Donald Trump names JD Vance, formerly one of his fiercest critics, as 2024 running mate | US elections 2024

Donald Trump has named JD Vance, the Ohio senator who has aligned himself with the populist right, as his running mate at the Republican national convention on Monday.

“After lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States is Senator JD Vance of the Great State of Ohio,” wrote Trump on Truth Social.

When Trump first ran for office, Vance’s eventual nomination to run alongside him would have seemed implausible. Vance, a venture capitalist who rocketed into the public eye with his 2016 memoir turned Netflix movie Hillbilly Elegy, was once among Trump’s conservative critics.

“I’m a never-Trump guy, I never liked him,” Vance said during an October 2016 interview with Charlie Rose. Trump was, by Vance’s estimation at the time, a “terrible candidate”.

He even wondered aloud, in texts to a former roommate, whether Trump was more of “a cynical asshole like Nixon”, or worse, “America’s Hitler”.

Since then, Vance has made a dramatic transformation into a Maga power figure and close ally of the former president who has supported some of Trump’s more authoritarian impulses, like questioning the results of the 2020 election and, in a 2021 podcast interview, suggesting Trump should purge civil servants from the federal government if re-elected.

Vance’s response to the assassination attempt at a Trump rally on Saturday was also notable. “The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs,” Vance wrote on X. “That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

Vance has already vied for Trump’s blessing once before, while campaigning for a seat representing Ohio in the US Senate. During the primary, Vance pitched himself as a Trump-style rightwing populist. He criticized “elites”, fired off contemptuous tweets about crime in New York City, promoted the racist and antisemitic “great replacement” theory on Tucker Carlson’s show and grew a beard. He faced a storm of negative ads from the conservative, free market-oriented Club for Growth, which pointed to his past identity as a “never Trumper” as proof of his phoniness.

The tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who had previously backed Vance’s venture capital startup, poured record-breaking sums of money into the race, and Trump endorsed Vance – ushering in his victory in the primary. When he beat the former Democratic congressman Tim Ryan in the November 2022 general election, it cemented his place in the Maga right.

“I think we need more people like him in politics, who are energetic, dynamic, clear-headed about their ideology,” Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur who ran for president during the Republican party primaries, said of Vance. “The only negative of it – if there is a negative to point out – is he’s probably one of the best we have in the US Senate, and he’s a principled fighter.”

In office, Vance has consistently aligned with the populist right, calling into question the US’s role in foreign conflicts and backing rightwing domestic legislation. In 2023, for example, he introduced a bill that would make English the official language of the US.

In a fundraising email, Trump speculated that media outlets “will say MAGA-Patriots like YOU won’t vote for me with JD Vance on the ticket. NOW’S THE TIME FOR US TO PROVE THEM WRONG!”

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Underground cave found on moon could be ideal base for explorers | The moon

Researchers have found evidence for a substantial underground cave on the moon that is accessible from the surface, making the spot a prime location to build a future lunar base.

The cave appears to be reachable from an open pit in the Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), the ancient lava plain where the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon more than half a century ago.

Analysis of radar data collected by Nasa’s lunar reconnaissance orbiter (LRO) revealed that the Mare Tranquillitatis pit, the deepest known pit on the moon, leads to a cave 45 metres wide and up to 80 metres long, an area equivalent to 14 tennis courts. The cave lies about 150 metres beneath the surface.

Lorenzo Bruzzone, of the University of Trento in Italy, said the cave was “probably an empty lava tube”, adding that such features could serve as human habitats for future explorers as they were “a natural shelter against the harsh lunar environment”.

Lunar orbiters first spotted pits on the moon more than a decade ago. Many are thought to be “skylights” that connect to underground caves such as lava tubes, giant underground tunnels that form through volcanic processes.

Such caves could form the basis for a moonbase or an emergency lunar shelter because the temperature is relatively stable inside and astronauts would be naturally shielded from harmful cosmic rays, solar radiation and micrometeorites.

Many lunar pits are thought to connect to underground caves such as lava tubes, giant underground tunnels that form through volcanic processes. Photograph: NASA

Previous images taken from the LRO showed that the bottom of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit was strewn with boulders up to 10 metres wide. But it was unclear whether the pit was enclosed or served as an entry point to an underground cave, such as a lava tube whose roof had collapsed.

