Thursday, January 21, 2016

CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS FOR JANUARY 2016

CC NEWS FOR JAN. 2016

The Nov. 28th - Dec. 4th, 2015 issue of The Economist has a 14-page special report on climate change on pp. 3 through 16, titled Hot and Bothered.  The topics covered include: the science of climate change, public opinion, energy, adaptation, biodiversity, geoengineering, and the way forward.  Here are a few selected quotations:  “The IMF warns that human fortunes “will evaporate like water under a relentless sun” if climate change is not checked soon.”  The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor.”  (The amount of it in the atmosphere increases with the global average temperature.)  “A giant opinion-gathering exercise carried ut by the United Nations finds that people in highly developed countries view climate change as the tenth most important issue out of a list of 16 …  In poor countries … climate change comes 16th our of 16.”  In the U.S., views are quite different based on political party.  When asked for their views, people tend to hear the question as, “Whose side are you on?”
Although the CO2 emissions of China are now greater that those of the U.S. or the EU, the emissions per capita (in metric tons in 2014) were about 6 for China, 8 for the EU, and 17 for the U.S..  Economists insist that “The best way to tackle climate change .. is through a global carbon tax.”  (emphasis added) “William Nordhaus, a climate economist at Yale University, calculates that if every country in the world were to tax carbon, temperatures could be held to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels at a cost of 1-2% of world income per year.”

NOTE: Reprints of the special report are available for $7.00 each, with a minimum of five copies.  For more information contact Jill Kaletha at Foster Printing Service at 866-879-9144 Ext. 168 or jillk@fosterprinting.com.

The December issue of Scientific American has an editorial and a some articles on climate change.  The editorial, on p. 10, is titled The Price of Pollution.  The online title is A Tax on Carbon Pollution Can Benefit Business.
It says, “In British Columbia, air pollution dwindles while the economy grows. The Canadian province began to tax fossil-fuel users, ranging from utility companies to car drivers, in 2008. Since then, the economy has grown by an average of nearly 2 percent a year, despite a big national recession through 2009, outpacing the rest of Canada. The use of gasoline, coal and other carbon-based fuels has dropped 16 percent during the same period, reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Today the carbon levy is $30 (Canadian) per metric ton; in exchange, both companies and individuals get income tax cuts and other savings.
British Columbia copied this idea from its oil-producing neighbor, Alberta. The time is now right for the U.S. to copy them both and put a price on carbon pollution (emphasis added).  Coal, gas and oil are so cheap at present that even with an added tax, fuel costs will remain lower than what people and companies paid just a few years ago.
This is basic market economics: put a monetary value on the use of the sky, and people will not treat it like a free dump.”
After discussing both a direct carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system for putting a price on carbon emissions, the editor wrote, “If the word “tax” remains too frightening for politicians, there is another way, albeit a less direct one, to make an honest carbon market: stop spending tax dollars on subsidies for fossil fuels. (emphasis added)  More than half a trillion dollars are spent around the world making coal, gas and oil cheaper for businesses to find or consumers to burn, according to the International Monetary Fund. These gifts make fossil fuels appear falsely inexpensive. Any approach that stops obscuring the real price, whether it be a tax, a cap or a subsidy reform, would help clear the air.”

A second article in the December Scientific American on p. 12 by Michael Mann (Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University) was titled Two Degrees of Freedom.  In the online article the title is Meeting a Global Carbon Limit Is Cheaper Than Avoiding One.
He wrote, “It is a steep hill to climb if the world is to avoid warming the earth's surface by no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the limit beyond which we will seriously harm the planet.” 
“Yet some critics have declared that the so-called 2° C target is impossible, saying we cannot deploy the technologies needed to decarbonize the economy in time. But we can. The obstacle is not a physical one—it is one of political and societal will.  (emphasis added)
Nobody has said it will be easy. More than 70 climate experts who advised the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change said limiting global warming to below 2° C “necessitates a radical transition … not merely a fine tuning of current trends.”
We can emit only 300 billion more tons (270 billion more metric tons) of carbon into the atmosphere and keep warming below 2° C. At the current emissions rate of more than 10 billion tons a year, we will burn through this “carbon budget” in just three decades. According to one recent analysis, staying below 2° C would require that a third of all proved reserves of oil, half of all natural gas and 80 percent of coal remain in the ground.”
Mann concludes with “The cost of taking action is only half as much as the cost of inaction. This is not the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It comes from ExxonMobil, which has pegged the true cost of carbon to society at $60 a ton. Other estimates are even higher. Can we afford to stabilize planetary warming below two degrees C? We can't afford not to.”

NOTE: The 300 billion more tons of carbon that Mann says we can put into the atmosphere before exceeding  2° C of global warming, corresponds to 1100 tons (1000 metric tons) of  CO2.  This assumes that the climate sensitivity - the global average temperature change for doubling the CO2 concentration from 280 ppm in preindustrial times to 560 ppm is 3° C.  Some scientists have suggested that the climate sensitivity might be has high as 6° C for a doubling.

