Sunday, March 20, 2016


On Feb. 17 NOAA’s posted an article by Rebecca Lindsey titled, January 2016: Earth still on a hot streak.  She wrote,
The planet has been on a hot streak recently. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported earlier today that January 2016 became the ninth month in a row to set a new record-warmest monthly temperature. According to the report:
A strong El Niño that evolved in 2015 continued to impact global weather and temperatures at the beginning of 2016. The January 2016 globally averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 1.04°C (1.87°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F), the highest for January in the 137-year period of record, breaking the previous record of 2007 by 0.16°C (0.29°F).”  (emphasis added)
The Feb. 23 issue of Grist has an article by Heather Smith titled, What determines whether people accept climate science? Politics, politics, politics.  She reported on a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change that described a meta-analysis of public surveys over a period of eight years in the U.S., Britain, Australia and Europe.  Political affiliation was most highly correlated with the acceptance of climate science. People who vote for liberal political parties are more likely to believe that climate change is a real thing that we should do something about. People who vote for conservative political parties tend to think that climate change is total hooey. Political affiliation correlated with belief in climate change twice as strongly as any other demographic variable the study examined.”
Age, ethnicity, income, education, and gender matter a little, but not as much as politics. This meta-analysis looked at data collected from all over the world, and found that, planet-wise, people who believed that climate change is happening tended to be younger, more educated, higher-income, female, and less white — but that, again, none of these factors correlated with belief in the reality of climate change as strongly as political affiliation.”

A Feb. 23 post by BloombergBusiness by Alex Nussbaum was titled, These Seven Firms Bear $3Billion Brunt of California Cap-and-Trade.  She writes,
The Golden State’s biggest fuel suppliers, led by Tesoro Corp. and Chevron Corp., face the biggest costs under California’s carbon cap-and-trade system, among expenses that may top $3 billion a year for the whole industry ...”
“The emissions-trading program, the most extensive of its kind in the U.S., requires refiners, power plants and other polluters to pay for each ton of climate-changing carbon dioxide they release by buying “allowances" from the state. That may cost Tesoro, the state’s largest emitter, more than $700 million annually, about 20 percent of its current operating expenses …”
The article shows a bar graph of the 10 largest emitters in 2014, which include: Tesoro (about 55 million metric tons), Chevron, Phillips 66, Southern California Gas, PG&E, Valero, Shell, Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power, Exxon Mobil and Calpine (about 10 million metric tons).  Carbon allowances, which now cost about $13 per metric ton of CO2 and add about 12 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline, are expected to double over the next decade.
“The trading system is part of California’s efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The state’s also seeking to halve its oil use by then.”

On Feb. 26 NPR posted an article by Cory Turner titled, Why Science Teachers are Struggling with Climate Change.  It it he points out that although the vast majority of climate scientists (and scientific societies) agree that the climate is changing and that the primary cause is the increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels, many of the  junior high and high school teachers in American schools are not spending much time on climate science, are giving the false impression that there is still a lot of debate in the scientific community, or are getting the science wrong.  There are a number of reasons for this.  Many teachers had little or no training in climate science when they were in college; textbooks may be old and out of date; or they just don’t have the spare time to keep up to date. 

NOTE: This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, since climate change is one of the most serious and challenging issues of our time.  Not to address it is a great disservice to the nation’s young.  Just think of the denial and ignorance of the candidates for president - particularly in one of our major political parties.

On Feb. 28 the Democratic Party issued a 1.7-minute YouTube video showing the views of some of the leading Republican candidates  for president on climate change.  It also showed a number of Democrat members of Congress urging climate action.

Feb. 29 James Hansen posted a short paper titled, Uplifting Homework.  Here I quote the first paragraph: “
“At a time politicians make a mockery of American values, I suggest an uplifting homework exercise: read the Declaration of legal scholar John E. Davidson, submitted in support of the suit that 21 young people and I have filed against the Federal government for not protecting the rights of young people by effectively addressing human-made climate change. (I have submitted a Supplemental Declaration to my prior Declaration, the supplement addressing the precatory COP-21 agreement, whose wishful thinking neither resolves nor ameliorates the crisis from the dangerous human-caused disruption of the climate system – but let’s defer science to a later Communication for the sake of appreciating the brilliance of Davidson’s declaration.) “

NOTE: The Declaration by John Davidson is a legal analysis of why the federal government has a responsibility to protect future generations from the devastation of climate disruption through the continued burning of fossil fuels.  It is certainly worth reading for anyone concerned about young people and generations still to come.  I especially recommend Pages 8-15, 19, 26 and 53.