Writing in Nature Astronomy, the scientists describe how they used LRO data and computer simulations to show that the 100 metre-wide pit, which is bordered by vertical or overhanging walls, leads to a sloping floor and a cave that extends for tens of metres westwards.

Researchers are keen to study the rocks inside such caves as they are likely to hold clues to the moon’s formation and volcanic history. The caves may also contain water ice, a resource Bruzzone said was essential for long-term lunar missions and colonisation.

At least 200 pits have been spotted on the moon and many found on lava fields could be entrances to cavernous subterranean lava tubes. “The main advantage of caves is that they make available the main structural parts of a possible human base without requiring complex construction activities,” said Leonardo Carrer, the study’s first author.

In preparation for humans returning to the moon, space agencies are already wondering how to assess the structural stability of caves and reinforce their walls and ceilings. Habitats may also need monitoring systems to warn of movement or seismic activity and have separate areas for astronauts to retreat to should sections of their cave collapse.

“Lunar cave systems have been proposed as great places to site future crewed bases, as the thick cave ceiling of rock is ideal to protect people and infrastructure from the wildly varying day-night lunar surface temperature variations and to block high energy radiation which bathes the lunar surface,” said Katherine Joy, professor in earth sciences at the University of Manchester. “However, we currently know very little about the underground structures below these pit entrances.”

Robert Wagner, a researcher at Arizona State University, said one of the biggest challenges would be access. “Getting into that pit requires descending 125 metres before you reach the floor, and the rim is a steep slope of loose debris where any movement will send little avalanches down on to anyone below,” he said. “It’s certainly possible to get in and out, but it will take a significant amount of infrastructure.”

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Millions face extreme temperatures as heat dome covers US midwest and east | Extreme heat

Millions of Americans are bracing themselves for dangerous temperatures at the start of the working week as a heat dome blankets the midwest and eastern United States.

Heat advisories are in place in Kansas and Texas all the way to New York and South Carolina, as the area of high pressure that caused misery in the west last week slowly makes its way across the country.

Air quality alerts are also in place in major cities across the east coast including New York and Philadelphia, signaling dangerous outdoor conditions for those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

Near record breaking daily temperatures are forecast for multiple cities, with 102F (39C) expected in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Monday afternoon and 97F (36C) in New York City on Tuesday. It will likely feel even hotter due to high humidity levels, which will make this heatwave even more dangerous, especially those without access to air conditioning or other adequate cooling.

The National Weather Service has warned of “major” and “extreme” heat for many eastern areas, as well as parts of the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley.

The current heat and humidity are forecast to reach peak intensity by Tuesday afternoon before cooler air from Canada brings a welcome relief to the heat later this week, according to the NWS.

Meanwhile, red flag warnings are in place in parts of Oregon and Idaho, signaling critical fire weather conditions due a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. Flash floods and tornadoes are also forecast in parts of the midwest including Illinois and Minneapolis, according to the NWS.

It has been a very hot start to the heat season across the US, with heat related deaths reported in multiple states as the climate emergency makes extreme temperatures and longer heatwaves more likely.

The deadly heatwave that scorched large swaths of Mexico, Central America and the southern US in May and June was made 35 times more likely due to human-induced global heating, according to research by leading climate scientists from World Weather Attribution.

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Body found in area where Jay Slater went missing in Tenerife | Spain

Rescue teams on the Spanish island of Tenerife have discovered the body of a young man in the area where the British teenager Jay Slater disappeared.

In a statement, Spain’s national police force, the Guardia Civil, said rescuers had found remains.

Slater, 19, an apprentice bricklayer from Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, went missing after attending a music festival on the island four weeks ago. He was last seen walking alone in the Rural de Teno national park, a rugged and remote area on the opposite side of the island to the holiday resort where he had been staying with friends.

The statement said: “Guardia Civil agents belonging to Mountain Rescue and Intervention Group located in this morning the lifeless body of a young man in the Masca area, belonging to the municipality of Buenavista del Norte.”

It went on to suggest the person “could have died due to [an] accidental fall on the cliff and inaccessible area where [the body] had been found”.

Spanish police said that for 29 days, different units of the Guardia Civil had run a “constant search … to look for the young man every day in the area of ​​Masca” and would await the results of an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.

A search and rescue operation was launched on the island after Slater was reported missing on 17 June. The police in Spain said they were scaling down the search two weeks later but the case remained open.

