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Q&A: How Great Britain’s ‘demand flexibility service’ is cutting costs and CO2 emissions

The Carbon Brief - Tue, 11/28/2023 - 08:24

Amid heightened concern last winter about the security of the electricity supply across the island of Great Britain, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) brought in a first-of-its-kind demand-management system. 

The Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) relied on consumers reacting to notifications from the operator to help reduce their demand and keep the island’s grid secure during times of particular strain. (The island’s grid incorporates England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland.)

Over the course of the winter of 2022/23, the system-level impact of DFS was significant, reducing demand by 2.92 gigawatt hours (GWh) from times of grid strain, according to a recent report from the Centre for Net Zero.

This is equivalent to the electricity needed for every person in Great Britain to make a large cup of tea, it claims.

This helped ensure, it adds, that the ”lights stayed on” and reduced the need for reliance on coal-fired power stations or exceptionally expensive alternatives. Additionally, 681 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) emissions were avoided through the use of DFS.

ESO has reintroduced the service for 2023/24, with the first session taking place on 16 November.

The Q&A below examines what the service has achieved – and whether it offers value for money.

What is the ‘demand flexibility service’? 

In 2022, ESO launched its new DFS to provide an additional mechanism to support energy security over the winter. 

There was heightened concern about the potential of blackouts over the winter of 2022/23, due to the volatility in the gas market, exacerbated substantially by the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier that year. 

As such, in its Winter Outlook report, the operator added new tools in the form of securing contingency contracts with coal-fired power plants and launching DFS. 

From 1 November 2022, DFS started to incentivise users to reduce consumption during key times, to reduce the overall demand across the system. 

Households with a smart meter or business sites with half-hourly metering were eligible to sign up to the scheme and could sign up through either their supplier or a technology provider. In total, there were 31 providers that registered by the end of the DFS period in March 2023. 

This was made up of 14 “domestic only”, 10 “non-domestic only” and seven “both domestic and non-domestic”.

DFS was designed so that the ESO could notify providers about the times when capacity on the grid was expected to be tight, allowing them to reach out to their customers who had signed up to the scheme. They could then opt-in to the DFS sessions and work to reduce their demand during the specified periods. 

Over the winter of 2022/23, there were 20 test events – which were used to “onboard” providers – and two live uses of DFS, where it was used to ensure there was sufficient capacity to meet demand. These sessions had a duration of 60, 90 and 120 minutes.

Across the test events, ESO established a guaranteed “acceptance price” of £3,000 per megawatt hour (/MWh) for all bids submitted by DFS providers. This was designed to offer assurance to providers.

During the live events, DFS providers presented bids at higher prices than the guaranteed acceptance price, allowing them to incentivise participants further and, therefore, provide more substantial demand reductions during times when balancing the grid was particularly challenging. 

The two live events – which took place on 23 and 24 January 2023 – saw providers submit bids within the range of £3,300/MWh and £6,500/MWh, according to data from LCP Delta

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Who took part in last year’s trial of the service?

Between November and March, 1.6m households and businesses participated in DFS, according to the ESO. 

Collectively, they provided ~350MW of flexibility during events, helping to avoid blackouts during periods of particular constraint on the grid. 

According to a survey conducted by the system operator, a wide range of households took part in DFS. Of those surveyed, 30% had a health condition or long-term illness, 18% were tenants and 30% lived in households with three or more people. This highlighted the low barriers to participation of DFS, according to ESO. 

There were still groups that were underrepresented, including younger age groups, lower income households, renters and city residents.

According to ESO’s survey, those under the age of 45 were underrepresented in DFS participation in comparison with the British population. (Britain’s electricity system covers England, Wales and Scotland, therefore, the population of Northern Ireland was not eligible to take part in DFS.) The most pronounced underrepresentation was seen in those aged 18-19 and 20-24 years old. The most overrepresented age groups were 55-64 and 65-74. 

Within the under-45 age group, women made up the majority of participants, whereas in the over-45 group men made up the majority. Overall, 54.9% of those surveyed identified as female, in comparison with 51.7% of the British population, the survey continues. 

The white ethnic group was overrepresented, with 95.7% of respondents falling within the category, notes the ESO, compared to 82.7% of the British population (a 13% difference). 

All other groups were underrepresented, with Asian or Aisan British the most severely so, with only 2.4% of respondents compared to 8.7% of the British population (6.3% difference). 

The majority of participants took part for the financial benefits, be they savings or rewards. Of those surveyed by ESO, 76% selected this as their main motivation. 

Beyond this, 41% of households were motivated by the challenge of responding and 37% by balancing the grid. 

ESO surveyed 23,717 people (orange), as well as getting 134 to keep diaries (yellow) explaining their experience of DFS, plus interviewing 329 people (red) about their experience. The three groups were asked to select the reasons why they decided to sign up to DFS. Source: National Grid ESO.

The actions taken by participants to reduce demand varied, with the majority (three-in-four) shifting demand, according to the Centre for Net Zero’s research. For example, shifting the times they used high-load appliances, such as heating or ovens, by an hour, to avoid the DFS session. 

Around one-in-two participants reported “demand destruction” in at least one event, according to the research. This is where the demand is completely removed – for example, households who chose to go for a walk instead of putting on the television and did not subsequently watch an extra hour of television later to make up for it. 

The Centre for Net Zero’s research found that 75% of participants manually switched off appliances, while the rest scheduled them to either come on before or after the event.

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What did the demand flexibility service achieve?

Overall, DFS was considered a success, delivering a total of 3,300MWh of electricity reduction across the 22 events, according to ESO. This is nearly enough to power 10m homes for an hour during peak times across the island of Great Britain. 

Through demand reduction, DFS is considered to have avoided a total of 681tCO2. 

Great Britain was spared blackouts over the winter of 2023/24 – while services such as DFS played a role in helping to keep the grid balanced and secure during this time. Favourably warm weather, among other factors, also played a role. 

Additionally, DFS provided financial benefits to participants. For example, CUB, a family-run commercial energy and utilities consultants business, introduced the CUB Reduction Reward Scheme, allowing its customers to participate in DFS. 

In a case study released by ESO, it highlighted that throughout six events, there was an average of 86 businesses taking part in each through the CUB Reduction Reward Scheme. Participants ranged from using 14,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) to 14,000,000kwh per annum. 

As of 30 January, participants had earned £34,025, with one business earning £1,726 in one event. Over these events, CUB delivered 12MWh of energy reduction, and avoided 945kg of carbon emissions. 

With regard to the domestic market, 13 sessions were offered to 1.4m Octopus Energy customers over the course of last winter, via financial incentives. Overall, the company’s “Saving Sessions” resulted in a reduction in energy demand of 12-25%.

Octopus Energy’s Saving Sessions from November 2022 through to March 2023, showing whether it was a test or live event, the duration, incentive offered, the number of participants and the percentage of those who signed in that then opted in. Source: Centre for Net Zero.

The trial also managed to answer several questions around the potential of demand schemes and the challenges they may face.

For example, the impact of cold weather on the willingness of participants to reduce their demand was an area in need of data, with heating being one of the easier and more common energy uses to turn down during DFS sessions. 

Those who opted into Octopus’s Saving Sessions on cold winter days provided a “mean average turndown” of 0.2kW, a similar level to mild or warm days. If this was scaled to the UK’s 30m households at the same rate of participation (one-in-three), the company estimates that would equate to around 2GW of consumer flexibility on cold winter days. 

This is roughly equivalent to the entire capacity of Britain’s contingency coal power plants.

Electricity consumption by Octopus Energy customers in kWh in half-hour increments, shown across the hours before and after the Saving Session stated, with the period in which it was active highlighted in grey. Source: Centre for Net Zero.

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Did the demand flexibility service offer value for money?

Overall, ESO paid households and businesses nearly £11m to reduce their power use during the DFS period of 2022/23. 

As such, the average cost per megawatt hour of reduced electricity was around £3,330/MWh across the 22 sessions. While this is relatively high, it is also reflective of the scarcity of the use of the service. This is not a cost paid out consistently, but only in the tightest of periods where the alternative options were expensive fossil-fuel generators. 

During the same winter, some gas-fired power plants cost up to £6,000/MWh, for example. 

Across the two live events, ESO paid more than £3m to suppliers, split between around £850,000 during the shorter event on Monday 23 January and £2.1m for the longer session on Tuesday 24 January. 

These arguably provide a clearer picture of what this service could cost in the future, given they allow suppliers to bid what they are happy to pay as opposed to the guaranteed price offered during the test sessions. 

For example, during the first live session on Monday 23 January, 400,000 customers participated and were given £3.37/kWh of electricity demand they reduced. Customers were offered £4/kWh on Tuesday 24 January, as ESO accepted a higher bid. 

By contrast, ESO’s other additional measure for the winter of 2022/23 was to contract five coal units to stay online under contingency contracts. This was estimated to cost between £340m and £395m, subject to the procurement and use of the coal.

While the coal units were “warmed” six times, according to the Centre for Net Zero’s research, they were not ultimately used. ESO paid approximately £6,000/h to the plants that were warmed, in order to synchronise them with the grid frequency.

ESO has not contracted them for the coming winter. 

DFS cost approximately £10.5m in total meaning 2.7% of the capacity payments were spent on the contingency coal contracts. 

The Centre for Net Zero’s research, completed a welfare analysis to explore what the marginal social benefits of the policy were with regards to the net cost to the government. 

In doing so, it found Octopus’ Saving Sessions demonstrated a marginal value of public funds (MVPF) – which is calculated by dividing the beneficiaries’ willingness to pay by the net costs of the policy – of between 1.05 and 2.6. 

This metric shows that the welfare impacts of DFS are sensitive to the extent to which demand response reduces the likelihood of “lost load”, namely, the security of the electricity supply. If it is considered to have reduced the likelihood of a blackout, the MVPF  is high, with 2.6 larger than many other popular policy programs, such as housing vouchers, job training, cash transfers, and adult-health subsidies, according to the Centre for Net Zero. 

The report notes that during DFS events – when the grid was particularly strained – a marginal unit of electricity would have been sourced from a carbon-intensive gas or coal-fired power plant. These would incur a “marginal private cost” of £835/MWh on average for the ESO, with a maximum of £5,500/MWh, plus the social cost of continued fossil fuel reliance.

It is a difficult balance for the operator to ensure the service offers value for money, while paying consumers enough to make participation attractive.

Lucy Yu, the Centre for Net Zero’s CEO, tells Carbon Brief: 

“The DFS is one of the biggest innovations the grid has seen in years. Our analysis shows consumers can offer gigawatt-scale flexibility, at good value for public money. This value exceeds policy spending in areas such as adult education, healthcare and housing.”

According to figures from Octopus in January, the average saving for a household was 23p for each test event. Some participants saved up to £4.35 for each session. 

During the first live test, the largest savings seen by domestic users were about £8.75 for the hour. 

The supplier estimates that a customer that reduced its demand by 1kWh during 25 events at an average of £4/kWh – as seen in the second live event – could save £100 over a winter.

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What will the service look like in winter 2023-24?

DFS has been reintroduced for winter 2023/24. It began on 1 November, with the first test event taking place on 16 November. The first live event has now been announced for 29 November

As with last year, ESO will run 12 incentivised test events that consumers and businesses can participate in. A guaranteed acceptance price of £3/kWh will be on offer to  suppliers, aggregators and businesses for at least six of the test events. 

According to the surveys conducted by the Centre for Net Zero, 92% of customers were “very interested” in continuing to participate in future sessions year-round. 

DFS remains in a trial stage, with lessons yet to be learnt before it could be truly integrated into the ESO’s system stability services. As such, there are a number of changes made to this year’s service, including the lead time given by the ESO, changes to metering requirements and the ability for providers to make the service “opt-out” rather than “opt-in”. 

While the DFS is currently only used to reduce demand, there is also the potential that such a system could be used in the future to manage periods of high generation on the system. 

For example, during a period of low demand, such as in the middle of the night, when there is high wind generation. Currently, wind generation has to be “curtailed” to protect the system if there is more generation than demand. DFS could be used to increase demand to take advantage of such periods. 

Of those surveyed by the Centre for Net Zero, 81% said they were interested in using more energy to avoid curtailment. 

Yu tells Carbon Brief:

“As the energy system evolves to optimise demand closer to real-time, it is important to understand the role schemes such as the DFS might play – including as an important contingency resource targeted at times and locations where it is needed most. 

“In the near term, it is a critical tool that allows us to raise consumer awareness of demand response, scale flexibility behaviours and deliver meaningful value to both the grid and households, transforming the relationship between the two.”

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Giving Tuesday

Skeptical Science - Mon, 11/27/2023 - 07:49

For the first time "in history" we decided to jump on the "Giving Tuesday" bandwagon in order to make you aware of the options you have to contribute to our work!

Projects supported by Skeptical Science Inc.

Skeptical Science

Skeptical Science is an all-volunteer organization but our work is not without financial costs. Contributions supporting our publication mechanisms from our readers and users are a critical part of improving the general public's critical thinking skills about science and in particular climate science. Your contribution is a solid investment in making possible a better future thanks to improving our ability to think productively, leading to better decisions at all levels of our climate change challenge. Please visit our support page to contribute.

Translations of the FLICC-poster

The FLICC-Poster is the result of a successful collaboration between Skeptical Science and our German partner website Klimafakten.  It was first published in May 2020 and has been quite popular in English, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish since then. The creation of additional translations of the poster requires funding for professional design and layout work. You can contribute to that effort via the form provided on this page.

Translations of the Cranky Uncle Game

The Cranky Uncle game adopts an active inoculation approach, where a Cranky Uncle cartoon character mentors players to learn the techniques of science denial. Cranky Uncle is a free game available on smartphones for iPhone and Android as well as web browsers. Even though the translations of the Cranky Uncle game are done by teams of volunteers, each language incurs costs for programming activities to get a language set up in the game. If you'd like to support Cranky Uncle "teaching" his science denial techniques in other languages, please use the dedicated form provided on this page to contribute. Other options to contribute

Another very helpful way to support our work is to provide feedback on our rebuttals and especially the new at-a-glance sections in the basic-level rebuttals we are currently adding. And if you happen to be multi-lingual: we have a lot of content where translations could be updated or created!

Thanks for reading and any contribution you choose to make!

Categories: I. Climate Science

Revealed: Colonial rule nearly doubles UK’s historical contribution to climate change

The Carbon Brief - Mon, 11/27/2023 - 00:00

The UK is responsible for nearly twice as much global warming as previously thought, due to its colonial history, Carbon Brief analysis shows.

History matters because the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted since the start of the industrial revolution is closely tied to the record temperatures expected in 2023.

Previous analysis had put the UK’s share of cumulative historical emissions at 3.0% of the global total, including CO2 from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

This made the UK the eighth largest contributor to current warming, behind the US (1), China (2), Russia (3), Brazil (4), Germany (5), Indonesia (6) and its former colony India (7).

According to Carbon Brief’s new analysis, however, the UK is responsible for nearly twice as much warming as previously thought – some 5.1% of the global total – due to its colonial history.

This bumps the UK up to fourth place in terms of its historical responsibility for climate change, still behind the US, China and Russia – but now ahead of India, Brazil and Germany.

Moreover, the UK’s population are the second-highest emitters on a per-capita basis, when accounting for emissions under colonial rule.

For full details on the methods and data used in the analysis for this piece, as well as information on other countries, see the detailed companion article.

Historical emissions

Looking at emissions taking place within the borders of the UK alone, the country released some 76.4bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) between 1850-2023.

This amounts to some 3.0% of global cumulative emissions over the same period, including CO2 from fossil fuel use, cement production and LULUCF, the world’s eighth highest share.

After adding emissions outside the UK, but under its colonial rule, its emissions rise to 130.2GtCO2, the fourth highest contribution and accounting for 5.1% of the global total.

This is shown in the figure below, which illustrates the significance of these colonial emissions for the UK, as well as for other former imperial powers Russia, France and the Netherlands.

The top 20 countries for cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. CO2 emissions that occurred within each country’s national borders are shown in dark blue, while those that took place overseas during periods of imperial rule are coloured red. Emissions reallocated to former imperial powers are shaded light blue. EU+UK is shown in addition to the relevant individual countries. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Other former imperial powers, such as the Netherlands and France, see similarly dramatic jumps in their historical responsibility for warming. The Netherlands rises from 35th to 12th in the rankings, with its cumulative emissions nearly tripling, while the French total rises by 50%.

As a group, the EU+UK is the world’s second-largest historical contributor to warming after the US, with or without colonial emissions. Adding emissions under colonial rule increases its cumulative contribution by 28% and its share of the global total by 4 percentage points, from 14.7% to 18.7%.

Colonial emissions

The largest contributor to the UK’s colonial emissions is from India, which was under British rule from the start of the period of this analysis, 1850, until it achieved independence in 1947.

This is shown in the figure below, with territorial emissions within the UK shown on the left and colonial emissions in countries that were part of its empire on the right.

Cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. Left: Emissions within the UK. Right: Emissions in other countries under British colonial rule. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

India adds 13.0GtCO2 to the UK total, of which 11.2GtCO2 (86%) is due to land use, land use change and forestry – in other words, mainly due to deforestation.

Other significant contributors include Myanmar (7.3GtCO2), Nigeria (5.1GtCO2), Australia (3.6GtOC2) and Malaysia (3.3GtCO2). Again, almost all of this CO2 came from deforestation.

Per-capita emissions

The impact of emissions under colonial rule also has a major impact when weighted on a per-capita basis, using the current population of the UK.

Cumulative emissions within UK borders 1850-2023 amount to 1,128tCO2 per capita, the seventh highest figure among countries with a population of at least 1 million people.

However, the UK’s current population are each responsible for 1,922tCO2 over 1850-2023 – the world’s second highest figure – when including emissions overseas under its colonial rule.

Top ten countries with a population of at least 1 million and five selected others, in terms of their cumulative per capita CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, tonnes per head per year. Colonial emissions in each year are weighted by the population of the colonial power. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Revealed: How colonial rule radically shifts historical responsibility for climate change

The Carbon Brief - Sun, 11/26/2023 - 11:00

Historical responsibility for climate change is radically shifted when colonial rule is taken into account, Carbon Brief analysis reveals.

The first-of-its-kind analysis offers a thought-provoking fresh perspective on questions of climate justice and historical responsibility, which lie at the heart of the global climate debate.

In total, humans have collectively pumped 2,558bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) into the atmosphere since 1850, enough to warm the planet by 1.15C above pre-industrial temperatures.

This means that, by the end of 2023, more than 92% of the carbon budget for 1.5C will have been used up – leaving less than five years remaining if current annual emissions continue.

However, responsibility for using up this global budget is highly unequal. The wealthiest countries – and within each nation the wealthiest individuals – have taken a disproportionate share.

Previous Carbon Brief analysis already showed the US (20%) to be the world’s largest contributor to warming. Yet it implicitly allocated none of the responsibility for emissions under colonial rule to the colonial rulers, even though they held ultimate decision-making authority at the time.

The new analysis tests the implications of reversing this assumption. It finds the US (21%) and China (12%) still top – but the share of former colonial powers growing significantly.

The French share of historical emissions rises by half, the UK nearly doubles, the Netherlands nearly triples and Portugal more than triples. Together, the EU+UK’s responsibility for warming rises by nearly a third, to 19%.

India is among the former colonies seeing its share of historical responsibility fall (by 15%, to below the UK), with Indonesia down by 24% and Africa’s already small contribution also dropping 24%.

#bar-chart-race-2023{ border: none; width:100%; height: 670px; } .bar-chart-video{ display:none } @media (max-width:749px){ #bar-chart-race-2023{ display:none; } .bar-chart-video{ display:inherit } } How cumulative national CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, land use, land use change and forestry change over time during 1850-2023, million tonnes, when accounting for emissions under colonial rule. The remaining carbon budget for a 50/50 chance of staying below 1.5C is shown by the doughnut chart in the bottom right. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Animation by Carbon Brief.

Notably, former colonial powers such as the UK and the Netherlands are much more prominent in the history of cumulative global CO2 emissions shown in the animation above.

While former colonies such as India and Indonesia are less prominent as a result, they still have significant emissions in the post-colonial era, pushing them into the top 10 as of 2023.

As before, the new analysis is based on CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement production, along with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

It covers the period from 1850 – often taken as the baseline for current warming – through to 2023, drawing primarily on a recent compilation of emissions estimates.

The assignment of colonial responsibility for emissions is largely based on research into the emergence of independent nation states since the early 19th century.

Other key findings of the analysis include:

  • As a group, the EU+UK collectively ranks second for emissions within its own borders (375GtCO2, 14.7% of the global total). This climbs by nearly a third after adding colonial emissions, to 478GtCO2 and 18.7% of the global total – just behind the US.
  • The UK ranks fourth in the world when accounting for colonial emissions – jumping ahead of its former colony India. Including emissions under British rule in 46 former colonies, the UK is responsible for nearly twice as much global warming as previously thought (130GtCO2 and 5.1% of the total, instead of 76GtCO2 and 3.0%).
  • The largest contributions to the UK’s colonial emissions are from India (13GtCO2, cutting its own total by 15%), Myanmar (7GtCO2, -49%) and Nigeria (5GtCO2, -33%).
  • The Netherlands accounts for nearly three times as much warming when accounting for colonial emissions (35GtCO2 and 1.4% of the total, rather than 13GtCO2 and 0.5%). This is largely due to LULUCF emissions in Indonesia, under Dutch rule, of 22GtCO2.
  • Africa – the vast majority of which was under colonial rule – sees its share of historical emissions fall by nearly a quarter, from 6.9% to 5.2%. Despite a 21-times larger population, this 5.2% share is only fractionally higher than the UK’s 5.1%.
  • When weighted by current populations, the Netherlands (2,014tCO2 per person) and the UK (1,922tCO2) become the world’s top emitters on a cumulative per-capita basis. They are followed by Russia (1,655tCO2), the US (1,560tCO2) and Canada (1,524tCO2).
  • On this per-capita measure, China (217tCO2 per person), the continent of Africa (92tCO2) and India (52tCO2) are far behind developed nations’ contributions to warming.
  • Many former colonial powers are also net CO2 importers today. While data on CO2 imports and exports is limited, available figures further raise their shares of historical emissions.

These findings reinforce the significant historical responsibility of developed countries for current warming, particularly the former colonial powers in Europe.

While they account for less than 11% of the world’s population today, together, the US, EU and UK are responsible for 39% of cumulative historical emissions and current CO2-related warming.

Many of these countries now have small and declining emissions. Yet their relative wealth today – and their historical contributions to current warming – are recognised within the international climate regime as being tied to a responsibility to lead, not only in terms of cutting their own emissions, but also in supporting the climate response in less developed countries.