A third article in the December Scientific American, beginning on p. 74 by Naomi Oreskes is titled, How to Break the Climate Deadlock, in the magazine and Without Government, the Marketplace Will Not Solve Climate Change online.
She writes, American rejection of climate action is based on suspicion of big government, often expressed as a threat to freedom.  Free markets will not solve climate change by themselves; they have failed to account for the damage done by carbon emissions to people and the environment.  A carbon tax, or emissions-trading system, could slow climate change, but government is needed to create those systems.  History shows that government is also needed to create and fund major technological innovations of the scale required to solve climate change. For that to happen, Americans will have to stop demonizing government.”
In a properly functioning market, people pay the true cost of the goods and services they use. If I dump my garbage in your backyard, you are right to insist that I pay for that privilege, assuming you are willing to let me do it at all. And if you do not insist, you can be pretty sure that I will keep on dumping my garbage there. In our markets today, people are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without paying for that privilege. This is a market failure. To correct that failure, carbon emissions must have an associated cost that reflects the toll they take on people and the environment. (emphasis added)  A price on carbon would encourage individuals, innovators and investors to seek alternatives, such as solar and wind power, that do not cause carbon pollution.”
“To build a better world, we first have to seek it. This requires a different vision, one that embraces priorities other than profit and places care—for creation and for one another—at its center. We have to accept the reality that markets are not motivated by the priority of care.”
Elizabeth Kolbert posted a Letter from Florida in the Dec. 21 issue of the New Yorker Magazine, titled, The Siege of Miami - As temperatures climb, so too, will sea levels.  She describes meeting and touring with Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami’s geological-sciences department.  She wrote, “To cope with its recurrent flooding, Miami Beach has already spent something like a hundred million dollars. It is planning on spending several hundred million more. Such efforts are, in Wanless’s view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later—and probably sooner—the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages.”
There is a lot of uncertainty about how much sea levels will rise by 2100 - mostly because of the inability to predict what will happen to the great polar ice sheets.  
“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of this century. The United States Army Corps of Engineers projects that they could rise by as much as five feet; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to six and a half feet. According to Wanless, all these projections are probably low. In his office, Wanless keeps a jar of meltwater he collected from the Greenland ice sheet. He likes to point out that there is plenty more where that came from.”
“Many geologists, we’re looking at the possibility of a ten-to-thirty-foot range by the end of the century,” he told me.”  (emphasis added)
“Low-end forecasts, like the I.P.C.C.’s, assume that the contribution from the ice sheets will remain relatively stable through the end of the century. High-end projections, like NOAA’s, assume that ice-melt will accelerate as the earth warms (as, under any remotely plausible scenario, the planet will continue to do at least through the end of this century, and probably beyond). Recent observations, meanwhile, tend to support the most worrisome scenarios.”
Ironically, people are flocking to South Florida, and the Republican governor doesn’t believe in climate science, and has joined a group of other states in a lawsuit to keep the EPA from reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fire power plants.  Will wonders never cease?
Dana Nuccitelli posted an article in the Guardian on Jan. 4 titled, 95% consensus of expert economists: cut carbon pollution.  She wrote, The Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University (NYU) School of Law recently published a report summarizing a survey of economists with climate expertise. The report was a follow-up and expansion of a similar survey conducted in 2009 by the same institute. The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change.”  (emphasis added)
“The survey participants included economists who have published papers related to climate change “in a highly ranked, peer-reviewed economics or environmental economics journal since 1994.” Overall, 365 participants completed the survey, which established the consensus of expert climate economists on a number of important questions.”
“In the 2015 survey, the number of expert economists saying that the US should cut its emissions no matter what rose to 77%. A further 18% said that if other countries agree to cut their emissions, the US should follow suit. In other words, there is a 95% consensus among expert climate economists that the US should follow through with its pledges to cut carbon pollution in the wake of the Paris international climate negotiations, and more than three out of four agreed that the US should take action to curb global warming no matter what.”
Contrary to Marco Rubio’s claim on the presidential campaign train the cutting carbon emissions will hurt the economy, economists are worried that if we fail to cut carbon pollution and instead continue with business-as-usual, it will badly stunt economic growth and may potentially lead to catastrophic economic consequences.  (emphasis added)
However, we can still solve the problem while creating jobs and growing the economy, if our political leaders will listen to the economic experts and their voters. So far, convincing Republican Party leaders to listen to an expert climate consensus has been a fruitless task, but there are signs that the party is starting to move in the right direction.”
NOTE: This is an important article that everyone should read.
On Jan. 6 Rebecca Lindsey at NOAA’s Climate.gov site posted an article titled, Every U.S. state warmer than 20th-century average in 2015  She reported that the average temperature over the U.S. was 54.4° F - 2.4° F above the 20th century average, the second warmest year on record.  The warmest average for the U.S. was in 2012.  A map shows that the greatest contribution to the increase in the 2015 average was in the West.
On Jan. 12 Joby Warrick published an article in The Washington Post titled, Mysterious mass deaths of Alaskan Common Murres baffles scientists.  He writes, Tens of thousands of dead birds are washing up on the beaches of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, an unexplained mass die-off that some experts say may be related to the changing climate.
The birds, all of a species known as the common murre, appear to have starved to death, federal wildlife officials say, suggesting disruptions to the supply of herring and other fish that make up the birds’ diet.
A survey by wildlife officials earlier in the month  counted more than 8,000 dead murres on the shores of one beach near Whittier, about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. Local news video showed bodies of the black-and-white birds scattered on the beach and floating in the water offshore.
Biologists who have examined the birds say they appear emaciated.
“We know they are starving. Their stomachs are empty,” said Robb Kaler, a seabird biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage.”
Wildlife officials say it’s not yet known why the birds are starving. One possible explanation is that the birds’ usual food source — herring and other small fish usually found near the coast in dense schools — are either not as plentiful or are behaving differently, perhaps because of unusual weather the region has experienced in recent years. The waters off Alaska’s southern coast have been unusually warm since 2014, and this year El Nino weather pattern has led to further warming. A 2008 scientific study  found that mortality rates for the murre tend to increase in years when water temperatures are even slightly above normal.”

