Weekly wrap: farewell to editor Ed King

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Ed King making a solar panel


He made Climate Home (formerly RTCC) the thriving international news site it is today. After five and a half years, he’s moving on.

Ed King is not one for emotional goodbyes. So I won’t embarrass him by saying I’ll miss his cynical humour, zest for a story and (whisper it) kindness. Shhhh.

Reflecting on his time covering one of the hottest beats around, Ed sees plenty of cause for hope even as Donald Trump puts hard-won climate progress to the test.

He’s rounded up some of his favourite articles and here’s mine: That weekend he built a solar power plant.

Karl Mathiesen will be taking over at the top and has lots of great ideas. Drop him a line at [email protected].

A Republican carbon tax?

It is a credible climate policy, backed by GOP veterans and a dedicated think tank, the Climate Leadership Council.

This proposal for a US$40 a tonne carbon tax, with revenues to be redistributed to citizens, offers Trump’s team a conservative route back from their extreme anti-climate positions. Will they take it?

Brain grab

As climate science and clean energy faces an uncertain time in the US, French presidential contender Emmanuel Macron sees an opportunity.

In a video message, he urges the innovators and entrepreneurs to make France their home: “Please, come to France, you are welcome, it’s your nation. We like innovation, we want innovative people, we want people working on climate change, energy, renewables and new technologies.”

Africa files

Life has been sweet for the sugar growers of Sikuvile, Swaziland these past 15 years, reports Sipho Kings, but drought is putting the future of their cash crop in doubt.

An ill wind

East Africa has a lot to gain from clean energy, but flagship wind projects in Kenya have made some of the same mistakes as miners and drillers: failing to win over local communities.

“The green investments are stuck for the same reasons as the brown ones,” says Andy White of the Rights and Resources Initiative, launching a report on social conflicts across Africa.

Teixeira speaks out

Land rights are also under dispute in Brazil, where some lawmakers want to roll back conservation zones in Amazonas state.

Former environment minister Izabella Teixeira criticised the plans as an “international shame”, reports Claudio Angelo of Observatorio do Climate.

Dash for coal

Bangladesh is planning a 10GW coal power hub as part of a massive expansion of the fleet, energy minister Nasrul Hamid told parliament.

The country’s hunger for energy is undeniable, but so too is concern about the environmental impact – and many experts say cleaner options are being overlooked.

Faith and feminism

Keen to be part of the solution is the all-women Ambar Mosque in Lucknow, India. It has installed solar panels and is urging others to do the same, to beat air pollution and power cuts in Uttar Pradesh, a state lagging its targets.

Trump’s disdain for carbon cutting won’t dim India’s enthusiasm for clean power, energy minister Piyush Goyal assures investors. (It should be said, the renewable push runs alongside coal, not yet having the scale to replace it.)

When will EU quit?

Even developed Europe faces political obstacles when it comes to phasing coal out of the energy mix.

To align with the “well below 2C” global warming limit set in Paris, the EU coal power fleet should close by 2030, calculates Climate Analytics.

The UK is well on the way, its emissions down 38% from 1990 levels as dirty plants have been replaced with renewables. France and Finland are among others to name an end date.

Germany and Poland, jointly responsible for half the bloc’s coal use, have the toughest challenge ahead.

Sea walls and not-so-permafrost

The Netherlands is investing €1 billion in a climate change adaptation research centre, offering to share the low-lying country’s expertise in dikes and dams with the developing world.

For Russia, thawing permafrost is one of the most troublesome effects of global warming, damaging buildings and infrastructure. The country is working on an adaptation plan, reports Olga Dobrovidova, but only six out of 85 regions have made any progress.

Norway too is seeing “drastic changes,” environment minister Vidar Helgesen tells Ed King, with a melting Arctic sea opening up security threats.

Debunking “climategate 2”

And finally, a few days before Wikipedia banned the Daily Mail as an “unreliable” source of facts, David Rose of the UK paper’s Sunday title was stoking that reputation.

In an article that was cited in the US Congress and debunked by several scientists, Rose claimed that world leaders were duped into signing the Paris climate deal by a flawed study.

Leaving aside the methodological dispute at the root of this, which others have addressed in more detail, the notion that a single paper had that much influence over Paris was nonsense, negotiators and ministers told us.

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