Tag Archives: Europe

Frequent flyers should pay more to save the climate

Wealthy frequent flyers who take several holidays a year should pay higher taxes each time they fly, a British charity says.

LONDON, 6 April, 2021 – Although low-cost high-volume air travel has grown hugely this century, only a small proportion of the population, mostly in the world’s richest countries, ever take a flight – the frequent flyers who can afford to do so.

It is estimated that less than 20% of the world’s population has set foot on a plane, and of those that do fly, most travel by air once a year or less often, while the richest few take several flights annually.

This matters, because aviation is a significant driver of climate change,  and to prevent the world overheating dangerously pollution from aircraft has to be curbed.

One suggestion is that people who take many flights should pay a rising tax. Everyone’s first flight would be tax-free, to protect people taking one holiday a year, but frequent flyers, many of whom take a series of holidays, would pay an increasing tax for each extra flight in any calendar year.

Richest fly most

In a report, Elite Status, the UK-based charity Possible says that since it is the richest minority that flies most, this extra charge per flight would be a progressive tax – in other words, the people who could most easily afford it would pay the most.

The report says: “When it comes to climate change, air travel is uniquely damaging behaviour, resulting in more emissions per hour than any other activity – bar starting forest fires. This paper shows that it is also uniquely iniquitous. Everybody eats. But only the privileged few fly.”

The report looks at the state of flying before the Covid pandemic and analyses which are the countries that take most flights, and in each state what a tiny proportion of the population does the flying.

It comments that attempts by politicians to return aviation to its former  growth trajectory “by throwing public money at airlines” is going hand-in-hand with an awareness of the damage that flying does to the planet.

“Air travel is uniquely damaging behaviour … it is also uniquely iniquitous. Everybody eats. But only the privileged few fly”

It says the “fair, equitable and just” way to drive down aviation emissions is a frequent flyer levy. This would affect fewer than 1% of the world’s richest people, who account for more than half the passenger emissions generated by air travel.

One surprising finding in the report is that five nationalities (out of nearly 200 countries in the world) accounted for one third of all passengers on international routes in 2018.

Top of the table was the United Kingdom with 126.2 million flights, or 8.6% of the world’s passengers. The US came second with 111.5m, 7.6% of the total, and third was China with 97m (6.6%). Germany and France followed close behind.

Despite the high proportion of Europeans taking to the air compared with many less prosperous parts of the globe, there was still a very high proportion of the population (190m or 37%, excluding eastern Europe)  who had never been outside their own country, and more than half had never left the European Union.

Covid brings change

In 2010, as economies in the EU began to recover from the 2008 financial crash, 20% of the highest-income households were responsible for more than half of all expenditure on air travel, and for 14 times the expenditure of the 20% of lowest-income families.

A more recent statistic is that people on business are generally the most frequent flyers, with 10 or more flights a year, although on average air travellers take five flights annually, showing a tiny minority do most of the flying.

The report suggests that the coronavirus pandemic may change this pattern, with business flights being reduced because video conferencing has become both acceptable and time-saving.

The evidence from across the world, even in less-developed countries, is that everywhere, frequent flyers have higher incomes. It follows that, if international policies to control aviation’s climate impacts increase the cost of flying, this will impose greater costs on globally wealthy households. – Climate News Network

Wealthy frequent flyers who take several holidays a year should pay higher taxes each time they fly, a British charity says.

LONDON, 6 April, 2021 – Although low-cost high-volume air travel has grown hugely this century, only a small proportion of the population, mostly in the world’s richest countries, ever take a flight – the frequent flyers who can afford to do so.

It is estimated that less than 20% of the world’s population has set foot on a plane, and of those that do fly, most travel by air once a year or less often, while the richest few take several flights annually.

This matters, because aviation is a significant driver of climate change,  and to prevent the world overheating dangerously pollution from aircraft has to be curbed.

One suggestion is that people who take many flights should pay a rising tax. Everyone’s first flight would be tax-free, to protect people taking one holiday a year, but frequent flyers, many of whom take a series of holidays, would pay an increasing tax for each extra flight in any calendar year.

Richest fly most

In a report, Elite Status, the UK-based charity Possible says that since it is the richest minority that flies most, this extra charge per flight would be a progressive tax – in other words, the people who could most easily afford it would pay the most.

