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Antarctic ice shelves are melting dramatically, study finds

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 19:54

Melting of floating ice shelves around the continent is accelerating, potentially unlocking extra sea level rise from larger ice sheets jammed behind them

The ice around the edge of Antarctica is melting faster than previously thought, potentially unlocking metres of sea-level rise in the long-term, researchers have warned.

A team of US scientists looked at 18 years’ worth of satellite data and found the floating ice shelves that skirt the continent are losing 310km3 of ice every year. One shelf lost 18% of its thickness during the period.

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Large fall in UK greenhouse gas emissions of over 8% last year

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 13:05

Carbon dioxide output fell by almost a tenth and energy from renewable sources rose to a record high of almost 20% of electricity, government figures show

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions plunged by 8.4% last year, as household energy consumption slumped, the use of coal for electricity generation fell, and policies on climate change took effect, according to government statistics released on Thursday.

Carbon dioxide output fell by almost a tenth, as renewable energy generation rose to a new record high, accounting for nearly a fifth of electricity.

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Leaders of European cities make pledge to tackle climate change

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 08:40

Representatives of 30 cities gather in Paris to sign declaration that will also commit them to use their €10bn purchasing power to buy eco-friendly

Leaders and representatives of 30 European cities will gather in Paris on Thursday to declare their commitment to “clean” policies to fight climate change.

Officials will also sign a declaration agreeing to use their collective purchasing power – estimated at around €10bn (£7.4bn) a year – to buy eco-friendly.

Related: Full text of climate change statement signed by 26 European mayors

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Full text of climate change statement signed by 26 European mayors

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 08:39

Declaration entitled: ‘In response to the challenge of global climate change, a European commitment and local solutions’

If climate change is global, solutions are first and foremost local. Because large cities are at the crossroads of these two levels, they are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

This is why, we, the European capitals and metropolises that represent more than 60 million inhabitants and have significant investment capacity (€2tn GDP), have decided to join forces and strengthen the instruments that will lead us toward the energy and environmental transition.

Related: Leaders of European cities make pledge to tackle climate change

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Direct Action set up to allow large rise in emissions, says Climate Institute

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 07:30

So-called ‘safeguards mechanism’ will at best mean business as usual for Australia’s major polluters and at worst lead to far more greenhouse gas output

The final element of the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate change policy will at best mean major polluters continue business as usual and at worst lead to significant increases in their greenhouse gas emissions according to the Climate Institute thinktank.

The framework for the final part of Direct Action scheme – the so-called “safeguards mechanism” – confirms it will allow big polluters to buy carbon credits if they exceed new baselines for their greenhouse emissions, but also that it will set those baselines at levels that ensure few companies will have to.

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The real villains in Australia's renewables debacle? Three big energy companies | John Hewson

Guardian climate change - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 01:41

Extensive ‘advice’ from AGL, Energy Australia and Origin on the Renewable Energy Target has been a disaster – except for the companies’ profits

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane would not have believed his luck when the clean energy council (CEC) buckled to a 20% reduction in the renewable energy target (RET), diminishing the target from 41,000 gigawatt hours of energy to 33,500GWh.

Related: Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre | Alan Rusbridger

Related: Who are really Australia's top climate polluters? | Graham Readfearn

We think there are early warning signs of negative connotations around Gloucester (CSG) impacting AGL in some retail customer segments. If these negative associations become more mainstream, walking away from/disposing of Gloucester may become the right option to protect the larger retail brand and earnings.

Related: The argument for divesting from fossil fuels is becoming an overwhelming one | Alan Rusbridger

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Aboriginal group fights to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 22:29

Indian firm Adani has appealed to the native title tribunal to bypass the traditional owners’ rejection of the Queensland mine

An Aboriginal group in central Queensland is attempting to prevent Australia’s largest mine from being established on its ancestral land, in what is shaping up to be an unprecedented test of the country’s native title laws.

Representatives for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have formally rejected an Indigenous land use agreement that would see Indian mining firm Adani develop its huge $16bn Carmichael mine in the coal-rich Galilee basin region.

