This week we feature a topic that will become progressively more important and contentious in coming weeks – Brexit and its potential impact on UK energy, which according to Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne would be “massively damaging” to the UK renewables sector:
BusinessGreen: Brexit would be ‘massively damaging’ to renewables industry
The uncertainty that would arise from having to renegotiate the UK’s position within Europe would be massively damaging to the renewables industry, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne has warned.
Speaking to BusinessGreen on Wednesday, Lord Bourne said he “can’t conceive” of any major points where the UK would be better off in the case of Brexit. He cautioned that while the benefits of leaving the European Union are uncertain, the UK’s energy industry risks substantial disruption from a vote to leave. In particular, he warned the UK’s wind industry – which is dominated by large European energy firms such as DONG and Siemens – would be thrown into flux by Brexit. “We operate with [the likes of DONG and Siemens] through the benefits of the European Union, so the uncertainty that would arise from having to renegotiate our position within Europe would be massively damaging,” he said. “To them, to us, to the renewables industry and to everybody who benefits from it.”
This weeks’ additional stories include oil discoveries at their lowest level since 1952, Saudi strategy paying off, nuclear in Egypt and South Africa, coal in Japan, Nigeria on the brink of collapse, nuclear workers strike in France, oil breaks $50/bbl, yet another setback for Hinkley Point, the EC to lend Spain 2.13 billion to shut down coal plants, the EIB forks out 525 million for the Beatrice wind farm, energy independence for Israel, G7 nations to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, Australia opts out of latest UN climate change report, goodbye El Niño and hello La Niña, the CERN cloud experiment casts doubt on global warming predictions, the “internet of things” and how climate change is poisoning our food.
Egypt and Russia signed an agreement on Nov. 19 for Russia to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in Egypt and to extend Egypt a loan to cover the cost of construction. Russia will loan Egypt $25 billion to finance building and operating a nuclear power plant in Egypt, the official gazette said on Thursday. Egypt will pay an interest rate of 3 percent annually, according to the country’s official gazette. “The loan will be used by the Egyptian side for a period of 13 years between 2016-2028 … the Egyptian side will repay loan amounts used over 22 years in 43 installments,” the gazette said. The loan will finance 85 percent of the value of each contract for the work, services and equipment shipping, the gazette said. Egypt will finance the remaining 15 percent. The plant will be built in Dabaa, a site in the north of the country that Egypt has been considering for a nuclear power plant on and off since the 1980s. It is due to be completed in 2022, and the first of its four reactors is expected to begin producing power in 2024.
Just 12 billion boe of estimated recoverable resources were discovered from conventional wells outside of North America in 2015, representing the lowest level since 1952, according to IHS analysis. The volume of conventional oil alone discovered in 2015 totaled just 2.8 billion bbl, also a record low since the ramp-up of oil and gas exploration began following World War II. More than 9 billion boe of conventional natural gas was discovered globally during the year, marking the fifth straight year in which gas volumes discovered exceeded oil volumes discovered. “The fall in discovered volumes for conventional oil outside North America, in particular, has been steady and dramatic during the last few years,” commented Leta Smith, director, IHS Energy, upstream industry future service and lead author of the IHS Energy Conventional Exploration and Discovery Trends analysis. “We’ve seen 4 consecutive years of declining oil volumes, which has never happened before,” Smith explained. “The bottom has completely fallen out for conventional exploration, and the result portends a supply gap in the future that is going to be challenging to overcome. In the current cost-cutting environment, the outlook for 2016 discovery volumes is not likely to be better, either.”
Power Engineering International: EDF nuclear chief says 100 per cent renewables by 2050 ‘unrealistic
A recent study by French state energy agency ADEME, which claimed France could switch to 100 per cent renewables by 2050 has been dismissed by one of EDF’s top nuclear executives, who also referred to Germany’s case as something of a cautionary tale. EDF Group Senior Executive Vice President, Nuclear and Thermal, Dominique Miniere told reporters in Paris, “A certain number of points in that study are not based on technological realities.” “We do not believe in a 100 percent renewables mix by the horizon (ADEME) indicates. However, we want to extend the lifespan of our reactors in order to allow a gradual increase of renewables in the mix.” Reuters reports Energy Minister Segolene Royal delayed publication of the controversial study until after parliament voted last summer for the energy transition law, which pledged more support for renewables but maintained reliance on the atom for about three quarters of French electricity. Miniere pointed to the German example by way of explaining the downside of replacing nuclear with renewables too quickly, which has led France’s neighbours to increase dependency on coal-fired power.
