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Out on a spacewalk with Nasa astronauts at the ISS

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Nasa has released video footage of a spacewalk at the International Space Station. American astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio were tasked with installing two new solar arrays – a collection of solar panels – in an operation that took seven hours. The array was delivered by Space X’s Dragon cargo craft on 27 November and will provide the ISS with up 30% more power, generating a total of 120,000 watts of energy during orbital daytime, according to Nasa.

Out on a spacewalk with Nasa astronauts at the ISS

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Nasa has released video footage of a spacewalk at the International Space Station. American astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio were tasked with installing two new solar arrays – a collection of solar panels – in an operation that took seven hours. The array was delivered by Space X’s Dragon cargo craft on 27 November and will provide the ISS with up 30% more power, generating a total of 120,000 watts of energy during orbital daytime, according to Nasa.

Nature-based farming-subsidies scheme given green light

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Published20 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Claire MarshallBy Claire MarshallRural affairs correspondent, BBC NewsA post-Brexit farm-subsidy scheme designed to reward landowners in England for environmental work is going forward after a controversial review.Two of the three main elements of the payment system known as environmental land-management schemes (Elms) are to be retained, the UK government says.A third proposed scheme – which would have rewarded farmers for creating space for nature – is to be abandoned.Farmers will have to wait until the new year to see how much they will be paid.The decision to review Elms had angered farmers, who wanted to know the details on what work would be rewarded, and conservationists, who feared its environmental focus would be weakened.Speaking at a Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) conference, Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said the review was “now complete” and the government “moving ahead with the transition”.Food productionDesigned to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP), Elms represent the biggest shake-up of farm policy in England for 40 years.Payments under the CAP system were worth about £3.5bn annually and most were based on how much land each individual farmer owned, leading to criticisms they benefited the wealthiest.The Elms system largely focuses the award of subsidies around the environmental work farmers can undertake.Ms Coffey said: “The choice is not producing food or doing environmental schemes. It’s about making space for nature and that must go alongside sustainable food production. They are not mutually exclusive. They can be symbiotic.”But there is frustration among farmers at the continued lack of clarity about how much will be paid for which scheme. Ms Coffey said more details would be given “early in the new year”.Image source, Getty ImagesThe Elms will now comprise three payment schemes:The sustainable-farming incentive focuses on soil health and reducing the use of “inputs” such as fertilisers and pesticidesThe landscape-recovery scheme will pay landowners for ambitious large-scale “rewilding” projects An adapted version of the existing countryside-stewardship scheme, which Ms Coffey called “countryside stewardship plus”, will replace the planned local nature-recovery schemeThe local nature-recovery scheme would have paid farmers for actions such as creating habitats for breeding birds or restoring wetlands.And Ms Coffey said she hoped the improved-stewardship scheme would achieve “the same ambitious outcome”.But National Trust land and nature director Harry Bowell said the government was “watering down” its commitment to the natural world.”A return to countryside stewardship, where farmers are paid to look after the environment as a supplement to their core business interests, with little tailoring to local needs, risks a clunky retrofitting of previous policies rather than securing the world-leading overhaul that farmers were promised,” he said.”The government mustn’t abandon the ambitious goals of its local nature-recovery scheme, which farmers have poured hours into making a success, and which puts a healthy local environment at the heart of farming.”‘Ambitious words’The Wildlife Trusts policy and public affair director Joan Edwards said: “Today, the secretary of state confirmed the government’s commitment for the agricultural transition to help tackle the nature and climate crises – but time is short to meet the government’s targets. Any further delays in these farming schemes will make the task even harder.”The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said “warm and ambitious words” were welcome – but “now we need the action to match them”.”[The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] Defra needs to clearly set out how they will build on countryside-stewardship scheme to ensure it is capable of unleashing the power of farmers to help tackle the nature and climate crises,” it said.The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice-president David Exwood said: “We remain committed to working with Defra to improve its Elm schemes so farmers are able to continue producing sustainable climate-friendly food, as well as delivering for the environment.”Follow Claire on Twitter.

