CC9C. Staying Current-What Are Governments Doing About Climate Change?

Articles from 2023 (most recent articles)

Stay current index page for Chapter 9

{ Climate Change Contents }

2023-12-04. Climate Summit Leader Tries to Calm Uproar Over a Remark on Fossil Fuels. [] By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: Simmering tensions around the decision to hold a global climate summit in a petrostate burst into the open on Monday when Sultan Al Jaber, the Emirati oil executive who is leading the conference, launched into an angry public defense of his position on ending fossil fuel use. Mr. Al Jaber, who runs the state-owned oil company, Adnoc, was under fire for a video that surfaced in which he said there is “no science” behind the idea that fossil fuels must be phased out in order to keep average global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. …“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phaseout of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5,” Mr. Al Jaber said during a panel discussion….

2023-12-02. Biden Administration Announces Rule to Cut Millions of Tons of Methane Emissions. [] By Jim Tankersley and Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: Vice President Kamala Harris pledged at a United Nations climate summit on Saturday that the United States would spend billions more to help developing nations fight and adapt to climate change…. Her remarks followed an announcement by U.S. officials at the summit the same day that the federal government would, for the first time, require oil and gas producers to detect and fix leaks of methane. It was the most ambitious move to reduce fossil fuel emissions that President Biden’s administration was expected to unveil at the summit, known as COP28. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that wafts into the atmosphere from pipelines, drill sites and storage facilities, and dangerously speeds the rate of global warming. …Methane is …the second-most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Methane only lingers in the atmosphere about a decade after it is released, but it is about 80 times more powerful in the short term at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, which remains in the air for centuries. Scientists say methane is responsible for more than a quarter of the warming that the planet has experienced since the preindustrial era….

2023-11-14. The Fifth National Climate Assessment. [] By U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Excerpt: The effects of human-caused climate change are already far-reaching and worsening across every region of the United States. Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions can limit future warming and associated increases in many risks. Across the country, efforts to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions have expanded since 2018, and US emissions have fallen since peaking in 2007. However, without deeper cuts in global net greenhouse gas emissions and accelerated adaptation efforts, severe climate risks to the United States will continue to grow. …In addition to reducing risks to future generations, rapid emissions cuts are expected to have immediate health and economic benefits (Figure 1.1). At the national scale, the benefits of deep emissions cuts for current and future generations are expected to far outweigh the costs. {2.12.313.314.515.332.4; Ch. 2, Introduction}…. See also Eos article, Deep Emissions Cuts Still Needed to Prevent the Worst Climate Change Impacts and New York Times article The Toll of Climate Disasters Is Rising. But a U.S. Report Has Good News, Too.

2023-09-21. White House directs agencies to consider climate costs in purchases, budgets. [] By  RACHEL FRAZIN, The Hill. Excerpt: The White House is directing agencies to account for climate costs in purchasing decisions and budget proposals. The White House said in a Thursday fact sheet that agencies should weigh the costs of potential climate damages as they make purchases and put together budget proposals. …A source briefed on the directive told The Hill that they expect it to also expand the use of climate accounting in environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. “It’s a way to balance climate effects against other economic effects,” said Max Sarinksy, senior attorney at the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. For example, he said, the “social cost of carbon offers even stronger support for the purchase of electric vehicles because you would add the climate cost savings to the budgetary cost savings.” The White House’s decision specifically directs agencies to use what are known as the social costs of greenhouse gasses — which quantify in a dollar amount the climate costs of an action —  to make these decisions. These costs are already used in some federal decisions like rulemaking….

2023-09-17. California Governor to Sign Landmark Climate Disclosure Bill. [] By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that he would sign a landmark climate bill that passed the state’s legislature last week requiring major companies to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, a move with national and global repercussions. The new law will require about 5,000 companies to report the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that is directly emitted by their operations and also the amount of indirect emissions like employee travel, waste disposal and supply chains. Climate policy advocates have long argued that such disclosures are an essential first step in efforts to harness financial markets to rein in planet-warming pollution. For example, when investors are made aware of the climate-warming impacts of a company, they may choose to steer their money elsewhere. The law would apply to public and private businesses that make more than $1 billion annually and operate in California. But because the state is the world’s fifth-largest economy, California often sets the trend for the nation, and many of the affected businesses are global corporations….