The article below sets out why cumulative CO2 matters, how colonial rule changes responsibility for warming and where colonial emissions come from. It then looks at the impact of weighting emissions on a per-capita basis and accounting for emissions embedded in traded goods.

The article also includes a sortable, searchable table showing these key metrics for each country, as well as further details on the methodology used to produce this analysis.

Why cumulative CO2 matters

There is “unequivocal” evidence that humans have warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice and land surface, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report.

The summary for policymakers states that current warming has been caused by “more than a century of net GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from energy use, land-use and land use change, lifestyle and patterns of consumption, and production”.

Global warming is virtually certain to reach a new record high in 2023. Yet global greenhouse gas emissions have also climbed to record levels.

Meanwhile, climate change to date is already causing widespread impacts that disproportionately affect low-income countries, from deadly heatwaves and droughts to “catastrophic” ice loss.

Human-caused CO2 emissions are the largest contributor to warming and there is a direct, linear relationship between the amount of CO2 released and the warming of the Earth’s surface.

Moreover, the timing of a tonne of CO2 being emitted has only a limited impact on the amount of warming it will ultimately cause. Once emitted, the resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 levels is essentially permanent on human timescales. This is despite the fact that individual CO2 molecules have a limited lifetime in the atmosphere, as they circulate around the carbon cycle.

As a result, CO2 emissions from previous centuries continue to contribute to the heating of the planet – and current warming is determined by the cumulative total of CO2 emissions over time.

This is the scientific basis for the carbon budget, namely, the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted to stay below any given limit on global temperatures.

This analysis uses the latest estimates of the remaining carbon budget for a 50/50 chance of limiting warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures.

The carbon budget is now smaller than the figure used in Carbon Brief’s 2021 analysis, due to updated understanding of the warming impact of non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

Adding up all of the human-caused CO2 emissions tracked in this analysis, during 1850-2023, amounts to 2,558GtCO2. (See: Methodology: Why this analysis starts in 1850.)

This means the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C will be just 208GtCO2 by the end of 2023. Less than 8% of the budget will be left – and the entire budget would be used up within less than five years, if global CO2 emissions were to continue at current levels.

In the first decade covered by Carbon Brief’s analysis, land-related emissions including deforestation account for more than 90% of the CO2 being released each year.

This pattern is reversed in the present day, with fossil fuels and cement production accounting for an estimated 91% of global CO2 emissions in 2023, as shown in the figure below.

Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement overtook land-related emissions for the first time in 1947 – coincidentally, the year that India and Pakistan gained independence.

Overall, fossil fuels and cement account for more than two-thirds of cumulative CO2, some 71% of the total emissions released during 1850-2023. Land use and forestry account for the other 29%.

Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement (dark blue) as well as from land use, land-use change and forestry (red), 1850-2023, billions of tonnes. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Carbon Brief’s estimates of cumulative emissions since 1850 – and the remaining carbon budget as of the present day – are fully aligned with the latest updates since the IPCC report in 2021.

The accelerating depletion of the carbon budget for 1.5C is illustrated by markers in the figure above, showing the years when 25%, 50% and 75% of the budget had been used up.

This shows that it took 107 years to use up the first quarter of the carbon budget, then just 33 years to use up the next quarter and only a further 22 years for the third quarter.

At the current rate, the final quarter of the 1.5C budget will have been used up in 16 years.

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How colonial rule changes responsibility for warming

Historical responsibility is ethically complex, but it is clear that colonial powers had a significant influence on landscapes, natural resource use and development patterns taking place under their rule. It would be hard to justify ignoring this completely.

Indeed, it is well known that colonial powers extracted natural resources from colonised lands to support their economic, military and political power.

Yet the link to historical emissions has never been quantified, until now.

This analysis assigns full responsibility for past emissions to those with ultimate decision-making authority at the time, namely, the colonial rulers. This reverses the implicit assumption of previous analyses, where none of the responsibility was given to colonial powers.

Arguably, the true share of responsibility for current warming lies somewhere between these two extremes, where emissions are fully assigned to either the colonial powers or their former colonies.

In line with this approach, the analysis assigns responsibility for emissions within the former Soviet republics to Russia, because decision-making authority was heavily centralised in Moscow.

The figure below shows the top 20 countries in the world in terms of their cumulative historical CO2 emissions. The blue columns show emissions taking place within each country’s current borders, while the red chunks show emissions that took place under its rule, in controlled territories. The light blue chunks show emissions reallocated from former colonies to the former colonial power.

Notably, the major post-colonial European powers, including the UK (+70%), France (+51%) and the Netherlands (+181%), all see significant increases in their share of historical emissions.

While they do not appear in the top 20, there are similar effects for Belgium (+33%), Portugal (+234%) and Spain (+12%). Collectively, the EU+UK take on much larger responsibility (+28%).

On the flip side, India (-15%) and Indonesia (-24%) are particularly notable for their reduced share of cumulative emissions, under this new approach to historical responsibility for warming.

The top 20 countries for cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. CO2 emissions that occurred within each country’s national borders are shown in dark blue, while those that took place overseas during periods of imperial rule are coloured red. Emissions reallocated to former imperial powers are shaded light blue. EU+UK is shown in addition to the relevant individual countries. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Russia also sees a significant increase in its historical responsibility for current warming, which rises by two-fifths to 9.3% of the global total, under the approach taken in this analysis.

Nevertheless, some argue that the nature of the power dynamics within the former Soviet Union was different to those between European colonialists and the peoples they colonised overseas.

While also not appearing in the top 20, there are big shifts, too, for Austria (+72%) and Hungary (+70%), as a result of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. This, too, was of a different nature to the overseas colonisations of other European powers.

Accounting for colonial rule alters the relative ranking of a number of countries.

The UK is the most prominent example, climbing from eighth-largest contributor to climate change to fourth. This means it leapfrogs its former colony, India, in terms of past responsibility.

Similarly, while the Netherlands does not quite overtake Indonesia, their relative rankings are significantly different after accounting for colonial responsibility for past emissions.

These shifts are illustrated in the figure below, which shows the top 20 countries in the world ranked according to their share of cumulative emissions. On the left, only emissions within present-day borders are considered, while on the right, emissions under colonial rule are added.

(Note that the EU+UK is shown as a bloc, in addition to the top 20 countries.)

The top 20 countries in the world, ranked in terms of their share of cumulative historical emissions 1850-2023 within current national borders (left) and after accounting for periods of foreign rule (right). Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

The other obvious shifts in the ranking chart, above, are for Ukraine and Kazakhstan, both former Soviet republics that were under centralised rule from Moscow for much of the 20th century.

Unlike other emissions reassignments under Carbon Brief’s new analysis, these and other former Soviet republics have large amounts of fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions shifted off their books.

Referring back to the chart of fossil- versus land-based emissions over time, above, illustrates the major reason why this is the case. Annual CO2 emissions were dominated by contributions from LULUCF until the middle of the 20th century, when fossil fuel use started to explode.

Many former European colonies in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas had gained independence well before the point when fossil fuel use accelerated. In contrast, former Soviet republics were part of the Soviet Union administered from Moscow until its collapse in 1991.

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Where colonial emissions come from

The history of European imperialism is “inseparable from the history of global environmental change”, say Prof William Beinert and Lotte Hughes in their 2007 book Environment and Empire.

For the UK, one driver was what they describe as the “gradual domestic deforestation” of the country, which “hastened dependence on coal for energy” and drove demand for timber imports.

In turn, the shift to machine power based on fossil fuels “enormously expanded the possibilities of metropolitan production and consumption [and] facilitated a new surge in imperial expansion, carried by steamships, railways, and motor vehicles”. They write:

“Metropolitan countries sought raw materials of all kinds, from timber and furs to rubber and oil. They established plantations that transformed island ecologies. Settlers introduced new methods of farming; some displaced Indigenous peoples and their methods of managing the land.”

This hunger for natural resources drove deforestation and environmental change in colonised lands, from the Americas and the Caribbean to Asia, Africa and Oceania.

In Barbados, for example, the establishment of plantations “necessitated destroying the forests…with a combination of ring-barking and burning”, according to the book.

Similarly, in Madeira, “one of the founding myths recalled by…colonists was a fire that burned for seven years – a powerful metaphor for deforestation”.

Yet, as colonial forests were denuded of their ability to produce high-quality timber, colonisation also led to the beginnings of “conservationist practices and ideas”, Beinart and Hughes write:

“[W]hile natural resources have been intensely exploited, a related process, the rise of conservationist practices and ideas, was also deeply rooted in imperial history. Large tracts of land have been reserved for forests, national parks or wildlife.”

The British empire was particularly far-reaching, controlling around a quarter of the Earth’s land surface at its peak by the end of the 19th century – and more than a quarter of its population.

Map showing the British empire, in red and hatched red, in 1910 and 1935. Credit: Hilary Morgan / Alamy Stock Photo.

In Carbon Brief’s new analysis, emissions under British rule in 46 former colonies are reassigned to the UK, almost doubling its share of the global historical total.

This is illustrated in the figure below, with notable contributions coming from India and Myanmar through to countries such as Australia, Canada, Tanzania, Zambia and COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates.

Cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. Left: Emissions within the UK. Right: Emissions in other countries under British colonial rule. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

The largest contribution to the UK’s colonial emissions is from India, as shown in the figure above, with the second largest being from Myanmar.

In their book, Beinart and Hughes describe the intimate links between the colonisation of these countries and the exploitation of their natural resources, with the two interacting and reinforcing each other, as resources were used to further cement British control. They write:

“Indigenous hardwoods were the prime riches…essential to the British army, navy and railways, they became cogs in the conquest of India. The new demands inevitably led to deforestation…Railways, [which were at the heart of domestic timber demand in India,] were critical for moving troops and thereby controlling territory. Rolling back the forests to make way for cultivation was also seen by the East India Company as a means of extending control.”

Beinart and Hughes also refer to the particular use of teak from Myanmar to make warships: “Burma or ‘Admiralty’ teak was known to be the strongest. Used for navy frigates, it was said to have saved Britain during the Napoleonic wars and aided her maritime expansion.”

Later, the depletion of Indigenous hardwood forests led to colonial conservation efforts, though the motives for doing this – and the means by which it was achieved – were decidedly mixed.

The book quotes Hugh Cleghorn, conservator of forests for the Madras presidency, writing in 1861 of the “careless rapacity of the native population…who cut and cleared [forests]…without being in any way under the control or regulation of authority”. It continues:

“When a[n Indian] Forest Department was established in 1864, Britain had few experts of its own. [German forester Dietrich] Brandis had been brought in two years previously from Burma, where he was credited from with saving the Burmese teak forests from timber traders, for the benefit of British shipbuilders…The conservators were under pressure to manage the forests effectively, meet the needs of the admiralty and others for large quantities of timber, simultaneously turn a profit, and contain local peoples’ claims on the forests…The British laid claim to territory they considered unoccupied and unclaimed, and regarded princely property as theirs by right of conquest.”

Similar dynamics were at play in Indonesia, which had long been under Dutch rule. The late historian of Indonesia Prof Peter Boomgaard wrote in a 1999 book chapter that deforestation on the Indonesian island of Java “began to be perceived as a problem around 1850”.

Boomgaard adds that this led to the establishment of a colonial forest service and the creation of protected forests. This pattern, which has included the confiscation of lands and the exclusion of Indigenous peoples in the name of conservation, has been repeated in many other former colonies.

The figure below show how cumulative emissions within the borders of the Netherlands (left), some 12.6GtCO2 between 1850-2023, are nearly tripled when taking into account emissions that took place under Dutch colonial rule – particularly in Indonesia (right).

Cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. Left: Emissions within the Netherlands. Right: Emissions in other countries under Dutch colonial rule. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Writing at his blog, Indonesian soil scientist Prof Budiman Minasny describes the impact of Dutch colonial rule on the island of Sumatra:

“When we talk about deforestation, Indonesia always came up as the main culprit. Less talked about is [the] Dutch root of deforestation in Indonesia…The Dutch discovered the tobacco industry in Deli in the 1860s and created an industrial-scale plantation system. The local sultans collaborated and gave concessions of 1,000–2,000 hectares of land to each company in a 75-year lease. The Dutch colonial planters assumed that tobacco could only grow well in the soil that had just been cleared from the virgin jungle. Thus, the industry drove large-scale virgin forests clearing to produce tobacco leaves exported to Europe and America.”

The ongoing legacy of colonial rule is debated, but many of its vestiges remain, whether in the structure of state administrative functions or in the presence of commercial interests owned by multinationals based in former colonial powers.

As a 2015 paper explains, these colonial legacies continue to this day:

“Though colonialism was dismantled in the first half of the twentieth century, its policies on forest nationalisation remain unchanged across many independent states in the tropics including Nigeria.”

Concluding their chapter, Beinart and Hughes write of the British imperial legacy on India:

“British imperial control of India had a major impact on its extraordinarily varied range of trees and forest products. It also restricted access to forests by poor people…That later exclusion of humans from wildlife parks was also partly rooted in the forest laws of the colonial people, which treated local people as wasteful and destructive…But pressures on the forest did not end with independence. The current rate of deforestation is said to be well over one million ha every year.”

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How population size affects responsibility for warming

Overall cumulative emissions are what matters for the atmosphere, given they relate directly to the level of warming being experienced today.

Still, from the perspectives of fairness, equity and climate justice – since national borders are arbitrary political constructs – it is also appropriate to consider responsibility at the individual level.

This involves weighting national cumulative emissions totals by their respective national populations, in order to calculate per-capita cumulative emissions.

As in Carbon Brief’s previous article, this analysis uses two alternative approaches to account for relative population sizes. Colonial responsibility alters both sets of figures dramatically.

The first approach takes a country’s cumulative emissions to date and divides it by the population in 2023. The results are in the figure below, showing the top 10 emitters and five selected others.

Per-capita emissions within each country’s borders are once again shown in blue, with per-capita emissions occurring in former territories under colonial rule shown in red. Per-capita emissions reallocated to a colonial power are shown in light blue.

Notably, former colonial powers the Netherlands (2,014tCO2 per person) and the UK (1,922tCO2) are the world’s top emitters on this per-capita cumulative basis. They are followed by Russia (1,655tCO2), the US (1,560tCO2) and Canada (1,524tCO2).

The figure shows that colonial responsibility for emissions pushes the US and Canada down the rankings, from first and second, into fourth and third, respectively.

Top 10 countries with a population of at least 1 million and five selected others, in terms of their cumulative CO2 emissions 1850-2023 per head of current population, tonnes, from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Other former imperial powers, including Belgium (1,487tCO2) and Austria (987tCO2) are also in the top 10, as are former colonies Australia (1,088tCO2, down 10% due to colonial emissions being reallocated) and Trinidad and Tobago (948tCO2, down 16%).

The figure also shows five other selected countries: Portugal (945tCO2) and France (857tCO2), with significant colonial footprints; as well as major emitters China (217tCO2) and India (52tCO2), which are far behind other nations on a per-capita basis.

Not shown on the chart is the average for the continent of Africa (92tCO2), which, like India’s, is many times lower than the global average of 318tCO2.

The second approach to weighting historical emissions by population takes a country’s per-capita emissions in each year and adds them up over time. This gives equal weight to the per-capita emissions of the populations of the past and the present day.

The results are shown in the figure below, again listing the top 10 emitters and five selected others.

Notably, the Netherlands is the top emitter on both per-capita metrics. Similarly, the UK, US and Canada all remain in the top five on this second per-capita basis.

Top ten countries with a population of at least 1 million and five selected others, in terms of their cumulative per capita CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, tonnes per head per year. Colonial emissions in each year are weighted by the population of the colonial power. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Other notable entries in the figure above include New Zealand and Australia, which ranked first and third, respectively, in Carbon Brief’s previous analysis.

Once their significant early per-capita emissions, due to deforestation under colonial rule, are taken into account, both nations drop down the rankings on this second per-capita basis.

The chart includes five other selected countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, which illustrate similar dynamics to New Zealand and Australia. Finally, the chart once again includes China and India, showing their cumulative per-capita emissions are far behind those of most others.

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How emissions imports and exports affect responsibility for warming

The search for overseas natural resources, to fuel the rise of industrialisation and globalisation, was one driver of colonial conquest.

In the post-colonial era, international trade continues to drive imports and exports of CO2, embedded in carbon-intensive goods and services.

Whereas standard emissions accounting is based on where CO2 is emitted, consumption-based emissions accounting gives full responsibility to those that use the products and services rendered with fossil energy. This tends to reduce the total for major exporters, such as China.

However, there are challenges to calculating emissions on this basis, as it requires detailed trade tables. The consumption emissions data used for this analysis only begins in 1990 and only includes CO2 from fossil fuels and cement, meaning it excludes pre-1990 trade and LULUCF.

With these limitations in mind, the figure below shows how national responsibility for historical emissions is shifted further, when accounting for CO2 traded in goods and services.

Cumulative emissions in the period 1850-2023, including those that took place overseas under colonial rule, are shown in dark blue. The red chunks show additional CO2 associated with imported goods and services since 1990, while light blue shows CO2 embedded in exports.

Notably, former colonial powers, the UK and France have also been net CO2 importers since 1990, as the chart shows – although the impact on their overall totals is small.

When including these CO2 imports and exports, the UK’s share of historical emissions rises from 5.1% to 5.3%, while France goes from 2.2% to 2.3%.

On the flip side, China’s share of historical emissions and responsibility for current warming falls from 12.1% to 11.1%, when accounting for the trade in embedded CO2 since 1990. India’s share of the global total also falls, albeit fractionally, from 2.9% to 2.8%.

The top 20 countries for cumulative CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, cement, land use, land use change and forestry, 1850-2023, billion tonnes. CO2 emissions that occurred within each country’s national borders and overseas during periods of imperial rule are shown in black, while those embedded in imported goods and services since 1990 are coloured red. Emissions embedded in exported goods and services are shaded light grey. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from Jones et al (2023), Lamboll et al (2023), the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, the International Energy Agency and Carbon Monitor. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Exported goods accounted for as much as a quarter of China’s annual emissions in the mid-2000s. More recently, however, their share is down to around 10% of China’s yearly CO2 output.

Including carbon-intensive trade prior to 1990 would shift the picture shown in the figure above. 

The UK, as the “workshop of the world” in the 19th century, exported large volumes of energy- and carbon-intensive goods – often manufactured using resources gathered from its empire.

Other industrialising nations, such as the US and Germany, were also major exporters of manufactured goods, playing, as one 2017 paper puts it, a similar role to that of China today.

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Table: Historical emissions and colonial responsibility

This article highlights the many alternative lenses through which historical responsibility can be viewed, with each showing a slightly different viewpoint on the world.

In order to foster discussion and debate over the figures – and in the spirit of transparency – the table below shows a range of metrics for all countries in 2023.

The table, which is sortable and searchable, lists countries according to their population, historical emissions within their own borders, emissions after accounting for colonial responsibility and the impact of CO2 embedded in trade since 1990 combined with colonial emissions.

Finally, the table shows the two alternative per-capita metrics. The first shows cumulative colonial emissions for each country, weighted by its population in 2023. The second shows per-capita colonial emissions in each year, cumulatively added up through to the present day.

(Note that as for the figures above, this table excludes countries with a population of less than 1 million people.)

This data is free to use under the terms of Carbon Brief’s CC licence. The licence applies to non-commercial use and requires a credit to “Carbon Brief” and a link to this article.

A complete dataset covering all countries and all years, including the split between fossil fuel and LULUCF emissions, is available via GitHub, under the same licence conditions.

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Methodology: Historical emissions and colonial responsibility

This analysis is based on historical CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use, cement production, land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), during the period 1850-2023.

The approach taken for this article mirrors the methodology for Carbon Brief’s 2021 analysis of historical responsibility for climate change.

That earlier article explains how it is possible to make reliable estimates of historical emissions, even though they were not monitored or recorded at the time.

In broad terms, historical fossil fuel CO2 estimates rely on records of fossil fuel production and sale, with each unit of coal, oil and gas that is burned, releasing a predictable amount of CO2.

Estimates for LULUCF are based on records of changing patterns of land use, combined with models that translate these changes into related CO2 impacts.

The historical CO2 emissions figures used in this article are taken from research published in the journal Scientific Data in March 2023, covering the years 1850-2021.

This was authored by Dr Matthew Jones, research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, with colleagues in Norway, Austria, Germany and the US.

In turn, this draws on data for fossil fuels and cement from the Global Carbon Budget (GCB), which adapts data from the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center (CDIAC) prior to 1990.

The Jones et al paper uses estimated historical LULUCF emissions taken from three separate “bookkeeping models” that contribute to the GCB.

Emissions from fossil fuels and cement are estimated for the years 2022 and 2023 based on the percentage changes reported by Carbon Monitor, using country-specific figures where available.

Emissions from LULUCF for 2022 and 2023 are assumed to remain at 2021 levels.

Historical emissions estimates are combined with data on foreign rule, taken from a 2010 paper published in the American Sociological Review by Prof Andreas Wimmer and Yuval Feinstein, both then at the department of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Their paper tracks the rise of the independent nation state from 1816-2001. For each country and year, it lists whether a nation was independent and, if not, the foreign ruler.

Gaps in the Wimmer and Feinstein database were filled where necessary, using publicly available information. For example, the database combines some smaller colonial powers under a catch-all category of “other empires” and this was disaggregated where possible.

Notably, the database does not reflect changes in rule due to military occupation and Carbon Brief’s analysis did not attempt to update this.

Similarly, a number of countries are not included in the Wimmer and Feinstein database.

For 10 missing countries with cumulative emissions of 0.5GtCO2 (0.02% of the global total) or more, Carbon Brief added publicly available information on periods of colonial rule, for use in the overall analysis. Missing countries with cumulative emissions below 0.5GtCO2 were not added into the database, except for two countries of the former Yugoslavia that were not originally included.

The code used for this analysis – and the resulting emissions figures – is available on GitHub.

This data and code is free to use under the terms of Carbon Brief’s CC licence. The licence applies to non-commercial use and requires a credit to “Carbon Brief” and a link to this article.

A complete dataset covering all countries and all years, including the split between fossil fuel and LULUCF emissions, is available via the GitHub link, under the same licence conditions.

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Methodology: Why this analysis starts in 1850

The analysis for this article covers the period 1850-2023. There are a number of reasons for choosing this time period.

First and foremost, the data prior to 1850 is incomplete, posing a practical barrier to extending the analysis further back in time. While figures are available from 1750 onwards for national CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and LULUCF, the fossil fuel figures in particular are relatively sparse.

More importantly, the Wimmer and Feinstein database on foreign rule only begins in 1816. Extending this data backwards would require manual checking for each country, as well as making judgements on the often-contested and cloudy question of when colonial rule began.

