Tuesday, August 18, 2015



The American Energy Innovation Council published an important report in early 2010 titled, A business Plan for America’s Energy Future.  Someone recently brought it to my attention.  The 40-page report contains statements from some of America’s most successful business leaders.  The Prelude says:
“ It may seem surprising that a group of business leaders who are not primarily in the energy field would make a strong statement on energy innovation and the need for a more vigorous public commitment. We have two reasons for speaking out on this issue:
First, the energy challenge is much worse than most people realize. The problem is already imposing a heavy burden on our nation—a burden that will become even more costly. The economic, national security, environmental and climate costs of our current energy system will condemn our children to a seriously constrained future unless America makes significant changes to current policies and trends.
Second, there is vast, but neglected, potential to produce and spread innovation in the energy sector. Most of the technologies that underlie the current energy system were invented decades ago, and are increasingly costly, brittle, and incompatible with a clean future. In almost every realm of energy, we can develop and deploy new technologies that are more efficient, secure, and clean. Technology can be a game changer.
The scale of these threats—and the wealth of opportunities to do better—make the message clear: It is time we invent our future.

Bill Gates, the Chairman of Microsoft, had this to say:
The world faces many challenges, but none more important than taking immediate and decisive action to develop new, inexpensive clean-energy sources that avoid the negative effects of climate change. Low-cost clean energy is the single most important way to lift poor countries out of poverty and create more stable societies. The whole world would benefit from this, and the United States can and should lead the way.
Decreasing our dependence on coal, oil, and natural gas also will reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing the earth to warm. If we do not dramatically reduce CO2 pollution associated with the use of high-carbon fuels, the earth will continue to get hotter, causing the sea to rise and creating unpredictable weather patterns with potentially catastrophic consequences.
While none of us will be immune from these adverse effects, they will be particularly devastating for the world’s poorest people. Increased droughts and floods, for example, could mean the difference between a harvest that sustains life and a crop failure that ends it. crop failure that ends it.
I’m optimistic about our ability to meet this challenge, but the longer we delay, the more difficult it will be. Delay locks in expensive investments that have huge environmental consequences. Around the world, new coal-fired energy plants that will each emit 300 million tons of CO 2 over their 50-year lifetime are being built to meet the world’s growing energy demand. At the same time, developing large amounts of low-cost and reliable clean energy will require time: 10 to 20 years of research and discovery, and, at the very least, another 20 years to build our new energy infrastructure. If we are to meet 2050 targets of reducing CO 2 emissions by 80 percent, we must begin now.
With innovation and determination, we can develop the lowcost clean-energy technologies so critically needed by the world’s poor and so essential to ensuring a sustainable planet for all of humanity. Increased federal investment in energy R&D is an essential first step. The time for action is now.”

The Guardian for July 10 has an article by Damian Carrington titled, Fossil fuel industry must 'implode' to avoid climate disaster, says top scientist.
He wrote, “‘The age of carbon is over’ and a transition to a greener economy is inevitable, says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, adviser to the German government and Pope Francis.’”  Schellnhuber said on Friday: “In the end it is a moral decision. Do you want to be part of the generation that screwed up the planet for the next 1,000 years?””  “Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador, said the aim of the UN summit is to send a signal that the transition from coal, oil and gas to a low-carbon economy is inevitable.”  “Tubiana said the recent call by major European oil and gas companies for a price to be put on carbon pollution was partly the result of the “very important” divestment movement. She said: “Oil companies are like canaries in the mine. When there is no danger they are silent, but when they feel danger and opportunity they make a move.””  “To achieve these outcomes, Schellnhuber said: “We need a global social movement and it is already happening.” He said the best analogy for the transition from dirty to clean energy was the abolition of slavery (emphasis added), which was fundamentally driven by ethical concerns.”
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, said, “… it was unsurprising that a carbon price has proven hard to implement on a worldwide scale. “If you own fossil fuel assets, and the impact of any global agreement on climate change is going to push their value down, you are going to resist, using whatever tactics (emphasis added). But the interests of global society have to overcome these narrow special interests.”
NOTE: Those tactics to resist dealing with climate change include giving lots of money to political candidates and nonprofit “public interest” organizations that claim that climate change is a hoax, that the science is uncertain, or that dealing with it will wreck the economy.  The tactics are similar to those used by tobacco companies that led the public to believe that nicotine is not addictive and that there is no connection between smoking and lung cancer.  See the book (or movie) by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt - How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