2023-09-14. Meet the Oil Man in Charge of Leading the World Away From Oil. [] By Max Bearak, The New York Teimos. Excerpt: The [United Arab] Emirates, made wealthy by decades of oil exports, wants to be seen as a climate-friendly renewable energy superpower, even as it helps lock developing nations around the world into decades more fossil fuel use. Straddling that split is one man: Sultan al-Jaber. He founded the renewable energy company, Masdar, which has invested billions of dollars in zero-emissions energy technologies like wind and solar power across 40 countries. Simultaneously, he directs Adnoc, the national oil company, a behemoth that makes Masdar look minuscule. Adnoc pumps millions of barrels of oil per day and aims to spend $150 billion over the next five years, mostly to ramp up its output. And this year, the United Nations has in effect vested Mr. al-Jaber with one of humanity’s most pressing tasks: steering its annual global climate negotiations [COP 2023; United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)], which are set to begin in November in Dubai. …Advocates for bold climate action have been outraged by his approach, which rests on bringing fossil fuel companies to the table, and which he claims will break that cycle of recrimination. A group of 133 U.S. Senators and European Union lawmakers signed a letter this year calling for him to be replaced. Multinational fossil fuel companies have a well-documented track record of countering climate science through misinformation and lobbying campaigns, even as now-public internal documents have revealed they were well aware of the effects of their products on the atmosphere….

2023-08-14. ‘Gamechanger’: judge rules in favor of young activists in US climate trial. [] By Dharna Noor, The Guardian. Excerpt: The judge who heard the US’s first constitutional climate trial earlier this year has ruled in favor of a group of young plaintiffs who had accused state officials in Montana of violating their right to a healthy environment. …In a case that made headlines around the US and internationally, 16 plaintiffs, aged five to 22, had alleged the state government’s pro-fossil fuel policies contributed to climate change. In trial hearings in June, they testified that these policies therefore violatedprovisions in the state constitution that guarantee a “clean and healthful environment”, among other constitutional protections. On Monday, Judge Kathy Seeley said that by prohibiting government agencies from considering climate impacts when deciding whether or not to permit energy projects, Montana is contributing to the climate crisis and stopping the state from addressing that crisis. The 103-page order came several weeks after the closely watched trial came to a close on 20 June….

2023-07-19. U.S. and China on Climate: How the World’s Two Largest Polluters Stack Up. [] By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: …China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, produces 12.7 billion metric tons of emissions annually. That dwarfs U.S. emissions, currently about 5.9 billion tons annually. …Since 1850, China has emitted 284 billion tons of carbon dioxide. But the United States, which industrialized far earlier, has released almost twice that amount: 509 billion tons of emissions. …The average Chinese person uses far less energy than the average American, about 10.1 tons of carbon pollution annually compared to 17.6 tons in the U.S. …The United States consumes 20 percent of the world’s oil and China consumes about 14 percent. The United States is also a top oil exporter. China imports most of its oil. …Natural gas now accounts for about 30 percent of energy use in the United States. In China, natural gas, most of it imported, accounts for 9 percent of its energy mix…. The United States has not built a new coal plant since 2013. There has been a 40 percent decline in coal-fired power generation in America over the last decade…. China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. A study last year found China permitted a total of 106 gigawatts of new coal power projects in 2022, the equivalent of two large coal power plants per week…. China manufactures more solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries than any other nation. In 2022 China invested $546 billion into clean energy. The United States invested $141 billion.… One in four cars sold in China last year was an electric vehicle. …In the United States, one in 17 new cars sold last year was electric…. See also Why Heat Waves Are Deepening China’s Addiction to Coal.

2023-07-02. A Climate Laggard in America’s Industrial Heartland Has a Plan to Change, Fast. [] By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: From toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes to sewage pouring into Detroit basements to choking wildfire smoke that drifted south from Canada, Michigan has been contending with the fallout from climate change. Even the state’s famed cherry trees have been struggling against rising temperatures, forcing some farmers to abandon the crop. But this state at the center of the American auto industry has also been a laggard when it comes to climate action, resistant to environmental regulations that could harm the manufacturing that has underpinned its economy for generations. That may soon change. Michigan is one of three states where Democrats won a “blue trifecta” last year, taking control of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers, and they are seizing that opportunity to propose some of the most ambitious climate laws in the world. The centerpiece is based on a 58-page “MI Healthy Climate” plan offered by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It would require Michigan to generate all of its electricity from solar, wind or other carbon-free sources by 2035, ….