On March 1 Hansen posted another paper titled, Regional Climate Change and National Responsibilities.  In it he shows how land surface temperatures have increase in summer and winter for various parts of the world,  And how much total cumulative carbon emissions and per capita cumulative emissions there were for various countries curing the period 1751 through 2014.  It turns out the U.S. is responsible for the greatest cumulative emissions with 26% of the global total relative to China’s 10%.  

On March 3 the Washington Post had an article by Chris Mooney titled,  Greenland’s melting is “feeding on itself,” scientists say.  Marco Tedesco from Columbia University and five others from universities in the U.S. and Belgium published the work in The Cryosphere.  They found that as the ice melts the surface of the ice becomes less reflective to both visible and infrared radiation, making the ice darker and causing it to melt faster. There is enough ice on Greenland to cause sea level to rise 20 feet.

The Guardian posted a short article by Suzanne Goldenberg on March 7 titled, Obama administration pays out $500m for climate change project.  This was the first payment on the $3 billions the U.S. pledged at the Paris climate agreement last December   The  Green Climate Fund .. “was set up in 2009 to help poor and vulnerable countries adopt cleaner energy technologies and protect their peoples from rising seas, droughts and other impacts of climate change.”
The supreme court last month agreed to block the centerpiece of Obama’s climate plan – new rules cutting emissions from power plants – until lower courts rule on legal challenges from 29 states and dozens of industry groups. The ruling created immediate uncertainty about the fate of the power plant rules and the Paris agreement.
Obama’s climate plan is also under political attack from Republican presidential contenders who say they will scrap the rules and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency if they take the White House next November.”  (emphasis added)
NOTE: It’s a sad day for the United States when the Republican presidential contenders not only can’t admit that climate change is real but won’t admit that the U.S. bears the lion’s share of the blame for past carbon emissions that are already causing huge suffering in poor and vulnerable countries.  They should be ashamed of themselves.
The March 17 issue of Scientific American Blogs has an article by Robert Fares titled, Texas Posed to Integrate More Wind, Solar Energy.  It says that Texas will add 12,000 MW of new wind and solar capacity by the end of 2017.   This spurt in growth is partly due to the declining cost of wind turbines and partly due to the extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit of 2.3 cents per KWh of energy produced.  Texas is also expecting to add 1,725 MW of solar PV capacity by the end of 2017 - a 6-fold increase.  In this case falling prices for solar panels and the federal investment tax credit, which pays 30% of the initial equipment cost, are both important factors.  Texas has a large number of natural gas-fired power plants that can balance the demand and generation when renewable energy sources cannot supply the full demand, but the state has also redesigned the electricity market to keep supplying the demand even as renewables provide a larger and larger share of the generation.
NOTE: Power capacity in the case of both wind and solar is the amount of power that can be generated under optimum conditions (strong wind and the sun’s rays on a clear day perpendicular to the face of the solar panels); the average is a good bit less than that.

USA Today posted an article on March 17 by Nathan Bomey and Roger Yu titled, Lower oil prices end 21st-century gold rush.  They wrote,
The 21st century version of the American gold rush is coming to a swift end.A shakeout is sweeping through the U.S. oil and gas business, putting small-time petroleum prospectors who got rich off of shale energy out of business as rock-bottom oil prices reshape the sector despite the commodity's slight uptick in recent weeks.”
“The pain low oil prices have sparked has spread into other corners of the energy industry. This week, coal miner Peabody Energy warned that it may have to file for bankruptcy protection …”
“Workers in the industry are feeling the brunt. Oil and gas companies worldwide have publicly announced plans to cut more than 319,000 jobs since late 2014 …”  
'The article details global job loses in the following categories: Service, Exploration and production, Drilling, Supply, Refineries and sellers, Energy pipeline and Legal services.  The low prices are attributed to increased U.S. and OPEC production and reduced demand as China’s economy slows.

