High-stakes climate talks in France will not end today as planned but will last at least until Saturday, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has announced. Diplomats and other top officials from more than 190 countries are trying to agree on the text of what would be an unprecedented deal for all countries to reduce man-made carbon emissions and co-operate to adapt to rising seas and increasingly extreme weather caused by human activity.
Air travellers are used to captain’s warnings of the potential for turbulence – most are accustomed to considerable ups and downs, with crew and passengers remaining calm and arriving at their destination without the onset of panic. There are however times when one or two can’t take the rocky ride in their stride and scream, unsettling everyone. COP21, the Paris Climate Conference, is the result of considerable scientific research and debate, and a great deal of political posturing - some people are taking absolute positions, some people inducing panic and others even declaring the end is nigh.
Global carbon dioxide emissions may be dropping slightly this year, spurred by a dramatic plunge in Chinese pollution, research suggests. The unexpected dip could either be a temporary blip or true hope that the world is about to turn the corner on carbon pollution as climate talks continue in Paris, said the authors of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. “That shouldn’t tell us we don’t need to do anything, but that shows there is action,” Janos Pasztor, the United Nations assistant secretary general for climate change, told The Associated Press at the Paris climate talks. “Things are going in the right direction. All we need is a strong agreement.”
Shell chief executive Ben Van Beurden said technology would continue to be one of the most crucial factors in combating climate change. The head of the oil major spoke at the International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) in Doha as leaders meet in Paris for climate change talks at COP 21.
The carbon content of electricity generation in Ireland fell to a record low last year, according to new figures by the (SEAI) Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Renewable electricity help the country avoid 2.6million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2014 and is now one of the single biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions reduction in Ireland. The body said without renewables, power generation emissions would have been around 23% higher.
David Cameron has been accused of failing to give an international lead in tackling air pollution and climate change. Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott warned the Lords it was “crazy” to cut subsidies for renewable energy. He said the Government was doing “absolutely nothing” to tackle emissions from cars, adding: “It’s green crap according to our Prime Minister.”
A freedom of information request (FOI) by environmental group Greenpeace has shown the amount of investment by energy companies at some UK universities topping more than £20million.
New low-carbon power sources are the most cost-effective way to meet electricity needs in the 2020s and tackle climate change, government advisers have said. Investment is needed in new power generation in the 2020s to replace closing coal and nuclear plants, while stripping carbon emissions from the energy sector is important for meeting the UK’s legally-binding climate targets, the Committee on Climate Change said. Backing low-carbon power is set to add around £105 on the average consumer electricity bill in 2020 and £120 by 2030, before costs fall, a report from the committee said. While the cost of low-carbon technology such as nuclear and renewables will be slightly higher than investing in gas, it will deliver more greenhouse gas reductions and cut down on the “social” costs that fossil fuel pollution imposes on the UK and world, it said.
The European Union says its emissions fell 4% last year, meaning the 28-nation bloc has already surpassed its target for 2020. A report by the EU’s environment agency said 2014 emissions were 23% lower than in 1990. The EU is the world’s third largest greenhouse gas polluter.
An open letter by 41 signatories has been sent to the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regarding CCS (Carbon Capture Storage). Scientists and experts from Scotland to China said they had written to reassure the UNFCCC that CCS is “safe, secure and effective”. They said extensive research had shown CO2 storage at selected sites was unlikely to lead to any leakages.
The leaders of eight of the world’s top oil companies are set to meet in Paris next week to show how they will combat climate change. The move is part of an offensive ahead of a UN summit which will be held in December. The meeting will be followed by a press conference where the company bosses are also expected to renew a call for a global carbon pricing mechanism. Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said company leaders would present proposals to combat global warming ahead of the talks.
Capture Power said it would retain its commitment to the delivery of the White Rose Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project after one of the consortium members pulled out. Drax said it was pulling out of the major scheme to develop technology to store emissions amid concerns over Government green policy changes. The company blamed the “drastically different financial and regulatory environment” which has seen the wholesale price of electricity drop and moves by the Government to rein back support for low carbon technology.
Representatives from energy companies including Shell and Statoil have joined forces to advise on making cleaner energy decisions. Shell Chairman Chad Holliday, Statoil Vice-President Bjorn Otto Sverdrup and RWE Chief Executive Peter Terium are among a list of commissioners acting in a personal capacity to advise governments on how to change their energy markets without damaging the environment.
