Tuesday, November 22, 2016



In October the World Bank Group published a report titled, State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2016.   It’s one of a series of annual reports following the development of pricing carbon emissions around the world to mitigate climate change.  Finland and Poland began carbon pricing with taxes in 1990.  With the project national Chinese Emissions Trading System in 2017, there will be a total of 43 carbon pricing mechanisms at regional, national and subnational levels covering more than 20% of the world’s GHG emissions.  Prices vary from less than $1 in Mexico to $131/tonne CO2e in Sweden.
Describing the Paris Climate Agreement, which went into force on Nov. 4, the Executive Summary said:
“The vast majority of governments around the globe - 189 countries representing 96 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 98 percent of the world’s population - have committed to reduce their GHG emissions and adapt to the changing climate through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).  The urgent priority now is for governments to ensure implementation of these commitments, requiring sustained efforts to influence investment and consumption decisions made every day by firms and households.
While implementation of the INDCs will rely on a range of policies and programs, carbon pricing initiatives will play an increasing role, with about 100 parties - accounting for 58 percent of global GHG emissions - planning or considering these instruments.  The pivotal role of carbon pricing in supporting efforts to decarbonize is also reflected in the Paris Agreement.  Article 6 of the Agreement provides a basis for facilitating international recognition of cooperative carbon pricing approaches and identifies new concepts that may pave the way for this cooperation to be pursued.” (emphasis added)

October 17 article posted by Brian Kahn of ClimateCentral was titled, The World’s Poorest Most at Risk From Drought, Conflict.  He wrote, 
Agriculture is the key source — and in many cases, the only source — of income for many living in the developing world. When drought hits, it has the potential to take away everything and unravel the threads that stitch together society.
New findings published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science are part of a burgeoning body of literature showing how climate change can lead to conflict. It shows that drought exacerbates existing conflicts in some of the poorest countries and the farmers who are most dependent on a stable climate for their livelihoods. The findings highlight why climate change is intimately tied with development, national security and morality.’
On October 21 CleanTechnica posted an article by Joshus Hill titled, Global Cooperation On Carbon Trading Could Reduce Climate Change Mitigation Costs By 32%.
It says,
According to a new World Bank report released this week, increased global cooperation through carbon trading could reduce the cost of climate change mitigation by 32% by 2030. Released at an international carbon event held in Vietnam on Tuesday, the State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2016 report shows that increased international cooperation on carbon trading could enable large-scale emissions reductions at much lower costs than are currently present, based on the carbon mitigation goals currently outlined in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) filed under the Paris Agreement.” 
The Real News Network (TRNN) is a relatively new news organization (started in 2007) dedicated to getting out the real story on the grievous threat posed by global climate change - in spite of the short shrift given to the problem by the major news organizations and many leading U.S. politicians.  Their website has a number of interesting videos related to climate change, including one about 30 minutes long released 10/31 titled, The Koch Brothers’ War on Climate Science.  You can find it and more about the organization at: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2930.

NOTE: The Koch Brothers’War on Climate Science is a must see for anyone interested in the welfare of their children and grandchildren or the future of the planet.

On Nov. 9 Gerald Silverman posted an article on Bloomberg News titled, States See Same Climate Paths After Trump Election. He wrote the following:
States already controlling greenhouse gas emissions will continue unabated despite Donald Trump’s presidential victory, but his election could offer a reprieve for those states that had resisted action.
“I think that dynamic is not changed by this election,” Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., told Bloomberg BNA.
Kimmell said states acted because they wanted to address the dangers of climate change and become leaders in “the clean energy economy,” not because they were under pressure from the federal government. States like California and the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative went beyond federal requirements under Democratic and Republican administrations and are expected to continue on their current course, environmentalists and academics said.
“We may see a return to the situation that prevailed during the Bush-Cheney era, when, in the face of a hostile administration, states took many actions on their own,” Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.”  Silverman went on to describe in some detail what is going on in California, Washington state, Colorado, Florida, the Northeast and the Southeast.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

pastedGraphic.pdfWealthy Nations Coming Up Short in Pledge for $100 Billion in Climate Aid

A new report projects the world's wealthiest countries will not meet their goal to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate aid in poorer developing nations. The report, published by the British and Australian governments, forecasted that donor countries will raise only $93 billion annually over the next ten years to fund green energy projects and adaptation efforts in vulnerable regions. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa is increasing pressure on countries to fulfill their 2009 aid promises as November's international climate summit in Morocco approaches. The report authors stressed "the projection should be considered a conservative, indicative aggregation of public climate finance levels in 2020, rather than a firm prediction," and stated increased private sector support could yield $133 billion in annual funding under a best-case scenario. Jan Kowalzig of Oxfam warned that a rush to involve the private sector could "create an incentive for donor countries to favor mitigation over adaptation as this makes it easier to make the $100 billion."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_1.pdfNorwegian Government Faces Lawsuit over Approval of Offshore Oil Exploration