On Jan. 13 the Lawrence Berkeley Nation Lab (NBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory held a webinar titled, A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, focusing on 2013  The entire 67-minute webinar, including the slides and audio recording, the complete report, and a Factsheet are available at the website above.  The webinar was recorded on YouTube.  The prior study in the series, titled A Survey of State Level Cost and Benefit Estimates of Renewable Portfolio Standards was published in 2014.  Generally the state RPSs reduce the cost of electricity, save consumers money, improve public health, and provide more jobs in renewable energy technologies than are lost in fossil fuel industries.
On Jan. 15 Nate Delesline posted an article in the Hanpton Roads Business Journal titled, All the power you need: Business leaders, advocates charged up about energy development outlook.  He writes about the progress of the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP), which would bring two 6-megawatt, power-generating wind turbines about 25 miles off the shores of  Virginia Beach. The group is consulting with companies from Germany, England, Norway and Denmark, where offshore wind is well established, with decades of experience.
NOTE: It’s about time that the U.S. developed its huge renewable energy resource in offshore wind.  The largest barrier has been the lack of a coherent long-term national energy policy - with on-again off-again Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) and Production Tax Credits (PTCs) that have driven investors overseas.
On Jan 19 the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication issued a report titled, Faith, Morality and the Environment: Portraits of Global Warming’s Six Americas.  The 49-page report says, Recent months have witnessed an evolution in public discourse on global warming.  Typically discussed in the news media as a scientific, environmental or political issue, global warming is being reframed as a moral and spiritual issue by religious leaders – most notably by Pope Francis. Americans are now hearing that global warming will have severe impacts on the world's poor; that it violates divine dictates on the treatment of nature; and that it mandates a concerted response from all nations in the name of social justice and God's will.
Faith communities carrying this message are potentially powerful voices on climate change – voices that have been largely silent on the issue until recently. The call from religious leaders for a moral perspective on climate change is growing, however. For example, Pope Francis’s teachings about climate change’s disproportionate impact on the world's poor have attracted widespread media attention. Faith leaders from many other traditions are speaking out on the issue as well, including Evangelical Christians, Muslims, Episcopalians, and Jews. Interdenominational organizations, such as Interfaith Power & Light, are serving as forums for collaborative efforts.”
“Global Warming's Six Americas are six audiences within the American public that share similar views on global warming. The groups range along a spectrum of belief and concern from the Alarmed, who are firmly convinced that global warming is real, human-caused and dangerous, through the Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged and Doubtful to the Dismissive, who are convinced global warming is not real and is likely to be a scientific hoax.”

“Together, the results demonstrate that many Americans who are not currently concerned about global warming, nonetheless believe we should care for other people and the environment, but have yet to recognize that reducing global warming will help both. As the majority prefer religious over scientific explanations, a moral perspective on global warming by religious leaders such as Pope Francis may reach segments of the U.S. public that have yet to engage with the issue.”

NOTE: The key finding of the report is that most Americans are concerned about the welfare of their own children and the poor, and see themselves as religious people - even if they don’t believe the climate science.

On Jan. 20 Jim Hansen at co-workers at the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University posted a paper titled, Global Temperature in 2015, which says that the global average temperature was the highest ever measured, and that global warming since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has now reached 1° C (nearly 2° F), with most of it taking place during the past 30 years.  You can sign up for Hansen’s blog on his website.
On Jan. 20 NOVA broadcast for the first time a documentary titled, Mystery Beneath the Ice.  The description of the 60-minute show, which can apparently be downloaded, is: A research mission to the Antarctica explores what may be behind the plummeting population of the krill, a transparent, shrimp-like creature that's an important cog in the Antarctic ecosystem. Since the 1970s, the krill numbers have declined, though no one knows why. One theory: the krill's life cycle is linked to the seasonal increase and decline of the Antarctic ice pack, which has been altered by climate change.”
The show said that the decline of the krill is having serious impacts on the marine animals - penguins, seals and whales - that depend on it as their primary source of food.  The krill larvae depend on feeding on microorganisms on the bottom surfaces of the floating ice sheets during the Antarctic winter when there is no sunlight for photosynthesis at high southern latitudes.  The temperature on the West Antartic Peninsula has been increasing five times as fast as the global average surface temperature - greatly reducing the area of sea ice during parts of the year.

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.pdfWashington State Proposes New Carbon Emissions Regulations

On January 6, the Washington State Department of Ecology proposed a new regulation to require the state's largest industrial emitters of carbon dioxide to cut their emissions by five percent every three years. The draft regulation, called the Clean Air Rule, would affect all refineries, power plants, natural gas distributors, manufacturing plants and other industrial plants that emit a minimum of 100,000 metric tons of carbon annually. There are approximately 25 such facilities in the state. "It's important that we act now to protect our water supplies, infrastructure and economy for future generations," stated Department of Ecology director Maia Bellon. The rule is expected to be finalized this summer.


For more information see:


California Declares Emergency over Methane Gas Leak

On January 7, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the continued release of methane from a ruptured natural gas well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site, 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The leak has released more than 80,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere since its initial rupture on October 23, 2015. Methane is a very powerful global warming pollutant, and warms the atmosphere 84 times more than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Thousands of residents in the nearby Porter Ranch area have left their homes due to health complications from breathing the natural gas fumes. The leak is the largest natural gas leak in the United States to date, and is currently the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in California.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_1.pdfWeather Makes Up Majority of 2015 Insurance Claims

On January 4, Munich RE, the world's largest reinsurer, released an analysis showing that insurers paid out about $27 billion in natural disaster claims in 2015, with weather-related disasters causing 94 percent of the claims. Despite this, insurance companies saw the lowest losses since 2009, with claims decreasing $4 billion from 2014 levels. This can be partially attributed to the low number of costly hurricanes in 2015, due largely to the El Nino-influenced wind pattern in the North Atlantic which cut down on storm development. However, El Nino conditions contributed to severe flooding and heatwaves in many developing nations. Heavy flooding also affected the United Kingdom, which Munich RE linked to Arctic warming due to climate change.

For more information see:


Poll Finds that 70 Percent of Americans Think Climate is Changing

On January 5, Monmouth University released a survey finding that 70 percent of Americans think the earth's climate is changing, with impacts including increased extreme weather events and sea level rise. The poll highlighted the partisan divide in American opinion on climate change, with far more Democrats (63 percent) seeing it as a "very serious issue" compared to Republicans (18 percent). Of those who think climate is changing, 34 percent think both human activity and natural environmental changes are responsible, while 27 percent identify human activity as the main contributor. Tony MacDonald, the director of Monmouth University's Urban Coast Institute, said in a statement, "The data exposes the extent to which this has become a partisan political issue in the U.S. rather than a scientific issue."