Nature-based farming-subsidies scheme given green light

BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Published20 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Claire MarshallBy Claire MarshallRural affairs correspondent, BBC NewsA post-Brexit farm-subsidy scheme designed to reward landowners in England for environmental work is going forward after a controversial review.Two of the three main elements of the payment system known as environmental land-management schemes (Elms) are to be retained, the UK government says.A third proposed scheme – which would have rewarded farmers for creating space for nature – is to be abandoned.Farmers will have to wait until the new year to see how much they will be paid.The decision to review Elms had angered farmers, who wanted to know the details on what work would be rewarded, and conservationists, who feared its environmental focus would be weakened.Speaking at a Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) conference, Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said the review was “now complete” and the government “moving ahead with the transition”.Food productionDesigned to replace the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP), Elms represent the biggest shake-up of farm policy in England for 40 years.Payments under the CAP system were worth about £3.5bn annually and most were based on how much land each individual farmer owned, leading to criticisms they benefited the wealthiest.The Elms system largely focuses the award of subsidies around the environmental work farmers can undertake.Ms Coffey said: “The choice is not producing food or doing environmental schemes. It’s about making space for nature and that must go alongside sustainable food production. They are not mutually exclusive. They can be symbiotic.”But there is frustration among farmers at the continued lack of clarity about how much will be paid for which scheme. Ms Coffey said more details would be given “early in the new year”.Image source, Getty ImagesThe Elms will now comprise three payment schemes:The sustainable-farming incentive focuses on soil health and reducing the use of “inputs” such as fertilisers and pesticidesThe landscape-recovery scheme will pay landowners for ambitious large-scale “rewilding” projects An adapted version of the existing countryside-stewardship scheme, which Ms Coffey called “countryside stewardship plus”, will replace the planned local nature-recovery schemeThe local nature-recovery scheme would have paid farmers for actions such as creating habitats for breeding birds or restoring wetlands.And Ms Coffey said she hoped the improved-stewardship scheme would achieve “the same ambitious outcome”.But National Trust land and nature director Harry Bowell said the government was “watering down” its commitment to the natural world.”A return to countryside stewardship, where farmers are paid to look after the environment as a supplement to their core business interests, with little tailoring to local needs, risks a clunky retrofitting of previous policies rather than securing the world-leading overhaul that farmers were promised,” he said.”The government mustn’t abandon the ambitious goals of its local nature-recovery scheme, which farmers have poured hours into making a success, and which puts a healthy local environment at the heart of farming.”‘Ambitious words’The Wildlife Trusts policy and public affair director Joan Edwards said: “Today, the secretary of state confirmed the government’s commitment for the agricultural transition to help tackle the nature and climate crises – but time is short to meet the government’s targets. Any further delays in these farming schemes will make the task even harder.”The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said “warm and ambitious words” were welcome – but “now we need the action to match them”.”[The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] Defra needs to clearly set out how they will build on countryside-stewardship scheme to ensure it is capable of unleashing the power of farmers to help tackle the nature and climate crises,” it said.The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice-president David Exwood said: “We remain committed to working with Defra to improve its Elm schemes so farmers are able to continue producing sustainable climate-friendly food, as well as delivering for the environment.”Follow Claire on Twitter.