The report says: “When it comes to climate change, air travel is uniquely damaging behaviour, resulting in more emissions per hour than any other activity – bar starting forest fires. This paper shows that it is also uniquely iniquitous. Everybody eats. But only the privileged few fly.”

The report looks at the state of flying before the Covid pandemic and analyses which are the countries that take most flights, and in each state what a tiny proportion of the population does the flying.

It comments that attempts by politicians to return aviation to its former  growth trajectory “by throwing public money at airlines” is going hand-in-hand with an awareness of the damage that flying does to the planet.

“Air travel is uniquely damaging behaviour … it is also uniquely iniquitous. Everybody eats. But only the privileged few fly”

It says the “fair, equitable and just” way to drive down aviation emissions is a frequent flyer levy. This would affect fewer than 1% of the world’s richest people, who account for more than half the passenger emissions generated by air travel.

One surprising finding in the report is that five nationalities (out of nearly 200 countries in the world) accounted for one third of all passengers on international routes in 2018.

Top of the table was the United Kingdom with 126.2 million flights, or 8.6% of the world’s passengers. The US came second with 111.5m, 7.6% of the total, and third was China with 97m (6.6%). Germany and France followed close behind.

Despite the high proportion of Europeans taking to the air compared with many less prosperous parts of the globe, there was still a very high proportion of the population (190m or 37%, excluding eastern Europe)  who had never been outside their own country, and more than half had never left the European Union.

Covid brings change

In 2010, as economies in the EU began to recover from the 2008 financial crash, 20% of the highest-income households were responsible for more than half of all expenditure on air travel, and for 14 times the expenditure of the 20% of lowest-income families.

A more recent statistic is that people on business are generally the most frequent flyers, with 10 or more flights a year, although on average air travellers take five flights annually, showing a tiny minority do most of the flying.

The report suggests that the coronavirus pandemic may change this pattern, with business flights being reduced because video conferencing has become both acceptable and time-saving.

The evidence from across the world, even in less-developed countries, is that everywhere, frequent flyers have higher incomes. It follows that, if international policies to control aviation’s climate impacts increase the cost of flying, this will impose greater costs on globally wealthy households. – Climate News Network

Europe has grown drier over the last two millennia

Global heating may be to blame for the fact that Europe has grown drier over the last 2,000 years to a new high in 2015.

LONDON, 17 March, 2021 − Europe has grown drier, an outcome shown by the continent’s last five summers, which have been marked by drought that has no parallel in the last two millennia.

Researchers studied two kinds of evidence delivered by 27,000 measurements taken from 21 living oak trees and 126 samples from ancient beams and rafters, to piece together a precise picture of the climate of Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic over the last 2,110 years.

They report, after 2015, that drought conditions intensified suddenly, in ways that were beyond anything over that entire 2000-year tract of time. And, they add, “this hydroclimatic anomaly is probably caused by anthropogenic warming.”

Europe is also getting hotter. In 2003, 2015 and 2018 it was hit by severe summer heat waves and spells of drought that damaged plantations, crops and vines; the damage from drought was intensified by more virulent attacks from pathogens, insect outbreaks and tree death.

“Extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems and societies as a whole”

In the baking summer of 2003, an estimated 70,000 people died because of extremes of heat. And, the researchers say, “a further increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves under projected global warming implies a multitude of harmful direct and indirect impacts on human health.”

In other words, things are bad now and are likely to get worse, according to a report by 17 British, European and Canadian researchers in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Dendrochronologists can and do routinely build up a picture of bygone temperatures by measuring the growth rings in trees: enough old living trees, and reliable knowledge about the felling of oaks for chateaux, cathedrals, sailing ships, fortresses and stockades can help pinpoint seasonal change on an annual basis.

But trees are also living chronicles of changes in carbon and oxygen isotope ratios − tiny atomic variations in the plant’s biochemistry − which provide evidence of rainfall and therefore a more precise picture of any growing season.

Wandering jet stream

The trees delivered mute evidence of very wet summers in 200, 720 and 1100 AD, and very dry summers in the years 40, 590, 950 and 1510 of the Common Era. But overall the big picture emerged: for the years 75 BC to 2018, Europe has slowly been getting drier.