As for CO2 emitted in the 1850s, pre-1850 emissions were predominantly from LULUCF.

This is because, as noted in Carbon Brief’s 2021 analysis, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement were negligible in the period before 1850. Fossil CO2 emissions during 1750-1850 amounted to less than 4GtCO2, just over 0.1% of the cumulative total emitted subsequently.

The picture is a little different for LULUCF. Figures from OSCAR, one of the three bookkeeping models used for post-1850 LULUCF estimates, extend back as far as 1701.

These figures show that some 93GtCO2 was released globally, during 1750-1850, equivalent to nearly 4% of the cumulative total from all sources during 1850-2023.

Nearly a quarter of this total originates in China and would not be reassigned on the basis of colonial rule. Another fifth is from the US and an eighth from Russia, but only just over 10% of the US figure occurred under British rule before 1776.

More notably, in the context of assigning colonial responsibility for historical emissions, are 4GtCO2 from LULUCF in India and the same again in Indonesia. Both countries were already under significant colonial influence, even if not outright direct rule.

Nevertheless, there is another reason to begin this analysis only in 1850. Specifically, 1850 is usually taken as the reference year for historical simulations and marks the starting point for temperature changes, which are generally measured against an 1850-1900 baseline.

The IPCC’s sixth assessment report calculates the “remaining carbon budget” for staying below 1.5C – or any other given temperature – starting from 1850.

This is because there is no good temperature baseline before then, says Prof Pierre Friedlingstein, chair in mathematical modelling of climate systems at the University of Exeter.

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Revealed: Colonial rule nearly doubles UK’s historical contribution to climate change




UNEP: Humanity is still ‘breaking all the wrong records’ in fast-warming world




World’s electricity supply close to ‘peak emissions’ due to growth of wind and solar




Analysis: Shell admits 1.5C climate goal means immediate end to fossil fuel growth




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Categories: I. Climate Science

2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47

Skeptical Science - Sat, 11/25/2023 - 09:27
A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science  Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Nov 19, 2023 thru Sat, Nov 25, 2023.  Story of the Week World stands on frontline of disaster at Cop28, says UN climate chief 

Exclusive: Simon Stiell says leaders must ‘stop dawdling’ and act before crucial summit in Dubai

World leaders must “stop dawdling and start doing” on carbon emission cuts, as rapidly rising temperatures this year have put everyone on the frontline of disaster, the UN’s top climate official has warned.

No country could think itself immune from catastrophe, said Simon Stiell, who will oversee the crucial Cop28 climate summit that begins next week. Scores of world leaders will arrive in Dubai for tense talks on how to tackle the crisis.

“We’re used to talking about protecting people on the far-flung frontlines. We’re now at the point where we’re all on the frontline,” said Stiell, speaking exclusively to the Guardian before the summit. “Yet most governments are still strolling when they need to be sprinting.”

Global temperatures have broken new records in recent months, making this year the hottest on record, and perilously close to the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels that countries have agreed to hold to. Temperatures are now heading for a “hellish” 3C increase, unless urgent and drastic action is taken, but greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.

Stiell said it was still possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to stay within the crucial limit, but that further delay would be dangerous.

“Every year of the baby steps we’ve been taking up to this point means that we need to be taking … bigger leaps with each following year if we are to stay in this race,” he said. “The science is absolutely clear.”

The fortnight-long Cop28 talks will start this Thursday in Dubai, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, a major oil and gas-producing country. Scores of world leaders, senior ministers and officials from 198 countries will be in attendance, along with an estimated 70,000 delegates, making it the biggest annual conference of the parties (Cop) yet held under the 1992 UN framework convention on climate change.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the The Guardian website.

World stands on frontline of disaster at Cop28, says UN climate chief Exclusive: Simon Stiell says leaders must ‘stop dawdling’ and act before crucial summit in Dubai by Fiona Harvey, Environment, The Guardian, Nov 24, 2023

Articles posted on Facebook

Sunday, Nov 19, 2023

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Disinformation campaigns are undermining democracy. Here’s how we can fight back

Skeptical Science - Fri, 11/24/2023 - 07:16

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Misinformation is debated everywhere and has justifiably sparked concerns. It can polarise the public, reduce health-protective behaviours such as mask wearing and vaccination, and erode trust in science. Much of misinformation is spread not by accident but as part of organised political campaigns, in which case we refer to it as disinformation.

But there is a more fundamental, subversive damage arising from misinformation and disinformation that is discussed less often.

It undermines democracy itself. In a recent paper published in Current Opinion in Psychology, we highlight two important aspects of democracy that disinformation works to erode.

The integrity of elections

The first of the two aspects is confidence in how power is distributed – the integrity of elections in particular.

In the United States, recent polls have shown nearly 70% of Republicans question the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. This is a direct result of disinformation from Donald Trump, the loser of that election.

Democracy depends on the people knowing that power will be transferred peacefully if an incumbent loses an election. The “big lie” that the 2020 US election was stolen undermines that confidence.

Depending on reliable information

The second important aspect of democracy is this – it depends on reliable information about the evidence for various policy options.

One reason we trust democracy as a system of governance is the idea that it can deliver “better” decisions and outcomes than autocracy, because the “wisdom of crowds” outperforms any one individual. But the benefits of this wisdom vanish if people are pervasively disinformed.

Disinformation about climate change is a well-documented example. The fossil fuel industry understood the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels at least as early as the 1960s. Yet they spent decades funding organisations that denied the reality of climate change. This disinformation campaign has delayed climate mitigation by several decades – a case of public policy being thwarted by false information.

We’ve seen a similar misinformation trajectory in the COVID-19 pandemic, although it happened in just a few years rather than decades. Misinformation about COVID varied from claims that 5G towers rather than a virus caused the disease, to casting doubt on the effectiveness of lockdowns or the safety of vaccines.

The viral surge of misinformation led to the World Health Organisation introducing a new term – infodemic – to describe the abundance of low-quality information and conspiracy theories.

A common denominator of misinformation

Strikingly, some of the same political operatives involved in denying climate change have also used their rhetorical playbook to promote COVID disinformation. What do these two issues have in common?

One common denominator is suspicion of government solutions to societal problems. Whether it’s setting a price on carbon to mitigate climate change, or social distancing to slow the spread of COVID, contrarians fear the policies they consider to be an attack on personal liberties.

An ecosystem of conservative and free-market think tanks exists to deny any science that, if acted on, has the potential to infringe on “liberty” through regulations.

There is another common attribute that ties together all organised disinformation campaigns – whether about elections, climate change or vaccines. It’s the use of personal attacks to compromise people’s integrity and credibility.

Election workers in the US were falsely accused of committing fraud by those who fraudulently claimed the election had been “stolen” from Trump.

Climate scientists have been subject to harassment campaigns, ranging from hate mail to vexatious complaints and freedom-of-information requests. Public health officials such as Anthony Fauci have been prominent targets of far-right attacks.

The new frontier in attacks on scientists

It is perhaps unsurprising there is now a new frontier in the attacks on scientists and others who seek to uphold the evidence-based integrity of democracy. It involves attacks and allegations of bias against misinformation researchers.

Such attacks are largely driven by Republican politicians, in particular those who have endorsed Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election.

The misinformers are seeking to neutralise research focused on their own conduct by borrowing from the climate denial and anti-vaccination playbook. Their campaign has had a chilling effect on research into misinformation.

How do we move on from here?

Psychological research has contributed to legislative efforts by the European Union, such as the Digital Services Act or Code of Practice, which seek to make democracies more resilient against misinformation and disinformation.

Research has also investigated how to boost the public’s resistance to misinformation. One such method is inoculation, which rests on the idea people can be protected against being misled if they learn about the rhetorical techniques used to mislead them.

In a recent inoculation campaign involving brief educational videos shown to 38 million citizens in Eastern Europe, people’s ability to recognise misleading rhetoric about Ukrainian refugees was frequently improved.

It remains to be seen whether these initiatives and research findings will be put to use in places like the US, where one side of politics appears more threatened by research into misinformation than by the risks to democracy arising from misinformation itself.

We’d like to acknowledge our colleagues Ullrich Ecker, Naomi Oreskes, Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden who coauthored the journal article on which this article is based.

Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol and John Cook, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne

Categories: I. Climate Science

DeBriefed 24 November 2023: Fossil fuels under fire on eve of COP28; Record heat from Brazil to South Africa; IEA’s ‘moment of truth’ for oil and gas

The Carbon Brief - Fri, 11/24/2023 - 06:30

Welcome to Carbon Brief’s DeBriefed. 
An essential guide to the week’s key developments relating to climate change.

This is an online version of Carbon Brief’s weekly DeBriefed email newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

This week Fossil fuels out

COP28 CUTBACKS: France and the US will back a ban on private financing for new coal power at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, which kicks off next week, Reuters reported. The EU parliament passed a resolution calling for countries to agree to “a tangible phase-out of fossil fuels as soon as possible…including by halting all new investments in fossil fuel extraction”, said another Reuters story. (Note that the parliament is distinct from the EU itself, which has only committed to pushing for a phaseout of “unabated” fossil fuels at COP28.) 

COAL RUSH: Meanwhile, India’s power ministry has said that the country plans to expand its coal generation capacity by adding “at least 80 gigawatts (GW) by 2031-32”, Indian newspaper Mint reported. “New Delhi won’t bow down to any pressure to take coal phasedown targets” at COP28, Indian newspaper Economic Times reported.

Extreme heat

RED ALERT: Brazil reached its hottest temperature on record on 19 November, when the southeastern town of Araçuaí hit 44.8C, according to the Brazilian Report. Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology put large parts of the country under a red alert, the Guardian said. The Independent cited a rapid attribution analysis, which found that “temperatures in Rio were up to 4C warmer last week than they were in the period from 1979-2000”. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a fan died during a Taylor Swift concert in Brazil due to the heat.

AFRICAN HEAT: The record-breaking heatwave engulfing Madagascar in October would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused warming, according to a new rapid attribution study, the Guardian reported. The report highlighted the lack of media coverage of the heatwave, the newspaper added. Elsewhere, News24 reported that South Africa recorded an all-time national temperature record of 43C this week.

Around the world
  • SCEPTICS TRIUMPH: Far-right climate sceptics have won elections in Argentina and the Netherlands. Argentina’s new president Javier Milei has called climate change a “socialist lie”, according to E&E News. The Party for Freedom, which has won the most seats in the Dutch parliament, says in its manifesto that “we must stop being afraid” of climate change, the Agence France-Presse reported.
  • JUST TRANSITION: Indonesia has released its final plan to mobilise $20bn of investment from rich countries to help it build renewables and replace its fleet of coal power plants, according to Nikkei Asia.
  • PEAKING EARLY: A survey of experts found that more than 70% think that China is on track to hit its target of peaking its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before 2030, Chinese-language outlet Jiemian reported.
  • UK SPENDING: Climate measures were “thin on the ground” in the UK’s autumn statement, Carbon Brief reported.
  • ‘SUPERCHARGE’ RENEWABLES: The Australian government plans to “supercharge” its renewables ambitions by underwriting 32GW of low-carbon power projects by 2027, said the Australian Financial Review.
  • GAS IN GAZA: As Israel’s conflict with Hamas continues, Haaretz reported that the US wants Israel to develop offshore gas fields as a new “revenue stream” to help “revitalise” the Palestinian economy.

The number of fossil-fuel representatives that have attended UN climate talks over the past 20 years, according to the Washington Post.

Latest climate research
  • Labourers on rice and maize fields are the most exposed agricultural workers to dangerous humid heat, new research in Environmental Research Communications found.
  • The occurrence of “ocean-onto-land” droughts – which originate over the oceans and migrate onto land – has increased in the past 60 years, according to a study in Nature Climate and Atmospheric Science.
  • A new paper in Science Advances presented the first “fine-scale” observations of methane and CO2 emissions from NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation imaging spectrometer. The authors attributed the emissions to their sources, including the oil and gas, waste and energy sectors.

(For more, see Carbon Brief’s in-depth daily summaries of the top climate news stories on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.)


There is a relatively small amount of allowable carbon emissions – known as the “carbon budget” – remaining if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C, the ambition of the Paris Agreement. As Carbon Brief’s coverage of the UN Environment Programme emissions gap report shows, as of the start of 2023, the remaining carbon budget for having a 50% chance of keeping temperatures at 1.5C was only around 250bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2), which is roughly six years of current emissions.

Spotlight IEA’s ‘moment of truth’ for oil-and-gas companies

Carbon Brief takes a dive into the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest report on the future of oil and gas. It has been launched to coincide with the start of COP28, which IEA chief Dr Fatih Birol described as a “moment of truth” for the sector.

Fossil fuels are set to take centre stage at COP28 in Dubai, a city built on decades of oil extraction. Dozens of nations say they want the event to yield a global commitment to reducing fossil-fuel use. 

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, who is also chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), has said cutting fossil-fuel supply is “inevitable and essential”. Doing so would require oil companies such as his to radically change their business models.

In its new report, the IEA lays out the role such companies could play in this transition. It also punctures many of the narratives that the oil industry has formed in recent years concerning its climate action – or lack of it.

‘Central to the solution’

Al Jaber has stressed that oil companies are “central to the solution” for climate change. The IEA agrees that the net-zero transition will be “more costly and difficult” without oil companies on board, but says a “step change” is required.

Oil majors such as Shell and BP have made much of their low-carbon investments. Yet, in 2022, the IEA says the industry channelled just 2.7% of its capital spending into clean energy. (It notes that Adnoc says it invests in clean energy, but has not revealed how much.)

Many spend nothing at all. More than 80% of oil and gas is produced by companies with no plans to invest in clean alternatives. State-owned firms such as Adnoc, which account for more than half of global production, have been particularly hesitant.

The IEA says oil industry spending on low-carbon alternatives could be brought in line with the agency’s “net-zero by 2050” scenario, if it increases to around 50% of capital expenditure by 2030. However, this would require shareholders and governments to accept lower returns, something there “does not appear to be a large appetite [for]”.

No ‘status quo’

Many oil-and-gas companies plan to cut emissions from their operations and drilling sites – rather than those from burning their products. Adnoc, for example, intends to be a “net-zero” company by 2045.

Yet these efforts are lacking in sufficient ambition, according to the IEA. It says less than 2% of oil-and-gas production is covered by an emissions target that aligns with the agency’s net-zero scenario. 

There are also question marks over how oil companies are cutting their emissions. 

The report stresses that relying on the still-emergent technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS), as many oil companies appear to be doing, cannot be “a way to retain the status quo”. It says the $3.5tn annual cost of scaling up CCS enough to maintain production while hitting climate targets is equivalent to the industry’s entire revenue.

The IEA also cautions against reliance on carbon offsets, which three-quarters of oil companies with emissions targets have stated they will use. 

‘Last ones standing’

Oil companies often emphasise the world’s “need” for fossil fuels and, indeed, the IEA sees a small amount of oil and gas extraction necessary even as companies “evolve their portfolios”.

Still, the IEA reiterates that its net-zero pathway means no new oil-and-gas fields. In fact, it says new developments since it first issued this warning in 2021 mean some would now have to be closed early. 

Various oil companies clearly intend to be the “last ones standing” – extracting oil long into the future. To them, the IEA issues a warning: “Many producers say they will be the ones to keep producing throughout transitions and beyond. They cannot all be right.”

Watch, read, listen

THE CLIMATE 1%: The Guardian has published a new series titled “the great carbon divide”, examining “who is most responsible for the emissions that are driving the escalating climate crisis, and what to do about carbon inequality”.

OFFSETS OUTED: A new Channel 4 documentary investigated the shadowy world of carbon-offsetting, travelling to Cambodia to try to speak to reticent industry representatives and investors, as well as local journalists who pointed to rights abuses in projects.

REFORMING FINANCE: As calls to transform the global financial system grow stronger at COP28, Boston University and the Centre and Science Environment, a research advocacy organisation in India, hosted a webinar to unpack what this could look like.

Coming up Pick of the jobs
  • World Resources Institute (Europe), food, land and water policy lead | Salary: €80,000-101,000 if based in the Netherlands and £65,000-82,000 if based in the UK. Location: The Hague, Netherlands, or London
  • The Sunrise Project, co-director for the global finance programme | Salary: $143,275-171,248 if based in the US; £110,000-132,000 if based in the UK and €100,340-107,181 if based in the Netherlands. Location: North America, Europe or Asia
  • The Fletcher School at Tufts University, assistant professor in climate policy, Salary: Unknown. Location: Massachusetts, US 

DeBriefed is edited by Daisy Dunne. Please send any tips or feedback to

The post DeBriefed 24 November 2023: Fossil fuels under fire on eve of COP28; Record heat from Brazil to South Africa; IEA’s ‘moment of truth’ for oil and gas appeared first on Carbon Brief.

Categories: I. Climate Science

COP-out: Why the petrostate-hosted climate talkfest will fail on key emissions-reduction task

Climate Code Red - Thu, 11/23/2023 - 14:02

by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

New York Times story on extreme heat in COP host nation

After a succession of record-breaking months of unprecedented heat including 1.8°C for September, global warming in 2023 as a whole will likely tip 1.5°C, with 2024 even hotter as the effect of the building El Nino is felt more fully. Already hundreds of thousands have died and millions displaced, primarily in countries least responsible for climate change. The annual economic cost globally is in the hundreds of billions.

So what will the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), starting 30 November in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say about this? And in particular what will Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of the UAE state oil company ADNOC, who will preside over the international negotiations, say?

Probably nothing; instead there will be much blather about reaffirming the commitments at the Paris COP in 2015 “to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. And lots of “net zero” posturing based on sham Integrated Assessment Models, and farcical assumptions about bodgy carbon offsets, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with CCS, machines to draw carbon from the atmosphere, and the like. All given unwarranted credibility by the Sultan’s advisers, Mckinsey & Co.

The private sector will doubtless be lauded for its efforts, despite the fact that the world’s largest companies’ net zero pledges are false promises, and Wall Street’s climate efforts are built to fail.

Meanwhile in the real world, provisional data from CopernicusECMWF shows 17 November 2023 as the first day above 2°C (relative to the 1850-1900 baseline) since modern humans evolved.

What definitely won’t be said is that the petrostates — including the USA, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Canada, Nigeria, and those across North Africa and the Gulf — are hell-bent on increasing oil and gas production, despite the disastrous consequences. The COP process is one of consensus decision-making, so each petrostate has the power of veto over each COP decisions, ensuring that the culture of failure will endure. And Australia, despite lofty rhetoric about climate leadership, is rushing to join the club.

In the aftermath of the 2022 COP27 meeting in Egypt being captured by the fossil fuel industry, there have been increasing calls for fundamental reform to the COP process. As oil prices have increased in light of the Ukraine conflict, major oil companies such as Shell, Exxon and BP have all reneged on their meagre climate commitments and intend to increase production, prompting condemnation for breach of trust. Yet fossil-fuel-producing nations and companies continue to swear undying commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

With emissions again at record levels, and projections that emissions by 2050 may be two-thirds or more of what they are today on current actions, the world will fly past 2°C faster than expected. In a recent communication, the eminent former NASA climate science chief James Hansen warned that: “The warming by 2030 will be about 1.71°C. Global warming of 2°C will be reached by the late 2030s, i.e., within about 15 years”. Some people say this is an outlier view, but Hansen has been conspicuously right most of the time over a distinguished career. In any case, the existential nature of the climate threat means that precautionary action should be taken now to avoid plausible worst-case scenarios.

When we look back in five, ten, fifteen years, is it likely that the average global warming trend during 2023 and 2024 will be seen to have been close to 1.5°C, with the rate of warming accelerating from now on? In our estimation, yes.

There are several reasons for this. First, the projections of continuing high emissions:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high in 2022 and are projected to rise in 2023;
  • The UNEP “gap” report finds on current plans that emissions will be as high in 2050 as today, with petrostates planning huge expansion of fossil fuels; and the US (now the world’s largest fossil fuel producer) behind more than a third of global oil and gas expansion plans;
  • The US Energy Information Administration finds that for USA, energy emissions in 2050 will be 80% of today’s levels;
  • The International Energy Agency says that stated policies will result globally in oil and gas production in 2050 as high as 2020 levels, albeit coal is halved, but emissions show little change;
  • The OECD concludes that a world economy four times larger than today is projected to need 80% more energy in 2050, and without new policy action the global energy mix in 2050 will not differ significantly from today, with the share of fossil energy at about 85%, renewables including biofuels just over 10%, and the balance nuclear;
  • DNV sees stationary energy-related emissions cut 46% by midcentury, but the world is “less likely than ever” to meet Paris Agreement goals;
  • A study of three dozen national plans found 90% of targets were not credible and unlikely to be achieved.

Chart 1: Phasing down or phasing up? Emissions Gap Report 2023 projections for coal, oil and gas
There are also two compelling charts, which add weight to the likelihood of an acceleration in the warming rate. The first is the Earth’s Energy Imbalance — an indicator of the level of future warming — which is rising rapidly in part due to decreasing aerosols, suggesting that the rate of warming will increase:

Chart 2: Earth’s Energy Imbalance, based on NASA CERES EBAT-TOA All-sky Ed4.2 net flux data. (Leon Simons)

The second is the fact that heat is being taken down into the ocean at an accelerating rate, as explained in the paper “Recent acceleration in global ocean heat accumulation by mode and intermediate waters”. Because 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse effect warms the oceans, this is a good indication of a fastening pace in the future:

Chart 3: Heat is being taken down into the ocean at an accelerating rate. (Li et al, NCC, 14:6888).

Many of the petrostates are highly dependent on fossil fuel revenue to fund their strategic ambitions, so there is every reason to believe they will pump all the oil and gas they can. So it is unsurprising that a new UN report says the world is heading towards 3°C and perhaps a good deal more, bringing down the curtains on contemporary civilisation.

Eight years after Paris, the evidence is overwhelming that “net zero 2050” was always a bad target, that there is no carbon budget left, and that major system tipping points have already been passed, or are now within range in the short-term.

COP28 will not produce a statement that says a word about any of this. If there is to be a modicum of truth-telling, front and centre of the COP outcome would be recognition that fossil fuel expansion is a death trap, that zero emissions fast is absolutely necessary, and that unprecedented interventions to mitigate 1.5°C climate overshoot are now required. That is the focus of another new report The Overshoot: Crossing the 1.5C threshold and finding our way back, from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. The report again emphasises the need for a three-pronged strategy to reduce, remove and repair.

In the Gulf, petrostates are now installing floodlights on beaches and encouraging night-time use because it is simply becoming too hot to use during the day. “In a city where weather that would constitute a deadly heat wave in Europe is just a typical summer day, official ‘night beaches’ have become a popular way to cool down”, reports the New York Times. Perhaps the COP delegates could adjourn for a midnight skinny dip, and experience first-hand what the future holds.

