Tuesday, November 24, 2015



On August 3 President Obama and the EPA announced the Final Rule on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 32% by 2030.  The president gave an inspiring 26.8-minute talk on climate change and the CPP available on the Whitehouse website.  In the talk he said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that con do something about it.”

The entire November issue of National Geographic, titled, Cool it, is devoted to climate change.  It is loaded with useful information and great photographs.  The entire issue is available online.  One part I liked particularly, on pages 91-93 of the online version, is a description of how six states (CA, LU, ND, AZ, KY and TX) can use a combination of renewable energy sources (no nuclear) to go carbon-free by 2050.  They are part of a plan outlined by Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson for all 50 states, which can be found at The Solutions Project by clicking on the state of interest on a map of the U.S.   For my state of Delaware the projected mix of renewable energy sources that could supply ALL of the state’s energy needs in 2050 is the following:

Offshore WInd        65%
Onshore Wind           5%
Solar PV Plants         19.7%
Residential Rooftop PV   5%
Commercial/Govt Rooftop PV   3.9%
Wave devices   1%
Tidal turbines   0.5%
CSP, Geothermal, Hydroelectric   0%

The annual energy, health and climate change cost savings in 2050 are estimated to be $12,470 per person!

NOTE: About 70% of the energy could come from wind - especially offshore - and about 28.5% from solar PV.  PV stands for Photo-Voltaic (solar panels) and CSP for Concentrated Solar Power (using mirrors to focus the sun’s light to produce steam).  Clearly vehicles would be powered by electricity.
The Fall 2015 issue of  World Wildlife is devoted to climate change.  Lou Leonard, the World Wildlife Fund Vice President for Climate Change, wrote a provocative article starting on page 20.  Here are some parts that caught my attention.
Until recently, most Americans viewed climate change not only as a problem for some future time, but also for some other place - low-lying Bangladesh perhaps, or the small island states of the Pacific, but not here in the United States.  That myth is being washed away by Miami’s “sunny day floods,” when seawater bubbles us through the sewers and into the streets during king tides.  As Hurricane Sandy proved, the small amounts of sea level rise already happening can do plenty of damage when combined with the more intense storms that are also here ahead of schedule.  In fact, three of the 10 cities in the world that are estimated to be most vulnerable to rising oceans are in the US: Miami, New York, and New Orleans.”
“For years, leading economists have been telling us that we can efficiently eliminate the major risks created by the climate threat by simply putting an appropriate price on the costs of carbon pollution.  This elegant, though politically difficult, solution is gaining ground.  Last year over 2,000 CEOs, governments, economists and civil society organizations pledged to support a carbon tax or other approach to pricing carbon emissions.” (emphasis added)
“With powerful, positive change emerging across most strata of society, our biggest enemy is time.  We are out of it.  To avoid blowing past the 2oC warming limit that science has set, most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground while we quickly shift to 100% renewable energy, and we need to make good on promises to end deforestation by 2020 or soon thereafter.  But to pull this off, all of us need to take every chance we get to make a difference (in our lives, in our speech, in our choices, at the ballot box).  And we need to grab every political moment that comes along.”
“So … are we doomed?  The truth about the climate challenge is complex; there are no easy answers and no guarantee of success.  But that makes the challenge invigorating - it’s charged with so many possibilities for taking part in one of the most important, dynamic moments in human history.”

 Tom Randall of Bloomberg Business posted an article on Oct. 23 titled, Americans Have Never Been So Sure About Climate Change—Even Republicans.
He writes,Maybe it's the pope. Or the freakish year in extreme climate records. It might even be explained by the United Nations climate talks and the bright lights of the presidential election cycle. Whatever the cause, U.S. views on climate change are shifting—fast. 
Three-quarters of Americans now accept the scientific consensus on climate change, the highest level in four years of surveys conducted by the University of Texas at Austin. The biggest shocker is what's happening inside the GOP. In a remarkable turnabout, 59 percent of Republicans now say climate change is happening, up from 47 percent just six months ago.” 
He points out that the Republican front-runners for president are becoming increasingly out of touch with members of their own party, with their views considered extreme in other countries.