Bird flu: Free range turkey supplies hit by bird flu

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Published2 days agocommentsCommentsSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Greg BrosnanBBC Climate and ScienceHalf of the free range turkeys produced for Christmas in the UK have been culled or have died due to bird flu, an industry chief has told MPs.Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said that 600,000 out of about 1.3m free range birds had been lost.The government recently ordered all poultry and captive birds in England to be kept indoors to fight avian flu.Mr Griffiths said costs to the industry were “potentially enormous”.He was speaking to the UK parliamentary committee on the environment, food and rural affairs.Why is bird flu so bad this year?Farmers say they are not sure if there will be price rises but they expect supply issues regarding free range turkeys as a result.Also speaking to MPs, Paul Kelly, the owner of a turkey hatchery that supplies farms around the UK, told the committee: “I think it will just be a supply issue rather than the prices being hiked.”But there will be a big, big shortage of British free range turkeys on the shelves this year.”Both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the British Poultry Council stress the issue is with free range turkeys, and that there are no issues with supplies of other birds.A spokesperson for Defra said it had worked closely with farmers to put infection measures in place to stop the spread and that a recent levelling off in outbreak numbers suggested recent housing orders were having an impact.Defra said about 1.4 million turkeys in total had been culled but that about 11 million turkeys were produced annually in the UK, meaning that there would still be a good supply of Christmas turkeys. Mr Griffiths of the British Poultry council said about 36% of poultry farms in the country were now covered by some form of control, whether they’ve been affected or not. “So it’s huge and the costs for industry and food production are potentially enormous,” he said.Image source, Paul KellyThe highly infectious H5N1 strain of the disease is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of wild birds around the world and millions of domesticated ones. Wild birds can spread the flu to poultry and captive birds when they migrate to the UK.The mandatory order to keep birds indoors in England followed regional measures introduced in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.A national housing order has also been introduced in Northern Ireland. It has not been introduced in Wales or Scotland, where the situation is being monitored.Mr Kelly, the turkey farmer, said three of his premises had been affected. He said the outbreak had been particularly hard on small-scale turkey producers.”One guy I know in Norfolk, a wonderful little business… he supplied the butchers, the restaurants locally. His whole flock’s gone and he hasn’t got a business,” he said. “No farmer wants to get it. It is devastating and mentally it’s traumatic for people.”Recently introduced measures allow farmers to kill and freeze turkey, geese and ducks and sell them as fresh closer to Christmas. The change is supposed to help producers avoid the risks of losing their flocks in a cull or to the disease.More on this storyWhy is bird flu so bad this year?2 days ago

Bird flu: Free range turkey supplies hit by bird flu

BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Published2 days agocommentsCommentsSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Greg BrosnanBBC Climate and ScienceHalf of the free range turkeys produced for Christmas in the UK have been culled or have died due to bird flu, an industry chief has told MPs.Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said that 600,000 out of about 1.3m free range birds had been lost.The government recently ordered all poultry and captive birds in England to be kept indoors to fight avian flu.Mr Griffiths said costs to the industry were “potentially enormous”.He was speaking to the UK parliamentary committee on the environment, food and rural affairs.Why is bird flu so bad this year?Farmers say they are not sure if there will be price rises but they expect supply issues regarding free range turkeys as a result.Also speaking to MPs, Paul Kelly, the owner of a turkey hatchery that supplies farms around the UK, told the committee: “I think it will just be a supply issue rather than the prices being hiked.”But there will be a big, big shortage of British free range turkeys on the shelves this year.”Both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the British Poultry Council stress the issue is with free range turkeys, and that there are no issues with supplies of other birds.A spokesperson for Defra said it had worked closely with farmers to put infection measures in place to stop the spread and that a recent levelling off in outbreak numbers suggested recent housing orders were having an impact.Defra said about 1.4 million turkeys in total had been culled but that about 11 million turkeys were produced annually in the UK, meaning that there would still be a good supply of Christmas turkeys. Mr Griffiths of the British Poultry council said about 36% of poultry farms in the country were now covered by some form of control, whether they’ve been affected or not. “So it’s huge and the costs for industry and food production are potentially enormous,” he said.Image source, Paul KellyThe highly infectious H5N1 strain of the disease is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of wild birds around the world and millions of domesticated ones. Wild birds can spread the flu to poultry and captive birds when they migrate to the UK.The mandatory order to keep birds indoors in England followed regional measures introduced in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.A national housing order has also been introduced in Northern Ireland. It has not been introduced in Wales or Scotland, where the situation is being monitored.Mr Kelly, the turkey farmer, said three of his premises had been affected. He said the outbreak had been particularly hard on small-scale turkey producers.”One guy I know in Norfolk, a wonderful little business… he supplied the butchers, the restaurants locally. His whole flock’s gone and he hasn’t got a business,” he said. “No farmer wants to get it. It is devastating and mentally it’s traumatic for people.”Recently introduced measures allow farmers to kill and freeze turkey, geese and ducks and sell them as fresh closer to Christmas. The change is supposed to help producers avoid the risks of losing their flocks in a cull or to the disease.More on this storyWhy is bird flu so bad this year?2 days ago