Categories: I. Climate Science

Skeptical Science New Research for Week #47 2023

Skeptical Science - Thu, 11/23/2023 - 13:14
Open access notables

How warped are we by fossil fuel dependency? Despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 35-40 million cubic meters per day of Russian natural gas are piped across Ukraine for European consumption every single day, right now. In order to secure European cooperation against Russian aggression, Ukraine must help to finance its own destruction at the hands of one of the world's largest petro-kleptocracies, assisting its attacker in marketing what has become a transcendently toxic geopolitical hazard. Publishing in Energy Policy, Ah-Voun, Chyong & Li describe how this tortuously ironic knot might be unraveled, in  Europe's energy security: From Russian dependence to renewable reliance. People keen on self-respect may appreciate the authors' contribution to showing how to crawl from a moral and ethical cesspit.

Those of us who have investigated the costs of upgrading to an EV or perhaps switching to a heat pump for residential use already know: it's often hard or impossible to show a reasonable "profit" from making such investments. Equally, economists steer us to discount the future because we can't take the future to the bank right now. It's an argument that can be vastly extended when we myopically ignore factors other than cash gripped in our greedy fingers. If Ray Galvin's article The economic losses of energy-efficiency renovation of Germany's older dwellings: The size of the problem and the financial challenge it presents holds water, "we're gonna need a bigger reason" (with apologies to Chief Brody)  than yet more money to justify modernizing aging housing stock. How about a pleasant planet? Reason enough?

Also publishing in Energy Policy and serving as a restorative antidote to Galvin's grim findings are Kantorowicz et al., with How to finance green investments? The role of public debt. We've a long history of solving hard problems with public finance including debt and revenue. Here the authors explore public preferences in that regard, and— taking that into account--how best to communicate options to those utlimately holding the reins: electorates. 

Details of how Florida is sinking into a tight spot, via two journals. The role of compound climate and weather extreme events in creating socio-economic impacts in south Florida, in Weather and Climate Extremes, and Living with water: Evolving adaptation preferences under increasing sea-level rise in Miami-Dade County, FL, USA via Climate Risk Managment. The latter article offers suggestions for coping, while the former indicates an avid audience for such advice. 

Putting later and now together as a bigger picture delivered through two journals: Future Global Population Exposure to Record-Breaking Climate Extremes in Earth's Future and Leaving Home: Cumulative Climate Shocks and Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa via Environmental and Resource Economics. Instead of "refugees" or "migrants," how about another term a bit less othering: "people trying to survive?" A few of us are creating a lot of real people facing real hardships not of their own making, with our helping hands only grudgingly extended if at all. We can do much better.  We  know how to ease this need, after all. Why not? 

We may complain about insurance premiums but silver linings to the pain of paying include safety belts, smoke detectors and many other good things universally adopted at least in part by nudges from underwriter self-interest. So far, the USDA Crop Insurance Program is failing to properly advise its clients, according to EWG's report Crop insurance pays farmers billions of dollars for weather-related losses closely linked to the climate crisis, from this week's government/NGO section:

Indemnities for the five most expensive weather-related causes of loss – drought, excess moisture and precipitation, hail, heat, and freeze – totaled over $118.75 billion between 2001 and 2022, representing 73 percent of total crop insurance payouts. The extreme weather events that triggered these payments are closely associated with the climate emergency. Yet the Crop Insurance Program does not encourage farmers to adapt to the extreme weather linked to the climate crisis. 

118 articles in 48 journals by 716 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

Arctic Warming and Eurasian Cooling: Weakening and Reemergence, Xu et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl105180

Observed and Projected Changes in North Atlantic Seasonal Temperature Reduction and Their Drivers, Grist et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jc019837

Separating Direct Heat Flux Forcing and Freshwater Feedback on AMOC Change Under Global Warming, Wen et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl105478

The Temperature Control of Cloud Adiabatic Fraction and Coverage, Lu et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl105831

Observations of climate change, effects

Acidification Of Northeastern USA Lakes From Rising Anthropogenic-Sourced Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Its Effects on Aluminum Speciation, Johannesson et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl104957

Anthropogenic Weakening of the Atmospheric Circulation During the Satellite Era, Shrestha & Soden, Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl104784

Frequent marine heatwaves hidden below the surface of the global ocean, Sun et al., Nature Geoscience Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41561-023-01325-w

Recent changes in the upper oceanic water masses over the Indian Ocean using Argo data, Shee et al., Scientific Reports Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-023-47658-9

Spatiotemporal Trends of Extreme Temperature Events Along the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Transportation Corridor From 1981 to 2019 Based on Estimated Near-Surface Air Temperature, Wang et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jd039040

Start&2023&4, Ivanov et al., Open Access pdf 10.3897/bdj.11.e100521.figure4

Instrumentation & observational methods of climate change, effects

Event attribution is ready to inform loss and damage negotiations, Noy et al., Nature Climate Change 10.1038/s41558-023-01865-4

Limitations of reanalyses for detecting tropical cyclone trends, Emanuel, Nature Climate Change 10.1038/s41558-023-01879-y

Reply to: Limitations of reanalyses for detecting tropical cyclone trends, Chand et al., Nature Climate Change 10.1038/s41558-023-01880-5

Modeling, simulation & projection of climate change, effects

Asymmetry of AMOC Hysteresis in a State-Of-The-Art Global Climate Model, van Westen & Dijkstra, Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl106088

Advancement of climate & climate effects modeling, simulation & projection

Can Sub-Daily Multivariate Bias Correction of Regional Climate Model Boundary Conditions Improve Simulation of the Diurnal Precipitation Cycle?, Kim et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl104442

Evaluation of Dynamically Downscaled CMIP6-CCAM Models Over Australia, Chapman et al., Earth's Future Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023ef003548

Generalized Aerosol/Chemistry Interface (GIANT): A Community Effort to Advance Collaborative Science across Weather and Climate Models, Hodzic et al., Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Open Access pdf 10.1175/bams-d-23-0013.1

Investigation of Added Value in Regional Climate Models for East Asian Storm Track Analysis, Byun et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jd039167

Summertime Near-Surface Temperature Biases Over the Central United States in Convection-Permitting Simulations, Qin et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jd038624

Cryosphere & climate change

CRYO, Duke et al., Ultramicroscopy Open Access 10.1016/j.ultramic.2013.10.006

Meta-analysis reveals responses of coccolithophores and diatoms to warming, Wang et al., Marine Environmental Research 10.1016/j.marenvres.2023.106275

Modes of Antarctic tidal grounding line migration revealed by Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) laser altimetry, Freer et al., The Cryosphere Open Access pdf 10.5194/tc-17-4079-2023

Southern Ocean warming and Antarctic ice shelf melting in conditions plausible by late 23rd century in a high-end scenario, Mathiot & Jourdain, Ocean Science Open Access pdf 10.5194/os-19-1595-2023

Wind-driven device for cooling permafrost, Qin et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43375-z

Sea level & climate change

The Emerging Golden Age of Satellite Altimetry to Prepare Humanity for Rising Seas, Hamlington et al., Earth's Future Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023ef003673

Paleoclimate & paleogeochemistry

Geodynamically corrected Pliocene shoreline elevations in Australia consistent with midrange projections of Antarctic ice loss, Richards et al., Science Advances Open Access pdf 10.1126/sciadv.adg3035

North Atlantic meltwater during Heinrich Stadial 1 drives wetter climate with more atmospheric rivers in western North America, Oster et al., Science Advances Open Access pdf 10.1126/sciadv.adj2225

Biology & climate change, related geochemistry

A 2 °C difference affecting the spatiotemporal distribution of small demersal fish assemblages in shallow tropical and subtropical waters of Western Taiwan, Chen et al., Scientific Reports Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-023-47300-8

A cloudy forecast for species distribution models: Predictive uncertainties abound for California birds after a century of climate and land-use change, Clare et al., Global Change Biology Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.17019

Contrasting range changes of Bergenia (Saxifragaceae) species under future climate change in the Himalaya and Hengduan Mountains Region, Qiu et al., Theoretical and Applied Climatology 10.1007/s00704-023-04746-0

Enhanced growth resistance but no decline in growth resilience under long-term extreme droughts, Wang et al., Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17038

Experimental mining plumes and ocean warming trigger stress in a deep pelagic jellyfish, Stenvers et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43023-6

Horizon scanning of potential threats to high-Arctic biodiversity, human health and the economy from marine invasive alien species: A Svalbard case study, Cottier?Cook et al., Global Change Biology Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.17009

How tree stand phenology determines understorey senescence - a case study from boreal forests, Durand et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology Open Access 10.1016/j.agrformet.2023.109807

Impacts of climate change on semi-natural alpine pastures productivity and floristic composition, Movedi et al., Regional Environmental Change Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10113-023-02158-4

Limiting resources for soil microbial growth in climate change simulation treatments in the Subarctic, Yuan et al., Ecology Open Access pdf 10.1002/ecy.4210

Nitrogen fixing shrubs advance the pace of tall-shrub expansion in low-Arctic tundra, Schore et al., Communications Earth & Environment Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-023-01098-5

Plant biodiversity responds more strongly to climate warming and anthropogenic activities than microbial biodiversity in the Qinghai–Tibetan alpine grasslands, Shangguan et al., Journal of Ecology 10.1111/1365-2745.14222

Projections of changes in the global distribution of shallow water ecosystems through 2100 due to climate change, Moki et al., PLOS Climate Open Access pdf 10.1371/journal.pclm.0000298

Sea ice concentration decline in an important Adélie penguin molt area, Schmidt et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2306840120

Shift in algal blooms from micro- to macroalgae around China with increasing eutrophication and climate change, Feng et al., Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17018

Shifts in population density centers of a hibernating mammal driven by conflicting effects of climate change and disease, Boyles et al., Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17035

Spatial asynchrony and cross-scale climate interactions in populations of a coldwater stream fish, Valentine et al., Global Change Biology Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.17029

Spatio-temporal shifts in British wild bees in response to changing climate, Wyver et al., Ecology and Evolution Open Access pdf 10.1002/ece3.10705

The limits of stress-tolerance for zooplankton resting stages in freshwater ponds, Santos & Ebert, Oecologia Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00442-023-05478-8

Tracking lake drainage events and drained lake basin vegetation dynamics across the Arctic, Chen et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43207-0

Within- and transgenerational stress legacy effects of ocean acidification on red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) growth and survival, Neylan et al., Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17048

GHG sources & sinks, flux, related geochemistry

Aquatic Carbon Export and Dynamics in Mountain Headwater Streams of the Western U.S., Clow et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jg007538

Attribution of individual methane and carbon dioxide emission sources using EMIT observations from space, Thorpe et al., Science Advances Open Access pdf 10.1126/sciadv.adh2391

Characterizing Performance of Freshwater Wetland Methane Models Across Time Scales at FLUXNET-CH4 Sites Using Wavelet Analyses, Zhang et al., Open Access pdf 10.1002/essoar.10512704.1

China's conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands offset much of the reclamation-induced blue carbon losses, Fan & Li, Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17039

Climate warming and elevated CO2 alter peatland soil carbon sources and stability, Ofiti et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43410-z

Climatic drivers of litterfall production and its components in two subtropical forests in South China: A 14-year observation, Liu et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 10.1016/j.agrformet.2023.109798

Emergent Climatic Controls on Soil Carbon Turnover and Its Variability in Warm Climates, Huang et al., Geophysical Research Letters Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023gl105291

Higher global gross primary productivity under future climate with more advanced representations of photosynthesis, Knauer et al., Science Advances Open Access pdf 10.1126/sciadv.adh9444

Investigating Terrestrial Carbon Uptake Over India Using Multimodel Simulations of Gross Primary Productivity and Satellite-Based Biophysical Product, Uchale et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jg007468

Mycorrhizal type regulates trade-offs between plant and soil carbon in forests, Yang et al., Nature Climate Change 10.1038/s41558-023-01864-5

Natural Vegetation Succession Under Climate Change and the Combined Effects on Net Primary Productivity, Zhang et al., Earth's Future Open Access 10.1029/2023ef003903

Precipitation consistently promotes, but temperature oppositely drives carbon fluxes in temperate and alpine grasslands in China, Liu et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 10.1016/j.agrformet.2023.109811

Quantifying the drivers of terrestrial drought and water stress impacts on carbon uptake in China, Yang et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 10.1016/j.agrformet.2023.109817

Reoxidation of Reduced Peat Organic Matter by Dissolved Oxygen: Combined Laboratory Column-Breakthrough Experiments and In-Field Push-Pull Tests, Obradovi? et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jg007640

Spatial and temporal variations of gross primary production simulated by land surface model BCC&AVIM2.0, Li et al., Advances in Climate Change Research Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2023.02.001

Temperature dependence of spring carbon uptake in northern high latitudes during the past four decades, Zhu et al., Global Change Biology Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.17043

CO2 capture, sequestration science & engineering

Identifying the Most (Cost-)Efficient Regions for CO2 Removal With Iron Fertilization in the Southern Ocean, Bach et al., Open Access pdf 10.22541/essoar.167979670.07996683/v1

On error, uncertainty, and assumptions in calculating carbon dioxide removal rates by enhanced rock weathering in Kantola et al., 2023, Reershemius & Suhrhoff, Global Change Biology Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.17025

Towards just, responsible, and socially viable carbon removal: lessons from offshore DACCS research for early-stage carbon removal projects, Nawaz & Satterfield, Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103633


Minimizing the impacts of the ammonia economy on the nitrogen cycle and climate, Bertagni et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Open Access 10.1073/pnas.2311728120

Prospective life cycle assessment of sodium-ion batteries made from abundant elements, Wickerts et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology Open Access pdf 10.1111/jiec.13452

Storage integrity during underground hydrogen storage in depleted gas reservoirs, Zeng et al., Earth Open Access 10.1016/j.earscirev.2023.104625

Geoengineering climate

Stratospheric Aerosol Injection Can Reduce Risks to Antarctic Ice Loss Depending on Injection Location and Amount, Goddard et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023jd039434


Anthropogenic amplification of biogenic secondary organic aerosol production, Zheng et al., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-23-8993-2023

Radiative forcing from aerosol–cloud interactions enhanced by large-scale circulation adjustments, Dagan et al., Nature Geoscience Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41561-023-01319-8

Climate change communications & cognition

Extreme heat experience influences public support for local climate adaptation policies in Germany, Zanocco & Sousa-Silva, Urban Climate 10.1016/j.uclim.2023.101759

Global warming vs. climate change frames: revisiting framing effects based on new experimental evidence collected in 30 European countries, Stefkovics & Zenovitz, Climatic Change Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-023-03633-x

Local articulations of climate action in Swedish forest contexts, Reimerson et al., Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103626

Making people aware of eco-innovations can decrease climate despair, Neale et al., Climatic Change 10.1007/s10584-023-03635-9

Media Representations and Farmer Perceptions: A Case Study of Reporting on Ocean Acidification and the Shellfish Farming Sector in British Columbia, Canada, Drope et al., Environmental Communication Open Access pdf 10.1080/17524032.2023.2280873

The role of iconic places, collective efficacy, and negative emotions in climate change communication, Waters et al., Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103635

Agronomy, animal husbundry, food production & climate change

Climate change mitigation through soil carbon sequestration in working lands: A reality check, Moinet et al., Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17010


Quantifying the impact of climate smart agricultural practices on soil carbon storage relative to conventional management, Schreiner-McGraw et al., Agricultural and Forest Meteorology Open Access 10.1016/j.agrformet.2023.109812

Risk to rely on soil carbon sequestration to offset global ruminant emissions, Wang et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43452-3

Weather information, farm-level climate adaptation and farmers' adaptive capacity: Examining the role of information and communication technologies, Chetri et al., Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103630

Hydrology, hydrometeorology & climate change

Diagnosing the ability of reservoir operations to meet hydropower production and fisheries needs under climate change in a western cordillera drainage basin, Larabi et al., Climatic Change Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-023-03632-y

Future Extreme Precipitation in Summer Will Become More Widespread in China Depending on Level of Warming, Yu et al., Earth's Future Open Access pdf 10.1029/2022ef003413

Middle east warming in spring enhances summer rainfall over Pakistan, Li et al., Nature Communications Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-023-43463-0

Process-driven susceptibility assessment of glacial lake outburst debris flow in the Himalayas under climate change, ZHOU et al., Advances in Climate Change Research Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2023.11.002

Understanding the Contributions of Paleo-Informed Natural Variability and Climate Changes to Hydroclimate Extremes in the San Joaquin Valley of California, Gupta et al., Earth's Future Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023ef003909

Climate change economics

How to finance green investments? The role of public debt, Kantorowicz et al., Energy Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113899

The Green Climate Fund and private sector climate finance in the Global South, Kalinowski, Climate Policy Open Access pdf 10.1080/14693062.2023.2276857

Climate change and the circular economy Climate change mitigation public policy research

Ambitious climate targets and emission reductions in cities: a configurational analysis, Roggero et al., Climate Policy 10.1080/14693062.2023.2282488

Ambitious near-term decarbonization and direct air capture deployment in Latin America's net-zero goal, Adun et al., Energy for Sustainable Development 10.1016/j.esd.2023.101338

Are European Blue Economy ambitions in conflict with European environmental visions?, Andersen et al., Ambio Open Access pdf 10.1007/s13280-023-01896-3

Energy trade stability of China: Policy options with increasing climate risks, Guo et al., Energy Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113858

How are climate policies assessed in emerging economies? A study of ex-ante policy appraisal in Brazil, China, and India, Qin et al., Climate Policy Open Access pdf 10.1080/14693062.2023.2283174

Imagining circular carbon: A mitigation (deterrence) strategy for the petrochemical industry, Palm et al., Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103640

Leveraging environmental assessment and environmental justice to deliver equitable, decarbonized built infrastructure, Greer, Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability Open Access pdf 10.1088/2634-4505/ad084b

Policy diffusion and the interdependent fuel taxes, Zhang, Climatic Change 10.1007/s10584-023-03608-y

Strategies for gender mainstreaming in climate finance mobilisation in southern Africa, Gerhard et al., PLOS Climate Open Access pdf 10.1371/journal.pclm.0000254

The economic losses of energy-efficiency renovation of Germany's older dwellings: The size of the problem and the financial challenge it presents, Galvin, Energy Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113905

The key determinants of individual greenhouse gas emissions in Germany are mostly domain-specific, Brandenstein et al., Communications Earth & Environment Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-023-01092-x

Unintended consequences of urban shrinkage: Adverse impacts on local household carbon emissions, Wang et al., Urban Climate Open Access 10.1016/j.uclim.2023.101761

Climate change adaptation & adaptation public policy research

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Efforts in Different Economic Sectors of the Trinational Metropolitan Region Upper Rhine, Scholze et al., Climate Risk Management Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2023.100576

Human adaptation to climate change in the context of forests: a systematic review, Paige Fischer et al., Climate Risk Management Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2023.100573

Intervention: The invisible labor of climate change adaptation, Johnson et al., Global Environmental Change 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2023.102769

Leaving Home: Cumulative Climate Shocks and Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, Di Falco et al., Environmental and Resource Economics Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10640-023-00826-x

Living with water: Evolving adaptation preferences under increasing sea-level rise in Miami-Dade County, FL, USA, Seeteram et al., Climate Risk Management Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2023.100574

The role of compound climate and weather extreme events in creating socio-economic impacts in south Florida, Ali et al., Weather and Climate Extremes Open Access 10.1016/j.wace.2023.100625

Climate change impacts on human health

Future Global Population Exposure to Record-Breaking Climate Extremes, Li et al., Earth's Future Open Access pdf 10.1029/2023ef003786

Regimes of Soil Moisture–Wet-Bulb Temperature Coupling with Relevance to Moist Heat Stress, Kong & Huber, Journal of Climate 10.1175/jcli-d-23-0132.1

Climate change & geopolitics

Europe's energy security: From Russian dependence to renewable reliance, Ah-Voun et al., Energy Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113856


Sunshine and solar power in the UK, Spellman & Bird, Theoretical and Applied Climatology Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00704-023-04711-x

Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives

Carbon ‘known not grown’: Reforesting Scotland, advanced measurement technologies, and a new frontier of mitigation deterrence, Stanley, Environmental Science & Policy Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103636

Enabling gender and social inclusion in climate and agriculture policy and planning through foresight processes: assessing challenges and leverage points, Marty et al., Climate Policy Open Access pdf 10.1080/14693062.2023.2268042

Engaging with informality and the subaltern in overlooked cities: towards an agenda for climate change research in the Global South, Fattah & Walters, Climate and Development 10.1080/17565529.2023.2277245

Reconsidering the lower end of long-term climate scenarios, Fujimori et al., PLOS Climate Open Access pdf 10.1371/journal.pclm.0000318

Sensationalized soil carbon sequestration estimates excuse further climate inaction, McClelland & Woolf, Global Change Biology 10.1111/gcb.17012

Articles/Reports from Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations Addressing Aspects of Climate Change

Crop insurance pays farmers billions of dollars for weather-related losses closely linked to the climate crisis, Anne Schechinger, Environmental Working Group

Crop insurance payouts for losses associated with extreme weather have cost billions of dollars. Indemnities for the five most expensive weather-related causes of loss – drought, excess moisture and precipitation, hail, heat, and freeze – totaled over $118.75 billion between 2001 and 2022, representing 73 percent of total crop insurance payouts. The extreme weather events that triggered these payments are closely associated with the climate emergency. Yet the Crop Insurance Program does not encourage farmers to adapt to the extreme weather linked to the climate crisis. The author found that weather-related crop insurance indemnities have steeply risen over the past 22 years. As climate change continues to accelerate, it seems inevitable that, without meaningful reform, crop insurance costs will likewise grow unsustainably.

The 2023 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: the imperative for a health-centred response in a world facing irreversible harms, Romanell et al., The Lancet

The authors monitor the evolving impacts of climate change on health and the emerging health opportunities of climate action. At the current 10-year mean heating of 1·14°C above preindustrial levels, climate change is increasingly impacting the health and survival of people worldwide, and projections show these risks could worsen steeply with further inaction. However, with health matters gaining prominence in climate change negotiations, there are opportunities to deliver health-promoting climate change action and a safe and thriving future for all.

Prospects for Children in the Polycrisis, Byrne et al., UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight

The authors outline the polycrisis in which the world finds itself — multiple, simultaneous shocks with strong interdependencies, intensified in an ever-more integrated world — along with eight trends that will shape child rights and well-being in the coming year. For example, multiple factors will contribute to continued food and nutrition insecurity — with increasing calls for greater climate adaptation and food systems reform to prevent food poverty in children. The worsening energy crisis may cause immediate harm to children — but the focus on energy sustainability provides hope for a greener future.