Even so, the evidence from 2015 to 2018 shows that drought conditions in the area from which the trees were taken far exceeds anything in the previous centuries. The mostly likely explanation is the impact of ever-rising temperatures, driven by ever-higher greenhouse gas emissions from the ever-more profligate combustion of fossil fuels.

These temperatures are now considered high enough to affect the course of the stratospheric jet stream in ways that alter the long-term pattern of temperature and rainfall that defines a region’s climate.

“Climate change does not mean it will get drier everywhere,” said Ulf Büntgen, who holds research posts in the University of Cambridge, UK and the Czech Republic and Switzerland. “Some places may get wetter or colder, but extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems and societies as a whole.” − Climate News Network

Global heating may be to blame for the fact that Europe has grown drier over the last 2,000 years to a new high in 2015.

LONDON, 17 March, 2021 − Europe has grown drier, an outcome shown by the continent’s last five summers, which have been marked by drought that has no parallel in the last two millennia.

Researchers studied two kinds of evidence delivered by 27,000 measurements taken from 21 living oak trees and 126 samples from ancient beams and rafters, to piece together a precise picture of the climate of Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic over the last 2,110 years.

They report, after 2015, that drought conditions intensified suddenly, in ways that were beyond anything over that entire 2000-year tract of time. And, they add, “this hydroclimatic anomaly is probably caused by anthropogenic warming.”

Europe is also getting hotter. In 2003, 2015 and 2018 it was hit by severe summer heat waves and spells of drought that damaged plantations, crops and vines; the damage from drought was intensified by more virulent attacks from pathogens, insect outbreaks and tree death.

“Extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems and societies as a whole”

In the baking summer of 2003, an estimated 70,000 people died because of extremes of heat. And, the researchers say, “a further increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves under projected global warming implies a multitude of harmful direct and indirect impacts on human health.”

In other words, things are bad now and are likely to get worse, according to a report by 17 British, European and Canadian researchers in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Dendrochronologists can and do routinely build up a picture of bygone temperatures by measuring the growth rings in trees: enough old living trees, and reliable knowledge about the felling of oaks for chateaux, cathedrals, sailing ships, fortresses and stockades can help pinpoint seasonal change on an annual basis.

But trees are also living chronicles of changes in carbon and oxygen isotope ratios − tiny atomic variations in the plant’s biochemistry − which provide evidence of rainfall and therefore a more precise picture of any growing season.

Wandering jet stream

The trees delivered mute evidence of very wet summers in 200, 720 and 1100 AD, and very dry summers in the years 40, 590, 950 and 1510 of the Common Era. But overall the big picture emerged: for the years 75 BC to 2018, Europe has slowly been getting drier.

Even so, the evidence from 2015 to 2018 shows that drought conditions in the area from which the trees were taken far exceeds anything in the previous centuries. The mostly likely explanation is the impact of ever-rising temperatures, driven by ever-higher greenhouse gas emissions from the ever-more profligate combustion of fossil fuels.

These temperatures are now considered high enough to affect the course of the stratospheric jet stream in ways that alter the long-term pattern of temperature and rainfall that defines a region’s climate.

“Climate change does not mean it will get drier everywhere,” said Ulf Büntgen, who holds research posts in the University of Cambridge, UK and the Czech Republic and Switzerland. “Some places may get wetter or colder, but extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems and societies as a whole.” − Climate News Network

Carbon dioxide emissions fall – but by accident

The good news is that carbon dioxide emissions have fallen in line with global agreement. But we have chance to thank for that.

LONDON, 25 May, 2020 – Carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 will not reach record levels. The main greenhouse gas was released into the atmosphere to fuel global warming during April at a rate 17% lower than during the same month in 2019. That means a drop of 17 million tonnes of the gas every day.

The news is unlikely to be welcomed by climate scientists, environmental campaigners and governments interested in reducing the hazard of climate catastrophe. None of the fall in emissions was because of determined policies to reduce the rate of emissions and therefore the speed of climate change.

Emission levels have fallen to a level last observed in 2006. This is explained entirely by a series of simultaneous multinational lockdowns and economic slowdown as a consequence of an unexpected, and unprecedented, pandemic of a novel coronavirus that at the time of writing had worldwide claimed more than 330,000 lives.