Bloomberg: Solar Jobs Surpass Oil & Gas Jobs in U.S.
The number of U.S. jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction for the first time last year, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil-fuel companies faltered. Fed by state initiatives to spur clean energy and innovative financing measures offered by companies such as SolarCity Corp., developers are adding workers at record rates to install rooftop panels. Oil and gas producers by contrast have slashed 351,410 jobs worldwide since prices began to slide in the middle of 2014, according to Houston-based Graves & Co. “The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector,” said Adnan Amin, director-general of Irena, which is based in Abu Dhabi. “This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this to continue as the case for renewables strengthens and countries move to achieve climate targets.”
Salt Lake Tribune: Battle inside OPEC eases; Saudi oil strategy pays off
Saudi Arabia has been fighting with fellow OPEC members since the oil rout started two years ago. For the first time next week, it can argue convincingly that its strategy of squeezing rival producers is succeeding. By stifling high-cost suppliers, the Saudi approach has now almost eradicated the global oversupply, spurring a price rally of 80 percent to above $50 since January. All but one of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will stick with the strategy rather than set output limits when ministers gather in Vienna on June 2. “It might not look a victory compared with when oil was $100 a barrel, but the Saudi strategy is working as you’ve got significant production declines showing up in a lot of places, and prices are grinding higher,” said Seth Kleinman, head of energy research at Citigroup. “Which makes the odds of them abandoning the plan even more remote.” Lower prices have taken their toll on production from the United States to Nigeria. Analysts from the International Energy Agency to Goldman Sachs say the crude glut is dissipating as supply and demand move back into balance.
Seeking Alpha: Nigeria: An OPEC Country On The Brink Of Collapse
A militant group called the Niger Delta has disrupted the country’s 2.4 million b/d of production by blowing up pipelines, hassling producers, and threatening to destroy additional oil producing facilities. As a result, Nigeria’s oil production has fallen from 2.4 million b/d to 1.4 million b/d and further pressuring a growing nation more and more reliant on its oil as revenue. Similar vio-lence occurred between 2006 and 2009, and then president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came up with an elaborate plan by offering fighters a pardon and monthly stipends to put down their weapon. After Umaru’s death, President Goodluck Jonathan doubled down on this strategy. He awarded the militants security contracts worth millions of dollars, and the militants became pro-tectors of the country. Nigeria’s new President, Muhammadu Buhari, won the election last year with the “anti-corruption” campaign, and as a result, he vowed not to negotiate with the militant group. The militant group in response has blown Nigeria’s oil infrastructure into pieces, and threaten all international oil companies to leave the country.
The heart of Israel’s energy revolution sits 15 miles off the country’s Mediterranean coastline. Since it was discovered in 2009, production at the Tamar natural gas field has risen steadily and now averages 1.2 billion cubic feet a day, enough for 40% of Israel’s power generation. Tamar, which contains 10 trillion cubic feet of gas, was just the beginning. In 2011, Noble Energy (NBL) and Israel’s Delek (DGRLY) discovered the Leviathan field. Until recently, it was the largest gas field ever discovered in the Mediterranean. It contains an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to make Israel a major player in the regional market. More discoveries followed – the Tanin field in 2012 and Karish a year later. The gas fields added 3 trillion cubic feet to Israel’s gas reserves. “Tamar already [makes] Israel almost independent from an energy perspective,” said Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek. “Leviathan can bring Israel to be an exporter of natural gas.” If development of Leviathan begins this year, the field could be producing gas by 2019, Abu said. Exports could follow soon after, he says.
Natural Gas Europe: Israel Tests Off-shore Infrastructure Defence System
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have tested successfully a shipborne version of the Iron Dome, an anti-rockets system. The shipborne version was developed in order to protect Israeli offshore gas assets from short-range rockets and missile threats. Its value was proved during Israel’s latest confrontations with Hamas-controlled Gaza strip in 2012 and 2014. During the last Gaza war in 2014, the Palestinians tried to shoot at Israeli gas assets, according to Israeli military sources, but missed. However, those attempts have hastened the development of a shipborne version of the Iron Dome. In February this year the first interception test from an Israeli battle ship was successfully conducted. The anti-rocket launcher was installed on a battle ship that sailed 30 km offshore. At the same time three rockets were launched at a 40 km off shore targets. The Iron Dome system identified the launch and the simulated attack by Grad missiles. After analysing the missiles’ trajectories and their assumed landing area decided whether to shoot at them. According to the IDF the test ended with 100% success rate.
