UK Achieves First Coal-Free Week Since Industrial Revolution
All coal generators were offline from 1:24 p.m. May 1 through 1:24 p.m. May 8, The Guardian reported. The record follows closely on a five-day coal-free stretch over the Easter weekend, The Independent noted.
"As more and more renewables come on to our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence," National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) director Fintan Slye said, according to ITV News.
The UK government has promised to phase out coal entirely by 2025.
"Going a week without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution is a huge leap forward in our world-leading efforts to reduce emissions, but we're not stopping there," Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said, as ITV News reported. "To combat climate change growth, we're phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and building a cleaner, greener energy system."
The UK has broken its record and gone a whole week without using coal for power - over 1,000 total hours so far this year!— Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) May 8, 2019
We’re phasing out coal entirely by 2025 and on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for #netzero emissions.#cleangrowth #climatechange pic.twitter.com/mJcGvacMGN
However, Slye said he believed the country's entire electricity system could be run without carbon by that time, though it would require work.
"Zero-carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate — integrating newer technologies right across the system — from large-scale offshore wind to domestic-scale solar panels to increased demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real time," he said.
In 2018, the UK got a record 27.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. Low-carbon energy, which includes nuclear, accounted for 49.6 percent of the country's supply the same year, also a new high. Natural gas accounted for 43.9 percent of electricity and coal only six percent, a new low.
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr. Doug Parr said that the country now needed to move beyond eliminating coal to ban diesel and gas vehicles, improve building efficiency, reduce meat consumption and plant millions of trees to fight climate change.
"Just a few years ago we were told Britain couldn't possibly keep the lights on without burning coal," he said, according to ITV News. "Now coal is quickly becoming an irrelevance, much to the benefit of our climate and air quality, and we barely notice it."
The coal-free milestone comes a little less than a week after the UK's Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released a report saying the country both should and could achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, The Guardian reported.
The UK can get to net-zero emissions by 2050 by using known technologies alongside improvements to quality of life pic.twitter.com/BRkj25USxW— CCC (@theCCCuk) May 2, 2019
But CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark said some government policies were still hampering renewable energy development, among them a proposed hike to VATs on solar panels and a failure to fully back onshore wind power.
"We will need to throw everything at this challenge, including onshore wind and solar," Stark told Members of Parliament on the business committee Wednesday, according to The Guardian. "Anything that makes it harder is really not in line with the net-zero challenge overall."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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By Joni Sweet
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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