Tag Archives: Climate change coverage

That was the week…

A number of users of the Network have told us they would like to have a summary of the stories published each week.  This list contains those we’ve produced since Sunday 20 January.  We’d like to hear whether you think this is a useful feature, and whether there are improvements you’d like to see. All the stories are available on the site, with the older ones to be found in the archive. Norwegians say heating may be milder 26 January: Including data from the start of this century in a model has led Norwegian scientists to think that the impact of climate change on global temperatures may be less than many of their peers have predicted. The Copenhagen target of no more than a 2°C average warming for the planet might be achievable after all, according to the new research. A team backed by the Norwegian research council harnessed multiple sources of data to a single climate model, ran it millions of times and found that, even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere double by 2050, warming might still be no greater than 1.9°C. Fossil fuels ‘too valuable to burn’ 26 January: German researchers, in an exclusive Climate News Network report, say fossil fuels are too valuable to burn for energy. They should be replaced by renewable energy, the team says. A study by the World Future Council has attempted for the first time to put an economic price on the consumption of oil, gas and hard coal to produce energy when they could be used instead for making useful things. A report – The Monetary Cost of the Non-Use of Renewable Energies – by Dr. Matthias Kroll claims the cost of these important natural resources runs into trillions of dollars a year, but does not appear in economic calculations of the costs of generating energy. Andean glaciers show record melting 25 January: The water which millions of people drink and rely on for crops and energy is at risk, as the warming atmosphere melts the tropical glaciers of the Andes faster than at any time in the last 300 years. The glaciers are losing ice at an accelerating rate and, in the most comprehensive study so far, scientists identify the cause as atmospheric warming. An international team tried to measure the mass of ice at high altitude and compare those measurements with records that date back more than 60 years. They conclude that – although the glaciers have been retreating ever since the coldest point of the Little Ice Age between the 16th and 19th centuries – this retreat has now reached an unprecedented rate. Global energy governance ‘needs urgent reform’ 24 January: The global institutions entrusted with regulating the world’s energy are badly out of date and need urgent revision both to ensure stability of supply and to protect the climate, according to a report which says climate change is largely an energy problem. Existing bodies overseeing the global energy sector are inadequate and have failed to adapt to widespread changes in energy supply and demand, it says. And nothing short of a technology revolution is needed to tackle the twin challenges of rising energy demand and climate change mitigation. The report is The Reform of Global Energy Governance, by Neil Hirst at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London and Antony Froggatt of the London-based think tank, Chatham House. Brazil’s paradoxical energy policy 23 January: Insisting that its policy of generating electricity from hydropower is emissions-free, Brazil is facing opposition from river communities threatened by its expansion. Droughts and changing weather patterns are also leaving less water to drive the turbines. But while environmentalists see this as an opportunity to invest more in other renewables, like wind and solar power, the government has preferred to fall back on the increasing use of coal, diesel or gas-fired  plants to make up the shortfall. Between October and December 2012 these plants produced 15.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, according to a study. This position has drawn criticism from within the government itself. A Ministry of the Environment adviser said that last year the annual total for emissions from these plants was higher than those caused by deforestation. Geo-engineering plan gets thumbs down 22 January: One proposed method of compensating for the effect of greenhouse gas emissions would be hugely expensive, requiring a new industry to match the size of the global coal mining sector, a study says. Marine scientists in Germany have calculated the effectiveness of “fertilising” the oceans with minerals to change their chemistry and absorb more of the atmospheric carbon dioxide they receive and thus reduce the risk of further global warming. The technique would work. But it would also involve the massive additional use of energy on a global scale and in the course of doing so release further quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And in the end, it could make only a small difference to overall emissions. ‘Most fail’ to end poverty while cutting emissions 21 January: World leaders have so far failed to raise people out of poverty by economic development while at the same time avoiding the worst effects of climate change, Swedish researchers say. A study of 134 countries published by TCO, a confederation of 15 Swedish trade unions (based on data from the TCO RioRank database), shows that sustainable development is not yet close to being achieved. The theory is that countries can develop and at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emissions by combining energy efficiency and the greater use of renewable sources of power. About 40 countries have managed to do this, but the vast majority have not – and among those that have failed, the study says, are the fastest-growing economies and the most polluting: China, the US and India. Renewables: The 99.9% solution 20 January: A combination of wind and solar power and sophisticated energy storage systems could keep a power grid fully supplied between 90 and 99.9% of the time, at costs comparable with today’s fossil fuel and nuclear mix, according to a new US study. Computer simulation measured the performance of inland and offshore wind farms and photovoltaic cells, backed up by battery and fuel cell storage, under the lowest cost conditions, for a 72 gigawatt grid system (one gigawatt will typically provide power for about 750,000 to a million US households). Renewable energy, on this model, is the least-cost option, or close to it. “At expected 2030 technology costs, the cost-minimum is 90% of hours met entirely by renewable,” the team report. “And 99.9% of hours, while not the cost-minimum, is lower in cost than today’s total cost of electricity.”