World oil prices have just passed a key milestone on their long journey out of the doldrums, hitting $50 for the first time in seven months. The big milestone happened earlier than many expected, fueled by major supply outages that wiped out production in Nigeria, Venezuela and facilities in Canada being disrupted by major wildfires. Both U.S. and Brent crude prices climbed back above $50 a barrel early on Thursday following a report showing that U.S. crude stockpiles had fallen by more than expected. For WTI oil, it’s the first time above $50 a barrel since October and leaves it an incredible 93% above its February low of $26.05. That ultra-low price was the weakest in nearly 13 years and set off alarm bells around the world, causing global stock markets to plunge. While the recovery to $50 is good news for oil companies like Chevron (CVX) and countries like Nigeria that depend on oil revenue, prices are still painfully low. Crude was well above $100 a barrel as recently as two years ago. “Remember, $50 was the number where a lot of producers began to panic and bleed deep, deep red ink,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. “This is not a renaissance. It’s still dark ages for an awful lot of producers.”
Oilandgas360: Total U.S. Rig Count Holds Steady at 404 Rigs
The total U.S. rig count held steady this week for the first time in 2016 (last week of unchanged rig count was December 18, 2015), bucking the trend of continued decline. Oil rigs continued to decline, down -2 rigs this week, and 220 rigs year to date. Natural gas added 2 rigs this rigs to move up to 87 rigs, down 75 rigs year to date. Year to date, the largest decline is in vertical wells, declining from 89 at year end 2015 to 46 currently, a -48% decline. Horizontal rigs have fallen to 314 rigs from 549, a -43% decline. Canadian rig count fell one rig to 43 rigs this week. Canadian gas rigs now double the active oil rigs, gas rigs comprise 28 of the total, with oil rigs coming in at 14. The majority of Canadian drilling takes place Alberta with 28 rigs in that province.
Los Angeles Times: California regulators approve battery storage to help avoid summer blackouts
State regulators have approved the purchase of battery storage for electricity to support Southern California’s energy supply, which faces potential shortages because of the troubled Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. The California Public Utilities Commission wants Southern California Edison to expedite plans to acquire electricity storage using batteries to help prevent potential blackouts. The commission and other state energy agencies have warned that without the Aliso Canyon field, the state’s largest natural gas storage facility, Southern California could face blackouts during as many as 14 days this summer. In addition to increasing use of battery stor-age, the energy agencies have urged consumers to look for ways to conserve energy. “Southern California faces a number of energy reliability challenges — for electricity and for residential heating — this summer, next winter, and at least for the next summer after that, all related to the loss of gas storage at Aliso Canyon,” commission President Michael Picker said of Thursday’s action. “Historically, our energy system in the L.A. basin was built around that facility.” Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a moratorium on injecting any more gas into the storage facility until it is deemed safe.
Strikes at all French nuclear power stations have added to the energy crisis in France, where one-third of France’s gas station ran out or ran low of petrol on Thursday, as mass protests against proposed labor reforms blocked roads and barred trucks’ access to oil depots and other sites, according to the French Union of Petroleum Industries. BBC reported that the French government has begun using oil reserves to combat the shortage caused by events at six of the country’s eight oil refineries, but road blockages have restricted suppliers from reaching pumping stations. Strikes also occurred in front of all of the European country’s nuclear power stations. Twelve of 19 stations said they had reduced output last night, but France’s power supply company, Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, said there was “no danger” of outages. The demonstrations oppose a government reform that critics say would lead to “social dumping” as it would allow companies to opt out of national agreements regulating the firing of workers, vacation days, maternity leave and more.
The £18 billion project to build the new plant in Somerset would not be given the French unions’ blessing in its “current state”, the secretary of EDF’s central works committee said. French economy minister Emmanuel Macron told MPs that owing to the importance of the project, EDF had decided to promote “exemplary labour/management dialogue” by consulting the Central Works Committee on the project. Now Jean-Luc Magnaval, secretary of that committee, has revealed unions are demanding further information from EDF and could not back the current plans. He told BBC2’s Newsnight: “We have reservations about several aspects of the project – organisation, supply chain, installation, and procurement. The trade unions are unlikely to give their blessing to the project in its current state. We are not reassured by the documents we have received. We have been given a marketing folder not the full information we require.”