Sun and wind for net zero - benchmarking renewables growth in South, Southeast and East Asia, Mentari Pujantoro and Mathis Rogner, Agora Energiewende

While recent global additions of wind and solar are encouraging, progress of renewable energy development in South, Southeast and East Asia has been insufficient. The share of solar and wind power in most countries in this region is below six percent today, despite the falling cost of clean energy technologies. Accelerating the deployment of wind and solar power within the next five years is crucial to meeting the region’s climate mitigation goals. To be aligned with a 1.5°C-compatible pathway, renewables in the region will need to supply 50% of total electricity by 2030, with 30% coming from wind and solar. This corresponds to annual capacity additions of at least 55 GW for solar and 20 GW for wind, compared to just 11.9 GW solar and 1.5 GW wind installed in 2021. Accelerating the integration of wind and solar power in the region requires a paradigm shift towards increased system flexibility and removal of policy, regulatory, and market barriers. Some solutions include de-risking mechanisms and accelerated permitting processes which can kick-start wind and solar deployment while supportive grid codes can aid in their system integration.

State Scorecard 2023, Think Microgrid

Microgrids have the potential to play a pivotal role at a transformative moment for the electric grid. As communities and consumers seek solutions for the resilience, climate, and equity challenges they face, the combination of advanced technology and market interest provides the opportunity for the widespread commercialization of microgrids. The U.S. Department of Energy has advanced a vision that by 2035, microgrids will be the core building block of a transformed grid where 30-50% of electricity generation comes from distributed resources. This vision, however, is not inevitable and there remain potentially existential barriers to microgrid commercialization. The authors present the policy and market conditions for microgrids in each state across five critical dimensions – deployment, regulation, resilience, market access, and equity. The resulting state scorecard is at once disappointing and encouraging. On the one hand, only a few states receive even a “B” and far too many receive a “C” or “D”. On the other hand, the results highlight how states can proactively and creatively begin to immediately take action to reform outdated policies and collaboratively move toward the coordinated action that this moment deserves.

LA100 Equity Strategies, Anderson et al., Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, National renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of California Los Angeles

The authors provide community-guided, data-driven strategies for increasing equity in Los Angeles’ transition to clean energy. Community-guided modeling and analysis identified that the current energy system is inequitable, lack of ability to pay energy-related costs and lack of financial capital limits communities’ access to electric vehicles, efficiency options, jobs, training, and entrepreneurship, without changes in rates and solar compensation, energy inequity will increase over time California laws constrain rate affordability and prevent the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from providing robust low-income rate and bill assistance, and as the climate changes, universal access to home cooling will save lives.

Emissions Gap Report 2023. Broken Record. Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again), United Nations Environment Programme

The authors provide an independent science-based assessment of the gap between the pledged greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and the reductions required to align with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, as well as opportunities to bridge this gap. COP 28 marks the conclusion of the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, held every five years to assess the global response to the climate crisis and chart a better way forward. This closely mirrors the objective of the Emissions Gap Report, and the authors aim to provide findings relevant to the concluding discussions under the global stocktake. Obtaining articles without journal subscriptions

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Most articles appearing here are found via  RSS feeds from journal publishers, filtered by search terms to produce raw output for assessment of relevance. 

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Q&A: What does China’s new methane plan mean for its climate goals?

The Carbon Brief - Thu, 11/23/2023 - 06:31

Earlier this month, China published its long-awaited plan to reduce methane emissions.

The document is seen as an important step for China, which is the world’s largest emitter of methane.

It has a focus on emissions from the energy, agriculture and waste sectors. It lists a series of actions, but lacks numerical targets for emissions reduction.

The action plan had been promised in the US-China joint climate statement, issued during the COP26 climate talks in 2021. It finally emerged just days before the launch this month of a new US-China “Sunnylands statement” on climate, in which China pledged to expand its next international climate pledge to cover all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide (CO2).

This Q&A looks at why tackling methane is important, where China’s methane emissions come from, what is in the action plan and whether it will be successful.

The Q&A also looks at the challenges China will face and the prospects for global cooperation.

This is an extended version of a Spotlight section published in the latest issue of Carbon Brief’s China Briefing email newsletter. For the latest on China’s energy and climate policy, sign up here.

Why is tackling methane important? 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with around 30 times the warming power of CO2 100 years after it is emitted.

It is the second-biggest contributor to current warming, responsible for around 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution.

Reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030 – the target of the global methane pledge, which China is not a signatory to – is the “fastest way to reduce near-term warming” and keep 1.5C “within reach”, according to a US and EU factsheet.

Cutting methane releases during fossil fuel production to 75% below current levels by 2030 is a key “pillar” to get on track for 1.5C, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Methane also leads to the formation of ground-level ozone, according to the UN environment programme, exposure to which causes one million premature deaths every year.

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Where do methane emissions come from in China?

China is responsible for 10% of all human-caused methane emissions, with two estimates in 2021 placing its annual output at 58m tonnes (Mt) and 65Mt, respectively, equivalent to 1.7-1.9bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e). 

This makes China the world’s largest emitter of the gas, according to the IEA.

Around 40% of China’s methane emissions are gas that escapes during the mining of coal, according to the Institute for Global Decarbonization Progress (iGDP), a Chinese thinktank. 

Another 42% is from agriculture, including livestock and rice cultivation, says the iGDP. Different studies attribute different levels of agricultural emissions to different sources, but, generally, cattle and mid-season rice paddies are considered the largest contributors.

Meanwhile, 10% is attributed to waste and wastewater as a whole. At least 3.2Mt of methane was emitted solely from animal manure, as per China’s last official tally in 2014.

Coal-mine methane emissions are particularly challenging to detect, according to the IEA, as they are “diffuse”.

It adds that abandoned mines, which could contribute “almost one fifth” of global methane emissions, cannot be included in calculations as “reliable data” is often unavailable. 

“Many of the methane sources are fugitive emissions, which are usually difficult to accurately account for,” Zhang Yuzhong, a researcher at China’s Westlake University, tells Reuters.

Climate Home reports, however, that according to Global Energy Monitor (GEM) research, “the real figure for coal-mine methane [in China] is almost double what the government claims”.

Shanxi province in northern China, the country’s largest coal-producing region, could emit as much methane from its coal mines as the rest of the world combined, according to GEM.

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What does the methane action plan say?

The Methane Emission Control Action Plan, released jointly by the ministry of ecology and environment (MEE) and 10 other Chinese ministries, describes China’s approach as to “control methane emissions in a scientific, rational and orderly manner”, with a specific focus on the energy, agriculture and waste sectors.

It includes 20 “key tasks” in emissions monitoring, technological innovation, development of policy frameworks, global cooperation and other areas.

During the 15th five year plan period (2026-2030), monitoring and accounting of methane emissions will be “significantly enhanced”, it adds. Methane utilisation, emissions control technologies and policy frameworks will be “effectively improved”. 

Other notable pledges include that, by 2030, oil and gas producers will “strive” to “gradually” eliminate flaring, and utilisation of coal mine methane will reach 6bn cubic metres annually.

This “corresponds to about 10%” of the coal-mining sector’s total methane emissions, says Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). 

(While current levels of coal-mine methane utilisation are unknown, various Chinese oil and gas giants, including Sinopec, PetroChina and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, have been “actively promoting methane emission reduction”, say two researchers from the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in China.)

In agriculture, the methane emissions intensity per unit of agricultural product will “steadily decline”. “Utilisation” of livestock waste will reach 80% by 2025 and 85% by 2030. 

The document calls for control of both enteric fermentation – the digestive process in ruminant livestock – and methane emissions from rice paddies. The language around rice is more tentative, with calls for control to be pursued “in an orderly manner”.

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Will China’s plan be effective in curbing emissions?

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a global NGO with a significant presence in China, has written on WeChat it believes that, “in the long term”, the plan will provide “a clear guiding framework” and better coordination of methane reduction efforts in China.

EDF also points to the role that the plan’s alignment with carbon trading policy could play in methane reduction, by helping to establish “a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system” for the gas. This could underpin a methodology for methane in the “China Certified Emission Reductions” (CCER) mechanism, China’s voluntary carbon market.

Dr Teng Fei, deputy director of the Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy at Tsinghua University, has similarly identified the impact on carbon trading in comments to China Dialogue

In his view, China needs to establish either binding emissions standards or subsidies for methane utilisation through carbon markets, saying that, without the incentive, “policy targets will be hard to deliver”.

Dr Chen Meian, program director and senior analyst at iGDP, tells Carbon Brief that some of the sector-specific targets in the plan “can help China to reduce methane emissions”, particularly from coalbed methane, livestock manure, sewage sludge and landfill waste. 

However, she adds, it is “difficult” for China to set hard targets at this point.

“China is still facing challenges in methane emission data monitoring and data collection”, she says, “[which is why] China also listed the improvement of methane emissions MRV as one of its key tasks”.

Others are less convinced. The plan is “too ambiguous”, “descriptive” and lacking in quantitative targets, Refinitiv lead carbon analyst Yan Qin tells Reuters.

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What are the most pressing challenges in curbing methane?

Developing technological solutions to reduce methane emissions from the agriculture sector and sewage treatment will be “crucial” to achieve carbon neutrality, iGDP tells the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. (China’s 2060 carbon neutrality target includes all greenhouse gas emissions, according to climate envoy Xie Zhenhua.)

Methods to cut down methane emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors are already in practice in China, including system of rice intensification (SRI), using drought-resistant rice, installing digesters in farms to utilise biogas – for example, in electricity generation – and optimising livestock feed to reduce enteric fermentation.

However, many of these methods are challenging to scale. SRI “isn’t practical”, according to China Dialogue, as farmers found it confusing.

Cattle farms “tend to be small-scale and use non-standardised methods”, researchers at the Feed Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences tell the outlet, making it hard to assess emissions and plan accordingly.

Nevertheless, methods that reduce methane through efficiency gains or monetising emissions cuts could gain more traction. 

“I don’t have strong feelings about climate change, melting ice caps or rising sea levels”, one farm executive tells China Dialogue, “but I believe waste has its value…That’s why I’m interested.”

The challenge lies in resolving the “large initial investment, insignificant short-term returns and high levels of technical risk” that deter companies from implementing methane utilisation projects, according to CUFE.

Challenges measuring methane emissions from coal mines also complicate China’s methane mitigation efforts. Methane analyst Anatoli Smirnov tells Climate Home that the “only real solution to reduce methane emissions is to close coal mines”. 

The outlet also quotes CREA’s Myllyvirta saying there is a lack of “political will and buy-in” to curb methane in China. He states that China stopped releasing methane emissions figures in 2014, which he believes was to avoid calling attention to the “huge increase” in emissions since the Paris Agreement.

“I think China is trying to be realistic in target-setting [for its] coal-sector emissions,” Chen tells Carbon Brief. She adds that China “used to set ambitious targets” for coalbed methane capture and utilisation in its five-year plans, but that it repeatedly missed them. 

She adds:

“This is in part due to coal mine safety concerns and a lack of cost-effective technologies in methane capture and use for low-concentration coalbed methane (with methane concentration of less than 30%) and ventilation air methane, which is the largest source of methane emissions in China’s energy sector.”

The MEE itself has signalled a cautious approach to curbing methane emissions. In a press conference covered by BJX News, it says that its implementation of the plan will “give full consideration to the actual affordability [of methane utilisation]…and take easy steps before difficult ones”.

One next step, the MEE adds, is to “strengthen coordination” between departments and define different stakeholders’ responsibilities.

Chen agrees that it would be important for local governments to “set their own methane plans…tailored to local conditions” and to improve data monitoring.

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What does this mean for global cooperation on methane?

A week after the plan was released, the US and Chinese climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua issued a declaration on enhancing climate cooperation, known as the “Sunnylands statement”. 

It includes commitments to establish a working group that will look at several areas of cooperation, including methane emissions, and to create another working group to focus on “building on” their current national methane plans.

In addition, the pair have committed to include “actions/targets” on methane reduction in their nations’ next climate pledges under the Paris Agreement, which will also cover other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. They will host, with the UAE, a summit on non-CO2 gases at COP28.

COP28 president-designate Sultan Al Jaber said China’s announcement was a “crucial step for global climate action”, the Financial Times reports.

At COP26, China and the US issued a joint declaration committing to cooperate on a variety of climate change issues, including methane emissions.

In this 2021 declaration, China committed to issuing a national action plan on methane emissions. It finally released the plan just days before the Sunnylands statement.

“Methane is particularly important for our cooperation,” US climate envoy John Kerry told a US congressional hearing in July, according to Reuters.

Li Shuo, director of the China climate hub at the Asia Society Policy Institute, has described China’s decision to publish the plan as “a goodwill gesture”, Bloomberg reports.

While it is “too early to tell” what other outcomes for bilateral methane cooperation might be, without China’s plan there “certainly wouldn’t have been further deals”, he adds.

However, differences in the sources of the US and China’s methane emissions could hamper cooperation. Teng tells China Dialogue that the main source of EU and US methane emissions is oil and gas, compared to coal mining for China.

Tackling coal-mining methane emissions is harder and more costly than oil and gas, analysts told Carbon Brief in 2020. This could be why China has not signed up to the global methane pledge, which may be easier for the EU and US to meet, says Teng.

China Briefing 16 November: Sunnylands statement; China methane plan; Coal capacity payments

China Briefing



China Briefing 2 November: Fossil fuel peak in 2024; Graphite curbs; Xie to ‘retire’

China Briefing



China Briefing 19 October: BRI funding; coal job losses; extreme weather damage

China Briefing



Experts: How will the next decade of China’s ‘belt and road initiative’ impact climate action?

China Policy



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Categories: I. Climate Science

How climate change is affecting every U.S. region

Skeptical Science - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 14:04

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Climate change is making the weather weird in every region of the United States.

That’s a key takeaway of the new fifth National Climate Assessment, a sweeping, U.S.-focused report in which top climate scientists summarize the latest research on climate change science, impacts, and solutions.

As the climate warms, most of the Eastern United States is becoming wetter and thus faces increased flood risks. At the same time, the Western states are mostly becoming drier, the risk of droughts and wildfires is rising.

The National Climate Assessment divides the country into 10 regions and identifies the key threats in each one.

(Image credit: the fifth National Climate Assessment)

The Northwest

The biggest climate threats in the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) are heat, flooding, and wildfires. Hotter and drier conditions in recent decades have increased the risk of wildfires, smoke, and heat exposure. Warming temperatures and drought have contributed to a declining snowpack and created water supply vulnerabilities, such as the depletion of reservoirs across central and eastern Oregon and southern Idaho. And the deadly Pacific Northwest heat wave in the summer of 2021 exposed the vulnerability of a region that is not yet accustomed or adapted to dangerous triple-digit heat.

The Southwest

The Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona) faces threats from heat, drought, and wildfires. Water supplies are under pressure from the combination of heat and an ongoing drought that’s the region’s worst in over 1,200 years. California’s agriculture, which is the most diverse and lucrative in the country, is threatened by swings between drought conditions and occasional floods caused by atmospheric river events. Extreme heat threats in the region were exemplified by Phoenix’s record 31 consecutive days and 54 total days above 110°F this year. Hotter and drier conditions will also continue worsening wildfires, putting “the people, economies, ecosystems, and water resources of the region at considerable risk.”

Covered in soot and soil, U.S. Park Service Biological Science Technician Teresa Byrd takes a break from planting whitebark pine seedling to talk to crew members on the radio on Mount Brown September 17, 2019 in Glacier National Park, Montana. Byrd’s revegetation crew planted 585 two-year-old whitebark pine seedlings among the skeletal remains of the 2017 Sprague Creek Fire. With annual average temperatures in Montana rising almost three degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, high-elevation tree species like the whitebark pine that were not previously threatened are now facing an increase in blister rust infections, mountain pine beetle infestations and wildfire. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Northern Great Plains

The Northern Great Plains (Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska) are most threatened by drought, floods, wildfires, and hail. The largest increases in hail risk anywhere in the United States are in this region during the month of July.

This region’s economy relies heavily on fossil fuel extraction and agriculture. Although fossil fuel extraction jobs are threatened by the transition to a clean economy, the Northern Great Plains states have tremendous wind energy potential.

This region accounts for 24% of U.S. farmland and 13% of the country’s agricultural market value, which is under pressure from the interacting effects of changes in temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide, and ozone. At the same time, farmers in the region are likely to respond by shifting the kinds of crops they grow and how they manage them.

The Southern Great Plains

The biggest threats to the Southern Great Plains states (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) are heat, drought, and flooding. Due to the compounding effect of land subsidence, the Gulf Coast is experiencing the highest rate of sea level rise in the country, which will amplify the damage done by storms like Hurricane Harvey.

Although Texas leads the country in generating heat-trapping carbon and methane pollution, the Southern Great Plains also accounts for 42% of America’s wind-generated electricity. Texas’ solar generation capacity is expected to increase nearly eightfold from 2020 to 2025, while electricity generated from gas and coal is not planned to increase substantially. The workforce transition to a low-carbon economy will affect some Southern Great Plains communities disproportionately but is expected to result in a net increase in jobs.

The Southeast

The Southeast (Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida) is most threatened by hurricanes, sea level rise, flooding, and heat. The region’s population is growing relatively rapidly, especially in metropolitan areas that are threatened by extreme heat and along the sea-level-rise-threatened coastline. The report also notes that these states generally lack comprehensive climate adaptation plans. Changes in temperature, drought, extreme rainfall, and sea levels are already threatening the Southeast’s agriculture and other food-related systems, and extreme heat threatens its labor productivity.

People kayak up and down the flooded waters of Elm Street on July 11, 2023 in Montpelier, Vermont. Up to eight inches of rain fell over 48 hours. (Photo: Kylie Cooper/Getty Images)

The Northeast

The Northeast (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) faces threats from extreme precipitation, flooding, and heat waves both on land and in the ocean. The region’s extreme precipitation risks were exemplified by the Vermont flooding in July 2023.

Fish stocks off the coast are shifting to the northeast and into deeper waters as the oceans warm. Fishing communities will need to adjust to harvest the changing distribution of species. Almost every state in this region has taken action through climate impact assessments, comprehensive climate action plans, and enacted climate-related laws since 2018.

The Midwest

The Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio) faces threats from extreme precipitation, heat, and drought. This is among the most intensive agricultural regions globally, producing more than 30% of the world’s corn and soybeans, which generate about $50 billion per year. Crop production will be complicated by increasing extreme precipitation events and rapid transitions between wet and dry conditions. Heat and extreme precipitation are already challenging the aging infrastructure in this region.

A sign advertises eight lots for sale on January 25, 2023, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The lots are for sale after the homes on it were destroyed in Hurricane Ian. The process of rebuilding continues four months after the hurricane passed. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Alaska is threatened by thawing permafrost, shrinking glaciers, and melting sea ice. Alaska’s seafood industry generates $6.1 billion in economic output, producing 60% of the volume and 31% of the value of the U.S. fishery catch, and accounts for 62,200 jobs and $1.7 billion in wages. Climate change has harmed marine fish, salmon, and crab populations in Alaskan waters. Several fisheries have been closed or dramatically reduced due to declining fish populations, but this challenge could also create adaptation opportunities in the form of marine aquaculture.

Hawai’i and other Pacific Islands

Hawai’i and other Pacific Islands face threats from sea level rise, droughts, and heat. The region faces food and water insecurity due to these factors and altered rainfall patterns, as well as the degradation of nearshore fisheries. Sea level rise is encroaching on coastlines, particularly in low-lying islands. Marine and coastal species and ecosystems are threatened by rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and sea level rise. Increasingly severe droughts and rising temperatures are increasing fire risk, as exemplified in the August 2023 Maui wildfires. These impacts also have consequences for native plants and wildlife, including an increased risk of forest bird extinctions.

The Caribbean

Caribbean islands are threatened by hurricanes, sea level rise, heat, and drought. Food and water systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Reductions in average annual rainfall, increasing air temperatures, and rising sea levels will hurt freshwater availability in the future. Dependence on fossil fuel imports increases energy insecurity in the region, but infrastructure improvements and a transition to clean decentralized energy sources could create economic opportunities and help limit residents’ vulnerability to climate impacts.

Categories: I. Climate Science

Autumn statement 2023: Key climate and energy announcements

The Carbon Brief - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 10:07

UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt has delivered his autumn statement, laying out plans for revitalising the economy at a time of inflation and slow growth.

As the US and the EU pour investment into low-carbon technologies and sectors in order to boost their economies, there had been hopes that the UK could take a similar approach.

Hunt promised tax cuts and “110 measures to help grow the British economy”. However, measures that directly helped to reduce emissions were relatively thin on the ground.

Significant announcements included £960m for a “green industries growth accelerator” to expand domestic low-carbon supply chains and measures to fast-track the connection of new power projects to the grid.

But experts argued that the UK would need more ambitious policies to match other nations in expanding low-carbon infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, measures such as support for home insulation, which could also help cut people’s energy bills, were barely mentioned in the new statement.

Scene setting

Amid on-going economic challenges, the UK has faced pressure to come up with a climate-related investment plan comparable to the US Inflation Reduction Act or the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan

These strategies involve financially supporting key sectors, such as renewable energy and home insulation, in order to strengthen national competitiveness, while also boosting energy security and cutting bills. 

However, while the UK’s opposition Labour party has embraced such a strategy with its proposed “green prosperity plan”, Jeremy Hunt has explicitly distanced himself from it. He wrote in the Times in March that the government would not try to compete with the US and EU on green subsidies:

“Our approach will be different – and better. We are not going toe-to-toe with our friends and allies in some distortive global subsidy race…With the threat of protectionism creeping its way back into the world economy, the long-term solution is not subsidy but security.”

The autumn statement document emphasises that “the UK will not be looking to match countries such as the US pound for pound on the back of policies like the Inflation Reduction Act”.

Instead, it focuses on incentivising private investment and what Hunt has called a “pro-growth regulatory regime”. (See: Green industries growth.)

The statement comes as the UK government withdraws from some of its net-zero policies. In a speech in September, prime minister Rishi Sunak emphasised the burden net-zero placed on British people and announced a rollback of plans to phase out fossil fuel-powered cars and boilers.

As the chart below shows, Hunt used climate-related keywords less in his latest speech than in his first autumn statement in 2022, or in the spring statement earlier this year. He did not specifically mention “climate” at all.

Number of mentions of keywords and phrases related to the climate, in budget speeches since Labour’s Alistair Darling was chancellor in March 2009. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

Observers also noted that there was little in the autumn statement to help people struggling to pay their energy bills. 

