25th July 2018

New on Carbon Brief


Mapped: The US nuclear power plants ‘at risk’ of shutting down
Nuclear power plants generate more than half of the US’s low-carbon electricity. However, record low gas prices associated with the US fracking boom have made many existing nuclear plants uncompetitive in the current climate. Carbon Brief maps the nuclear power plants that are "at risk" of shutting down in the coming years. Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief


Climate & Energy News


Climate change fuelling heatwaves, experts warn
Coverage of the record-breaking heatwave gripping the northern hemisphere continues, with many publications reporting that, according to leading scientists, the heatwave was made "more likely" by climate change. A report by Press Association, which was widely republished, carries comments from Professor Peter Stott, an attribution scientist from the UK's Met Office, who likened the increased chances of a heatwave to rolling a dice and getting a six – but that climate change was weighting the dice. “What we’ve seen this summer is repeated throws throwing up a six in different parts of the world. If you get a six over and over again you start to think ‘This is not normal, somebody has given me a loaded dice’.” Professor Len Shaffrey, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, whose comments were carried in a front-page story by the Sun, said: “Global temperatures are increasing due to climate change. The global rise in temperatures means the probability that an extreme heatwave will occur is also increasing.” Meanwhile, the front pages of both the Guardian and the Times are dominated by the news of ongoing wildfires in Greece, which have killed at least 74 people and driven hundreds to flee. A second story in the Guardian says that, in Greece, an unusually dry winter and strong winds led to "tinderbox conditions" across much of the country. The likelihood of strong winds and high temperatures is likely to be "aggravated by climate change", the report notes. Reuters reports that, in Japan, at least 80 have been killed in the extreme heat. MailOnline has published an interactive map showing the spread of extreme temperatures across the world. Further coverage of the heatwave is carried in the Daily Telegraph, the Irish Times and Xinhuanet. Press Association via ITV News

Cuadrilla gets green light to frack in Lancashire
Cuadrilla Resources, one of the firms leading the charge to exploit the UK’s shale gas, has been given the go-ahead to begin fracking in Lancashire, the Financial Times reports. The government consented to Cuadrilla being able to start hydraulic fracturing – pumping water, sand and chemicals under the ground at high pressure to release gas from “tight” rock formations – later this year. Fracking is expected to begin in late August or early September at the Preston New Road site, between Blackpool and Preston, the Guardian reports. The decision marks the first time that fracking has been approved to take place in the UK since debate over the "potentially risky gas extraction method" first started in 2007, the Daily Telegraph says. Reuters and the Independent also have the story. Sylvia Pfeifer, Financial Times

Michael Gove releases beavers into the wild to help stop flooding
The environment minister Michael Gove has released beavers into the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire in "the hope they will naturally engineer the environment against flooding", according to the Daily Telegraph. Eurasian Beavers were once widespread in the UK but were hunted to extinction for their meat, fur and scent glands. The animals fell trees to create dams across shallow watercourses and some research suggests they could help to prevent flooding, the Independent reports. BBC News reports on the results of a study showing the reintroduced beavers can clean up polluted waters. Sarah Knapton, Daily Telegraph

Why is Europe going through a heatwave?
Several publications have produced analytical features exploring the causes of the ongoing heatwave. The Guardian notes that the jet stream has been further north than usual for about two months – which has allowed high pressure weather systems to develop without being swept away. "The influence of climate change on the jet stream is still being explored," the report says. The Independent explores the link between the heatwave and climate change, and carries quotes from Grahame Madge, a spokesperson for the Met Office. Madge says: "What we can say is that with a background of climate change, we know that the planet has warmed by around 1C since pre-industrial times, and we know that if you add that heat to the system it is very likely heatwaves will be more extreme.” A segment exploring the causes of the heatwave was aired on Newsnight. The segment included interviews with Met Office chief Stephen Belcher and former government adviser Dr Chris Hope. The Evening Standard and ITV News also carry analysis. Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Carbon capture could boost US economy by $190 billion and cut emissions
Quartz continues its in-depth coverage of carbon capture and storage (CCS) with a feature about a new report by ClearPath and the Carbon Utilization Research Council which suggests that, if the US government continues to deploy the right policies, "markets will drive the growth of CCS". Quartz adds: "Deployment of the technology could add $190bn to US annual GDP by 2040, and add 780,000 jobs over the same period. The report’s rosiest projections show the gains that can be achieved by deploying carbon capture on power plants with a capacity of 87GW —enough to power 8.7m homes." Akshat Rathi, Quartz

Climate change: ′Fake news,′ real fallout
Deutsche Welle's Michaela Cavanagh asks "how do we know who to trust?" when it comes to media reports on climate change. Cavanagh cites various examples of misleading media articles, including a Mail on Sunday piece on "manipulated global warming data" from February 2017. (CarbonBrief factchecked the article at the time.) Although the press regulator ruled the article was inaccurate and misleading, "the story had garnered more than 211,500 shares, likes, comments and other interactions on social media". "Those working to combat false reporting on climate change warn that it can circulate unchecked, leading us to make lifestyle decisions and cast votes based on untruths," writes Cavanagh. She ends with a few pointers on "untangle fact from fiction in our own newsfeeds": research the website, verify sources and be critical. Michaela Cavanagh, Deutsche Welle


New Climate Science


How important are future marine and shipping aerosol emissions in a warming Arctic summer and autumn?
The cooling influence of aerosol emissions from retreating sea ice and increased shipping in the Arctic will likely “gain importance” in the future, a new study suggests. Sea ice acts as a barrier between the ocean and the atmosphere, the study notes, and its decline increases emissions of natural aerosols such as sea salt. Meanwhile, reduced sea ice cover is likely to allow more frequent shipping across the Arctic, causing an increase in aerosol emissions from burning fuel. The additional particles in the air can “influence cloud properties, precipitation, surface albedo, and radiation”, the researchers say, with a local cooling impact. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics


Other Stories


South Australia on track to meet 75% renewables target Liberals promised to scrap
Adam Morton, The Guardian

Nuclear power looks to shrink its way to success
Sylvia Pfeifer, Financial Times

MPs unaware of popularity and cost competitiveness of onshore wind farms
James Murray, BusinessGreen

Charles visits horse hospital and woodland climate research centre
Press Association via MailOnline

South Africa's weather service sees El Nino risk increasing
Nqobila Dludla, Reuters

Fire, breakdown and retailers’ debt hit Drax earnings
Emily Gosden, The Times

(Voracious consumption) x (rising population) = planetary crisis
Letters, The Guardian


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