Shaming without naming the world’s climate delinquents – Carbon Brief

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There is widespread media coverage of the UN general assembly, which kicked off in New York yesterday. The New York Times says secretary general António Guterres was “unusually blunt in his broadsides against fossil fuel producers”. The paper continues: “He has accused them of ‘profiting from destruction’. He has urged governments to stop funding coal and to put the brakes on new oil and gas projects. ‘History is coming for the planet-wreckers,’ he has said.” According to the paper, Guterres “can cajole but not command, urge but not enforce”. It adds: “This week, on the sidelines of the UN general assembly meeting, he is deploying a bit of a diplomatic wink-nod. At a climate ambition summit he is hosting on Wednesday, he is giving the mic only to those countries that have done as he has urged, and only if they send a high-level leader, to show that they take the summit seriously.” The Guardian reports that “all sides acknowledged there was little chance that the ambitious set of commitments set in 2015, including ending extreme poverty and safeguarding the environment, will be met on schedule”. Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals first adopted at a summit in September 2015, only around 15% of the targets are on track, the newspaper says. It adds that the agenda of the UN this week “has been shaped to meet the concerns of the global south”. The New York Times says the UN has also scheduled discussions about “sovereign debt relief and ways to help struggling countries reach the UN’s development goals on prosperity, health, development, education and gender equality”. Elsewhere, the Associated Press says: “Leaders of both the World Health Organization and the upcoming climate negotiations said Monday that for the first time, they are going to devote a day during December climate talks to public health issues.”
The Press Association reports that UK foreign secretary James Cleverly will announce “new financial guarantees for multilateral development banks” at the summit today. It continues: “Through one guarantee of up to $300m (about £242.3m), the UK could help unlock up to $1.8bn (£1.45bn) of climate finance to support people in Asia and the Pacific in adapting to climate change impacts and help their transition to low-carbon energy, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).” Reuters says the money will go to the Innovative Finance Facility for Climate in Asia and the Pacific – a “leveraged guarantee mechanism for climate finance which was announced in May by the Asian Development Bank”. Separately, the Press Association reports that Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, who led the UK’s recent net-zero review, will use an event at New York Climate Week to launch a “Westminster Declaration”, committing legislators to “the basic principles of climate action”.  Meanwhile, the Times reports that Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf gave a speech at the “New York Climate Hub”, pledging more than £1m towards ​​Scotland’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund to help deal with disasters across the globe. The paper adds: “Scottish government officials said that this was money additional to the £5m, pledged at COP27, to the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, which supports vulnerable communities in the ‘global south’ who have experienced loss caused by climate change.” The Press Association reports that Yousaf called world leaders “collectively guilty of catastrophic negligence” and said that young people “have every right to be angry”. BBC News adds that Yousaf said his government is “putting money where our mouth is”. The Scottish Daily Mail reports that Yousaf was “accused of hypocrisy” for flying to New York.
At a panel discussion as part of New York Climate Week, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the city’s residents were “educated” into supporting policies to combat air pollution, such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez), the Daily Telegraph reports. The newspaper continues: “Mr Khan said he had faced hostility ‘from a vocal minority drowning out a silent majority’ on Ulez, adding that it was important ‘to take people with you’ on climate policy. ‘In London, we spent some time educating people about the consequences of air pollution that are linked to climate change, he said. ‘Once they were aware it wasn’t just an environmental but also a health crisis, we had permission to bring in bold policies.’” BBC  News adds that Khan will “lead a private session of the group on Tuesday, where he may be asked by fellow mayors about the criticisms and political difficulties he has faced back home.” Meanwhile, Khan told the Guardian that London could face 45C days in the “foreseeable future”. And Reuters reports that Prince William met with Guterres yesterday to discuss “efforts required to accelerate the fight against climate change and protect the environment”.
Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that hundreds of climate activists blockaded the Federal Reserve Bank in New York on Monday, calling for an end to funding for coal, oil and gas. The paper continues: “The action came as world leaders began arriving in New York for the United National general assembly gathering and followed Sunday’s 75,000-person March to End Fossil Fuels, which focused on pushing Biden to urgently phase out fossil fuels.” The protesters called attention to both public and private fossil fuel financing, according to the newspaper. It adds that more than 100 people were arrested. The Daily Mail also covers the arrests. Separately, there is continuing coverage of Sunday’s New York march in outlets including DeSmog, the Washington Post.
The UK government has formally kicked off the search for external investment into the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant, the Times reports. The paper continues: “The government co-owns the Sizewell development vehicle with EDF, the French energy group leading the project, after ministers bought out CGN, the Chinese state nuclear group, last year amid security concerns. The government has put more than £1.2bn of taxpayers’ cash into developing the plant but the state and EDF want to retain stakes of about 20% in the construction phase. They have been working with bankers from Barclays and Rothschild to sound out potential backers for at least a year but are now seeking applications for a formal investment process.” The Press Association reports that “ministers are seeking companies ‘with substantial experience’ in delivering major infrastructure projects”, but says there are a “very small number of companies worldwide who fit the criteria of having relevant experience and being able to ‘take a meaningful stake in the company’”. Bloomberg reports that potential investors will face “strict national security checks” by the government. The Guardian says the plant is expected to cost at least £20bn. BusinessGreen adds: “Ministers regard Sizewell C as critical to the UK’s long-term net-zero plans, with the project expected to deliver enough clean power for up to 6m homes and provide the next phase in a pipeline of new nuclear projects that is scheduled to follow EDF’s Hinkley Point project, which is currently under construction.” This comes as BBC News reports that campaigners from “Together Against Sizewell C” have won permission to appeal against the High Court’s refusal to allow a judicial review of planning consent for the project. Meanwhile, Alistair Osborne – the chief business commentator of the Times – says the government has been “desperate” for someone to fund Sizewell for “yonks”, so it is “a bit odd to find new energy secretary Claire Coutinho making such a hoo-ha” about the new announcement. Osborne says the funding promised so far is “peanuts” compared to the potential costs to come, adding “it’s hard to see how the government won’t end up having to fund most of the equity itself”.
