Climate News of the Week Roundup: Scientists as Certain about Climate Change as about Smoking Causing Cancer

This week’s roundup covers the first part of the new IPCC assessment report, Germany taking the occasion to make a another push to water down EU CO2 limits for cars, news of a new report on the economics of climate change in the making, the consequences of Germany’s federal election, news on energy efficiency and renewables, a study concluding that air quality benefits of cutting fossil fuel use could drastically reduce premature mortality, and more.

New IPCC report. The first part of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report is being published. The summary for policymakers was published Friday, the full report will be out Monday. This first part deal with the physical science basis, the subsequent two parts will deals with the impacts of climate change and options for climate policy. The summary, a fact sheet and headline messages can be downloaded here. Stefan Rahmstorf picked out some nice graphs in his own summary of the report here. Among others a graph showing the decadal temperature averages, which shows quite clearly that notions of warming “slowing down”, which have been making the rounds, are rather nonsense.

Scientists as certain of climate change as they are that smoking kills. Among other things, the report states that scientists are now 95% confident that they are right about climate change. According to the modern concept of science there is no such thing as full certainty, theories can only be disproved but never fully proved. But Seth Borenstein points out that 95% is very high, the same level of certainty scientists have for example about smoking causing cancer.

Germany tries new objection as car CO2 vote returns. As Dave Keating reports, probably jolted into action by the urgent message, the German government the same day launched a new initiative to water down a deal on new EU CO2 limits for cars.

The New Climate Economics. The Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change from 2006 was quite influential in raising awareness about the costs of action and inaction on climate change. Nicholas Stern and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón now announced that a new report is in the works.

German Energy Politics Remain Challenging After Federal Election Results 2013. Last Sunday’s German election brought a smashing victory for Angela Merkel’s conservatives. However, they lost their coalition partner, the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), who did not make the 5% threshold for getting into the Bundestag. Many environmentalists breathed a sigh of relief since the FDP had mostly been responsible for Germany not having a position on reforming the EU ETS and strengthening the EU’s emission target. Some FDP party leaders had also publicly demanded a moratorium on the further scale-up of renewables.

However, forming a new government is going to be complex. From a climate perspective a conservative-green coalition might be the best option, as the conservatives are much less attached to coal than the Green’s traditional partner, the Social Democrats. However, on many other issues there are strong differences between conservatives and Greens. The Social Democrats also aren’t to eager to form a coalition with Angela Merkel as the last time they did, in 2005-09, they got burned pretty badly, in the subsequent election they lost 1/3 of their previous votes.

The German Energy Blog sums up the current situation and also has profiles on the energy policy positions parties took during the election campaign.

Backers breathe life into climate body. Australia’s new Prime Minister made closing the Climate Commission, set up by the previous Labor government to provide independent advice on climate issues, one of his first acts of government. Peter Hannam reports that private backers want to bring it back.

Energy efficiency could help US save $900 billion of investments by 2030. A new report by Ecofys concludes that improving the efficiency of electricity use in the USA by an additional 1-2% per year would save the equivalent production of 500 to 900 medium-sized power plants. This would reduce the need for capital investments in public energy infrastructure in the range of $500 – 900 billion by 2030.

Solar to add more megawatts than wind in 2013, for first time. Bloomberg projects that the world will add 36.7 GW of solar and 35.5 GW of wind power this year. For solar that’s an increase compared to last year, for wind a decrease.

UK renewables generation increases by 56% since 2012. Nilima Chaudhury reports for RTCC that renewable energy generation in the UK has strongly increased while nuclear, oil, gas and coal have gone down.

Major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground, senior diplomat warns. Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian that former Irish President Mary Robinson has joined those who highlight that preventing dangerous change will require leaving the majority of fossil fuel reserves untouched.

Cutting Carbon Emissions Could Save 3 Million Lives Per Year By 2100, Study Finds. Serving as another reminder that climate change is not the only problem fossil fuel use is causing, Katie Valentine reports on a new study that concludes that the air quality benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions could drastically reduce premature mortality around the world.

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