NOTE: Efforts in the U.S. and other countries to reduce carbon emissions through pricing carbon and other policies - in order to make the needed transition to improved energy efficiency and renewable energy sources - are going to put a lot of people out of work, but can provide many other jobs in clean energy technologies.  As the economy changes it will be important to provide training to those working in industries that are becoming obsolete.

The TImes Record, a newspaper in Maine, ran an article on March 18 by Seth Borenstein titled, Beyond record hot, February was ‘strange.’  She wrote,
This was not just another of the drumbeat of 10 straight broken monthly global heat records, triggered by a super El Nino and man-made global warming.  February 2016 obliterated old marks by such a margin that it was the most above-normal month since meteorologists started keeping track in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The old record was set just last December and the last three months have been the most above-normal months on record …”
Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma, …  simply wrote in an email: “Welcome to the new normal.””
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. 

pastedGraphic.pdfAliso Canyon Leak Calls Attention to Infrastructure Needs Nationally

On February 16, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz visited Aliso Canyon in California's San Fernando Valley, the site of a recently-sealed methane leak from a natural gas storage field owned by Southern California Gas Company. Moniz stated that the leak highlighted the need to update aging U.S. infrastructure and reexamine the regulatory treatment of energy storage and infrastructure maintenance. "[Aliso Canyon's issues] tell us about a problem we have to study more generally across the country. . . Frankly, gas storage fields need a fresh look in terms of some of the regulatory requirements," Moniz said. The Aliso Canyon leak was reported October 23, 2015 and stopped February 11, 2016. Thousands of people were forced to relocate due to irritation from odorants used in the methane, a scentless gas. The leak has had a powerful climate impact, as methane warms the atmosphere 84 times more than a comparable amount of carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_1.pdfOregon House Passes Bill to Eliminate Coal Use and Double Renewable Energy

On February 15, legislators in Oregon voted 39-20 to pass House Bill (HB) 4036, which would double the state's renewable energy mandate and gradually phase out coal-fired power plants. The bill will now go to the state Senate for approval. PacificCorp and Portland General Electric, the largest utilities in Oregon, were strong forces behind HB 4036, along with various environmental groups. The bill will require utilities to source at least 50 percent of energy demand from renewable energy by 2040, up from the state's current goal of 25 percent by 2025. While critics argue the bill will be costly for consumers without significantly reducing carbon emissions, supporters have said the bill will create jobs in renewable energy infrastructure and maintenance. An analysis from PacificCorp shows the bill will cut the state's carbon emissions by 35 million tons total through 2040, roughly equal to 58 percent of Oregon's total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information see:

NOTE: The Renewable Portfolio Standard in Delaware requires that 25% of the electricity demand in the state come from renewable energy sources.  Oregon’s HB 4036 doubles that to 50% in 2040.  Delaware can do better.

pastedGraphic_2.pdfGroup of 17 Governors Sign Bipartisan Accord to Increase Renewable Energy

On February 16, a bipartisan group of governors from 17 states announced the "Governor's Accord for a New Energy Future," a new collaborative effort to transition the states to a greener economy across multiple sectors. The agreement commits states to expand the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy, modernize the electric grid, provide incentives to companies producing electric vehicles or alternative fuels, exchange best practices, and work with federal agencies. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R), a signatory of the accord, commented, "This bipartisan accord provides a platform for Nevada to leverage new partnerships, gain and share knowledge and an opportunity to introduce our energy advancements to other states." The governors' senior advisers will meet soon to outline initial steps for achieving the accord's goals.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_3.pdfRGGI Prices Fall After Clean Power Plan Stay

On February 16, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative's (RGGI) Regional Greenhouse Allowance (RGA) prices dropped to a 21-month low due in part to uncertainties over the U.S. Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and a resulting wave of selling. RGAs are tradable units of carbon dioxide, equivalent to one short ton (0.907 metric tonnes), which are traded in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as part of the region's cap-and-trade policy. Since hitting a record-high rate of $8.60/short ton on January 26, RGGI allowance prices have lost up to 45 percent of their value, falling to $4.75/short ton as of February 16. A New York-based RGGI trader quoted in Carbon Pulse cited one trader who "needed to get out," adding that "once that one trader got out, everyone else decided they had to follow." The trader added that "people are worried about the [Supreme Court] stay."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_4.pdfIran Rejects OPEC Proposal to Cap Oil Output