The sudden slowdown in car journeys as businesses closed, workers were laid off and schoolchildren stayed at home accounted for almost half the decrease, according to a team of international scientists reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Foreign travel fell, airports stayed silent, to account for a 10% fall. For the extent of a northern hemisphere spring, people had a chance to experience a world in which atmospheric pollution of every kind was reduced, fossil fuel consumption dropped, and people walked or cycled or simply stayed at home.

“We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behaviour”

It is, however, unlikely to be a rehearsal for the sustained social and economic change required to contain climate change: the slowdown is almost certainly temporary. But it does provide breathing space and an opportunity to change direction.

“The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post-Covid-19 will influence global CO2 emissions paths for decades to come,” said Corinne le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia, UK, who led the study.

“Opportunities exist to make real, durable, changes and to be more resilient to future crises, by implementing economic stimulus packages that also help meet climate targets, especially for mobility, which accounts for half the decrease in emissions during confinement.”

The year began with high confidence that the world’s nations – almost all of which had in Paris in 2015 vowed to contain global warming to well below 2°C by 2100 – would go on burning ever more fossil fuel and clearing ever more forest, to take greenhouse gas emissions to ever higher levels.

The researchers analysed government policies for the 69 countries that account for 97% of carbon dioxide emissions. At the height of confinement, territories responsible for 89% of global emissions experienced some level of restriction.

Meagre drop

Armed with economic data that measured the slowdown, the researchers were able to make estimates of the CO2 emissions that never happened: by the end of April, these amounted to 1,048 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas, with the largest drops being in China, the US and Europe.

On present form, however, the annual total is likely to be down by only between 4% and 7% compared with 2019. The larger figure is roughly the annual drop required year on year to keep the promises made in Paris.

“The drop in emissions is substantial, but illustrates the challenge of reaching our Paris climate commitments,” said Rob Jackson, of Stanford University in California, another of the authors.

“We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behaviour.” – Climate News Network

The good news is that carbon dioxide emissions have fallen in line with global agreement. But we have chance to thank for that.

LONDON, 25 May, 2020 – Carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 will not reach record levels. The main greenhouse gas was released into the atmosphere to fuel global warming during April at a rate 17% lower than during the same month in 2019. That means a drop of 17 million tonnes of the gas every day.

The news is unlikely to be welcomed by climate scientists, environmental campaigners and governments interested in reducing the hazard of climate catastrophe. None of the fall in emissions was because of determined policies to reduce the rate of emissions and therefore the speed of climate change.

Emission levels have fallen to a level last observed in 2006. This is explained entirely by a series of simultaneous multinational lockdowns and economic slowdown as a consequence of an unexpected, and unprecedented, pandemic of a novel coronavirus that at the time of writing had worldwide claimed more than 330,000 lives.

The sudden slowdown in car journeys as businesses closed, workers were laid off and schoolchildren stayed at home accounted for almost half the decrease, according to a team of international scientists reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Foreign travel fell, airports stayed silent, to account for a 10% fall. For the extent of a northern hemisphere spring, people had a chance to experience a world in which atmospheric pollution of every kind was reduced, fossil fuel consumption dropped, and people walked or cycled or simply stayed at home.

“We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behaviour”

It is, however, unlikely to be a rehearsal for the sustained social and economic change required to contain climate change: the slowdown is almost certainly temporary. But it does provide breathing space and an opportunity to change direction.

“The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post-Covid-19 will influence global CO2 emissions paths for decades to come,” said Corinne le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia, UK, who led the study.

“Opportunities exist to make real, durable, changes and to be more resilient to future crises, by implementing economic stimulus packages that also help meet climate targets, especially for mobility, which accounts for half the decrease in emissions during confinement.”

The year began with high confidence that the world’s nations – almost all of which had in Paris in 2015 vowed to contain global warming to well below 2°C by 2100 – would go on burning ever more fossil fuel and clearing ever more forest, to take greenhouse gas emissions to ever higher levels.

The researchers analysed government policies for the 69 countries that account for 97% of carbon dioxide emissions. At the height of confinement, territories responsible for 89% of global emissions experienced some level of restriction.

Meagre drop

Armed with economic data that measured the slowdown, the researchers were able to make estimates of the CO2 emissions that never happened: by the end of April, these amounted to 1,048 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas, with the largest drops being in China, the US and Europe.

