Newsdesk – May 24

‘Where we’re sat right now might well be underwater, right next to the Thames. I wouldn’t fancy our chances.’ [Photograph: Alexandre Rotenberg/Shutterstock]
I don’t want to be seen as a zealot’: what MPs really think about the climate crisis – The difference between what they say in private and in public is striking – and shows us how we can make climate action central to post-pandemic politics. And in particular, the MP Interviewed by Rebecca Willis was a woman who was young and, at least on the surface, confident, and had two, conflicting, demands: she wanted urgent action on climate, and she also wanted government support to allow her local industry to continue polluting. The MP was also simultaneously backing and opposing climate action. And let’s go beyond this one MP’s opinion, but from the perspective of UK politics, in which there is strong cross-party support for far-reaching carbon targets. In June last year, the government passed a law to strengthen these targets, committing the UK to end virtually all emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases within the next 30 years. But for now, Covid-19 is, understandably, taking up all the political and media attention there is. However, the need for fast, radical carbon cuts – and a political strategy that will allow this to happen – has not gone away. And if we are to make the right choice here, as a society, the essential first step is a simple one: speaking out. Politicians, and others, need to speak openly and with unflinching honesty about the significance of climate change. The Guardian

  • Antarctica’s weird green snow set to spread due to climate change – CNet
  • Climate change: Top 10 tips to reduce carbon footprint revealed – BBC News
  • Rwanda submits tougher emissions-cutting plan to the UN – Climate Home News
  • Denmark proposes two huge ‘energy islands’ to meet the 2030 climate target – Climate Home News
  • Australia’s gas and electricity producers push back on government intervention – The Guardian
  • Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 rebound – BBC News
  • Business, unions and green groups call for sustainable Covid-19 recovery with clean energy transition – The Guardian
  • Spain unveils climate law to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 – Climate Home News
  • In Michigan, Dams Plus Climate Change Equals a Disastrous Mix – Inside Climate

[image by Albert Tercero]
The world urgently needs to expand its use of carbon prices – If economists ruled the world, carbon prices would drive most of the action on climate change. And in the absence of a global econocracy, the idea that some sort of price would help people find an efficient means of reducing emissions is a given. Unfortunately, the vast majority of humankind’s carbon emissions are currently unpriced. And this is not simply a snub to the dismal science. To elaborate, when asked to pay a new tax, people by and large demur; when told that they will, as a result, pay less in old taxes, they tend to scoff. Another is that companies that depend on their, or their customers’, greenhouse-gas emissions for their livelihood do not want to see those emissions discouraged—especially if companies elsewhere do not have to play by the same rules. A third is that, in some places, the green left, which plays a decisive role in climate politics, has come to distrust the idea. Despite divided opinions and limited progress, advocates for a carbon price, one that is both above $40 and applies to more than half a country’s greenhouse-gas emissions, remain committed to the cause. And since January carbon emissions have been priced at a minimum of C$20 ($14) per tonne across Canada. By 2022 that will rise to C$50. The ets carbon price has fallen by about a fifth in 2020 as the world economy has suffered. The need to decarbonize the economy, though, remains as urgent as ever. Indeed, the pandemic demonstrates the scale of the climate challenge. Although entire sectors of the economy, including aviation, have shut down, emissions this year will still remain too high. – The Economist

Soyoung Lee at a climate protest in September. [Photograph: Office of Lee Soyoung]
Could a green new deal turn South Korea from climate villain to model? –  Soyoung Lee, a 35-lawyer who was in a crowd of climate activists, raises hopes that South Korea – a country long considered one of the world’s worst climate villains – will set a global example by accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels. In South Korea, its government’s priority is to boost the economy after the Covid-19 crisis. The country has won praise around the world for its handling of the health pandemic, but its powerful industrial conglomerates have taken a big hit from the downturn in global trade. The high-tech nation has a low-grade energy supply, however. After the 2008-09 financial crisis, the government promised a “green growth” strategy, but the plans for more river protection and bike lanes were an excuse for construction companies to pour more concrete than ever. Nevertheless, democratic president Moon Jae-in stressed that “it’s necessary to lay out a grand plan for the green new deal to harmonize with the establishment of digital infrastructure.” And although South Korea is characterized as the biggest carbon villain by some other countries, optimism is on the rise. Byunghwa Han, a senior analyst at Eugene Investment and Securities, assured that “I am very optimistic. This is the best opportunity in Korea since I have been involved in this field since 2008,” he said. “The government is very ambitious about the green new deal and, with a strong majority in the national assembly, the president can enact policies with no roadblocks.” In addition, Soyoung Lee argues South Korea will have more stranded assets the longer it delays transition away from fossil fuels. “I am not going to be over optimistic about securing a tremendous budget with huge goals. But it is important that the government is setting targets and moving in the right direction.There is a lot of value in that. We will do our best to make South Korea a model in this, as it has been in its handling of Covid.” – The Guardian