CC9C-2013-What Are Governments Doing About Climate Change?

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Staying current for Chapter 9

Articles from 2013–2019

Stay current index page for Chapter 9

{ Climate Change Contents }

2019-12-15. U.N. Climate Talks End With Few Commitments and a ‘Lost’ Opportunity. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times.  [] Excerpt: In what was widely denounced as one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations, United Nations talks ended early Sunday morning with the United States and other big polluters blocking even a nonbinding measure that would have encouraged countries to adopt more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year.   Because the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, it was the last chance, at least for some time, for American delegates to sit at the negotiating table at the annual talks — and perhaps a turning point in global climate negotiations, given the influence that Washington has long wielded, for better or worse, in the discussions.The Trump administration used the meeting to push back on a range of proposals, including a mechanism to compensate developing countries for losses that were the result of more intense storms, droughts, rising seas and other effects of global warming…. See also: As U.N. Climate Talks Go to Overtime, a Battle for the ‘Spirit’ of the Paris Pact. {World leaders meeting in Madrid remained at loggerheads on Saturday about whether they could commit, just on paper, to raise voluntary climate targets next year.} []

2019-12-05. California Bans Insurers From Dropping Policies Made Riskier by Climate Change. By Christopher Flavelle and Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: California’s wildfires have grown so costly and damaging that insurance companies — a homeowner’s last hope when disaster strikes — have increasingly been canceling people’s policies in fire-prone parts of the state. On Thursday, however, California took the highly unusual step of banning the practice, a decision that exacerbates the insurance industry’s miscalculation of the cost of climate change. The new policy imposes a one-year moratorium preventing insurers from dropping customers in or alongside ZIP codes struck by recent wildfires. The moratorium covers at least 800,000 homes around the state. The state has also asked insurers to voluntarily stop dropping customers anywhere in California because of fire risk for one year…. 

2019-12-05. ‘The Amazon Is Completely Lawless’: The Rainforest After Bolsonaro’s First Year. Photographs and Video by Victor Moriyama, Written by Matt Sandy, The New York Times.  [] Excerpt: Deforestation in the world’s largest rainforest, an important buffer against climate change, has soared under President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. …For months, black clouds had hung over the rainforest as work crews burned and chain-sawed through it. Now the rainy season had arrived, offering a respite to the jungle and a clearer view of the damage to the world. The picture that emerged was anything but reassuring: Brazil’s space agency reported that in one year, more than 3,700 square miles of the Amazon had been razed — a swath of jungle nearly the size of Lebanon torn from the world’s largest rainforest. It was the highest loss in Brazilian rainforest in a decade, and stark evidence of just how badly the Amazon, an important buffer against global warming, has fared in Brazil’s first year under President Jair Bolsonaro…. 

2019-11-26. New U.N. climate report offers ‘bleak’ emissions forecast. By Nathaniel Gronewald, E&E News, Science Magazine. [] Excerpt: Global emissions are expected to keep climbing despite promises from almost 200 nations to address climate change, propelling temperatures upward and threatening to shatter the threshold of 2°C that scientists say would invite dramatic changes to ecology and the economy. The 10th Emissions Gap Report [] by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released today, warned that there’s “no sign” greenhouse gases will hit their zenith anytime soon. It arrived a day after the World Meteorological Organization revealed record-high concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “The summary findings are bleak,” the UNEP report said. “Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global [greenhouse gas] emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.” The World Meteorological Organization, meanwhile, said average CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere rose to 407.8 parts per million in 2018, surpassing its estimate in 2017 of 405.5 ppm. UNEP’s emissions gap survey, launched from Geneva, forecasts much higher greenhouse gas concentrations to come. In the report, UNEP applauds heightened public pressure on governments to address climate change, yet laments that it’s not nearly enough. The world’s emissions have been increasing by about 1.5% per year for the past decade, it notes. That would lead to temperature increases of nearly 4°C by 2100, “bringing wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts.”….

2019-11-04. Trump Serves Notice to Quit Paris Climate Agreement. By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations on Monday that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy….

2019-09-20. Germany Unveils $60 Billion Climate Package. By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times.] Excerpt: BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Friday agreed to support a $60 billion package of climate policies aimed at getting Germany back on track to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. …Under the terms of the new package, Germany will work to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. A cornerstone of the agreement is to begin charging in 2021 for carbon emissions that are generated by transportation and heating fuels. Companies in the transportation industry will be required to buy certificates for 10 euros (about $11) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The price will increase to 35 euros per ton by 2025, and a free-market exchange will open afterward, allowing the polluters to auction their carbon pollution permits. Consumers will likely face higher gas prices that the government will offset by raising tax breaks for commuters…. 

2019-09-10. Canada Tries a Forceful Message for Flood Victims: Live Someplace Else. By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: Unlike the United States, which will repeatedly help pay for people to rebuild in place, Canada has responded to the escalating costs of climate change by limiting aid after disasters, and even telling people to leave their homes. It is an experiment that has exposed a complex mix of relief, anger and loss as entire neighborhoods are removed, house by house. “Canadians are stubbornly beginning to reconsider the wisdom of building near flood-prone areas,” said Jason Thistlethwaite, a professor of environment and business at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. “It’s taking government action to obligate people to make better decisions.”…. 

2019-08-08. Climate Change Pressures Land and Food Resources, Report Warns. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. [] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: Climate change is putting increased pressure on land and food resources while poor land use and food management are also contributing to climate change, according to a new report issued today, 8 August, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The special report [] on climate change and land details these impacts and outlines near- and long-term actions that can help to mitigate and stave off far worse impacts. …Among the impacts that climate change is having on land are increases in the frequency and intensity of weather and climate extremes; threats to food security, human health, and terrestrial ecosystems; contributions to desertification; and effects on land degradation through actions such as increased rainfall intensity, flooding, heat stress, and sea level rise. In addition, the report notes that data available since 1961 show that global population growth and changes in per capita consumption of food, feed, fiber, timber, and energy “have caused unprecedented rates of land and freshwater use” and that agriculture currently accounts for about 70% of global freshwater use. The report states that the expansion of areas under agriculture and forestry has supported consumption and food availability for a growing population but that with large regional variation, these changes have contributed to increasing net greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural ecosystems, and declining biodiversity. …The report also looks at food from a number of perspectives, including soil erosion, fertilizer use, domestic livestock, food waste, and even individual diets. The report notes, for instance, that climate change affects food security because of warming, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events. It states that 25%–30% of total food produced currently is either lost or wasted and that if this amount could be reduced, it could take some pressure off of the need to convert additional land for agriculture. In addition, the report says that “the total technical mitigation potential of dietary changes” by having more people adopt plant-based diets could be as much as 8 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2050….  See also New York Times article Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns []; Earth’s Food Supply Is Under Threat. These Fixes Would Go a Long Way [

2019-08-08. Bioenergy plantations could fight climate change—but threaten food crops, U.N. panel warns. By Erik Stokstad. Science Magazine.  [] Excerpt: In the effort to keep the planet from reaching dangerous temperatures, a hybrid approach called BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) has a seductive appeal. Crops suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, power plants burn the biomass to generate electricity, and the emissions are captured in a smokestack and pumped underground for long-term storage. Energy is generated even as CO2 is removed: an irresistible win-win. But this week, the United Nations’s climate panel sounded a warning [] about creating vast bioenergy plantations, which could jeopardize food production, water supplies, and land rights for poor farmers. “Our report is kind of a reality check,” says Lennart Olsson of the Center for Sustainability Studies at Lund University in Sweden, a lead author of a special report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Instead of betting big on bioenergy, governments need to focus on the hard medicine of cutting fossil fuel use, he says. “There is no shortcut to climate change mitigation.”…. 

2019-07-06. As Floods Keep Coming, Cities Pay Residents to Move. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: NASHVILLE — Jonna Laidlaw[‘s]…house…had flooded some 20 times since 2001, from a few inches to six feet. She and her husband would do their repairs with help from their flood insurance, but before long it would flood again. …When city officials offered to buy the house last year, she and her husband gladly said yes. They have since moved to higher ground. Nashville is trying to move people like the Laidlaws away from flood-prone areas. The voluntary program uses a combination of federal, state and local funds to offer market value for their homes. If the owners accept the offer, they move out, the city razes the house and prohibits future development. The acquired land becomes an absorbent creekside buffer, much of it serving as parks with playgrounds and walking paths. Climate change is increasing the program’s urgency. While a number of cities around the country have similar relocation projects to address increased flooding, disaster mitigation experts consider Nashville’s a model that other communities would be wise to learn from: The United States spends far more on helping people rebuild after disasters than preventing problems. …David Maurstad, who heads the National Flood Insurance Program, said buyouts were the most permanent way to mitigate against future flood hazards. “Rebuilding out of harm’s way can help avoid future devastation in a way that flood insurance cannot,” he said….  

2019-07-05. Tracking Earth’s Shape Reveals Greater Polar Ice Loss. By Elizabeth Thompson, Eos/AGU. [] Excerpt: Earth may be called the “Blue Marble,” but it is not a perfect sphere. The planet is slightly flattened at the poles because of its rotation, and this flattening has a large effect on Earth’s gravity field. The flattening, or oblateness, can change as Earth’s crust sinks or rises according to the weight of ice sheets resting on its surface or as water from melting polar ice sheets enters the ocean. In 2002, NASA and the German Aerospace Center launched the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE (and later the follow-on mission GRACE-FO), to track anomalies in Earth’s gravitational field and monitor the mass of ice sheets and ocean waters. But one key issue with GRACE was quickly identified. The oblateness measurements were off, leading to errors when calculating mass changes. …In a new study, Loomis et al. analyze existing methods and propose a solution of their own, integrating GRACE’s gravity anomaly data with a technique called satellite laser ranging (SLR). With SLR, scientists send a laser pulse to a satellite, which reflects it back to Earth. By measuring the time the light pulse takes to return, they can precisely calculate the distance it traveled….  The researchers discovered that there has been greater ice mass loss at both poles than was previously thought. Improving the accuracy of our mass change observations is critical for improving our models and advancing our understanding of our changing planet. (Geophysical Research Letters,, 2019)….

2019-06-21. Blue States Roll Out Aggressive Climate Strategies. Red States Keep to the Sidelines. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: …A growing number of blue states are adopting sweeping new climate laws — such as New York’s bill, passed this week, to zero out net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 — that aim to reorient their entire economies around clean energy, transforming the way people get their electricity, heat their homes and commute to work. But these laws are passing almost exclusively in states controlled by Democrats, while Republican-led states have largely resisted enacting aggressive new climate policies in recent years. At the same time, the Trump administration is rolling back federal climate regulations, which means many red states now face even less pressure to shift away from coal power or gas-guzzling vehicles. … Over the past year, Democratic majorities in California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington have all passed bills aimed at getting 100 percent of their state’s electricity from carbon-free sources like wind, solar or nuclear power by midcentury, while enacting a raft of measures to install more electric-vehicle charging stations and ratchet up efficiency codes for buildings. In all, these states plan to invest billions of dollars to shift away from fossil fuels, the major driver of global warming….  