Somalia meteorite: Joy as scientists find two new minerals

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Published2 days agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Supplied to University of AlbertaBy Natasha BootyBBC NewsA huge meteorite that fell to Earth contains two minerals never seen before on our planet, scientists say.Canadian researchers said the rock was found in rural Somalia two years ago, but locals believe it is much older.They call the stone Nightfall, and say it is documented in poems, songs and dances that stretch back five generations. It is used today to sharpen knives.The official names for the new minerals are elaliite and elkinstantonite.They were identified by scientists at the University of Alberta who looked at a 70g fragment from the 15-tonne meteorite, which is said to be the ninth-biggest to reach our planet and is about 90% iron and nickel.The name “elaliite” honours the fact that the meteorite was unearthed in the district of El Ali in Somalia, and “elkinstantonite” is named after Nasa expert Lindy Elkins-Tanton.”Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have are iron meteorites. So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognise her contributions to science,” said Prof Chris Herd who curates the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection.A third, as-yet unidentified mineral, is being analysed by the university’s researchers who now hope to get their hands on more of the meteorite – not only to see what else they might discover, but also how it could be used on Earth.”Whenever there’s a new material that’s known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society,” Prof Herd said of the “exciting” research.More on this storyMeteorite adds weight to water-from-space theory17 November

Somalia meteorite: Joy as scientists find two new minerals

BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Published2 days agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Supplied to University of AlbertaBy Natasha BootyBBC NewsA huge meteorite that fell to Earth contains two minerals never seen before on our planet, scientists say.Canadian researchers said the rock was found in rural Somalia two years ago, but locals believe it is much older.They call the stone Nightfall, and say it is documented in poems, songs and dances that stretch back five generations. It is used today to sharpen knives.The official names for the new minerals are elaliite and elkinstantonite.They were identified by scientists at the University of Alberta who looked at a 70g fragment from the 15-tonne meteorite, which is said to be the ninth-biggest to reach our planet and is about 90% iron and nickel.The name “elaliite” honours the fact that the meteorite was unearthed in the district of El Ali in Somalia, and “elkinstantonite” is named after Nasa expert Lindy Elkins-Tanton.”Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have are iron meteorites. So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognise her contributions to science,” said Prof Chris Herd who curates the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection.A third, as-yet unidentified mineral, is being analysed by the university’s researchers who now hope to get their hands on more of the meteorite – not only to see what else they might discover, but also how it could be used on Earth.”Whenever there’s a new material that’s known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society,” Prof Herd said of the “exciting” research.More on this storyMeteorite adds weight to water-from-space theory17 November