The Nov. 5 issue of the NY TImes has an article by Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss titled, Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General.  They wrote The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.
The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.”
“This could open up years of litigation and settlements in the same way that tobacco litigation did, also spearheaded by attorneys general,” said Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. “In some ways, the theory is similar — that the public was misled about something dangerous to health. Whether the same smoking guns will emerge, we don’t know yet.”
In the 1950s and ’60s, tobacco companies financed internal research showing tobacco to be harmful and addictive, but mounted a public campaign that said otherwise and helped fund scientific research later shown to be dubious. In 2006, the companies were found guilty of “a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public.””

The Union of Concerned Scientists posted a blog by Rachael Cleetus on Nov. 19 titled, Climate Equity: Building Resilience for Communities on the Frontlines of Climate Change.  She writes, From Dorchester, Maryland to Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, sea level rise and the growing risks of flooding and inundation are a clear and present threat. Today the Union of Concerned Scientists released a new report, Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Rising Seas, which calls attention to the need for more resources and greater policy attention to help protect and prepare communities on the front lines of climate change. The report focuses on communities that face additional challenges because of socioeconomic disparities.”
“Many coastal communities already face tidal flooding and damage from storm surges, and these impacts are projected to worsen with rising seas. However, people in some communities experience a disproportionate burden of these impacts. For example, communities with high numbers of elderly, very young, or low-income residents, or residents with ill health, may have fewer resources to prepare for disasters or a limited ability to relocate to safety.
The UCS report describes an approach that can help identify communities that face conditions that heighten their vulnerability to harm. This research was informed by discussions at a climate equity convening, hosted by the NAACP and UCS a year ago. The Climate Equity Tool we have developed uses a combination of climate and socioeconomic risk indicators. We tested the tool using data from 35 counties in nine states along the East and Gulf Coasts and created a climate risk indicator using sea level rise and tidal flooding projections for 2045 for each county.”
The four socioeconomic risk indicators at the county level are: poverty, per capita income, educational attainment, and fraction of minority population.  Suggestions for how to do better include:
  • Start planning for the future based on the best available science.
  • Target state and federal funding and resources to communities most at risk.
  • Scale up the level of funding available for preparedness and disaster relief.
  • Reduce global carbon emissions to limit the rate and extent of climate change.
As a nation, we have to ensure that fairness and equity are an integral part of our climate solutions.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

pastedGraphic.pdfWhite House Announces New Business Commitments on Climate

On October 19, the White House announced that 68 new companies have joined the original 13 signatories of the "American Business Act on Climate," for a total of 81 participating businesses. By signing the pledge, companies voice support for a strong international deal on climate change, and commit to taking climate action. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Walmart and the other participating companies collectively have a market capitalization of over $5 trillion, account for $3 trillion in annual revenue, and employ 9 million people. With the United Nations climate talks beginning next month in Paris, the Obama administration hopes that this pledge will help solidify efforts to reach an international agreement.

For more information see:

White House Announces New Initiative on Climate Change Investment

On October 19, Brian Deese, President Obama's chief climate advisor, announced a new initiative to raise private capital for climate change investments. "Aligned Intermediary" (AI) has already raised $1.2 billion in capital investments from five long-term investors and four private foundations. The funds will finance innovative efforts in energy, agriculture, waste, and water. "Major institutional investors are ready to put much more funding behind climate change solutions," said Peter Davidson, AI's CEO. So far, the University of California Regents has put the most money toward the initiative, with a pledge of $500 million.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_1.pdfSecretary Kerry Urges World to Agree to Deal on Climate Change

On October 17, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the "Feeding the World, Energy for Life" Milan Expo, exhorting world leaders to put aside their differences and agree to a climate change deal during the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Paris this December. Kerry said climate change is "perhaps the most significant threat to global food security," and will make it more difficult to catch fish, raise livestock, and grow crops. Kerry noted this is especially troubling as global population is increasing, so that by 2050 the world will need 60 percent more food. "The hard truth is that unless the global community comes together to address climate change, every one of these challenges - droughts, floods, extreme weather, ocean acidification, hunger, malnutrition - all of them will only become more pronounced," Kerry said.

For more information see:  

Sen. Bernie Sanders Calls for DOJ Investigation into ExxonMobil

On October 20, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for the presidency, wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Department of Justice (DOJ), asking the agency to form a taskforce by December 19, 2015, to determine whether ExxonMobil committed corporate fraud. This request comes after investigative reporting by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times found that ExxonMobil may have fraudulently represented climate science as unsettled, when it had in fact uncovered links between carbon emissions and climate change as early as 1977. ExxonMobil denies the claims, stating there was no scientific consensus on the impacts of climate change at that time. Sen. Sanders's letter follows a letter from California Democratic Congressmen Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier sent last week to DOJ, also requesting that the agency investigate ExxonMobil (see CCN for more information).