2023-06-20. In Montana lawsuit, a climate scientist takes the stand. [] By Celina Zhou, Science. Excerpt: …Testimony ended today in a groundbreaking climate lawsuit being heard in a Montana state court. The suit, brought by 16 youth plaintiffs, argues that Montana’s energy policies contribute to climate change and therefore violate a right, enshrined in the state’s constitution, to “a clean and healthful environment.” It is the first youth-led climate lawsuit to be heard by a U.S. court. …testifying for the plaintiffs was paleoclimatologist Cathy Whitlock, a professor emeritus at Montana State University …lead author of the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment…. On 13 June, Whitlock testified to Montana’s declining snowpack, changing precipitation trends, and rapid rate of warming, which exceeds that of the United States as a whole. Together, she said, these shifts could lead to more drought and intense wildfire in the state….

2023-06-14. Battle Lines Harden Over Big Oil’s Role at Climate Talks in Dubai. [] By Max Bearak, The New York Times. Excerpt: The hosts of the United Nations global climate summit later this year aim to give fossil fuel companies a bigger voice, despite loud objections….

2023-06-08. Where Republican Presidential Candidates Stand on Climate Change. [] By Maggie Astor and Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: While many of them acknowledge that climate change is real, they largely downplay the issue and reject policies that would slow rising temperatures….

2023-05-22. A Breakthrough Deal to Keep the Colorado River From Going Dry, for Now. [] By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. Excerpt: Arizona, California and Nevada have agreed to take less water from the drought-strained Colorado River, a breakthrough agreement that, for now, keeps the river from falling so low that it would jeopardize water supplies for major Western cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles as well as for some of America’s most productive farmland. The agreement, announced Monday, calls for the federal government to pay about $1.2 billion to irrigation districts, cities and Native American tribes in the three states if they temporarily use less water…. See also New York Times article, The Colorado River Is Shrinking. See What’s Using All the Water.

2023-05-20. Behind the Scenes, G7 Nations Wrangle Over Ambitious Climate Commitments. [] By Motoko RichLisa Friedman and Jim Tankersley, The New York Times. Excerpt: In theory, the world’s largest industrialized democracies have agreed to stop using fossil fuels within a little over a quarter-century and to switch to new sources of power such as solar and wind as fast as they can. But as leaders of the Group of 7 gathered in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend for their annual meeting, some countries were wrangling over whether to loosen commitments to phase out the use of carbon-emitting fuels like gas and coal in time to avert the worst effects of global warming. …Jarred by the invasion of Ukraine, countries in Europe are seeking to quickly secure sources of natural gas to keep the lights on. At the same time, countries like Japan and even to some degree the United States are seeking to protect longstanding investments in the fossil fuel industry at home or abroad. …tensions have flared in the coalition over efforts by some countries to lock in their access to fossil fuels for decades to come….

2023-04-25. ‘Like a dam breaking’: experts hail decision to let US climate lawsuits advance. [] By Hilary Beaumont, The Guardian. Excerpt: Without weighing in on the merits of the cases, the supreme court on Monday rebuffed an appeal by major oil companies that want to face the litigation in federal courts, rather than in state courts, which are seen as more favorable to plaintiffs. …The cases have been compared to tobacco lawsuits in the 1990s that resulted in a settlement of more than $200bn and changed how cigarettes are advertised and sold in the US….

2023-04-14. Biden approves Alaska gas exports as critics condemn another ‘carbon bomb’. [] By The Guardian. Excerpt: The Biden administration on Thursday approved exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, a document showed, prompting criticism from environmental groups over the approval of another “carbon bomb”. …The project, for which exports were first approved by the administration of Donald Trump, has been strongly opposed by environmental groups. …The Biden administration last month approved the ConocoPhillips $7bn Willow oil and gas drilling project on Alaska’s North Slope, prompting criticism of Biden’s record on the climate crisis….

