of effort – and then to have a dynamic agreement which will operate in cycles of 5 or 10 years which will lead us collectively to reach the goal,” he told RTCC in an interview.

Paris pledges

Stay across all the latest climate commitments with our tracker – where we collate and assess the level of ambition on offer for a global deal

Australian ambition

Poor old Tony Abbott got it from all angles this week. While his environment minister Greg Hunt maintains the country has a credible plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions, plenty others disagree. This week in Bonn China, Brazil, the US and South Africa lined up to question how scrapping the country’s emissions trading scheme would help it meet its climate goals.

Ex UN chief Kofi Annan also stuck his oar in, labelling Australia a “free rider” that had lost its leadership role at climate talks. Analysts at Climate Action Tracker say Australia will likely miss its goal to slash emissions 5% on 2000 levels by 2020, predicting a 12-18% overshoot.

In London, ex Australian PM Kevin Rudd called for a change in global strategy on addressing climate change – saying it’s time to do this at the G20 where all the big emitters are present, rather than rely on unwieldy talks involving 190+ countries.

Germany’s G7

There’s huge pressure on German chancellor Angela Merkel to deliver something on climate at the G7 summit this week – where she’s chair. Top of the list is cash. Where will G7 countries find the promised $100 billion by 2020 to give to developing countries for help investing in clean energy and adaptation projects? And can she and others encourage Canada and Japan to target tougher CO2 cuts?

Oil manoeuvres

What’s going on with Europe’s oil and gas majors? Once accused of trying every trick to slow UN climate talks, now they want a seat at the table and a part to play in developing a global carbon price. A letter sent to the UN’s top climate official comes out of fear for the future, former Shell advisor Tom Burke told RTCC.

Another clue came from Shell’s CFO, who said a pricing structure would ensure coal, the most polluting form of fossil fuel, would stay in the ground. The move has sparked a rift with their US cousins – this week the head of Exxon-Mobil said they had no plans to join. Chevron said a carbon price wouldn’t work.

But the move isn’t news said Tom Moody Stuart, former Shell chair. He told a conference in London this week Shell had warned of the perils of climate chaos in 1997.  He also backed divestment and spoke of his “distress” at the lack of climate action.

Is natural gas green?

Shell, BP et al would have you believe so, but many are less than convinced. This week Michael Lazarus and Kevin Tempest from the Stockholm Environment Institute crunched the numbers for us. Read their analysis here.

Stat of the week

Returns in the coal sector could fall between 18-75% by 2050, says a new analysis by consultants Mercer, backed by the World Bank and governments of Germany and the UK.

Quote of the week

“The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science. We’re probably better off leaving science to the scientists and do what they’re really good at, which is theology and morality.” – US presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the Pope should keep mum on climate change.


Will China’s national market become a reality in 2016? We spoke to carbon traders, analysts and World bank officials – who all seem fairly chipper – although it’s likely to be 2020 before it’s anywhere close to fully functioning.

Battle of Balcombe

Remember the summer of 2013? Those balmy days in West Sussex were interrupted by a huge fight over fracking for oil. It led to explorer Cuadrilla backing down and the small village where it was drilling pledging to generate all its power from renewables. This week it announced plans for a 5MW crowdfunded solar plant. Watch this space.

For your diary in June

1-11: UN climate talks in Bonn
7-8: G7, Germany
17: London climate march
18: Papal Encyclical expected
22-25: UN SDG negotiations, New York

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