For more information see:


Rising Temperatures More Strongly Affecting Greenland than Previously Thought

On January 4, the journal Nature Climate Change published a study detailing how recent changes in the composition of Greenland's ice and snow cover have affected the ability of the landmass to capture meltwater before it reaches the ocean. The researchers focused on firn, a porous layer of the ice sheet made up of accumulated snow that gradually becomes ice over time. Research had suggested previously that most of Greenland's firn could store excess meltwater, making the firn a safeguard against sea level rise for the next few decades. However, the scientists discovered new, dense ice layers forming near the surface of the ice sheet. These new layers are preventing liquid water from percolating into the firn, leading meltwater to drain into the ocean instead. Study author Horst Machguth told the Washington Post, "I think the most notable result of our study is showing that the firn reacts faster to an atmospheric warming than expected."

For more information see:


Warming Climate Threatens Power Generation Worldwide

According to research published in Nature Climate Change on January 3, increased water scarcity caused in part by climate change may reduce future generating capacity at more than two-thirds of the world's power plants. The research team said, "The world's electricity sector strongly depends on the availability and temperature of water resources. Global warming, with increased climate variability and likelihoods of heat waves and droughts, may have important impacts." The study examined approximately 26,000 power plants worldwide, showing that generation capacities may decrease at 61-74 percent of hydroelectric plants and 81-86 percent of thermoelectric power plants for the 2040-2069 period, due to reduced stream flows and rising water temperature. The study suggested that power plants could adapt to changing conditions by increasing plant efficiencies, installing a less water-intense cooling system, or switching to a different fuel source.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_2.pdfNew Poll Shows Young Americans Want More Renewables and Climate Action

On January 11, USA TODAY released the results of a USA TODAY/Rock the Vote poll finding that eight-in-ten millennials (those aged 18-34) want the next president to support renewable energy. Many polled also consider climate change to be a top ten issue. "With millennials surpassing the Baby Boomer generation for the first time this year, nearly 40 million millennials are expected to vote in the 2016 election," commented Bob Dickey, the president and CEO of Gannett. The poll is part of USA TODAY's One Nation initiative and used online interviews of 1,141 adults age 18 to 34, from January 4-7.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_3.pdfClimate Activist Asks President Obama to Focus on Climate Change in State of the Union

On January 11, The Guardian reported that billionaire activist Tom Steyer has called on President Obama to use his State of the Union address as a platform for climate action. Steyer told reporters that Obama's final State of the Union speech is a high-visibility moment for the president to appeal to the American public, to support the transformation of the U.S. energy sector. Steyer said 2015 was an important year for climate policy, as the Paris climate agreement, the failure of the Keystone XL pipeline, a relative ban on Arctic drilling, and the finalization of the Clean Power Plan all pushed forward the fight against climate change. According to Steyer, "This is a great opportunity to make that case and make sure that the moves we made are decisive and irrevocable."

In related news on January 11, Tom Steyer's organization NextGen Climate released a report, "Threat Multiplier: Climate Change & the State of Our Union," which emphasizes the security and public health risks of climate change.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_4.pdfArch Coal Files for Bankruptcy

On January 11, Bloomberg reported that Arch Coal Inc., owners of the second-largest coal reserve in the United States, filed a chapter 11 petition for creditor protection. The company says most of its senior lenders have agreed to remove $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet to keep the company operating as usual. Arch Coal blamed environmental regulations for making it more costly for businesses to use coal. Some citizens groups worry that Arch Coal's bankruptcy filings will allow it to stop or slow its mine-cleanup activities, although Arch has stated that it will continue to fulfill its reclamation obligations. Arch mines coal in West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia.

In related news, on January 8, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. coal production hit a 30-year low in 2015, falling 10 percent below 2014's levels. EIA said that the low prices of natural gas, low international coal demand and environmental regulations have all contributed to its decline. Central and Northern Appalachian coal production saw the largest decline.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_5.pdfCrude Oil Prices Sink Further, Raising Bankruptcy Concerns

On January 11, crude-oil prices hit a 12-year low of $31.41 a barrel, posing a bankruptcy threat to as many as a third of U.S oil producers, according to Wolfe Research. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have stated they expect the price of oil to fall into the $20 range soon, due to a weak Chinese stock market, the appreciation of the U.S. dollar, and a continuing oversupply of oil. Law firm Haynes & Boone has reported that over 30 small oil companies which collectively owe $13 billion in debt have already filed for bankruptcy protection. A report from AlixPartners found that North American oil and gas production companies are losing close to $2 billion a week due to low prices.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_6.pdfClimate Change Causing Economic Losses in World's Middle Class

On January 11, Swiss financial services firm UBS published a report indicating that climate change contributed to $1.5 trillion in economic losses from 1980 to 2014. In addition, climate change was linked to another $32 billion loss during the first half of 2015. The report further found that in cities where climate change has raised environmental risks, the middle class spent $800-$1,600 more per year on housing, displacing household spending on entertainment, luxuries and durable goods. Paul Donovan, a managing director at UBS, commented, "The middle class has two important qualities that make them critically important to the conversation about climate change: substantial assets and political influence. If the effects of climate change significantly hurt the middle class, the inevitable reaction should in turn elicit a strong response from policy makers."

For more information see:

  
U.S. Economic Boom is Lifting Global Carbon Markets

On January 11, Thomson ReutersPoint Carbon found that the value of global carbon markets increased nine percent, to $52.8 billion in 2015, due to higher prices on emission allowances and offsets in most markets. In the report "Carbon Market Monitor," Thompson Reuters revealed the value of North American carbon markets rose 220 percent to $11.59 billion, mainly driven by the California-Quebec carbon trading market called the Western Climate Initiative, which expanded its scope by including transport fuel emissions this year. "Assuming prices to also end higher than in 2015, we forecast the overall value of carbon markets to grow by a quarter . . . in terms of transactions, Europe and North America will continue to represent more than 95 percent [of the market]," the report says. The report adds that when China's national carbon market launches in 2017, global market value will increase further.

For more information see:


Department of Interior Announces It Will Review Coal Leasing Program on Public Lands

On January 15, the Department of Interior announced it would conduct a comprehensive review of its coal leasing program, using a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS); all new coal leases will be placed on moratorium until this review is complete. According to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, "We haven't undertaken a comprehensive review of the program in more than 30 years, and we have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change."