In July The Weather Channel posted an article written by titled The weather.com Climate Disruption Index, rank ordering the 25 U.S. cities of over 200,000 population that will suffer the most from climate change during the coming century.  The ordering involved consideration of six factors with different weightings (in parentheses):
1. Sea-level rise (2.0, with an additional multiplier for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, to account for potential effects from hurricanes)
2. Extreme precipitation (1.0)
3. Extreme drought (1.0)
4. Urban heat islands/extreme heat (1.0, with an additional multiplier for inland cities, to account for land-sea breeze effect)
5. Average temperature changes (0.5)
6. Average precipitation changes (0.5) 

The ordering of cities, with the most vulnerable first, was as follows:
  1. New Orleans, 2. Minneapolis, 3. Las Vegas, 4. New York, 5. Kansas City, 
  2. Boston, 7. Denver, 8. St.Paul, 9. Washington, DC, 10. Philadelphia,
  3. Buffalo, 12. Baltimore, 13. Portland, OR; 14. Columbus, OH; 15. Pittsburg,
  4. Detroit, 17. St. Louis, 18. Milwaukee, 19. Miami, FL; 20. Seattle, WA; 
  5. Louisville, KY; 22. Lincoln, NB; 23. Madison, WI; 24. Anchorage, AK;
  6. Newark, NJ.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the impacts within a given city can vary widely.  For example, those who suffered the most in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were the elderly and the poor - those who didn’t have the means to get out in time or were afraid to leave for fear they would lose everything.

The July 15 issue of Climate News Network has an article by Kieran Cooke titled,
Muslim scholars say climate change poses dire threat.  Cooke writes,Human beings could cause the ending of life on the planet, says a group of Islamic scholars − and countries round the world, particularly the rich ones, must face up to their responsibilities.  
Climate change, they say, is induced by human beings: “As we are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour – but we have abused these gifts to the extent that climate change is upon us.”
The views of the scholars – some of the strongest yet expressed on climate from within the Muslim community – are contained in a draft declaration on climate change to be launched officially at a major Islamic symposium in Istanbul in mid-August.
Allah, says the declaration, created the world in mizan (balance), but through fasad (corruption), human beings have caused climate change, together with a range of negative effects on the environment that include deforestation, the destruction of biodiversity, and pollution of the oceans and of water systems.”
NOTE: The Muslin Declaration on Climate Change - a second declaration by one of the world’s major religions - will no doubt reflect a number of the points in Pope Francis’ encyclical .  The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale produced  a 1.2-hour video of a panel discussion titled The Papal Encyclical on the Environment. 
The July 21 issue of Grist has an article by Ben Adler titled, Why so many Republicans can’t resist climate denial.  He points out that not one of the many Republican candidates for President is willing to say that climate change is a problem that should be addressed, and explains why.  
NOTE: In my view, by refusing to deal with one of the greatest challenges of our time, the Republicans - unless they change - will destroy their party.

 On July 26 the Boston Globe published an article by Bill McKibben, a professor at Middlebury College, VT and the founder of 350.org, titled What religion can teach climate scientists - Bill McKibben on the New England roots of religious environmentalism.  Referring to Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’,
he writes, “…  it’s worth remembering just how many people (a large number of them in Massachusetts) have worked over the years to build a true faith-based environmental movement. How they’ve managed to do it holds lessons for all of us trying to spread the word about climate change.”
After describing the history of the roots of religious environmentalism, he ends with this:
“In the end, it may be less the political power of faith communities that matters and more their ability to transform the bleak message of scientists into something that more people can hear. Faith-based environmentalists, after all, are allowed to have some hope that if they work hard, the world might meet them halfway. But only if they work hard. Shoshana Meira Friedman finished a recent essay in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin with this 2,000-year-old verse from another rabbi:
The day is short,
the task is abundant,
the laborers are lazy,
the wages are great,
and the Master of the house is insistent.
It is not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