Related: Greg Hunt failed to check record of company behind $16.5bn coalmine, says writ

Related: US banks vow not to fund Great Barrier Reef coal port, say activists

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Climate change: farmers urge Coalition to restore emissions trading scheme

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 20:03

Failure to acknowledge the problem is ‘doing the industry a disservice’ and harming Australia’s international standing, says farming group

A delegation of farmers has called for the Abbott government to act on climate change by restoring an emissions trading scheme, maintaining the current renewable energy target and spending on rail infrastructure to improve inland transport and reduce carbon emissions.

The farmers have spent two days lobbying the Coalition to start implementing a suite of policies to deal with the effects of climate change, warning of dire consequences for the agriculture sector if the threat was not addressed.

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Bean breakthrough bodes well for climate change challenge

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 17:03

Scientists have hailed the emergence of heat-tolerant beans, but there are fears corporate interests in Africa’s seed sector will wrest control from local farmers

Scientists are hailing a new breed of bean seed as a breakthrough, thanks to its ability to grow amid rising temperatures and yield more nutritional value, qualities they believe can thwart the anticipated destruction of nearly half of all bean production.

The new seed was launched on Wednesday by scientists from the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. As well as being more resilient to heat, the bean has a higher iron content.

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Keep it in the Ground campaign: six things we've learned

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 15:35

It’s been a few weeks since we launched our major climate change project. Here’s what’s happened so far

This was the consensus reached by the collection of journalists that met in January to plan the project. It’s also the consensus reached by many of the world’s most prolific scientists, economists and statesmen.

Keep it in the ground: Guardian climate change campaign

These are leaders. These are people that others look to. So they have enormous responsibility. That’s why for me it is important that they react to this.

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What the numbers tell us about how much fossil fuel reserves we can't burn

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 14:36

The much-quoted three numbers of climate change have raised awareness of the simple fact there’s far more fossil fuel than we can burn and the more we extract, the greater the risk of climate catastrophe – but they don’t tell us the whole story

The world is gradually waking up to true nature of the climate change conundrum, and not a moment too soon. The situation boils down to this: fossil fuel is immensely useful, valuable and politically important, yet if we want to avoid taking unacceptable risks with the planet we need to leave most of that fuel in the ground – either forever or at least until there’s an affordable and scalable way to stop the exhaust gases building up in the atmosphere.

Many of us have been saying this for years (I co-wrote a book about it) but much of the credit for the increased awareness of the need to ‘leave the fuel in the ground’ goes to Bill McKibben, whose brilliant and much-read article in Rolling Stone clarified for many readers the simple and crucial fact that there is far more carbon in existing fossil fuel reserves than we can safely burn.

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Fossil fuel firms are still bankrolling climate denial lobby groups

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 13:24

BP has withdrawn support to Alec, a group known for misrepresenting climate science, but appearances can be deceptive. Oil, gas and coal companies remain firmly behind climate disinformation campaigns

The oil giant BP has announced that they will no longer fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), a lobbying group that routinely misrepresents climate science to US state legislators. It is the latest sign that some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies appear to be warming to the overwhelming evidence that the unabated use of their products poses severe risks of disrupting the climate.

Last month, BP and Royal Dutch Shell announced their support for shareholder resolutions calling on them to commit to reduce heat-trapping emissions, invest in renewable energy, and show how their current business model would hold up against the strict limits on future emissions needed to limit the risk of major climate disruption.

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One in six UK homes at risk from flooding, says MPs report

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 13:05

Current levels of flood protection for five million properties face ‘major risks’ due to lack of long-term defence maintenance budgets, MPs have warned

England’s ability to sustain current levels of flood protection for homes and businesses faces “major risks”, MPs have warned.

Some five million properties across the country, or around one in six, are at risk of flooding from coastal, river and surface water, and climate change is increasing the risks of extreme weather and floods, a report by the public accounts committee said.

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One satellite data set is underestimating global warming | John Abraham

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 13:00

A new study suggests that the University of Alabama at Huntsville is lowballing the warming of the atmosphere

A very important study was just published in the Journal of Climate a few days ago. This paper, in my mind, makes a major step toward reconciling differences in satellite temperature records of the mid-troposphere region. As before, it is found that the scientists (and politicians) who have cast doubt on global warming in the past are shown to be outliers because of bias in their results.