Volunteer rescuers had continued to look for the teenager, with some Britons flying out to help. Police had previously used helicopters, dogs and drones to look for Slater but rescue teams said the terrain had made the job particularly difficult.

“It’s so big [here] that it’s very difficult to search in such a steep area. But we’re doing everything we can,” one member of the rescue team told the Guardian. He said it was a “very difficult area to search”, with many areas covered in vegetation, as well as there being gaps and ravines.

In Slater’s last known contact with friends, he made a phone call saying he was lost, thirsty, and had only 1% left on his phone battery. After the music festival, he had gone with some men he had met that night and was last seen close to the holiday home they had rented on the island.

Ofelia Medina Hernandez, whose brother owns the Airbnb, said Slater had asked her about the times of buses back to Los Cristianos, and she had later seen him walking uphill in the opposite direction to the coastal resort.

“It’s dangerous walking around here, it’s easy to lose yourself,” she said. “He walked along the road when I saw him for the last time, up there … He was there alone. He was walking normally, though fast, a little fast.”

Slater’s mother, Debbie Duncan, described in a statement on Sunday the “heartache” her “normal family from Lancashire” continued to suffer, and criticised “the constant barrage of conspiracy theories and wild speculation” that had flourished online since his disappearance and compounded the family’s grief.

“As we approach four weeks of our beautiful Jay’s disappearance, we cannot put into words the heartache we are suffering as a family,. He is loved by everyone and has a close bond with his family and many, many friends,” she said.

“It’s important to consider how the family will feel when horrific things are being posted online,” she added, saying: “It must end.”

The statement was issued via LBT Global, a British overseas missing persons charity that has been working with the family.

According to Tenerife’s El Día newspaper, the terrain where the body was found was so inaccessible that a helicopter from the regional government’s emergency rescue service was used to help recover the remains.

A spokesperson for the Guardia Civil said one of its mountain rescue search teams had found the body while carrying out a search on the ground.

LBT Global said on Monday the body had been found close to the site of the last known location of Slater’s mobile phone.

“Although formal identification is yet to be carried out, the body was found with Mr Slater’s possessions and clothes,” it said. “A postmortem and forensic inquiries will follow.”

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Blue Maga: we need to talk about the cult-like turn of the Democratic party | Mehdi Hasan

Is the Democratic party, the self-proclaimed party of liberal values and scientific data, morphing into a Maga-like cult in front of our eyes?

Over the past few weeks, the calls for Joe Biden to step aside have been met not with thoughtful critiques or reasoned counter-arguments but with furious accusations of treason, disloyalty, and betrayal.

Whatever happened to the importance of voicing dissent? Of speaking truth to power? Weren’t liberals supposed to be the folks who value open debate and discussion?

Writing for the Guardian, 15 years ago, the cult expert Rick Ross warned us to “watch out for the tell-tale signs” of a cult, including “no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry”, “there is no legitimate reason to leave”, “former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil”, and “the group/leader is always right”.

Anyone who has observed the behaviour of the Democratic party base, especially online; of elected Democrats on Capitol Hill; and of the Democratic president himself, since the CNN debate on 28 June, will have spotted some of those “tell-tale signs”.

Let’s start with the Democratic base – those “hyper-partisans” who “act like members of a cult because they treat their political party like a religious identity”, to quote the political strategist Chris Sosa. I have spent the past few weeks watching the Very Online members of the base embracing an endless stream of “Blue Anon” conspiracy theories, pushed on behalf of the Dear Leader.

Did Biden deliver a car-crash debate performance live on CNN or … did CNN’s “carefully considered FRAMING & LIGHTING design” make Biden look older and paler than he was, as one viral tweet (bizarrely) claimed? Did the president struggle to make sense in his ABC News interview with George Stephanopolous or … was it a result of ABC “destroying the sound quality in Biden’s interview to make him sound bad”, as another viral tweet (ridiculously) put it? Did the presumptive Democratic nominee take a clear hit in almost every post-debate poll or … was it actually the case that “President Biden’s poll numbers skyrocketed in swing states and CNN’s ratings plummeted”, as yet another viral tweet (falsely) declared?