2019-06-19. America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air. By Nadja Popovich, The New York Times.  [] Excerpt: When asked about climate change, President Trump often shifts the focus to America’s “clean air.” “We have the cleanest air in the world in the United States and it’s gotten better since I’m president,” he said again this month while meeting with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland. …Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades because of federal rules.  …By one crucial metric, fine particulate pollution, the United States ranks 10th in air quality. New Zealand, Canada, Australia and several European countries can boast clearer skies. …Particulate matter and other pollution have dramatically decreased over the past 40 years, in large part because of regulations put in place under the Clean Air Act of 1970 and its later updates, experts say. …But, despite these gains, more than 110 million Americans still live in counties with unhealthy levels of pollution, according to the E.P.A. An estimated 100,000 Americans die prematurely each year of illnesses caused or exacerbated by polluted air. …Climate change could make air pollution worse. A report [] issued this year by the American Lung Association found that air pollution was ticking back up across much of the country and warned that climate change could make it “harder to protect human health” in the future. …Wildfires contributed to higher levels of PM2.5 pollution in the West, while the rise in ozone was attributed to warmer temperatures. (2015, 2016 and 2017 were the three warmest years on record, globally.) …the Trump administration has taken steps to weaken air quality and climate regulations. Two major actions include repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to slash greenhouse gas emissions and lower pollution from power plants, and rolling back national auto emissions standards….    See also E.P.A. Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Rules []

2019-06-06. Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The world’s largest automakers warned President Trump on Thursday that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards — threatens to cut their profits and produce “untenable” instability in a crucial manufacturing sector….

2019-05-24. Latest Arena for China’s Growing Global Ambitions: The Arctic.By Somini Sengupta and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: ROVANIEMI, Finland — The Arctic is thawing, and China is seizing the chance to expand its influence in the north. For China, the retreating ice potentially offers two big prizes: new sources of energy and a faster shipping route across the top of the world. To that end, the country is cultivating deeper ties with Russia. More than 3,000 miles from home, Chinese crews have been drilling for gas beneath the frigid waters of the Kara Sea off Russia’s northern coast. Every summer for the last five years, Chinese cargo ships have maneuvered through the ice packs off Russia’s shores — a new passage that officials in Beijing like to call the Polar Silk Road. And in Shanghai, Chinese shipbuilders recently launched the country’s second icebreaker, the Snow Dragon 2. China’s ambitions in the Far North, said Aleksi Harkonen, Finland’s ambassador for Arctic affairs, mirror its ambitions everywhere else. “It’s after global influence,” he said, “including in the Arctic.”….

2019-05-02. The International Space Station has found its scientific calling. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. [] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9 and ABCs of Digital Earthwatch chapter 7. Excerpt: The International Space Station (ISS) has never been known as a hotbed of science, even though the United States and partner nations spent more than $100 billion to build it. Inside its cramped bays, astronauts study the biological effects of microgravity, and a few astrophysical experiments are mounted to its exterior. But …the ISS has finally found a scientific calling: looking down at its home planet. The ISS is now home to five instruments that observe Earth, with two more set to join this year. One, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3), …will be the third prominent NASA mission to be mounted on the Japanese module within the past year. Ecostress, attached in July 2018, measures the heat given off by plants to gauge the impact of heat waves and drought. The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), launched in December 2018, uses a laser to probe the height of tree canopies and understories. Later this year, a Japanese hyperspectral imager that can detect land use and forest type will take a fourth spot. Other instruments mounted elsewhere on the ISS in the past 2 years measure lightning, incoming sunlight, and ozone. Like OCO-2, OCO-3 carries a spectrometer that spies on wavelengths of light absorbed by carbon dioxide (CO2), providing a count of all CO2 molecules on a path from the ISS to the surface. Based on how CO2 concentrations vary from place to place, the missions can map some emission sources along with absorption by plants….  

2019-04-04. A Framework for Sustained Climate Assessment in the United States. By R.H. Moss et al (Climate advisory panel disbanded by President Trump). [] [The panel was reconstituted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and includes members from academia, corporations and the government. Twelve of the original 15 members, along with eight additional experts, spent a year preparing the report designed to help local officials incorporate the latest climate science in their planning.]

2019-03-25. Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change. By Somini Sengupta, Photographs by Charlotte de la Fuente, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: COPENHAGEN — Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions? Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes. Here’s why it matters to the rest of the world: Half of humanity now lives in cities, and the vast share of planet-warming gases come from cities. The big fixes for climate change need to come from cities too. They are both a problem and a potential source of solutions. The experience of Copenhagen, home to 624,000 people, can show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet. The mayor, Frank Jensen, said cities “can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green.” His city has some advantages. It is small, it is rich and its people care a lot about climate change. …In the case of Copenhagen, that means changing how people get around, how they heat their homes, and what they do with their trash. The city has already cut its emissions by 42 percent from 2005 levels, mainly by moving away from fossil fuels to generate heat and electricity.

2019-03-22. Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Leases on Public Land, Citing Climate Change. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [] Excerpt: In a court ruling Tuesday, 19 March, a federal judge temporarily halted oil and gas leases on 300,000 acres (1,200 square kilometers) of public lands in Wyoming because the sale of the leases “did not sufficiently consider climate change.” The Obama administration had auctioned off the land in 2015 and 2016 for oil and gas exploration. The court decision pauses these sales and orders the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to redo its environmental assessment. “This decision is hugely significant,” Noel Healy, a professor of geography at Salem State University in Massachusetts, told Eos. “It could be used to challenge Trump’s plans to further fossil fuel production across the U.S.” …“The Department of [the] Interior and BLM were willfully ignoring the climate consequences of oil and gas development across hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands,” Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, managing attorney for WildEarth Guardians and one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Eos. “We wanted to hold BLM accountable for its decisions to sacrifice public lands for dirty oil and gas.” Wyoming senator Mike Enzi (R) called the ruling “a shortsighted decision” that would “damage our workforce and economy” and set a “dangerous precedent for the future.” …The ruling pointed out a “critical flaw” in fossil fuel leasing, said Healy. BLM is required to evaluate the environmental impacts of the leases under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but the agency failed to account for emissions from future oil and gas extraction and their impact on climate change. BLM argued that site-specific assessments completed later would take the emissions into account, but the judge ruled that this was inadequate given the “cumulative nature of climate change.” …It would simply be irresponsible to not consider the future consequences of our actions….  

2019-01-18. Mayor Signs Landmark Clean Energy Law for D.C. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. [] Excerpt: With the signing of a landmark clean energy bill today, Washington, D. C. mayor Muriel Bowser has established the city as a global leader in clean energy and efforts to combat climate change. The law, known as the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, mandates that 100% of the electricity sold in the city come from renewable energy sources by 2032. In addition, the law…also doubles the required amount of solar energy deployed in the District, makes significant improvements to the energy efficiency of existing buildings, provides energy bill assistance for low- and moderate-income residents, requires all public transportation and privately owned fleet vehicles to become emissions-free by 2045, and funds the DC Green Bank to attract private investment in clean energy projects….

2018-12-15. Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact. The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020. It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track. The United States agreed to the deal despite President Trump’s vow to abandon the Paris Agreement…. 

2018-11-26. Five Big Ways the United States Will Need to Adapt to Climate Change. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The federal government’s sweeping new National Climate Assessment is more than just a dire warning about current and future global warming effects across the United States. It’s also the most detailed guide yet to all the ways the country will have to adapt. Even if the nations of the world get their act together and slash fossil-fuel emissions rapidly, the United States will need to spend many billions of dollars to harden coastlines, rebuild sewer systems and overhaul farming practices to protect against floods, wildfires and heat waves that are already causing havoc nationwide. And the more that emissions rise, the more difficult and costly that task gets. The United States isn’t prepared….

1. Rethink how we farm….

2. Build for the future, not the past….

3. Retreat from the coasts….

4. Enlist nature to help….

5. Expect the unexpected….  

2018-11-26. How Trump Is Ensuring That Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Rise. By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — President Trump had a clear message Monday when asked about the core conclusion of a scientific report issued by his own administration: that climate change will batter the nation’s economy. “I don’t believe it,” he said. Mr. Trump then laid responsibility for cleaning the atmosphere on other countries like China and Japan…. the National Climate Assessment, issued on Friday, was the product of four years of work by 13 federal agencies. It concluded that “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” and adds, “the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Those impacts include more devastating wildfires, severe storms and coastal flooding, droughts, crop failures, water shortages, threats to public health and the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to the American economy, according to the authors. But in his disregard for scientific evidence, Mr. Trump has made the dismantling of policies to curb greenhouse pollution a centerpiece of his deregulatory agenda. The most direct way the Trump administration is working to allow more greenhouse gas emissions is by weakening the Obama-era regulations meant to reduce pollution at its source: the smokestacks of power plants and tailpipes of automobiles….  

2018-11-20. Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe. By Abrahm Lustgarten, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: …In the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences. The tropical rain forests of Indonesia, and in particular the peatland regions of Borneo, have large amounts of carbon trapped within their trees and soil. Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. A lot more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions. Instead of creating a clever technocratic fix to reduce American’s carbon footprint, lawmakers had lit the fuse on a powerful carbon bomb that, as the forests were cleared and burned, produced more carbon than the entire continent of Europe. The unprecedented palm-oil boom, meanwhile, has enriched and emboldened many of the region’s largest corporations, which have begun using their newfound power and wealth to suppress critics, abuse workers and acquire more land to produce oil…. 

2018-11-15. World off Course to Meet Emissions Reduction Goals. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. [] Excerpt: Despite energy efficiency and solar energy and other renewables playing an ever-larger role in the global energy mix, carbon emissions are increasing, and the world is not on course to meeting emissions reduction goals set by the 2016 Paris climate accord. That’s according to “World Energy Outlook 2018,” a report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on 13 November. …“We can now safely say that in 2018, CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions will reach an historical high,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said at a 13 November briefing in Paris. “I see a very sharp disconnect between the scientific research targets—aims we have in terms of climate change—and what is happening in the energy markets.” The report states that after three flat years, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.6% in 2017, and data suggest that they will “remain on a slow but steady upward path.” …The report suggests measures for the world to adopt to get on track to meet climate objectives…much more investment in renewable energy, which already accounts for 45% of the growth in global energy demand; retrofitting existing buildings and transportation infrastructure to cut energy use; and using low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage to reduce emissions from existing coal-fired power plants….  

2018-10-24. New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders on Climate Change. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. [] Excerpt: New York’s attorney general sued Exxon Mobil on Wednesday, claiming the company defrauded shareholders by downplaying the expected risks of climate change to its business. The litigation, which follows more than three years of investigation, represents the most significant legal effort yet to establish that a fossil fuel company misled the public on climate change and to hold it responsible….

