Climate change: Oceans ‘soaking up more heat than estimated’
BBC News is among a number of outlets reporting a new study which has found that the world has “seriously underestimated” the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years. BBC News says: “Their study suggests that the seas have absorbed 60% more than previously thought. They say it means the Earth is more sensitive to fossil fuel emissions than estimated. This could make it much more difficult to to keep global warming within safe levels this century.” The Washington post describes the study in Nature as “startling new research”, saying the “findings mean the world might have less time to curb carbon emissions”. It adds: “In the scientific realm, the new findings help resolve long-running doubts about the rate of the warming of the oceans before 2007, when reliable measurements from devices called ‘Argo floats’ were put to use worldwide.” The New York Times says that the “study, led by Laure Resplandy, a biogeochemical oceanographer at princeton University, found that between 1991 and 2016 the oceans warmed an average of 60 percent more per year than the panel’s official estimates”. Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief’s US analyst, has tweeted that he is “a bit skeptical of takes in the Washington post that [the study] would imply higher sensitivity/lower carbon budgets”. Meanwhile, MailOnline reports that separate teams of scientists have reported this week that “glaciers at the North and South poles are shrinking at an ‘unprecedented’ pace”.
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Climate change: Ireland failing on ‘human rights obligations’, says UN
prof David Boyd, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, has called the Irish government’s failure to take more effective measures to address climate change “a breach of Ireland’s human rights obligations”. The Irish Times says it is a “landmark intervention” by a UN human rights expert in an Irish environmental law case. Boyd said: “There is no doubt that climate change is already violating the right to life and other human rights today. In the future, these violations will expand in terms of geographic scope, severity, and the number of people affected unless effective measures are implemented in the short term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural carbon sinks.” He added that the Irish government “has clear, positive, and enforceable obligations to protect against the infringement of human rights by climate change”. The Irish edition of the Times says Boyd’s comments were part of a legal submission in support of a High Court challenge by an environmental NGO to the state’s plan to tackle climate change.
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Germany reaches deal to boost renewable energy capacity: SpD
Reuters reports that “Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Social Democrat (SpD) partners have agreed to keep their promise to speed up the expansion of renewable power installations, ending months of wrangling”. It adds: “Renewable energy is one of the most important drivers of Germany’s plans to become a low-carbon economy, part of the country’s commitment to help to combat global warming. As part of these efforts, the German government agreed in January to plan for additional tenders for 4 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics and 4GW onshore wind as well as an unspecified offshore wind energy contribution in 2019 and 2020, on top of regular tenders. This was designed to help to achieve a renewables rate of 65% in the power mix by 2030 compared with 36% now, among many other measures. The additional renewables capacity would reduce Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions by 8-10m tonnes a year.”
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Fracking company fails to win higher limit on tremors
The UK government has rejected Cuadrilla’s request to relax rules on earthquakes caused by fracking despite claims that the limits could prevent it testing the UK’s shale gas potential, reports the Times. The paper adds that Cuadrilla has already twice fallen foul of the rules over the past week, with tremors measuring 0.8 and 1.1 magnitude. Speaking at an event yesterday, Claire perry, the energy minister, said that the current restrictions were “entirely appropriate” during the initial testing phase. The Times says she added that the government would need to review the limits if the industry got to an “operational state”. However, she continued: “It would be a very foolish politician who would do things that would be considered to be relaxing regulatory standards when we are trying to reassure people about safety.”
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