Conspiracy theories aside, these “hyper-partisans” have loudly railed against members of the press, with op-ed writers who question Biden dubbed “seditionists”; with demands to keep journalists who are deemed to be even vaguely anti-Biden “off air”; with campaigns to cancel media subscriptions in response to criticisms of Biden. (My own media company Zeteo has lost a bunch of paid subscribers since I wrote my last column for the Guardian: one demanded a “refund” because I asked Biden to step aside for Kamala Harris, while another told me to “support Biden or GTFO”.)

Last week, my former MSNBC colleague Jen Psaki hosted a discussion with the Pod Save America co-host Jon Favreau, on Biden’s travails, and her show’s Twitter account advertised the interview in advance. The response? A torrent of anger, abuse, and attacks in the replies: “weak propagandist”, “JFC she is one of them”, “hard pass + unfollow”, “hell no”, “Eewwwwwwww”.

If neither Psaki nor Favreau – respectively, President Biden’s former White House press secretary and President Obama’s former speechwriter – is now considered a kosher Democrat, then who is? If attacking them for disloyalty isn’t evidence of cult-like behavior, then what is?

Then there are the party’s elected representatives, who are busy marching in lockstep with the White House in public, while losing their shit in private. “On Capitol Hill, Democrats panic about Biden but do nothing,” read the headline in the New York Times.

Sound familiar?

The party that mocked Republicans for slamming Trump in private while backing him in public is now doing the same with its own leader. At the time of writing, only about 20 congressional Democrats have called for Biden to step aside and yet reporting from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and more, suggest dozens more are saying the same behind closed doors. Most elected Democrats believe Biden will struggle to win against Trump in November, noted Politico’s Rachael Bade last week, “even if they don’t say it on record”.

And what’s one of the main reasons why they won’t say it on the record? Because they’re afraid. That’s not my opinion – it’s theirs. “I wish I was more brave,” NBC News quoted one anonymous Democratic state party chair as saying. “I would be crucified by them if I spoke out of line.” This person spoke on the condition of anonymity, according to NBC, “because they fear retaliation from the president’s camp”.

Again, sound familiar?

So let’s talk about the Democratic president in the White House, who is fast becoming an unlikely and unexpected cult leader. And yet, do you remember Trump’s infamous declaration that “I alone can fix it”? Here’s Biden, in his interview with Stephanopolous:

“And who’s gonna be able to hold Nato together like me? Who’s gonna be able to be in a position where I’m able to keep the Pacific Basin in a position where we’re – we’re at least checkmating China now? Who’s gonna – who’s gonna do that?”

Do you remember how Trump obsessed over the size of his crowds, both at campaign rallies and at his inauguration? Here’s Biden, responding to a question from Stephanopolous on how he plans to “turn the campaign around”:

“You saw it today. How many – how many people draw crowds like I did today? Find me more enthusiastic than today? Huh?”

I could go on and on. When Biden pretends the polls are all wrong; attacks members of the press at a campaign rally; and calls into a morning show to mock the “elites”… who does he sound like? When members of the Biden campaign decide to accuse their critics of “bed-wetting”, deride a group of “self-important” liberal podcasters, and pick a fight with a Hollywood star … which campaign do they sound like?

Consider this paragraph from the New York Times on Friday, referring to a Biden campaign event in Detroit which had the “flavor of a Trump rally at times”:

“When Mr Biden referred to his political opponent, there were chants of ‘Lock him up’ – which the president did not discourage. When he criticized news media coverage, big cheers followed, with his supporters turning to boo and point fingers at reporters.”

How does this not sound like “Blue Maga”?

Now, there are both good reasons and bad to explain the cultish abyss into which the party seems to be descending. There is a genuine and understandable fear of a second Trump presidency and a legitimate frustration with “both sides” media coverage. However, there is also an undeniable tendency toward groupthink and hyper-partisanship, exacerbated by social media echo chambers and online grifters. Misinformation is rife across the political spectrum; conspiracism and paranoia is being normalized on the liberal left, not just the Maga right.

So Blue Maga may not be violent or authoritarian like Red Maga, but the consequences of a second major political party in the United States succumbing to a weird online cult of personality could be disastrous for our democracy.