On July 27 James Hansen from the Earth Institute of Columbia University posted a blog titled, Darn!! Sea Level Disaster Ahead! In 200-900 Years. When??
He started off with, It’s Time to Stop Waffling So Much and Say that the Evidence is Pretty Strong…Multi-meter Sea Level Rise is an Issue for Today’s Public, not Next Millennium’s.”  He went on to say that the IPCC estimates of sea level rise by 2100 of less than a meter (about 40 inches) are based on inadequate models, and that predict sea level rise of less than a meter by 2100 even if the concentration of CO2 goes up to 936 ppm.  He is convinced, because of the accelerating rates of loss of the polar ice caps, studies of earth’s past climate and sea level, and models that more accurately reflect the actual behavior of sea level, that unless there is an aggressive international effort to reduce emissions soon through a substantial and increasing price on carbon, multi-meter sea level rise is likely this century, with much more to come in the next (emphasis added).  He wrote:
“My conclusion, based on the total information available, is that continued high emissions would result in multi-meter sea level rise this century and lock in continued ice sheet disintegration such that building cities or rebuilding cities on coast lines would become foolish.”
“The bottom line message scientists should deliver to policymakers is that we have a global crisis, an emergency that calls for global cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical. We conclude elsewhere 12 and reaffirm in our present paper that the crisis calls for an across-the-board rising carbon fee and international technical cooperation in carbon-free technologies.”

The Washington Post had an article by Joby Warrick on July 28 titled, Sources: EPA will ease deadlines on pollution rule to help states comply.  The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, announced last year, was designed to reduce national carbon emissions from power plants by 30% when fully implemented in 2030, with reductions slated to start in 2020.  The Obama administration has decided to allow two more years - until 2022 - before states must start decreasing their emissions.  While the EPA will toughen the standards for some states, it will offer credits and other incentives to promote energy efficiency and a transition to renewable energy sources.  Warrick writes: 
Opponents are seeking to defeat the proposal across multiple fronts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent letters to governors in all 50 states in March urging a boycott of the EPA’s proposal, calling the measure a regulatory overreach and likely illegal. Lawmakers from both major political parties have supported legislation that would delay the EPA’s plan or block it altogether.”
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who sponsored a bill that would delay the proposal’s implementation, said, “We are witnessing the Obama administration wage an all-out assault on our energy abundance, deploying the EPA to do whatever it takes to shut down fossil-fuel-fired power plants across the country.”  Isn’t Congress wonderful?
NOTE:  Big coal producing states like Kentucky and West Virginia are so strongly opposed to the Clean Power Plan because coal produces about twice as much CO2 per kWh of electrical energy as natural gas, as well as a lot more health damaging emissions.  Improved energy efficiency and renewable energy sources produce little of none of either.  Finding new jobs though can be a problem.  Years ago, when my family was on vacation in Beckley, WV, we were told by an ex-miner: “There ain’t nothin’ here but coal mine, moonshine, or movin’ on down the line.”
The U.S. EPA has a Climate Change Research website with a lot of good links to sources of information related to energy, climate and economics.  The home page has a section called Key Links with a number of bulleted items, one of which is Economics and Climate Change Research.  Economics is important to the EPA because it tries to justify regulations by showing that their economic benefits are greater than their cost.  A link from Economics and Climate Change Research takes the reader to a pre-publication 2012 report of the International Monetary Fund titled, Fiscal Policy to Mitigate Climate Change - A Guide for Policy Makers.  Part of the Table of Contents is:
  1. What Is the Best Policy Instrument for Reducing CO2 Emissions?               Page 1 Alan Krupnick and Ian Parry 
  2. How to Design a Carbon Tax                                                                              Page 27 Ian Parry, Rick van der Ploeg, and Roberton Williams 
  3. Emissions Pricing to Stabilize Global Climate                                                  Page 49 Valentina Bosetti, Sergey Paltsev, John Reilly, and Carlo Carraro 
  4. The Social Cost of Carbon: Valuing Carbon Reductions in Policy Analysis  Page 69 Charles Griffiths, Elizabeth Kopits, Alex Marten, Chris Moore, Steve Newbold, and Ann Wolverton 
The report makes for very interesting reading.
Taryn Fransen et al. posted an article for the World Resources Institute on Aug. 4 titled, Climate Plans in the Lead-up to Paris: Where Do We Stand?  The authors analyzed the information supplied so far by various countries on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) toward global climate change mitigation before the fall conference in Paris.  It’s difficult to compare the different countries because of the different forms of their commitments to reduce GHG emission reductions.  Some countries commit to reducing their emissions by 2030 to those of a base year of 1990; others use a base year of 2005.  China and Singapore have given the year in which they expect their emissions to peak, but have not said how much they will be that year.  The authors write:
The bottom line is this: INDCs collectively are both encouraging and inadequate. On the one hand, they represent progress beyond business as usual, and cement a number of promising policy approaches for addressing climate change.”
“Yet on the other hand, the INDCs are inadequate in that they are not yet enough to limit warming to 2° C. It’s fundamental that the Paris agreement lay the groundwork not only to implement the INDCs, but to keep countries coming back to the table on a regular basis to re-up their commitments.”
Vox Energy and Environment for Aug. 13 has an article by David Roberts titled, This Kentucky coal mining town wants Republicans to stop blocking Obama's aid plan.  He writes, One of the more bizarre aspects of the debate over coal is that while Appalachia's representatives in Washington use coal miners and their communities as a political bludgeon, it's President Obama who's actually trying to help them. One small Kentucky town seems to have noticed.”  As he points out, “Coal companies are going bankrupt right and left, struggling to renege on their pension promises to those who have given their lives to mines. Legislators from Appalachian coal states, led by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, have offered nothing but fruitless opposition. They opposed the 2009 cap-and-trade bill, which contained billions in subsidies for coal technology, knowing that the alternative would be EPA carbon regulations. They opposed those EPA regulations and are counseling states to refuse to implement them, knowing that the alternative is a federal implementation plan.”  
President Obama would like to help ailing Appalachian coal communities with a proposal in the 2016 federal budget called the POWER+Plan, detailed in the Charleston Gaxette-Mail.
NOTE: Although I am glad to see coal mining and burning come to an end because of the damage it causes to human health and the environment, social justice requires us to help those those who are going to losE their jobs to transition to the new clean energy economy.  The writing is on the wall, even if some who have been making money on coal can’t seem to read it.
Devin Henry posted an article in The Hill for Aug. 18 titled, Muslim leaders push for action on climate change.   At the recent International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul, Islamic leaders from 20 countries urged the governments of the world to formulate a plan this year to address climate change - with a special responsibility for wealthy nations and oil-producing states.  The declaration asked for 100% renewable energy as soon as possible, and asked nations to “re-focus their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.”  It is very much inline with Pope Francis’ encyclical issued earlier this 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. 