On present form, however, the annual total is likely to be down by only between 4% and 7% compared with 2019. The larger figure is roughly the annual drop required year on year to keep the promises made in Paris.

“The drop in emissions is substantial, but illustrates the challenge of reaching our Paris climate commitments,” said Rob Jackson, of Stanford University in California, another of the authors.

“We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behaviour.” – Climate News Network

Climate change is triple risk to Europe

New studies confirm climate change’s triple risk to Europe. The heat is on, lives are at risk and the floods are arriving earlier.

LONDON, 13 August, 2017 – Researchers have just issued three separate climate warnings to the citizens of Europe on the same day, in three different journals – a triple risk salvo  .

One group warns that, if humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate, heatwave temperatures could reach an intolerable 55°C in many parts of the globe, including some parts of continental Europe.

A second study warns that by the century’s end weather-related disasters – floods, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and windstorms – could claim a 50-fold increase in fatalities, and expose 350 million Europeans to harmful climate extremes every year.

And a third study points out that climate change is already at work: the spring floods in Western Europe now arrive up to 15 days earlier than they did in 1960.

By [2100], the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution

Two of the studies are from the European Commission’s joint research centre and the first of these confirms separate research in June and again this month, that murderous levels of heat and humidity could affect many millions if there are no steps to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming and climate change.

But this time the European researchers warn in the journal Scientific Reports that even if the world’s nations do fulfil a promise made in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, temperatures will almost every year tip to 40°C in many parts of Asia, Australia, North Africa, and both North and South America, and in Europe there will each summer be a 30% probability of similarly strong heatwaves.

And with such high temperatures comes the increased risk of other climate-related disasters. Another team of European researchers warn in the journal Lancet Planetary Health that rising temperatures would bring increasingly dangerous weather extremes.

They analysed 2,300 records of disaster events between 1981 and 2010, assumed that there would be no attempts to adapt or mitigate climate change, and then scaled up the possible casualties eight decades from now.

By then, the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution.

Earlier shift

And in the journal Science, researchers from separate institutions across Europe analysed data from 4,200 river-measuring stations in 38 European nations across a 50-year timespan. They also collected information on soil moisture, rain and snowfall and temperature.

In western Europe, 50% of the stations recorded a shift towards earlier floods – up to 15 days earlier – and in northeastern Europe, half of all hydrometric stations recorded an advance in the flood timing of around eight days.

Around the North Sea, half the stations registered floods that came eight days later than in 1960, perhaps because of extreme precipitation during the winter. River flooding is the natural hazard most likely to affect the most people, and now costs the world an estimated $100 bn every year.

The scientists warn that shifts in flood timing could have considerable economic and environmental consequences, and say their continental-wide observations “also enable the identification of a clear climate change signal that could not be obtained by earlier studies based on flood magnitude data.” – Climate News Network

New studies confirm climate change’s triple risk to Europe. The heat is on, lives are at risk and the floods are arriving earlier.

LONDON, 13 August, 2017 – Researchers have just issued three separate climate warnings to the citizens of Europe on the same day, in three different journals – a triple risk salvo  .

One group warns that, if humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate, heatwave temperatures could reach an intolerable 55°C in many parts of the globe, including some parts of continental Europe.

A second study warns that by the century’s end weather-related disasters – floods, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and windstorms – could claim a 50-fold increase in fatalities, and expose 350 million Europeans to harmful climate extremes every year.

And a third study points out that climate change is already at work: the spring floods in Western Europe now arrive up to 15 days earlier than they did in 1960.

By [2100], the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution

Two of the studies are from the European Commission’s joint research centre and the first of these confirms separate research in June and again this month, that murderous levels of heat and humidity could affect many millions if there are no steps to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming and climate change.

But this time the European researchers warn in the journal Scientific Reports that even if the world’s nations do fulfil a promise made in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, temperatures will almost every year tip to 40°C in many parts of Asia, Australia, North Africa, and both North and South America, and in Europe there will each summer be a 30% probability of similarly strong heatwaves.

And with such high temperatures comes the increased risk of other climate-related disasters. Another team of European researchers warn in the journal Lancet Planetary Health that rising temperatures would bring increasingly dangerous weather extremes.