Climate change: Five key takeaways from COP27

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Published20 NovemberSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersBy Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent1: The biggest win on climate since Paris…?A new funding arrangement on loss and damage – a pooled fund for countries most affected by climate change – has been hailed as a “historic moment”. It can be seen as the most important climate advance since the Paris Agreement at COP 2015.For decades the victims of a changing climate were the ghosts the richer world just couldn’t see.Money has long been available to cut carbon or help countries adapt to rising temperatures – but there was nothing for those who had lost everything.”For someone who has seen his home disappear in the floods in Pakistan, a solar panel or a sea wall isn’t much use,” explained Harjeet Singh from the Climate Action Network.The COP27 decision on loss and damage won’t fix that immediately.The fund comes with many unknowns. What will be the criteria to trigger a payout? Where will the money come from, and will it be enough?Compare the EU’s €60m contribution against the $30bn costs that Pakistan faces.Climate costs deal struck but no fossil fuel progressWill richer nations pay for climate change?But establishing the loss and damage fund is about more than money or compensation or reparations – it is really about solidarity and rebuilding trust.Despite the dramatic impacts the rising temperatures will inflict on the world, this fund signals that no one will be left behind.It is a concrete demonstration that we really are all in this together. 2: …Or the biggest loss on climate change since Paris?This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.For many countries, the last hours of the negotiation represent a real step backwards in the fight against rising temperatures.While the loss and damage text represented a big win, the overall cover decision is being seen as a missed opportunity in the fight against climate change.The man who ran the COP26 negotiations in Glasgow put it bluntly. “Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text,” said Alok Sharma.”Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text.” As well as all these limitations there was also a sharp U-turn on the language around fossil fuels.The text now includes a reference to “low emission and renewable energy”.This is being seen as a significant loophole that could allow for the development of further gas resources, as gas produces less emissions than coal.3: The spirit of 1.5C is strong, even if the text is weakThere’s a fifty-fifty chance over the next five years that we’ll go over this important marker of temperature increases, compared to pre-industrial times. We’re likely to pass it permanently by 2031.But at COP27, the EU and other developed countries were willing to die on the hill of strengthening the promise to keep 1.5C alive.Their efforts were ultimately in vain as the cover text failed to include a reference to the phasing out of all fossil fuels, seen as a necessary advance on last year’s decision to phase down the use of coal.”I wish we got fossil fuel phase out,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the Climate Envoy of the Marshall Islands, who along with other island states fear annihilation if temperatures rise above 1.5C.”The current text is not enough. But we’ve shown with the loss and damage fund that we can do the impossible. So we know we can come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”There’s a deep sense of solidarity by the richer nations with the island states on this issue of keeping below 1.5CFaith in the threshold has also become a key differential between the US, EU and other richer countries and China, which is markedly less concerned about the goal.While the world will undoubtedly be a better place the closer we stay to the 1.5C guiderail, belief in the ideal is also a political and economic bridge to the developing world.So even as the science and the COP process falter on 1.5C, expect the diplomatic attachment to grow stronger in the coming years.4: The fossil fuel industry has finally come out of the shadowsOne key takeaway from COP27 was the presence and power of fossil fuel – be they delegates or countries.Attendees connected to the oil and gas industry were everywhere. Some 636 were part of country delegations and trade teams.The crammed pavilions felt at times like a fossil fuel trade fair. This influence was clearly reflected in the final text.Demands from India and others for all fossil fuels to be phased down didn’t survive, despite the backing of the EU and many other countries rich and poor.Many African countries were also keen to use the COP as a platform to promote new oil and gas initiatives in their countries.”The fact that the outcome only talks about ‘phase-down of unabated coal power’ is a disaster for Africa and for the climate,” said Babawale Obayanju, from Friends of the Earth Africa.”We don’t need more gas extraction in Africa, devastating our communities for the benefit of rich countries and corporations. What we needed from COP27 was agreement to a rapid, equitable phase out of all fossil fuels.”That battle will resume at COP28 in Dubai.5: Democracy really matters for the climateImage source, ReutersThe undoubted darling of the COP was Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Ignacio Lula Da Silva.Just as he did in Copenhagen in 2009, Lula electrified the conference with his promise of zero deforestation by 2030.More than his commitment to the Amazon, Lula restored people’s faith in the power of the ballot box to solve the climate problem.So too, in his un-showy way did President Biden. The retention of the Senate by the Democrats most likely ensures that his Inflation Reduction Act will not be overturned or watered down.At a stroke it puts the United States’ carbon cutting goal for 2030 within reach.The affirmation that democracy is an effective weapon against climate change was also demonstrated in the actions of the host country.With security and surveillance everywhere, the conference took place in an atmosphere best described as barely restrained intolerance.As well as the ongoing troubles over human rights, the Egyptian hosts paid scant attention to basic functional needs of a conference such as food, drink and decent wifi.When push came to shove, there was a distinct lack of empathy from negotiators for the presidency. This really mattered in the final showdown.COP27 could have been a major advance against climate change. That it ultimately didn’t hit that mark is at least partly down to the hosts.More on this storyClimate costs deal struck but no fossil fuel progress20 NovemberA really simple guide to climate change2 NovemberWhat you can do to reduce carbon emissions4 November

