Friday, November 21, 2014



Dr. Jan Dash is a former physics professor and financial advisor who has spent the last five years with the Unitarian Universalist (UU) UN Office developing a website he calls the Climate Portal.  He starts it by saying, We have a moral, ethical, and survival imperative to learn about climate change / global warming, and to act appropriately and decisively. This imperative derives from people living today and all those who will follow us. We must not have future generations say, of us: "They refused to learn" or "they knew but did not act."”  He has assembled lots of information and sources.   The first page also has an inspiring 13-minute video titled,  President Obama Speaks at the 2014 NYC Climate Summit.  A little further down there is a link titled, REMI Report on Carbon Fee and Dividend.  REMI stands for Regional Economic Models, Inc.  Clicking on the link will lead to this report and others on climate economics.  The Portal is well worth exploring. 

NASA has an excellent website titled, Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.  One of the subsections under Science/Consensus is titled, Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree.    It has a long list of scientific organizations and their statements on climate change.  They all basically say that climate change is real, it’s largely caused by emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and the consequences of sticking to business as usual are serious and bad.  Another subsection under Explore/Interactives has a video showing measurements of sea level and sea surface temperature taken from space that allowed scientists to know that Hurricane Katrina was going to become much stonger as it passed over a bulge of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico before it made landfall in 2005.

I have just finished reading a book from the Union of Concerned Scientists titled, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, Washington, 2012.  The web site about the book says, Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living (Island Press) explains why your individual contribution is so vital to addressing this global problem — and shows you the most effective ways to cut your own global warming emissions by 20 percent or more.
Cooler Smarter powerfully makes the case that we can no longer afford to wait for someone else to solve global warming, and demonstrates how each of us, working together, can build a low-carbon future.”  The book “offers proven strategies to cut carbon, with chapters on transportation, home energy use, diet, personal consumption, plus tips and suggestions for how you can influence your workplace, community, and elected officials to make Cooler Smarter decisions today.”  It’s a must-read for anyone willing to take personal responsibility for addressing climate change.
On Feb. 24, 2014, Mark Jacobson of Stanford University gave a TED lecture at Palo Alto High School titled, Powering the World With Wind, Water, and Sunlight, available in a 16.8 minute video on YouTube. In it he describes how the United States could transition to near 100% renewable energy (he calls it WWS for Wind Water Sun) by 2050.  He shows how for California the right combination of on- and offshore wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power, hydroelectric and geothermal power, the state can supply electricity for all its energy needs in 2050 99.8% of the time - minimizing the need for backup fossil fuel power; if hydrogen is generated by electrolysis of water using excess electricity from renewable sources, hydrogen fuel cells could be used for backup - eliminating fossil fuels entirely.  The benefits of his plan include improved health, reduced climate change damage, and more jobs in both the construction and operation of the new energy system.
NOTE: This video is a must-see!
Jacobson’s videos, energy plans for all 50 states, the U.S. as a whole, and the entire world can be found at:

Climate Science Watch for Oct. 8 has an excellent article by Jonathan Kooney titled, The Case for the 2 C Warming Limit, which explains the value of having an international target of limiting aggregate greenhouse gas added to the atmosphere enough to keep the global average temperature increase since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to no more than 2 degrees C (3.6 F).  The purpose of  is to promote integrity in the use of climate science in government.  The site has a lot of useful information, including videos.  It was started by Rick Piltz, a climate policy analyst, who resigned from his job in the George W. Bush White House, where he coordinated climate research in a number of federal agencies in 2005, because the administration was watering down scientific findings warning of the dangers of climate change.  He recently died of cancer at the age of 71.