African Review: South Africa to invest in nuclear power
South Africa is set to invest between US$60bn to US$70bn over the next 15 years on construction a fleet of new nuclear power stations. The country hopes to add 9,600MW of nuclear power to the national grid by building six to eight more reactors in order to address electricity shortages. Rosatom is among several national nuclear corporations bidding for the South African contract, according South African government. South Africa currently has two nuclear reactors generating five per cent of its electricity, with its first commercial nuclear power reactor beginning operations in 1984. According to The World Nuclear Association (WNA), electricity consumption in South Africa has been growing rapidly since 1980 and the country is part of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) with ‘extensive interconnections’ with a number of neighbouring country. Total installed generating capacity among SAPP countries is 54.7GWe, of which around 80 per cent is South African, mostly coal-fired, and largely under the control of the state utility Eskom, the WNA stated. The WNA also claimed that Eskom supplies about 95 per cent of South Africa’s electricity and approximately 45 per cent of the continent’s electricity requirements.
Deutsche Welle: Japan turning its back on nuclear energy?
Japan will cut its reliance on nuclear power after releasing an updated energy plan next year, the Reuters news agency reported on Friday, citing three people with knowledge of the matter. The Japanese remain strongly opposed to nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and a shift in energy policy would reflect that widespread aversion. But it would also likely usher in a new era of dependence on coal-fired power plants. Burning coal is less expensive than producing nuclear power, but a recent decision by Japan’s environment ministry to drop its opposition to coal-fired power plants has raised questions about the industry’s ability to lower its greenhouse gas emissions. Japan is one of several Asian countries that are expanding their coal portfolios faster than natural gas, which is viewed as another big potential source of growth in the energy sector. Renewables are also on the upswing, and Tokyo’s decision to move away from nuclear power would definitely see it boost its reliance on renewable energy.
Cleantechnica: Japan’s Coal Plans Push Forward
Japan is pushing forward with plans for 47 new coal power plants, despite falling coal use across the G7, setting itself at odds with its economic brethren. A new report published earlier this month by climate diplomacy and energy policy analysts E3G includes its latest G7 coal scorecard, which shows clearly just how contrary to its fellow members of the G7 Japan is placed.
E3G is not the only one which has recently highlighted Japan’s counter-global coal plans. A report published earlier this month by the Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment found that Japan’s future expanded-coal fleet could end up stranding $56 billion. “Japan’s weak emissions reduction target and planned coal investments put it out of step with a world that is quickly moving low carbon,” added Taylor Dimsdale, Head of Research at E3G. “It is wasting its considerable advantages both in diplomacy and in clean energy technology. Japan should use the G7 summit to re-emerge as a leader on climate change.”
Mercury Tasmania: Rooftop solar for Tasmania
More must be done to encourage solar and battery energy use in Tasmania to improve the state’s renewable energy credentials, the head of the independent Climate Council says. A report, obtained by the Mercury and to be released today, shows Tasmania has received a score of B minus, second only to South Australia for renewable energy progress. But Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said Tasmania, which sourced more of its electricity from renewables than any other state, could improve its ranking, in part, with policy incentives that encouraged more rooftop solar. “Increasing policy incentives for residential and commercial rooftop solar would increase uptake,” she said. “Boosting non-hydro large-scale renewables, like wind and bioenergy, would improve Tasmania’s ranking and would create jobs and investment for the state,” Ms McKenzie said.
Spain’s plans to use Eur2.13 billion ($2.4 billion) to mitigate the economic and social impact of closing 26 uncompetitive coal mines early are in line with EU state aid rules, the European Commission said Friday. The aid is to cover production losses until the mines close, and also support redundancy payments and social security benefits to workers who have lost or will lose their jobs. Spain’s domestic coal sector has shrunk considerably since 1990, when it was producing 20 million mt/year, dropping to 4.4 million mt in 2014. Imported coal volumes have also fallen in the long-term, from around 20 million mt/year between 2000 and 2005 to an average of 16 million mt in the five years to 2014. In 2014, 63% of Spain’s coal-fired power generation was via imported coal, according to ministry data. Spanish coal burn increased 24% to 50.3 TWh in 2015, according to data from grid operator Red Electrica, aided by a slump in hydro output in the country.