2018-10-19. Climate change prompts a rethink of Everglades management. By Richard Blaustein, Science Magazine. [] Excerpt: Efforts to restore the rich ecology of the Florida Everglades have so far focused on fighting damage from pollutant runoff and reestablishing the natural flow of water. But now, an expert panel is calling for federal and state agencies to reassess their plans in light of threats from climate change and sea-level rise. A congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, released on 16 October, asks the managers of the 18-year-old Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) to conduct a “midcourse assessment.” The new evaluation should account for likely conditions in the wetlands in “2050 and beyond” and model how existing restoration projects would fare under various sea-level rise scenarios….

2018-10-08. Key climate panel, citing impending crisis, urges crash effort to reduce emissions. By Dennis Normile, Science Magazine. [] Excerpt: The United Nations’s climate panel has moved the goal posts for limiting climate change, setting the world a staggering challenge. A report released yesterday [] in Incheon, South Korea, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says allowing the planet to warm by more than 1.5°C could have dire consequences, and that a speedy transformation of the world’s energy systems is needed to avoid breaching that limit, which is notably tighter than the target of 2°C cited in the Paris agreement of 2015. “Net [carbon dioxide] emissions at the global scale must reach zero by 2050,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, a climate scientist at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in Paris and a key participant in drafting the report. …There is no time for delay, the report warns, a consensus drawn from thousands of scientific studies. The world has already warmed by about 1°C since preindustrial times, two-thirds of the way toward the new target. …Among other measures, the IPCC says, coal needs to be all but eliminated as a source of electricity, renewable power must be greatly expanded, and “negative-emissions” strategies that suck carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere need to be adopted on a large scale, particularly if emissions reductions are delayed. Under pressure from island nations at risk from sea-level rise, the United Nations agreed during the Paris negotiations to ask the IPCC to investigate the impact of 1.5°C of global warming. ..It warns that overshooting 1.5°C will be disastrous. For example, with 1.5°C of warming, sea levels are projected to rise 26 to 77 centimeters by 2100; going to 2°C adds another 10 centimeters, which would affect an additional 10 million people living in coastal regions. …Coral reefs are projected to decline 70% to 90% at 1.5°C, but at 2°C, 99% of reefs would be ravaged…. See also Science Magazine article New climate report actually understates threat, some researchers argue and New York Times articles Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040, The Climate Outlook Is Dire. So, What’s Next? and New U.N. Climate Report Says Put a High Price on Carbon.

2018-06-09. Pope Tells Oil Executives to Act on Climate: ‘There Is No Time to Lose’. By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times. Excerpt: ROME — Three years ago, Pope Francis issued a sweeping letter that highlighted the global crisis posed by climate change and called for swift action to save the environment and the planet. On Saturday, the pope gathered money managers and titans of the world’s biggest oil companies during a closed-door conference at the Vatican and asked them if they had gotten the message. “There is no time to lose,” Francis told them on Saturday. Pressure has been building on oil and gas companies to transition to less polluting forms of energy, with the threat of fossil-fuel divestment sometimes used as a stick. The pope said oil and gas companies had made commendable progress and were “developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk and adjusting their business practices accordingly.” But those actions were not enough….

2018-05-26. Climate change skeptics working closely with EPA. By Ellen Knickmeyer. Associated Press. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Newly released emails show senior Environmental Protection Agency officials working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming and tout Administrator Scott Pruitt’s stewardship of the agency. John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, repeatedly reached out to senior staffers at the Heartland Institute, according to the emails. …Follow-up emails show Konkus and the Heartland Institute mustering scores of potential invitees known for rejecting scientific warnings of man-made climate change, including from groups such as Plants Need CO2, the Right Climate Stuff and Junk Science. The emails underscore how Pruitt and senior agency officials have sought to surround themselves with people who share their vision of curbing environmental regulation and enforcement, leading to complaints from environmentalists….

2018-05-15. ‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change. By Brad Plummer, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — In the Trump era, it has mainly been blue states that have taken the lead on climate change policy, with liberal strongholds like California and New York setting ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Now, at least one deep-red state could soon join them: Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting its own plan to address climate change. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide. While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The solid permafrost that sits beneath many roads, buildings and pipelines is starting to thaw, destabilizing the infrastructure above. At least 31 coastal towns and cities may need to relocate, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, as protective sea ice vanishes and fierce waves erode Alaska’s shores….

2018-05-09. California Will Require Solar Power for New Homes. By Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: SACRAMENTO — Long a leader and trendsetter in its clean-energy goals, California took a giant step on Wednesday, becoming the first state to require all new homes to have solar power. The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now. …“This adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap,” Bob Raymer, senior engineer for the California Building Industry Association, said during the public comments before the vote. “You can bet every state will be watching to see what happens.” …California’s move is by far the boldest and most consequential of any. California law requires at least 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from noncarbon-producing sources by 2030. …The building-code change is one dimension of a broader transition away from centralized power. …At the end of 2017, California was by far the nation’s leader in installed solar capacity. Solar power provides almost 16 percent of the state’s electricity, and the industry employs more than 86,000 workers. …The requirement is expected to add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a home. “Our druthers would have been to have this delayed another two or three years,” said Mr. Raymer of the building-industry group. But he was not surprised. “We’ve known this was coming,” he said. “The writing was on the wall.” For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills….

2018-05-09. Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts. By Paul Voosen, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In recent years… satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump’s administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned. The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. …The White House has mounted a broad attack on climate science, repeatedly proposing cuts to NASA’s earth science budget, including the CMS, and cancellations of climate missions such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3). …The agency [NASA] declined to provide a reason for the cancellation beyond “budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.” But the CMS is an obvious target for the Trump administration because of its association with climate treaties and its work to help foreign nations understand their emissions, says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. And, unlike the satellites that provide the data, the research line had no private contractor to lobby for it….

2018-01-29. New Jersey Embraces an Idea It Once Rejected: Make Utilities Pay to Emit Carbon. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Even as the Trump administration dismantles climate policies at the federal level, a growing number of Democratic state governors are considering taxing or pricing carbon dioxide emissions within their own borders to tackle global warming. New Jersey took a major step in that direction Monday when newly elected Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, ordered his state to rejoin a regional carbon-trading program that his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, had pulled out of in 2012. The program, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, requires power plants in participating states to buy permits for the carbon dioxide they emit. State officials often use revenue from these permit auctions for energy efficiency programs. In a so-called cap-and-trade program like this, power plants can trade the carbon permits among themselves, but the overall number of permits dwindles steadily over time. That effectively raises the cost of emitting carbon dioxide, prodding utilities to seek out cleaner sources of electricity. “Pulling out of R.G.G.I. slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities,” Mr. Murphy said. He estimated that New Jersey had foregone $279 million in permit auction revenue because of Mr. Christie’s withdrawal….

2017-12-11. France names winners of anti-Trump climate change grants. By Sylvie Corbet, AP. Excerpt: PARIS — Eighteen climate scientists from the U.S. and elsewhere hit the jackpot Monday as French President Emmanuel Macron awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trump’s presidential term. The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants — a nod to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — are part of Macron’s efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. More than 5,000 people from about 100 countries expressed interest in the grants. A majority of the applicants — and 13 of the 18 winners — were U.S.-based researchers. Macron’s appeal “gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do,” said winner Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin. She will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees on how human-made climate change is affecting wildlife. In an interview, Parmesan described funding challenges for climate science in the U.S. and a feeling that “you are having to hide what you do.” Trump has expressed skepticism about global warming and said the Paris accord would hurt U.S. business by requiring a reduction in climate-damaging emissions. “We will be there to replace” U.S. financing of climate research, Macron told the winners in Paris on Monday. “If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science.”

2017-11-17&18. Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany. At Bonn Climate Talks, Stakes Get Higher in Gamble on Planet’s Future. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: Perhaps the most revealing moment at this year’s United Nations climate talks came on Wednesday, when Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany addressed the nearly 200 nations gathered here. …Ms. Merkel acknowledged that Germany was likely to miss the goals it had set itself for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 because of its continued reliance on coal power…. — 2017-11-18. What Happened (and Didn’t) at the Bonn Climate Talks. By Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer. The New York Times. Excerpt: …After wrangling through the night, the 23rd conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change wrapped up early Saturday with modest accomplishments, paving the way to complete by next year the rules that will set the Paris agreement in motion…. — 2017-11-17. Island Nations, With No Time to Lose, Take Climate Response Into Their Own Hands. By Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman. The New York Times. Excerpt: …as two weeks of negotiations on bolstering the Paris agreement draw to a close, island leaders say the décor seems a cruel taunt. …Fiji, a sunny island nation in the South Pacific, is the official host of the climate discussions here in chilly Bonn. But leaders say their hopes that island issues would take center stage have mostly been dashed. Almost none of the measures to help their countries adapt to the impacts of global warming have been resolved, and few delegates say they are hopeful the final hours of talks will bring decisions….

2017-11-17. Treaty to Phase Out ‘Greenhouse Gasses on Steroids’ to Enter Force. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times.  Excerpt: UNITED NATIONS — Hydrofluorocarbons. It’s a mouthful of a name for a chemical that keeps the turkey frozen in our refrigerators and also heats up the planet. Now, a landmark international agreement to eliminate HFCs, as the chemicals are better known, is poised to come into effect. On Friday, Sweden became the 20th country to ratify the treaty…. That meets the threshold for the agreement to enter into force… January 1, 2019. It requires every country in the world to phase out the use of HFCs, compounds that are regarded as a sort of greenhouse gas on steroids, able to trap much more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. The agreement was reached, after seven painstaking years of negotiations, in October 2016 in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Known as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, it required 20 countries to ratify it in order to go into effect — just in time for a global meeting on a broader treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, which starts next week in Montreal. …the ratification sends a message to companies that make the compounds and to companies that use coolants in their products that they will have to come up with alternatives. …The United States has not yet ratified the measure, …and if it fails to ratify the agreement, it could potentially hinder the ability of American companies to sell coolants to other countries that have ratified the agreement. …China, a leading manufacturer of household appliances that contain HFCs, hasn’t yet ratified it either, but is expected to, Mr. Zaelke said….

2017-11-01. IPCC Chair Discusses Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU.  Excerpt: Several forthcoming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change examine what needs to be done to take control of our climate future. …With a United Nations climate change conference scheduled for Bonn, Germany, from 6 to 17 November, two high-level reports released this week warn about the increasing risk of climate change. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is working on a separate report, to be issued in 2018, about the effects of global warming at 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. A 30 October report from the World Meteorological Organization warned that in 2016, globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide surged in 1 year from 400 to 403.3 parts per million, the highest level in 800,000 years. Also, a 31 October report from the United Nations (UN) sounds an alarm about the need for accelerated short-term actions and enhanced longer-term national ambitions to meet the Paris climate agreement goal of holding global warming to well below 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. …In most countries, governments are addressing climate change in the context of other national priorities such as energy security and poverty alleviation, Lee said, adding that “improvements to climate policy programs need to engage these broader national priorities.” …the UN report released yesterday questions whether a 1.5°C goal is possible. It notes that the gap between emissions reductions that are needed and national pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), on climate action “is alarmingly high.” It “is clear that if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2.0° can still be reached,” the UN report states….