Greenpeace has partnered with indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of NASA's Goddard Institute, James Hansen, to file a lawsuit against the Norwegian government over its decision to allow 13 oil companies to enter the Barents Sea for oil exploration. The Barents Sea would be the most northern point tapped for oil in Norway and would be an expansion of the fossil fuel industry that dissenters say violates not only the Paris Agreement, but also Article 112 of Norway's constitution, "which guarantees every citizen's right to a healthy, diverse and productive environment." Norway has often been touted as the paradigm model of green energy for its use of hydropower and climate neutrality goals. Hansen, however, paints a different picture, stating that "Norway is not all that green. It is burning 70 percent more fossil fuels per person than Sweden, and mining 20 times more fossil fuels than it needs for its own use."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_2.pdfGlobal Oil Consumption Subsidies Persist Amidst Political and Economic Pressures

As the international community continues to seek common ground in the fight to mitigate climate change through mechanisms such as the Paris Agreement, fossil fuel subsidies in developing countries are being viewed with increasing skepticism. Consumption subsidies that fix the price of fossil fuels at artificially low levels have been commonplace for decades in developing economies as a means of ensuring domestic political stability. However, a consequence of these subsidies is that consumer behavior tilts toward excessive consumption of fossil fuels, with no incentive to transition to more sustainable behaviors and technologies. Recent estimates project that additional consumption of fossil fuels through consumption subsidies is potentially responsible for over 10 percent of global carbon emissions. Malaysia, Morocco, and India chose to reform their fuel pricing policies following 2014's steep decline in oil prices, but action in other nations has been stayed by special interest groups, street demonstrations, or a fear of public backlash.

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Industry Coalition Calls for International Regulation of Shipping Emissions

A coalition made up of Maersk, Cargill, the Global Shippers' Forum, and 45 other shipping organizations are urging the United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) to take "ambitious" action and set the shipping sector's first climate change targets next week at a London UN meeting. The shipping sector is currently not "subject to any treaty on climate change, country-by-country emissions controls or reduction targets of any kind," despite emitting up to four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. China, Brazil, some small island states, and various lobbying groups have argued against imposing emission targets until more data and analysis have been collected and a comprehensive global CO2 monitoring scheme is put in place. The group has also expressed concern about potential taxes or caps on fuel and emissions that could have economic consequences. Proponents of the emission reduction plans have stated that there is enough information known about CO2 emissions and that if the Paris Agreement is to truly deliver, then shipping will have to pay its "fair share" of CO2 reductions.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_3.pdfAmerican Corporations Fail to Verify Impact of Beef Suppliers on Deforestation

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reveals that American beef buyers have been lax in their efforts to reduce deforestation in the Amazon. American companies made a commitment to promoting sustainability in their supply chains by purchasing beef only from deforestation-free farms, but often companies have no way to verify how cattle were raised. The report contends greater transparency and oversight in supply chain purchasing decisions are needed to ensure that loopholes aren't being exploited. Burger King, ConAgra, Kroger, and Pizza Hut earned the worst scores for failing to determine the environmental impact of their beef. The protection of tropical rainforests can play a large role in meeting the global carbon cuts outlined in the Paris Agreement, according to UCS. Brazil is the world's second largest beef producer. From 1990 to 2005, beef production was responsible for 71 percent of all deforestation in South America.

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Chemical Industry Merges Profits with Diplomacy in Pursuit of HFC Deal

Major chemical manufacturers were deeply involved in the passage of the new international agreement to phase out the use of HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas used in air conditioning and refrigeration. The deal, finalized during a United Nations meeting in Rwanda on October 15, is noteworthy in that the industry that will be regulated has fully embraced the proposed rule. Honeywell and Chemours were among the most active private-sector advocates for the agreement, but also have much to gain as the market for HFC replacements gains momentum. Honeywell started developing an alternative to HFCs in the early 2000's and is poised to cash in on its investment as the new agreement drives demand for the company's next generation of coolants. Several environmental groups argue that industry involvement was too great and limited the ambition of the agreement. Meanwhile, China and India expressed concern that the deal would only further consolidate the global chemical industry and that product prices would rise.

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Study: Climate Change Doubled Lands Damaged by Wildfires in Western United States

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences works to quantify the relationship between climate change and recent record-breaking wildfire seasons. The study found that anthropogenic climate change was responsible for doubling the amount of land area burned in the Western United States from 1984 to 2015. Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns due to climate change increase the rate at which plant cells lose moisture, fostering environmental conditions conducive for wildfires. The authors modeled the relationship between temperature and fuel dryness and found all eight simulations "correlate well with fire." Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, stated the strongest relationship between changing environmental variables and the growing frequency of wildfires was fuel aridity. Williams said, "Every few years we're kind of entering a new epoch, where the potential for new fires is quite a bit bigger than it was a few years back."