A number of users of the Network have told us they would like to have a summary of the stories published each week.  This list contains those we’ve produced since Sunday 20 January.  We’d like to hear whether you think this is a useful feature, and whether there are improvements you’d like to see. All the stories are available on the site, with the older ones to be found in the archive. Norwegians say heating may be milder 26 January: Including data from the start of this century in a model has led Norwegian scientists to think that the impact of climate change on global temperatures may be less than many of their peers have predicted. The Copenhagen target of no more than a 2°C average warming for the planet might be achievable after all, according to the new research. A team backed by the Norwegian research council harnessed multiple sources of data to a single climate model, ran it millions of times and found that, even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere double by 2050, warming might still be no greater than 1.9°C. Fossil fuels ‘too valuable to burn’ 26 January: German researchers, in an exclusive Climate News Network report, say fossil fuels are too valuable to burn for energy. They should be replaced by renewable energy, the team says. A study by the World Future Council has attempted for the first time to put an economic price on the consumption of oil, gas and hard coal to produce energy when they could be used instead for making useful things. A report – The Monetary Cost of the Non-Use of Renewable Energies – by Dr. Matthias Kroll claims the cost of these important natural resources runs into trillions of dollars a year, but does not appear in economic calculations of the costs of generating energy. Andean glaciers show record melting 25 January: The water which millions of people drink and rely on for crops and energy is at risk, as the warming atmosphere melts the tropical glaciers of the Andes faster than at any time in the last 300 years. The glaciers are losing ice at an accelerating rate and, in the most comprehensive study so far, scientists identify the cause as atmospheric warming. An international team tried to measure the mass of ice at high altitude and compare those measurements with records that date back more than 60 years. They conclude that – although the glaciers have been retreating ever since the coldest point of the Little Ice Age between the 16th and 19th centuries – this retreat has now reached an unprecedented rate. Global energy governance ‘needs urgent reform’ 24 January: The global institutions entrusted with regulating the world’s energy are badly out of date and need urgent revision both to ensure stability of supply and to protect the climate, according to a report which says climate change is largely an energy problem. Existing bodies overseeing the global energy sector are inadequate and have failed to adapt to widespread changes in energy supply and demand, it says. And nothing short of a technology revolution is needed to tackle the twin challenges of rising energy demand and climate change mitigation. The report is The Reform of Global Energy Governance, by Neil Hirst at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London and Antony Froggatt of the London-based think tank, Chatham House. Brazil’s paradoxical energy policy 23 January: Insisting that its policy of generating electricity from hydropower is emissions-free, Brazil is facing opposition from river communities threatened by its expansion. Droughts and changing weather patterns are also leaving less water to drive the turbines. But while environmentalists see this as an opportunity to invest more in other renewables, like wind and solar power, the government has preferred to fall back on the increasing use of coal, diesel or gas-fired  plants to make up the shortfall. Between October and December 2012 these plants produced 15.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, according to a study. This position has drawn criticism from within the government itself. A Ministry of the Environment adviser said that last year the annual total for emissions from these plants was higher than those caused by deforestation. Geo-engineering plan gets thumbs down 22 January: One proposed method of compensating for the effect of greenhouse gas emissions would be hugely expensive, requiring a new industry to match the size of the global coal mining sector, a study says. Marine scientists in Germany have calculated the effectiveness of “fertilising” the oceans with minerals to change their chemistry and absorb more of the atmospheric carbon dioxide they receive and thus reduce the risk of further global warming. The technique would work. But it would also involve the massive additional use of energy on a global scale and in the course of doing so release further quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And in the end, it could make only a small difference to overall emissions. ‘Most fail’ to end poverty while cutting emissions 21 January: World leaders have so far failed to raise people out of poverty by economic development while at the same time avoiding the worst effects of climate change, Swedish researchers say. A study of 134 countries published by TCO, a confederation of 15 Swedish trade unions (based on data from the TCO RioRank database), shows that sustainable development is not yet close to being achieved. The theory is that countries can develop and at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emissions by combining energy efficiency and the greater use of renewable sources of power. About 40 countries have managed to do this, but the vast majority have not – and among those that have failed, the study says, are the fastest-growing economies and the most polluting: China, the US and India. Renewables: The 99.9% solution 20 January: A combination of wind and solar power and sophisticated energy storage systems could keep a power grid fully supplied between 90 and 99.9% of the time, at costs comparable with today’s fossil fuel and nuclear mix, according to a new US study. Computer simulation measured the performance of inland and offshore wind farms and photovoltaic cells, backed up by battery and fuel cell storage, under the lowest cost conditions, for a 72 gigawatt grid system (one gigawatt will typically provide power for about 750,000 to a million US households). Renewable energy, on this model, is the least-cost option, or close to it. “At expected 2030 technology costs, the cost-minimum is 90% of hours met entirely by renewable,” the team report. “And 99.9% of hours, while not the cost-minimum, is lower in cost than today’s total cost of electricity.”