Scotland has the potential to lead the world in smart integrated energy systems, according to a new report. The Carbon Trust said it has outlined a vision for the country to harness its natural resources and technology innovation capabilities. It said developing a fully integrated energy system would help Scotland meet its carbon emissions targets, create jobs and secure an international leadership position in smart grid technology.
A new £25 million green energy centre at St Andrews University will put the institution at the “cutting-edge” of environmentally-friendly technology, according to a Scotland Office minister. The project will create 225 jobs and it is hoped the site at Guardbridge will help regenerate part of north-east Fife, with apprenticeships and opportunities in the construction of the centre. The scheme is part of a drive by St Andrews to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral university. The biomass facility will use only virgin roundwood, locally sourced from forests, and hot water from the plant will be pumped underground to heat and cool laboratories and student residences in St Andrews.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose regulations which will be aimed at reducing methane emissions by between 40 and 45% from the oil and gas sector over the next decade. The move is part of a wider strategy in place which is looking to reduce both greenhouse gases as well as combating climate change.
Australia is expected to announce plans to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 26% of 2005 levels by 2030. The move could see the country trail ahead of other regions. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and iron ore and is one of the largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants.
Physically removing carbon from the atmosphere cannot be relied upon to prevent extreme global warming or save the oceans from acidity, scientists have warned. Carbon capture and enhanced natural “sinks” are simply not feasible methods of limiting warming because of the sheer scale of the challenge, according to one study. Another team found that even aggressive carbon dioxide removal (CDR) policies would take centuries and possibly thousands of years to reverse ocean acidification. In both cases, the experts concluded there was no way of dodging the need for substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Dozens of environmentally-friendly mayors from around the world are set to sign a Vatican declaration urging their national leaders to approve a “bold climate agreement” to tackle global warming. A total of 60 mayors are attending a two-day climate conference at the Vatican featuring an audience with Pope Francis, whose recent environment encyclical is aimed at keeping up the pressure on world leaders ahead of Paris climate negotiations in December. The final declaration states that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity”.
The UK’s first “smart” carbon positive energy house, which can export more power to the grid than it uses, has been constructed, experts said. The low-cost three-bedroom family home, designed by experts led by Cardiff University, integrates technology to reduce energy demand and generate and store renewable energy. The property near Bridgend, Wales, has been built to be highly efficient, with high insulation to reduce air leakage, structural insulated panels, insulated render on the outside and air heating systems that rely on the sun.
A Dutch court ordered the government to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020. Activists hope that the groundbreaking ruling will now set a worldwide precedent. The Hague District Court made the ruling in a case brought by a sustainability organisation on behalf of some 900 citizens, claiming that the government has a duty of care to protect its people against looming dangers - including the effects of climate change on this low-lying country.
The University of Edinburgh is taking steps to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel producers, in response to pressure from student groups and activists. Students staged pickets and occupied a building after the university said two weeks ago it would only divest from companies that produce coal and tar sands if they are found not to be investing in technologies that address climate change. But yesterday the university said it is informing “three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers” of its intentions to divest from them within the next six months, giving them four weeks to respond.
Wood Group Kenny (WGK) is set to provide technical advisory services for carbon capture storage (CCS) policies in a framework agreement with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The four year agreement will see WGK support DECC in ensuring the UK CCS policies are underpinned by robust technical evidence and provide independent advice on the technical understanding of CCS. The company's previous experience in CCS includes the Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage project being developed by oil major Shell and Southern Energy (SSE).
The Church of England is to sell £12 million of its shares in fossil fuel companies. The Church, announcing a new climate change policy, also said it will no longer make any direct investments in companies that generate more than 10% of their revenue from extracting thermal coal or producing oil from tar sands. Welcoming the new policy Bishop Nick Holtam, the lead Bishop on the environment at the Church of England, said climate change is “the most pressing moral issue in our world”. The new policy will see more engagement between the church’s national investment bodies and the companies in which it holds shares, including fossil fuel producers.
Japan is proposing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 26% by 2030 amid international efforts to set a new framework for addressing climate change. The final draft of the government target, released today, says Japan will aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 26% by 2030 compared to 2013 levels, or 25.4% from 2005 levels. That is below the US target of a 26-28% cut by 2025 from 2005 levels, and the European Union’s target of 40% from 1990 levels.