Energy bills have doubled in three years – partly due to spiralling fossil-fuel prices amid the war in Ukraine. They are expected to rise even higher in January, with a new price cap announcement coming out the day after the autumn statement.

The government previously brought in an energy price guarantee to limit how much people would spend on their energy bills, but this expired in June.  

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The autumn statement included a promise to “speed up access to the national grid” through a number of measures.

Grid constraints on the island of Britain (Northern Ireland’s grid is separate) are increasingly seen as one of the biggest challenges for decarbonising the nation’s energy sector. Many renewable energy projects face a 10- to 15-year delay in gaining a grid connection. 

Britain’s electricity network is aiming to be run entirely on low-carbon energy from 2035, but this could be threatened if renewable generation projects cannot connect to the grid quickly enough. 

Beyond connecting renewable energy and other low-carbon energy technologies, challenges with grid connections are also holding back the expansion of industry. 

Last week, the Guardian reported that the UK energy secretary Claire Coutinho could be granted powers to fast-track connecting projects to the grid, such as Tata’s planned electric battery gigafactory in Somerset. 

Plans are being discussed by the government and the regulator Ofgem that would allow Coutinho to request that energy network companies accelerate upgrades to substations and power lines to connect specific developments, the article noted. 

Earlier in November, Ofgem announced that it is introducing rules to remove “zombie” energy projects from the grid connection queue. 

This represents a significant change from the existing “first-come, first-served” system, which has led to a queue of energy projects that could generate almost 400GW of electricity, well in excess of what is needed to power the entire energy system in Britain. 

The autumn statement announced a reform to the grid connection process to cut waiting times, including “freeing up over 100GW of capacity so that projects can connect sooner”. 

The change will enable the “significant majority” of projects to get their requested connection date with no wait, as well as reduce the overall connection delays from five years to no more than six months. 

Additionally, the government announced an action plan, in response to the review by the electricity network commissioner, Nick Winser, within the statement. The review set out 18 recommendations designed to speed up the delivery of strategic transmission networks. 

The action plan will halve the time it takes to build new grid infrastructure to seven years, the statement suggests. 

The core elements of this are: 

  • Proposals for community benefits with up to £10,000 off electricity bills. 
  • Consulting on reforms to energy consenting rules in Scotland next year.
  • “Committing to commission” the ESO to work with government to introduce a “strategic spatial energy plan”. 
  • Introducing competition into onshore electricity networks in 2024.

These actions will help to lower electricity prices, delivering an estimated net saving of £15-25 on average per household per year out to 2035, the statement notes. 

Analysis published by the department for energy security and net-zero (DESNZ), reviewed by the Energy Systems Catapult and referenced within the statement, estimates that, once embedded, the grid reforms could increase investment temporarily by an average of £10bn per year over the next 10 years. This would speed up the transition to net-zero, it notes.

The autumn statement did not include a battery strategy, only noting that the government will “shortly set out more on its actions to support investment and growth in the manufacturing sector with the publication of the advanced manufacturing plan and UK battery strategy”. 

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Green industries growth 

Jeremy Hunt reiterated the £4.5bn for strategic manufacturing sectors, including £960m earmarked for a “green industries growth accelerator”, which the Treasury announced on 17 November. 

The investment is designed to support the expansion of “strong, home-grown, clean energy supply chains”, including carbon capture, utilisation and storage, electricity networks, hydrogen, nuclear and offshore wind. 

This will “enable the UK to seize growth opportunities through the transition to net-zero, building on our world-leading decarbonisation track record and strong deployment offer,” the government’s statement notes. 

The investment was welcomed by the renewable industry, with trade association RenewableUK’s chief executive Dan McGrail saying in a statement

“The chancellor has been clear that the green industries growth accelerator is for strategic industries, targeted to unlock maximum private investment where the UK can be competitive – and there couldn’t be a better fit for that than offshore wind and renewables. With the right support, the likes of which we’ve seen from government today, industry estimates that the offshore wind supply chain alone could boost the UK’s economy by £92bn by 2040.” 

The fund will sit alongside the range of long-term deployment support set out in Powering Up Britain, published in March, which will “ensure the government delivers the clean energy transition and boosts green investment and job creation across the country”, the statement notes.

Within the autumn statement, the next set of investment zones are named, including the East Midlands, which will have a focus on green industries and advanced manufacturing. This is expected to help leverage £383m in private investment and create 4,200 jobs in the region over the next 10 years, it says. 

Beyond this, the autumn statement announces permanent full expensing, including the 50% first-year allowance for special rate assets. This applies across the economy, with the statement highlighting the impact on capital-intensive, low-carbon industries, such as solar and offshore wind. 

Additionally, permanent full expensing can support companies looking to decarbonise by investing in solar panels and heat pumps, as well as “greener” machinery, the statement notes. 

Reacting to this, Rachel Solomon Williams, executive director at the Aldersgate Group, said:

“We welcome the announcement that capital full expensing will be made permanent, as it can drive business investment in decarbonisation – but it is not enough on its own. This urgent need for action is demonstrated in clean energy investment, where the UK has fallen from fourth to seventh in attractiveness to investors, in part due to global competition from the US and the EU, but also a lack of consistent policy support from the government. 

“A comprehensive response to the US Inflation Reduction Act remains critical, as part of a clear industrial strategy which provides the UK economy with a clear direction that businesses can rely on.”

The autumn statement also mentions the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), which provides funding to support industrial sites to invest in more energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. 

IETF was initially announced in the 2018 budget, with £315m of funding made available up until 2027 at the time. The fund is now into its third phase, with the £185m – mentioned in the autumn statement – announced in March 2023

This funding will come from the £6bn announced in the autumn statement in 2022, to support energy efficiency from 2025. Further allocations are set to come out “in due course”, the 2023 statement notes. 

Under the six-year Climate Change Agreement scheme, set to start in 2025, the government is providing around £300m a year in tax relief in exchange for meeting energy efficiency targets. Additionally, it is expanding VAT relief available on the installation of energy-saving materials in residential buildings or those used solely for a relevant charitable purpose. 

In addition to the focus on offshore wind as a strategic sector, the autumn budget outlines plans to bring forward legislation to provide the Crown Estate with borrowing and wider investment power “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. 

This will help to unlock a further 20-30GW of offshore wind seabed rights by 2030, the statement notes.

The government is also working with the Crown Estate to bring forward additional floating wind in the Celtic Sea through the 2030s, which has the potential to see 12GW of generation deployed. 

This would be alongside the 4.5GW auction round due to open soon, which has the potential to deliver £20bn in direct employment, the statement says. 

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Energy efficiency and heating homes

There have been persistent calls for the government to scale up support to help people insulate their homes. 

The UK has some of the least efficient housing in Europe. Improving this situation would cut emissions, reduce reliance on fossil-fuel imports and save billions on people’s energy bills.

In last year’s autumn statement, Hunt pledged £6bn of new government funding between 2025 and 2028 to improve energy efficiency in households, businesses and the public sector. He also announced the formation of a new energy efficiency taskforce to help deliver “energy efficiency across the economy”.

Since then, there has been little information about the new funding and the taskforce was scrapped in September, amid the government’s rollback of net-zero policies. 

Sunak also withdrew a policy that would have required landlords to improve the efficiency rating of their rental properties by 2028. This continued a long trend of Conservative governments announcing home-insulation schemes and then scrapping them. 

Ahead of this year’s autumn statement, various MPs, housebuilders, charities and climate experts said Hunt should prioritise retrofitting people’s homes. Among the measures proposed were widening access to insulation schemes and more long-term clarity on how existing funds would be spent.

The Daily Telegraph reported on a plan to give new homeowners some of their stamp duty money back if they insulated their houses within two years of moving in. According to the newspaper, this idea was “in the running” for Hunt’s statement.

Expert groups and thinktanks also recommended new financial incentives to encourage landlords to insulate their homes.

In the event, there was very little in the statement on home energy efficiency. The only mention of the £6bn fund was a chunk that would be allocated for industrial sites. (See: Green industries growth.) Juliet Phillips, a senior policy adviser at the thinktank E3G, tells Carbon Brief:

“Our analysis suggests that £6bn would barely cover the costs of domestic retrofit, let alone industrial energy efficiency as well. The mammoth task of improving the UK’s leaky homes can’t be underfunded; and we’d encourage additional funding to be put aside to support industry.”

There was more on decarbonising heating, following on from Sunak’s recent announcement that he would increase grants under the boiler upgrade scheme from £5,000 to £7,500, in order to incentivise the switch from fossil-fuel boilers to electric heat pumps.

The government says it will launch a consultation into changing planning regulations to “end the blanket restriction on heat pumps one metre from a property boundary in England”. It adds that this will “reduce delays”.

It also commits to expanding the VAT relief available on the installation of energy-saving materials to additional technologies, including water-source heat pumps.

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The autumn statement confirmed the energy profits levy will end no later than 31 March 2028. This was brought in in 2022 in response to the enormous profits made by oil-and-gas majors due to the elevated global price of fossil fuels. 

It was initially set at 25%, before being raised to 35% by Hunt during the autumn statement in 2022. 

Within the autumn statement, an investment exemption for the electricity generator levy has now been introduced. 

The windfall tax was introduced during the spring budget 2023, applying a 45% levy on electricity generators who have made excess profits amid high power prices. 

Since its introduction, the energy sector has been calling for the introduction of investment allowances, which allows generators to re-invest tax expenditures into low-carbon technologies. 

An investment allowance was always included in the energy profits levy, a move that trade body Energy UK said sent the “wrong signal to investors”, as oil-and-gas extraction would face “a lower rate of effective tax than low-carbon generators”. 

New electricity generation stations or expansions of existing generation assets made on or after 22 November 2023, will now not be subject to the levy. The electricity generator levy is also set to end on 31 March 2028. 

The government is going to freeze main and reduced rates of climate change levy in the UK in 2025-26, the autumn statement notes. 

As such, the levy for electricity and gas will be frozen at £0.00775/kWh, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) at £0.02175/kWh and any other taxable commodity at £0.06064/kWh. 

Reduced rates will be frozen at 92% for electricity, 77% for LPG and 89% for gas and any other taxable commodity, it notes.

Alongside the autumn statement, the government has published the conclusion to the review of the oil and gas fiscal regime, as well as set out the final design of the energy security investment mechanism. This includes future adjustments to the mechanism’s price thresholds in response to inflation. 

This package will “provide certainty and predictability for investors and operators in this crucial industry in the short-, medium- and long-term”, the statement notes.

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Best of the rest

Beyond these key energy and climate announcements, the autumn statement also saw reforms to the emissions trading scheme (ETS). 

These were set out in July 2023 and will reduce the number of ETS permits available for purchase from the government by 45% between 2023 and 2027, the statement notes. 

Additionally, the scheme will be extended to cover emissions from domestic maritime and energy from waste in 2026 and 2028, respectively, marking an “important step in achieving net-zero ambitions”.  

The autumn statement also announced that the government will look to remove unnecessary planning constraints by accelerating the expansion of the electric vehicles (EV) charging infrastructure. 

This builds on actions laid out already in the government’s EV infrastructure strategy, which set out the government’s EV vision for 2030. 

The government will consult on amending the national planning policy framework to prioritise the rollout of EV charge points, including EV charging hubs, the statement says.

As of the end of October 2023, there were 51,516 EV public charging points across the UK at 30,360 charging locations, according to charging services provider Zapmap. This was a 45% increase in the number of charging devices since October 2022. 

With sales of EVs continuing to surge in the UK, charging infrastructure will need to keep pace, to facilitate the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles.  

Despite pressure from the Treasury to raise fuel duty, the autumn statement left it frozen at 57.95p, the same level it has been at since 2011. Fuel duty was only mentioned once in the autumn statement, in reference to the drop in inflation.

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Guest post: Why resolving how land emissions are counted is critical for tracking climate progress

The Carbon Brief - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 08:00

The choices made about how land is used and managed play a crucial role in tackling climate change.

The importance of the land use, land-use change and forestry sector (which is often referred to as LULUCF) is reflected in 118 of 143 countries including land-based emissions reductions and removals in their latest emissions pledges under the Paris Agreement.

However, there is a complication.

It arises because of a fundamental difference in how land-based emissions are treated by scientific models and the national greenhouse gas inventories submitted by parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Specifically, there are different definitions as to what constitutes “managed” land and the human-caused carbon removals on that land. 

As we show in our new study, published in Nature, the result is a gap of 4-7bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) between estimates from models and national inventories for net emissions from current land use. Even at the low end of this range, it equates to around 10% of global annual CO2 emissions today.

The knock-on impact of this gap is that it makes comparisons between the two difficult in critical policy processes such as the global stocktake – the five-yearly progress check on collective action towards the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement.

And, more fundamentally, our findings suggest that nations will need to increase the collective ambition of their climate targets to remain consistent with the Paris temperature limits.

Making sense of LULUCF accounting

In order to estimate the amount of carbon emissions or removals of carbon from land, scientists use so-called “bookkeeping” approaches. 

These approaches, and the models that employ them, account for stocks and flows of carbon triggered by changes in land cover or land management practices and estimate the resulting “direct” carbon fluxes. 

The term “direct” is used because the fluxes – that is, the exchange of CO2 between the land and atmosphere – are a result of direct human intervention. These actions, including deforestation, forest harvest and regrowth, are what scientific models consider as “anthropogenic” carbon fluxes.

This accounting approach is used by the models underpinning the concepts of the remaining carbon budget and net-zero timings in the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But to understand the total amount of carbon flux on land, scientists need to use more detailed, process-based vegetation models. These models, collectively called “dynamic global vegetation models”, simulate biogeochemical and hydrological cycles and estimate future plant and forest carbon uptake and release. 

These models explicitly include climate and environmental interactions and so they capture so-called “indirect” effects. These include the response of land to indirect human-induced climate and environmental changes, such as through CO2 fertilisation and warming-induced changes to temperatures and rainfall patterns, which affect plant growth.

These “indirect” fluxes are estimated for Earth’s full land surface area, including both land actively managed by humans as well as land with limited or no human activity in what global models consider as the “natural” terrestrial sink.

Taken together, both direct and indirect carbon fluxes on land provide a full picture of the land-related carbon balance, which is assessed each year by the Global Carbon Project

However, countries estimate their LULUCF fluxes differently. This is because it is not practically possible to separate direct and indirect fluxes through observations, such as via national forest inventories or satellite data.

National GHG inventories follow reporting conventions that define human-caused fluxes using an area-based approach, whereby all fluxes occurring on managed land are considered anthropogenic. By contrast, fluxes on unmanaged land are not reported. 

In addition to land that is actively managed for, say, agriculture and forestry practices, countries may consider other land as “managed”, such as national parks, wilderness preserves or areas under less frequent forest management. 

But even if countries and models agreed on the amount of land which is considered “managed”, physical measurements and observations cannot distinguish between direct and indirect contributions to LULUCF fluxes. 

As a result, national inventories include most of the indirect effect on a larger land area than is considered under scientific conventions. In short, countries consider “anthropogenic” part of the CO2 sink that models consider “natural”.

The infographic below outlines this mismatch. It shows how scientific models differentiate between direct (red) and indirect (blue) fluxes, while national inventories (green) do not.

Infographic illustrating how to align scientific models with national inventory definitions of LULUCF fluxes. Differences are due to what land is considered managed, and whether fluxes based on environmental and climatic changes are included. Source: Gidden et al. (2023)

Globally, this mismatch results in a difference between bookkeeping models and country inventories of around 4-7GtCO2. As the map below shows, the differences vary from country to country. 

Overall, 53 and 56 countries report, respectively, LULUCF net removals (pale green shading) and emissions (purple) where models agree. Then 67 countries report net removals, but models suggest net emissions (dark green) and nine countries report net emissions while models show net removals (blue).

Map of countries comparing LULUCF fluxes averaged over 2000-20 based on inventory accounting compared with model-based accounting (using bookkeeping models). Plus signs denote a positive flux (carbon emissions), a minus sign denotes a negative flux (carbon removal). Source: Matthew Gidden, using data from Grassi et al. (2023). Shifting benchmarks

In our study, we propose a method for resolving these differences. We employ a reduced-complexity climate model called OSCAR, which has an explicit representation of the land carbon cycle. We use it to estimate the current and future evolution of indirect emissions to align IPCC pathways with aggregate estimates from national inventories.

We then estimate how this would affect mitigation benchmarks, such as the emissions reductions needed by 2030, the year of net-zero CO2 emissions and the total cumulative CO2 emitted until net-zero.

Across the board, we find that key global mitigation benchmarks become harder to achieve when calculated using conventions set in national inventories, requiring more ambitious mitigation action than when aiming for model-based outcomes. 

For example, under inventory accounting conventions, we find that net-zero in emissions pathways that are consistent with 1.5C of warming is achieved one-to-five years earlier than in model-based conventions. Similarly, emissions reduction benchmarks this decade are three-to-six percentage points higher and cumulative CO2 emissions are 15-18% lower. 

These shifts arise because of the additional land-based carbon removals in national inventories, or “alignment factor”, acts to lower current global emissions compared to model-based conventions. The alignment factor will diminish over time should the world succeed in reducing emissions drastically in the near-term.

BenchmarkChange in 1.5C pathwaysChange in 2C pathways Year of net-zero CO21 to 5 years-1 to 7 years Emissions reductions by 20303.4 to 5.9%2.5 to 5% Cumulative CO2 until net-zero54-95 GtCO2 (15-18%)93-167 GtCO2 (15-18%) Table shows difference in key mitigation benchmarks between pathways including fluxes aligned with model-based conventions vs. pathways including fluxes aligned with inventory-based conventions (5th-95th percentiles). Across the board, benchmarks are more difficult to reach when aligned with national inventories. IPCC assessment

It is important to stress that our results do not conflict with the benchmarks assessed by the IPCC. 

The use of simple climate models, such as MAGICC and FaIR, in IPCC assessments includes the “direct” LULUCF emissions from pathways as inputs and include in their simulations the “indirect” emissions due to climate and environmental responses to calculate the global temperature response to human-caused emissions. 

In our analysis, we explicitly separate these two flux components, adding the indirect fluxes on “managed” land to our estimate of the direct fluxes. In short, we simply align different accounting practices, shifting fluxes on one side of the “ledger” to the other. 

The climate outcome of each scenario we assess remains the same, but the benchmark – when viewed through the lens of inventory accounting conventions – shifts. Understanding this dynamic is critical, because ultimately countries will measure their progress towards achieving the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement against their own accounting conventions.

Our findings show the danger of comparing apples to oranges: in order to achieve the global mitigation benchmarks assessed by the IPCC, global mitigation action needs to be stronger and more ambitious when using the national inventories perspective. 

While our adjustment does not change the overall amount of decarbonisation effort necessary to reach the Paris Agreement goal, it changes where we currently stand relative to it. 

In the absence of such adjustment, countries would collectively appear in a better position than they actually are.

Depending heavily on LULUCF

Our results also provide a warning to countries depending strongly on the land sector to achieve their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. 

From a bookkeeping accounting perspective, sustainable land-management practices can both strongly reduce existing sources of emissions as well as enhance land-based carbon removal. 

Across pathways assessed by the IPCC, “direct” emissions typically reduce strongly and stay net-negative through the rest of the century. However, in the pathways we reanalyse, inventory-aligned emissions on land begin to reverse around mid-century and become a net source of emissions in about a quarter of the assessed pathways by the end of the century. This is because the weakening of the indirect effect contributes more than the strengthening of the direct effect in these scenarios.

While inventory-aligned fluxes result in smaller net emissions today compared to model-based fluxes, depending on them to achieve national climate targets presents a “double-edged sword”. 

The indirect component of these fluxes is due to climate and environmental effects, which will change based on how strongly and quickly the world is able to reduce emissions in the future. 

In particular, with high levels of mitigation, as the rate that CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere slows down, the strength of indirect fluxes will decrease and may even reverse. 

Thus, countries should take care when depending strongly on the land sector as enhanced “direct” emissions reductions and removals can be masked by weakening “indirect” fluxes. 

Other important factors which we did not consider could make depending on land-based removals even riskier, such as disturbances from wildfires, which will likely increase as the world continues to warm.

The graphic below provides an illustration. It shows the impact on direct (red) and indirect (blue) carbon emissions (up arrows) and removals (down) for scenarios with low (top) and high (bottom) global mitigation, and unchanged (left) and increased (right) land-based mitigation. The overall impact of each combination on net emissions is shown by the green arrows.

Figure showing how land-based removals (down arrows) can help or hinder achievement of national climate targets under unchanged (left) or increased (right) land-based mitigation, as well as low (top) or high (bottom) global mitigation action. Source: Gidden et al. (2023) Moving forward

Our study highlights the importance of comparing apples to apples when trying to evaluate and take stock of progress towards the Paris Agreement. 

Part of the core enabling architecture of the agreement was its “bottom-up” nature, enabling countries to set targets and measure progress towards them in such a way that fits national circumstances. At the same time, care must be taken to comparing these efforts with pathways assessed by the global scientific community.

Here, we offer one way to use the “Rosetta Stone” approach to align IPCC-assessed pathways with national emissions inventories, which can be used to assess progress in the near-term. We offer a number of recommendations for improving this moving forward.

First, we suggest that national climate targets can be made more explicit by separating targets for land-based mitigation from other sector-based action. In this way, each can be measured and assessed separately and uncertainties due to accounting differences can be contained.

Second, we suggest that countries can be more explicit and clarify their deforestation pledges, as direct and indirect carbon fluxes vary greatly in different forest types.

Third, we suggest that scientific and policymaking communities convene to agree on an “operational translation system”. That is, something that would allow each to understand the other by addressing any remaining inconsistencies and develop methods for estimating country-considered indirect fluxes to support comparison with modelled pathways.

And, fourth, we suggest that modellers incorporate their own estimates of the indirect effect from the land-component of their integrated models. Together with efforts by policymaking communities, this would bring alignment directly into IPCC reports to improve comparability with global progress towards the Paris Agreement.

Countries will come together at COP28 this year to conclude the very first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement. 

Our assessment shows that even more ambitious climate action is needed to achieve the benchmarks laid out by scientists when using national inventory accounting as a starting point, which will help future stocktakes. 

It is critical that progress is measured in a like-for-like manner rather than the current situation comparing apples and oranges. 

Even so, the overarching message remains loud and clear that the world must drastically cut emissions this decade, irrespective of accounting frameworks, to stay within the limits of the Paris Agreement. It is vital this message is not lost in the minutia of discussions around reporting technicalities.

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Cropped 22 November 2023: COP28 curtain-raiser; Food security fear; Dust, bugs and ice

The Carbon Brief - Wed, 11/22/2023 - 07:05

Welcome to Carbon Brief’s Cropped. 
We handpick and explain the most important stories at the intersection of climate, land, food and nature over the past fortnight.