They analysed 2,300 records of disaster events between 1981 and 2010, assumed that there would be no attempts to adapt or mitigate climate change, and then scaled up the possible casualties eight decades from now.

By then, the present record-breaking temperatures in southern Europe would be matched or surpassed every year, and climate-related events could deliver more premature deaths than air pollution.

Earlier shift

And in the journal Science, researchers from separate institutions across Europe analysed data from 4,200 river-measuring stations in 38 European nations across a 50-year timespan. They also collected information on soil moisture, rain and snowfall and temperature.

In western Europe, 50% of the stations recorded a shift towards earlier floods – up to 15 days earlier – and in northeastern Europe, half of all hydrometric stations recorded an advance in the flood timing of around eight days.

Around the North Sea, half the stations registered floods that came eight days later than in 1960, perhaps because of extreme precipitation during the winter. River flooding is the natural hazard most likely to affect the most people, and now costs the world an estimated $100 bn every year.

The scientists warn that shifts in flood timing could have considerable economic and environmental consequences, and say their continental-wide observations “also enable the identification of a clear climate change signal that could not be obtained by earlier studies based on flood magnitude data.” – Climate News Network

Parts of Europe heating faster than global average

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Climate change hits different regions in different ways and, as Europe’s climate warms, some areas are already having to adapt.  New crops are being planted and there’s a call for buildings that don’t overheat in warm weather. LONDON, 12 September – Temperatures in some parts of Europe have already increased by more than 2C in the last 60 years with changes in local climate allowing new crops to be grown. An example is the new wine growing area in southern England, which this year is celebrating its best ever grape harvest. Hundreds of acres of new vineyards are being planted to take advantage of the changing climate. Many parts of Europe are experiencing more hotter days in the summer and fewer very cold nights in winter. Overall the increase is four times greater than the global average over the 60 year period. Researchers at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, show that not all regions are warming at the same pace. The results of their research, which appear in a study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, indicate that the hottest 5% of days in summer have warmed fastest in a band from southern England and northern France to Denmark. In eastern Spain and central Italy there has been a general warming in all seasons. In some areas, Norway and Sweden for example, the changes have been much smaller in summer and in some cases there have been no measurable differences. However nights in the depths of winter have been getting warmer – by more than 2C in both countries. Professor Sandra Chapman, one of the researchers, said: “It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.” Among other results the study notes changes in the frequency of nights that fall below freezing in winter, and days which rise above 28C in summer. These, says the study, are two thresholds that are important for many impacts such as the availability of snow in ski resorts, building design, and labour productivity. Dr. David Stainforth, the lead author of the report, said: “Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. Our results illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2°C would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries. “Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today. “We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations. This work begins to provide such information.” The World Meteorological Organisation and many national organisations, such as the UK Met Office, are investing substantially in the provision of information for governments and businesses to help them to adapt to climate change. The study shows that even over relatively small areas the differences can be quite marked. For example, in the north east of England the number of night frosts in winter has gone down by more than 10%, a greater drop than elsewhere in the country. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Climate change hits different regions in different ways and, as Europe’s climate warms, some areas are already having to adapt.  New crops are being planted and there’s a call for buildings that don’t overheat in warm weather. LONDON, 12 September – Temperatures in some parts of Europe have already increased by more than 2C in the last 60 years with changes in local climate allowing new crops to be grown. An example is the new wine growing area in southern England, which this year is celebrating its best ever grape harvest. Hundreds of acres of new vineyards are being planted to take advantage of the changing climate. Many parts of Europe are experiencing more hotter days in the summer and fewer very cold nights in winter. Overall the increase is four times greater than the global average over the 60 year period. Researchers at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, show that not all regions are warming at the same pace. The results of their research, which appear in a study in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, indicate that the hottest 5% of days in summer have warmed fastest in a band from southern England and northern France to Denmark. In eastern Spain and central Italy there has been a general warming in all seasons. In some areas, Norway and Sweden for example, the changes have been much smaller in summer and in some cases there have been no measurable differences. However nights in the depths of winter have been getting warmer – by more than 2C in both countries. Professor Sandra Chapman, one of the researchers, said: “It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people’s perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals.” Among other results the study notes changes in the frequency of nights that fall below freezing in winter, and days which rise above 28C in summer. These, says the study, are two thresholds that are important for many impacts such as the availability of snow in ski resorts, building design, and labour productivity. Dr. David Stainforth, the lead author of the report, said: “Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. Our results illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2°C would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries. “Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today. “We need to design buildings so that they don’t overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations. This work begins to provide such information.” The World Meteorological Organisation and many national organisations, such as the UK Met Office, are investing substantially in the provision of information for governments and businesses to help them to adapt to climate change. The study shows that even over relatively small areas the differences can be quite marked. For example, in the north east of England the number of night frosts in winter has gone down by more than 10%, a greater drop than elsewhere in the country. – Climate News Network

