Climate clippings 179

1. Merkel slows down Germany’s renewable power growth

Angela Merkel has struck a deal with the German states to slow down the growth of green power, capping the expansion of onshore wind power at 2.8 gigawatts in capacity per year. The reason given is:

    Generous green subsidies have led to a boom in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. But the rapid expansion has pushed up electricity costs in Europe’s biggest economy and placed a strain on its grid.

Their target is to produce 40-45% of electricity from renewables by 2025. They are at about a third now, and in danger of overshooting!

Meanwhile, the US, Canada and Mexico have pledged to produce 50% of their power by 2025 from clean sources.

And China is looking to generate a quarter of its electricity from wind power by 2030, or even a third.

However, if you read down the article, they have wind power now not connected to the grid, and in some places where it is connected 40% is wasted because of China’s inflexible coal power stations. Seems they need to modernise their grid, but surprise, surprise they also have “powerful coal interests”.

2. Fossil fuels have a bright future

Perhaps Obama should check on what his minions are saying. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was addressing the US government’s annual Energy Information Administration conference on the urgency of action on climate change, but with this slide behind him showing what his agency thought was going to happen:

world energy use 2040_cropped_600

Holdren said he didn’t support the idea of keeping fossil fuels in the ground saying that it doesn’t “seem to be in the cards.” And he embraces gas as an interim technology.

Others who have done the calculations say gas alone will blow our emissions budget. Professor John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says:

    “If we take the 2C target seriously, coal really has to disappear. I think coal will have to be phased out completely in all countries of the world by about 2035.”

Dr Holdren’s talk was followed by one from Tesoro CEO Gregory Goff, who said coal was going gangbusters, and would continue to do so in India, China and elsewhere, because it’s cheap.

3. Democratic party platform recognises climate emergency of crisis proportions

Russell Greene, American climate activist:

    Last weekend in Orlando the platform committee of the Democratic Party added language into their platform acknowledging the official position of the Democratic Party to be that we are in a global climate emergency.

    Further, the platform acknowledges the scale of the threat to be so large that it will require a leadership response from our country on the scale of our national mobilization to confront the threat of fascism during WWII. The platform language I offered through an amendment entitled, “Global Climate Leadership”, explicitly acknowledges that anything short of that will bring catastrophic consequences to civilization.

We had a sliding doors moment in 2000, with hanging shards in Florida, when George Bush rather than Al Gore got the gong as US President. There may be another one 16 years later this December. Yet if Hillary Clinton is elected it will be on the back of a lot of corporate money, and one wonders how much would change.

4. Climate change to hit US military bases

Eventually even Republican politicians will take notice.

A new study finds that 18 US military sites will be affected by sea level rise by 2050.

    By 2050, most of these sites will be hit by more than 10 times the number of floods than at present, the report said, and at least half of them will experience daily floods.

5. Trouble at the top of the world

The Himalayas constitute the largest ice pack outside the polar regions. The annual seasonal melt:

    is the source of Asia’s 10 largest rivers including the Yellow, the Yangzi, the Mekong, the Irrawaddy and the Ganges — and their fertile deltas.

Flows from the region’s glaciers support roughly 1.3 billion people in China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. That includes three nuclear powers.

Warming is double the global average and the glaciers are melting fast – more than 500 glaciers have completely disappeared, and the biggest ones are retreating rapidly. Meltwater will increase in the short term, but in the next 30 years it will decrease.

Dust and black carbon from pollution are exacerbating the melt. We can expect more floods, heat waves, droughts and desertification are likely, plus wider climatic impacts to an unknown degree.

Political tensions make co-ordination of scientific monitoring difficult, let alone joint action.

Thanks John D for the link, which has spectacular photography.

6. Antarctic Peninsula warming and cooling

On the western side of the 800 mile long Antarctic Peninsula there are 674 glaciers, with almost 90% in retreat. Records show 3C warming over the last 50 years. Scientist believe the heat is coming from the ocean.

At the very tip of the Peninsula, research on six weather stations show that warming trends tipped around late 1998 to early 1999.

Up to that point the stations recorded an average warming of 0.32C per decade. From that point until the last measurement in 2014 the trend changed to cooling of 0.47C per decade.

    The authors of today’s study attribute the cooling at the six Antarctic Peninsula stations since the late 1990s largely to more frequent cold winds, caused by a stronger mid-latitude jet.

    These same atmospheric circulation changes have pushed sea ice inland, the paper notes, leading to a build up along the northern Antarctic Peninsula. The extra sea ice, in turn, has amplified the cooling trend by shutting off the flow of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere.

That’s on 1% of the Antarctic ice sheet. Longer term they think ocean warming will win out.