This is an online version of Carbon Brief’s fortnightly Cropped email newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

Key developments Climate and conflict imperilling food security

HUNGER CRISIS: More than four million people in Somalia – one-quarter of the country’s population – are at risk of experiencing “crisis-level hunger” by the end of the year, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The east African country is facing “floods that have uprooted hundreds of thousands of people” after a “historic drought” earlier in the year killed livestock and ruined crops and pastureland, Reuters reported. A WFP spokesperson told the newswire: “This bombardment of climate shocks, from drought to floods, will prolong the hunger crisis in Somalia.” Meanwhile, Palestine is facing an “agricultural crisis”, with “farmlands being burned, farmers/fishermen being attacked and inaccessibility to food and water infrastructure” amidst the ongoing war with Israel, the Times of India wrote. 

WHEAT WORRIES: Imports of wheat are “on track to hit record levels” in China this year following heavy rains damaging the country’s domestic supply, Bloomberg reported. Wheat prices on the international market hit a three-year low at the end of September. The outlet noted that China’s spending spree “adds an element of uncertainty to supply chains that have become increasingly vulnerable to war and protectionist trade policies”. In a separate piece, Bloomberg explored India’s food systems, writing that “farm plots are shrinking, infrastructure remains rickety and climate change is only bringing more disruption”. Governmental policies are “rapidly becoming a threat to food security in the world’s most populous country, upping the stakes for [Narendra] Modi’s ruling party”, Bloomberg added.

TECHNO-FIXES: The UK, Somalia and COP28 hosts UAE convened a one-day Global Food Security Summit in London on Monday. Ahead of the summit, aid organisations and other groups “raised the alarm” about the meeting’s technology-focused agenda, which they alleged was “potentially sidelining key issues, such as early action to stamp out hunger, fair trade, and local control of food systems”, according to Devex. “No new financial commitments” were expected to be made at the summit, the outlet continued. During the meeting, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak announced an initiative to “bring together work on developing climate-resilient crops”, Reuters reported. The initiative will fall under the auspices of CGIAR. The UK government also released a white paper on international development, laying out its intention to “work in partnership with countries to tackle extreme poverty and climate change, rather than just providing aid money”, Reuters said.

Dust, ice, extinctions and inequality

LAND LOSS: The world is losing nearly one million square kilometres of productive agricultural lands each year due to sand and dust storms amplified by human activities, Reuters reported. According to a report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), at least one-quarter of these storms are a result of human activities, such as mining and overgrazing. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD executive secretary, told Reuters that topsoil losses are affecting food supplies, migration and navigation, and creating security risks. 

ICE MELT: Carbon Brief covered the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative’s 2023 “state of the crysophere” report. The report revealed that, if the planet were to reach 2C of warming, ice sheets and glaciers would experience “extensive, long-term [and] essentially irreversible” losses. Sustained warming of 2C could produce “potentially rapid, irreversible sea level rise from the Earth’s ice sheets” and lead polar oceans to thaw and undergo “essentially permanent corrosive ocean acidification”, Carbon Brief wrote.

SPECIES DECLINE: Nearly 2m species around the world are at risk of extinction, doubling the number previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, according to a study reported on by the Guardian. The increased estimate is largely a result of better data availability about insect populations, the newspaper added. The study also revealed that almost one-quarter of invertebrates, which play a vital role in pollination, are at risk of extinction. Insects also provide other services to human populations, such as healthier soils and pest control, the Guardian said. A different study found that in the UK and Ireland, almost half of seabirds species have declined over the past 20 years, Discover Wildlife wrote. Some of the species that have undergone declines are the common gull and the puffins, the Irish Times added.

UNEQUAL FARMING: Women who work in the agricultural sector in Africa and Asia are more affected than men by climate risks, including droughts, floods and the reduction of crop-growing season, wrote the Indian environmental website DownToEarth. The article cited a study published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, which analysed the climate risk for women farmers from 87 countries across those two continents and Latin America. The study pointed out that women are less likely to adapt to climate change than men because of gender inequalities and unequal access to resources. Dr Els Lecoutere, the first author of the study, told Down To Earth that their research may encourage discussions over the need to finance a loss-and-damage fund at COP28 and to invest in regions where women face the most risk.

Spotlight COP28 curtain-raiser

For many years, carbon sinks, carbon markets and land-use emissions were often the only way to talk about food and nature at UN climate COPs. 

COP27 in Egypt last year changed that – and political momentum has been growing ever since.

Food – as was the case for health and other subjects without a dedicated negotiations track – got a specific reference for the first time in the COP27 cover decision, along with rivers and nature-based solutions. This political acknowledgement was reinforced by a formal decision to renew work on agriculture, food security and climate for another four years.

The United Arab Emirates presidency of COP28, which starts next week, has promised that food will be at the heart of the negotiations and, specifically, within the Global Goal on Adaptation, mandated for adoption in Dubai.

At the Global Food Security Summit in London this week, UAE’s climate minister and COP28 food systems lead Mariam Almheiri urged world leaders to sign on to the “Emirates declaration on resilient food systems, sustainable agriculture and climate action”, which rallies states to “align their food systems” with their climate pledges. The declaration, as Politico reported, “barely acknowledges that food production and consumption patterns are a major driver of climate change”. Two-thirds of what the UAE is calling a “1.5C aligned menu” for COP28 delegates will be vegan and vegetarian for the first time in COP history, according to ProVeg

But in an El Niño year with skyrocketing food prices, burning forests, choked supply chains, farmers grappling with the costs of war and green trade measures with no climate finance forthcoming, countries are keen that agriculture and ecosystems are recognised in COP outcomes in a more significant, lasting way than just workshops or a token thematic day.

One of the highlights of COP28 is the global stocktake, a five-yearly Paris Agreement “report card” on how the world has done so far, what actions have worked and what is needed to address the many yawning gaps

Developing countries are keen that the stocktake also serves as a record of what has not worked: a recognition of mounting losses, risks and the costs of climate inaction. 

For instance, Latin American countries and Nepal have called for recognising ecosystems – specifically, rainforests and mountains – at “tipping-point risk”. For developed countries such as New Zealand and Canada, phasing out agricultural subsidies, halting deforestation by 2030, and developing “innovative” finance for nature-based solutions are vital concerns. Meanwhile, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), US and Canada want to see international carbon markets operationalised, as nations are set to approve rules.

But the stocktake is not just a wishlist. It has to inform the next round of climate pledges, with current pledges both inadequate and, some say, over-reliant on land.

For instance, a new Land Gap report, produced by a range of NGOs and academics, estimates that countries have proposed about 1bn hectares of land for land-based carbon removal in their climate mitigation pledges, with large emitters such as the US and Saudi Arabia relying the most on land to reach net-zero. 

Meanwhile, Indigenous leaders have called for Europe’s lawmakers to vote to protect 80% of the Amazon by 202​​5 as part of their official COP28 position, pointing to a “cascade” of tipping points. “How much more do we have to wait until the global north prioritises the protection of the largest forest on Earth?” said Fany Kuiru, general coordinator of the Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA). “Today, it is our home burning, but yours will be next.”

To Teresa Anderson, global climate justice lead at Action Aid, it remains to be seen if the COP28 presidency’s menu of food systems initiatives is more than just a “random buffet of high-tech nothingburgers with a climate dressing, possibly sitting queasily alongside a couple of agroecological tidbits.” She told Carbon Brief:

“At best, this could help put industrial agriculture in the climate hotseat. At worst, it could act as a cynical effort to distract from the urgently-needed conversations about fossil fuels.”

News and views

GLIMMER OF HOPE: The Colombian government announced a new biodiversity fund to finance initiatives for climate action, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and protection of vulnerable populations. According to the government, the resources will come from a national carbon tax, Colombia’s general budget and donations, among other sources of funding. The minister of environment, Susana Muhammad, said the country foresees the fund reaching nearly $1bn by 2026, Reuters reported. Muhammad described the fund as “a fundamental tool for environmental management and change throughout the country” and said the government expects to start off the delivery of resources by the end of this year. A trust will monitor the effective distribution of resources, the newswire wrote, adding that environmental initiatives can be funded more than once.

NATURE VOTE: EU negotiators “finally clinched a political deal” on an embattled nature restoration law proposal, edging one step closer to the finish line, Politico reported. The adapted proposal agreed on 9 November gave “major concessions to the centre-right European People’s Party” which has “led a tough campaign” against the bill, the outlet said. The proposed law, covered in previous editions of Cropped, aims to restore and recover damaged ecosystems in the EU. It was “very painful” to see some key targets weakened, said Jutta Paulus, a green European politician, but she added: “I think we can be content with what we got.” The bill must still be formally adopted by the European parliament and council over the coming months before it can take effect. 

MARINE PROSPECTING AREAS? :The UK government “has been accused of putting its quest for new North Sea oil and gas ahead of safeguarding Britain’s wildlife”, after one-quarter of new exploration licenses were found to overlap with Marine Protected Areas, the i newspaper reported. The story was based on analysis by Unearthed which found that 17 of 64 blocks “sit wholly or partly within” a protected area. Environmental groups described the Rishi Sunak government’s trade-off as “morally obscene” and pointed to impacts on species from whales to corals to fish spawning grounds. A Shell spokesperson quoted by the i newspaper said that “many oil and gas platforms already producing in the North Sea are in Marine Protected Areas”.

FORCED FISHING: The UK National Health Service and supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are sourcing seafood from “companies exploiting forced labour by minority Uyghurs”, DeSmog reported, with calls for the UK to “impose import controls on China”. The four-year-long Outlaw Ocean investigation has “sparked a wave of responses”, including “prompt[ing] a congressional hearing” in the US. A Canadian seafood company cut ties with tainted suppliers, the Globe and Mail reported. Separately, a Guardian investigation found that BP, Spotify and WWF were among companies that bought carbon credits from a South Pole biomass power project in Xinjiang “at risk of being implicated in potential Uyghur forced labour”. While South Pole told the paper it halted credit sales from the project in 2021, companies that bought the credits said “they were not alerted”.

EVICTED COMMUNITIES: The Kenyan government is evicting members of the Indigenous Ogiek community from their ancestral lands in order to make room for carbon-offsetting projects, BBC News reported. Members of the Ogiek community are hunter-gatherers in the country’s biggest forest, the Mau Forest. One of the community’s leaders told the outlet that the government had destroyed their houses and properties. The evictions were conducted even though the Ogiek community gained legal recognition to own and keep their lands in 2017, reported Mongabay. Kenya’s forest service said that the government is fighting illegal farming and housing in the forest.

ARGENTINIAN ELECTION: Although the newly elected far-right Argentinian president, Javier Milei, raised “general ideas” around renewable energy during the campaign, he is a climate sceptic and has brought forth few environmental proposals, Chequeado wrote. In fact, Milei has said that he wants to eliminate the country’s main science agency and the ministries of health, science and the environment, a situation considered by Argentinian researchers as “extremely worrying”, Nature reported. Milei and vice-president-elect Victoria Villarruel propose to call off withholding taxes on wheat, corn and soybeans, Agrofy News reported. The news website added that the government plans to work on a biofuel law, eliminate import and export regulations and advance measures focused on the traceability of commodities’ environmental footprints.

Watch, read, listen

‘NITROGEN WARS’: A Guardian long-read looked at the rise of the Dutch farmers’ revolt, which, it wrote, “may well determine the outcome of [this week’s] general election”.

SHORT STRAW: The Atlantic spoke to scientists who said that even if all plastic pollution were to stop tomorrow, “it would be at least a quarter of a millennium” before the world could see a plastic-free sea turtle.

WOOD FOR TREES: A new investigation by the Mekong Eye examined how Vietnam is clearing native forests for wood pellets to help Japan and South Korea reach their net-zero targets.

OLIVE BRANCH: An essay in Atmos looked at olive trees, which are “vital to life in Palestine”, and argued that the roots of the conflict need peace to be addressed.

New science

Integrated global assessment of the natural forest carbon potential

A new study found that the amount of carbon being stored in forests is “markedly under the natural potential” of those ecosystems. Researchers used field and satellite data to analyse the gap between current and potential carbon storage, finding that forests could hold more than 200bn tonnes of carbon more than they currently do. More than 60% of this potential occurs in still-standing forests, they found, meaning that restoration could increase carbon storage in those areas. The authors concluded: “Although forests cannot be a substitute for emissions reductions, our results support the idea that the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of diverse forests offer valuable contributions to meeting global climate and biodiversity targets.”

Increased extreme humid heat hazard faced by agricultural workers
Environmental Research Communications

Labourers on rice and maize croplands are the agricultural workers most exposed to dangerous humid heat, new research found. Researchers quantified the number of extreme humid heat days that took place throughout the planting and harvesting seasons of 12 crops, by using temperature data, agricultural calendars and cropland areas data. They found that south-east Asia, equatorial South America, the Indo-Gangetic Basin, coastal Mexico and the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea faced the most frequent humid heat extremes, with certain areas exceeding 60 extreme humid heat days per year. The authors suggested that their results could encourage the creation of policies and efforts to protect vulnerable populations.

Low-intensity fires mitigate the risk of high-intensity wildfires in California’s forests
Science Advances

A new study found that low-intensity wildfires “substantially reduce the risk” of future, higher-intensity ones in California. Researchers analysed 20 years of satellite data related to fire activity across 124,000 hectares of California’s forests. They found that some forests’ fire risks were reduced by nearly two-thirds and these protective effects lasted for at least six years. They concluded that their findings “support a policy transition from fire suppression to restoration, through increased use of prescribed fire, cultural burning and managed wildfire”, adding that the state should aim to return to a “pre-suppression and precolonial fire regime”.

In the diary

Cropped is researched and written by Dr Giuliana Viglione, Aruna Chandrasekhar, Daisy Dunne, Orla Dwyer and Yanine Quiroz. Please send tips and feedback to

The post Cropped 22 November 2023: COP28 curtain-raiser; Food security fear; Dust, bugs and ice appeared first on Carbon Brief.

Categories: I. Climate Science

Q&A: Why deals at COP28 to ‘triple renewables’ and ‘double efficiency’ are crucial for 1.5C

The Carbon Brief - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 08:04

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber has urged governments to agree on global goals to triple renewables capacity and double the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. 

This call from Al-Jaber is supported by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and political momentum is building.

This month, a US-China joint statement on climate change backed tripling renewables to substitute coal, oil and gas power and bring about “post-peaking meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction”.

The context for these targets is a world that remains dramatically off course against global climate goals, with recent assessments pointing to warming of 2.4-2.7C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

In its recent report on how to get back on track, the IEA said tripling renewables, doubling efficiency and slashing methane emissions 75% by 2030 would provide 80% of the emissions cuts needed for 1.5C.

This Q&A explains what tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency means – and why they are the two biggest actions the world can take to get back on track for 1.5C, even though they would be insufficient on their own to meet the target.

It also looks at what governments would need to do to deliver these goals and the likelihood of them being agreed at COP28. 

Why are tripling renewables and doubling efficiency key to 1.5C?

In the IEA’s latest pathway to keeping warming below 1.5C, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use fall by 35% by 2030, compared to 2022.

Yet the latest analysis from UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) shows that global emissions are set to fall by just 2% below 2019 levels by 2030, if countries continue to follow their current pledges.

The IEA set out five “pillars” to achieve deep emissions reductions by 2030 and keep the path to 1.5C open, which it suggests should be adopted at COP28. It states that tripling of global renewable capacity is the “single largest driver” of emissions reductions to 2030 in its roadmap.

The other pillars are doubling the rate of global energy efficiency improvements by 2030, cutting methane emissions from fossil fuel production 75% by the same date, developing “innovative, large-scale financing mechanisms” to support such changes in developing countries and measures to ensure an “orderly decline in the use of fossil fuel”, such as no new coal power being approved.

As the chart below shows, renewables growth and improved energy efficiency account for almost three-quarters (72%) of the total CO2 emissions cuts needed by 2030 in the IEA pathway.

Although tripling renewables is the single largest, energy efficiency – when combined with electrification – makes a slightly larger contribution.

The next largest contribution in the IEA’s roadmap would come from slashing the amount of methane released during the extraction of fossil fuels.

The leftmost column in the chart below shows global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022. The black wedge shows how this would be expected to increase out to 2030 as a result of economic growth.

The next wedges show how expanding renewables (red), boosting energy efficiency (dark blue) and other mitigation measures (yellow) would cut emissions by 2030. The light blue wedge shows the additional contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from tackling methane.

Contributions to the change in global energy-related CO2 emissions between 2022 and 2030, under the IEA’s 1.5C net-zero emissions by 2050 pathway. Source: Ember analysis of IEA Net Zero Roadmap. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Renewables would in fact have a hand in both doubling efficiency and slashing methane emissions. Renewables would help to power emissions savings from electric cars and heat pumps, which are both counted in the “efficiency” wedge because they are much more efficient than petrol cars and gas boilers.

Furthermore, tripling renewables would halve the need for coal power, which would in turn deliver almost half of the reduction in coal mine methane required under the IEA’s 1.5C pathway.

Ember’s analysis of the IEA’s 1.5C pathway, shown in the chart below, finds that just under half of the increase in renewable generation to 2030 would be used to displace fossil fuel electricity, while just over half would be used to meet rising electricity demand.

The large majority of the rise in electricity demand to 2030 would come from electrifying buildings, transport and industry. Another sizable part of the rise in electricity demand would power electrolysers to manufacture “green hydrogen”. 

The leftmost column shows global renewable electricity generation in 2022. The second set of wedges shows increases in demand due to electrification (red), production of green hydrogen (yellow) and underlying electricity demand growth (dark blue).

The third set shows the displacement of electricity generated from coal (black), as well as oil and gas (light blue). The final wedges show contributions from other low-carbon sources, including nuclear (sky blue), hydrogen or ammonia (purple) and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (orange). The rightmost column shows electricity generation from renewables in 2030 under the IEA pathway.

Contributions to the change in global electricity generation from renewables between 2022 and 2030, under the IEA’s 1.5C net-zero emissions by 2050 pathway. Source: Ember analysis of IEA Net Zero Roadmap. Chart by Carbon Brief.

The chart above also illustrates why energy efficiency improvements are also critical. Without efficiency, total electricity demand would rise substantially faster, meaning there would be much less additional renewable power to displace coal and gas-fired generation.

Back to top

What does ‘tripling renewables’ mean?

The target of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 was not initially clearly defined, with different groups and different pathways implying slightly different goals.

The COP28 presidency is now explicitly calling for a target of 11,000 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity by 2030, which would mean a tripling of the 3,629GW installed by the end of 2022.

This target is similar to the levels installed by 2030 in 1.5C pathways from the IEA and IRENA, which reach 11,008GW and 11,174GW respectively. 

A global tripling would not mean every country being required to achieve a tripling of domestic capacity. Each country’s renewable capacity today affects how ambitious it would be to individually achieve a tripling – and the target is defined at a global level, rather than nationally.

With this in mind the Nairobi Declaration for example, targets a fivefold increase in Africa’s renewables capacity, subject to access to financing.

Solar is expected to be the main technology used for tripling capacity. It provides two-thirds of the rise in renewables capacity out to 2030 and half of the increase in generation in the IEA’s 1.5C scenario. 

This would see solar capacity increasing fivefold from 2022-2030. Combined with a threefold increase in wind , wind and solar would provide 92% of the tripling target.

New hydro, bioenergy, geothermal, marine and other technologies are still significant though, accounting for 8% of new renewable capacity and 15% of the rise in renewable generation.

The figure below shows the increase in capacity expected from solar, wind and other renewables under the IEA’s 1.5C pathway, illustrating the dominant role of wind and solar.

Contributions to the tripling of renewable capacity by 2030 in the IEA’s 1.5C pathway, gigawatts by technology. Source: Ember analysis of IEA Net Zero Roadmap. Chart by Carbon Brief.

New nuclear and, to a lesser extent, fossil-fired generation with carbon capture and storage, have a much smaller role to play in 2030 under the IEA’s 1.5C pathway.

The increase in global nuclear capacity increase by 2030 would be equivalent to just 2% of that for renewables – though this would be equivalent to 9% of the rise in renewables generation.

Back to top

What does ‘doubling energy efficiency’ mean?

The proposed target of doubling energy efficiency is a shorthand for saying that the rate of energy efficiency improvements would need to double by 2030, compared with 2022 levels.

Specifically, as proposed by the IEA, the target refers to the rate of improvement of global energy intensity, the amount of energy needed to generate each unit of economic output.

This stood at 2% per year in 2022 – already nearly double the average rate of the previous five years, according to the IEA. In the IEA’s 1.5C pathway, this rate continues to rise, reaching 4% per year in 2030.

According to the IEA, doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements could be achieved through four pillars, shown in the chart below.

First, electrification and renewables. Electric vehicles use two-to-four times less energy than internal combustion engine vehicles; meanwhile, heat pumps use three-to-five times less energy than fossil fuel boilers. Moving to a more electrified economy would substantially reduce overall energy demand. 

Second, clean cooking. Traditional use of biomass is extremely inefficient compared to modern improved cooking stoves. Over two billion people today lack access to clean cooking, and the IEA assumes this falls to zero by 2030 in its 1.5C pathway.

Third, technical efficiency. Focusing on the best available technologies for all electrical appliances, especially air conditioners, makes for the largest increase in efficiency of all the pillars.

Fourth, behavioural changes by individuals. The IEA makes relatively stretching assumptions here, including on heating and cooling homes less, reducing demand for flights and shifting surface transport away from cars. 

Contributions to doubling the annual rate of global energy efficiency improvements, %, between 2022 and 2030 in the IEA’s 1.5C pathway. Source: Ember analysis of IEA Net Zero Roadmap. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Energy demand globally has been consistently increasing – but at a slower rate than GDP. This has resulted in large gains in energy intensity over at least the last half-century. 

However, the IEA net-zero scenario shows that to stay below 1.5C, the world would need to do something new: reduce primary energy demand, even as GDP rises.

Achieving the rise in energy intensity to 4% per year would mean global primary energy demand in 2030 would be nearly 10% lower than in 2022.

Crucially, however, greater energy efficiency would mean the world could generate higher levels of energy services – warm homes, miles driven and so on – even as primary energy demand falls.

Back to top

Is tripling renewables possible?

While tripling renewable energy capacity in just eight years might seem like an impossibly ambitious target, it’s worth reflecting on progress to date.

According to IEA figures, global renewable energy capacity reached 3,629GW in 2022, nearly triple the level seen in 2010. Moreover, within that total, solar capacity increased 29-fold.

(IRENA figures, reflected in the figure below, record a slightly lower total of 3,372GW.)