Blueandgreentomorrow: EIB Offer Largest Ever Loan for Scottish Windfarm
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to support the construction of the Beatrice windfarm in Scotland. The £525 million loan is record breaking – it is the single largest investment for an offshore wind project the EIB has ever supported. Construction of the windfarm will begin next year. The Beatrice windfarm is to be built 14 km off the Caithness coast, near Wick in north-east Scotland. It is the first project in Scotland to be supported by the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, intended to generate EUR 315 billion of new investment across Europe. The 86 turbine Beatrice windfarm will generate up to 588 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity equivalent to the energy needs of more than 475 thousand homes and is expected to be fully operational in 2019. The new wind farm will cost more than £2.7 billion and be built by Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, a partnership formed between SSE, SDIC Power and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
The G7 nations have for the first time set a deadline for the ending most fossil fuel subsidies, saying government support for coal, oil and gas should end by 2025. The leaders of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union encouraged all countries to join them in eliminating “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” within a decade. “Given the fact that energy production and use account for around two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, we recognise the crucial role that the energy sector has to play in combatting climate change,” said the leaders’ declaration, issued at the end their summit in Japan. The pledge first entered into G7 (then known as G8) declarations in 2009 but has until now lacked a firm timeline. Across the G7, subsidies are already falling, assisted by falling commodity prices. A notable exception is the UK, which increased subsidies by opening up new tax breaks for North Sea oil producers.
For the first time, scientists have merged energy-harvesting solar cell and nanogenerator technologies to convert wind power into electricity — and potentially power the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is aimed at making cities “smarter” through connecting an expansive network of small communications devices for greater efficiency, said researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States and National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing, China. The researchers integrated two energy capabilities in one for the first time: a silicon solar cell and a nanogenerator for converting wind energy into electrical output. They said that the solar cell provides 8 milliWatts (mW) of power, while the wind-harvesting part offers up to 26 mW. A single mW is estimated to light up 100 small LEDs. Under conditions simulating wind and sun, four devices situated on a model home’s roof are expected to power the LEDs inside as well as a temperature-humidity sensor. The hybrid device is said to power smart cities too when installed in huge numbers on actual rooftops.
The internet of things installed on a log cabin. Image credit Techtimes
Inside Climate News: America Now Has 27.2 Gigawatts of Solar
One million solar power installations now dot America’s rooftops and landscape, an achievement being hailed as a milestone by advocates of solar energy. There were just 1,000 such projects at the turn of this century, and only six years ago, going solar cost twice as much. Still, those one million installations deliver just 1 percent of electricity in the U.S., the world’s second-largest energy consumer after China. Globally, the figure is roughly the same. If the goal of keeping global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius is to be met, then climate-changing emissions will have to drop by as much as 70 percent by mid-century. That will demand a wholesale, worldwide transformation to carbon-zero energy. And that means solar—rooftop panels on residences, commercial applications and larger-scale utility deployments—will have to accelerate, and soon. “There’s no question that solar has… huge potential to contribute to meeting climate change goals,” said Jessika Trancik, a professor of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “But it’s still an open question as to whether it will get there.” Just to level off emissions over the next 50 years, the world’s solar capacity would have to increase 100-fold, according to research by the Princeton-based Carbon Mitigation Initiative.
RE News: UK ‘average’ on green economy
The UK is broadly average compared with other EU member states in building a clean energy economy and tacking climate change, according to a new report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). The report compares a ‘basket’ of seven measures of progress towards a clean energy economy, that, it said, dispels some UK government claims that the country is ‘ahead of the pack’ in Europe. It found that the UK performs badly on renewable energy per-capita compared with other large economies – Germany, Italy, France and Spain – and with the entire EU28, coming 21st overall. However, the UK has done well on recent increases in per capita renewable energy capacity (2009–2014), coming fourth out of the EU28. ECIU director of Richard Black said: “This report reveals that the UK’s record is about average compared with other EU member states – we’re ahead of the pack on some measures, and behind in others.” ECIU advisory board and Conservative MP for Newbury Richard Benyon said: “This report shows … the UK is far from being ‘ahead of the pack’ as some people claim that we are.”