The publication, authored by Stephen Po-Chedley and colleagues from the University of Washington, discusses some major sources of error in satellite records. For instance, after satellites are launched, they scan the Earth’s atmosphere and calibrate the atmospheric measurements using a warm target onboard the satellite and cold space. The accuracy with which the atmospheric measurements are calibrated can influence the inferred temperature of the atmosphere (called the warm-target bias). Additionally, over the years, multiple satellites have been launched and the selection of which satellite data are used can play a role. Finally, biases can occur because the satellite orbits drift during their lifetime and the influence of diurnal temperature variation can affect the global temperature trends.

In general, our trends corrected with a GCM and trends corrected with our observationally derived diurnal cycle correction are similar to trends from NOAA and RSS ... the UAH ocean trend is notably lower than trends from the other datasets.

We developed an observationally based diurnal cycle correction to remove the influence of satellite diurnal sampling drifts on long-term tropospheric temperature trends. This is important because other analyses (RSS and NOAA) used a model-derived diurnal cycle correction and questions have been raised about the validity of this bias correction. Trends from our work are in accord with trends from global circulation models and basic theory.

We also found that the model-derived diurnal cycle correction used by RSS and NOAA is similar to our bias correction. The tropical tropospheric trend from the present study is 2.5 times that from another group, UAH. While this work shows that it is possible to understand discrepancies between MSU/AMSU datasets there are still important differences between the datasets that need further scrutiny.

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Wellcome Trust rejects Guardian's calls to divest from fossil fuels

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 11:34

Director of the charitable trust, Jeremy Farrar, says retaining fossil fuel shares gives more influence over such companies – but they would not rule out divesting in the future, should engagement prove ineffective

The director of the Wellcome Trust has rejected calls from a Guardian campaign to shift the charitable foundation’s investments out of the fossil fuel industry, warning that such a move would mean less pressure on those companies to be green.

Related: Fossil-fuel divestment is not the way to reduce carbon emissions | Jeremy Farrar

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Fossil-fuel divestment is not the way to reduce carbon emissions | Jeremy Farrar

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 11:28
Despite the Guardian campaign, at Wellcome we’ve found it’s more constructive to actively engage with the companies in which we invest

For two decades I lived in Vietnam, leading research into the health challenges affecting low and middle-income countries. It is clear from my personal and professional experience that environmental change, including climate change, is among the most significant of these: rising temperatures, altered weather patterns, urbanisation and habitat loss have serious implications for nutrition, disasters and diseases such as dengue, malaria and ebola.

Related: Wellcome Trust rejects Guardian's calls to divest from fossil fuels

Related: What is fossil fuel divestment?

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Climate change is overwhelming – so should we focus on small steps?

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 09:42

Campaigns such as Meat Free Week try to get us to change one behaviour at a time, but there are fears they disguise bigger problems. Experts discuss

The challenges of our time can feel overwhelming: climate change, economic inequality, water scarcity – even the most passionate campaigner might want to pull the covers over and look away. So can single-issue campaigns such as Buy Nothing New Month or Meat Free Week help us divide important causes into manageable chunks? Or do they only distract?

Peter Burr, CEO of Meat Free Week

Related: The problem with sustainability marketing? Not enough me, me, me

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Naomi Klein: Let's kick oil while the price is down – video

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 09:00
Climate change should be a catalyst for a major change, but we're not treating it as a real emergency. Naomi Klein believes that capitalism is at war with the climate, but she says sometimes it gives us a gift – the sudden drop in oil prices. So let's not blow what could be our best chance to prevent catastrophic global warming Continue reading...

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Life in the Philippines: preparing for the next typhoon Haiyan

Guardian climate change - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 07:00

The Philippines is battered by some 20 typhoons a year – events that will get more severe with climate change. Yet, post Haiyan millions of Filipinos remain vulnerable and underprepared for future such disasters

In 2013, the Philippines had so many typhoons that it ran out of letters to name them. For the first time, the country had got to the end of the alphabet for typhoon names and had to start at ‘a’ again.

The letter ‘y’ proved most devastating. Typhoon Yolanda – known internationally as Haiyan – tore through a swathe of the Philippines on 8 November 2013, leaving more than 6,300 people dead. Nearly 2,000 are still listed as missing.

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