Book Review: Media Meets Climate

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Friday 18 January If climate change is not receiving the media coverage it deserves, a new book says, then much of the responsibility must rest with the media themselves LONDON, 18 January – Environmental journalists and writers on climate change have had a roller coaster ride over the last decade. Back at the turn of the century the environment correspondent was something of an oddity, often found in the dimmer reaches of a newsroom, squeezed into a space near the broom cupboard and derisively referred to by more mainstream colleagues as a ‘tree hugger’ – or worse. Then, spurred on by events such as the long, hot European summer of 2003, climate change suddenly hit the global news agenda in a big way. The warnings contained in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were headline news. The 2006 Stern Review looking at the economic impacts of climate change brought the issue on to the financial pages. The media tumult reached its height with the Copenhagen summit in late 2009 – a meeting rather immodestly billed by many news outlets as one that would determine the future of the planet. Then, after the debacle in the Danish capital, all went quiet. The environment correspondent went back to the broom cupboard as what were deemed far weightier matters took hold: the global economic system was near collapse, China and India were on the rise, there were celebrities to worry about and football matches to be won.

Responsible journalism?

Media Meets Climate looks at coverage of successive international climate conferences and questions the role and responsibility of journalism in communicating issues of climate change. The book’s editors lay their cards on the table: “Our work is based on the conviction that climate change is the global challenge of the 21st century.” Climate change is a global issue but so far international institutions like the UN have proved woefully inadequate at tackling it, with any meaningful progress garroted by narrow national interests or the activities of powerful corporations and lobby groups. Successive summits have bred only pessimism. “In how many ways can you write that nothing’s happening?” asked one frustrated journalist during the 2011 climate summit in Durban. Writers in this book point out that journalism is also in some ways responsible for the mess we’re in. In the interest of so-called balance, climate change contrarians have often been given far too much publicity. The media has not kept pace with globalisation. Media organisations still think in terms of the domestic rather than a global audience. Even those who claim to be international – the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN or The Guardian, FT, Wall Street Journal or China Daily – are influenced in the main by national considerations. “The fact still remains that most of the global media landscape is still made up of nationally anchored media outlets” say the authors.

