2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

Carbon emissions on tragic trajectory

Burning of fossil fuels added a record 36 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2013, locking in even more heating of the planet.

Global CO2 emissions are projected to rise 2.1 percent higher than 2012, the previous record high, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Global Carbon Project/a>.

Carbon Emissions on Tragic Trajectory by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service (IPS), Nov 19, 2013

Climate talks, coal and the pink lungs of Warsaw

From the Warsaw city centre there's only one route to the precinct where the rotund cement beast that doubles as a national sports stadium is holding United Nations climate change talks.

That route is across a road bridge over the mud-brown Vistula River offering views to the south of the Siekierki coal plant that spews out about 3.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Funnelling into the stadium are 1001 members of the media, 6120 registered delegates and 4719 "observers" – UN officials, campaigners and members of other non-governmental groups.

Climate talks, coal and the pink lungs of Warsaw by Graham Readfern, Planet Oz, The Guardian, Nov 18, 2013

Global Boom in Coal Plants Begs for Carbon Capture Solution

The smoldering debate over whether coal has a future in a low-carbon world has flared up with new intensity in Warsaw, the site of this month's annual United Nations negotiations toward a global climate treaty.

With world coal use growing at a staggering pace, top climate diplomats have used the global stage to take a much more aggressive stance against the coal industry. They are demanding that companies move quickly to leverage technology to capture and bury their planet-heating emissions or risk putting the world on a dangerous and irreversible path.

In a stern address to the World Coal Association on the sidelines of the summit, Christiana Figueres, head of the UN's Climate Change Secretariat, made several demands of industry: leave "most existing reserves in the ground," shut down the dirtiest coal-fired facilities and use carbon capture and storage (CCS) on "new plants, even the most efficient."

Global boom in coal plants begs for carbon capture solution by John H. Cushman Jr., Inside Climate News, Nov 21. 2013

Global warming and business reporting – can business news organizations achieve less than zero?

Some of the most popular business news outlets are complete failures when it comes to climate reporting. If they get basic climate science this wrong, how can they be trusted on any other topic?

Recently, news outlets such as Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC have been in misinformation overdrive. It's not like it's difficult to get real scientists to speak to journalists. In spite of this, these news organizations have their so-called experts wax ineloquently on climate change, all the while displaying enormous ignorance of the actual science.

Global warming and business reporting – can business news organizations achieve less than zero? by John Abraham, Climate Consensus-the 97%, The Guardian, Nov 18, 2013

Is this California's driest year on record?

There is a growing chorus of voices asking if California is having its driest year ever. I think that is the wrong question, as I'll describe below, but without a doubt, California is in the midst of another severe drought, measured as the weighted average of precipitation around the state. Indeed, the past two years have both been very dry. 

Extreme Weather: Is This California's Driest Year on Record? by Peter H. Gleick, The Huffington post, Nov 20, 2013

Oil's future draws blood and Gore in investment portfolios

Al Gore has come a long way from the Inconvenient Truth raconteur who in 2006 extolled the “leaves rustling with the wind” and talked about boiling frogs as a metaphor for humanity in need of a "rescue."

Gore has been fighting climate change since he co-sponsored the first congressional hearings on the subject in 1976. While his essential aim hasn’t changed, his tactics and rhetoric have. Flush with cash after making $70 million in the sale of the Current TV network, Gore is buddying up to investors, working to change their minds about billion-dollar climate risks lurking in their portfolios. Gore, snubbing trees, is now a hugger of Wall Street.

“We're already seeing the impact on some carbon intensive assets -- we've seen it in Australia, we've seen it in Canada, we've seen it in the U.S.,” Gore said by phone from London on Oct. 29, a day he spent promoting a new report as chairman of Generation Asset Management, the investment firm he co-founded with David Blood. “The time has come to question how people avoid the risk.”

Oil's Future Draws Blood and Gore in Investment Portfolios by Tom Randall, Bloomberg News, Nov 18, 2013

“On Thin Ice” at Warsaw climate talks

Did you know it was the “Day of the Cryosphere” at the Warsaw climate talks COP 19 in Warsaw yesterday? If not, you might be forgiven. I haven’t seen it making the headlines in the mainstream media. That is a pity, given that what climate change is doing to our ice, snow and permafrost has repercussions for the whole planet.