2023-03-29. ‘A win of epic proportions’: World’s highest court can set out countries’ climate obligations after Vanuatu secures historic UN vote. [] By Rachel Ramirez, CNN. Excerpt: Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu on Wednesday won a historic vote at the United Nations that calls on the world’s highest court to establish for the first time the obligations countries have to address the climate crisis — and the consequences if they don’t. Vanuatu has long faced the disproportionate impacts of rising seas and intensifying storms. And in 2021, it launched its call for the UN International Court of Justice to provide an “advisory opinion” on the legal responsibility of governments to fight the climate crisis, arguing that climate change has become a human rights issue for Pacific Islanders. Although the advisory opinion will be non-binding, it will carry significant weight and authority and could inform climate negotiations as well as future climate lawsuits around the world. It could also strengthen the position of climate-vulnerable countries in international negotiations….

2023-03-19. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) . [] By Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Summary for Policy Makers (draft) [] is marked as “Approved” but “Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute”. That said, there are many many aspects of interest. E.g.:
“A.4.2 Several mitigation options, notably solar energy, wind energy, electrification of urban systems, urban green infrastructure, energy efficiency, demand-side management, improved forest- and crop/grassland management, and reduced food waste and loss, are technically viable, are becoming increasingly cost effective and are generally supported by the public. From 2010– 2019 there have been sustained decreases in the unit costs of solar energy (85%), wind energy (55%), and lithium ion batteries (85%), and large increases in their deployment, e.g., >10x for solar and >100x for electric vehicles (EVs), varying widely across regions. The mix of policy instruments that reduced costs and stimulated adoption includes public R&D, funding for demonstration and pilot projects, and demand pull instruments such as deployment subsidies to attain scale. Maintaining emission-intensive systems may, in some regions and sectors, be more expensive than transitioning to low emission systems. (high confidence)….”
There are interesting variations of how this report is portrayed in news media. For example, compare the headlines in The New York Times, “Climate Change Is Speeding Toward Catastrophe. The Next Decade Is Crucial, U.N. Panel Says“, with The Guardian, “World can still avoid worst of climate collapse with genuine change, IPCC says.

2023-03-10. Biden Administration Expected to Move Ahead on a Major Oil Project in Alaska. [] By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: …the Biden administration is planning to greenlight an enormous $8 billion oil drilling project in the North Slope of Alaska…. …Willow would be the largest new oil development in the United States, expected to pump out 600 million barrels of crude over 30 years. Burning all that oil could release nearly 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. On an annual basis, that would translate into 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equal to adding nearly two million cars to the roads each year. The United States, the second biggest polluter on the planet after China, emits about 5.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Environmental activists, who have labeled the project a “carbon bomb” have argued that the project would deepen America’s dependence on oil and gas at a time when the International Energy Agency said nations must stop permitting such projects to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change….

2023-02-10. As Federal Cash Flows to Unions, Democrats Hope to Reap the Rewards. [] By Jonathan Weisman, New York Times. Excerpt: In places like West Virginia, money from three major laws passed by Congress is pouring into the alternative energy industry and other projects. “I think it’s a renaissance for the labor movement,” said one union official. …Money is just starting to flow from the last Congress’s three huge legislative victories — a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a $280 billion measure to rekindle a domestic semiconductor industry and the Inflation Reduction Act, which included $370 billion for clean energy to combat climate change….

2023-02-03. The man in charge of how the US spends $400bn to shift away from fossil fuels. [] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: Deep in the confines of the hulking, brutalist headquarters of the US Department of Energy, down one of its long, starkly lit corridors, sits a small, unheralded office that is poised to play a pivotal role in America’s shift away from fossil fuels and help the world stave off disastrous global heating. The department’s loan programs office (LPO) was “essentially dormant” under Donald Trump, according to its head, Jigar Shah, but has now come roaring back with a huge war chest to bankroll emerging clean energy projects and technology. Last year’s vast Inflation Reduction Act grew the previously moribund office’s loan authority to $140bn, while adding a new program worth another $250bn in loan guarantees to retool projects that help cut planet-heating emissions. Which means that Shah, a debonair former clean energy entrepreneur and podcast host who matches his suits with pristine Stan Smiths, oversees resources comparable to the GDP of Norway: all to help turbocharge solar, wind, batteries and a host of other climate technologies in the US….

2023-02-02. Calls for bigger windfall tax after Shell makes ‘obscene’ $40bn profit. [] By Alex Lawson, The Guardian. Excerpt: The government is under pressure to rethink its windfall tax on energy companies after Shell reported one of the largest profits in UK corporate history, with the surge in energy prices sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushing the oil company’s annual takings to $40bn (£32bn)….