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Climate Change Could Put an Additional 42 Million People at Risk of Food Shortages

On October 17, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report cautioning that climate change has already begun to jeopardize global food security and that farmers must begin to adapt their growing methods. The report estimates that due to climate impacts, an additional 42 million people will be at risk of going hungry by 2050 and an additional 122 million people may be living in extreme poverty by 2030. More than 60 million people have already faced food shortages this year because of droughts brought about by the El Niño system. Small farmers in developing nations are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are already struggling with poverty. The findings call for increased government intervention, including greater investment to encourage resilient agricultural practices. FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, cited the "moral imperative" for "hunger, poverty and climate change ... to be tackled together."

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_4.pdfUnited States to Unveil Plan to Decarbonize Its Economy by 2050 at COP-22

The United States will reveal plans to decarbonize its economy by 2050 at the United Nations' November climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, giving other countries a roadmap to achieve similar carbon reduction goals. The plan will build upon the U.S. commitment in the Paris agreement to cut its emissions by 28 percent by 2025 from the 2005 baseline. Dr. Jonathan Pershing, the State Department's Special Envoy for Climate Change, added that a primary factor in the fulfillment of this plan will be the continued cost reduction of renewable energy options, as well as the deployment of carbon capture technologies for coal and natural gas-fired power plants. In 2015, the Group of Seven largest industrialized countries pledged to do their part in decarbonizing the world economy by 2100. During negotiations in Paris, countries were reluctant to include a blanket economic decarbonization provision in the final agreement, since many developing nations would have struggled to make that transition by 2050.

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_5.pdfFederal Court Rules Species May Be Protected Based on Projected Habitat Loss from Climate Change

On October 24, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that federal authorities may list a species as threatened based on projections of future habitat loss. The Alaskan state government, oil companies, and indigenous peoples had argued against the measure, claiming that any regulation of that scope was founded on speculation, since the population of Pacific bearded seals in question was currently healthy. Due to climate change, the ice floes that act as a safe haven for breeding seals will disappear this century, leaving seal pups and their mothers vulnerable to predators. This decision is the first of its kind to determine risk based on future environmental threats. The court reasoned that, per the Endangered Species Act, an agency is only required to consider the best available data in pursuing protection. However, that data is not required to be "ironclad and absolute" and that "the only uncertainty [in the case] is the magnitude of warming ... and the severity of its effect."

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New Jersey's Beach Communities Stay in Place after Sandy, Rather than Retreat from Shoreline

In New Jersey, a gap persists in the acknowledgement of climate-driven risks and the municipal plans that are actually implemented. Beach-side towns faced heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but their rebuilding efforts failed to take new data into account, resulting in the construction of additional vulnerable structures. A complex interaction of local, state, and federal policies have led to this style of rebuild. For instance, FEMA is not permitted to use predictive modeling in drawing its flood plain maps, which influences insurance costs and building standards for flood-prone communities. Governor Chris Christie chose not to promote relocation as a coastal adaptation policy, opting to invest in building height and a controversial dune reinforcement project. David Kutner of NJ Future, a nonprofit advocating for sustainable land use, responded to the region's recent construction choices: "A lot of communities feel that the answer is to elevate homes. How are you going to serve that home when roads and utilities are under water?"

For more information see:

pastedGraphic_6.pdfGreenland May Pivot Away from Climate Treaty and Reap Regional Benefits of Warming

Melting ice caps and warmer temperatures have allowed Greenland to generate more hydroelectric energy, grow previously unharvestable crops, access valuable minerals, and fish migrating marine species. The Arctic region is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world, rising 1.5 degrees Celsius in temperature in contrast to the world's 0.7 degrees Celsius. With less ice cover to reflect solar radiation, there is more surface water absorbing the warming radiation instead. This perpetuating cycle has caused Greenland to lose one trillion tons of ice between 2011 and 2014, while rising sea levels continue to threaten low-lying countries. However, Greenland officials say there is a dichotomy between environmental preservation and economic benefit, causing the country to ask for a territorial opt-out of the Paris Agreement: "Signing the deal will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars," says Greenland's deputy foreign minister, Kai Holst Andersen, "and we would never be independent."

For more information see:

NOTE: While some countries are going to suffer a great deal from climate change, others - like Greenland - may actually benefit, at least inthe the short run.  Other countries that my befit initially are Canada and Russia.

Bleaching Damage to Great Barrier Reef More Extensive Than Previously Believed

Coral researchers with the Australian Research Council (ARC) revealed a bleak assessment of the health of the Great Barrier Reef, six months after a massive bleaching event. While the southern portion of the reef appears to be intact, the northern end was hit by the worst bleaching episode on record. Estimates indicate 22 percent of all coral in the reef died due to the heat stress, with losses upwards of 80 percent in some areas. The follow-up surveys revealed millions of additional corals had slowly died since the original heat wave, with some damaged organisms falling to predation or disease. Andrew Hoey, a senior researcher at ARC's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said, "Coral reefs are always being subjected to some kind of disturbance, but they will bounce back. But if they're being knocked over in too rapid succession, they just won't get back to where they were."