Climate Education Amendment Rejected by Senate 

On July 15, the Senate voted 44-53 to reject Sen. Ed Markey's (D-MA) amendment to the No Child Left Behind reform bill, which would have established a federal climate change education program. Sen. Markey argued in favor of the amendment, saying, "The children of our country deserve the best scientific education they can get on this topic." Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), author of the education reform bill, argued against the amendment, questioning the federal government's role in curriculum development. "Just imagine what the curriculum on climate change would be if we shifted from President Obama to President Cruz and then back to President Sanders and then to President Trump," Sen. Alexander commented. "There would be a lot of wasted paper."

For more information see:

UK Foreign Office Study Warns of Broad Risks from Climate Change 

On July 13, the British government released a new report, "Climate Change: A Risk Assessment," which seeks to paint a more complete picture of the threats posed by greenhouse gas emissions. The study argues that proper risk assessments must consider "worst case scenarios" for direct climate risks such as heat stress, sea level rise, crop failure and water stress.  "Systemic risks," which result from policy and market responses to disasters that amplify negative impacts, must also be considered. The work was spearheaded by Sir David King, the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change, along with experts from China, India and the United States. The study added that while the global community has adopted a holistic approach to address issues like nuclear proliferation, it has taken too narrow an approach in evaluating climate change's destructive capacity.

For more information see:

Global Survey Finds Americans and Europeans Less Concerned About Climate than Other Regions

According to a Pew survey released on July 14, Americans and Europeans are more concerned about ISIS and the Iranian nuclear program than they are about climate change. The poll, conducted across 40 countries from March 25 through May 27, finds both the United States and Europe lagging behind in proportion of respondents identifying as "very concerned" about climate change (42 percent compared to the global average of 46 percent). In Latin America and Africa, this figure was near 60 percent. The survey suggests climate change has more widespread concern than any other international issue, with 19 of the 40 nations surveyed calling it "their biggest worry."