On February 17, Iran's envoy to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said Iran will not limit its oil production, likely scuttling an agreement to cap crude oil production and boost prices proposed a day earlier by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela. The agreement would have made headway on efforts to revitalize and stabilize the oil market, said Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi. The proposal revealed major producers' concern about the oil market, with prices currently 70 percent below the 2014 peak (and with the potential to drop below $20 a barrel). Iran has stated that it plans to sharply increase oil output to regain the market share it lost during years of international sanctions, which were lifted in January after successful agreements on its nuclear development program.

In related news, Paragon Offshore filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 15, joining the roughly 60 oil and gas companies that have declared bankruptcy in the last 16 months. Analysts expect another 60 to declare bankruptcy if prices remain low moving forward, adding that up to one third of the U.S. oil and gas industry could consolidate due to the low prices.

For more information see:

Study: Air Pollution the Second Largest Cause of Death Worldwide

On February 12, University of British Columbia researchers presented new findings that approximately 5.5 million people die prematurely each year as a consequence of outdoor and indoor air pollution. That would make air pollution the second-leading cause of fatal diseases, behind smoking. The findings were presented at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington, DC. The researchers found that around 1.4 million people in India and 1.6 million in China died of air pollution-related health issues in 2013, accounting for 55 percent of global air pollution-related fatalities. According to Michael Brauer, a co-author of the study, "Reducing levels of air pollution is actually an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of a population."

For more information see:

 NOTE: The articles mention that the air pollution most responsible for the deaths is fine particulate matter from the burning of carbon-containing fuels, with coal in China and dung in India being major sources.

pastedGraphic_5.pdfGlobal Methane Emissions Have Increased, Likely Due to the United States

On February 18, a Harvard University study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters with satellite data showing that U.S. methane emissions had increased by more than 30 percent over the past decade. This could account for 30 to 60 percent of the global increase in anthropogenic emissions of methane since 2002. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 84 times as powerful as carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Lead author Alex Turner, a Harvard chemical engineering PhD candidate, said the main takeaway was that "there is more we - the United States - could be doing to reduce our methane emissions to combat climate change." The study did not identify the reason for the methane emissions growth, though it noted that much of the U.S. emissions spike came from the middle of the country. The location and timing of the spike coincides with the shale oil and gas boom of the past decade.

For more information see:

 NOTE: The shale oil and gas boom of the past decade referred to is based on hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.”  It has gone on with little or no environmental regulation - threatening the quality of both water and air.

pastedGraphic_6.pdfOpponents to EPA's Clean Power Plan File Legal Briefs

On February 19, opponents to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation on carbon emissions from existing power plants - called the Clean Power Plan (CPP) - filed two opening merit briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The briefs were filed by 150 challengers, including 27 states, electric utilities, coal companies, trade associations and business groups. The two briefs focus on different issues with the CPP: the first argues against its legality and permissibility under the Constitution, and the second says EPA made mistakes in its administrative process. "This rule, which exceeds EPA's authority and sidesteps Congress, must be stopped," said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R). The court has given the Obama Administration until March 28 to respond to the merit briefs.

For more information:

Maryland Senate Approves New Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target

On February 23, the Maryland Senate approved a new goal for cutting the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The bill, approved by a bipartisan 38-8 vote, requires Maryland to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030. The new target was proposed by the state's Climate Change Commission, a governor-appointed group of Maryland lawmakers, private businesses, nonprofits, and state secretaries. The bill amends the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009, which calls for a 25 percent emissions reduction from 2006 by 2020. Senator Paul Pinksy (D-Prince George's), a sponsor of the bill, said, "The question is: Do we pay the cost [of greenhouse gas emissions] up front - if there is in fact a cost - or do we pay it later on?" The Maryland House of Delegates will soon consider its own version of the bill.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_7.pdfScientists Ask AGU to Drop ExxonMobil as Sponsor of Earth Science Conference