Climate change: Five key takeaways from COP27

BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Published20 NovemberSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersBy Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent1: The biggest win on climate since Paris…?A new funding arrangement on loss and damage – a pooled fund for countries most affected by climate change – has been hailed as a “historic moment”. It can be seen as the most important climate advance since the Paris Agreement at COP 2015.For decades the victims of a changing climate were the ghosts the richer world just couldn’t see.Money has long been available to cut carbon or help countries adapt to rising temperatures – but there was nothing for those who had lost everything.”For someone who has seen his home disappear in the floods in Pakistan, a solar panel or a sea wall isn’t much use,” explained Harjeet Singh from the Climate Action Network.The COP27 decision on loss and damage won’t fix that immediately.The fund comes with many unknowns. What will be the criteria to trigger a payout? Where will the money come from, and will it be enough?Compare the EU’s €60m contribution against the $30bn costs that Pakistan faces.Climate costs deal struck but no fossil fuel progressWill richer nations pay for climate change?But establishing the loss and damage fund is about more than money or compensation or reparations – it is really about solidarity and rebuilding trust.Despite the dramatic impacts the rising temperatures will inflict on the world, this fund signals that no one will be left behind.It is a concrete demonstration that we really are all in this together. 2: …Or the biggest loss on climate change since Paris?This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.For many countries, the last hours of the negotiation represent a real step backwards in the fight against rising temperatures.While the loss and damage text represented a big win, the overall cover decision is being seen as a missed opportunity in the fight against climate change.The man who ran the COP26 negotiations in Glasgow put it bluntly. “Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text,” said Alok Sharma.”Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text.” As well as all these limitations there was also a sharp U-turn on the language around fossil fuels.The text now includes a reference to “low emission and renewable energy”.This is being seen as a significant loophole that could allow for the development of further gas resources, as gas produces less emissions than coal.3: The spirit of 1.5C is strong, even if the text is weakThere’s a fifty-fifty chance over the next five years that we’ll go over this important marker of temperature increases, compared to pre-industrial times. We’re likely to pass it permanently by 2031.But at COP27, the EU and other developed countries were willing to die on the hill of strengthening the promise to keep 1.5C alive.Their efforts were ultimately in vain as the cover text failed to include a reference to the phasing out of all fossil fuels, seen as a necessary advance on last year’s decision to phase down the use of coal.”I wish we got fossil fuel phase out,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the Climate Envoy of the Marshall Islands, who along with other island states fear annihilation if temperatures rise above 1.5C.”The current text is not enough. But we’ve shown with the loss and damage fund that we can do the impossible. So we know we can come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”There’s a deep sense of solidarity by the richer nations with the island states on this issue of keeping below 1.5CFaith in the threshold has also become a key differential between the US, EU and other richer countries and China, which is markedly less concerned about the goal.While the world will undoubtedly be a better place the closer we stay to the 1.5C guiderail, belief in the ideal is also a political and economic bridge to the developing world.So even as the science and the COP process falter on 1.5C, expect the diplomatic attachment to grow stronger in the coming years.4: The fossil fuel industry has finally come out of the shadowsOne key takeaway from COP27 was the presence and power of fossil fuel – be they delegates or countries.Attendees connected to the oil and gas industry were everywhere. Some 636 were part of country delegations and trade teams.The crammed pavilions felt at times like a fossil fuel trade fair. This influence was clearly reflected in the final text.Demands from India and others for all fossil fuels to be phased down didn’t survive, despite the backing of the EU and many other countries rich and poor.Many African countries were also keen to use the COP as a platform to promote new oil and gas initiatives in their countries.”The fact that the outcome only talks about ‘phase-down of unabated coal power’ is a disaster for Africa and for the climate,” said Babawale Obayanju, from Friends of the Earth Africa.”We don’t need more gas extraction in Africa, devastating our communities for the benefit of rich countries and corporations. What we needed from COP27 was agreement to a rapid, equitable phase out of all fossil fuels.”That battle will resume at COP28 in Dubai.5: Democracy really matters for the climateImage source, ReutersThe undoubted darling of the COP was Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Ignacio Lula Da Silva.Just as he did in Copenhagen in 2009, Lula electrified the conference with his promise of zero deforestation by 2030.More than his commitment to the Amazon, Lula restored people’s faith in the power of the ballot box to solve the climate problem.So too, in his un-showy way did President Biden. The retention of the Senate by the Democrats most likely ensures that his Inflation Reduction Act will not be overturned or watered down.At a stroke it puts the United States’ carbon cutting goal for 2030 within reach.The affirmation that democracy is an effective weapon against climate change was also demonstrated in the actions of the host country.With security and surveillance everywhere, the conference took place in an atmosphere best described as barely restrained intolerance.As well as the ongoing troubles over human rights, the Egyptian hosts paid scant attention to basic functional needs of a conference such as food, drink and decent wifi.When push came to shove, there was a distinct lack of empathy from negotiators for the presidency. This really mattered in the final showdown.COP27 could have been a major advance against climate change. That it ultimately didn’t hit that mark is at least partly down to the hosts.More on this storyClimate costs deal struck but no fossil fuel progress20 NovemberA really simple guide to climate change2 NovemberWhat you can do to reduce carbon emissions4 November