For more information see:

Study: Benefits of Confronting Climate Change Outweigh Costs

On July 13, a study from the London School of Economics concluded that reducing emissions is in the best economic interest of individual countries, challenging the traditional dialogue framing climate change as a "tragedy of the commons." The report finds that domestic actions towards de-carbonization would improve local air quality and human/ecological health, as well as foster improvements in energy efficiency, security and even affordability due to the declining costs of renewable energy technology. The report concludes that the overall national benefits of climate action outweigh the costs. Lead author Fergus Green emphasized that enacting reductions "are nationally net-beneficial to countries, even leaving aside the climate benefits."

For more information see:

NOAA Says June 2015 Is Hottest on Record 

On July 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published data that June 2015 is the hottest June on record, echoing similar announcements from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Average global temperatures over land and sea were 1.58 degrees F (0.88 degrees C) over 20th century average temperatures for June. June marks the fourth month with highest recorded temperatures in 2015. Overall, 2015 is on track to be the hottest year on record. NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden commented, "You can look at [this data] as another beat on the drum: 'Please, pay attention to what's happening.'"

For more information see:

White House Honors Faith Leaders Working on Climate Change 

On July 20, the White House recognized 12 faith leaders "for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change." Evangelical, Franciscan, Lutheran, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Church of God and Baptist faiths were represented, displaying broad support across faiths for climate action. Awardee Kim Morrow, director of Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, wrote on the White House website, "Our faith communities have remarkable resources to greet the climate crisis with constructive action that will make a real difference." On June 23, White House requested nominations of members of the clergy, laypersons, and leaders of faith-based organizations who have been exceptional climate leaders.

For more information see:

Marshall Islands Submits INDC to United Nations

On July 21, the Marshall Islands submitted its plan for emissions reduction, called an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations, in advance of international climate negotiations in Paris this December. Marshall Islands set a target to reduce its emissions 32 percent below 2010 levels by 2025, and to further reduce emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030. The Islands are the first developing country to use an economy-wide goal, which is commonly used by developed countries. Kiran Sura, from the Climate Development Knowledge Network, commented, "The [Marshall Islands] has thrown down the gauntlet . . . it's now time for other countries, especially the largest emitters, to . . . match the ambitions of this small island state."

For more information see:

NOTE: The Marshall Islands consist of coral atolls with an average elevation about  7 feet (about 2 meters) above current sea level.  It won’t take too much sea level rise for the country to disappear.  The same is true of a number of other small island states.

Report Finds Clean Power Plan Can Reduce Electric Bills

On July 23, Synapse Energy Economics released report findings that if states use renewable energy production and energy efficiency to comply with the Clean Power Plan, they can realize large savings on electricity bills for consumers and businesses. The Clean Power Plan, a draft regulation on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, offers a flexible compliance approach so states can decide how they want to reduce emissions. Synapse found that if states invest in energy efficiency programs, customers could realize monthly bill savings ranging from $0.50 in Kansas to $94 in North Dakota. Likewise, investing in renewable energy will lower states' energy costs, and states that invest early will realize the most savings.

For more information see: 

Natural Disasters Pushed 20 Million People to Relocate in 2014

On July 20, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reported that 19.3 million people were forced to flee their homes as a result of natural disasters in 2014 alone, with 17.5 million of the displacements stemming from weather-related events like floods and storms. Nearly 90 percent of those affected were in Asia. Though the 2014 figure is lower than past years, NRC finds a strong, long-term upward trend in human displacement. "Climate change is expected to play a strong role in the future by increasing the frequency and intensity of such hazards," said Alfredo Zamudio, director of the NRC's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

For more information see:

Two Degrees C of Warming May Have Disastrous Consequences, James Hansen Warns

On July 23, the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics published a study which found the international climate goal of limiting global warming to below two degrees C is "highly dangerous," and could lead to sea level rise of 16 feet by 2100. Former Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Institute James Hansen and 16 other atmospheric scientists and glaciologists predict a nonlinear rate of ice melt in ice sheets which have ocean contact, such as Greenland and Antarctica. Contrasting predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the study says ice sheet mass loss could double in 10, 20 or 40 years, leading to meters of sea level rise and changing ocean circulation patterns. Recent ice sheet melt rates indicate a doubling time closer to the 10 year range, the study says. "We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century."

For more information see:

Thirteen Large U.S. Companies Pledge $140 Billion for Climate  

On July 27, 13 leading U.S. companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Google, and Walmart, joined Secretary of State John Kerry at the White House to launch the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Each company signed the pledge, which reads, "We support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future," and committed to individual goals to provide support for global climate action. Together, the 13 companies announced $140 billion in new low carbon investments and more than 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy installations. The White House said it would announce further pledges at a later date.