China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the National Energy Administration have issued new basic rules for the power spot market, reports economic news outlet Jiemian. The outlet highlights that the rules will “give full play to the market’s decisive role in the allocation of electricity resources”. State-run industry newspaper China Electric Power News and state news agency Xinhua cover the story, with Xinhua highlighting that the rules will promote the “equal participation” of new energy sources in the grid. BJX News publishes comments from industry insiders that a policy on capacity-based electricity pricing, through which thermal power companies charge downstream users a certain percentage of fees based on their daily operating fixed costs, is expected to be introduced within 2023. Another article by BJX News reports that in 2022, the actual consumption of renewable energy power in the country reached “2,681 terawatt-hours (TWh), accounting for 31.6% of the total national electricity consumption”.
Riyadh-based outlet Al Arabia reports that the UAE “reinforces its commitment to addressing climate change” at the G77+China summit held in Cuba. Reuters reports that US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Malta last weekend and held “constructive talks” on climate change and other topics. Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post says the talks signal that US-China ties “are slowly warming”. By contrast, Bloomberg reports that the UK government plans to subject all new investors in Sizewell C, the nuclear power plant that until recently included Chinese investors, to strict national security checks. The government said it “will only accept private investment if it provides value for money, while bolstering energy security”.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal runs a story on the impact of wind farms on Brazil’s big cat population. “Jaguars and pumas are facing extinction…in Brazil’s north-eastern shrublands, as Europe and China pour investment into wind farms,“ the outlet says.
Analysts have warned that oil prices could soon rise to $100 per barrel, the Times reports. It continues: “Prices have risen from about $75 per barrel at the start of July and have climbed for the past three weeks, bolstered by Saudi and Russia’s surprise decision this month to extend voluntary curbs until December. The pair are withholding 1.3m barrels a day of oil from the market, or more than 1% of global demand, in addition to constraints by the Opec+ alliance of which they are members.” The Financial Times reports that Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has defended his country’s decision to reduce oil supply, saying it is not about “jacking up prices”. Meanwhile, Reuters says: “The CEOs of top Saudi Arabian and US oil producers Aramco and Exxon Mobil on Monday pushed back against forecasts that oil demand will peak, and said the transition to cleaner energy to fight climate change would require continuing investment in conventional oil and gas.”
Brazil’s finance minister, Fernando Haddad, writes about the country’s “ambitious and comprehensive plan for ecological transformation” in the Financial Times. He says that the plan will “work as a mosaic of regulatory and tax policies that will be approved by Congress in a gradual yet intensive manner”. He continues: “The carbon market, our first landmark measure, will follow the steps of the EU Emissions Trading System. This project is universal in scope and applies to all production units emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year…Importantly, our plan will be underpinned by a solid fiscal and regulatory basis. Within the past eight months, we have approved a modern fiscal rule which has reassured domestic and international economic agents of our commitment to reining in deficits. Furthermore, we are close to completing a long-anticipated but never-delivered tax reform in line with best international practices.” He also notes that the Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva administration has already produced a 48% reduction in deforestation in the first eight months of 2023, compared to the same period last year.
In related news, Climate Home News reports that the Brazilian government has agreed to cancel former president Jair Bolsonaro’s cuts to its climate ambition and to work on a new improved climate target. The outlet explains: “The moves were agreed by a group of government ministers at the Interministerial Committee on Climate Change last week. The government will change Brazil’s climate plan, resuming the level of ambition presented in 2015 “in terms of absolute values ​​of greenhouse gas emissions”, it said. President Lula Da Silva is expected to officially announce this at the UN general assembly in New York on Wednesday.
Marine heatwaves are having a “particularly concerning” impact on biodiversity in 22% of the global ocean, a new study says. The research analyses global data on marine heatwaves from 1993 to 2019 and explores how they could have impacted biodiversity. The authors say: “We find that marine heatwaves are typically more intense in the subsurface at 50-200 metres and their duration increases up to twofold with depth, although with large spatial variability linked to different oceanographic conditions. Cumulative intensity (a thermal stress proxy) was highest in the upper 250 metres, exposing subsurface biodiversity to marine heatwave effects.”
Multiyear “La Niña” events have occurred more frequently since the 1970s, possibly due to warming of the western Pacific Ocean, a study finds. La Niña is a natural climate phenomenon that causes changes to the weather in many parts of the world. For example, it is associated with increased flooding in south-east Asia, Australia and north-eastern South America and drier weather in the south-western US and north-western South America. The authors say: “Here we show that 10 multiyear La Niña events over the past century had an accelerated trend, with eight of these occurring after 1970…More multiyear La Niña events will exacerbate adverse socioeconomic impacts if the western Pacific continues to warm relative to the central Pacific.”
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