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NOTE: Coral reefs are important to sea life because many species spend at least part of their lives in reefs.  Reefs are now dying (bleaching) as the result of rising sea temperatures and increasing acidity of the water as the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere inccreases.

pastedGraphic_7.pdfFirst of Its Kind Study to Examine How Bacteria May React to Ocean Acidification

New Zealand researchers have set out on a million-dollar study to investigate the effects that ocean acidification might have on microbial communities. Ocean acidification is primarily caused by the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is absorbed by the ocean and leads to more acidic, lower pH waters. The acidity poses significant risks to shellfish and corals that depend on their calcium carbonate shells to survive. Microbes play essential roles in regenerating nutrients in food webs and taking care of pollution, oil spills, and runoff that enters the marine ecosystem. The study will simulate 50-years of ocean acidification in order to look for a threshold at which the water becomes too acidic for the bacteria to carry out their ecosystem functions. If a baseline is established, the team's next step would be to create a model showing how industry may have to respond to the emerging conditions.

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Study: El Nino's Warmer, Wetter Conditions Elevate Risk of Disease Outbreaks in United States

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences underscores the connection between short-term shifts in climate and weather patterns and disease outbreaks. While most studies of this nature focus on climate-influenced disease vectors in the developing world, the researchers instead examined these risks for the United States. The study used national hospitalization data from 1970-2010 to compare illness rates during El Niño season. The data showed an elevated risk of diseases carried by ticks and mosquitos was present in the western United States during El Niño, while the rest of the country showed a higher risk of intestinal illnesses under El Niño conditions. The storm system's warmer, wetter conditions unsurprisingly led to an increase in insect populations that carry the diseases, but the researchers were uncertain of the exact cause of the intestinal illness spike. Due to its reliance on hospitalization cases, the study likely underestimated the actual impacts from these trends.

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pastedGraphic_8.pdfWashington State's Carbon Tax Draws Nervous Eye of Coal Industry

Grass-roots activists in the Pacific Northwest are opening a new fight against the coal industry, with reverberations felt across the country. In addition to preventing energy companies from operating coal export terminals along the Pacific coast, local activists in Washington State have introduced a carbon emissions tax as a ballot initiative for the November election. The proposal would feature a tax of $25 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions and provide rebates to low-income families to counter any rise in electricity costs. The ambitious action has caught the attention of energy experts outside the region, including Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, who called the carbon tax "the right step to a global solution." Meanwhile, coal executive Robert Murray dismissed the Washington activists as "radicals" and vowed to shift his blocked coal export business to Canada. If passed, the Washington ballot initiative would be the first state-wide tax on carbon emissions in the United States.

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NOTE: The Washington carbon tax measure - modeled on the carbon emissions tax to the north in British Columbia - failed, largely it seems because of disagreements over how the money raised should be spent.  The $25/ton CO2 would have raised the cost of gasoline about 25 cents per gallon.  California and Quebec have a price on carbon determined by a cap-and-trade system that covers emissions from electricity generation, transportation and industry.

More Frequent, Severe Storms Could Devastate Vulnerable U.S. Public Housing Stock

As climate change amplifies the intensity of storms, many vulnerable populations are being forced to relocate as a result of prolonged recovery efforts. One example of this migration trend is the Florida town of Punta Gorda, which is still reeling from when Hurricane Charley hit the area 12 years ago. The hurricane destroyed public housing structures to a point that they were still being rebuilt up until late 2016. Federal law used to require a one-to-one replacement ratio for every public housing unit that was demolished or destroyed, but that requirement was lifted by Congress in 1998 - a reality that many speculate will further exacerbate the affordable housing shortage. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States loses 10,000 units of public housing each year. Courtney Rice, with housing insurer HAI, said, "If this trend in severe weather continues, taking away more housing units from this already underserved population, there won't be a sufficient number of units left."

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pastedGraphic_9.pdfBangladesh Hopes to See Progress on "Loss and Damage" Discussions at Climate Summit

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will present a national adaptation plan during the United Nations climate summit in Morocco in an attempt to spark dialogue on financing. "Loss and damage" has long been a sticking point in negotiations and was formally recognized for the first time in the Paris Agreement. Loss and damage comes into play when climate-induced natural disasters breach conventional adaptation infrastructure, such as sea walls, and cause devastation in regions that lack the resources to recover on their own. Countries have been resistant to providing additional funding streams for loss and damage and uncertainty surrounds the financing question heading into the summit. Saleemul Huq, who authored the Bangladeshi proposal, said, "When [climate negotiators] talked about loss and damage, [developed countries] heard liability and compensation, which are taboo words, but I think we have moved on." Bangladesh has received praise for its allocation of $100 million annually in its national budget since 2009 for responding to domestic climate emergencies.