Democrats who have spent the past decade (rightly) attacking Republicans for their blind and zealous devotion to Trump would do well to heed the advice of Friedrich Nietzche: “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

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Did Donald Trump just win the election? | Arwa Mahdawi

You’ve almost certainly seen the pictures by now. You’ve probably seen them a hundred times. A fist in the air, blood dripping from his ear, an American flag above him, a defiant expression on his face. Trump quickly jumping up from an assassination attempt at a Pennsylvania rally and appearing to mouth the words: “Fight! Fight! Fight!” If you fed “all-American tough guy president” into an AI image generator, it wouldn’t spit out anything half as powerful. Obviously, there’s nothing remotely positive about a terrible act of political violence that left an innocent bystander and the shooter dead. But in terms of optics for Trump’s presidential campaign? Well, as Trump himself told The New York Post on Sunday: “A lot of people say it’s the most iconic photo they’ve ever seen”. He added: “They’re right and I didn’t die. Usually you have to die to have an iconic picture.”

There’s still a lot we don’t know about what happened on Saturday. We know who the suspected shooter is – the FBI has identified him as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks – but we don’t know why he did it. Crooks was a registered Republican but records show that when he was 17 he made a $15 donation to ActBlue, a political action committee that raises money for Democratic politicians. With the information we have right now, it’s hard to paint Crook as an extreme leftwinger.

That won’t stop Republicans, though, who are already blaming Joe Biden and the Democrats for the shooting. Again, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what exactly happened, but the one thing we can definitively say is that Trump’s allies will wring every possible drop of political capital out of the shooting.

“This was an assassination attempt aided and abetted by the radical Left and corporate media incessantly calling Trump a threat to democracy, fascists, or worse,” Senator Tim Scott tweeted on Saturday, for example.

“The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs,” the Ohio Senator JD Vance similarly tweeted. “That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

‘The assassination attempt on Trump has made it a lot harder for Democrats to emphasize how dangerous his policies would be.’ Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Vance is right on the first point. The central premise of Biden’s campaign is that Trump is an existential threat to democracy. That phrase has been repeated again and again. “There is one existential threat: it’s Donald Trump,” Biden said at a fundraiser in February. “Trump poses an existential threat to abortion rights in Pennsylvania,” the Democratic US representative Mary Gay Scanlon said at a press conference in April. The Democratic congressman Gregory Meeks called Trump an “existential threat to democracy” this month on MSNBC.

All of that is still true. But now that there’s been a dramatic threat to Trump’s very existence, that talking point loses its potency. Every time a Democrat raises it, Republicans can claim they are putting Trump’s life at risk again. Expect that phrase to start fizzling out. The assassination attempt on Trump has made it a lot harder for Democrats to emphasize how dangerous his policies would be. Instead they’ll spend the next couple of weeks talking about civility and denouncing violence. (And, of course, violence of any type should always be roundly condemned. It’s just a shame the same politicians denouncing political violence right now have no problem raining hell down on kids in Gaza. Violence, it seems, is only condemned when it affects certain people.)

Another big Democratic talking point is January 6. Biden has been blistering about Trump’s election “big lie” that incited the breach of the Capitol by his supporters by a “violent mob”. Biden has asked people to recall the violent scenes and reflect on how “democracy was attacked” that day. Again, all that remains true, but that particular narrative also loses its potency when Trump has been attacked; when the democratic process has been attacked. If January 6 is mentioned again, Republicans can simply point their fingers at Democrats and accuse them of inciting violence on 13 July.

While the Democrats’ key talking points have been weakened, Trump’s characterization of himself as a brave martyr has been strengthened. From the very beginning of his political career, Trump has painted himself as an outsider, taking on the elites. He’s repeatedly characterized his many legal battles as a politically motivated “witch-hunt”. DC insiders and the deep state, he keeps saying, are out to get him. He’s claimed that his enemies have tried to lock him up and have tried to steal the election. Now he can claim they’ve tried to kill him. Trump already has a cult-like base. After his brush with death, they will be even more devoted to their hero.

All of this could not come at a worse time for Biden. His campaign, I don’t need to tell you, is in complete disarray. Day after day there has been headline after headline about the president being too frail and feeble for office. Biden already looked like a weak old man compared to Trump (who is only three years younger than him). Now that contrast has been extraordinarily heightened. Trump is the guy who jumps straight up after being fired at by an assassin; Biden is the guy who stumbles up the stairs. If you’re an undecided voter swayed by which candidate looks more presidential, your mind just got made up.

