Friday, December 19, 2014



Anne Hills, a singer and song-writer posted a song about fracking titled, The Trade, on her website in April 2012.  You can read the words and listen to the 3.3-minute audio at:
NOTE: I’ve thought for a long time that what the save-the-climate movement needs is some good folk songs.  This is one you should listen to.

In Sept. 6 the national Audubon Society issued a report titled, Birds and Climate Change, a first-of-its-kind study of how projected climate change this century could affect the ranges and survival of 588 species of North American Birds.  It found that more than half (314 species) are likely to lose more than half of their climate range (in terms of temperature and precipitation) by 2080; of those, 188 species are listed as climate-threatened and are projected to lose more than half of their range by 2050, if global warming continues at its present pace.  A summary of the report says, Audubon’s new science sends a clear message about the serious dangers birds face in a warming world. Protecting them will require both redoubling conservation efforts to safeguard critical habitat and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Take the pledge to help protect the 314 birds at risk by providing your email address below. You'll receive the latest findings, be the first to hear about climate-related volunteer opportunities in your state or local area, and see how you can enlist in Audubon’s forthcoming citizen science projects to help monitor birds and document how they respond to a changing climate.
And for even more actions, see our guide to five things you can do right now to make a difference for birds threatened by climate change.”  At:
On Sept. 23 - 2 days after the People’s Climate March in New York City and soon after meeting with President Xi JinPing of China - President Obama gave a 13-minute speech at the UN.  President Obama Speaks at the 2014 Climate Summit can be found at:

On Oct. 8 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a study titled, Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 YearsThe report used data from 52 tide gauges from Portland, ME to Freeport, TX, and the Intermediate-High projection (one of four) of sea level rise (SLR) from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, with projected SLR of 50 inches by 2100.  (The Highest projection, which wasn’t used, was for over 6 feet by 2100.)  The report projects substantial increases in both the number and height of tidal flooding events at many of the 52 locations of tide gauges, as well as at locations nearby.  For Washington, DC - the worst case shown in Fig. 4 in the Executive Summary - the number of flooding events at high tides is projected to increase from the current 47 per year to 166 in 2030 to 400 (more than once a day) in 2045.  “By 2045, within the lifetime of a typical home mortgage, one-third of the 52 locations in our analysis would start to face tidal flooding more than 180 times a year.”  At:
NOTE: Keep in mind that the highest SLR scenario from the 2014 National Climate Assessment was not used, and that the effects of wind-driven storm surge were not included, so that the actual flooding is likely to be much more than projected here.

On Nov. 17 Ceres posted a report for investors titled, Practicing Risk-Aware Electricity Regulation: 2014 UpdateThe description of the report said, This report, authored by utility industry and finance experts, concludes that almost without exception the riskiest investments for utilities—the ones that could cause the most financial harm for utilities, ratepayers and investors—are large base load fossil fuel and nuclear plants. In contrast, energy efficiency, distributed energy and renewable energy (whose costs, in some cases, have come down dramatically since 2012) are seen as more attractive investments that have lower risks and cost.”  At:

BBC News - Science & Environment for Nov. 20 posted an article titled, Climate fund receives $9.3bn pledgeIt said that 30 nations meeting in Berlin have pledged a total of $9.3 billion to assist developing nations with climate change mitigation and adaptation.  The pledges include $3 B from the U.S., $1.5 B from Japan, $1 B each from Germany, Great Britain and France, and over $0.5 B from Sweden by the end of 2014.  Earlier the rich nations had vowed to give $100 B a year by 2020.  After co-hosting the donors' conference, German Environment Minister Gerd Mueller hailed the achievement, saying humanity must fight climate change so "it doesn't go the way of the dinosaurs".” 
NOTE: The rich nations have made a good start, but they have a long way to go in just 6 years to get up to $100 B a year.  British economist Nicholas Stern estimated that 2% of world GDP (now about $160 B) would be required each year to deal with climate change in 2008, and possibly much more than that if action is delayed.  (See