For more information see:

DOI 
  

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New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS FOR DECEMBER, 2015

CC NEWS FOR DEC. 2015

On Nov. 9 the Washington Post published an article by Ishaan Tharoor  about a public opinion survey by the Pew Research Center,  titled, Map: Where climate change is a big deal (and where it isn’t).  It said, 
A Pew survey conducted in 40 countries found that a majority of respondents were concerned about the threat of climate change and wanted their governments to be more proactive about mitigating its effects.”
“Of course, the worries over climate change aren't felt to the same extent everywhere. As Pew finds, citizens of countries with high per-capital levels of carbon emissions — the United States ranking at the top of that list — are "less intensely concerned about climate change." Americans and Chinese, whose nations are the world's biggest emitters, were surprisingly less concerned than others.”
Per capita carbon emissions for the U.S. are 17.6 metric tons, for the EU 7.4, for China 6.2, for the world 4.9 and for India 1.7.

On Nov. 18 the World Resources Institute posted a blog by Kelly Levin and  Taryn Fransen titled, With Latest Climate Commitments, How Much Will the World Warm?  It’s Complicated.  They wrote,
Earlier this month, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report joined a series of studies released over the past few weeks assessing how much countries’ recent climate action commitments, or intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), will combat warming. Collectively, the studies make it clear that the INDCs will substantially bend the global emissions trajectory below our current path, but still don’t go far enough to limit warming to below 2°C and avoid some of the worst climate impacts.”
The studies find that the INDCs put us on track for a world that warms by 2.7-3.7°C (median chance) over pre-industrial levels over the next century, depending on modeling assumptions. This is an improvement over previous trends, which would lead to 4-5°C of warming, but falls short of the global goal to limit warming to below 2°C (3.6°F).”
The authors estimate that the carbon budget for CO2 emissions after 1750 to keep the global average temperature change below 2°C is 1000 PgC (Pg is petagrams or billions of metric tons).  They say that humans had used up more than half the budget by 2011 and would use it all by 2045 if emission rates continue unabated.  They write,
“Studies take into account the INDCs to estimate what emissions will be in 2025 and 2030. Emissions levels in these years have significant consequences for our ability to limit warming to 2°C.  The higher emissions are in the near term, the greater the required emissions reductions in later decades for limiting warming. Steep rates of emissions reductions are far costlier than more gradual rates of decline. They also risk failing to achieve the 2°C target, and rely more on carbon dioxide removal technologies (e.g. bioenergy and carbon capture and storage), which have yet to be proven at scale.” 

The Guardian for Nov. 17 has a book review by John Abraham of Joseph Romm’s book  Climate Change, What Everyone Needs to KnowRomm is a physicist and the author of a popular blog, Climate Progress.  His new book has a question and answer format, and is available from Amazon.  Some questions are:
“Why are climate scientists so confident that humans are the primary cause of recent warning?’ ‘Which extreme weather events are being made worse by climate change and which are not?’ ‘Why did scientists and governments decide 2°C (3.6°F) was the limit beyond which climate change becomes “dangerous” to humanity?”.

On Nov. 30, the first day of the important international climate negotiations in Paris, President Obama gave an inspiring 14-minute talk titled, The President addresses Climate Change at COP21, available on YouTube.

On Dec. 1 John Vidal posted an article from Paris in the Guardian titled, Climate talks: 4C rise will have dire effect on world hunger, UN warns.  He writes,
El Niños, climate change and increasing conflict linked to prolonged droughts and extreme weather are leaving the world unable to cope with the food needs of millions of people, the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
The UN agency, which last year appealed for $8.5bn from governments to provide food aid to people in 80 or more countries but only received $5.5bn, said donors had never been more generous but that the challenges were now outpacing available funds.
“The humanitarian system is increasingly stretched financially and operationally. Weather disasters require responses in more places and for longer periods,” said the WFP executive director, Ertharin Cousin, in Paris for the climate talks.
“The global climate negotiations are critical for a world without hunger. Among the most significant impact of climate change is its potential to increase hunger and malnutrition. The current El Niño and complex droughts, storms and floods the world is experiencing today provide a window into what our future could look like if a meaningful climate agreement is not reached.””
The Dec. 1 NY TImes has an article by Justin Gillis titled, A Path for Change, Beyond Paris.  He writes,
“The pledges that countries have signaled they will make in Paris over the next two weeks to cut emissions will inevitably fall short of what is needed to solve the problem of climate change.  But many political leaders gathering there — including governors, mayors, and provincial cabinet secretaries — are pushing for more aggressive cuts. By the dozen, they are signing a voluntary agreement committing their jurisdictions to faster and deeper reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases than their national governments have promised.“We are not moving fast enough,” Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who is helping to lead the effort, said in an interview. “We’ve got to do more.”  All of which raises a provocative question: What would a truly ambitious plan to tackle climate change look like?”
““The arithmetic is really brutal,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, a prominent Columbia University economist. “We’re in such a dreadful situation that every country has to make this transformation, or else this isn’t going to work.”
Dr. Sachs helped start what is perhaps the most serious effort to draw up a detailed road map for the energy transition: the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, based in Paris and New York. Over the past couple of years, the effort enlisted teams from 16 countries, which account for the large majority of global emissions, to devise such plans.”
On Nov. 28 Justin Gillis had a very interesting article in the NY Times titled, Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change.  Here are his questions:
  1. How much is the planet heating up?
  2. How much trouble are we in?
  3. Is there anything I can do?
  4. What’s the optimistic scenario?
  5. What’s the worst case scenario?
  6. Will a tech breakthrough help us?
  7. How much will the seas rise?
  8. Are the predictions reliable?
  9. Why do people question climate change?
  10. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?
  11. Will anyone benefit from global warming?
  12. Is there any reason for hope?
His answers are great!
On Nov. 29 the NY Times had an article by Kurt Stager titled, Tales of a Warmer Planet.  He wrote, “It’s a mistake to think the climatic effects of our carbon emissions will be over within a few decades or centuries. Our intergenerational responsibilities run much deeper into the future.
In this new Anthropocene epoch, the “Age of Humans,” we have become so numerous, our technology so powerful, and our lives so interconnected that we are now a force of nature on a geological scale. By running our civilization on fossil fuels, we are both creating and destroying climates that our descendants will live in tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years from now.”
“It is now too late to stop human-driven warming altogether. Even if we wean ourselves from fossil fuels within the next few decades, our descendants will still face temperatures significantly higher than they are now — for millenniums to come. But that is no reason to delay or despair. If we don’t make the switch soon, our descendants will later be forced to do so under duress because of the depletion of finite reserves, and the artificially hotter Earth will be even poorer in species, habitats and lifestyles for thousands more generations.”
“If we burn all remaining coal, oil and gas reserves within the next century or two, we could introduce a more extreme, longer-lasting hothouse much like one that occurred about 56 million years ago: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM.”
“Whatever caused the PETM, it spewed trillions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air and oceans. Global average temperatures climbed 10 degrees or more, erasing cold-loving species and habitats from the planet. With atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations several times higher than today, a combination of warming and carbonic acid buildups in the oceans exterminated many deep-sea creatures and dissolved limy minerals and shells from the ocean floor.”
“A switch from finite fossil energy to cleaner, renewable energy sources is inevitable: We are only deciding how and when to do it. That is what world leaders and policy makers will be grappling with at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change that begins Monday in Paris. Much of the environmental harm that we have already done was unintentional, but now that science has exposed our role in it a new moral dimension has been added to our actions. Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment makes it clear that to continue taking a profligate carbon path is to sin against future generations and our own human dignity.”
NOTE:  I learned about the PETM (Paleopcene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) and the accompanying oceanic extinction event at a course on ocean acidification at the University of Delaware.  I was quite struck when I realized that human burning of fossil fuels might cause a large-scale decomposition of methane hydrates on the seafloor - much as volcanoes initiated decomposition of methane hydrates at the start of the PETM.  Once it got going, it spiraled out of control because of positive feedbacks (the more carbon that was released the faster the remaining methane hydrate was decomposed by the rising temperature) - releasing an estimated 2000 GT (2 trillion tons) of carbon to the atmosphere in the form a methane - a powerful greenhouse gas.  I was so worked up about it that I wrote a paper called Positive Feedbacks and Climate Runaway - The Need to Act without Delay for the LWVUS Climate Change Task Force in 2009.  It is posted in the League's Toolkit for Climate Action.
If you want to read an easily understandable article about the PETM, there’s a nice one by Robert Kunzig in the Oct. 2011 National Geographic titled Hothouse Earth.