2017-10-23. Congressional Auditor Urges Action to Address Climate Change. By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Fires, floods and hurricanes are already costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars a year and climate change will drive those costs ever higher in coming years, a new federal study warns. The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s auditing arm, urges the Trump administration to take climate change risks seriously and begin formulating a response. The study, scheduled to be released Tuesday, says that different sectors of the economy and different parts of the country will be harmed in ways that are difficult to predict. But one estimate projects that rising temperatures could cause losses in labor productivity of as much as $150 billion by 2099, while changes in some crop yields could cost as much as $53 billion. The Southwest will suffer more costly wildfires, the Southeast will see more heat-related deaths and the Northwest must prepare for diminished shellfish harvests. …The G.A.O. study draws on interviews with 26 scientific and economic experts and 30 studies, though it focuses most heavily on the only two national-scale studies analyzing the economic effects of climate change. One of them is an ongoing research project being produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the other is a study by several organizations led by the Rhodium Group that analyzed the potential costs associated with climate change in coastal property, health, agriculture, energy, labor productivity and crime….

2017-10-22. E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists. By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved. …Scientists involved in the program said that much of the discussion at the event centers on climate change. Many said they were surprised by the E.P.A.’s last-minute cancellation, particularly since the agency helps to fund the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which is hosting the conference. The scientists who have been barred from speaking contributed substantial material to a 400-page report to be issued on Monday. …“It’s definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at E.P.A.,” said John King, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who chairs the science advisory committee of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. “They don’t believe in climate change, so I think what they’re trying to do is stifle discussions of the impacts of climate change.”…

2017-10-20. E.P.A. Scrubs a Climate Website of ‘Climate Change’. By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency has removed dozens of online resources dedicated to helping local governments address climate change, part of an apparent effort by the agency to play down the threat of global warming. A new analysis made public on Friday found that an E.P.A. website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms. The site, previously the E.P.A.’s “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments” has been renamed “Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments.” About 15 mentions of the words “climate change” have been removed from the main page alone, the study found. Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes. An E.P.A. spokesman said the original pages have been archived and remain available by searching through the agency’s web archive, a link to which is at the top of its energy resources page….

2017-10-14. Australia Debates: Does a Warming Planet Really Need More Coal? By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In a desolate corner of northeastern Australia, about 100 miles from the nearest town, a grassy stretch of prime grazing land sits above a vein of coal so rich and deep that it could be mined for decades. The Australian government is considering a proposal to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in this remote locale, known as the Galilee Basin, where acacia and eucalyptus trees grow wild between scattered creeks. An Indian conglomerate, the Adani Group, has asked for a taxpayer-financed loan of as much as $800 million to make the enormous project viable, promising to create thousands of jobs in return. But the plan has met intense opposition in Australia and abroad, focusing attention on a question with global resonance: Given the threat of climate change and the slowing global demand for coal, does the world really need another giant mine, especially at the public’s expense? ….

2017-09-27. U.S. Climate Change Policy: Made in California. By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: SACRAMENTO — The Trump administration may appear to control climate policy in Washington, but the nation’s most dynamic environmental regulator is here in California. Mary D. Nichols, California’s electric-car-driving, hoodie-wearing, 72-year-old air quality regulator, is pressing ahead with a far-reaching agenda of environmental and climate actions. She says she will not let the Trump administration stand in her way. …For now, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A., has said that he will not seek to revoke the federal waiver that allows California to set auto emissions standards — an action that would likely propel the issue to court. Automakers, similarly, have not publicly asked for such a move. …For much of the 20th century, swaths of Southern California were hit with smog outbreaks that turned the skies so dark that locals once mistook a particularly intense episode for a solar eclipse. Crops wilted; school events were canceled; Hollywood studios shut down their outdoor shoots. The state moved quickly to regulate the obvious sources, like factory smoke stacks, steel mills and coal power plants. Yet the acrid smog persisted. “You couldn’t see the mountains around L.A. on smoggy days,” said John R. Balmes, a physician, air pollution expert and a member of CARB’s board, who has lived in the region for almost four decades. “People’s eyes would burn. They’d have headaches. They’d have problems breathing.” It took Arie J. Haagen-Smit, a Dutch biochemist at the California Institute of Technology, to link the smog to auto emissions….

2017-08-28. Hurricane Harvey provides lab for U.S. forecast experiments. By Paul Voosen, Science. Excerpt: For years, U.S. forecasters have envied their colleagues at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, U.K., whose hurricane prediction models remain the gold standard. Infamously, the National Weather Service (NWS) in 2012 failed to predict Hurricane Sandy’s turn into New Jersey, whereas ECMWF was spot on. But two innovations tested during Hurricane Harvey, one from NASA and another from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), could help level the playing field. …Last week, GFDL [NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory] anxiously watched the developing storm to see how it compared with a test run of the next-generation model. On Thursday, a day prior to landfall, the experiment agreed with the European model that Harvey would plow inland, stall, then head back out over the Gulf of Mexico before making a second landfall near Houston, Texas. That progression, close to what’s happening, helps explain the sustained, catastrophic rainfall that has battered the Texas coast. The GFDL model, called FV3, also correctly forecasted that Harvey would develop a double eyewall—a second circular band of storms around the band enclosing the eye. The model’s zoomed-in view also predicted the extreme rainfall totals seen by Houston some 5 days in advance, says Shian-Jiann Lin, the GFDL scientist who led the development of the code powering FV3….

2017-08-10. Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: Several groups and individuals around the United States have gone to court to try to do what the Trump administration has so far declined to do: confront the causes and effects of global warming. In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date…. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations. Efforts in the United States are part of a wave of litigation around the world, including a 2015 decision in which a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to toughen its climate policies; that case is under appeal. A 2017 report from the United Nations Environment Program found nearly 900 climate litigation suits in more than 20 countries. In Switzerland, a group of nearly 800 older women known as Senior Women for Climate Protection have sued their government over climate change. In New Zealand, a court recently heard a climate case brought by a law student, Sarah Lorraine Thomson; a decision is pending….

2017-07-26. Britain to Ban New Diesel and Gas Cars by 2040. By Stephen Castle, The New York Times. Excerpt: LONDON — Scrambling to combat a growing air pollution crisis, Britain announced on Wednesday that sales of new diesel and gas cars would reach the end of the road by 2040, the latest step in Europe’s battle against the damaging environmental impact of the internal combustion engine. Britain’s plans match a similar pledge made this month by France, and are part of a growing global push to curb emissions and fight climate change by promoting electric cars. Carmakers are also adjusting, with Volvo notably saying recently that it would phase out the internal combustion engine in the coming years and BMW deciding to build an electric version of its popular Mini car in Britain….

2017-07-01. As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants. By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times.  Excerpt: When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year, even as President Trump vowed to “bring back coal” in America, the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s new role as a leader in the fight against climate change. But new data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade. These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries….

2017-07-01. Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Since February, Mr. Pruitt has filed a proposal of intent to undo or weaken Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan. In late June, he filed a legal plan to repeal an Obama-era rule curbing pollution in the nation’s waterways. He delayed a rule that would require fossil fuel companies to rein in leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. He delayed the date by which companies must comply with a rule to prevent explosions and spills at chemical plants. And he reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the E.P.A.’s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children’s nervous systems….

2017-06-01. Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord. By Hiroko Tabuchi and Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. …Christiana Figueres, a former top United Nations climate official, said there was currently no formal mechanism for entities that were not countries to be full parties to the Paris accord. …But Ms. Figueres…said the … group’s submission could be included in future reports the United Nations compiled on the progress made by the signatories of the Paris deal….

2017-01-23. US health officials cancel climate conference; don’t say why. By Mike Stobbe | AP. Excerpt: NEW YORK — The government’s top public health agency has canceled a conference next month on climate change and health but isn’t saying why publicly. But a co-sponsor said he was told by the CDC that it was worried how the conference would be viewed by the Trump administration. The incoming administration did not ask or order that the meeting be canceled, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. …the decision was “a strategic retreat,” intended to head off a possible last minute cancellation or other repercussions from Trump officials who may prove hostile to spending money on climate change science, Benjamin said Monday. …Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was invited to speak at the conference… “In the long run, climate change is affecting the health of Americans,” she said. “At some point, I hope they will go forward with the conference.” …In 2012, Trump tweeted that the concept of global warming was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. He later said he was joking, but during the presidential campaign referred to global warming as “a hoax.” …Trump picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt backed away from his own past statements and said climate change is real….

2016-10-10. World leaders discuss ban of climate-busting refrigerants. By Robynne Boyd, Nature. Excerpt: After being directed for almost 30 years at substances that destroy ozone, the Montreal Protocol will for the first time target a group of greenhouse gases. Beginning today in Kigali, Rwanda, member states of the United Nations are finalizing the terms of what could be the largest commitment to reducing global warming since the Paris Agreement on climate last December. Delegates are likely to take till the meeting’s final day on 14 October to hammer out the knotty details of an amendment to the protocol. Ideally, the amendment will set the terms for a rapid phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the most common of which is the refrigerant HFC-134a, which has 1,430 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide (CO2) over 100 years. The amendment would stop the manufacture of HFCs and then reduce their use over time…. See also articles in Science, BBC News, New York Times, and The Washington Post

2016-10-03. In a dramatic move, Trudeau says Canada will put a price on carbon. By Wayne Kondro, Science Insider (AAAS). Excerpt: Having campaigned on a promise to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today took a step toward that goal by announcing that his government will impose a pan-Canadian price on carbon, even if that means he must trample on reluctant provincial governments. But some critics say Trudeau’s move doesn’t go far enough, and three top provincial environment ministers protested the decision by walking out of a high-level meeting today. With federal, provincial, and territorial environment ministers meeting in Montreal, Canada, to hammer out a national carbon reduction plan, Trudeau dropped a bombshell on their negotiations. He announced to the House of Commons that Ottawa will impose a $7.62 per metric ton minimum tax on carbon commencing in 2018, which will rise by $7.62 each year until it reaches $38.11 per metric ton in 2022. …British Columbia and Alberta have already introduced modest carbon taxes; Ontario and Quebec have embryonic cap-and-trade systems that allow polluters to buy and sell a limited number of emissions permits….

2016-09-08. Gov. Brown orders big greenhouse gas cuts. By  David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the nation’s toughest climate law, requiring California to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 while leaving open the question of exactly how to do it. No other state has enacted such deep emission cuts into law. The legislation goes well beyond the reductions required by California’s landmark 2006 global warming law, AB32, which called for returning emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The state’s emissions have fallen 9.5 percent since peaking in 2004, and analysts now consider the 2020 goal well within reach. “Here we are, 10 years later, emissions have gone down and the economy has gone up,” said state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), who wrote AB32 as well as the new law, SB32. “It’s a success story.” Brown also signed a companion bill, AB197, which prioritizes efforts to cut emissions in low-income or minority communities. Many such communities are near facilities such as oil refineries and factories that produce both greenhouse gases and the toxic air pollution that can cause respiratory problems….