COP27: What are the sticking points in COP27 negotiations?

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Published36 minutes agocommentsCommentsSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondentUN climate talks in Egypt were meant to end on Friday, but have run into the weekend because of deep divisions between participating nations. The Egyptian hosts are trying to broker an agreement among almost 200 countries after two weeks of negotiations.You can follow blow-by-blow reporting here on the negotiations by the BBC’s team on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh.But here’s a breakdown of the major areas of disagreement.1 – “Loss and damage”The biggest sticking point by far here is the need for a new fund to help countries deal with the immediate impacts of climate change. The issue is known as “loss and damage” in the framework of UN talks. Developing countries like Tuvalu want a new financing facility to be established here in Egypt. Drought is hitting the island hard, while at the same time the rising seas are threatening their future as a nation. “People are now going without water, they are being rationed to two or three buckets of water a day,” Tuvalu’s minister for finance Seve Paeniu told BBC News. Rich countries have resisted this discussion over financing for 30 years, fearing that since they historically played a major role in causing climate change, they will have to pay for it for centuries to come.But the impacts of flooding in Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere in recent years have tipped the balance – here in Egypt the issue of the losses and damages due to rising temperatures finally made it onto the negotiating agenda. Image source, Getty Images2 – Phasing out all fossil fuelsThe final discussions at COP26 in Glasgow last year almost fell apart on the issue of coal.Richer countries wanted to phase out the use of the most polluting fossil fuel.Larger developing economies including India and China did not. Cue frantic huddles on the plenary floor as diplomats tried to find a compromise. They settled on “phasing down” rather than “phasing out”. Here, India and a number of other countries wanted to expand this phrase to include oil and gas. Image source, Getty Images3 – Keeping 1.5C aliveThis was the mantra of the UK Presidency of COP26, and after Glasgow the concept was on life support, according to Alok Sharma, the minister in charge of the talks.A rise of 1.5C is viewed by scientists as the threshold to very dangerous levels of warming – but there has been considerable worry here that the commitment to the idea would be watered down, especially as India and China were concerned it was no longer scientifically feasible. “I see the will to keep to the 1.5C goal,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as he returned to the talks. “But we must ensure that commitment is evident in the COP27 outcome.”4 – US & ChinaWhile the recent meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping has seen some thawing of relations between the world’s two biggest emitters, the lack of concrete areas of co-operation between them is hampering the UN climate process.Image source, Getty ImagesA key example is “loss and damage” and climate finance more generally. Traditionally, the developed nations paid and the larger emerging economies, such as India, China and Brazil did not. Now the US and EU want to expand the number of countries that contribute – and China is top of their list. “By the end of this decade, China could overtake the US in terms of its historical cumulative emissions, and is the world’s second largest economy, and yet in UN terms it still counts as a developing country,” said Bernice Lee, from Chatham House. “But the US has consistently failed to deliver climate finance and shoulder its responsibility as the world’s largest emitter to support the the developing world. “If China and the US can come to terms, a whole new solution space opens up for the rest of the world.”Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.