On Dec. 1 the Climate Reality Project posted a group of five short, easily understandable  videos about the COP 21 Paris climate conference, under the title, These Five Videos Explain What You Need to Know about COP21.  I especially enjoyed one by Grist lasting 4.3 minutes titled, Paris Climate Talks, explaining the negotiations.  It’s a blast.
The Citizens Climate Lobby Newsletter for December shows that CCL is working hard nationally and internationally for a Fee and Dividend (F&D) system for pricing carbon emissions (mostly carbon dioxide) to change behavior and give people an economic signal that will promote increased energy efficiency and the phaseout of fossil fuels, which contain carbon, with renewable energy sources.  It has a team in Paris pressing the case with delegates for carbon pricing as part of the final climate agreement.  The newsletter says,
One of the first successes of the Paris talks was the launch of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which includes governments, intergovernmental agencies, businesses and nonprofits, who all agree the world needs to be pricing carbon fairly, effectively and efficiently, as soon as possible.”
The F&D system is expected to attract the support of conservatives, as it is revenue neutral and doesn’t increase the amount of money governments can spend;  all of the money raised by the carbon fees - levied at the source of the fuel - is paid back to energy users as a dividend.  Those who produce less than the average amount of CO2 get more back in their dividend than what they paid in fees.  Thus everyone has a real incentive to reduce their global warming emissions.

The NY TImes for Dec. 3 has an article by Josh Katz and Jennifer Daniel titled, What You Can Do About Climate Change - Seven Simple Guidelines for Thinking About Carbon Emissions.  The suggestions range from eating less red meat to buying and wasting less.  The best part was the last two paragraphs:
A sustainable solution that avoids severe damage to the planet will require fundamental changes in the global energy system: transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy and sharply reducing the number of cars that run on internal-combustion engines.
Advocating public policies that support the development of clean energy and efficient transportation is probably the most climate-friendly thing you can do. But cultural and behavioral change can be part of the solution as well. Might as well start now.”

The NY Times for Dec. 11 had an article by Sewell Chan and Melissa Eddy titled, Republicans Make Presence Felt at Climate Talks by Ignoring Them.  They wrote:
More than 40,000 people are attending the climate talks, including scientists, activists, people living on the front lines of global warming and the negotiators for the 195 nations represented. One group is noticeably missing, however: Republicans.
Except for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, no prominent Republican has participated in the events in this Paris suburb.”
“Of the candidates seeking the party’s nomination for president, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald J. Trump reject the scientific consensus that human activities are warming the planet, while Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio have acknowledged that the planet is warming but oppose President Obama’s view that the government can and should do something about it.”
“Surveys have shown that in no other country is climate-change denial as prevalent as it is in the United States.
If that changes, it may be because of the business community as much as anything else. Several progressive companies, like Ben & Jerry’s, Michelin, Nissan-Renault and Unilever, have taken part in the Paris climate meetings or related events, and Mr. Kerry has praised Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs for their climate-related financing commitments.”