2016-05-03. Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’. By Coral Davenport and Campbell Robertson, The New York Times. Excerpt: ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES, La. …In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced grants totaling $1 billion in 13 states to help communities adapt to climate change, by building stronger levees, dams and drainage systems. One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees. “We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” lamented Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, the tribe to which most Isle de Jean Charles residents belong. “It’s all going to be history.”…

2016-05-02. Researchers Aim to Put Carbon Dioxide Back to Work. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: BERKELEY, Calif. — Think, for a moment, of carbon dioxide as garbage, a waste product from burning fossil fuels. Like other garbage, almost all of that CO2 is thrown away — into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change. A small amount is captured and stored underground to keep it out of the air. But increasingly, scientists are asking, rather than throwing away or storing CO2, how about recycling some of it? …the ultimate goal of researchers in this field is to turn the waste product of fuel-burning into new fuel. In theory, if this could be done on a large scale using renewable energy or even sunlight, there would be no net gain of emissions — the same carbon dioxide molecules would be emitted, captured, made into new fuels and emitted again, over and over. …Carbon dioxide is used to make some basic products like urea fertilizer and specialty plastics. But the processes are not necessarily energy efficient, and almost all use CO2 from natural underground reservoirs. Even if companies started using carbon dioxide that was captured, the amount would be less than 0.5 percent of the roughly 32 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted annually by human activity. …But developing devices that can efficiently and economically convert large amounts of CO2 will require overcoming many hurdles, not the least of which is all the energy required to split carbon dioxide molecules….

2016-04-08. Youth Climate Change Laws Upheld in Oregon. Our Children’s Trust. Excerpt: Today, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels….

2016-03-08. A third of Congress members are climate change deniers. By Katie Herzog, Grist. Excerpt: …The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that there are 182 climate deniers in the current Congress: 144 in the House and 38 in the Senate. That means more than six in 10 Americans are represented by people who think that climate change is a big ‘ol liberal hoax — including some leaders at the highest levels of government… And those are just the members of Congress who are out-and-out deniers, so it doesn’t include the many more who kinda sorta admit that something might be going on with the climate but still don’t want to do anything about it. …Not surprisingly, many of these same climate deniers have been handsomely rewarded by the fossil fuel industry….

2016-03-01. Does a Carbon Tax Work? Ask British Columbia. By Eduardo Porter, The New York Times. Excerpt: …a right-leaning party that shares many of the antitax, pro-business beliefs of Republicans in the United States did exactly what its unbelieving candidates so fear. …In 2008, the British Columbia Liberal Party, which confoundingly leans right, introduced a tax on the carbon emissions of businesses and families, cars and trucks, factories and homes across the province. The party stuck to the tax even as the left-leaning New Democratic Party challenged it in provincial elections the next year under the slogan Axe the Tax. The conservatives won soundly at the polls. Their experience shows that cutting carbon emissions enough to make a difference in preventing global warming remains a difficult challenge. But the most important takeaway for American skeptics is that the policy basically worked as advertised. British Columbia’s economy did not collapse. In fact, the provincial economy grew faster than its neighbors’ even as its greenhouse gas emissions declined….  See also reference Will We Ever Stop Using Fossil Fuels?  by Thomas Covert, Michael Greenstone, and Christopher R. Knittel

2016-02-17. 17 Governors Agree to Pursue Clean Energy Goals. By Debra Kahn, Scientific American, ClimateWire. Excerpt: States across the U.S. are moving forward with renewables, energy efficiency and electric cars. The announcement by 17 governors yesterday to jointly pursue clean energy goals was perhaps most noteworthy in what it did not include—any mention of climate change. That omission was necessary to bring a bipartisan swath of states together on energy efficiency and renewable energy, modernizing the electricity grid and promoting electric and alternatively fueled vehicles—all subjects often mentioned in the same breath as climate change. …Instead, the “Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future” makes an economic case for expanding cooperation between states on renewable energy. The document cites “extreme weather events,” including sea-level rise, droughts, floods and wildfires, that can affect electric reliability and the economy, but it does not explicitly mention global warming. …“While the [Supreme Court] may have temporarily blocked the Clean Power Plan, it can’t block progress toward wind and solar energy, affordable electric vehicles, and a more modern and efficient electric grid,” said Rob Sargent, senior director of Environment America’s clean energy program….

2016-01-25. Climate Deal’s First Big Hurdle: The Draw of Cheap Oil. By Clifford Krauss and Diane Cardwell, The New York Times.  Excerpt: Barely a month after world leaders signed a sweeping agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the global commitment to renewable energy sources faces its first big test as the price of oil collapses. Buoyed by low gas prices, Americans are largely eschewing electric cars in favor of lower-mileage trucks and sport utility vehicles. Yet the Obama administration has shown no signs of backing off its requirement that automakers nearly double the fuel economy of their vehicles by 2025. In China, government officials are also taking steps to ensure that the recent plunge in oil prices to under $30 a barrel does not undermine its programs to improve energy efficiency. …A few days ago, the Energy Department projected that total renewable power consumed in the United States this year will increase by 9.5 percent,…. Utility-scale solar power generation alone is expected to increase by 45 percent by 2017, …. In China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, the government implemented a new rule that no matter how low world crude oil prices may fall, the price of gasoline and diesel will continue to be set as though the world price of oil were still $40 a barrel… to prevent gasoline and diesel from becoming so cheap that China’s citizens would start consuming it indiscriminately…..

2015-12-12. We Have An Agreement. By Brian Palmer, onEarth, NRDC. Excerpt: Negotiators in Paris [COP21] have signed on to an historic and comprehensive deal to address climate change. …Reassessment: The Paris agreement requires each country to revisit its carbon reduction commitment every five years, beginning in 2020. …Money: …Rather than setting a specific finance goal, the developed countries agreed to “set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year” before the 2025 climate change conference. …Transparency: The document signed today mandates that all countries—regardless of income level—provide all the information necessary for external experts to track their carbon-cutting progress, making it possible for the international community to fully analyze the success of each participant….   See also New York Times articles: An Illustrated Guide to COP21  and

2015-12-10. Ted Cruz Chairs Heated Senate Hearing on Climate Change. By Randy Showstack, EoS Earth & Space News.  Excerpt: Republican-invited witnesses reject consensus view of climate change, charge bias in federal funding. Democratic senators decry attempt to stir controversy about well-established climate findings. …Witnesses Debate the Science. The hearing featured a panel of five witnesses, four of whom were invited by the Republican majority. …John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, …Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, questioned findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, …William Happer, a physics professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, and Mark Steyn, a journalist and author of books on climate, threats to Western civilization, and musical theater, whom Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann has sued for defamation. David Titley, former oceanographer of the U.S. Navy and a retired rear admiral, who was invited by the Democrats on the subcommittee, said he finds the evidence for climate change and the dangers it poses to people and national security too great to ignore. “I’m a simple sailor,” he declared, “but it is hard for me to see the [global warming] pause” that Sen. Cruz claimed has occurred on a chart shown at the hearing….

2015-11-30. Live: Chasing Down a Deal in Paris. By New York Times. Excerpt: Series of articles: A Path for Climate Change, Beyond Paris; A Formula for Deciding When to Extract Fossil Fuels; Highlights From Paris Climate Talks: Day 1; A Growing Push to Price Carbon….

2015-11-23. U.S. government agencies to slash greenhouse gas emissions 41.8 percent. By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Alan Crosby, Reuters. Excerpt: U.S. federal agencies will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations to 41.8 percent below 2008 levels by 2025, the White House announced on Monday. The announcement comes one week before nearly 200 countries meet in Paris to negotiate a United Nations climate change pact and eight months after President Barack Obama ordered agencies to cut its emissions by at least 40 percent by 2025. The cuts will come from across the government’s 360,000 buildings, 650,000 vehicles and from its extensive supply chain. “Federal agencies have developed targeted strategies to cut their GHG emissions by reducing energy use in their buildings, making their vehicles more efficient, using clean energy sources like wind and solar, and employing energy savings performance contracts,” the White House said. …The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the United States….

2015-11-12. NASA’s Carbon and Climate campaign. NASA Release 15-219.  Excerpt: …ongoing analysis of the first year-plus of satellite data from NASA’s recently launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 — the agency’s first satellite designed to measure carbon dioxide from the top of Earth’s atmosphere to its surface….  See also:

2015-09-16. Tunisia Submits its Climate Action Plan Ahead of 2015 Paris Agreement. UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Excerpt: The Republic of Tunisia has submitted its new climate action plan to the UNFCCC. This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) comes well in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, in December this year. This INDC and all others submitted by countries are available on the UNFCCC website Including the Republic of Tunisia, 62 parties to the UNFCCC have formally submitted their INDCs. …The Paris agreement will come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius and to reap the many opportunities that arise from a necessary global transformation to clean and sustainable development….

2015-10-13. 150 countries pledge to curb carbon emissions. By Arthur Nelson, The Guardian. Excerpt: Some 150 countries representing around 90% of the world’s carbon emissions have now filed pledges to curb them, dramatically increasing the chances of a deal at the Paris climate summit in December….

2015-08-18. Islamic leaders issue bold call for rapid phase out of fossil fuels. The Guardian. Excerpt: Islamic leaders have issued a clarion call to 1.6bn Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 100% renewable energy strategy. The grand mufti’s of Lebanon and Uganda endorsed the Islamic declaration on climate change, along with prominent Islamic scholars and teachers from 20 countries, at a symposium in Istanbul. …“We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century,” it says. …So far, Morocco is the only Middle Eastern country to present an emissions-cutting climate pledge ahead of the summit.  …The Istanbul declaration was made by Islamic figures from Bosnia to Indonesia and follows a ground-breaking Papal encyclical last month. …We are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet,” the statement says. “This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth’s fine equilibrium (mīzān) may soon be lost.” “What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy?” the religious leaders ask. “How will we face our Lord and Creator?” …“To chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation,” one passage reads….

2015-08-03. Fact Sheet: President Obama to Announce Historic Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants. The White House. Excerpt:  Today at the White House, President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will release the final Clean Power Plan, a historic step in the Obama Administration’s fight against climate change. We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation [National Climate Assessment]. …The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants. We already set limits that protect public health by reducing soot and other toxic emissions, but until now, existing power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, could release as much carbon pollution as they wanted….

2015-07-28. Leading Companies Take White House Climate Pledge. By Randy Showstack, Earth & Space Science News—EoS (AGU).  Excerpt: …Alcoa, Cargill, General Motors, Microsoft, and nine other major U.S. companies have committed to cut greenhouse gases as part of a new White House program. …Thirteen of the biggest companies in the United States have signed on to a new initiative by President Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the White House announced Monday. …Brian Deese, senior advisor to the president, praised the companies for “setting an example” for their industries. …The administration intends to announce a second round of pledges “from a far broader spectrum of American companies” later this year, prior to the Paris conference, Deese said….