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_2.pdfClean Power Plan Published in Federal Register; Lawsuits Begin

On October 23, the Federal Register published three Environmental Protection Agency regulations: a final rule to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants (the Clean Power Plan); a final rule limiting carbon emissions from new and modified power plants; and a draft Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to implement the Clean Power Plan. Now that the rules have been officially published, opposing parties have a 60-day window to file suit. Two dozen states led by West Virginia filed suit this morning with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, kicking off a legal fight that is likely to make it to the Supreme Court. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are also moving to stop the Clean Power Plan by introducing two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used law that enables Congress to overturn an executive branch regulation within 60 legislative days of its official publication. However, the senators' move is mainly symbolic, since they are unlikely to pass the resolutions with a veto-proof majority.

For more information see:

Canada Elects Liberal Prime Minister in Upset, With Climate Implications

On October 19, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party took 184 of the 338 seats in the Canadian Parliament, defeating Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the Conservative Party after nine years in office. Trudeau, who has called for a more ambitious climate pledge than the one submitted by the Conservative government in May, promised to meet with provincial leaders within 90 days of taking office to talk about climate change. As the Paris climate conference fast approaches, "the world is expecting a change of tone, of priorities and of what [Canada] says on climate change," said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who added there is still time for Trudeau to set a stronger emissions reduction target for Canada. Trudeau also agreed to work with President Obama to achieve a climate agreement in Paris.

For more information see:

Study Links Increasing Costs of U.S. Hurricane Damage with Climate Change

On October 19, a study published in Nature Geoscience stated that $2-$14 billion of the increasing cost of hurricane damage is attributable to climate change. Lead author Francisco Estrada, a Mexican economist, and two of his colleagues analyzed economic loss data from 1900 to 2005, finding a correlation between greater economic losses from hurricanes and the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, which are linked to climate change. While human population and wealth have increased since 1900, the authors state that socioeconomic factors alone "cannot account for the observed trend in hurricane losses." Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado, who was not part of the study, commented that the dataset should have also included data from 2006-2015, as the number of U.S. hurricanes during that period, and the damage they caused, "has been well below average."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_3.pdfClimate Change Could Reduce Global Income 23 Percent by 2100, Study Finds

On October 21, a study published in Nature found that unmitigated increases in the average global temperature will reduce average global incomes about 23 percent by 2100. The study, conducted by Marshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel, found that optimal economic productivity occurs at an average annual temperature of 13 degrees Celsius (55.4 degrees F), with sharp declines occurring at warmer temperatures. As temperatures rise, fewer countries will be in or near the ideal 13-degree zone, leading to global productivity losses. Such a large impact on global GDP, according to co-author Hsiang, has long been considered "a low-probability catastrophe," but their study indicates "it's more like the middle-of-the-road forecast." The study notes that the poorest 40 percent of the global community may suffer an economic hit of 75 percent.

For more information see:

NOTE: In his seminal 2006 report, Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Sir Nicholas Stern concluded that unmitigated climate change could cost the global GDP as much as 20% of its value annually by 2100 - in the same ballpark as the UC Berkeley study.  The latter however noted that the poorest 40% of the world’s countries might suffer losses of 75%.  The greatest suffering by the poorest highlights the environmental injustice of climate change - with the least responsible suffering the most.

pastedGraphic_4.pdfModerate Republican Senators Form Environmental Working Group

On October 29, Politico reported that Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte (NH), Mark Kirk (IL), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Lamar Alexander (TN) will launch a new informal coalition to broaden their party's stance on environmental policy, especially in regards to climate change. Politico quoted the senators as saying, "the establishment of the working group shows the shifting political dynamics at play over environmental policy, with some in the GOP worried that Republicans' skepticism of mainstream climate science and opposition to air and water regulations isn't sustainable in the long-term." On Oct. 25, Sen. Ayotte became the first Republican senator to openly support the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. In a campaign ad released Oct. 28, Sen. Ayotte stated, "protecting the environment is truly a bipartisan issue."