On Oct. 15 Mary Beckman of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory posted a news article titled, A global natural gas boom alone won't slow climate changeShe wrote, “A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term, according to a study appearing today in Nature Advanced Online Publication.
Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change — and according to government analyses, natural gas did contribute partially to a decline in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2012. But, in the long run, according to this study, a global abundance of inexpensive natural gas would compete with all energy sources — not just higher-emitting coal, but also lower-emitting nuclear and renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar. Inexpensive natural gas would accelerate economic growth and expand overall energy use.”  (emphasis added)
Haewon McJeon, an economist and the lead author of the study, wrote. "Global deployment of advanced natural gas production technology could double or triple the global natural gas production by 2050, but greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow in the absence of climate policies that promote lower carbon energy sources." 
NOTE: Several economists have said that the best way to reduce carbon emissions - whether of carbon dioxide or methane - is to put an increasing price on carbon at the source (e.g., wellhead, mine or port of entry).  One way to do that - a fee and dividend system - has been proposed by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby and is supported by Dr. James Hansen.
The Oct. 21 NY Times had an article by Coral Davenport and Ashley Parker titled, Environment Is Grabbing Big Role in Ads for Campaigns.  They wrote, In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?”
In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy.
And in Kentucky, a spot for the Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, depicts him flanked by coal miners as a woman intones, “The person fighting for our coal jobs is Mitch McConnell.”
“Ads mentioning energy, climate change and the environment — over 125,000 spots and climbing on the Senate side — have surged to record levels during the 2014 midterm election cycle …”  At: 
NOTE: This attention to energy and climate issues is a far cry from the 2012 election, when they were hardly mentioned by candidates of either party. 
On Oct. 21 Patrick Kiker of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) issued a news release on the 2014 ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard comparing the 50 states and some U.S. territories.  The top 10 states, starting with the most energy efficient, were: MA, CA, RI, OR VT, CT, NY,WA, MD and MN; the bottom 5 states, starting with the least energy efficient, were: ND, WY, SD, MS and AK.  The press release, a map of the U.S. showing the rankings, and the full report are available at:
Grist for Oct. 22 has an article by Sam Bliss titled, These teens are taking their climate lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court.  He writes, Back in 2011, we wrote about a group of witty whippersnappers that filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The premise: The government must take action to protect the atmosphere for future generations.
On Oct. 3, those same five teenagers, represented by Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a legal lifeline to keep the case alive.”  Bliss admits that the petition is a crazy longshot - especially since “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found in June of this year that there is no “federal constitutional foundation” for the suit — protecting natural resources is a matter of state law.
So, even while trying to push its federal case to the Supreme Court, Our Children’s Trust is also now pursuing similar legal action in every state of the union. And the basic idea behind the kids’ lawsuits — that the government must protect the atmosphere as it would other natural and cultural resources — has the potential to change how we think about ownership of nature and the climate crisis.” 
The mission of Our Children’s Trust is “Establishing the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate for all present and future generations.”  Let’s all pray that it succeeds.

Chris Mooney has an item in the Washington Post for Oct. 22 titled, There’s a surprisingly strong link between climate change and violence, which describes the results of a new meta-analysis by Stanford’s Marshall Burke and others of studies on the relationship between climate change and violence - from the interpersonal to the international (wars).  The work shows that fistfights, rapes, murders and armed conflict all tend to increase with climate disruption.

The Oct. 28 issue of the NY Times has an article by Claudia Dreifus titled, A Chronicler of Warnings Denied - Naomi Oreskes Imagines the Future History of Climate ChangeNaomi Oreskes is a Harvard professor who studies the history of science and who has recently published a book with Eric Conway titled, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future.  It takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 looking back at 2093 and trying to explain why civilization collapsed after it ignored clear warnings about the consequences of climate change.  The book has become an environmental best seller on Amazon.  

Stars and Stripes for Oct. 29 has an article by Anthony Zinni, Ronald Keys and Frank Bowman titled, DOD knows climate change factors into fight.  It says, “The Department of Defense’s recently released Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR) notes that climate change “poses immediate risks to U.S. national security,” the strongest language yet from the Pentagon.”
“The Pentagon’s aforementioned CCAR, for example, demonstrates the military’s increasing concern, noting that: “The impacts of climate change may cause instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity or restricting electricity availability.””
NOTE: The authors are all retired top-ranking military officers from the U.S. Marine Corps, Airforce and Navy.