2015-07-21. At Vatican, Mayors Pledge Climate Change Fight. By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times.  Excerpt: VATICAN CITY — About 60 mayors from around the world gathered here on Tuesday and pledged to combat global warming and help the poor deal with its effects, at a conference swiftly organized by the Vatican barely a month after Pope Francis’ sweeping encyclical on the environment. The two-day conference, which also focused on fighting forms of modern slavery, was not the first time that the Vatican had organized a meeting on the issue. But it was the first time that it specifically invited local officials, hoping to mobilize grass-roots action and maintain pressure on world leaders for action ahead of a global summit meeting on climate change scheduled for December in Paris….

2015-06-30. China climate change plan unveiled. By Helen Briggs, BBC News. Excerpt: China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – has announced details of its climate action plan. …The statement, released following a meeting in Paris between Li and French President Francois Hollande, said China aimed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030, from 2005 levels. The carbon intensity target builds on a previous plan to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020. China also aimed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to about 20% by 2030, the statement added. Beijing previously set a goal of getting around 15% of its energy from clean sources by 2020. …

2015-06-23. The Pope Is Not Alone! By Nicole Greenfield, OnEarth, NRDC. Excerpt: When it comes to climate change, Pope Francis and many other world religious leaders are cut from the same cloth. …maybe it’s no surprise that yesterday Pope Francis delivered the Roman Catholic Church’s first-ever encyclical on the environment—most notably, on climate….

2015-05-21. Findings from Select Federal Reports: THE NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF A CHANGING CLIMATE. Source: The White House.  11 page document with sections on Coastal Areas at Risk, Changing Arctic, Risks to Infrastructure, Demands on Military Resources. Excerpt: …With climate change, certain types of extreme weather events and their impacts, including extreme heat, heavy downpours, floods, and droughts, have become more frequent and/or intense. In addition, warming is causing sea level to rise and glaciers and Arctic sea ice to melt. These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging certain sectors of the economy. The national security implications of climate change impacts are far-reaching, as they may exacerbate existing stressors, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and political instability, providing enabling environments for terrorist activity abroad. For example, the impacts of climate change on key economic sectors, such as agriculture and water, can have profound effects on food security, posing threats to overall stability….

2015-05-15. In Brazil, cattle industry begins to help fight deforestation. By Allie Wilkinson, Science.  Excerpt: Cattle ranching has been the primary driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, as huge swaths of rainforest are cleared to make way for agriculture. But “zero-deforestation agreements” signed by some of Brazil’s big beef industry players appear to be helping reduce the destruction, a new study concludes. “We’re showing that these commitments can [produce] meaningful change on the ground,” says land use researcher Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a lead author of the study, published online this week in Conservation Letters. …The herd expanded 200% between 1993 and 2013, researchers estimate, reaching a total of nearly 60 million individuals. During that time, an area of forest the size of Italy was cleared.  …the federal prosecutor began suing ranchers that had illegally cleared forest and threatened to sue retailers in an effort to persuade them to boycott slaughterhouses associated with forest-clearing ranches. In response, Brazil’s three largest meatpacking companies (JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva) signed an agreement with the government, stating they would stop purchasing directly from ranches that cleared more forest than legally permitted. A few months later, the trio of firms signed a more stringent agreement with Greenpeace, known as the G4 agreement, under which they committed to buy only from direct suppliers that reduced deforestation to zero.  …Within months, nearly 60% of the suppliers had registered, and compliance reached 96% by 2013. …By 2013, “recent deforestation” had occurred on just 4% of the ranches supplying cows to the slaughterhouses, down from 36% of ranches in 2009….

2015-04-29. California Governor Orders New Target for Emissions Cuts. By Adam Nagourney, The New York Times.  Excerpt:  …Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday sharply speeding up this state’s already ambitious program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, saying it was critical to address “an ever-growing threat” posed by global warming to the state’s economy and well-being. The order, announced early Wednesday morning, was intended as a jolt to a landmark 2006 environmental law requiring an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas reductions by 2050, compared with 1990. Under Mr. Brown’s order, the state would have to get halfway there — a 40 percent reduction — by 2030. …Under the law put into place by Mr. Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state was required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 on the way to reach the 2050 target; California is already well on its way to meeting the 2020 goal, and may exceed it, officials said Thursday. …California’s target reflects those set by other governments — including the European Union — ahead of the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris this year…. See also

2015-02-10. Panel Urges Research on Geoengineering as a Tool Against Climate Change. Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: With the planet facing potentially severe impacts from global warming in coming decades, a government-sponsored scientific panel on Tuesday called for more research on geoengineering — technologies to deliberately intervene in nature to counter climate change. …. *.

2015-01-22. Senate Rejects Human Role in Climate Change. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times.  Excerpt: The Senate on Thursday again voted to reject two measures related to the Keystone XL pipeline that declared that humans are a cause of climate change — the second set of votes on the issue in two days. …On Thursday, the Senate voted 56 to 42 not to take up an amendment offered by Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, that declared that climate change is real, is caused by humans and wreaks devastation. …Senators voted 54 to 46 not to take up an amendment offered by Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, that also declared human-caused climate change to be real and devastating, and urged the government to support research on technologies that would capture carbon emissions from fossil fuels. A third, Republican-sponsored amendment, which was rejected 51 to 46, …called on the Senate to nullify a climate change agreement in November between the United States and China in which both nations pledged to reduce their carbon emissions….

2014-12-14. A Climate Accord Based on Global Peer Pressure. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times.  Excerpt: LIMA, Peru …top officials from nearly 200 nations agreed to the first deal committing every country in the world to reducing the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming. In its structure, the deal represents a breakthrough in the two-decade effort to forge a significant global pact to fight climate change. The Lima Accord, as it is known, is the first time that all nations — rich and poor — have agreed to cut back on the burning oil, gas and coal. …The strength of the accord — the fact that it includes pledges by every country to put forward a plan to reduce emissions at home — is also its greatest weakness. In order to get every country to agree to the deal, including the United States, the world’s largest historic carbon polluter, the Lima Accord does not include legally binding requirements that countries cut their emissions by any particular amount. …each nation will agree to enact domestic laws to reduce carbon emissions and put forth a plan by March 31 laying out how much each one will cut after 2020 and what domestic policies it will pass to achieve the cuts.  …Observers are also closely watching Russia, the world’s fifth-largest polluter, for its response to the plan. President Vladimir V. Putin has publicly scoffed at the science of human-caused climate change and shown a willingness to defy international opinion. But this week in Lima, Russian delegates said that Moscow is at work on an emissions reduction plan…. See also “3.6 Degrees of Uncertainty” by Justin Gillis, The New York Times.

2014-11-17. A Toolkit to Help Communities Respond to a Changing Climate. President’s Council on Environmental Quality. Excerpt: …Today, the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience – a group of leaders from across the country who are working to boost resilience efforts in their communities – released recommendations on ways in which the federal government can support actions to address the impacts of climate change. …the Administration has developed the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a website that provides centralized, authoritative, easy-to-use information, tools, and best practices to help communities prepare for and boost their resilience to the impacts of climate change. You can access the toolkit here: …The…Toolkit…includes: The Climate Explorer: A visualization tool… Steps to Resilience: A five-step process that users can follow to initiate, plan, and implement projects …“Taking Action” Stories: More than 20 real-world case studies describing climate-related risks and opportunities that communities and businesses face, steps they’re taking to plan and respond,  …Federal Resource Database: The Toolkit provides centralized access to federal sites for future climate projections, as well as freely available tools for accessing and analyzing climate data, generating visualizations, exploring climate projections, estimating hazards, and engaging stakeholders in resilience-building efforts….

2014-11-11. U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks.  Mark Landler, The New York Times. Excerpt: BEIJING — China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases. The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030. Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out quietly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015. It was the signature achievement of an unexpectedly productive two days of meetings between the leaders. …A climate deal between China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord. Unless Beijing and Washington can resolve their differences, climate experts say, few other countries will agree to mandatory cuts in emissions, and any meaningful worldwide pact will be likely to founder. …As part of the agreement, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020. China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, Mr. Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030…. Mark Landler, The New York Times.

2014-11-02. U.N. Panel Issues Its Starkest Warning Yet on Global Warming.  By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report is at Excerpts: … The gathering risks of climate change are so profound that they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report. Despite growing efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the global situation is becoming more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday. Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year. …In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming. … would require leaving the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground or, alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said. …The new report comes just a month before international delegates convene in Lima, Peru, to devise a new global agreement to limit emissions, and it makes clear the urgency of their task…. Justin Gillis, The New York Times. The actual IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report is at

2014-10-31. NASA Program Enhances Climate Resilience at Agency Facilities.  NASA RELEASE 14-292.  Excerpt: A new study in the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society provides an in-depth look at how NASA facilities have been affected by climate extremes and climate change in recent years and how the agency is preparing for the future. …The study found that by the 2050s, sea level rise alone could lead to an increase of 50 percent or more in coastal flooding frequency with varying impacts to NASA facilities, a high percentage of which are located near coastlines. In total, the agency has approximately $32 billion in constructed assets and about 64,000 employees, contractors and partners. …Adaptation strategies underway and under consideration include: beach re-nourishment to minimize sea level rise and storm surge impacts; building designs that reduce reliance on the remote power sources that may become less reliable during extreme events; and, landscaping changes that reduce water use in dry regions and capture rain water to reduce flooding in wet regions. NASA satellite products and climate models are being used to inform decision-making about energy and water use and other onsite assets…. NASA RELEASE 14-292.

2014-10-31. EPA Adaptation Implementation Plans. Excerpt: On October 31, 2014, EPA released the final versions of its Agency-wide Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PDF, 64pp, 1.7mb) and the 17 Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans produced by the Program and Regional Offices. These final versions were revised from earlier drafts following public comment periods. They respond to directives in Executive Order 13653 – Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change (PDF, 8pp, 325kb). The final EPA Plan and the 17 Implementation Plans are living documents that will be periodically revised in subsequent years to account for new knowledge, data, scientific evidence, and lessons learned from the Agency’s ongoing efforts to integrate climate adaptation planning into its programs, policies, rules and operations….. EPA.

2014-10-30. The military is planning for global warming. By Brian Palmer, onEarth, NRDC. Excerpt: The Pentagon released its first big report on global warming in 2000. Three years later came a paper by military strategists with the stated purpose of “imagining the unthinkable”—namely, climate change as a national security threat. Then 2007 brought another report, published by retired generals, and a climate conference paid for by U.S. Army War College. And earlier this month, the Pentagon released its most recent global warming manifesto, the “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” to much fanfare. These reports make it clear that the U.S. military will have to deal with a lot of global turmoil due to climate change. Increased droughts could fuel wars over water rights, and as agriculture suffers, skirmishes could break out over fertile land, too. Some commentators have linked a climate change–induced drought to the rise of the terrorist group ISIS in the Middle East. Global-warming refugees will strain humanitarian resources, possibly causing conflicts as they seek new homes, and many of the military’s own low-lying coastal bases could one day find themselves underwater. …Net Zero is the army’s plan to limit its bases to the energy they generate and water they can collect and treat on-site. Net Zero bases will also be forbidden from depositing garbage in landfills. Fort Hunter Liggett is building a large solar array in California. …The Oregon National Guard and the Marine Corps in Hawaii are studying the possibility of using ocean waves to generate electricity. The list goes on. In addition to shrinking the troops’ environmental footprint, Net Zero improves the military’s readiness for future campaigns, which could involve fights over resources…. Brian Palmer, onEarth, NRDC. *.