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Sceptics say EVs will overwhelm the grid. In fact, they could be part of the solution | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars

Electric cars make some people afraid of the dark. While the batteries produce much less carbon, they require much more electricity to run. This has prompted ominous warnings that Great Britain and other wealthy countries set on banning new petrol and diesel cars risk plunging their populations into darkness.

In recent months British net zero-sceptical newspapers have warned that the shift to EVs would “risk overwhelming the grid, and threaten catastrophic blackouts” when intermittent sun and wind fail to provide the necessary power. Another article claimed: “It won’t take an enemy power to put us all in the dark – just energy customers doing normal things on a normal winter’s evening.”

Yet many of the people working in the electric car industry think these fears may be misplaced. They argue that the shift to electric cars offers an exciting – and potentially lucrative – chance to build an energy system that is smarter, as well as greener.

Polluting coal-fired power stations have been replaced in the UK mainly by windfarms and solar panels. Those renewables produce zero carbon emissions, but they have an intermittency problem, failing to provide much power on still, cloudy days and nights. Add in the prospect of every new car shifting to electricity by 2035, and it is not outlandish to ask how the grid will maintain the balance between supply and demand.

Demand shifting

The shift to electric cars will certainly require much more electricity generation, as it becomes the main source of energy for transport, rather than fossil fuels from the ground. However, smart technology can be used to shift demand away from peak times, such as 5pm on a winter’s day, when electricity demand threatens to outstrip supply.

This is not just a pipe dream. The home charger company myenergi calculates that if balancing services were enabled on every one of its compatible installed chargers “we could offer the grid more than 1GW of demand shift flexibility – larger than 98% of the UK’s major fossil fuel generators”.

Octopus Energy, which has grown rapidly to become the UK’s largest energy supplier, says that its Go electric tariff manages the charging for 150,000 electric car batteries. They would require 1GW of power to charge at the same time, but smart chargers hold back until the quiet hours of the night, shifting that demand away from the peak. Electricity is also cheaper at quiet times, providing a clear consumer benefit. Octopus says their customers save about £600 a year on average.

Polluting coal-fired power stations have been replaced in the UK mainly by windfarms and solar panels, which have an ‘intermittency problem’. Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

A gigawatt is equivalent to a mid-sized power station – enough to power 600,000 homes. The electric cars on Britain’s roads could already make a dent in the UK’s peak winter demand for electricity of 61.1GW, according to National Grid, simply by delaying charging by a few hours.

Jack Fielder, myenergi’s chief strategy officer, says: “If every EV charger could deliver grid balancing services, and every driver opted into grid balancing programmes, we could collectively eliminate periods of pressure for the grid.”

It could also help when electricity supply outstrips demand, such as during a warm, windy night, says Chris Pateman-Jones, chief executive of Connected Kerb, a charging company.

“Instead of diverting renewable power into the ground, my view is that EVs could act as a massive sponge,” he says. There would be little change to users. Most cars have finished charging by midnight, according to Connected Kerb’s data, leaving hours of idle time before the car is needed.

Powering the grid with car batteries

It is not just about the timing of when electrons flow into car batteries that could be of use to the National Grid Electricity Supply Operator (NGESO), the company tasked with balancing Great Britain’s grid. It calls demand shifting a “low-regret action to help reduce the impact on peak demand and reduce curtailment of renewables”, but it also wants electrons to move the other way.

Vehicle-to-grid technology is a tantalising prospect. Rather than building power stations, hydroelectric storage or banks of stationary batteries, the idea goes, we can use the energy stored in car batteries. The car becomes a portable power pack, a backup for power cuts in the home, and even allows drivers to make money by selling power back to the grid.

The NGESO produces annual guesses of what Great Britain’s electricity system will look like in 2035 and 2050. It sees a big role for cars feeding power back into the grid. Capacity could reach 39GW in its most optimistic scenario (equivalent to a tenth of massively expanded electricity generation capacity).

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Figures from Pod Point, another home charger company, suggest that most cars are only drawing power about a third of the time they are plugged in. That means there is ample flexibility to sell small amounts to the grid at expensive times, before buying power back overnight when things are cheaper.

Vehicle-to-load even allows drivers to make money by selling power back to the grid. Photograph: SouthWorks/Alamy

However, James McKemey, Pod Point’s head of external affairs, cautions that bidirectional charging is further off than much simpler demand shifting.

