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Germany Calls For End of Combustion Engine: The 16 Biggest Climate Stories This Week

A BMW i8 hybrid plug-in sports car at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: BMW
A BMW i8 hybrid plug-in sports car at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: BMW

Things are moving quickly as our planet makes the transition to a new, clean economy. You want to stay in the loop – but you’re busy, that’s why we keep an eye on the headlines for you!

Welcome to the 11 October 2016 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

1. The sound of rising carbon levels is surprisingly… hypnotic.

Scientists have loaded carbon dioxide data into Apple software, and the result is trance-inducing according to the Daily Planet. Although the human-caused climate change soundtrack might remind some of Super Mario or a nineties techno record, it actually maps musical notes to a 58-year record of carbon dioxide measured high in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

2. Tesla is about to reveal a new mystery product.

Tesla, the US electric car maker, is set to announce a new, “unexpected” product on 17 October. A tweet by CEO Elon Musk set off a torrent of speculation and an article on Inverse lists three theories.

3. “Burnt out:” A German push to ban combustion-engine cars by 2030 is winning support.

A proposal to stop sales of new combustion-engine cars by 2030 has gained cross-party support in Germany’s Bundesrat, the country’s upper house of parliament, Der Spiegel reported according to Reuters. The Bundesrat calls on the European Commission to draft legislation that would ensure that “at the latest” as from 2030, only emission-free cars should be sold in the European Union, according to Der Spiegel.

“Good for Germany!” responded Tesla’s Elon Musk on twitter. Presumably, it would also be good for Musk’s business. But Forbes reports that electric cars were also front and centre for German automakers – including the Volkswagen Group (with brands like VW, Audi and Porsche) and Mercedes-Benz – at the Paris auto show this month.

4. The Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force on 4 November.

The Paris Agreement will formally come into force next month, legally binding countries that have ratified the deal to act on the pledges made last year. Carbon Brief explains what this means.

5. Now the agreement has been ratified, cities are stepping up to help deliver the Paris climate deal.

Writing for Climate Home, the mayors of Paris, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro say they are ready and willing to implement the historic climate accord.

6. The EU parliament backed the Paris Agreement – here’s what it looked like on Twitter.

A host of dignitaries were present at the EU parliament to witness an overwhelming majority of members vote in favour of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Daily Planet has listed a few tweets to give you an impression of what the historic vote by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) looked like on social media.

7. How yet another Paris agreement surprise took Twitter by storm.

The EU’s final, high-speed sprint to ratify the Paris Agreement had caught many off guard, and so did last week’s sudden confirmation that the accord would take effect globally. The Daily Planet has an overview of what it looked like on Twitter.

8. A different storm: why is Matthew causing damage on a colossal scale?

A hurricane expert at Climate-KIC partner the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment explains the devastation caused in Haiti, the Caribbean and United States this week. Regarding the link with climate change, she writes “One thing that can be agreed upon is the increased damage when these storms make landfall in the future.”

Deutsche Welle quotes another expert as saying “we’re very sure about the increased threat posed by storm surge, which often causes a big portion of the damage. Sea levels have already risen, and will continue to rise over the coming decades.”

9. EU Environment Agency tells countries to shut down fossil fuel power plants between now and 2030.

Significant changes will be needed in the EU member states’ energy-generating mix if the European Union is to meet its 2050 goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 per cent compared to 1990 levels, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report.

10. The Montreal Protocol will be amended this week.

After being directed for almost 30 years at substances that destroy ozone, the Montreal Protocol will for the first time target a group of greenhouse gases, Scientific American reports. Following a long diplomatic process, this week’s meeting should conclude on 14 October with a ban on HFCs.

11. “Congratulations, second presidential debate: You nearly discussed climate change!”

This is the slightly sarcastic headline of an opinion piece in the Washington Post (Warning: Graphic language as it includes quotes from the Republican nominee). Grist has done the math and reports that climate change got 325 seconds in two presidential debates.

12. Meanwhile, American cleantech adoption is surging amidst dramatic cost reductions.

A new US government report has revealed that the cost of low-carbon technologies has plunged by as much as 94 percent since 2008, the Daily Planet reports. The news comes as the frontrunner in the US presidential elections, Hillary Clinton, reiterated at a debate with her opponent Donald Trump on Sunday (9 October) that she wants the United States to become the “clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”

13. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says the Paris Agreement is accelerating a multi-trillion low-carbon market.

If it’s up to US energy secretary Ernest Moniz, Europe will have some healthy competition in the global low-carbon economy, the Daily Planet reports.

14. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … a solar ship?

A small company has developed a flying machine like you’ve never seen before, according to CBC news. “Half bush plane, half blimp — with helium in its wings — the aerial vehicle uses a mix of energy: solar power, batteries and a bush plane engine,” CBC reports. The “fat and slow” aircraft can serve “really tight spaces” in remote areas and one of its best uses is expected to be disaster relief, according to CBC.

15. Canada’s Trudeau steps up on climate change.

In an editorial published last week (7  October), the New York Times praises Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing announcement. The piece highlights that it “marks a big turning point for his country, whose previous government resisted aggressive steps on climate change because it wanted to protect the oil industry.”

“American officials — especially those who think carbon pricing will ruin the economy — can learn a lot by looking north of the border,” the paper writes, pointing out how “even Alberta, home to Canada’s enormous oil sands deposits, has agreed to tax carbon emissions.”

Trudeau may not have seen the editorial until the next day as he was celebrating the start of what is the second-largest celebration of Bavarian culture in the world after Munich, CBC news reports.

16. Canada’s oil province is planning to build its first solar farms.

Alberta, home to Canada’s vast oil sands deposits, says it wants to be the birthplace of solar farms in Western Canada, the Edmonton Journal reports. Alberta’s environment minister, Shannon Phillips, has said the province wants to move to solar to help encourage growth in green technologies and further diversify Alberta’s power grid, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Looking for something to fix?

One of these stories may just inspire your next venture:

  • Climate change may benefit oysters. But there’s a catch, reports Phys.org.
  • Climate change has been found to double the impact of forest fires. Over the past 30 years, human-caused climate change has nearly doubled the amount of forest area lost to wildfires in the western United States, the Globe and Mail reports.

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