2014-10-24. State and Local Climate Adaptation Plans. Georgetown Climate Center. Excerpt: States and communities around the country have begun to prepare for the climate changes that are already underway.  This planning process typically results in a document called an adaptation plan.  The map at this site highlights the status of state adaptation efforts…. Georgetown Climate Center.

2014-10-13. Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change.   By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises. The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. …Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru, highlighted the report’s findings and the global security threats of climate change. …“The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration.”  Climate change negotiators from around the world will meet in Peru in December to draft that deal. Mr. Hagel’s speech on Monday appeared intended to build support for that effort. …In 1997, Mr. Hagel, then a Republican senator from Nebraska, played a crucial role in blocking the United States from taking part in the world’s first climate change treaty. He wrote, with Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, a resolution ensuring that the Senate would never ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which required the world’s largest economies to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions. Today, Mr. Hagel’s efforts to lay the groundwork for a new global climate deal signal a remarkable shift…. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times.

2014-08-31. China Plans a Market for Carbon Permits.  Excerpt: BEIJING — China plans to introduce its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, a government official said on Sunday, adding that Beijing is close to completing rules for what will be the world’s biggest emissions trading program. The nation accounts for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and it plans to use the carbon market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions. China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of its gross domestic product to 40 to 45 percent below its 2005 levels by 2020. …The Chinese market will cap carbon dioxide emissions from sources like electricity generators and manufacturers. Those that emit above their cap must buy permits in the market…. By Reuters.

2014-08-14. NASA to Investigate Climate Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice Loss. Excerpt: A new NASA field campaign will begin flights over the Arctic this summer to study the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) will conduct research flights Aug. 28 through Oct. 1, covering the peak of summer sea ice melt. ARISE is NASA’s first Arctic airborne campaign designed to take simultaneous measurements of ice, clouds and the levels of incoming and outgoing radiation, the balance of which determines the degree of climate warming.  …”A wild card in what’s happening in the Arctic is clouds and how changes in clouds, due to changing sea-ice conditions, enhance or offset warming,” said Bill Smith, ARISE principal investigator at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. …”The clouds and surface conditions over the Arctic as we observe them from satellites are very complex,” Smith said. “We need more information to understand how to better interpret the satellite measurements, and an aircraft can help with that.”… NASA RELEASE 14-218.

2014-07-23. China’s Energy Plans Will Worsen Climate Change, Greenpeace Says. Excerpt: BEIJING — China’s plans for 50 coal gasification plants will produce an estimated 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year and contribute significantly to climate change, according to a report released Wednesday by Greenpeace East Asia. …If China builds all 50 plants, the carbon dioxide they produce will equal about an eighth of China’s current total carbon dioxide emissions, which come mostly from coal-burning power plants and factories, the organization said…. By Edward Wong, The New York Times. See also article China’s Plan to Limit Coal Use Could Spur Consumption for Years.

2014-06-24. Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming. Excerpt: More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration. …The former Treasury secretaries — including Henry M. Paulson Jr., a Republican who served under President George W. Bush, and Robert E. Rubin, a Democrat in the Clinton administration — promised to help sound the alarm. All endorse putting a price on greenhouse gases, most likely by taxing emissions. …“I have come to believe that climate change is the existential issue of our age,” Mr. Rubin said. “I believe that investors should insist that companies disclose their risks, including the value of assets that could be stranded.” He was referring to warnings that assets worth trillions of dollars are at risk of being stranded, or rendered obsolete, including vast coal and oil deposits that will most likely have to be left in the ground if dangerous levels of global warming are to be prevented…. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. See also Researcher calls report on economic impacts of U.S. climate change ‘like a flashlight at night’ from UC Berkeley News Center.

2014-06-02. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Announces Clean Power Plan. On June 2, 2014, the EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is proposing commonsense approaches to reduce carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

2014-05-06. U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods. Excerpt: The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects. …The report is … region-by-region documentation of changes occurring in the United States, …. …The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday. …One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change. …over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found. …“There is mounting evidence that harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced,” the report warned….  By Justin Gillis, New York Times. Other articles/reports: 

2014-02-06. New U.S. ‘Climate Hubs’ to Provide Data to Farmers. Excerpt: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to provide more useful data on climate to farmers, ranchers, and others affected by climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that he is designating seven so-called Climate Hubs at federal agriculture laboratories across the country that will seek to create more useful climate data and disseminate it more broadly. USDA already dedicates about $120 million to climate research, Vilsack told reporters at a press briefing. The new effort “will add on top of that,” he said. …The nation must “be able to adapt and mitigate, because if we don’t, our economy is going to be impacted,” Vilsack said at the White House yesterday. …hubs could help visualize data in ways that make it more useful to the public …Researchers have long had access to such data, but it hasn’t “been put into this kind of picture that people could readily understand,” says Sutherland, who works at OSU’s Mesonet, which creates forecasts and other “data products” using weather stations and federal climatological data. (The precipitation and temperature data are updated yearly here)…. Eli Kintisch, Science Magazine (AAAS).

2014-02-01. Tunisia embeds protection of climate in new constitution.   Excerpt: Tunisia, the starting place for the massive protests three years ago that came to be known as the Arab Spring, did something remarkable this week: it embedded climate change into its constitution. The constitution, praised as one of the most progressive in the region, now obliges the state to “contribute to the protection of the climate … for future generations.” …Tunisia … has not only given its citizens the right to ask their government to deal with climate change — it has also “elevated the concept (of climate change) to one of an international law.” …it could …eventually allow bodies like the International Court of Justice to act on complaints that one country is causing harm to another by not abating its emissions.” …Tunisia is the third country to include climate change in its constitution: Ecuador and Dominican Republic are the others…. Hassene Dridi, Associated Press (article in Toronto Star).

2014-01-28. Popular Flood Insurance Law Is Target of Both Political Parties.  Excerpt: …This week the Senate is expected to approve a measure that would block, repeal or delay many of the key provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which…sought to reform the nation’s nearly bankrupt flood insurance program, ending federal subsidies for insuring buildings in flood-prone coastal areas. Over the past decade, the cost to taxpayers of insuring those properties has soared, as payouts for damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Isaac and Sandy sent the program $24 billion into debt. The aim of the measure was to shift the financial risk of insuring flood-prone properties from taxpayers to the private market. Homeowners, rather than taxpayers, would shoulder the true cost of building in flood zones …it would reflect the true cost of climate change, which scientists say is ushering in an era of rising sea levels and more damaging extreme weather, including more flooding.  …a year after the law passed, coastal homeowners received new flood insurance bills that were two, three, even 10 times higher than before. …[a new bill] would delay most insurance rate increases by four years…. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times.

2014-01-21. NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend.     Excerpt: NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures…. NASA RELEASE 14-024. See also NOAA Global Analysis – Annual 2013 –

2014-01-16. U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly.  Excerpt: Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found… Coral Davenport, The New York Times

2013-12-05. Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon.  Excerpt:   WASHINGTON — More than two dozen of the nation’s biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming…. Coral Davenport, The New York Times.

2013-11-16. Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis.   Excerpt:   WARSAW — Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering. Calling the climate crisis “madness,” the Philippines representative vowed to fast for the duration of the talks. Malia Talakai, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, a group that includes her tiny South Pacific homeland, Nauru, said that without urgent action to stem rising sea levels, “some of our members won’t be around.” … Growing demands to address the issue have become an emotionally charged flash point at negotiations here at the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which continues this week.  …John Kioli, the chairman of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, [said] Developed countries…have a moral obligation to shoulder the cost, considering the amount of pollution they have emitted since the Industrial Revolution. …The United States and other rich countries have made their opposition to large-scale compensation clear…. Steven Lee Myers and Nicholas Kulish, The New York Times. [See also Japan Slashes CO2 Emissions Targets At UN Climate Talks, Prompting Criticism]

2013-11-12. Two years early, UC Berkeley meets its carbon-reduction target.  For Excerpt:  Two years ahead of schedule, a pledge made by UC Berkeley to reduce its carbon footprint to 1990 levels has been met, campus officials announced today (Tuesday, Nov. 12). The achievement also puts UC Berkeley eight years ahead of meeting the University of California Sustainable Practices Policy guidelines and of observing the state’s Global Solutions Warming Act of 2006. Both call for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. UC Berkeley sustainability leaders said greenhouse-gas emissions were reduced by: Investing in energy efficiency and sustainable transportation practices…Buying greener power…from Pacific Gas & Electric, a utility that is required by state law to provide power that by 2020 will include 33 percent renewable energy…Improving data and methods. …Specific projects included LED retrofits to the 1,000 exterior lamps throughout the campus and an incentive program that returns money to campus units that reduce their electricity use. UC Berkeley has completed 11 LEED-certified green building projects, which represent almost 7 percent of the campus’s total square footage. In addition, all major construction projects currently in the planning and design phase are expected to be LEED-certified…. Gretchen Kell, UC Berkeley News Center. 

