News Press Review

USA Steps Aside, Europe And China Step Up: This Week’s 15 Biggest Climate Stories

Collage: Daily Planet
Collage: Daily Planet

Welcome to the 24 January 2017 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet press review.

Catch up on the latest developments in the transition to the zero carbon economy with some of the biggest stories about climate change this week. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

1. Climate scientists literally brought their Arctic basecamp to Davos to make a point.

A team of climate scientists decided to take the ‘What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic’ mantra literally and travelled to the World Economic Forum in Davos, with their basecamp in tow, the Daily Planet reports. The experts and researchers with decades’ worth of experience in the Arctic say the region is experiencing “dramatic changes,” as a result of climate change, and that unless action is taken it will result in “profound global consequences and risks.”

2. So how does climate change impact the Arctic? Here are 11 visual explanations.

The Arctic is warming up to three times as fast as the rest of the planet. National Geographic collected some of the most striking visualisations to show how this impacts the region. “What’s going on in the Arctic is really very impressive; this year was ridiculously off the chart,” NASA’s Gavin A. Schmidt told the New York Times.

3. As America steps aside on climate change, Europe and China step up.

Following the Trump inauguration, Europe and China are keen to get ahead in the zero carbon race. The New York Times reports how “there are plenty of countries happy to step up” following America’s change of heart on climate change under Donald Trump.

In a video statement from Davos, EU Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič said he told the World Economic Forum that “Europe is ready to lead in the fight against climate change.” He also said he had heard many positive reactions to the EU’s new “clean energy for all Europeans” mega-plan.  The Chinese delegation, meanwhile, “seemed to preach climate action every chance it got,” according to the New York Times.

Other countries “see it in their economic self-interest to do so,” Pete Ogden of the Center for American Progress told the New York Times, “And if the United States wants to cede the playing field, they’ll be happy to capture as big of a share as they possibly can.”

4. The business sector is the world’s best ally against climate policy u-turns says the UN secretary general.

Faced with political uncertainty in the United States, the UN secretary general called for a new partnership between the public and private sectors to make sure the Paris climate accord gets implemented according to the Daily Planet. António Guterres argued that without the private sector “we will not have the necessary innovation, we will not have the necessary capacity to discover new markets, new products, new services and to be able to develop new areas in the economy.”

5. President Xi of China has urged Trump to stay in the “hard won” Paris climate accord.

Xi said China’s green development investments are already paying off, Bloomberg reports. “We should join hands and rise to the challenge,” he told the World Economic Forum. “Let us boost confidence, take actions and work together for a bright future.” China already leads in renewable energy investment, spending almost $88 billion in 2016, one-third more than the United States according to Bloomberg.

6. China halts more than 100 coal power projects across the country.

The news follows the country’s announcement that it will spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020. Reuters now reports China’s energy regulator has also confirmed it is halting the construction of coal power projects. “Stopping under-construction projects seems wasteful and costly, but spending money and resources to finish these completely unneeded plants would be even more wasteful,” Greenpeace said according to Reuters.

7. Trump has replaced the White House website’s climate strategy with plans for more oil.

Newsweek reports how Trump’s White House website makeover meant the section about climate change has been replaced with a plan to use more oil and shale gas. The magazine points out how all the terrific numbers in the freshly inaugurated president’s energy plans lack any form of explanation or sources. “There are no superscripts, no footnotes,” the article says.

8. But the fossil fuel industry’s “glee” won’t necessarily translate into financial returns.

The Financial Times writes that “the idea that expanding where companies can drill, easing the process of getting a permit and scrapping efforts to curb carbon emissions ‘will unleash an energy revolution,’ as the Trump transition website put it, is untested. If more supplies do flow, they could depress energy prices and punish investors.” The FT also points out that “federal tax credits for wind and solar power are set to survive for at least three more years based on a budget deal reached in 2015” and that more than half of the US states have their own renewable energy programmes.

9. And actual US climate policy change may not follow as swiftly as website changes.

“The announcements may come fast and furious, but actually rolling back regulations takes some time,” Jody Freeman, head of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School told Public Radio International.

10. Meanwhile, a Spanish zero-emissions vehicle has made history at the Dakar Rally.

For the first time, an electric car has finished the notorious Dakar Rally, TreeHugger reports. According to the Acciona Dakar team, their’s was the only car of almost 18.000 cars to compete in the history of the rally to reach the finish line without using a drop of fuel.

11. Confirmed: Earth sets a temperature record for the third straight year.

“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the New York Times. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”

12. Satellite images have revealed solar power unites Republicans and Democrats across America.

If you’re wondering what still unites Americans across the political aisle, one surprising answer is solar power according to the Daily Planet. A solar company in California concluded this by using publicly available addresses of 1.5 million Republican and Democratic party donors along with machine learning and satellite data to survey their rooftops.

13. The 6 climate-themed films premiering at Sundance 2017.

The famous Sundance film festival kicked-off this year’s climate-themed edition one day before Donald Trump took office according to the Daily Planet. As part of a special climate change segment of 14 films and documentaries, six productions are set to undergo their world premieres at the event. Will any of them go down into history as classics? The Daily Planet took a look.

14. The UK government has been accused of trying to sneak out a major climate change reports two days before Trump’s inauguration.

The Independent reports that the five-yearly assessment of the impact of climate change on the UK shows there is a significant risk to the country’s food supply. A “leading climate expert” accused the UK government of “trying to sneak it out” without people noticing according to the Independent. The expert was reportedly “astonished” at the way its publication was handled. UK prime minister Theresa May is set to fly to the United States to meet with Trump and environmental groups are calling on her to try to talk some climate sense into him. You can explore the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 at this link.

15. Trump tweeted at the wrong Ivanka, and received a lesson on climate change in return.

The US president retweeted praise for his daughter Ivanka but included the Twitter handle of a woman in Britain with the same first name, CNET reports. “Ivanka Trump is great, a woman with real character and class,” the billionaire tweeted. The unexpected reply from England read “And you’re a man with great responsibilities. May I suggest more care on Twitter and more time learning about climate change.” The reply also included an image to explain the extent of the consensus among US scientists about climate change.

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