Rapid slide in coverage

Climate change can be a hard story both to tell and to sell. Scientists are often not the best communicators. Journalists can over-simplify and sensationalise. Summits get lost in a noxious cloud of acronyms.  Climate change is at times vague, full of possibles and maybes – not the sort of thing to get an editor’s blood racing. Dramatic pictures of bomb blasts and plane crashes are splashed across the front pages, but pictures of CO2 emissions just don’t make the grade. This is an exhaustive analysis and, at times, it makes for gloomy reading. We are taken through ‘Climategate’ in the UK, the “profoundly partisan” nature of Australia’s newspapers reporting on the introduction of a carbon tax, and the activities of the naysayers and deniers. The ups and downs of media coverage on climate change are noted: the authors say more than 3,200 stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events in Copenhagen. At the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories shrank to a quarter that amount. Media attention might have moved elsewhere, yet with each passing day the climate change issue is becoming ever more serious. “Must try harder” is writ large on the media report card. – Climate News Network Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism By Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.) Published by Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, 2012

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Friday 18 January If climate change is not receiving the media coverage it deserves, a new book says, then much of the responsibility must rest with the media themselves LONDON, 18 January – Environmental journalists and writers on climate change have had a roller coaster ride over the last decade. Back at the turn of the century the environment correspondent was something of an oddity, often found in the dimmer reaches of a newsroom, squeezed into a space near the broom cupboard and derisively referred to by more mainstream colleagues as a ‘tree hugger’ – or worse. Then, spurred on by events such as the long, hot European summer of 2003, climate change suddenly hit the global news agenda in a big way. The warnings contained in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were headline news. The 2006 Stern Review looking at the economic impacts of climate change brought the issue on to the financial pages. The media tumult reached its height with the Copenhagen summit in late 2009 – a meeting rather immodestly billed by many news outlets as one that would determine the future of the planet. Then, after the debacle in the Danish capital, all went quiet. The environment correspondent went back to the broom cupboard as what were deemed far weightier matters took hold: the global economic system was near collapse, China and India were on the rise, there were celebrities to worry about and football matches to be won.

Responsible journalism?

Media Meets Climate looks at coverage of successive international climate conferences and questions the role and responsibility of journalism in communicating issues of climate change. The book’s editors lay their cards on the table: “Our work is based on the conviction that climate change is the global challenge of the 21st century.” Climate change is a global issue but so far international institutions like the UN have proved woefully inadequate at tackling it, with any meaningful progress garroted by narrow national interests or the activities of powerful corporations and lobby groups. Successive summits have bred only pessimism. “In how many ways can you write that nothing’s happening?” asked one frustrated journalist during the 2011 climate summit in Durban. Writers in this book point out that journalism is also in some ways responsible for the mess we’re in. In the interest of so-called balance, climate change contrarians have often been given far too much publicity. The media has not kept pace with globalisation. Media organisations still think in terms of the domestic rather than a global audience. Even those who claim to be international – the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN or The Guardian, FT, Wall Street Journal or China Daily – are influenced in the main by national considerations. “The fact still remains that most of the global media landscape is still made up of nationally anchored media outlets” say the authors.

Rapid slide in coverage

Climate change can be a hard story both to tell and to sell. Scientists are often not the best communicators. Journalists can over-simplify and sensationalise. Summits get lost in a noxious cloud of acronyms.  Climate change is at times vague, full of possibles and maybes – not the sort of thing to get an editor’s blood racing. Dramatic pictures of bomb blasts and plane crashes are splashed across the front pages, but pictures of CO2 emissions just don’t make the grade. This is an exhaustive analysis and, at times, it makes for gloomy reading. We are taken through ‘Climategate’ in the UK, the “profoundly partisan” nature of Australia’s newspapers reporting on the introduction of a carbon tax, and the activities of the naysayers and deniers. The ups and downs of media coverage on climate change are noted: the authors say more than 3,200 stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events in Copenhagen. At the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories shrank to a quarter that amount. Media attention might have moved elsewhere, yet with each passing day the climate change issue is becoming ever more serious. “Must try harder” is writ large on the media report card. – Climate News Network Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism By Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.) Published by Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, 2012