The cryosphere is a term for the regions of our globe which are covered in ice and snow either seasonally or all year round, from the North Pole to Antarctica. ”Climate change is happening in the cryosphere faster and more dramatically than anywhere else on earth”, says the “International Cryosphere Climate Initiative” (ICCI). It is a network of senior policy experts and researchers working with governments and organisations to bring about initiatives to preserve as much of our ice and snow areas as possible. The group was set up in 2009 immediately after the disastrous COP 15 in Copenhagen.

“On Thin Ice” at Warsaw climate talks by Irene Quaile, Ice Blog, Deutsche Welle (DW, Nov 18, 2013

Poor countries walk out of UN climate talks

Representatives of most of the world's poor countries have walked out of increasingly fractious climate negotiations after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015.

The orchestrated move by the G77 and China bloc of 132 countries came during talks about "loss and damage" – how countries should respond to climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to, such as typhoon Haiyan.

Saleemul Huq, the scientist whose work on loss and damage helped put the issue of recompense on the conference agenda, said: "Discussions were going well in a spirit of co-operation, but at the end of the session on loss and damage Australia put everything agreed into brackets, so the whole debate went to waste."

Australia was accused of not taking the negotiations seriously. "They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation. That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in," said a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network.

Poor countries walk out of UN climate talks as compensation row rumbles on by John Vidal, The Guardian, Nov 20, 2013

UN climate talks in Warsaw: what you need to know

It is COP19 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – or, in other words, the latest round of the ongoing United Nations talks aimed at forging a new global agreement on climate change. The talks began on 11 November but the real business – the "high-level segment" in which government ministers take part – opens on Tuesday with a short session and gala dinner for the assembled dignitaries, then the ministers get down to talks on Wednesday with the aim of finishing up on Friday evening.

UN climate talks in Warsaw: what you need to know by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, Nov 19, 2013

Wealthy countries urged to foot bill for weather-related disasters

The proposal by developing countries that their wealthier counterparts be held financially responsible for the damage incurred by extreme climate events such as typhoon Haiyan and droughts in Africa has become the most explosive issue at the UN's climate change conference in Warsaw. With neither side prepared to give way on the principle of "loss and damage", confrontation looms at the close of the talks on Friday. 

Earlier this year, governments agreed to resolve the issue of possible recompense. But with only two days of high-level negotiations remaining, positions have hardened. Some of the least developed countries have threatened to quit the talks over the situation.

Climate talks: wealthy countries urged to foot bill for weather-related disasters by John Vidal, The Guardian, Nov 19, 2013

What Does the Science Say about Cyclone Intensity?

The hurricane intensity trend in the western North Pacific (where the Philippines are located) isn’t crystal clear. One recent paper finds that over the past few decades their intensity has slightly fallen (but has grown for the planet as a whole), while others suggest it’s slightly risen, or that there are fewer but stronger hurricanes in that western North Pacific region.

However, a paper published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by MIT hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel found that future “Increases in tropical cyclone activity are most prominent in the western North Pacific.” So while we’re not certain about the trend over the past few decades, the evidence indicates that hurricanes near the Philippines will both become stronger and form more frequently in a warmer world.

Midweek Wonk: What Does the Science Say about Cyclone Intensity? by Peter Sinclair, Climate Denial Crock of the Week, Nov 20, 2013

You can have either climate justice or a climate treaty

In the wake of the devastation to the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, a long-standing claim for “climate justice” has re-emerged with new force. Countries vulnerable to more devastation, as temperatures rise, want rich countries that have benefited from industry that produces greenhouse gas emissions to pay them reparations. Advocates argue that climate change negotiations, currently being held in Warsaw, should aim for a climate treaty that forces the climate wrongdoers to pay the climate victims. This would mean countries like Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Kenya getting money from countries like the United States so that they don’t alone bear the cost of a global carbon dioxide overload that they did little to cause. It sounds great—but such an approach would doom the prospects of a climate treaty, and the argument for it doesn’t add up.

You can have either climate justice or a climate treaty by Eric Poser, Slate, Nov 19, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 23 November, 2013

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