2023-01-20. White House Aims to Reflect the Environment in Economic Data. [] By Lydia DePillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Forests that keep hillsides from eroding and clean the air. Wetlands that protect coastal real estate from storm surges. Rivers and deep snows that attract tourists and create jobs in rural areas. All of those are natural assets of perhaps obvious value — but none are accounted for by traditional measurements of economic activity. On Thursday, the Biden administration unveiled an effort to change that by creating a system for assessing the worth of healthy ecosystems to humanity. The results could inform governmental decisions like which industries to support, which natural resources to preserve and which regulations to pass….

2023-01-14. A Deal to Help South Africa Is a Breakthrough for the World. [] By The Editorial Board, The New york Times. Excerpt: South Africa generates 80 percent of its electricity by burning coal, more than any other industrialized nation. Some 200,000 people are directly employed by the coal mines, coal transports and coal-fired power plants that dot the flatlands east of Johannesburg, but the prosperity of the rest of the nation also rests on a foundation of black rock. Now, the South African government, with the help of the United States and European nations, is embarking on an audacious plan to quit coal without undermining economic growth. If it works, the proposed transition to solar and wind power could fuel faster growth and create a template for coal-dependent nations to confront climate change. This is a significant opportunity, and it deserves support and attention. The United States has committed more than $1 billion as part of an $8.5 billion international aid package to catalyze South Africa’s shift to renewable energy, and, after two years of talks about the details, the government in Pretoria is to deliver a plan in February for carrying it out. The proposed aid package is part of a broader shift in the international response to climate change. Windy talk about the necessity for wealthy countries to help less wealthy countries is finally turning tangible. In November, a group of nations, including the United States, committed $20 billion for a similar partnership with Indonesia, then made a $15.5 million commitment to Vietnam in December. Talks are underway with other nations, including Senegal and India….

2023-01-12. Extended producer responsibility for fossil fuels. [] By Stuart Jenkins, et al, Environmental Research Letters. Excerpt: …an opportunity: to open a conversation about applying the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to fossil fuels. …Implementing EPR through a combination of geological CO2 storage and nature-based solutions can deliver net zero at comparable or lower costs than conventional scenarios driven with a global carbon price and subject to constraints on CO2 storage deployment. It would also mean that the principal beneficiary of high fossil fuel prices, the fossil fuel industry itself, plays its part in addressing the climate challenge while reducing the risk of asset stranding. …Under EPR as implemented in France, for example, a ‘producer’, meaning ‘any natural or legal person who develops, manufactures, handles, treats, sells or imports waste-generating products’, ‘may be required […] to provide or contribute to the prevention and management of the resulting waste’. This law already applies to household chemicals, but not hydrocarbon fuels, despite the fact that almost 100% of the carbon contained in fossil fuels ending up as waste CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. If the principle of EPR were applied across OECD countries without this exemption, anyone extracting or importing fossil fuels into the OECD would become responsible for permanent disposal of the waste CO2 that those fuels generate….

See updates from {2022}-{2021}-{2020}-{2013-2019}-{2008-2012}

Non-chronological resources

Kyoto Treaty text

National Climate Assessment (NCA), originally required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and periodically updated, can be found on the U.S.Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) website. It informs the nation about already observed climate changes, the current status of the climate, and anticipated trends for the future. It integrates scientific information from multiple sources and sectors and provides input to Federal agencies, U.S. citizens, communities, and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the nation’s future. Prior and current drafts of the NCA can be found at

Climate Change

Carbon Mitigation Initiative – a joint project of Princeton University, BP and the Ford Motor Company to find solutions to the greenhouse and global warming problem. Researchers are developing strategies to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions that will be safe, effective, and affordable.

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability was founded in 1990 by local governments at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). It’s an association of cities, towns, counties, and local government associations ((more than 600 in the U.S.) whose mission is to build and serve a worldwide movement to achieve tangible improvements in global sustainability. 

Nature Conservancy pages on Climate Change

NOAA Global Climate Change page

Permafrost Lab

RealClimate –
a commentary site (blog) on climatology by climate scientists. Provides quick response to developing stories.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) – Climate & Energy Publications

Climate Change cover