For more information see:

NOTE: Thank God that some of our Republican leaders are starting to show some common sense on climate change!

pastedGraphic_5.pdfMaryland State Commission Calls for 40 Percent Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On October 29, a bipartisan Maryland state commission unanimously called for the state to raise its greenhouse gas emissions reductions target from a 25 percent cut by 2020 to a 40 percent cut by 2030. The 26-person commission, which has members including six Republican cabinet secretaries from Republican Governor Larry Hogan's administration, the state congress, environmental nonprofits, labor groups and businesses, suggested the increase since the state is well on its way to satisfying its current goal. The recommendation would need to be introduced as a bill in Maryland's General Assembly to become state law. Maryland State Environment Secretary Benjamin Grumbles commented after the vote that Maryland is likely to create new jobs and businesses as it works to meet its current 25 percent reduction goal.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_6.pdfNew York City Pension Fund to Hire Climate Change Risk Advisor

On October 28, a $55 billion New York City civil-employee pension fund approved the hire of an advisor to analyze investments for climate risks. This pension, one of five in NYC, made the decision to prevent potential losses resulting from the impacts of climate change. Larry Schimmel, a lawyer who represents NYC Public Advocate Tish James on the pension board, stated that "a four degree [Celsius] increase will affect emerging markets, real estate, infrastructure, agriculture, timber, most asset classes . . . in negative ways." The move came a month after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly appealed to NYC's pension funds to divest from coal companies.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_7.pdfBoth House and Senate Introduce Resolutions to Block Clean Power Plan

On October 26, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) introduced two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a regulation on carbon emissions from existing power plants, three days after the rule was published in the Federal Register. The following day on October 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led a group of senators in introducing a senate version of the resolutions. "I have vowed to do all I can to fight back against this administration on behalf of the thousands of Kentucky coal miners and their families, and this CRA is another tool in that battle," Sen. McConnell said in a press release. Even if these resolutions pass the House and Senate, it is unlikely they will pass with sufficient votes to overcome a presidential veto.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_8.pdfEnvironmental Groups Move to Defend EPA Climate Change Rules in Court

On October 27, nine prominent environmental and public health groups filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene in lawsuits against the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants. The groups, the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Ohio Environmental Council, also filed a motion to intervene in lawsuits filed against EPA carbon regulations on new and modified fossil fuel power plants. There have been at least 21 separate suits filed against the CPP, including suits filed by unions, utilities, business groups and 24 states, since the rule was published in the Federal Register on October 23. A further group of 15 state attorneys general, utilities, cities and other entities are also expected to file to intervene on behalf of the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_9.pdfBuddhist Leaders Call for Strong International Deal on Climate

On October 29, 15 global Buddhist authorities, including the Dalai Lama, issued a letter to world leaders urging negotiators in Paris to achieve a deal that will keep the warming of the Earth's surface beneath 1.5 degrees Celsius. The statement calls for a shift to 100 percent renewable and clean energy, blaming fossil fuel use, unsustainable consumption patterns, and lack of public awareness/concern for our current predicament. "We must take action," the letter states, "not out of a sense of duty but out of love for our planet and for each other." With 500 million to one billion Buddhists worldwide, the statement has a potentially wide audience.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_10.pdfUnited Nations Releases Synthesis Report on Whether INDCs can Meet 2 Degree C Goal

On October 30, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released a report analyzing the contents of 147 countries' plans to cut emissions and take on climate change in the lead-up to climate negotiations in Paris this December. The UNFCCC found that implementation of the plans, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), would not meet the internationally agreed upon target of limiting global warming to less than the dangerous level of two degrees C and higher. However, the report notes that the national processes the countries created to prepare INDCs will help them take "enhanced action in the future" to limit global warming to below two degrees C. The INDCs submitted so far, which cover the equivalent of 86 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, are expected to create "sizeable emissions reductions," and reduce emissions growth over the next ten years.

For more information see:

  pastedGraphic_11.pdfReport: Government Revenue from Carbon Pricing Expected to Reach $22 Billion in 2015

On October 28, the Climate Markets and Investment Association (CMIA) published a report indicating governments are expected to receive $22 billion in revenue from policies such as carbon taxes and emissions trading during 2015. Around three quarters of the $22 billion raised is from European policies. This marks an increase from last year, when carbon pricing policies raised $15 billion. The report says the increase is mainly due to increased prices and volumes of European Union carbon allowances (EUAs), United Kingdom and French increases in carbon taxes, and expanded coverage in California and Quebec's cap-and-trade system. CMIA forecasts that revenue from these sources will continue to grow and that the global community will need to engage in debate regarding "how these funds should best be used in future."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_12.pdfSoutheast Asia Economies at Risk from Increased Heat from Climate Change