COP27: What are the sticking points in COP27 negotiations?

BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Published36 minutes agocommentsCommentsSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondentUN climate talks in Egypt were meant to end on Friday, but have run into the weekend because of deep divisions between participating nations. The Egyptian hosts are trying to broker an agreement among almost 200 countries after two weeks of negotiations.You can follow blow-by-blow reporting here on the negotiations by the BBC’s team on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh.But here’s a breakdown of the major areas of disagreement.1 – “Loss and damage”The biggest sticking point by far here is the need for a new fund to help countries deal with the immediate impacts of climate change. The issue is known as “loss and damage” in the framework of UN talks. Developing countries like Tuvalu want a new financing facility to be established here in Egypt. Drought is hitting the island hard, while at the same time the rising seas are threatening their future as a nation. “People are now going without water, they are being rationed to two or three buckets of water a day,” Tuvalu’s minister for finance Seve Paeniu told BBC News. Rich countries have resisted this discussion over financing for 30 years, fearing that since they historically played a major role in causing climate change, they will have to pay for it for centuries to come.But the impacts of flooding in Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere in recent years have tipped the balance – here in Egypt the issue of the losses and damages due to rising temperatures finally made it onto the negotiating agenda. Image source, Getty Images2 – Phasing out all fossil fuelsThe final discussions at COP26 in Glasgow last year almost fell apart on the issue of coal.Richer countries wanted to phase out the use of the most polluting fossil fuel.Larger developing economies including India and China did not. Cue frantic huddles on the plenary floor as diplomats tried to find a compromise. They settled on “phasing down” rather than “phasing out”. Here, India and a number of other countries wanted to expand this phrase to include oil and gas. Image source, Getty Images3 – Keeping 1.5C aliveThis was the mantra of the UK Presidency of COP26, and after Glasgow the concept was on life support, according to Alok Sharma, the minister in charge of the talks.A rise of 1.5C is viewed by scientists as the threshold to very dangerous levels of warming – but there has been considerable worry here that the commitment to the idea would be watered down, especially as India and China were concerned it was no longer scientifically feasible. “I see the will to keep to the 1.5C goal,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as he returned to the talks. “But we must ensure that commitment is evident in the COP27 outcome.”4 – US & ChinaWhile the recent meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping has seen some thawing of relations between the world’s two biggest emitters, the lack of concrete areas of co-operation between them is hampering the UN climate process.Image source, Getty ImagesA key example is “loss and damage” and climate finance more generally. Traditionally, the developed nations paid and the larger emerging economies, such as India, China and Brazil did not. Now the US and EU want to expand the number of countries that contribute – and China is top of their list. “By the end of this decade, China could overtake the US in terms of its historical cumulative emissions, and is the world’s second largest economy, and yet in UN terms it still counts as a developing country,” said Bernice Lee, from Chatham House. “But the US has consistently failed to deliver climate finance and shoulder its responsibility as the world’s largest emitter to support the the developing world. “If China and the US can come to terms, a whole new solution space opens up for the rest of the world.”Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.

December 2022
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