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.pdfWorld Bank Announces $16 Billion in Funding for Climate Projects in Africa

On November 24, the World Bank announced in a press call that it would be putting $16 billion toward climate adaptation projects in African communities, to help offset climate impacts such as more frequent drought and increasing incidence of malaria. The funds, called the African Climate Business Plan, will safeguard water, land, cities and people. The proposed projects will be presented during the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris that begin November 30. "Any African leader will tell you they've had very little role putting the carbon in the air, but they've suffered most from the impact of climate change," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_1.pdfAlberta to Introduce Carbon Tax and Methane Reductions

On November 22, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced a plan to implement an economy-wide carbon tax, to start at $20 a metric ton in 2017 and increase to $30 per metric ton by 2018. The plan will cap emissions from oil sands at 100 megatonnes, giving the industry some room to grow from its current 70 megatonnes annual emissions level. The plan also calls for the phase-out of coal-fired power plants by 2030 and the reduction of methane emissions from oil and gas operations by 45 percent from 2014 levels by 2025. "This is the day we stop denying there is an issue. And this is the day we do our part," said Rachel Notley. Oil sands producers, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, as well as environmental groups, positively received the plan. Revenues will be invested in sustainable initiatives.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_2.pdfMajor Cities in Britain Pledge to Be 100% Renewable by 2050

On November 23, Labor party council leaders from more than 50 British cities, including Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester, pledged to source the cities' electricity from 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. If this goal is fully realized, the United Kingdom's carbon footprint would shrink 10 percent. "We are taking action to show a completely clean energy future is both viable and within reach within the course of a generation," said Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council. Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, coordinated the pledge.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_3.pdfOver 2,000 Academics Call for Ambitious International Climate Agreement

On November 23, over 2,000 academics from more than 80 countries sent an open letter petitioning world leaders to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead of the established two degrees Celsius target. With current climate pledges submitted ahead of Paris climate negotiations, the world would warm about 2.7-3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. "This is profoundly shocking, given that any sacrifice involved in making those reductions is far overshadowed by the catastrophes we are likely to face if we do not," the letter says. The letter, organized by Global Climate Change Week, was launched September 27 and will continue accepting signatures until November 29. Signatories include Noam Chomsky and Naomi Oreskes.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_4.pdfSome of World's Largest Food Companies Call for Ambitious Climate Agreement

On November 24, the chief executive officers of Coca-Cola, The Hain Celestial Group Inc., Hershey's and PepsiCo signed onto a letter asking governments to achieve an ambitious international agreement on climate change at the United Nations climate negotiations this year in Paris. The letter, originally released October 1, has ten other signatories, including the CEOs of General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg Company, Nestle USA, Mars Incorporated and Dannon USA. "These businesses see both climate impacts in their supply chains and the long-term financial benefits of GHG-reducing efforts," commented Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_5.pdfBloomberg Says Private Sector Is Responsible for Most Emissions Cuts

On November 23, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made comments at a Council on Foreign Relations conference saying that government has made little progress to alleviate climate change, and that the private sector has done much more. "Greenhouse gases in the United States have gone down 20 percent in the last few years," said Bloomberg. "Why? Because the private sector financed the campaign, 'Beyond Coal,' and we've closed 200 of the 500 coal-fired power plants in this country. No thanks to the federal or state governments."

For more information see:


Extreme Weather Linked to More than 600,000 Deaths in Last 20 Years

On November 23, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) released report findings that more than 600,000 people died and 4.1 billion were injured, displaced or in need of emergency assistance, due to weather-related disasters from 1995 to 2015. The report also warns that the frequency of extreme weather events will increase due to climate change. The authors found that the disasters cost at least $1.9 trillion in damages, noting that 29 percent of total economic damages remain unaccounted for. The United States had the highest number of weather-related disasters during the period, followed by China, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, commented that an international agreement on climate would be a "significant contribution to reducing damage and loss from disasters."

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_6.pdfYale Paper Reveals Corporate Financing Behind Climate Denial

On November 23, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study linking corporate money to doubts about the science behind climate change. Study author Justin Farrell, a sociologist at Yale, examined the published works of 164 groups and 4,500 individuals on climate change from 1993 to 2013 to find that groups receiving consistent corporate funding were more likely to deny climate science. "They were writing things that were different from the contrarian organizations that did not receive corporate funding," said Farrell. "This counter-movement produced messages aimed at the very least at creating ideological polarization . . . and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus."

For more information see:


Taxing Meat for Climate Change Could Be Popular Strategy, Study Says

On November 24, the Chatham House and Glasgow University released a new study that found in 12 countries surveyed the population would accept restrictions on meat consumption to alleviate climate change. Meat production is responsible for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the total exhaust emissions of every vehicle in the world. The report recommends that governments put a tax on meat, increase vegetarian meals at publicly funded institutions, or cut livestock subsidies, to address these emissions.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_7.pdf73 More Businesses Join White House Pledge to Act on Climate

On November 30, the White House announced that 73 more businesses had joined its American Business Act on Climate pledge, which requires its signatories to support an ambitious deal on climate out of Paris and demonstrate "an ongoing commitment to climate action." There are now a total of 154 companies with $4.2 trillion in annual revenues and operations in every state signed onto the pledge. The new company sign-ons include Amazon, Verizon, and Volvo.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_8.pdfAndrew Cuomo Mandates 40 Percent Emissions Reductions in New York State

On December 2, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the State Department of Public Service to ensure 50 percent of electricity consumption in New York State comes from renewable energy sources by 2030. "As discussions continue in Paris, we are taking enforceable actions in New York to lay the foundation for a thriving clean energy economy," said Cuomo. Cuomo also directed the Department of Public Service to look into processes to stop the early retirement of upstate nuclear power plants. A press release announcing the measure stated that New York "cannot lose ground in the fight to reduce carbon pollution through the unnecessary retirement of safely operating nuclear power plants."

For more information see:


Pope Says World Is Close to Suicide on Climate Change

On November 30, during a flight from Africa to Rome, Pope Francis stated that the time is "now or never" to reach an international deal on climate change, and that the world is close to "suicide" in terms of negative climate impacts. Pope Francis made the observation that politicians have "done little" to address climate change, but that he trusts the negotiators in Paris "have goodwill to do something." In June the Pope published a 192-page encyclical regarding the environment, which called laid out his observations and perspectives on the links between Catholicism and climate change.