Peter Sinclair in the Oct. 31 Climate Crock of the Week has an article titled,  Pope Francis: Destroying Environment a “grave sin”.  Pope Francis said that it is a “grave sin against God the creator” to destroy the environment, and that scientists have a special responsibility to protect God’s creation.  “Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature.”
NOTE: The Pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, is considered to be the patron saint of the environment, and the green movement.

Adam Vaughan of the Guardian posted an article on Oct. 31 titled, IPCC report: six graphs that show how we’re changing the world’s climate.  Vaughn wrote that the the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is meeting now to write a Synthesis Report summarizing three large reports that have come out during the past 13 months.  He shows six key graphs from the reports showing how the world’s climate has been changing, and what we can expect in the future, based on what we do now.  A statement that jumped out at me was: 
Current trends are expected to lead to a 4-5°C increase of global temperatures by 2100, compared to pre-industrial levels, with further increases thereafter. Without further mitigation action beyond what is in place today atmospheric greenhouse concentrations are expected to rise till 750-1300 parts per million of CO2 equivalent by the end of the century, corresponding to 4-5° C higher temperatures than pre-industrial ones. Concentrations and temperatures will further increase after 2100.”
NOTE: Mitigation means reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  CO2-equiv. adds in the effect of emissions of other GHGs such as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorine-containing gases made for refrigerants and spray cans.  At the coldest time in the last ice age about 20,000 years ago, before the beginning of human civilization, the global average temperature was 4.5° C lower than now; we’re looking at a very different world if we continue on the dangerous course we are now on.

On Nov. 1 the IPCC released the Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Approved Summary for Policymakers.  The 40-page Synthesis Report is based on the reports of the three Working Groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including relevant Special Reports, and is the final part of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).  Here are some of the key findings:

Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. {1} 

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen. {1.1} 

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. {1.2, 1.3.1} 

Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. Some of these changes have been linked to human influences, including a decrease in cold temperature extremes, an increase in warm temperature extremes, an increase in extreme high sea levels and an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions. {1.4} 

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks. {2} 

Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Projections of greenhouse gas emissions vary over a wide range, depending on both socio-economic development and climate policy. {2.1} 

Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development. {2.3} 
NOTE: This raises a serious moral and ethical issue: disadvantaged people suffer the most.

Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases. {2.4} 

Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change. Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond, increase prospects for effective adaptation, reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term, and contribute to climate-resilient pathways for sustainable development. {3.2, 3.3, 3.4} 

Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence). Mitigation involves some level of co-benefits and of risks due to adverse side-effects, but these risks do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation efforts. {3.2, 3.4} 

Mat Kaspar of the Energy Policy Institute posted an article on Nov. 5 titled, The 2014 Midterm Election Results: Implications for Energy and Environment PoliciesHe analyzed the effect of the midterm elections on energy and climate change in Congress, governors and state legislatures and public service commissions, as well as the results of some ballot initiatives.  Overall it is going to be more difficult to reduce carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.   There are, however a few bright spots.  “Democrat challenger Tom Wolf defeated Pennsylvania Republican incumbent Governor Tom Corbett. Wolf will look to raise taxes on the natural gas industry in order to generate more state revenue, and he also has said to consider moving Pennsylvania into the Northeast’s carbon trading system, known as RGGI. Currently, only Texas and California release more carbon dioxide emissions.” “Denton became the first city in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.”  “In California, San Benito Country voters approved a ballot measure that outlaws fracking. Early election returns showed voters in Mendocino County also approved a fracking ban, but a similar measure in Santa Barbara County was defeated.  Oil and gas companies spent more than $7.6 million to help defeat the measure in Santa Barbara.”