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pastedGraphic_10.pdfRenewables Figure Prominently in Africa's Future Energy Infrastructure

Technological innovations and global trends may position Africa to largely bypass carbon-intensive electricity sources and move directly into a clean energy future instead. Factors such as the increasing unreliability of hydropower due to droughts, volatile oil prices, and increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy technologies are poising the continent for a clean energy revolution. This is especially important for international climate change mitigation efforts, as Africa is set to experience rapid population growth and will account for a greater share of global emissions. South Africa is one country that has been aggressively pursuing renewable energy by building 100 wind and solar projects over the last four years. Morocco is another nation leading the way and has committed to generate 42 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However, efforts have been hindered by the inability of nations to acquire the necessary funding due to concerns over government corruption and political instability. Energy development companies, governments, and international organizations are all working to attract private investment in Africa.

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Report: Window to Prevent Warming Greater than 1.5 Degrees Celsius Will Close Within Three Years

The United Nations Environment Program's annual "emissions gap" report warns nations must significantly cut their emissions by 2020 or the window to keep global warming from surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark will be closed. The report documents the ambition gap between emission reduction steps countries have committed to and what is actually necessary to curtail the worst effects of climate change. According to the report, "[The next three years are] likely the last chance to keep the option of limiting global warming to 1.5 C in 2100 open, as all available scenarios consistent with the 1.5 C goal imply that global greenhouse gases peak before 2020." The analysis is the first to scrutinize the pledges contained in the Paris Agreement within the context of the latest 1.5 C goal. Under the existing agreement, global emissions would risk exceeding the carbon budget to prevent greater than 2 C of warming and would be well over the 1.5 C threshold.

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NOTE: Some low-lying island nations are particularly keen on limiting global warming since the beginning to the Industrial Revolution to 1.5 degrees C.  If the sensitivity of the global average temperature is 3 degrees C for a doubling of the CO2 concentration, 400 ppm, which we have already exceeded, is enough to raise the temperature 1.5 degrees at thermal equilibrium (given time for the CO2 concentration, temperature and radiation balance to stabilize).  We have already warmed 1.0 degree C, but we’re not yet at equilibrium because of the large heat capacity of the ocean and glacial ice. 

pastedGraphic_11.pdfSea Level Rise Threatens the Southeastern Coastal Forests

Rising seas are expected to devastate coastal forests and jeopardize the ecosystem's survival within this century. The freshwater-dependent forests are becoming increasingly accessible to salt water, which has left scientists concerned about the many species reliant upon these habitats. In their place, invasive salt-tolerant plants are growing and displacing the native vegetation. Due to the low-lying elevation of the southern United States, these areas are among the most vulnerable to salt-water intrusion due to rising sea levels. So called "ghost forests" have appeared in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. David Kaplan, a watershed ecologist at the University of Florida, has grouped these coastal forest areas into three categories: "healthy," "stressed," and "remnant," with the two latter damaged categories on the rise. Kaplan and his colleagues hope to increase awareness among land managers and policy makers to ensure appropriate action is taken to protect coastal ecosystems.

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Spain Could Face Desertification and Agricultural Disruptions if 1.5 C Threshold Is Crossed

Researchers simulating four different carbon emission scenarios in Spain are projecting a country that is dramatically different than it is today. The study's researchers urged Spain to take measures to immediately reduce its carbon emissions and achieve decarbonization by 2050. Unless global atmospheric warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, Spain could see an expansion of its desert and a die-off of deciduous trees. The globe has warmed roughly 1 degree Celsius since the dawn of the industrial revolution. This has led to an overall warming of 1.3 degrees Celsius in the Mediterranean region. An extra 0.5 degrees of global warming, though small, would have significant consequences for the vegetation in Spain and its immediate Mediterranean surroundings. The study did not look specifically at the implication of climate change for food production, but noted that warming in the region could have a negative impact on olive crops and the production of other Mediterranean cuisine staples.

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pastedGraphic_12.pdfGeoengineering Gains Traction as a Global Climate Mitigation Option

A new report commissioned by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has significant implications for the future of geoengineering for climate change mitigation. The Convention has approached geoengineering with caution until a sufficient governance system is put in place to oversee the development and implementation of such measures. Geoengineering measures may involve seeding the ocean with nutrients to help coral ecosystems adapt, or disbursing particulates into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation. Geoengineering has been tenuously pursued as a mitigation policy due to the uncertainty of its long-term effects. The report acknowledges the environmental, political, and economic risks associated with geoengineering, but suggests the methods have merit if potential side-effects can be identified and minimized. According to Phil Williamson, a report author at the University of East Anglia, greenhouse gas removal technologies will be necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement: "Climate geoengineering is what countries have agreed to do [in the Paris Agreement], although they haven't really realized that they've agreed to do it."