For more information see:

National Catholic Reporter (1) (2), Reuters, The Washington Post 
    
pastedGraphic_9.pdfNew York Times Poll Says Americans Support Climate Deal in Paris

On November 30, a New York Times and CBS poll showed that two-thirds of Americans support an international treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions, with a slim majority of Republicans opposing such a measure. Sixty-three percent of adults surveyed said they support the Clean Power Plan, but on the impacts of global warming and other climate-related issues, Americans' opinions differed based on their political affiliation. Despite partisan divide on climate policy, this poll demonstrates a shift in perception, with a growing number of Americans acknowledging the need to fight global warming. "If you just look over the past five or six years since Copenhagen, there's been a shift," said David Waskow of the World Resources Institute. "There's much more awareness of issues like sea level rise, water scarcity and climate instability," providing an incentive for a strong international agreement. The nationwide poll was conducted from November 18 to 22 with a total of 1,030 participants.

For more information see:


Bill Gates and 27 Of World's Wealthiest Investors Launch Coalition to Fund Clean Energy

On November 29, the eve of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, Bill Gates announced the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Initiative, a group of 28 of the world's wealthiest investors that pledge to fund research and development for clean energy technology. The initiative will address the growing need for affordable clean energy, especially in the developing world, citing the need to produce 50 percent more energy by 2050 than today. "Private companies will ultimately develop these energy breakthroughs, but their work will rely on the kind of basic research that only governments can fund. Both have a role to play," stated Bill Gates, noting that this initiative will tackle climate change while providing energy to the world's poor. It is unclear how much the group will invest. The Initiative was announced in conjunction with Mission Innovation, a public sector project to fund clean energy R&D.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_10.pdfSecretary Kerry Announces Doubling of U.S. Aid for Climate Adaptation

On December 9, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States plans to double the funding it provides to assist developing nations in adapting to the Earth's changing climate, from about $400 million to $860 million annually by 2020. The United States will issue the funding in grants through bilateral and multilateral financial channels. Kerry stated, "We will not leave the most vulnerable nations among us to weather the storm alone." These funds are separate from what the Administration has allotted to the Green Climate Fund. This announcement builds on a commitment President Obama made last week to put money into the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) that supports climate adaptation needs in highly vulnerable places, and a $30 million contribution President Obama made to support risk insurance in vulnerable countries.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_11.pdfWashington State Government Vehicle Fleet to Be 20 Percent Electric

On December 7, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced a state mandate requiring 20 percent of all new state-owned passenger vehicle fleet purchases to be electric vehicles by 2017, up from a current one percent. "We won't defeat climate change unless we use all of the tools we have available-and that includes what we buy in the market place for our daily use," stated Inslee, calling for greater investments in low-carbon options. Washington currently has nearly 13,000 registered electric vehicles on the road. Inslee is also expected to release updated rules later this month to put emissions limits on companies that release more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_12.pdfParis Climate Negotiators Come to International Deal

On December 12, the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21) concluded with the announcement of an international deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change which will take effect in 2020. The deal calls for keeping warming significantly below two degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and to pursue "efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C." The goal is to achieve carbon neutrality (a "balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse  gases") in the  second half of this century. However, according to the Climate Action Tracker, if nations follow through on their unconditional pledges global warming would be about 2.7 degrees Celsius, indicating that further ambition is needed to reach the two degree C and below goals. To ensure ambition increases over time, a legally binding piece of the deal requires countries to reconvene and increase their greenhouse gas reduction commitments every five years beginning in 2020. There will also be a "stocktake," or examination of how well countries are meeting their commitments, every five years beginning in 2023.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_13.pdfCivil Society Delivers Petition with 6 Million Signatures for Climate Action to UN Chief

On December 10, the Climate Reality Project, Avaaz, 350.org, Climate Action Network International, Earth Day Network, Earth Guardians, Greenpeace, Global Gender Climate Alliance, Our Kids Climate and Sierra Club delivered a petition calling for climate action with 6.2 million signatures to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The petition is short and simple, asking signatories to tell world leaders meeting in Paris to "Take Climate Action Now. Zero global warming pollution. Zero extreme poverty." 350.org executive director May Boeve commented, "Millions of us have marched in the streets and millions more will follow. We know our work for a fossil free world is just getting started."

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_14.pdfAmerican Electric Power Quits ALEC

On December 9, American Electric Power (AEP), one of the largest U.S. electricity utilities, announced that it would be ending its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization that has lobbied against renewable energy and climate change mitigation efforts. AEP said it decided not to renew with ALEC due in part to reallocating resources to focus on implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) rules on carbon emissions from existing power plants. AEP added, "We have long been involved in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions." Recently Royal Dutch Shell left ALEC over its climate change stance (ALEC has said climate change is a "historical phenomenon") and BP, Amazon, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, eBay, Facebook and Google have all left the organization as well.

For more information see:


pastedGraphic_15.pdfStudy Finds Oil & Gas Methane Emissions in Barnett Shale Twice Official Estimates

On December 7, a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that regional methane emissions from oil and gas operations in Texas' Barnett Shale (a major oil and gas producing region) are 90 percent higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) estimates. The study, which used data from 12 papers, found that 30 percent of the oil and gas production sites in Barnett Shale leaked more than one percent of the natural gas they produced, amounting to 70 percent of the region's total oil and gas methane emissions. The study concluded that a relatively small number of leaks are causing the majority of emissions, highlighting the need for more frequent and thorough inspections. Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), noted that, "EPA's already large national estimate of 7.3 million tons of yearly methane emissions from the oil and gas industry could be much higher."


pastedGraphic_16.pdfTown of Tangier on Chesapeake Bay May be Gone by 2050 due to Sea Level Rise

On December 10, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report in Scientific Reports finding that the town of Tangier, on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, will be uninhabitable in the next 50 years if sea level rise continues at its current rate. Tangier Island has lost 66.75 percent of its 1850 landmass, and continues to lose about 14 feet a year to erosion, land subsidence and sea level rise. The study found that sea level rise near Tangier Island is "significantly higher" than the global average, and is a "hot spot" of rapidly rising waters within a greater hot spot of rapid sea level rise that stretches from Cape Hatteras, in North Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts. Most of Tangier Island's landmass will be lost in the next hundred years. Tangier was settled in the 1700s by European colonists, and is currently home to 727 people.

For more information see:



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New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light