Leaked U.N. climate report sees ‘very high risk’ the planet will warm beyond key limit

Leaked U.N. climate report sees ‘very high risk’ the planet will warm beyond key limit

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: February 14, 2018 SNIP: A draft United Nations climate science report contains dire news about the warming of the planet, suggesting it will likely cross the key marker of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, of temperature rise in the 2040s, and that this will be exceedingly difficult to avoid. The draft document states that there is a “very high risk” of the planet warming more than 1.5 degrees above the temperature seen in the mid-to-late-19th century. Maintaining the planet’s temperature entirely below that level throughout the present century, without even briefly exceeding it, is likely to be “already out of reach,” it finds. The document finds that a warming of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would pose substantially larger risks in many respects than 1.5 degrees C — but it also finds that some severe risks will be present at 1.5 degrees, too. What’s most striking is the radical nature and rapidity of the changes that would be required to somehow preserve a world below 1.5 degrees. The document finds that the world has only 12 to 16 years worth of greenhouse gas emissions left, from the start of 2016, if it wants a better-than-even chance of holding warming below 1.5 degrees. Two of those years have already elapsed, as of this writing. A third will have nearly elapsed by the time the draft report is finalized and released in October. And once this “carbon budget” for 1.5 degrees Celsius is used up, emissions would have to plunge to zero to preserve the 1.5 degree goal — something that would almost certainly...
Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature

Reports of coal’s terminal decline are premature

SOURCE: Environmental Research Letters DATE: February 7, 2018 SNIP: [T]he continued reliance on coal-fired power plants in a number of major emerging economies could still turn out to be a massive stumbling block for climate change mitigation. Coal-fired power plants currently announced, planned, or under construction will, over the course of their expected life-time, generate a substantial amount of emissions in addition to those that are already ‘locked in’ (i.e. which will likely be generated in the future by already existing infrastructure). Unless these power plants are retired well before their expected life-time, which would increase mitigation costs and constitute a formidable political challenge, their associated emissions jeopardize the achievement of the (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions ((I)NDC) targets as well as effective long-term climate change mitigation. From Envisionation: In 2016, China and India have each canceled more than 50 percent of their plans to build new coal-fired power plants, according to the study. However, globally coal investments are further increasing. Turkey, Indonesia, and Vietnam, for example, plan to increase their capacity altogether by about 160 gigawatts. This is about as much as the output of all existing coal-fired plants in the 28 EU countries. In addition, other countries’ planned future investments in coal have been massively extended in 2016. Investment plans in Egypt, for example, have increased almost eightfold, while they have nearly doubled in Pakistan. These developments jeopardize countries’ ability to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as CO2emissions from coal-fired power plants would increase almost tenfold from 2012 to 2030 in Vietnam, for example, and almost quadruple in Turkey....
Trump isn’t reporting CO2 emissions, ending an era of global transparency

Trump isn’t reporting CO2 emissions, ending an era of global transparency

SOURCE: The Hill DATE: January 18, 2018 SNIP: On New Year’s Day, the Trump administration missed an important deadline. It wasn’t related to the debt ceiling, DACA, or the Iran nuclear deal. Rather, the United States was due to present its biennial update the rest of the world on our progress in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Instead, the sound of crickets. [R]egular reporting is the bedrock for any successful strategy to address the climate challenge. Because global warming is a truly global phenomenon, no country wants to act on its own if it believes that others are shirking. To address this so-called “free rider” problem, the United States has been the most vociferous advocate for transparency throughout the history of global climate talks. Over three decades, we have worked to persuade and cajole other countries without a tradition of open government, including China, to monitor, verify and publicly account for their emissions and climate actions. This not only prevents cheating and ensures that each country is living up to its stated commitments, but also improves the chances that the world can successfully manage the necessary transition to a low-carbon future and prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. U.S. leadership has been successful: strong reporting and transparency provisions are now an essential feature of global climate agreements, with all countries required to report on progress every two years. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has now failed to meet its legal obligation to deliver its biennial report on behalf of the United States on time. The Trump administration’s inaction — and failure to explain such inaction...
Carbon Loophole: Why Is Wood Burning Counted as Green Energy?

Carbon Loophole: Why Is Wood Burning Counted as Green Energy?

SOURCE: Yale Environment 360 DATE: December 19, 2017 SNIP: It was once one of Europe’s largest coal-burning power stations. Now, after replacing coal in its boilers with wood pellets shipped from the U.S. South, the Drax Power Station in Britain claims to be the largest carbon-saving project in Europe. About 23 million tons of carbon dioxide goes up its stacks each year. But because new trees will be planted in the cut forests, the company says the Drax plant is carbon-neutral. There is one problem. Ecologists say that the claims of carbon neutrality, which are accepted by the European Union and the British government, do not stand up to scrutiny. The forests of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — as well as those in Europe — are being destroyed to sustain a European fantasy about renewable energy. And with many power plants in Europe and elsewhere starting to replace coal with wood, the question of who is right is becoming ever more important. In September, some 200 scientists wrote to the EU insisting that “bioenergy [from forest biomass] is not carbon-neutral” and calling for tighter rules to protect forests and their carbon. Yet just a month later, EU ministers rubber-stamped the existing carbon accounting rules, reaffirming that the burning of wood pellets is renewable energy. Under the terms of both the UN Paris climate agreement and Europe’s internal rules, carbon losses from forests supplying power stations should be declared as changes to the carbon storage capacity of forest landscapes. But such changes are seldom reported in national inventories. And there is no system either within the EU or at...
Study discovers why global warming will accelerate CO2 rise

Study discovers why global warming will accelerate CO2 rise

SOURCE: University of Reading DATE: November 28, 2017 SNIP: Global warming is likely to speed up as the Earth becomes increasingly more sensitive to atmospheric CO₂ concentrations, scientists from the University of Reading have warned. In a new study, published this week in the prestigious journal PNAS, the scientists explain that the influence of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 on global warming will become more severe over time because the patterns of warming of the Earth’s surface will lead to reduced cloud cover in some sensitive regions and less heat being able to escape into space. The findings are supported by observations, suggesting that forecasts made by climate models evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are...