2013-09-19.  EPA moves to limit emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants.   Excerpt:  The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse gases imposed by the agency. …The industry almost certainly will challenge it in court. For the administration, the revised rule is the first major domestic initiative since President Obama laid out his climate action plan in June. Ahead is the EPA’s decision on limiting emissions from existing power plants, which Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday will be made in June 2014. “We’re providing at least some certainty here that [coal plants] have an opportunity to be around in a carbon-constrained world,” McCarthy said in an interview. “The president wants every fuel to be able to compete in a clean environment.” …Dan Lashof, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the Clean Air Act requires pollution controls to be adequately demonstrated, but “there’s nothing in the statute that says it’s the cheapest way to make electricity.” McCarthy said: “Clearly the technology is available. It’s been fully demonstrated.” The Energy Department has a $6 billion loan fund to help finance development of clean energy technologies, she said. “We’re not trying to deny that there is a cost associated with these, but any first-generation technology is going to have that,” she said. …The standard, which would be finalized in a year, would require new coal plants to emit no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.  …Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the National Mining Association, said the new standard “effectively bans coal from America’s power portfolio, leaving new power plants equipped with even the most efficient and environmentally advanced technologies out in the cold.” …But John Thompson, who directs the Fossil Transition Project for the Clean Air Task Force, an advocacy group, said his group has estimated that under a worst-case scenario, partly capturing CO2 from coal plants would increase the cost of electricity by 13 percent over 30 years….–and-gas-fired-power-plants/2013/09/19/e71728bc-2139-11e3-a358-1144dee636dd_story.html. By Lenny Bernstein and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post.2013-09-03. NASA-Led Study Reveals Industrial Soot’s Role in 1800s Glacier Retreat.   Excerpt: A NASA-led team of scientists has uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age. …Black carbon is the strongest sunlight-absorbing atmospheric particle. When these particles settle on the snow blanketing glaciers, they darken the snow surface, speeding its melting and exposing the underlying glacier ice to sunlight and warmer spring and summer air earlier in the year.  …The Little Ice Age, loosely defined as a cooler period between the 14th and 19th centuries, was marked by an expansion of mountain glaciers and a drop in temperatures in Europe of nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). But glacier records show that between 1860 and 1930, while temperatures continued to drop, large valley glaciers in the Alps abruptly retreated by an average of nearly 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) to lengths not seen in the previous few hundred years. Glaciologists and climatologists have struggled to reconcile this apparent conflict between climate and glacier records. …Thomas Painter, a snow and ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., [said] “Before now, most glaciologists believed the end of the Little Ice Age came in the mid-1800s when these glaciers retreated, and that the retreat was due to a natural climatic shift, distinct from the carbon dioxide-induced warming that came later in the 20th century. This result suggests that human influence on glaciers extends back to well before the industrial temperature increases.” To help the scientists understand what was driving the glacier retreat, Painter and his colleagues turned to history. The researchers studied data from ice cores drilled from high up on several European mountain glaciers…. …they were able to estimate how much black carbon was deposited on glacial surfaces at lower elevations, where levels of black carbon tend to be highest. The team then ran computer models of glacier behavior, …the simulated glacier mass loss and timing finally were consistent with the historic record of glacial retreat, despite the cooling temperatures at that time. “We must now look closer at other regions on Earth, such as the Himalaya, to study the present-day impacts of black carbon on glaciers in these regions,” said Georg Kaser, a study co-author from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, …”This study uncovers likely human fingerprints on our changing environment,” said co-author Waleed Abdalati, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research and Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It’s a reminder that the actions we take have far-reaching impacts on the environment in which we live.”…. Alan Buis, NASA Release 13-273. 

2013-07-16.  Australian Leader Scraps Tax on Carbon Emissions.  Excerpt:  SYDNEY, Australia — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia announced a plan Tuesday to replace a deeply unpopular tax on carbon emissions with a market-based trading system a full year ahead of schedule. … Under the current system, Australia’s worst polluters pay a high fixed price on their carbon emissions. Since it went into effect last year …the tax has proved wildly unpopular with big business and voters, due in part to a relentlessly negative campaign by the opposition.  The current system was supposed to remain in place until 2015, then be replaced by a system in which market mechanisms would determine the cost of producing a ton of carbon. The move to bring forward the market-based system a full year earlier is expected to quickly produce a sharp drop in the cost of carbon, from a predicted $23.30 per metric ton in July 2014 to around $5.50 per ton in American dollars…. Matt Siegel, New York Times.

2013-07-10.  US and China to extend co-operation in effort to curb climate change.   Excerpt: New initiatives announced in Washington by both countries – who jointly account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. …The new initiatives announced in Washington on Wednesday would see China and the US extend their climate co-operation to five new areas – beginning with heavy trucks, which are a significant cause of greenhouse gas emissions in both countries. …That spirit of co-operation represents a drastic change from the calamitous Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, when diplomatic snubs and general distrust between the two countries wrecked any prospect for a deal. …The countries also agreed to work together to develop carbon capture technologies, increase energy efficiency in buildings, promote smarter grids and improve reporting of greenhouse gas emissions…. Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian.

2013-06-11.  New York City Climate Change Adaptation Plan Way of Future.    Excerpt: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today will share the city’s plan for adapting to climate change…. [It’s posted at; & Presentation (PDF)] Without support from Congress, cities are forced to take steps on their own to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change. …New York City … carefully mapped the city’s flooding risk using the latest science on sea level rise projections and exposure to storm surge. …solutions are neither cheap nor easy. Protecting residents, their homes, and critical infrastructure, like energy, stormwater, and mass transit systems, requires good long-term planning, in addition to emergency preparedness. …. Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists.

2013-06-10.  Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic? Excerpt: Permafrost zones occupy nearly a quarter of the exposed land area of the Northern Hemisphere. NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment [CARVE] is probing deep into the frozen lands above the Arctic Circle in Alaska to measure emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from thawing permafrost – signals that may hold a key to Earth’s climate future. …”Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures – as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years,” Charles Miller said. “As heat from Earth’s surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic’s carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming.” … The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they’re finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling. …We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze….” Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don’t yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure…. NASA/JPL release 2013-197. 

2013-06-06.   NASA Flights Target How Pollution, Storms and Climate Mix.  Excerpt: …NASA aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate. …More than 250 scientists, engineers, and flight personnel are participating in the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign. ….Aircraft and sensors will probe the atmosphere from top to bottom at the critical time of year when weather systems are strong enough and regional air pollution and natural emissions are prolific enough to pump gases and particles high into the atmosphere. The result is potentially global consequences for Earth’s atmosphere and climate. “In summertime across the United States, emissions from large seasonal fires, metropolitan areas, and vegetation are moved upward by thunderstorms and the North American Monsoon,” Toon said. “When these chemicals get into the stratosphere they can affect the whole Earth. They also may influence how thunderstorms behave. With SEAC4RS we hope to better understand how all these things interact.” SEAC4RS will provide new insights into the effects of the gases and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The mission is targeting two major regional sources of summertime emissions: intense smoke from forest fires in the U.S. West and natural emissions of isoprene, a carbon compound, from forests in the Southeast. Forest fire smoke can change the properties of clouds. The particles in the smoke can reflect and absorb incoming solar energy, potentially producing a net cooling at the ground and a warming of the atmosphere. The addition of large amounts of chemicals, such as isoprene, can alter the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Some of these chemicals can damage Earth’s protective ozone layer. For more information on the mission, visit:  …. NASA Release 13-167.

2013 March. White House Council on Environmental Quality Releases 35 Federal Agency Climate Adaptation Plans for Public Review. Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), Excerpt: Executive Order 13514 (, signed by President Obama on October 5th, 2009, mandates Federal agencies to develop Sustainability Plans that provide an overview of how agencies are saving taxpayer dollars, reducing carbon emissions, cutting waste, and saving energy. On February 7th, 2013, 35 federal agencies released their third annual Sustainability Plans, which for the first time included Climate Change Adaptation Plans to help federal agencies reach sustainability and climate change resilience goals. These adaptation plans (within the broader sustainability plans) are now available for public review and comment by the week of April 9, 2013. …links to each of the Agency Plans… at …review examples of adaptation-planning activities by States and Localities on the CCS website … (use the search engine for “adaptation”), and at the Georgetown Federal State Climate Resource Center at You can learn more about sustainability and climate change impacts and resilience planning in the United States at

2013-02-27.  South Africa to tax carbon emissions from 2015. | Science, AlsertNet. Excerpt: CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa, the continent’s top greenhouse gas producer, plans to tax carbon emissions from January 2015, but will introduce some exemptions to protect industry and jobs, South Africa’s finance minister said on Wednesday. The tax, set at 120 rand ($14) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, has been criticised by carbon-intensive companies such as petrochemicals giant Sasol and ArcelorMittal South Africa who argue the state’s attempt to curb emissions blamed for global warming would hit profits. …The Treasury proposed a 60 percent tax-free threshold until 2020 on annual emissions for all sectors, including electricity, petroleum, iron, steel and aluminium. …South Africa wants to cut CO2 emissions by a third over the next decade but has little flexibility to make fast changes with major employers among the top polluters. Its cash-strapped power sector almost fully reliant on coal. The carbon tax, to be phased in over time, is one of several green initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint in the continent’s largest economy, including a biofuels production incentive and higher vehicle emissions taxes…. See South Africa Parliament News Release. See full article at

2013 February 03. Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did. By Suzanne Daley, New York Times. Excerpt: …In the fall, the Greek government raised the taxes on heating oil by 450 percent. Overnight, the price of heating a small apartment for the winter shot up to about $1,900 from $1,300. …In raising the taxes, government officials hoped not just to increase revenue but also to equalize taxes on heating oil and diesel, to cut down on the illegal practice of selling cheaper heating oil as diesel fuel. … Many Greeks, like Ms. Pantelemidou, are simply not buying any heating oil this year. Sales in the last quarter of 2012 plunged 70 percent from a year earlier, according to official figures. So while the government has collected more than $63 million in new tax revenue, it appears to have lost far more — about $190 million, according to an association of Greek oil suppliers — in revenue from sales taxes on the oil. Meanwhile, many Greeks are suffering from the cold. In one recent survey by Epaminondas Panas, who leads the statistics department at the Athens University of Economics and Business, nearly 80 percent of respondents in northern Greece said they could not afford to heat their homes properly. The return to wood burning is also taking a toll on the environment. Illegal logging in national parks is on the rise, and there are reports of late-night thefts of trees and limbs from city parks in Athens, including the disappearance of the olive tree planted where Plato is said to have gone to study in the shade. At the same time, the smoke from the burning of wood — and often just about anything else that will catch fire — has caused spikes in air pollution that worry health officials. On some nights, the smog is clearly visible above Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, and in Athens, where particulate matter has been measured at three times the normal levels. …Elias Bekkas, who provides oil to 65 buildings around the city, said that many of his clients had not ordered any oil, and that some who had could not pay the bill. Last winter, he said, his company sold a little more than a million gallons. This season, it has sold only about 65,000 gallons, and he doubted the total would get to 225,000…. 

2013 January 14. Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review | National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC).  Excerpt:   Draft Climate Assessment Report includes: Executive Summary; chapters on various Sectors (Water Resources; Energy Supply and Use; Transportation; Agriculture; Forestry; Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services; Human Health; Water, Energy, and Land Use; Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability; Impacts of Climate Change on Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources; Land Use and Land Cover Change; Rural Communities; Interactions of Climate Change and Biogeochemical Cycles). There are also chapters on specific Regions (Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska and the Arctic, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, Oceans and Marine Resources, Coastal Zone Development and Ecosystems. Also chapters on Decision Support, Mitigation, Adaptation and Research. Read the full article:

2013 January 09. NASA Chases Climate Change Clues Into The Stratosphere. NASA Release 13-013.  Excerpt:  Starting this month, NASA will send a remotely piloted research aircraft as high as 65,000 feet over the tropical Pacific Ocean to probe unexplored regions of the upper atmosphere for answers to how a warming climate is changing Earth. … flights of the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX; …will study moisture and chemical composition in the upper regions of the troposphere, …tropopause layer between the troposphere and stratosphere, 8 miles to 11 miles above Earth’s surface, … where water vapor, ozone and other gases enter the stratosphere. …Water vapor and ozone in the stratosphere can have a large impact on Earth’s climate. … even small changes in stratospheric humidity may have significant climate impacts….