Solar link will bridge Mediterranean

EMBARGOED until 2300 GMT on Monday 15 April Renewable energy is rapidly becoming a much more serious possibility, as novel technologies come of age and offer the prospect of a new relationship between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. LONDON, 16 April – The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant opened in March in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s western region, amid the country’s giant oil fields. The $600m plant’s hundreds of mirrors direct sunlight towards pipes full of oil to drive steam turbines that in turn provide enough electricity for thousands of homes. In a country whose vast wealth is generated by oil, adopting a new technology that produces only 100 megawatts of power – about a tenth the amount of a large coal-fired plant – may seem a mere token, but it is part of a much larger industrial strategy for the region. Serious money and political clout in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is aimed at building hundreds of similar plants. The potential is so great that all the electricity requirements of these desert countries – and a good slice of Europe’s – could be met by 2050. European companies are now putting serious investment into a scheme to bring electricity from North Africa across the Mediterranean to their shores.  Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are among the Saharan countries that could provide all their own power and much of Europe’s.  Morocco and Tunisia are already building plants, and Morocco has an electricity connector to Spain. It has long been known that harnessing the power of the sunlight that shines on a few hundred square miles of desert would be enough to provide electricity for all of mankind’s needs. How to collect the power and transport it was the problem. Now both technical barriers to development have been solved with a variety of schemes. The Abu Dhabi plant that uses mirrors is one of a number of similar ideas that arrange reflectors to concentrate the Sun’s rays to make electricity. Several have now been proved to work commercially – and the price of power continues to come down. These plants are in operation in many sunny parts of the world including California, Spain and Australia.

Night light

  Photo-voltaic cells that make electricity direct from sunlight are even more prevalent, with the price of panels also continuing to fall. Add to the power of sunlight the fact that many desert areas are also windy, and the potential for power production is huge. A factor that has previously worried investors is that even in the desert the Sun does not shine at night, when much of the electricity is needed. To get round that a system has been developed to store excess heat in molten salt and use it to generate electricity after dark. The wind turbines in the desert built alongside the solar arrays would of course continue to pump out power at night. The next problem – how to transport electricity from isolated areas with low populations to the cities that need it – is also solvable. Modern super-conducting cables using direct power can transport electricity across 3,000 kilometres, losing only 3% of their power per 1,000 kilometres. These cables, developed in Europe, are not theoretical: they are already in use in China. Super-conductors could be laid across the Mediterranean so that North African sunshine could power Europe. The organization that aims to create a super-grid across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe to utilize this resource, Dii, accepts that the problems are not just technical but also political. Some of the countries with the greatest solar resource that would need to be connected to each other to make maximum gains from the technology are not good friends.

