Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest polluters, will detail its plans to address climate change at an environment event on Saturday.
The Saudi Green Initiative, first announced in March, comes ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow from Oct. 31 – Nov. 12, that hopes to agree on deeper emissions cuts to tackle global warming.
Riyadh, a signatory to the Paris climate pact, has yet to announce nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – goals for individual states under global efforts to prevent average global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The United States and the EU want Saudi Arabia to join a global initiative on slashing emissions of methane by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry will attend a wider Middle East green summit Riyadh is hosting on Monday.
Saudi Arabia has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions through initiatives including generating 50% of its energy needs from renewables by 2030 and planting billions of trees in the desert state.
It has yet to set a net-zero goal. Fellow Gulf OPEC producer the United Arab Emirates earlier this month announced a plan for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Despite the renewables push and moves to improve energy efficiency, Saudi Arabia has been criticised for acting too slowly, with Climate Action Tracker giving it the lowest possible ranking of “critically insufficient”.
The kingdom’s economy remains heavily reliant on oil income as economic diversification lags ambitions set out by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi officials have argued the world will continue to need Saudi crude for decades to come.
And experts say it is too early to tell what the impact of Saudi’s nascent solar and wind projects will be. Its first renewable energy plant opened in April and its first wind farm began generating power in August.
Megaprojects, such as futuristic city NEOM, also incorporate green energy plans including a $5 billion hydrogen plant, and Saudi state-linked entities are pivoting to green fundraising.
Some investors have expressed concerns over the kingdom’s carbon footprint. Others say Saudi Arabia emits the least carbon per barrel of oil and that de facto ruler Prince Mohammed is serious about economic diversification.
“Obviously the carbon footprint is an issue. However, we would highlight that realistically carbon is going to be slow to phase out, and oil is here for some time yet,” Tim Ash at BlueBay Asset Management said in emailed comments.
(Reporting by Yousef Saba; additional reporting Raya Jalabi in Dubai; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Russia may sue NASA astronaut over claims of drilling hole in spacecraft – WION
US-Russia spat seems to have reached space now. In a new development, Russian space agency Roscosmos has threatened to sue a NASA astronaut.
The agency claims the astronaut drilled a two-mm hole in a Soyuz MS-09 vehicle, which was docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018.
After completing its investigation recently, the agency deemed the action as a sabotage. It cited Serena Auñón-Chancellor, an ISS crew member during the incident, as the culprit.
As the allegations were handed over to law enforcement of the Russia, Roscosmos announced the possibility of criminal charges.
With the hope of returning home early, Auñón-Chancellor purposefully made the hole, reported the Izvestia newspaper while citing sources on Friday.
Auñón-Chancellor seems to have wanted to leave due to a blood clot or a fight with her boyfriend onboard the ISS, Russian news outlet said citing sources.
When Auñón-Chancellor was in space, she got married to Jeff Chancellor. The couple is still married to this day. It is unclear who is the ‘boyfriend’ as stated by sources.
After a pressure drop was identified due to an air leak, the hole was spotted on August 30, 2018.
(With inputs from agencies)
NASA aims to replace ISS with a commercial space station by 2030 – The Tribune
Washington, Dec 1
The US space agency is planning to replace the International Space Station (ISS) with one or more commercial space stations by 2030.
NASA’s auditing body, the Office of Audits, has produced a report detailing the agency’s commitment to replace the orbiting lab with commercial space stations.
Astronauts have lived and worked onboard the ISS orbiting roughly 250 miles above the Earth’s surface for more than 20 years.
“The ISS costs about $3 billion a year, roughly a third of NASA’s annual human space flight budget, and while current plans call for the Station’s retirement in 2024, an extension to 2030 is likely,” the US space agency said in the audit report.
Anticipating its retirement, NASA has committed to replacing the ISS with one or more commercially owned and operated space destinations.
“In the fiscal year (FY) that ended September 30, 2021, Congress authorised $17 million to that end — a fraction of the $150 million the Agency said it needed. NASA’s plans for long-term, deep space human exploration missions depend on continuous access to a research laboratory in low-Earth orbit,” it added.
The Artemis mission, aimed at returning humans to the Moon and ultimately landing astronauts on Mars, is not feasible without continued human health research and technology demonstrations being conducted on the ISS and its eventual replacement.
“As long as humans intend to travel in space, NASA expects research and testing will be needed in the microgravity environment of low-Earth orbit,” the audio report mentioned.
While overall ISS operations and maintenance costs remained steady at about $1.1 billion a year from FY2016 through FY2020, systems maintenance and upgrade costs trended upward 35 per cent in the same 5-year period, rising to approximately $169 million in FY2020 due primarily to upgrades.
Meanwhile, NASA and Roscosmos are investigating the cause and long-term impacts of cracks and leaks that were recently discovered in the Station’s Service Module Transfer Tunnel, which connects the Service Module to one of eight docking ports on the Station.
“Causes being explored include structural fatigue, internal damage, external damage, and material defects. Notably, based on the models NASA used to assess the structure, the cracks should not have occurred, suggesting the possibility of an earlier-than-projected obsolescence for at least one element of the Station,” the US space agency noted. IANS
Arctic rainfall could dominate snowfall earlier than expected: study – Global Times
A view of Arctic Photo: VCG
Rainfall could start replacing snowfall in the Arctic decades sooner than previously thought, a study found Tuesday, warning the change caused by global warming could have effects beyond the region.
The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the planet, melting sea ice and adding moisture to the air that is likely to increase precipitation.
Comparing the latest projections to previous climate models, the study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications estimates the switch from snowfall-dominated annual precipitation to one dominated by rain will come about “one or two decades earlier.”
“Changes are going to be more severe and occur much earlier than projected and so will have huge implications for life in and beyond the Arctic,” the study’s main author Michelle McCrystall told AFP.
“In autumn, for example, when the greatest changes occur, the central Arctic may transition around 2070 in the latest set of models compared to 2090 in the previous set,” added McCrystall, a researcher at Canada’s University of Manitoba.
But everything depends on the degree of global warming.
At the current rate of warming rain could dominate snow in the Arctic before the end of the century, the study says. But it says limiting warming to 1.5 C could mean the Arctic stays dominated by snow.
Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the results “imply that the worst impacts can be avoided if countries match their stated intentions to cut emissions in line with the Paris agreement.”
But Schmidt added that he felt the study did not prove the change would come sooner than expected.
Whenever it comes, the switch from snow to rain is likely to have major effects on the Arctic ecosystem.
More rainfall on top of current snow cover could lead to increased surface ice that would make it impossible for caribou and reindeer to forage for food.
Less snow cover also means the Arctic will lose some of its capacity to deflect solar heat and light away from the Earth’s surface and thus contribute to warming.
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