Both the IEA and IRENA’s modelling on what it would take to stay below 1.5C include renewable capacity tripling to at least 11,000GW by 2030. While the scenarios do not test what is possible, they are based on the agencies’ assessments of what it would be reasonable to achieve, in each country and sector of the global economy.

Another way to answer the question of whether the tripling target is possible is to look at current government plans to expand renewable energy capacity.

An analysis by Ember of 57 country-level renewable policies for 2030, covering 90% of global electricity generation, shows that the world is already targeting more than a doubling of renewable capacity to 7,250GW by 2030.

This would be roughly equivalent to repeating the record annual additions expected in 2023 – some 500GW, up from 300GW last year – every year for the rest of the decade, as shown in the figure below.

Still, tripling renewable capacity within eight years would require even more rapid growth, as the chart illustrates. Annual additions would need to rise from 500GW in 2023 to 1,500GW in 2030, an annual growth rate of 17%. It is worth adding that the average growth rate from 2016-2023 was also 17%.

Past and projected future global renewable energy capacity, gigawatts, if the tripling by 2030 target is met (red) and if annual additions continue at the 2023 level (dark blue). The dashed light blue line shows capacity at the end of 2022. Source: Ember analysis of IEA and IRENA data. Chart by Carbon Brief.

The latest IEA assessment of government policies is more optimistic than Ember’s, showing global renewable capacity reaching 8,611GW by 2030 or 9,786GW if countries meet their climate pledges.

Moreover, Ember’s country-level analysis highlights that many national targets were set before the record renewable progress in 2023, meaning their ambition is perhaps lower than it could be.

Nevertheless, it is clear that a tripling target would entail significantly higher ambition than governments are currently envisaging.

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What would governments need to do?

Tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency is achievable, according to a recent flagship report by IRENA, the COP28 presidency and the Global Renewables Alliance

However, meeting the targets would require significant effort at a national and international level, the report says. It identifies the key enablers to unlock a large-scale increase in renewables and energy efficiency through decisive action from policymakers.

The policy priorities in the report include: standards for new appliances and buildings or bans on the least efficient options; reform of tax incentives and subsidy reform, including of direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies; electricity market redesign, recognising the shift towards systems largely based on zero marginal cost renewables; streamlined permitting, particularly for wind, solar and electricity networks; and efforts to maximise social benefits, via community benefit schemes and other measures. 

These policy interventions are needed across the whole of government – not just the climate and energy ministries – according to the report, meaning their implementation would require supporting all government departments to deliver the energy transition.

Expanding low-carbon energy sources in line with the tripling target relies on a fast build-out of new infrastructure. This includes building power grids faster, developing more energy storage, and ensuring smart electrification. In many countries, electricity grids are holding back not just the deployment of renewables, but also the connection of electric cars and heat pumps.

Energy storage will be a key flexibility measure, the report continues, and long-duration storage is highlighted as a major priority, although flexibility would need to be improved everywhere. For example, it highlights that electrification would need to be “smart” so that electric cars and heat pumps are used most when there is abundant sun and wind.

Finally, finance support is critical, the report says. Only 20% of renewables investment happens outside China and developed economies, with access to competitive finance being a major barrier.

The IEA suggests $80-100bn in annual concessional funding is needed by the early 2030s to lower the cost of finance and mobilise private capital in lower income countries.

Andreas Sieber, of environmental NGDO, suggests that even more funding would be required, suggesting debt cancellation at scale, as well as $100bn in concessional finance and $200bn in grants yearly.

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The road to COP

Support for the targets of tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency is building ahead of COP28, but many hurdles remain. 

More than 60 countries, including the EU, US and COP28 hosts the UAE have now said they would support a pledge to triple global renewables, a draft of which would also commit to doubling efficiency.

However, this would have a different status to a deal backed by all countries within the final COP28 text.

The recent US-China climate statement committed both countries to support a global tripling of renewables, but overlooked a doubling of energy efficiency, mirroring the G20 position. It remains to be seen if the agreement reached at COP will include either target.

If the targets are agreed, there would also be a need for action to meet them.

The COP presidency is already urging countries to come to COP with “tangible commitments” to achieve the renewable and efficiency goals. After that, a post-COP review process would deliver accountability for the achievement of the targets.

Beyond the renewable and efficiency targets, COP28 is likely to be debating text in other related areas, including whether to phase down or phase out fossil fuels.

As the charts above show, delivering on renewables and efficiency would yield major reductions in fossil fuel use this decade. However, they are only two parts of the IEA’s recipe for staying below 1.5C.

As IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol told Carbon Brief in September, implementing some but not all of those ingredients would not be sufficient to get back on track.

In particular, Birol noted the importance of “giving a signal to the markets and the governments and companies around the world that in order to reach this 1.5C target, we have to see fossil-fuel use decline”. A target on renewables alone would be “far from being enough” for 1.5C, he said.

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Autumn statement 2023: Key climate and energy announcements




UNEP: Humanity is still ‘breaking all the wrong records’ in fast-warming world




Analysis: China’s emissions set to fall in 2024 after record growth in clean energy

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Analysis: Global CO2 emissions could peak as soon as 2023, IEA data reveals

International policy



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The post Q&A: Why deals at COP28 to ‘triple renewables’ and ‘double efficiency’ are crucial for 1.5C appeared first on Carbon Brief.

Categories: I. Climate Science

Carbon Tracker Power & Utilities Country Profiles updated and expanded

Carbon Tracker Initiative - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 07:48

Today we are launching an update to our Country Profiles for the global coal power sector. This is a platform tool designed to assist policymakers, diplomats and investors in key decision-making as major economies strive to transition to a cleaner energy future, while can also serve as a valuable source of information on the state of coal phaseout to a wider audience.  


Launch Country Profiles


We see a read-across between our Country Profiles and other Carbon Tracker projects – notably the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels, which publicly details data (expressed in CO2-equivalent) about coal, oil, and gas production and reserves; as well as our Power & Utilities sector reports.    

Utilising our in-house Global Coal Power Economic Model, which tracks the financial risks of coal power at the asset-level, we provide metrics as to the future economic outlook for coal-fired power generation in key nations, alongside policy analysis of these countries’ readiness and willingness to shift to lower cost renewables. 

Countries we cover: Australia (new) China Czech Republic (new) Germany (new) India (updated) Indonesia Japan (updated) Kazakhstan (new) Poland (updated) South Africa (updated) South Korea (updated) Vietnam

Our profiles now cover more than 2,000 GW of operational and planned coal-fired plant capacity, representing over 80% of global coal capacity[1].

We assess the economic competitiveness of existing coal-fired power stations in these countries against renewable alternatives, as well as the viability of any remaining planned future projects.

Our high-level recommendations then aim to aid policymakers in accelerating and facilitating the shift away from dependence on coal for power generation as the clock continues to tick on completing the decarbonisation of this key sector well ahead of economy-wide net zero emissions targets.

Coal expected to continue to struggle to deliver investor returns

Our modelling shows once again that coal-fired power stations offer no long-term value to investors. Existing units will see their operating hours dwindle over time owing to growing competition from cheaper low-carbon sources, while planned new build projects will never recover initial investment.

For the countries we have profiled, we project that most new coal-fired power stations planned or under construction must either cease operations or be retrofitted with unproven and costly carbon capture and storage technology before the end of the 2020s, or else put their nation’s net zero target ambitions beyond reach.

Wind and solar continue to represent the cheapest long-term electricity supply sources globally, and policymakers should put into place the market support frameworks to ensure their continued deployment at pace. With increased disruption to renewable energy supply chains this year, support schemes based upon entire project revenues and viability would be preferable over those based solely upon protection against wholesale power price volatility.

Robust carbon pricing schemes which enforce mandatory participation upon the power sector and produce sufficiently high levy values to drive the action required to deliver long-term climate goals are also key tools in reducing coal plant dependence and generating revenues for use within the clean energy sector. For the countries we have profiled, only EU nations enforce a sufficiently high carbon price on their power generation sector, owing to their mandatory participation in the EU Emissions Trading System where price levels have reached €80-100/t in recent years.

Focus on grid investment to unlock next wave of renewables

While our recommendations continue to include calls across the board for nations to identify clear and ambitious phaseout deadlines and schedules for their remaining coal-fired plant fleet, we have also this year urged policymakers to ensure planning and funding resources are made available for the transmission grid infrastructure investment required to facilitate maximum renewable energy penetration.

The importance of grid infrastructure in enabling the expansion of the low-carbon energy supplies required to push coal-fired power stations into retirement has jumped to the forefront of the global energy policy agenda in 2023 as policymakers grapple with growing queues from renewable energy developers to connect their projects upon completion[2]. Ensuring that the grid is an enabler for the energy transition and not a long-term obstacle will be vital if coal is to be phased out over timescales aligned with climate targets.

Rapid reductions in global coal power required for net zero delivery

The IEA is clear under its Net Zero by 2050 scenario that the world’s most inefficient coal-fired power stations must be phased out by 2030, while all unabated coal units in advanced economies must also be shut down by that year, before full global phaseout by 2040[3]. The countdown to coal’s final days is underway, but the delivery of this still requires policymakers to be clear on their commitment to net zero. We urge governments globally to signal an end to remaining subsidies for coal-fired units and show strong support for rapid clean energy growth to ensure that the electricity sector leads the charge to economy-wide net zero delivery.

Our Country Profiles are a tool for engagement

We view this platform as a dynamic one that we can add to and improve through feedback and engagement. Please do reach out to us if you wish to discuss any of our modelling work, attain access to data sets, or to engage over our recommendations to policymakers.

Over time we plan to add further countries, so would welcome suggestions on these, while we also intend to incorporate our Gas Power Economic Model to provide similar metrics for global gas-fired power station economics.

Any questions? Email us at


[1] Global Energy Monitor – [2] See our Gone with the Wind report from June 2023 – [3] IEA Coal –

The post Carbon Tracker Power & Utilities Country Profiles updated and expanded appeared first on Carbon Tracker Initiative.

Categories: I. Climate Science

At a glance - How sensitive is our climate?

Skeptical Science - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 07:36

On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a "bump" for our ask. This week features "How sensitive is our climate?". More will follow in the upcoming weeks. Please follow the Further Reading link at the bottom to read the full rebuttal and to join the discussion in the comment thread there.

At a glance

Climate sensitivity is of the utmost importance. Why? Because it is the factor that determines how much the planet will warm up due to our greenhouse gas emissions. The first calculation of climate sensitivity was done by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius in 1896. He worked out that a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in air would cause a warming of 4-6oC. However, CO2 emissions at the time were miniscule compared to today's. Arrhenius could not have foreseen the 44,250,000,000 tons we emitted in 2019 alone, through energy/industry plus land use change, according to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of 2022.

Our CO2 emissions build up in our atmosphere trapping more heat, but the effect is not instant. Temperatures take some time to fully respond. All natural systems always head towards physical equilibrium but that takes time. The absolute climate sensitivity value is therefore termed 'equilibrium climate sensitivity' to emphasise this.

Climate sensitivity has always been expressed as a range. The latest estimate, according to AR6, has a 'very likely' range of 2-5oC. Narrowing it down even further is difficult for a number of reasons. Let's look at some of them.

To understand the future, we need to look at what has already happened on Earth. For that, we have the observational data going back to just before Arrhenius' time and we also have the geological record, something we understand in ever more detail.

For the future, we also need to take feedbacks into account. Feedbacks are the responses of other parts of the climate system to rising temperatures. For example, as the world warms up. more water vapour enters the atmosphere due to enhanced evaporation. Since water vapour is a potent greenhouse gas, that pushes the system further in the warming direction. We know that happens, not only from basic physics but because we can see it happening. Some other feedbacks happen at a slower pace, such as CO2 and methane release as permafrost melts. We know that's happening, but we've yet to get a full handle on it.

Other factors serve to speed up or slow down the rate of warming from year to year. The El Nino-La Nina Southern Oscillation, an irregular cycle that raises or lowers global temperatures, is one well-known example. Significant volcanic activity occurs on an irregular basis but can sometimes have major impacts. A very large explosive eruption can load the atmosphere with aerosols such as tiny droplets of sulphuric acid and these have a cooling effect, albeit only for a few years.

These examples alone show why climate change is always discussed in multi-decadal terms. When you stand back from all that noise and look at the bigger picture, the trend-line is relentlessly heading upwards. Since 1880, global temperatures have already gone up by more than 1oC - almost 2oF, thus making a mockery of the 2010 Monckton quote in the orange box above.

That amount of temperature rise in just over a century suggests that the climate is highly sensitive to human CO2 emissions. So far, we have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2 by 50%, from 280 to 420 ppm, since 1880. Furthermore, since 1981, temperature has risen by around 0.18oC per decade. So we're bearing down on the IPCC 'very likely' range of 2-5oC with a vengeance.

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!

Click for Further details

In case you'd like to explore more of our recently updated rebuttals, here are the links to all of them:

Myths with link to rebuttal Short URLs Ice age predicted in the 1970s It hasn't warmed since 1998 Antarctica is gaining ice CRU emails suggest conspiracy What evidence is there for the hockey stick CO2 lags temperature Climate's changed before It's the sun Temperature records are unreliable The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics We're heading into an ice age Positives and negatives of global warming Global cooling - Is global warming still happening? How reliable are climate models? Can animals and plants adapt to global warming? What's the link between cosmic rays and climate change? Is Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth accurate? Are glaciers growing or retreating? Ocean acidification: global warming's evil twin The human fingerprint in global warming Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming How do we know more CO2 is causing warming? Explaining how the water vapor greenhouse effect works The tricks employed by the flawed OISM Petition Project to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change Is extreme weather caused by global warming? How substances in trace amounts can cause large effects How much is sea level rising? Is CO2 a pollutant? Does cold weather disprove global warming? Do volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans? How do human CO2 emissions compare to natural CO2 emissions? Climate scientists could make more money in other careers How reliable are CO2 measurements? Do high levels of CO2 in the past contradict the warming effect of CO2? What is the net feedback of clouds? Global warming vs climate change Is Mars warming? How the IPCC is more likely to underestimate the climate response How sensitive is our climate?


If you think that projects like these rebuttal updates are a good idea, please visit our support page to contribute!

Categories: I. Climate Science

Corporate disclosures Conference 2023

Carbon Tracker Initiative - Tue, 11/21/2023 - 05:07

4 December | London

Corporate Disclosures conference will take place in London on Monday 4th December 2023.

This educational one-day event, designed for ESG and sustainability reporting managers, heads of sustainability and CSOs from corporates, aims to provide preparers with a practical toolkit for sustainability disclosure, reporting and assurance.

Through hands-on “how-to” sessions, interactive panels and corporate case studies to enable peer-to-peer learning, we will tackle the key reporting challenges facing corporates to prepare for 2023 and beyond.

Sepi Roshan, will take be moderating the session: Data governance, collection and management and aligning financial reporting with sustainability reporting

The post Corporate disclosures Conference 2023 appeared first on Carbon Tracker Initiative.

Categories: I. Climate Science

Climate Adam: Climate Negotiation Crisis - Will COP28 be a giant mess?

Skeptical Science - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 07:43

This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any).

It's no secret that COP climate negotiations often disappoint. But the COP28 talks in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are off to a bad start... before they've even started. From fears about the location, to frustration of the appointment of oil man Sultan al Jaber as president, COP28 is off to a bad start before it's even started.

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Categories: I. Climate Science

Interactive: Who wants what at the COP28 climate change summit

The Carbon Brief - Mon, 11/20/2023 - 07:32

As a year of record-breaking temperatures and climate change-fuelled disasters draws to a close, nations are once again preparing to gather for another round of UN climate talks.

Several major international issues will be up for negotiation at COP28, which is taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) between 30 November and 12 December. 

A two-year “global stocktake” to assess progress under the Paris Agreement will reach its conclusion, with officials discussing how it should inform future action. COP28 is also meant to get a new fund for climate change-induced “loss and damageup and running.

The event’s location in a major petrostate and the choice of Sultan Al Jaber – chief executive of the state-owned oil company – as president, have sparked controversy

Yet with fossil fuels under the spotlight, some nations will argue for an agreement on phasing them out in the coming years. There will also be calls for other global targets, including tripling renewable energy capacity.

In order to keep track of what everyone wants to get out of COP28, Carbon Brief has conducted its annual assessment of priority issues for various parties, compiled into the interactive table below. This is based on publicly available submissions to the UN and wider research conducted by Carbon Brief.

The first column shows the countries and UN negotiating blocs, the second column shows the topics up for debate and the third column indicates specific issues within those topics.

The final column indicates the position that each grouping is likely to take on a particular issue at the summit. This ranges from “high priority” – meaning the grouping is likely to be strongly pushing the issue – to “red line”, which means the grouping is likely to oppose this issue and show no room for compromise.

This is a living document that will be updated during the course of the summit. Please get in touch if you would like to offer additions to the table, by emailing

Explanations of the overarching issues and jargon-filled language that permeates the talks can be found below the interactive table.

#cop-table{ padding:20px; } @media (max-width:400px){ #cop-table{ padding:0px } } Global stocktake 

The centrepiece of COP28 negotiations will be the conclusion of the global stocktake, under which nations have evaluated their progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement (see Carbon Brief’s Q&A for more information).

One key COP28 outcome will be a “decision” text concerning the stocktake. This is intended to reflect on efforts so far and lay out what parties agree should happen going forward.

Parties have submitted their views on what they expect from this document, reflecting their own priorities. Given the all-encompassing nature of the stocktake, these submissions are as varied as the COP negotiations themselves. 

They include proposals for how countries should increase the ambition of their climate plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), to align them with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C and well-below 2C warming target.

(As it stands, the stocktake has confirmed that countries must scale up both the ambition of their plans and their efforts to achieve them in order to meet the Paris goals.)

There are also proposals for how the stocktake should inform other aspects of UN negotiations, such as the global goal on adaptation and the new post-2025 climate finance target (see sections below).

In addition, the submissions provide an opportunity for nations to push for sector-specific targets that could help the world get on track for its climate goals. 

These include some targets for global energy industries that have already gathered some momentum in the run-up to COP28 (see: Energy targets). However, they also include more country-specific preoccupations, such as Russia’s proposal that gas should be mentioned as a “transitional fuel” or Australia’s proposal for a global low-carbon hydrogen target.

Energy targets

Among the global stocktake submissions from parties are a handful of energy-sector targets that are likely to be a major focus at COP28. The UAE presidency has made “fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030” one of its priorities for the event.

Perhaps chief among these proposals is the on-going discussion about phasing out or, at least, “phasing down” fossil fuels. 

This topic has gained considerable traction since a mention of phasing down unabated coal power made it into the decision text at COP26 in 2021 – marking the first-ever COP decision targeting fossil fuels.

Support for a decision on phasing out all fossil fuels gained momentum at the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2022, with around 80 countries getting on board. However, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

The COP28 UAE presidency has stated that “phasing down demand for, and supply of, all fossil fuels is inevitable and essential”.

Some parties have said they will prioritise a complete fossil-fuel phaseout, while others have emphasised a phaseout only of “unabated” fossil fuels or rejected the idea entirely. Still others have pushed more specific targets such as an end to coal or fossil-fuel subsidies.

At the same time, global momentum has gathered behind a call to triple global renewable capacity, which was backed by the G20 group of major economies in September.

The idea has been promoted by the International Energy Agency and adopted by the COP28 presidency, along with another call to double the rate of energy-efficiency improvements.

Loss and damage

Another major issue at COP28 will be the “operationalisation” of the loss-and-damage fund. 

The decision to set up this fund, after decades of pressure from developing countries, was widely regarded as one of the main achievements from last year’s COP27.

In the wake of the summit, a “transitional committee” of government officials from around the world was tasked with agreeing on a framework for the fund. This included deciding who should pay into it, who could draw money from it and where it would be based.

Over the following months, these negotiations revealed deep divides between developed and developing countries, which are reflected in Carbon Brief’s interactive table. 

In particular, developing countries did not want the fund to be located at the US-dominated World Bank. They also wanted it to be accessible to all developing countries and primarily supported with grant-based finance from developed countries.

Meanwhile, developed countries wanted to ensure that the private sector, humanitarian groups and the wealthiest developing countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, shared the burden of paying into the fund.

The transitional committee ultimately produced a draft framework that could be agreed at COP28. However, the US objected to the final outcome and the summit could see these issues reopened in negotiations.


Parties are also expected to adopt a framework for achieving the “global goal on adaptation” at COP28. Such a target was first set out in the Paris Agreement, but since then it has lacked a clear definition.

The process of “operationalising” the global goal is a priority for some developing countries, who argue that protecting people against the effects of climate change is given less attention than efforts to cut emissions.

Parties have laid out their visions for what the goal is and how progress towards it could be measured.

Finance is a central issue for adaptation, which tends to receive less funding overall than mitigation efforts. Some parties will likely push for references to a goal of doubling overall adaptation finance – first mentioned in the Glasgow Climate Pact that emerged from COP26 – and look for ways to link adaptation outcomes with the findings of the global stocktake.


Climate finance is always an important issue at COPs. Developing countries need trillions in annual investments to carry out their climate plans and transition to low-carbon economies.

At the UN climate talks in Bonn earlier this year, some developing countries made it clear that they did not want to discuss cutting emissions unless there was an equal focus on financial support.

Next year, countries are due to decide on a new, post-2025 global goal for providing developing countries with climate finance. There is still no official confirmation that developed countries have met the outstanding $100bn-per-year climate finance goal that they were meant to achieve in 2020.

These issues will loom over the COP28 talks as nations prepare the groundwork for the new target and discuss climate finance in relation to the global stocktake.

Other issues

Two more “work programmes” will continue at COP28. 

The mitigation work programme, which focuses on how countries can scale up emissions-cutting efforts, has had two “global dialogues” this year. They specifically addressed just energy transitions in the power and transport sectors. 

A decision on this at COP28 could help to take forward some of the work of the global stocktake and mobilise investment opportunities. 

The other work programme on “just transition pathways” focuses specifically on how the objectives of the Paris Agreement can be achieved while ensuring a “just transition” for people around the world.

Countries will also continue with work to get Article 6 carbon markets up and running. 

In particular, a “supervisory body” has been working on guidance for how the Article 6.4 carbon market should operate. Nations will need to approve these rules at COP28.

Q&A: What is the ‘global stocktake’ and could it accelerate climate action?




China Briefing 16 November: Sunnylands statement; China methane plan; Coal capacity payments

China Briefing



Q&A: The fight over the ‘loss-and-damage fund’ for climate change




Guest post: How 120 of the world’s major cities could cut transport CO2 by 22%

Guest posts



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The post Interactive: Who wants what at the COP28 climate change summit appeared first on Carbon Brief.

Categories: I. Climate Science


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