On February 22, more than 100 scientists wrote an open letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a 60,000 member association of earth and climate scientists, asking AGU to remove ExxonMobil as a sponsor of its annual conference - an event that attracts 25,000 scientists. Pointing to ExxonMobil's history of supporting climate change denial, the letter states, "By allowing Exxon to appropriate AGU's institutional social license to help legitimize the company's climate misinformation, AGU is undermining its stated values as well as the work of its own members." AGU President Margaret Leinen responded by stating that the AGU Board of Directors would consider the scientists' request at its April board meeting. ExxonMobil is currently under criminal investigation in New York and California for perpetuating information misleading investors and the public about the dangers of climate change.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_8.pdfSea Levels Are Rising at the Fastest Rate in 3,000 Years 

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on February 22 finds that anthropogenic climate change has amplified the rate of sea level rise to a rate greater than any in the last 2,800 years. The scientists' models indicated that without global warming, sea level rise in the 20th century would likely have been between a 3 centimeter (cm) decrease and a 7 cm increase; instead, they observed an increase of about 14 cm. The average sea level rise over the last 27 centuries has been about 8 cm. The study states that if greenhouse gas emission levels continue on their current trajectory, sea level rise rates will continue to increase(emphasis added)

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_9.pdfHouse and Senate Democrats Introduce Resolution on Climate Change and Renewable Energy

On March 4, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) led more than 100 Senators and Representatives in introducing a bicameral sense-of-Congress resolution that climate change will devastatingly impact the U.S. economy. The resolution calls for the United States to obtain 50 percent of its electricity generation from renewable energy by 2030. Environmental groups, including NextGen Climate, the Union of Concerned Scientists, GreenLatinos, Green for All, and Climate Hawks Vote, voiced their support for the resolution. Sen. Cardin said he had only circulated the resolution with Democratic colleagues, but he hoped some Republicans would sign on. Rep. Delaney commented, "What we're trying to do here is set a goal for the country that is both aspirational but achievable based on the current science."

For more information see:

Oregon Passes Bill to Double Renewable Energy Generation

On March 2, the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 1547-B on a vote of 17-12. The bill will double the state's renewable energy mandate to 50 percent renewable energy by 2040, as well as completely eliminate coal-fired electricity generation by 2035. The bill passed the Oregon House the day before, on a bipartisan vote of 38-20. "By transitioning away from a dirty, antiquated form of energy and embracing clean, renewable energy, this bill is a win-win for public health and the environment," commented Carrie Nyssen, a regional director at the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. The bill now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_10.pdfChina's Emissions Fall for Second Year in a Row

On February 29, a Greenpeace analysis of China National Bureau of Statistics data released the same day found that the country's coal consumption and carbon emissions fell in 2015, for the second year in a row. Analysis has showed that China - the top emitter of greenhouse gases in the world - released 1-2 percent less carbon dioxide and burned 2-4 percent less coal last year. The country made strides in renewable energy development as well, adding a record-breaking 18.3 gigawatts of solar and 32.5 gigawatts of wind power. China is burning less coal in an effort to control its smog, which is causing health issues for its citizens. Greenpeace also warned that a "steadily worsening overcapacity problem" in heavy industry and coal power plants could hinder China's continued transition to a clean energy economy.

In related news, the China Energy Research Society released a report this week finding that China's emissions will likely peak in 2025, due to decreasing coal consumption. The report predicts a 54 percent drop in the Chinese economy's carbon intensity by 2030 from current levels. Both of these predictions put China far ahead of its international pledges for emissions reductions.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_11.pdfCanada Reaches Deal to Create National Carbon Tax, Details Still Hazy

On March 3, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a compromise deal with the premiers of Canada's 10 provinces to put a national price on carbon. The details of the plan have yet to be worked out, but many premiers said they did not want a single national price, instead advocating for a flexible price that accounts for the distinct circumstances in each province. The leaders agreed to split into four working groups (clean technology, innovation and jobs, carbon pricing, and mitigation) to work on creating a "Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change." Their findings, and the national carbon price, will be reviewed at a meeting in October. Prime Minister Trudeau commented, "The working group that we have put together will dig into the mechanisms that will be most effective, and most appropriate, for each jurisdiction, recognizing that there are areas that face greater challenges."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_12.pdfLeonardo DiCaprio Uses Oscar Win to Urge for Action on Climate Change