For more information see:

Pentagon Releases Report on Climate Change 

On July 28, at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Department of Defense (DOD) sent a report to Congress detailing the national security implications of climate change. The DOD's report found that climate change is an "urgent and growing threat to our national security" and will "aggravate existing problems - such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions - that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries." The report concluded that the DOD is already observing the impact of climate change in unstable communities throughout the world, and outlined how each region-specific military command, or "COCOM," is working to mitigate and address those impacts.

For more information see:

Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Unveils Package for Climate Action 

On July 26, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D) unveiled a web video with the first of six strategies on energy and climate which the candidate will release over the coming months. The video details two big goals on renewable energy: 1) to install half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term, and 2) to have sufficient renewable energy to power every home in the United States by 2027. Clinton said she would accomplish these goals by protecting the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, and launching a Clean Energy Challenge to bring states, cities and rural communities together to increase renewable energy. Clinton's website says this package will "combat climate change, create jobs, protect the health of American families and communities, and make the United States the world's clean energy superpower."

For more information see:

Report Says Climate Change Threatens $4.2 Trillion in Investments

On July 24, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published a report stating that globally, investors could lose $4.2 trillion by 2100 even if global warming stays below two degrees C, and could lose nearly $14 trillion if the Earth's temperature rises by six degrees C. Brian Gardner, the editor of the report, said, "Investors currently face a stark choice. Either they will experience impairments to their holdings in fossil-fuel companies should robust regulatory action on climate change take place, or they will face substantial losses across the entire portfolio of manageable assets should little mitigation of climate risk be forthcoming." The report also highlighted numerous ways for investors to reduce their exposure to environmental risk, such as investing in projects that finance a transition to a low carbon economy.

For more information see:

Risky Business Highlights Climate Risks in Southeastern United States and Texas 

On July 29, the non-partisan Risky Business Project released a report indicating that Texas and areas of the Southeastern United States face unique risks from the threat of climate change. The report indicates that in 2100, the Southeast will have 14 times the number of days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees F, and by 2050, annual deaths due to extreme heat will increase by 2,580 deaths in Texas and 1,840 deaths in Florida. The report projects that existing southeast coastal property worth $48.2 billion to $68.7 billion will be below sea level by 2050. Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City and co-chair of the Risky Business Project, remarked, "By explaining the potential impacts of climate change on local communities, this report can help businesses and government make smart investments that protect infrastructure and improve people's lives."
For more information see:

40 Percent of Adults on Earth Have Never Heard of Climate Change

On July 27, the journal Nature Climate Change published a study which used the 2007-2008 Gallup World Poll to conclude that 40 percent of adults on Earth have never heard of climate change, about two billion people. In developed countries across North America and Europe, over 90 percent of adults know about climate change; in developing countries such as Afghanistan and Benin, 25 percent or less know what climate change is. The study found education was the single greatest reason for people to be aware of climate change, especially being literate. Co-author of the study, Anthony Leiserowitz, stated, "The results . . . indicate that improving basic education, climate literacy, and public understanding of the local dimensions of climate change are vital for public engagement and support for climate action." (emphasis added)
For more information see: 
NOTE: The need for public climate literacy is as great for the United states as for Afghanistan - actually greater, because of our economic importance.  Most Americans are functionally illiterate when it comes to climate science because of a combination of not learning about it in school and the disinformation campaign waged by fossil fuel economic interests like Exxon Mobil and the Koch Brothers.

Triple Threat from Climate Change Compounds Risk of Floods to US Cities

On July 27, journal Nature Climate Change published a study warning that a combination of climate change-caused sea level rise, increased storm surge, and heavy rainfall will lead to severe flood risks in major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Houston. Traditionally, scientists have analyzed each of these climate impacts separately when defining flood zones and creating preparedness plans, but this study cautions that those traditional methods have led to underestimated levels of risk. Study author and researcher at the University of South Florida Thomas Wahl, commented, "Usually it requires an extreme storm surge to cause flooding or an extreme rainfall event. But the combination of two events that are not really extreme on their own may cause larger damages than one of the two events alone."
For more information see:

White House Releases Clean Power Plan Final Rule

On August 3, President Barack Obama announced the release of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finalized Clean Power Plan (CPP), a regulation establishing the country's first ever limits on carbon emissions from power plants. The final rule comes 14 months after the release of the proposed rule, which received 4.6 million public comments last fall. Notably, the final CPP calls for more aggressive reductions than the proposed rule: a 32 percent cut (increased from 30 percent) in U.S. power sector carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. Additionally, the finalized rule places a greater emphasis on accelerating the shift towards clean and renewable energy sources than the proposed rule. In announcing the rule, President Obama remarked, "We're the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and we're the last generation that can do something about it. We only get one home. We only get one planet. There's no plan B."  (emphasis added)

For more information see:

Finalized Clean Power Plan Emphasizes Renewables and Efficiency

There are a number of changes in the finalized Clean Power Plan (CPP) from the proposed regulation, including the elimination of energy efficiency as one of the four "building blocks" that the EPA used to develop each state's emissions reduction goal. Some believe that the EPA removed the energy efficiency building block in order to increase the likelihood of the rule withstanding a legal challenge, noting that the agency has limited authority to regulate a state's energy economy beyond power plants. Despite its removal as a building block, energy efficiency will likely remain a key strategy for states as they develop compliance plans. To incentivize CPP compliance through energy efficiency and clean energy, the EPA created the Clean Energy Incentive Program, which will grant emissions credits to states that invest in solar or wind power or that develop energy efficiency projects for low-income communities. This increased emphasis on clean energy and energy efficiency is driven by what EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy described as the country's "accelerating trend toward clean power, and the growing success of energy efficiency efforts," causing the "clean energy transition [to happen] faster than anyone anticipated - even as of last year when we proposed this rule."

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Political and Industry Leaders React to Clean Power Plan

Global and domestic leaders provided strong reactions to the finalized Clean Power Plan (CPP). United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded the United States saying, "This is hugely important and visionary leadership. The U.S. can and will be able to change the world in addressing a climate phenomenon." In his comments, Ban Ki-moon shared his hopes that President Obama could continue to show leadership in climate issues going in to the UN climate conference at the end of the year. French President Francois Hollande added that the CPP would be a "major contribution to the success" of the Paris conference. In opposition, U.S. Republican leaders in Congress voiced their strong opposition to the new regulation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the CPP would lead to "fewer jobs, shuttered power plants, and higher electricity costs for families and businesses." House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the CPP an "energy tax", adding that it is an "expensive, arrogant insult to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet."

Several power sector leaders struck a more constructive tone. Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn said that "the final guidelines appear to contain a range of tools to maintain reliability and better reflect how the interconnected power system operates." Duke Energy President and CEO Lynn Good added, "We will also continue to work constructively with states to identify customer solutions that preserve the reliability and affordability that our communities expect."

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Fifteen States Sue EPA Over Clean Power Plan

On August 13, 15 state attorneys general filed a petition in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to put an emergency stop on the recently finalized Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), which places regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is spearheading the effort, commented, "This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation's history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out." The states requested that the court rule on their petition by September 8, a year before the states must give EPA their CPP compliance plans. West Virginia's petition against EPA was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In related news, shortly after the aforementioned 15 states filed the petition against the EPA's Clean Power Plan, attorneys general from 15 other states, New York City, and the District of Columbia released a statement of support for the CPP, saying they would oppose legal action against it.

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 Analysis: Many States on Track to Meet Clean Power Plan Targets

On August 13, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released an analysis of where states stand on meeting the recently finalized Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation on existing power plant emissions of carbon dioxide. Looking at the commitments states have already made to cut emissions in the energy sector, such as renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency resource standards, UCS found that 21 states will surpass their 2022 early emissions reduction target. An additional 31 states have already made commitments that will bring them over halfway toward meeting the 2022 target. UCS also found that 16 states will surpass their 2030 emissions reduction target, with 20 on track to more than halfway meet their 2030 targets.

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Pope Declares Annual Day to Care for Environment

On August 10, Pope Francis officially declared September 1st "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation," to bring awareness to the current condition of the global environment. In a letter to Vatican cardinals, Pope Francis wrote that this day would be a chance to "thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live." This announcement comes less than two months after the release of the Pope's historic papal encyclical on climate change, and a subsequent gathering of governors and mayors from around the world at the Vatican to discuss climate change. Pope Francis has said he hopes the Church's efforts will influence United Nations climate negotiations in Paris this December.

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Chad A. Tolman

New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

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