On October 28, British firm Verisk Maplecroft released a report which estimated that Southeast Asia could lose 16 percent of current labor capacity by 2045 as a result of an increase in days with unsafe "heat stress." The countries that could be most affected by productivity loss are Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with 25, 24, and 21 percent drops in productivity, respectively. "Climate change will push heat stress impacts to boiling point, with significant implications for both national economies and the health of vulnerable workers," said James Allan, chief of environment at Verisk Maplecroft. The firm calculated the drop in labor capacity using climate projections for heat stress conditions that hinder workers from performing physical activity. Out of the 50 cities at high risk of productivity loss, 45 were in Southeast Asia, potentially affecting some of the world's fastest growing economies.

For more information see:

Asia Pacific Needs to Invest More in Climate Adaptation, United Nations Says

On October 27, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released a report on the state of disaster resilience in the Asia-Pacific region, highlighting disaster risk reduction as the main goal for sustainable development initiatives in the region. As the most disaster-prone region in the world, the Asia Pacific has seen 40 percent of all global natural disasters in the past decade, resulting in $523 billion in economic damages and about 500,000 lives lost. The report stated, "For a region at such high risk of disasters, building resilience is not a question of choice, but rather a collective imperative." The report also calls attention to the importance of early warning systems with guidance on how to provide critical information to at-risk communities.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_13.pdfSouthwest Asia Expected to Be Too Hot for Humans During Summertime

On October 26, Nature published a study by Loyola Marymount University and MIT researchers which found that summertime temperature and humidity extremes in Southwest Asia will exceed the levels that most healthy humans can survive outdoors between 2071 and 2100. At high temperatures with high humidity, the human body's ability to cool off by sweating is impaired, making high humidity heat waves especially dangerous for prolonged exposure. The researchers defined a threshold for human survival as 'six hours of exposure to 95 degrees F condition' on something called a "wet-bulb" temperature scale, which accounts for humidity (the equivalent of 165 degrees F conditions on a regular temperature scale). The report says cities such as Abu Dhabi, Doha, Qatar and Dubai may have summer conditions that exceed this threshold in the end of the century, and that extremely hot weather by the standards of their current summers will "characterize the usual summer day in the future."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_14.pdfMajority of People in States Suing Against Clean Power Plan Support the Policy

On November 2, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies published findings that 61 percent of the public in states whose attorney generals are filing to stop the Clean Power Plan actually support the policy. Of the 26 states which have filed suit against the Clean Power Plan on October 23, only in three states -- North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming - do less than 50 percent of the population support the policy. "America's history of controversy over climate change and the legal and political challenges to the Clean Power Plan might suggest that the nation is divided over regulating carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. Our research finds the opposite: a large majority of Americans overall support the approach," the researchers said.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_15.pdfPew Poll Finds Global Support for International Deal on Climate

On November 5, Pew Research Center released a new poll which found that globally there is a consensus that climate change is happening, and a majority of people in every country surveyed (except for Pakistan) support international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a United Nations agreement. Over half the population in 39 of 40 countries surveyed think climate change will directly affect them within their lifetime, and a global median of 51 percent think they are already being harmed by it. African and Latin American countries are more concerned about climate change than other regions, while China and the United States worry the least about it. A large proportion of people think they will have to change their lifestyles to mediate climate change, including in the United States, where 66 percent of people think they will need to "significantly alter their lifestyles."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_16.pdfPope Francis' Encyclical Convinced More Americans Climate Change Is Happening

On November 2, the University of Michigan released the results from its National Survey on Energy and Environment, finding that 70 percent of Americans accepted that global warming was happening, the highest level observed since 2008. Fifteen percent of those polled said they were more convinced that climate change is happening and that action is needed because of the Pope's encyclical. The largest increase was observed in evangelical Christians, whose rates rose 16 points over the last six months to 65 percent. The study says a "majority (63 percent) of Americans - and majorities of Americans of each religious affiliation - agree that the free market alone is ill-equipped to address climate change, a theme highlighted in the Papal encyclical . . . majorities of both Republican (55 percent) and Democratic (70 percent) respondents agree that there are limitations of the free market in addressing global warming."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_17.pdfPresident Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