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pastedGraphic_13.pdfTrump's Election Threatens America's Participation in the Paris Climate Agreement

The election of Donald Trump to the White House has cast doubt over the future participation of the United States in international climate change negotiations. Campaign promises from Trump include backing out of the Paris climate agreement, cutting all federal spending towards international climate change mitigation, and opening up federal public lands to fossil fuel drilling and mining. The United States can legally back out of the Paris treaty after four years, or simply refuse to honor its emission reductions commitments. Meanwhile, an increase in the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels would severely undercut America's ability to reduce its emissions to the levels necessary to help stave off the worst effects of global climate change. There is currently no punitive measure for nations that fail to meet their emission reduction targets under the treaty. Scientists such as Michael Oppenheimer from Princeton University have expressed concerns about the global implications of the United States withdrawing its support: "Without U.S. action to reduce emissions and U.S. diplomatic leadership, implementation of Paris will surely slow and avoiding a 2 degree warming, the benchmark of danger, would become impossible."

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pastedGraphic_14.pdfBureaucratic Procedure and Legal Precedent Could Slow Trump Administration's Rollback of Climate Policies

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to reverse much of the current United States environmental policy, but the actual implementation of this about-face could take significant time given the numerous procedures and factors standing in the way. The soonest Trump could withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is 2020, but his administration could take action to severely undermine the agreement in the meantime. One possibility would be to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but this departure would require a year to take effect. The $800 million in international aid the United States promised for climate adaptation may be another component reviewed by incoming Administration officials. Senior political and business leaders may run interference over the next four years to try and lessen the diplomatic damage and assure countries that the United States will rejoin upon Trump's exit from power. The Clean Power Plan may also prove difficult to dislodge. Jody Freeman, director of the Environmental Law Program at Harvard, said, "You can't rescind a rule with the stroke of a pen. [The Administration would] have to engage a focused effort to undo regulations and replace them with something else," adding that the courts would be unlikely to favor steps that are not based on "sound scientific or technical reasoning."

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pastedGraphic_15.pdfSuit Alleging U.S. Government Failed to Protect Future Generations from Climate Change Allowed to Go to Trial
A lawsuit alleging the federal government has failed to take adequate action to protect future generations from the impacts of climate change has been allowed to proceed to trial. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken issued the ruling in federal court in Eugene, Oregon on November 10. Aiken's decision declared, "Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law, and the world has suffered for it." The Department of Justice has stated that while they do not dispute the climate science, they disagree with the plaintiffs' view on how the United States should coordinate with other nations on climate. However, Aiken found "no contradiction" between America's international obligations and the judicial order. The 21 plaintiffs, ranging in age from 9 to 20, allege the government's failure to act has violated their constitutional and public trust rights. The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to require the government to rapidly reduce carbon emissions.
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Morocco Introduces Agricultural Adaptation Plan for Africa to Aid Farmers

Climate change impacts are already beginning to affect harvests in Africa. In Boumia, a small village in Morocco, apple farmers are encountering hardship with the increased frequency of droughts and warmer temperatures. Morocco is not unlike many other African countries, where 40 percent of its population works in agriculture, leading climate shifts to have a particularly deep economic impact. Morocco's Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the nation's total crop output fell 70 percent in 2015. In northern Africa's dry Sahel region, Chad, Niger, and Mali have been suffering from severe recurring droughts since the 1980s, leading to a suppression of agricultural and economic activities. According to a study in Nature, approximately 60 percent of the land for bean production in the Sahel, a staple food, will become unsuitable by 2090. Morocco is leveraging its role as host of this year's United Nations climate summit to introduce the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) initiative. The initiative includes proposals to improve soil and water management, set up insurance programs for drought-afflicted farmers, and bring better weather forecasting to the continent.

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Africa Struggles to Meet Its Climate Goals as Vital International Financing Fails to Arrive

African countries are struggling to fulfill their Paris agreement commitments due to a shortfall of promised funding. Many of African nations' mitigation and adaptation objectives depend on international aid. For instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo has received only $200,000 of the $20 billion it requested through the REDD+ program for rainforest protection. Many negotiators within the African delegation have offered grim outlooks for achieving their climate goals, citing already limited domestic budgets and a need to prioritize poverty reduction. Trinto Mugangu of the Congolese delegation, said, "Delivering on the [climate plans] is becoming unrealistic because the money is not there. I think three quarters of Africa will not deliver." The Africa Low Emission Development Strategies Partnership (LEDS) was introduced during the COP22 climate summit in Morocco as a way to jumpstart Africa's transition to a low carbon economy. Some nations, like Kenya, are striving to balance current energy demands with a desire to utilize renewable sources as their electricity grid expands.

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pastedGraphic_16.pdfAuto Industry Trade Group Seeks Rollback of Vehicle Emission Standards under Trump Administration

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a primary government lobbyist on behalf of the industry, issued a memo to President-Elect Trump's transition team requesting a rollback of the more stringent vehicle emission standards installed under the Obama Administration. The current standards would require automakers to achieve a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025 and have already begun to affect model-year 2017 vehicles. The industry memo characterized the CAFE standards as "a substantial challenge to the auto sector due to the steeper compliance requirements for model years 2017-2025" and that they "[over-project] technology efficiencies and inadequately [account] for consumer acceptance and marketplace realities." Andrew Linhardt, associate director of federal advocacy at the Sierra Club, said, "[Automakers have] been pushing this for the last year. Trump pretty much ran on tearing down President Obama's climate legacy, and this is a pretty big part of it."