John Upton posted an article on ClimateCentral on Nov. 4 titled,  Jersey Retreating From Rivers, But Not Coast, After Sandy. He pointed out that owners of homes in New Jersey severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy are being reimbursed by federal taxpayers to the tune of $300 million - if the homes are located on tidal rivers, but not if they are near the coast.  The Blue Acres program aims to buy and raze 1,300 properties, replacing pockets of suburbia with open public spaces in some of the state’s most flood-vulnerable regions. Analysis of state data shows that, as of last week, 202 properties had been purchased at a total cost of $42 million.”  The problem with properties near the coast is that they tend to be much more expensive than those farther inland, where the average reimbursement rate is about $230,000 per house.
NOTE: As more and more homes and businesses near the coast are damaged or destroyed by rising seas and more powerful coastal storms, where is the money going to come from to make the owners whole?

On November 18 James Hansen posted a blog on his Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions website (Google the website title) titled, Earning Our Children’s Trust, which had appeared in the Huffington Post on Nov 13.  He began: 
“Our Constitution was established to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” And yet, our government persists with a business-as-usual path, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that continued carbon emissions threaten the climate system on which civilization and nature as we know it depend.
 In our view, the climate crisis cannot effectively be addressed by weak regulatory action and feeble statements of intent — such as those recently announced by the U.S. and China — while we maintain our present massive subsidization of the fossil fuel industry. We need a new approach, one grounded in government’s fundamental duty to safeguard essential natural resources in trust for our children and those yet to be born.” 
He went on to explain his effort to bring a case before the U.S. Supreme Court asking whether the federal government has an obligation to preserve a climate suitable to the happiness and welfare of our children and future generations.  It remains to be seen whether the Court will hear the case.
NOTE: Hansen’s website has a lot of useful information and resources, including a 2012 video of him giving a 17.8-minute TED talk tltled, Why I Must Speak Out about Climate ChangeThis video is a must see!

This November, the Clean Air Task Force, supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, issued the summary of a  report titled Waste Not, describing a study sent to the EPA showing how the right regulations could greatly reduce emissions of methane - the second greatest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.  The largest source of emissions  of methane, which has a global warming potential about 80 times that of CO2 over a 20 year time period, is oil and gas industries.

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"
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

The Pentagon Releases Plan for Climate Change
On October 13, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a plan for how the U.S. military will address the effects of climate change during an address to the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru. The Pentagon report, "2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap," presents new challenges for the military stemming from rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, increasing sea levels and intensifying weather events. Hagel said, “I recognize that our militaries play different roles and have different responsibilities in each of our nations. I also recognize that climate change will have different impacts in different parts of the hemisphere. But there are many opportunities [for militaries in different countries] to work together.” The report authors say rising temperatures and increasingly severe weather could lead to food, water and electricity shortages that could generate instability in many countries, spread disease, and open the door for extremists in already unstable countries. “Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today—from infectious disease to armed insurgencies—and to produce new challenges in the future,” said Hagel. In recent years, the Pentagon has made efforts to reduce the military's carbon footprint by using renewable fuels and conducting maintenance to manage water use and natural resource use.
For more information see:

Diplomat Todd Stern Outlines U.S. Vision for International Climate Deal
On October 14, Todd Stern discussed the United States’ vision going into the 2015 United Nations climate change talks in Paris. Stern, who has been the chief U.S. climate negotiator since 2009, said, “We are moving towards a tipping point in political will and public support for a global climate deal.” Stern expressed his interest in a proposal set forth by New Zealand that would legally require countries to develop, submit and then report on a climate change plan, but has no legal ramifications if a country’s commitments are not met. Stern said, “Technological developments and political momentum will allow the U.S. to put forward significantly more ambitious targets in five years time than it can now.” Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, commented, “The more we [the United States] do, the more our ability to push other countries to make bold commitments as well, particularly China.” The current U.S. pledge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
For more information see:

World Bank Head Says Climate Change and Ebola Call for Similar Strategies
On October 10, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim gave a speech at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Group annual meeting in Washington D.C. During the speech, Kim said the Ebola and climate change crises share common consequences and require similar strategies to tackle, adding that both have so far received and insufficient global response. “Inaction is literally killing people–one because of the rapid spread of a deadly virus, the other from the poisoning of the atmosphere and the oceans,” remarked Kim, who has a background as an infectious disease physician. In order to catalyze climate action, he called for a five-part plan: carbon pricing, clean city design, agricultural reform, renewable energy investment, and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. Senior fellow Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development said, “It speaks to the issue of it being an interconnected globe now. The rich can’t isolate themselves from the poor. They can check at the borders and the airports, but they can’t stop it coming in.”
For more information see:

Investors Representing $300 Billion Call for Methane Regulations
On October 9, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a letter from a coalition of investors representing more than $300 billion in assets, calling for the development of new regulations on methane emissions. Methane warms the atmosphere 28 times more than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period, and accounted for nine percent of human-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2012, according to the EPA. The letter calls for strong national standards in order to build confidence in natural gas, saying that current, voluntary emissions-reduction measures are insufficient. “As the industry is highly dispersed, a national framework, in collaboration with states, is the right approach to ensure simplicity, consistency and certainty,” wrote the investors. The letter added that cost-effective, proven methods to reduce emissions already exist, and simply need to be implemented. New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, who represents $160 billion in New York City Pension Funds, said policy regulating methane emissions can benefit investors, the economy, and the environment. “With natural gas production increasing dramatically throughout the U.S., we must take action now to ensure that this bridge to a truly renewable future is harnessed in a manner that limits the effect on our atmosphere and maximizes value for shareholders,” stated Stringer.
For more information see:

UCS Proposes Adding More Renewable Energy to EPA Draft Rule
On October 14, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published a policy report suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has underestimated the potential of renewable energy as a compliance option for its recently released draft regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants, called the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The UCS report says states have double the renewable energy potential the EPA calculated in the CPP, and if states used this potential fully, they could cost-effectively cut carbon emissions 10 percent more than the current EPA goal of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. According to the UCS report, seven states are already using more renewable energy than EPA 2030 target levels. Seventeen more states have laws that will require greater use of renewable energy than the EPA’s proposed targets. The report concluded that the CPP could be strengthened by expanding renewable energy’s role in achieving emissions reduction targets; strengthening state emissions reduction and renewable energy targets; and implementing measures to prevent double counting in renewable generation. If these recommendations were adopted as part of the CPP, the report estimates  that renewable energy would provide 23 percent of the nation’s power in 2030 – double EPA’s current estimate for its proposed regulations.  
For more information see:

Current Sea Level Rise Unmatched in 6,000 Years
According to a recent Australian study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), global sea level has risen more in the last 150 years than in the previous 6,000. The study says sea levels have risen 20 centimeters since the beginning of the 20th century, due to two factors: the expansion of ocean water as it warms, and an influx of water from melting ice sheets and glaciers.  Kurt Lambeck, lead author of the study and a professor at Australian National University, said the sea level rise “is clearly the impact of rising temperatures.” To achieve these findings, Lambeck and his research team recreated 35,000 years of sea level data by studying over 1,000 sediment samples along the shores of Australia and Asia, as well as samples from various islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. According to Lambeck, “We know from the last interglacial period that when temperatures were several degrees warmer than today there was a lot more water in the oceans, with levels around 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16.4 feet)  higher than today.”  He compared the phenomena to squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, as the effects are not easily reversible. “Sea levels will continue to rise for some centuries to come if we keep carbon emissions at present day levels. What level that will get to, we are less sure about. But it’s clear we can’t just reverse the process overnight.”  
For more information see:

Climate Change Appearing in Politics Across U.S.
On October 21, an analysis of political advertising in Senate races across the U.S. by Kantar Media and CMAG found that energy and environment are the third most popular issue, behind only health care and jobs. In conservative states, the ads are taking shape as attacks over regulations of carbon dioxide from power plants; in liberal states, ads focus more on skewering candidates for climate change denial. Locally, politicians such as Kristin Jacobs have found great success by tackling climate change in their campaigns. After making climate change a big part of her campaign, Jacobs won her Democratic primary for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives by 76 percent this August – a “shocking” result, said pollster and political consultant Steven Vancore. A liberally-inclined advocacy group, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, found that over 58 percent of Republicans in Congress do not think there is a link between global warming and human activity. Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, Jim Brainard, a Republican, has led his city to reduce greenhouse gases and increase energy and fuel efficiency in buildings and transportation and through LED lighting, etc. (see EESI Briefing). “I don’t think we want to be the party that believes in dirty air and dirty water,” Brainard commented. “The problem in D.C. is that a lot of people are making a lot of money keeping people mad at each other.”
For more information see:

Companies Taking Action on Climate Change Outperforming Those Which Aren’t
On October 15, British environmental nonprofit CDP, formerly known as the Climate Disclosure Project, released its 2014 Climate Performance Leadership Index (CPLI). According to the report, companies aggressively taking action to meet carbon goals are performing better than their competitors, by nearly 10 percent. “The unprecedented environmental challenges that we confront today are also economic problems. This irrefutable fact is filtering through to companies and investors,” stated CDP’s CEO Paul Simpson. Produced annually since 2010 at the request of investors who represent over a third of the globe’s investment capital, the almost 200 high scoring businesses that made “The A List” include Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and BMW. The index includes companies who lead their respective industries in reporting and managing carbon pollution, including emissions released by their supply chains. Simpson noted that private sector companies are responding to climate change at a faster rate than many governments. Half of the companies of the CPLI have their headquarters in Europe, and 34 of the top scorers were American companies.
For more information see:

Chinese Vice Premier Says China Will Cooperate with U.S. on Climate
On October 28, President Obama’s adviser John Podesta met with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in Beijing to discuss bilateral relations between the countries on many issues, including climate change. Podesta and Zhang agreed on the need for cooperation between China and the United States in tackling climate change, as these two countries are both the largest developed and developing nations in the world, and the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters. Zhang called for both countries to “stick to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to jointly cope with climate change, and to further enhance dialogue on respective domestic policies and international negotiations based on respecting each other's core concerns.” 2014 is the 35th anniversary of the normalization of ties between these nations, and both are confident that common goals will lead to further strengthening of their ties. Podestra spoke on behalf of the United States, wishing for “progress in bilateral climate change cooperation, which should be made an important pillar in building the new model of relations between two major countries.”
For more information see:

IPCC Meets to Finalize Summary for Policymakers
On November 2, members of the United Nations (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalized the Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, the last in the most recent series of Fifth Assessment IPCC reports on climate change. The Synthesis Report is not a “cut-and-paste” of past Fifth Assessment IPCC reports, according to Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC since 2002. Instead, Pachuari says it offers an integrated approach which provides fresh insights on climate mitigation and adaptation “by highlighting contrasts and making comparisons between findings from all of these source documents.” It is Pachauri’s hope that the IPCC Synthesis Report will both quicken and ease the decision-making process for an international climate deal, scheduled to be concluded during U.N. talks to be held in Paris November 2015. The Synthesis Report will serve policymakers by comprehensively discussing the risks associated with climate change. From October 27 to 31, members of the IPCC met in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss the report and approve by consensus each sentence of the shorter Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers. 
For more information see:

CERES Report Shows Insurers Retreating as Climate Change Impacts Increase
On October 22, Ceres published a report on the preparedness of the 330 largest domestic insurance companies regarding climate change. Only nine companies were found to be explicitly integrating climate change into their risk analyses; however, overall, companies have pulled back from offering insurance in areas prone to natural disasters, reflecting the growing number of extreme weather events and associated losses. In 2013, damages caused by global natural catastrophes totaled $116 billion, of which less than one third were covered by insurance providers. Compare this to 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit, and insurance companies paid for 45 percent of the damages. The Ceres report stated, “In the long run, these coverage retreats transfer growing risks to public institutions and local populations, and reduce the resiliency of communities, which are less able to finance post-disaster recoveries.” This report summarizes the findings of a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) survey given to insurance companies on climate change risks in 2013.
For more information see:

Report Finds Climate Change and Food Insecurity Will Increase Civil Unrest in 32 Countries
On October 29, Maplecroft Global Risk Analytics released the Climate and Environmental Risk Atlas, naming 32 countries, including Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, and the Philippines, as being at “extreme risk” of negative impacts from climate change. Maplecroft rated 198 countries based on 26 issues, including vulnerability to food shortages, civil unrest, and natural disasters. The report found that highly vulnerable countries were often very dependent on agriculture. The authors explain climate change contributes to civil unrest as it changes natural systems people depend on; they say drought and food insecurity contributed to the Arab Spring in Egypt, the emergence of Boko Haram and ongoing conflict in Syria, among others. Maplecroft estimates approximately two billion people will be affected by the “increasingly tougher prospects” caused by rising global temperatures, including three of the known West African ‘hotspots’ for the current Ebola outbreak – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
For more information see:

United States and China Announce Climate Deal
On November 12, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced a surprise agreement, setting new targets for carbon emission reductions. The new US target is to reduce emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, while China has agreed for the first time to reach its peak level of greenhouse gas emissions by or before 2030. China also stated its intent to obtain 20 percent of its energy from zero-emission sources. “When the U.S. and China are able to work together effectively,” stated President Obama, “the whole world benefits.” The two nations hope the deal will create momentum towards the construction of a global agreement on climate change in Paris 2015. The deal, finalized in Beijing, took nine months of work between the nations, the world’s #1 and #2 emitters of greenhouse gases. Each country faces obstacles in achieving the goals -- the US Republican-controlled Congress may be unwilling to cooperate with President Obama’s climate policies, and China is currently adding new coal plants at a rate of three to four per month. Although some other issues being discussed between China and the United States could not be resolved, the emission reduction agreement has potential to promote further cooperation between the superpowers and spur commitments from other nations.
For more information see:

Alberta (Canada) Premier Says He Will Follow US/China Lead On Carbon Reduction
On November 12, Premier Jim Prentice of the province of Alberta, Canada, announced Alberta will follow the leadership of United States and China, who just announced a joint deal on climate change, by strengthening Alberta’s carbon tax. Alberta is home to the third largest oil sands reserve in the world, which is releasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the fastest growing rate in Canada. Jim Prentice said he will update the province’s current carbon tax of $15 Canadian ($13.25 US dollars) per metric ton of carbon emissions by the end of 2014. Prentice commented, “It’s a positive step forward. It’s the desire of Alberta to be participatory in any sort of international agreement that we can arrive at, modeled on what the United States and China have been able to achieve.” President Obama’s administration said it hopes new US-China climate agreement will inspire other nations to begin developing climate change strategies and strong emissions reduction commitments prior to the United Nations climate negotiations in the fall of 2015 in Paris.
For more information see:

NOTE: The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which has recently been getting a lot of attention in the press, would be used to move Alberta tar sands crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining.

Bob Inglis Group Releases New Website to Recruit Republicans into Climate Work
On November 12, the Energy and Enterprise Initiative launched its new website, Founded by former South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis, the Energy and Enterprise Initiative seeks to provide information for “free-market climate realists” and “energy optimists” who prefer free-market based solutions to achieve emission reductions, rather than government regulations. According to Inglis, the results of the 2014 election make it clear that, “Now is the time to step up with free-market solutions and show the country that clean air and clean-energy innovation are best achieved by accountable free enterprise.” The group calls for policy changes that include a revenue-neutral carbon tax (emphasis added), an end to government energy subsidies and tax breaks -- for both fossil and renewable sources. Through, the Energy and Enterprise Initiative seeks to sway Republicans away from climate denial. Michele Combs, founder of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, commented that after researching climate change she "realized this was really a family issue. It affects everybody; everybody wants clean air. And it was really sad that it was such a partisan issue." The RepublicEn website will feature daily blog posts and social media content. 
For more information see:

NOTE: One kind of revenue-neutral carbon tax is the fee and dividend system supported by Dr. James Hansen and the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

If you would like to receive my Climate Change News automatically by email and don’t already, just send an email message to: 

If you want to stop receiving it, just send a message to If you come across some really interesting information, please send it along and I may include it in the next issue.  Recent issues are available at:

Chad A. Tolman
New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

No comments:

Post a Comment