“Getting 5kW [of power] out of a car is a lot more difficult than saying to five different cars to take 1kW less,” he said. For now the extra costs – particularly of the inverters needed to switch from direct current from batteries to alternating current on grids – have stopped many carmakers from including them on cars as they race to cut prices.

Nevertheless, carmakers are starting to install the technology required for bidirectional charging. Models from BYD, Hyundai, Renault, Nissan and SAIC’s MG are capable of bidirectional charging, and more are likely to follow. Shan Tomouk, a charging analyst at the consultancy Rho Motion, says charger companies are also starting to produce wallboxes that are ready for bidirectional charging, although he adds it is “still way off being a reality” on a large scale in part because of questions over what technology will become standard.

Nobody knows quite how the money from the valuable service of grid balancing will be divvied up, and there is likely to be a scramble between companies (and the consumer) over who gets how much of the payback.

“We’re providing the technology in order to get the benefits,” says Nissan’s Friederike Kienitz, who oversees sustainability across markets including Europe.

“There will be the fight over who has access to the customer,” she says, speaking last month at Nissan’s Sunderland factory. However, she argues that early pilots in partnership with energy companies “already prove you have a win-win-win situation”.

There are so many moving parts in the energy transition that it will be unclear exactly how countries including the UK will avoid blackouts. Fiona Howarth, chief executive of Octopus Electric Vehicles, says that business models have not been fully worked out. But she adds that electric cars can help to keep the lights on.

“EVs are really part of the solution,” she said. “They are batteries on wheels.”

There are 1 million electric cars on UK roads. When that hits 10m, Haworth says, “we could literally power the whole of the UK at peak time”.

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Ed Miliband to lead UK negotiations at Cop29 climate summit | Cop29

Ed Miliband is to take personal control of the UK’s negotiations at vital international climate talks, in stark contrast to his Tory predecessors.

The energy security and net zero secretary will attend Cop29, this year’s UN climate summit, in Azerbaijan this November to head the UK’s delegation and meet political leaders from around the world.

Senior figures in climate diplomacy welcomed the move and said UK leadership would be vital to what is expected to be a tricky and fraught UN climate summit this year.

Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who presided over the Paris agreement, now founding partner of the Global Optimism thinktank, said: “Ed Miliband has proven experience at Cops and all matters related to those multilateral negotiations. Throughout 14 years he has kept his vigilant eye on the ups and downs, and will not need to start from scratch at all.”

Under the last government, Cop was largely left to junior ministers, despite the importance and far-reaching nature of the negotiations.

Graham Stuart, the climate minister who led for the UK at Cop28, left the summit at an important moment to fly back to the UK for a vote on Rwanda, but returned for the finish.

Figueres said: “The fact that the multilateral negotiations will be led by the secretary of energy himself instead of delegating to a junior minister denotes recognition of the importance of the process as we near the halfway point in this decisive decade. We could not be more pleased with the news.”

Heads of state and government also attend Cops, though usually only for a few days at the start. Last year, Rishi Sunak spent longer flying to and from Cop28 in Dubai than he spent on the ground at the conference, while other world leaders spent several days there. Sunak also snubbed other key climate talks and was said by experts to have damaged the UK’s reputation for climate leadership with his U-turns on climate action.

Keir Starmer also visited Cop28 and spent time with senior leaders including John Kerry, then a US presidential envoy.

Governments are preparing for one of the most difficult UN climate summits in recent years in Baku. At the top of the agenda will be climate finance for developing countries, to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the effects of extreme weather.

Developing countries are angry that the rich countries that have done most to cause the climate crisis are shirking their responsibilities to provide assistance to the poorest. They want an agreement that will lead to trillions of dollars, some of it from overseas aid and from international development banks, but much of it also in the form of investment from the private sector, flowing to the global south each year.

The new foreign secretary, David Lammy, attended Cop28 last year and has forged good relationships with developing countries around the world, which is likely to help the UK to bridge differences between the global south and the rich world.

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The geopolitical situation is also likely to be fraught: the war in nearby Ukraine will cast a long shadow, as will the conflict in Gaza; the US and China are at loggerheads over trade; France is in political turmoil, and Germany facing economic and political challenges. Above all, the US election the week before could put Donald Trump back in the White House.