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Moody's Integrates Climate Change into Its Ratings, Warns of Downgrades for Vulnerable Nations

On November 7, Moody's rating agency announced changes in the rating scale used to determine sovereign nations' credit ratings. Moody's implemented the changes to reflect potential threats to economic productivity created by climate change. Moody's described its rationale for the decision: "Climate change has ramifications for countries' credit profiles through potential economic impact, damage to infrastructure, rising social costs, and population shifts." To determine new credit ratings, a country's vulnerability to climate change was determined by exposure and resilience. Exposure relates to a country's geographic location and economic diversity, while resilience was a combination of adaptive capacity, fiscal flexibility, and national income levels. Countries with high vulnerability ratings featured large amounts of coastline and economies lacking a strong, centralized infrastructure with a large percentage of the workforce employed in the agriculture sector. African and South Asian countries were projected to experience the worst economic side effects and would experience the largest decrease in creditworthiness. Standard & Poor's, a competing rating agency, has already integrated climate change into its sovereign credit valuations.

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pastedGraphic_17.pdfExxon Seeks to Lengthen Its Court Battle with State Attorneys General through Expanded Depositions

An alliance of state attorneys general from across the United States have been pursuing legal means to hold ExxonMobil accountable for its long-standing role in disseminating false or misleading information on the risks of climate change associated with fossil fuel use. For years, many scientists and leaders in the field have questioned Exxon's internal understanding of climate implications through the corporation's development and sale of petroleum. However, Exxon has revealed plans to depose at least 17 of those attorneys general, which could prolong the ongoing legal dispute for years. Exxon had initially cooperated with state officials, but is currently seeking to block the investigation through a Texas court. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the company's effort to depose the other officials would facilitate "Exxon's goal of putting off as long as possible any investigation into the critically important question of whether Exxon broke the law and deceived consumers and investors."

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Major Australian Workers Union Calls for "Just Transition" to a Clean Energy Economy

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has published a policy paper calling for Australia to implement a managed decline of coal-fired power plants and begin a "just transition" to a clean energy economy. The ACTU argues that Australia has a responsibility to assist the workers affected by fundamental shifts in the energy industry. Recommendations from the paper include creating a government office (Energy Transition Australia) to manage the transition and funding the transition by ending fossil fuel subsidies, introducing a carbon tax, and allocating funds from federal and state budgets. According to the paper, adopting proactive measures to retrain workers and transition them into new industries will grow Australia's economy and increase energy security. Ged Kearney, president of ACTU, says the pending shutdown of coal plants is "obvious" and their proposal "very squarely places responsibility on the federal government to come up with a national plan for the sake of the workers in [the energy industry]."

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pastedGraphic_18.pdfOMB: Worsening Climate Impacts Could Take Significant Bite Out of Future Federal Budgets

On November 15, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report examining the fiscal costs to the federal government associated with climate change. The report looks at the possible toll on taxpayer funds if the government is forced to cope with projected increases in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. By the end of the century, these severe weather events would cause additional hundreds of billions of dollars to be spent annually on federal funding for disaster relief and rebuilding, combating wildfires, and protecting government facilities from coastal erosion, rising seas, and thawing permafrost. If no actions are taken to mitigate climate change, the report projects that, "The total fiscal impact quantified to-date could be equivalent to as much as 15 percent of total federal discretionary spending by late-century." Keeping global average temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (relative to a 4 degree increase) could yield more than $2 trillion (in real terms) in avoided damages annually by 2100.  (emphasis added)

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pastedGraphic_19.pdfWashington, D.C. Releases Climate Adaptation Plan to Prepare for Heatwaves and Flooding

According to a new report from the District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment, the nation's capital will face a greater frequency of heat emergencies, longer durations of heat waves, and heavier rain and flooding in the coming decades. Projections show that D.C.'s current rate of 11 annual heat emergencies will nearly double by 2020 and increase to 75 annual emergencies by 2080. Older residents and individuals who cannot afford to own an air conditioner are among those at greatest risk from the sweltering conditions. The intense heat will also impact D.C.'s infrastructure, since rail lines and many buildings are not designed to consistently function under such high temperatures. Lower-lying areas of the city, such as downtown and Southwest, bridges, and freeways will be at risk of flooding due to sea level rise and more severe precipitation patterns. D.C.'s climate adaptation plan identifies the most vulnerable populations and assets across the city and proposes long-term plans to curtail future climate impacts.