An article in the Sacramento Bee for Dec. 3 by Dale Kasler was titled, California says carbon permits sell out at auction with Quebec.  He reported that the recent quarterly auction of carbon emission allowances involved industrial firms in the state of California and the Province of Quebec - with 34 million emission allowances sold for a total of $407 million at an average price of $12 per tonne. When the cap-and-trade system is applied to gasoline and diesel fuel after January 1, it will increase the cost of the fuels by about 10 cents/gal.  Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, which runs the effort for the state, said, “The success of this first joint auction...shows that states, provinces and regions working together can achieve more in the fight against climate change than working alone.”  

On Dec. 10 BBC News posted an article by Matt McGrath titled, Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels.   The call came in response to the climate discussions taking place in Lima, Peru, and was the first time that senior church leaders from every continent have issued such a call.  Monsignor Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón, the President of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, said, "We bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe have engaged in intense dialogue on the issue of climate change, because we can see it's the poorest people who are impacted the most, despite the fact they've contributed the least to causing it.
They're the ones who respect the planet, the Earth, the soil, the water and the rain forests.  As the church, we see and feel an obligation for us to protect creation and to challenge the misuse of nature. We felt this joint statement had to come now because Lima is a milestone on the way to Paris, and Paris has to deliver a binding agreement."
The bishops argue that nations should try to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5º C.  At:
NOTE: Now at about 400 ppm CO2, we may already have enough carbon in the atmosphere to raise the global average temperature 1.5º C above what it was in 1750, and we are increaseing global emissions every year.

On Dec. 11 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a valuable speech in Lima, Peru during the most recent round of international climate discussions.  It’s available at YouTube at:  The text, titled Remarks on Climate Change at COP-20, as well as the video, are available at the State Department website at: 
NOTE: ‘COP’ stands for Conference of the Parties; the one in Lima was the 20th in a series of annual meetings under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC); COP-1 was held in Berlin in 1995.  The next one in 2015 will be in Paris.

On Dec. 12 Seattle Post Intelligencer posted an article by Dina Capiello titled, Poll: Half of Republicans back limits on carbon.  The poll, by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Yale University found “Six in 10 Americans, including half of all Republicans, said they support regulation of carbon dioxide pollution, although they weren't asked how. Nearly half of Republicans said the U.S. should lead the global fight to curb climate change, even if it means taking action when other countries do not. And majorities across party lines said environmental protections "improve economic growth and provide new jobs" in the long run.”  While this was encouraging, the poll also found that climate change ranked below a dozen other environmental concerns.  At:

The NY Times on Dec. 17 ran an article by Thomas Kaplan titled, Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State.  Governor Cuomo waited to make a decision on whether to allow fracking proceed until the results of a study by the state’s Department of Health were made public. In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.” “Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place?”  The full 184-page report, A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development, is available from the NY Times article, at:, or by clicking on the report’s title.

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. 

State, Local and Tribal Task Force on Climate Meets at White House
On November 17, the White House convened a meeting of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, attended by members of the Task Force from across the country, White House staff and Vice President Joe Biden. The Task Force presented 35 recommendations on how the Federal government can support communities preparing for climate change impacts. The report recommendations are organized in seven themes: resilient communities; improving infrastructure resilience; natural resource resilience; human health and population resilience; hazard mitigation, disaster preparedness and recovery; the economics of resilience; and capacity building. Overall, they guide the Federal government to modernize programs, incorporate climate change into planning, and remove barriers to community action on climate change.
In related news on the same day, the Obama Administration took advantage of the occasion to announce new initiatives, online toolkits and executive actions on climate change. The Climate Resilience Toolkit is a part of the Climate Action Plan, and aims to assist local officials in understanding “the topics of coastal flood risk and food resilience. . . [and it will soon] address additional areas such as water, ecosystems, transportation, and health,” according to the White House. The Administration will also hold online and in-person climate resilience training for local officials, and is launching a Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to convene thought leaders in climate science and education at the White House to discuss how to enable the next generation of leaders to be climate smart. These new measures are expected to ‘reorient’ existing funds before the induction of the new Republican Congress next year, when obtaining future funding could be ‘problematic,’ according to Reuters reporting. However, in the words of Mayor James Brainard (R-Carmel, Indiana), a member of the task force, “Neither party should want to be the party for dirty water or dirty air.”
For more information see:

Senators Release Carbon Pricing Legislation
On November 18, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) proposed the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, which would require large emitters of greenhouse gases, including but not exclusively carbon dioxide, to pay a fine of $42 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent they emit. The fee will be assessed on oil, gas and coal produced or imported to the United States, as well as non-fossil fuel sources that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. The proposed Act would not go into effect until 2015, after which time the rate would increase by 2 percent every year to follow inflation, overall raising about $2 trillion dollars over a 10 year period. The $2 trillion would all be returned to U.S. taxpayers, although it could also be used to help benefit the country in other ways, such as reducing the national debt or supporting clean energy projects. While the bill has garnered support from other Democrats, commentators, economists, policymakers and interest groups alike, Schatz said the Republican party was not quite there yet, but would be. He commented, “Republicans in the Congress are going to take some time to warm up to this proposal, but I am confident that they will listen to their consciences and their constituents, and join us on the right side of history.” Whitehouse added, “We are subsidizing big polluters to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars annually by allowing them to pollute for free. We all pay the costs of this subsidy through higher health costs, property damage from rising seas, warming waters that affect our fishing industry, and more.”
For more information see:

NOTE: This is the first legislation I have seen in some time for putting a price on carbon rather than allowing polluting CO2 emissions to take place for free.  The LWVUS at its Convention 2014 in Dallas this year passed a resolution supporting an increasing price on carbon emissions.

EPA Finalizes Rule Beefing Up Reporting of Methane Emissions from Oil & Gas
On November 14, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, and signed a final Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which both aim to strengthen the oil and gas industry’s measuring and reporting of methane emissions. Revisions to the final Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule include, “changes to certain calculation methods, amendments to certain monitoring and data reporting requirements, clarifications of certain terms and definitions, and corrections to certain technical and editorial errors that have been identified during the course of implementation.” The final rule is set to go into effect on January 1, 2015.  The proposed rule focuses on acquiring new data from onshore natural gas and petroleum operations, including natural gas pipelines and hydraulic fracturing wells.  The proposed rule will have a 60 day comment period before its final version is issued, and is expected to come into effect in 2016. Recently, four Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed the Bureau of Land Management to propose strong rules targeted at methane emissions throughout the oil and gas industry.
For more information see:

NASA Releases New Carbon Dioxide Maps
On November 17, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a new map visualization, generated using high resolution computer models, showing how carbon dioxide (CO2) moves through the atmosphere. The simulation, known as “Nature Run,” uses data on CO2 to model its movements as the gas is affected by both human and natural interactions, from the time period of May 2005 to June 2007. The model visually displays how the Northern Hemisphere releases most CO2 emissions, as well as the seasonal absorption of large amounts of CO2 by plant-life. “We hope the comprehensiveness of this product and its groundbreaking resolution will provide a platform for research and discovery throughout the Earth science community,” said Bill Putman, the project’s lead scientist. The visualization was made by a model called GEOS-5, created over 75 days on a supercomputer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. This July, NASA launched a new satellite, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, in order to better track global carbon emissions. According to the NASA press release, “this kind of high-resolution simulation will help scientists better project future climate.”
For more information see:

UN Report Warns of Emissions Gap Between Reduction Pledges and Actual Reductions
On November 19, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) released a report warning that current national pledges to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2020 will not be enough to prevent global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees C, the internationally agreed upon target to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.  The 2014 Emissions Gap Report factored the amount of greenhouse gas that could feasibly be emitted up to 2030 without surpassing the 2 degrees C guardrail, and found that even if the world meets all existing mitigation pledges, an additional 14 to 17 billion tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) will need to be cut.  According to UNEP, “based on additional assumptions about non-carbon dioxide emissions, it has been estimated that global total greenhouse gas emissions will need to reach net zero sometime between 2080 and 2100.” The report warns that the cost of postponing inaction until 2020 will result in greater long-term costs and higher risks to the population.  It also highlights workable reduction strategies across different sectors, including action on short-lived climate pollutants (SCLPs), such as black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which could provide economic benefit while also reducing emissions.
For more information see:

China Caps Coal
On November 19, China’s cabinet, the State Council, released an energy development plan to cap coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons per year by 2020, and to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in the total energy mix to 15 percent by 2020. China’s current coal consumption is approximately the same as the rest of the world combined, with coal meeting about 65 percent of China's total energy needs. Some researchers have said economic trends indicate a slowing growth rate in coal use, with a peak around 2020. The plan’s release comes a week after an announcement that China would reach an emissions peak around 2030, and increase its share of non-fossil fuels in the energy mix to 20 percent in the same time period. Alvin Lin, the China climate and energy policy director in the Beijing office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said, “We think it’s definitely a positive sign, in line with what they've said they're going to do, [but] we’d like to see it a bit lower than that.” In September 2013, public outcry over the high levels of smog in Chinese cities prompted the need for officials to take action. Alex Wang, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) who studies Chinese environmental policy and regulations, said, “Opponents of climate change regulation in the U.S. have long used China’s emissions as an excuse for inaction on the U.S. side. Last week's joint announcement is the beginning of the end for this line of argument.”
For more information, see:

Large Majority of Americans Support Higher Electricity Bills to Cut Emissions
On November 18, Yale’s Climate Change Communication project and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication released their Climate Change in the American Mind report. The study revealed that 67 percent of Americans support limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants in order to combat climate change and reduce negative health effects, even if this increased electricity bills. According to the project, prices may increase because “power plants would have to reduce their emissions and/or invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.” The study also found that two-thirds of Americans think global warming is occurring, while 16 percent do not think it is happening. The report conducted interviews in late October, taking responses from 1,275 adults nationwide. Also among the key findings was a revelation that “Americans think both the private and public sectors should be doing more to address global warming.”
For more information see:

NRDC Analysis Says EPA Regulations Could Save Customers $2 Billion by 2020
On November 19, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft regulation on carbon emissions from power plants overestimates the electricity industry’s cost of compliance by $9 billion. Instead, the NRDC analysis indicates the draft regulation, called the Clean Power Plan, would save the industry and its customers close to $2 billion by 2020, and $6.4 billion by 2030. NRDC says the EPA used outdated pricing of energy efficiency and renewable energy when it did its estimates, leading to an overestimation of the costs of compliance. NRDC re-evaluated the savings by inputting current prices for renewable energy and energy efficiency into the same ICF International model the EPA used to create its price estimates. “It’s clear that EPA has ample room to significantly strengthen the Clean Power Plan,” commented Starla Yeh, a policy analyst at NRDC and co-author of the report.
For more information see:

Interfaith Power and Light Delivers 10,756 Comments to EPA on Clean Power Plan
On November 18, Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), a group which brings together religious voices on climate change, met with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy along with 16 other religious organizations to voice their support for draft regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants. To coincide with the meeting, IPL delivered 10,756 comments in support of the draft regulation to the EPA. “People in our religious communities understand that climate change is real and we are heart-sick about the suffering it causes our neighbors close to home and around the world,” commented Karen Leu, part of the Washington D.C. IPL chapter. Other religious groups who gathered to support the draft regulation represented Islam, Quakers, Hinduism, Reform Judaism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, Baha’is, the Presbyterian Church, and other member organizations made up of many faiths and denominations.
For more information see:

NRG Energy Commits to Cutting Emissions 90 Percent by 2050
On November 20, NRG Energy, one of the largest energy companies in the United States, announced plans to reduce its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050. They have already achieved a previous goal of reducing carbon emissions 40 percent since 2005. “As the U.S. transitions to a renewables-driven, increasingly distributed, grid resilient energy system, we expect to be a leader in clean energy and in converting the carbon emissions of our conventional generation from a liability to a profitable by-product,” commented NRG Energy CEO David Crane. NRG Energy plans to continue use of coal power plants by retrofitting them to capture carbon emissions and either sequester the emissions underground or sell them. In addition, NRG Energy announced its headquarters have grown too small for its current size, and that it will be constructing a state-of-the-art building which “characterizes the NRG vision.” The building, due to open in 2016, will use combined heat and power (CHP), be off-grid capable, use energy-efficient lighting, rainwater harvesting, solar power generation, and have the capability to both charge electric vehicles and use them as back-up generators.
For more information see:

World Bank Climate Report Says 1.5 Degrees C Global Warming Unavoidable
On November 23, the World Bank released Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal, the third report in its Turn Down the Heat series, stating that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius is unavoidable, due to past and projected greenhouse gas emissions. The report looks closely look at climate-caused risks in three regions: Eastern Europe/ Central Asia, the Middle East/North Africa, and Latin America/the Caribbean. Across all the regions, the report found that rainfall has increased, drought-prone areas see droughts more frequently, and extreme temperatures both hot and cold are happening more often. “Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes are already affecting millions of people around the world, damaging crops and coastlines and putting water security at risk,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. In addition, melting permafrost is releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, further exacerbating the problem. However, the report says that with action, the worst effects of climate change and warming of two degrees Celsius can still be averted.
For more information see:

Global Climate Financing Is Behind, Study Says
On November 20, the Climate Policy Initiative released its 2014 Global Landscape of Climate Finance report, which found that public and private global climate finance in 2013 totaled $331 billion, eight percent lower than 2012 levels. The International Energy Agency has said the world needs to invest $1.1 trillion annually in the energy sector to keep global warming below the internationally agreed upon target of two degrees Celsius. “In cumulative terms, the world is falling further and further behind its low-carbon and climate-resilient investment goals,” the report states. Most of the drop in investments comes from the private sector, which reduced spending 14 percent from 2012 to 2013. The report says part of this decrease in private spending can be attributed to the lower cost of renewable energy installations, especially solar photovoltaic, which cost $40 billion less in 2013 than 2012 for comparable amounts of installation. Public spending remained relatively constant.
For more information see:

White House Announces Climate Education Program for Children
On December 3, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a new “Climate Education and Literacy Initiative” to scale up national climate change education. Educators, government officials, philanthropic leaders and private sector representatives gathered at the White House the same day for a roundtable discussion on how educators, both formal and informal, can help to further the public’s climate education. The Administration announced six new commitments to expand learning opportunities using federal agencies, and external organizations announced 19 new programs. These programs will include climate fellowships; free online courses; exhibitions in zoos, aquariums and museums; and extra training for teachers. The OSTP announcement called education the next step that needs to be taken on climate action, stating, “Continued progress into the future will depend on ensuring a climate-smart citizenry and a next-generation American workforce of city planners, community leaders, engineers and entrepreneurs who understand the urgent climate change challenge and are equipped with the knowledge, skills and training to seek and implement solutions.”
For more information see:

Germany to Close Some Coal Plants to Meet 2020 Climate Targets
On December 3, the German government announced plans to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 78 million tons in the next five years. The new effort is part of Germany’s effort to cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and would require the use of energy efficiency, as well as the closing of some coal plants. Coal currently accounts for a third of the country’s carbon emissions. To fulfill the nation’s goals, the coal power sector must cut emissions by 22 million tons. According to the Economy and Energy Ministry, “It is clear that further measures are necessary to achieve the climate goal of 40 per cent by 2020. All relevant sectors must achieve reductions.” Germany’s plans are more ambitious than the collective European Union climate plan to cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Currently, Germany uses coal for 45 percent of its energy, with renewable energy producing 25 percent. A successful plan would require 25-30 million tons of CO2 emissions to be reduced through energy efficiency improvements to buildings. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has doubts about these plans, fearing they “will hurt Germany's export-oriented industry and cost jobs and the output gap will simply be offset by imports from mostly coal-fired plants in neighboring states, making the overall contribution to climate change negligible.”
For more information see:

Bank of England Says Fossil Fuel Investments Risky due to Climate Change
In a recently released letter dated October 30 to members of Parliament on the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), the Bank of England stated it would investigate its exposure to the “carbon bubble.” This refers to loss in value of fossil fuel companies if climate action rules are successful, leading to “stranded” fossil fuel assets. Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, said, “In light of these discussions, we will be deepening and widening our enquiry into the topics.” This was met with positive response from the EAC, which has been conducting its own inquiries into stranded fossil fuel assets. Member of Parliament Joan Walley , chair of the EAC said, “Policy makers and now central banks are waking up to the fact that much of the world’s oil, coal and gas reserves will have to remain in the ground unless carbon capture and storage technologies can be developed more rapidly. It’s time investors recognized this as well and factored political action on climate change into their decisions on fossil fuel investments.” The letter follows comments by Carney in October at the World Bank in which he said that fossil fuel companies will not be able to burn all of their reserves and that investors should consider the risks their investments could face from climate change.
For more information see:

83 Percent of Americans Say Climate Change is Happening
On December 2, the world’s largest reinsurance firm, Munich Re America, released its 2014 Climate Change Barometer survey. The European firm conducted the study to gauge American feelings toward climate change. The results showed that 83 percent of Americans believe in climate change, with the most concerned Americans residing in the West. Sixty-three percent of respondents showed concern over natural disaster frequency and intensity, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. "Our survey findings indicate that national sentiment over whether or not climatic changes are occurring has finally reached a tipping point," stated Tony Kuczinski, president of Munich Re America. The survey was conducted by ORC International from October 9-12. The 1,008 adults who were surveyed were asked, "In your opinion, do you believe that climate change is occurring?" with no reference to the cause. The survey also found that 71 percent of Americans believe the most effective method of combating climate change would be the use of alternative energy.
For more information see:

More Than 220 Companies Sign Letter in Support of Clean Power Plan As Comment Period Closes
The public comment period for Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan closed on December 1. The next day, 223 companies released a joint letter in support of EPA’s carbon reduction plan for existing power plants. This effort was lead and organized by Ceres, a non-profit advocate for sustainability leadership. Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, said, “These companies recognize that the EPA’s power plant rule is a critical step in mitigating climate ricks and accelerating low-carbon technologies that hold enormous economic promise.” The letter was sent to EPA, the White House, and Congressional leaders. The companies, including Ikea, Nike, Nestle, Levis Strauss, and Kellogg, commended the proposed regulations as “a win economically and a win environmentally.”  
In related news, on December 1, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) both submitted comments in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, announcing their comments together in a joint press release. Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president and CEO of EEN, brought together more than 100,000 Evangelical Christians to sign onto EEN’s comments, citing their concerns about children’s health. Hescox commented, “From acid rain to mercury to carbon, the coal utility industry has never acted as a good neighbor and cleaned up their mess on their own. Instead of acting for the benefit of our children’s lives, they’ve internalized their profits while our kids [have] borne the cost in their brains, lungs and lives.” E2 convened 350 entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs in the entrepreneurial community to sign onto their comments. E2 says their members have funded or founded over 1,700 companies, and manage over $100 billion in venture or private capital destined for funding future companies.
For more information see:

Senators Ask EPA to Strengthen  Clean Power Plan
On December 9, eleven Senate Democrats sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to praise the Clean Power Plan as an important step in fighting climate change, but to also call for it to be strengthened. The letter was spearheaded by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Clean Power Plan, which is scheduled to be finalized next year, calls for states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. “The Clean Power Plan will be the single most significant step this country has ever taken to tackle greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector, so it is essential that it be done right,” states the letter. The letter asks for increased requirements in the rule for renewable energy and energy efficiency. They wrote, “For the Clean Power Plan to be a success, it must achieve the level of emissions reductions that the science calls for to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.”
For more information see:

Final Week of UN Climate Negotiations in Lima, Peru
December 12 marked the official end of the United Nations (UN) climate talks in Lima, Peru, where delegates from 196 countries met to discuss the framework of an international climate deal they hope will be sealed next year in Paris. The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) neared to a close with the presentation of a 37-page draft of the deal. The document includes options for the deal, such as phasing carbon dioxide (CO2) out by 2100 or cutting CO2 by 40-70 percent by midcentury. However, some questions remain for how national commitments will be measured and reviewed, with some more vulnerable countries advocating a rigorous review process and others saying commitments should simply be publicized on the UN’s website. The draft involves an “each according to their abilities” approach, so that all countries – both developed and developing – are included. With the draft of the new agreement, participating countries are expected to present their plans for curbing their emissions after 2020 by March 2015. Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) said, “It’s a breakthrough, because it gives meaning to the idea that every country will make cuts.”
For more information see:

Report Says Climate Adaptation in Developing Countries Will Cost More Than Expected
On December 5, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released its first Adaptation Gap Report. The report was created as a way to address the financial, technological and knowledge gaps between adaptation efforts and needs in developing countries. UNEP found significant funding gaps beginning after the year 2020, unless new and additional financing is found. The report states, “The cost of adaption in developing countries is likely to be at least two to three times higher than the expected $70-$100 billion per year by 2050, even with emissions cuts.” Developed countries have so far committed $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund for climate adaption, a fraction of the $100 billion in annual climate financing developed nations have promised. The $70 to $100 billion figure is a cost estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report for climate adaptation needs in the developing world, based on 2010 World Bank data. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “This report provided a powerful reminder that the potential cost of inaction carries a real price tag. Debating the economies of our response to climate change must become more honest.”
For more information see:

New Study Finds CO2 Emissions Reach Maximum Warming Potential Decades Earlier than Previously Thought
On December 2, a study published in Environmental Research Letters found that it takes ten years for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to reach their maximum warming potential in Earth’s atmosphere, with effects continuing for 100 years or more into the future. Previous estimates had said it takes 40 or 50 years for CO2 emissions to reach maximum warming levels, which placed the focus of emissions reductions on benefits for future generations. According to Katherine Ricke, a research fellow from Stanford who led the study, "The difference for an economist or a policymaker between something that happens ten years from now or forty years from now is a big deal . . . People alive today are very likely to benefit from emissions avoided today." Ricke and co-author Ken Caldeira used projections to test when carbon dioxide emissions led to warming and how long the impacts lasted, and found that the warming effects remain for decades and even after a century. Reto Knutti, lead scientist of the climate group ETH Zurich, cautioned against focusing too much on the long term. "It takes only a few years for the climate to respond to emissions, but it takes a generation, at least, to change the emissions. We are slow, not the climate," he said.
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Exxon Report Projects Developing World Emissions to Rise 50 Percent by 2040
On December 9, Exxon Mobil Corporation released a report projecting that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the developing world will increase 50 percent between 2010 and 2040, largely as a result of an expanding middle class. Exxon predicts growth in India, South Africa and Thailand will boost demand for fuels by 36 percent, even as advanced economies curb energy use by almost 10 percent. According to Bill Colton, Exxon's vice president of corporate strategic planning, "It is simply not possible to obtain significant reductions in greenhouse gases without engaging the developing world." Exxon's report uses the assumption that governments will put in place policies to limit pollution and increase energy efficiency. It forecasts world carbon dioxide emissions to grow 20 percent by 2040, an estimate in line with work done by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA has said that limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius would require a decrease in carbon emissions of 39 percent from 2012 levels by 2040. Darek Urbaniak, an energy policy offer for the World Wildlife Fund, said, "Exxon Mobile's outlook is a company wish list fashioned up as a serious energy forecast. It tells us how the company wants to see the future, rather than a plausible projection of what might happen."
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Chad A. Tolman
New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

1 comment:

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