As reported in the Guardian, advisers say refusing new licences would signal green ambition, but final decision must be for ministers. The prospects for an expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea have cleared a major hurdle, as the Committee on Climate Change said “stringent tests” must be applied to any new exploration licences but stopped short of saying they could not be issued.

New drilling would not reduce energy bills for UK consumers, the committee found, and its chair, former Conservative environment secretary Lord Deben, said he would “favour” a moratorium on North Sea exploration. He said refusing new licences would “send a clear signal to investors and consumers that the UK is committed” to its climate goals, and help to “strengthen climate ambition internationally”.

But the committee, which is the statutory adviser to the government on the net zero goal, concluded that as it could not establish clearly whether new exploration would significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions globally, and as considering the UK’s energy security went beyond its remit, any decision on new licences must be taken by ministers.

“Weighing these advantages is an inherently political decision, which goes beyond climate policy and sits rightly with government, not with my committee,” wrote Deben, in a letter to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. He also made clear that producing more North Sea oil and gas would do little or nothing to help UK consumers cope with high energy prices. “Any increases in UK extraction of oil and gas would have, at most, a marginal effect on the prices faced by UK consumers in future,” he wrote.

A new study has warned that US sea levels to rise as much in 30 years as in previous hundred. The authors hope the near-term predictions will help communities plan for sea level rise and flooding, but also urge that cutting emissions now can lower future risk. The study, from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  forecasts a “profound” increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall, as sea levels creep up a further 25-30cm on average by 2050. The new data is the “the latest reconfirmation that our climate crisis… is blinking ‘code red'”, said Gina McCarthy, US climate adviser.

Finally on climate, the IPCC has just issued the ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown. The UN report shows that warming already threatens billions of people and crucial ecosystems.

Coastal cities are clearly on the climate change frontline and the section of the IPCC report on coastal cities concludes with: Realising global aspirations for climate resilient development depends on the extent to which coastal cities and settlements […] close the coastal adaptation gap, and take urgent action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. There will be more to come on this stark report.

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