On February 28, actor Leonardo DiCaprio called for action on climate change during his Oscar acceptance speech for the Best Actor award. During the latter half of his speech, the actor highlighted man's relationship with nature in his film The Revenant, stating that our natural world is in jeopardy from rising temperatures. DiCaprio said the film's production crew had to "move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow." DiCaprio's speech brought his climate concerns to hundreds of millions of viewers. As DiCaprio put it, "Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_13.pdfImpacts of Climate Change on Food Security Could Lead to 500,000 Annual Deaths by 2050

On March 1, new research published in the Lancet revealed that climate change will limit the availability of quality food in the future, potentially causing more than 500,000 deaths a year globally by 2050. The study modeled a two degree Celsius global temperature increase to find that by 2050, there will be four percent less fruit and vegetables available, three percent less general calories available, and 0.7 percent less red and processed meat available. The reduction in calories caused more people in India and China to die, but almost the exact same number of people lived longer due to reduction in obesity from the reduced availability of red meat. The greater amount of deaths were caused by the scarcity of fruits and vegetables, which are critical in preventing heart disease and diet-related cancer. "The health burden related to climate change is much bigger than we thought," Oxford researcher and study author Peter Scarborough said.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_14.pdfCanadian Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama Agree on Climate Action

On March 10, the United States and Canada made a joint announcement to take global leadership on climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's state visit to Washington, D.C. President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau committed to promote North American carbon markets, cut methane emissions from oil and gas wells, and protect indigenous communities affected by climate change impacts. The world leaders also pledged to lobby other major G20 countries to follow through on commitments made at the United Nations Paris climate talks last year. "There is a nice alignment between a Canadian prime minister who wants to get all sorts of things done right off the bat and an American president who is thinking about the legacy he is going to leave in his last year in office," commented Prime Minister Trudeau.

For more information see:

Oregon Signs More Ambitious Renewable Energy Standard into Law

On March 11, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1547 into law. The state is now committed to double its renewable energy generation to 50 percent by 2040 and completely eliminate imports of coal-fired generation at the state's largest utilities by 2035. The bill has the firm support of environmental groups and Oregon's two biggest utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities do not have to comply with the new law - it only applies to Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. Governor Brown commented, "I'm proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_15.pdfJP Morgan Won't Finance Any More New Coal Power Plants or Mines in Developed Countries

On March 4, JP Morgan announced it would stop supporting new coal-fired power plants and coal mines in high-income countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), because coal power generation contributes to climate change. JP Morgan is the latest financial institution to withdraw or scale back investments in coal power, joining Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. "We believe the financial services sector has an important role to play as governments implement policies to combat climate change," said JP Morgan in a statement. JP Morgan will still invest in coal plants in lower-income countries, provided the plants use "ultra-supercritical steam generation technology."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_16.pdfMedia Reporting on Climate Change Decreased Last Year

On March 7, Media Matters for America released a report revealing that major American media outlets ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox collectively reported less on climate change in 2015 than previous years, despite 2015's temperature records and numerous climate-related incidents. The largest decline was at ABC, where climate coverage dropped by 59 percent. Fox increased its climate coverage, but mainly interviewed guests who criticized efforts to address climate change. The networks generally did not mention that climate change is a national security threat with economic and public health impacts, with some exceptions at PBS. The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan was barely covered, while the Paris Climate Summit and the Pope's actions on climate were the most well-reported.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_17.pdfCarbon Dioxide Levels in Atmosphere Rose a Record Amount Last Year

On March 8, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released data showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawai'i reached record levels over the past 12 months. Carbon dioxide levels in February 2016 were 404.02 parts per million (ppm), about 3.72 ppm more than last February's average. NOAA says this sets a new record for the largest increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration over the course of a year, and attributes the increase to carbon emissions from human industrial activity and the unusually-strong El Nino climate pattern, which caused an increase in wildfires. Although the boost in carbon from El Nino will be temporary, scientists are concerned about the long-term trend of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels.

For more information see:

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

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