This week: Mapping extreme weather attribution; Avoiding costly gas; Lessons on coal phaseout

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Weekly Briefing
Extreme events
You may have noticed that extreme weather has been splashed across many newspapers recently. This week has been no exception, with an exceptionally dry summer in the UK, extreme drought in Mexico and flooding in Kentucky all making frontpage news around the world.
And this morning, in a “burning issue” cover story, the Guardian brings the implications of these extremes sharply into focus.
Its in-depth special report delves into the hundreds of “attribution” studies that Carbon Brief has pulled together in the latest update to our interactive map (see above).
These studies have assessed more than 500 extreme events and trends to identify if human-caused climate change played a role in their severity or likelihood. And the headline finding is that for 80% of them it did, with 71% found to have been made more severe or likely and 9% made less so. (The remaining 20% either showed no impact or were inconclusive.)
Heatwaves in particular feature heavily on the map as they are the most-studied extreme event in attribution literature. Of the 152 heat extremes included, human influence was shown to have made 93% more severe or likely, with none made less so. 
And, as highlighted by the Guardian, recent studies have shown that several heat extremes would have been impossible or virtually impossible without human influence on the climate. These include Siberia’s heatwave of 2020, the Pacific north-west “heat dome” event of 2021 and Europe’s record-breaking summer of 2021
This is the fifth iteration of the map, which is updated every year to add in new attribution studies.
Costly gas
A pair of guest posts for Carbon Brief this week looked at the prospects for the coal- and gas-fuelled power plants that are so crucial to tackling climate change.
In the first guest post, Warda Ajaz, project manager for Asia on the Global Energy Monitor gas tracker, explained how China and South Korea – the top two countries in East Asia for planned gas power expansion – could save money by investing in cheaper renewables instead.
Strikingly, Ajaz presented data from another thinktank, TransitionZero, showing that renewables paired with battery storage would be cheaper than gas in both countries, following continuing declines in the cost of wind, solar and storage, combined with the recent spike in the cost of gas.
Meanwhile, Michael Jakob and Jan Steckel of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change penned a Carbon Brief article about their research, on the political drivers of coal phaseouts – and the forces holding them back.
Working with an international team of around 35 researchers, they looked at the experience of 15 countries to explore drivers including interest group lobbying and the desire to keep or create jobs.
“Efforts to move away from coal are gaining momentum,” the pair write, but “significant barriers remain”. They say the findings revealed by their 15 case studies “can help inform policymakers on how to design domestic – as well as international – policies to phase out coal”.
Recommended reads
This week on Carbon Brief
Mapped: How climate change affects extreme weather around the world
Guest post: How China and South Korea could save money by steering clear of gas
Guest post: What we learned about coal phaseout by studying 15 countries
This week's Daily Briefings
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