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pastedGraphic_20.pdfGlobal Leaders Reassess Means of Achieving Adaptation Finance Goals in Marrakech

At the United Nations climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, more than 50 heads of state discussed ways to raise funds to help the world's most vulnerable regions adapt to climate change impacts. Given the incoming Trump administration's rhetoric against international climate aid, there is concern that the effort may fall short of its goals. To date, the United States has paid only $500 million of the $3 billion it originally promised for the Green Climate Fund, or roughly three percent of the United Nations' Global Environment Facility's (GEF) total climate funding. The GEF's chief executive, Naoko Ishii, said "I'm actually not much concerned about Trump. The climate financing picture is really more diverse," referencing the mix of private sector interests supplementing government spending. UN Special Envoy on Climate Change Mary Robinson said, "In a way the $100 billion [pledge by developed nations] is almost a distraction in amount. We need much more than that. So the most effective thing is how we can ... encourage investment in developing countries [through public money]."

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pastedGraphic_21.pdfProposal Would Screen for Conflicts of Interest, Ban Fossil Fuel Reps from Climate Talks

On November 16, the United States agreed to officially receive a petition signed by more than 500,000 people to bar fossil fuel lobbyists from future United Nations climate negotiations. The petition, led by Corporate Accountability International, would ban any non-state participant from the summit meetings if they fail to pass a screening for conflicts of interest. The primary advocates for the measure are developing states, who represent a majority of the global population, but whose national GDP may be less than that of some fossil fuel conglomerates. Delegations from the European Union, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have pushed back, arguing the climate talks should be open to everyone and no clear definition for "conflict of interest" has been determined. In a statement, Ecuador's delegation defended the proposal, declaring, "Too much is at stake to continue allowing the world's biggest polluters and their agents to undermine [the negotiation] process."

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International Community Vows to Carry Out Paris Agreement, Despite American Political Upheaval

While President-elect Trump's campaign promises may hint at a reversal of the climate policies issued under the Obama administration, American negotiators expressed confidence in the strength of the institutional agreements that have been achieved. This sentiment was best expressed by Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing: "Heads of state can and will change, but I am confident that we can and we will sustain a durable international effort to tackle climate change." International colleagues have expressed their appreciation for the work of the U.S. staff over the course of the Marrakech climate summit, with the delegations from China, the European Union, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada reaffirming their commitment to implementing the Paris agreement regardless of the upheaval in the United States. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated, "In the United States an enormous role is played by the states and regions in terms of implementing clean energy and climate polices and there's no suggestion that I know of that there is going to be a profound change in those state, regional and ... city initiatives."

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European Union Rejects Call for Carbon Tax on U.S. Imports, Advocates for Carbon Market Instead

The European Union (EU) Commission and Germany have dismissed calls by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to implement an import tax on the United States if the incoming administration chooses to back out of the Paris agreement. Sarkozy, who is running in France's 2017 presidential election, proposed a 1-3 percent tax rate. The EU's pushback signals its commitment to an emission trading market to regulate carbon emissions in lieu of a carbon tax. The market issues carbon allowances to companies with the total carbon allowance decreasing each year to spur investment in and adoption of renewable energy technologies. Regulators have cited a need for market reform as emission prices in the market have been slow to drive a transition toward a low-carbon economy. While there are reports that the Trump administration is exploring early exit options from the Paris Agreement, nations such as China, the EU, Canada, and Mexico have reaffirmed their emission reduction commitments.

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pastedGraphic_22.pdfLetter Urging Trump Administration to Decarbonize the U.S. Economy Signed by 365 Companies

Hundreds of American companies signed a letter asking President-elect Trump to honor the nation's obligations under the Paris climate agreement. The 365 companies and investors argued that by investing in sustainable practices, the incoming administration would help strengthen the economy and spur job creation. The letter was addressed to Trump, President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and delegates at the United Nations climate summit in Morocco. The letter calls for the "continuation of low carbon policies," "investment in the low carbon economy at home and abroad ... to boost the confidence of investors worldwide," and the "continued U.S. participation in the Paris agreement." The diverse list of signatories includes DuPont, Nike, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Intel, Starbucks, and Monsanto. While Trump's specific environmental regulation plans remain unclear, the companies involved pledged their own carbon emissions would continue to decrease. Renewable energy companies are also urgently appealing to Trump's business sensibilities by advertising the industry's employment potential.

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pastedGraphic_23.pdfFaith-Based Environmental Groups Strive to Engage Congress and Voters on Climate and Conservation

For faith-based environmental activists, the results of the U.S. presidential election presents a new set of obstacles. Donald Trump's climate skepticism and hostility toward environmental protections conflicts sharply with the faith-based community's belief to act as responsible stewards of the planet and nature. Many fear that the environmental progress achieved under the Obama administration may be lost, but activists such as Shantha Ready Alonso, executive director of Creation Justice Ministries, have remained optimistic: "We operate on faith not fear. And we are not going to assume that views can't change." As evangelical Christians voted for Trump in overwhelming numbers, activists hope to find grounds for engagement with these groups on climate change and the environment. Reverend Mitchell Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, believes faith-based environmental groups can work with Congress by redefining issues through a conservative lens. Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life said, "We will hold the feet of those [elected] officials, irrespective of party, to the fire when it comes to defending creation."

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Chad A. Tolman

New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

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