On November 6, President Obama announced the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was projected to carry 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily from Canada's tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. This decision ends a seven-year waiting period during which the pipeline became an increasing symbol in the movement for action on climate change. Earlier this week on November 2, TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, asked the U.S. government to suspend its review of the project; the United States denied its request two days ago. Had the suspension been granted, it is likely that the review would have resumed under the administration of the next president of the United States, potentially allowing Keystone to go forward. President Obama made this announcement as the world gears up for international climate negotiations in Paris this December.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_18.pdfPrivate Industry Could Deliver Two Thirds of Carbon Reductions to Reach 2 Degrees C

On November 3, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD) published a report stating that independent private industry action could realize up to 65 percent of the emissions reductions necessary to keep global warming to two degrees C or below. Over the last year, more than 140 businesses have met and developed nine sector-specific action plans for emissions cuts, which would entail $5-10 trillion in low-carbon investments by 2030, creating 20-45 million jobs. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the potential reductions are "truly game-changing in terms of the support they provide to governments and international aspirations."

For more information see:

BusinessGreen, WBCSD (1, 2)

pastedGraphic_19.pdfPolling Shows Key States Support Clean Power Plan

On November 13, the Sierra Club released new polling results that show "significant" support for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants among registered voters in Missouri, Maine, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, also showed that voters in those states said they trusted EPA scientists over members of Congress when it comes to decisions about environmental regulations. "Majorities in these states support the EPA's Clean Power Plan," said Grace McRae, Sierra Club's Polling and Research Director. A majority of poll respondents in every state also said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for the U.S. Senate that supported the Clean Power Plan.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_20.pdfPeabody Energy Reaches Settlement with NY AG Over Climate Risk Disclosure

On November 8, the world's largest private coal company, Peabody Energy, agreed to file a revised, more robust shareholder disclosure on the financial risks of future policies and regulations on climate change to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Peabody made the agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, after Schneiderman's office conducted a two-year investigation which concluded Peabody had misled investors about the financial risks posed by future climate change regulation. Peabody admitted to no wrongdoing, and does not have any financial penalties. "I believe that full and fair disclosures by Peabody and other fossil fuel companies will lead investors to think long and hard about the damage these companies are doing to our planet," said Schneiderman.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_21.pdfShort-Term Changes in Feelings about Climate Change Could Hurt Investments

On November 12, the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) released report findings that global investment portfolios could face losses of up to 45 percent in the short term, due to investors reacting to climate change information. The report found that half of the possible loss can be avoided by reallocating investments, but that the other half is "unhedgeable," and cannot be protected against. "No investor is immune from the risks posed by climate change, even in the short term . . . Major events, such as the outcome of the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris in December, can send signals which drive market sentiment," commented Dr. Jake Reynolds, director of sustainable economy at CISL.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_22.pdfGlobal Temperature Rise Hits One Degree Celsius

On November 9, a report by the United Kingdom's Met Office, showed global average temperature from January to September 2015 was 1.02 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels (set as the global average from 1850-1900), making it likely 2015 will be the first year to have warming of one degree C. This would mean the world is halfway to reaching the two degrees C threshold established by experts to avert disastrous consequences from climate change. However, due to natural variability, not all future years will be one degree C above preindustrial levels. "It's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory," said Stephen Belcher, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre. Met Office also found that countries by 2014 had emitted about two-thirds of the 2,900 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide budget that can be released without passing the two degrees C threshold.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_23.pdfGreenland Glacier Begins to Rapidly Melt

On November 12, University of California-Irvine scientists published new findings in the journal Science that a major glacier in northeast Greenland called Zachariae began to melt at an accelerated rate in fall 2012, after eight years of slower melt. Zachariae, which if completely melted would raise global average sea levels by a foot and a half, has lost 95 percent of the ice shelf that kept it stable. This finding comes after studies in 2015 and 2014 reported that another Greenland glacier, the Jakobshavn, is the fastest melting glacier in the world, with the largest recorded calving event (see CCN 8/31/15 for more information). Study co-author Eric Rignot commented, "This is sort of the second major floodgate from Greenland that has opened up."