Local use comes first

  This would make a super-grid difficult to construct, and electricity supplies liable to disruption if disputes broke out. Power plants would also be easy targets for terrorists. There are other political sensitivities. The European Union, and particularly Germany, which is very keen on the idea of exploiting this renewable resource, are anxious that Africa and the Middle East should feel ownership of the projects rather than that they are being leant on to cooperate. European politicians feel it is important that these countries should also be the first to get the benefit of the solar power stations with the electricity being used locally, and only surpluses exported across the Mediterranean. There are now 36 partners in the Dii project, with most of the money and expertise coming from Germany and other large European manufacturers. According to the German Aerospace Centre, investment would need to be €400 billion by 2050 in plants and transmission lines to realize the dream of providing the entire electricity supply for North Africa and 15% of Europe’s needs. Studies have shown that even with transmission losses it is cheaper to construct solar plants in North Africa than in southern Europe. This is partly because the Sun shines from 3,000 to 3,500 hours a year, with greater intensity than in Europe, but also because there are large tracts of unused land for the construction of fields of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the solar rays. Lack of water to clean the mirrors, and for cooling, is one of the technical problems still to be overcome. But like all newer renewable technologies, the cost of concentrated solar power is expected to fall because of mass production and to be considerably cheaper than rivals like nuclear power. What is needed is the political will to make it work. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 2300 GMT on Monday 15 April Renewable energy is rapidly becoming a much more serious possibility, as novel technologies come of age and offer the prospect of a new relationship between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. LONDON, 16 April – The world’s largest concentrated solar power plant opened in March in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s western region, amid the country’s giant oil fields. The $600m plant’s hundreds of mirrors direct sunlight towards pipes full of oil to drive steam turbines that in turn provide enough electricity for thousands of homes. In a country whose vast wealth is generated by oil, adopting a new technology that produces only 100 megawatts of power – about a tenth the amount of a large coal-fired plant – may seem a mere token, but it is part of a much larger industrial strategy for the region. Serious money and political clout in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is aimed at building hundreds of similar plants. The potential is so great that all the electricity requirements of these desert countries – and a good slice of Europe’s – could be met by 2050. European companies are now putting serious investment into a scheme to bring electricity from North Africa across the Mediterranean to their shores.  Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are among the Saharan countries that could provide all their own power and much of Europe’s.  Morocco and Tunisia are already building plants, and Morocco has an electricity connector to Spain. It has long been known that harnessing the power of the sunlight that shines on a few hundred square miles of desert would be enough to provide electricity for all of mankind’s needs. How to collect the power and transport it was the problem. Now both technical barriers to development have been solved with a variety of schemes. The Abu Dhabi plant that uses mirrors is one of a number of similar ideas that arrange reflectors to concentrate the Sun’s rays to make electricity. Several have now been proved to work commercially – and the price of power continues to come down. These plants are in operation in many sunny parts of the world including California, Spain and Australia.

Night light

  Photo-voltaic cells that make electricity direct from sunlight are even more prevalent, with the price of panels also continuing to fall. Add to the power of sunlight the fact that many desert areas are also windy, and the potential for power production is huge. A factor that has previously worried investors is that even in the desert the Sun does not shine at night, when much of the electricity is needed. To get round that a system has been developed to store excess heat in molten salt and use it to generate electricity after dark. The wind turbines in the desert built alongside the solar arrays would of course continue to pump out power at night. The next problem – how to transport electricity from isolated areas with low populations to the cities that need it – is also solvable. Modern super-conducting cables using direct power can transport electricity across 3,000 kilometres, losing only 3% of their power per 1,000 kilometres. These cables, developed in Europe, are not theoretical: they are already in use in China. Super-conductors could be laid across the Mediterranean so that North African sunshine could power Europe. The organization that aims to create a super-grid across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe to utilize this resource, Dii, accepts that the problems are not just technical but also political. Some of the countries with the greatest solar resource that would need to be connected to each other to make maximum gains from the technology are not good friends.

Local use comes first

  This would make a super-grid difficult to construct, and electricity supplies liable to disruption if disputes broke out. Power plants would also be easy targets for terrorists. There are other political sensitivities. The European Union, and particularly Germany, which is very keen on the idea of exploiting this renewable resource, are anxious that Africa and the Middle East should feel ownership of the projects rather than that they are being leant on to cooperate. European politicians feel it is important that these countries should also be the first to get the benefit of the solar power stations with the electricity being used locally, and only surpluses exported across the Mediterranean. There are now 36 partners in the Dii project, with most of the money and expertise coming from Germany and other large European manufacturers. According to the German Aerospace Centre, investment would need to be €400 billion by 2050 in plants and transmission lines to realize the dream of providing the entire electricity supply for North Africa and 15% of Europe’s needs. Studies have shown that even with transmission losses it is cheaper to construct solar plants in North Africa than in southern Europe. This is partly because the Sun shines from 3,000 to 3,500 hours a year, with greater intensity than in Europe, but also because there are large tracts of unused land for the construction of fields of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the solar rays. Lack of water to clean the mirrors, and for cooling, is one of the technical problems still to be overcome. But like all newer renewable technologies, the cost of concentrated solar power is expected to fall because of mass production and to be considerably cheaper than rivals like nuclear power. What is needed is the political will to make it work. – Climate News Network