Nicholas Stern, an economist and longtime adviser to governments at Cops, and chair of the Grantham Research Institute on climate at the London School of Economics, said: “Miliband’s direct involvement in leading the UK negotiating team will signal to other countries the commitment of the new government at cabinet level, and will allow the UK to act strongly and with authority in driving ambitious action. Miliband has a deep understanding of the complexities of the process based on many years of experience, and he will command respect and confidence both from his colleagues and from other countries.”

Todd Stern, a former US climate envoy under Barack Obama, said: “This makes a ton of sense. [Miliband] is a real diplomat, he understands diplomacy and has a skilled understanding of the issues. The UK can play an important role at this point, in working with Europe, the US and the developed world and the developing world.”

Rachel Kyte, a former chief climate official at the World Bank and now professor of climate policy at the University of Oxford, said: “In a climate crisis, having a senior minister taking the reins makes sense. [Miliband’s] personal engagement sends a signal of UK seriousness, as Starmer has promised. Climate is a head of government issue, as it impacts growth, prosperity and security. The Starmer-Miliband relationship will be key as we navigate difficult times.”

Miliband was the UK’s energy and climate secretary at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, where he helped to forge a lasting deal between developed and developing countries, despite the chaos and recriminations in which the conference ended.

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Ukraine war briefing: ‘Hottest situation’ around Pokrovsk, says Ukrainian military | Ukraine

  • Ukraine’s army general staff reported intense Russian attacks in the Pokrovsk area of the Donetsk region on Sunday, creating the “hottest situation” along the frontline as the invaders pushed for gains. In an update, the general staff said: “The enemy has already attacked our positions 35 times today in the areas of Novooleksandrivka, Vozdvizhenka, Progress, Lozuvatskyi, Novoselivka Pershoya and Yasnobrodivka … The situation remains tense near Novooleksandrivka, Novoselivka Persha and Progress, where six clashes are still ongoing. Our defenders restrain the enemy.”

  • In the Kharkiv area, Russian forces attacked positions in the Hlyboky and Vovchansk districts three times, the update said. “On the Kupyansk direction, the enemy was also repulsed three times near Pishchany and Stelmakhivka. Suffered losses and withdrew.” In the Lyman area, there were eight Russian assaults in the area of ​​Makiivka and Grekivka. Other attempted advances took place around Seversky, Kramatorsk, and in the Toretsk area it was “tense” with locations near North and New York under attack.

  • The Institute for the Study of War thinktank said Ukrainian forces had recently regained lost positions near Vovchansk, north-east of Kharkiv city, while Russian forces advanced near Avdiivka, to the north of Donetsk city.

  • Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had taken control of the village of Urozhaine in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Ukrainian bloggers also said Ukraine’s forces had relinquished control of the village, south-west of the Russian-held city of Donetsk. Ukraine’s military said fighting was still going on. Reuters, which reported the development, said it was not able to independently confirm the Ukrainian or Russian reports.

  • The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia had launched 18 attacks on Urozhaine and other nearby localities. It made no mention of the village in a later report. DeepState, a popular Ukrainian military blog, reported Urozhaine’s capture on Sunday, saying Russian forces had launched “mass assaults on the south of the village”. It described the loss as a “defence collapse” the cause of which would have to be investigated.

  • Returning to Ukraine from the Nato summit in Washington, Zelenskiy touched down in Ireland to meet with the taoiseach, Simon Harris. Zelenskiy’s office said on social media that they had discussed support for Ukraine, cooperation in demining, and cybersecurity. “Thank you Ireland for supporting the peace summit in Switzerland! I thank the prime minister for his great personal attention and involvement in efforts to return children home.”

  • China and Russia’s naval forces have begun a joint exercise at a military port in southern China, according to the official news agency, Xinhua. It comes a few days after Nato allies called Beijing a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The Chinese defence ministry said forces from both sides recently patrolled the western and northern Pacific Ocean and that the operation had nothing to do with international and regional situations and did not target any third party.

  • Russia last week used more than 700 glide bombs, more than 170 attack drones and almost 80 missiles against Ukraine, Zelenskiy said. “The scale of decisions to protect life should correspond to the scale of this evil. Each partner can influence the situation, can strengthen the defence against terror. And Ukraine is grateful to all our friends who do just that. Together we will overcome evil.”

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