The U.K. government is planning to double the penalty for clean energy projects that fail to progress quickly enough, an effort to discourage companies from entering subsidy auctions with projects that may not get built. Planned renewable energy projects that fail to meet key milestones defined by subsidy deals will have their contracts terminated and be excluded for two years from entering future auctions, according to proposals by the Department of Energy and Climate Change Thursday. Currently, bidders can be barred for 13 months. The issue of failed subsidy contracts was thrust into the spotlight this month, when Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd. had its contract terminated for the planned $2.8 billion Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm. It failed to reach financial close by the end of March — a key delivery milestone for the contract for difference it was awarded in 2014. Mainstream is disputing the termination notice, arguing it couldn’t reach financial close while the project is subjected to a judicial review brought by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The UK has set no deadline for the final go-ahead to the much-delayed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, energy minister Andrea Leadsom told a committee of MPs on Tuesday. The head of the company aiming to build the new reactors, French state-owned EDF, told the same hearing he could not give a date for the decision nor confirm that it would start generating electricity in 2025, as previously pledged. Leadsom said: “If it does not go ahead, we will not leave the UK consumer vulnerable to the lights going out. We will never leave ourselves as a country exposed to one particular project – but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it, it doesn’t mean we don’t want it, it doesn’t mean we are not committed to it.” The energy secretary, Amber Rudd, said in April that a failure to build Hinkley would not mean the lights going out but said it would risk increasing costs to billpayers and missing carbon targets. However, Leadsom told the committee: “We are absolutely keeping the lights on, we are absolutely focused on keeping the bills down and of course we will meet our legally binding climate change targets.”
Time: El Niño is over
The “Godzilla” El Niño that began last fall is finally over after months of above-average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific that altered weather patterns around the world, the Australian weather-monitoring agency said Tuesday. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s counterparts in other countries around the world will likely announce the same finding in their coming El Niño reports. Reports published earlier this month by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organization suggested that El Niño was already in decline. A majority of climate models suggest that the climate pattern La Niña will develop in the wake of El Niño, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Every reference to Australia was scrubbed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, objecting that the information could harm tourism. Guardian Australia can reveal the report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, which Unesco jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests. But when the Australian Department of Environment saw a draft of the report, it objected, and every mention of Australia was removed by Unesco. The removals left Australia as the only inhabited continent on the planet with no mentions.
Huffington Post: The EU’s Hard Choice: Climate Change or National Politics
For the Paris Agreement to come into effect, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions need to ratify. However, the fate of the Paris Climate Agreement largely rests in the hands of the big four emitters—China, US, EU and Russia. According to the World Resource Institute’s Paris Agreement Tracker, in order to reach the 55% emissions thresholds, ratification by at least one of these four is essential. Which of these four big emitters can we count on to ratify? For the US, the hope is to ratify by not defining the Agreement as legally-binding, but this robs the accord of its potency. It would also be out of character for China who hasn’t played a leadership role in climate negotiations and has tended to protect its economic interests over environmental concerns. Russia has never been a first mover on climate change issues. That leaves the European Union. But can the EU still be part of the first wave? Because it represents 28 different member states in the emissions reduction plan submitted at COP21, the EU faces the enormous task of dividing the burden among states while trying to keep them unified. At the same time, economic and political circumstances are driving some EU states to pursue their own interests or defer to their own national approval process.
Business Insider: CERN cloud study casts doubt on global warming predictions.
For decades, scientists have thought that the tiny particles that form clouds — and play a big role in keeping the planet cool — were produced as a counterintuitive side effect of pollution. So, while it was understood that we were putting loads of planet-warming gases into the atmosphere and heating things up, it was also thought that at least some of those particles were getting trapped inside clouds and helping to keep that warming from being even more catastrophic. But a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, which looked more closely at these tiny particles, found that they can be produced naturally. This will help us understand just how cloudy the world actually was before we started polluting it, which is key to figuring out the rate at which our planet is heating up. “We found that nature produces particles without pollution,” Jasper Kirkby, a European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) particle physicist and the originator and spokesman of the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD) experiment, told Business Insider. “That is going to require a rethink of how human activities have increased aerosols in clouds.”
Mycotoxins are much scarier than a horror movie. They are poisons produced by fungi and can cause cancer, suppress immune systems, and straight up kill you. They’re already in a quarter of the world’s cereals, but mycotoxins mostly affect people living in the tropics, where warmer weather allows for fungal growth. They haven’t posed a major problem in the cooler latitudes of the northern grain belt. But if you are reading this you’ve probably already guessed: Climate change could change that. A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme identifies toxic crops as a growing threat, driven by climate change. Mycotoxins are specifically related to fungi, but there are other ways that the climate can poison your food. All plants contain low levels of chemicals that can become toxic if you eat enough of them, and drought is increasing concentrations of nitrate and hydrogen cyanide in foods.