For more information see:

Journal Science Publishes Special Edition on Oceans and Climate Change

On November 13, the journal Science published a special edition of its magazine that focused on climate change impacts on the oceans. The nine articles published explored issues ranging from historical sea level rise, the benefits of natural coastal defenses, to how warming oceans are affecting fish populations. One of the studies highlighted the importance of including ocean adaptation and climate mitigation efforts in United Nations climate negotiations taking place in Paris this December. Stewart Patrick at the Council on Foreign Relations, who was not published in the special edition, commented that "going into COP21, the oceans have really been an afterthought. Given how catastrophic [ocean climate changes] could be, it should light a fire under the leaders assembled" to take action.

For more information see:

Study Finds More Bicycling Could Cut Costs and Urban Transportation Emissions

On November 12, the University of California-Davis and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy released a study showing that if people began to bike globally at a higher rate, society could save $24 trillion from 2015 to 2050, and cut 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transportation in 2050. Currently, six percent of global trips are made on bikes and e-bikes. A combination of policies and incentives would raise that number to 11 percent by 2030, and 14 percent in 2050, to realize the full projected savings. More biking would also reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and increase rates of physical activity.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_24.pdfSenate Republicans Write to White House, Introduce Resolution to Oppose International Climate Deal

On November 18, Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) led 37 senators in writing to President Obama to oppose any international deal on climate coming out of the Paris United Nations climate negotiations beginning Nov. 30. In their letter, the senators also said they were against providing $3 billion to support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in developing countries, and asked that the President direct his lead climate diplomat Todd Stern to inform the conference that the United States will provide no climate finance. The letter states, "We pledge that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent."

In related news on November 19, Senators James Inhofe (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a nonbinding resolution stating that the United States should not follow an international deal on climate unless the Senate approves it. "The international community needs to be aware that the U.S. Congress and the American people do not support President Obama's international climate agenda," Sen. Inhofe said in a statement.

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NOTE:  Senator Inhofe was the one who said that climate change was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.  I wonder if oil companies in OK contribute to his reelection campaigns.

pastedGraphic_25.pdfHouse Democrats Hold Forum to Support International Climate Deal

On November 19, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats and some members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) convened a forum to hear from representatives of Rwanda, the Seychelles, the Netherlands, and France about their expectations for upcoming talks. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), vice chairman of SEEC, stated that he also aimed to "reassure" the foreign representatives that some in Congress are supportive of an international deal on climate. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) commented, "It's a very frustrating time in Congress right now, know what we could do and not being able to do it because there are so many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who deny the fact of climate change."

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pastedGraphic_26.pdfArkansas Can Meet Clean Power Plan Requirements with Little to No Rate Hikes

On November 18, the Advanced Energy Economy Institute released report findings that Arkansas, which sources more than half its electricity from coal-fired power plants, would see minimal or no impact on its electricity bills from compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants. "Based on the scenarios examined in this paper, it is clear that carbon mitigation need not impose significant costs to ratepayers," the report says. The report used a model called the State Tool for Electricity Emissions Reduction (STEER) to study different ways Arkansas could comply with the CPP. Arkansas is part of a multi-state lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan.

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pastedGraphic_27.pdfMore S&P 500 Companies Are Working on Climate Change

On November 16, CDP released its 2015 climate change report, showing more S&P 500 companies are actively working to manage climate change in their business and hold their executives accountable for energy efficiency. In its research, CDP compared 2015 survey responses to 2010, from 1,799 companies in 51 countries, representing 55 percent of the market capitalization of publicly-listed companies. In the past five years, corporate board level responsibility for climate change has increased from 67 to 95 percent, while initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have increased from 52 to 96 percent. The findings show a shift in the private sector, with more businesses voluntarily responding to climate change and confidently investing in a low-carbon future. "This change is being driven independent of a policy framework and not to comply with something," said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America. "It's a recognition of the future."

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Global Climate Finance Increasing, Especially with Renewable Energy Support

On November 16, a report from the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) entitled Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2015 found that global climate finance reached at least $391 billion in 2014, an 18 percent increase from 2013. Both public and private climate finance increased, with most of the money raised (72 percent of the total) spent domestically in the country it originated in. The report lists a 26 percent increase in renewable energy investments as a major reason for the jump in private climate finance. Despite the increases, the report says a further investment of $16.5 trillion between 2015 and 2030 is needed to meet the 2 degrees Celsius target. Climate finance is "going in the right direction," says CPI senior director Barbara Buchner, but "more needs to happen," noting the lack of substantial investments in adaptation.

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Climate Policy Initiative (1, 2), Reuters 

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Chad A. Tolman

New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light