Environment

July ranks 2nd for heat globally, hottest recorded on land

18 Aug 2017   Climate

Earth yet again sizzled with unprecedented heat last month. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday Earth sweated to its second hottest month since recordkeeping began in 1880. At 61.89 degrees (16.63 Celsius), last month was behind July 2016’s all-time record by .09 degrees. But Earth’s land temperatures in July were the hottest on record at 59.96 degrees (15.5 Celsius), passing July 2016’s by one-seventh of a degree. Land measurements are important because that’s where we live, said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. Earlier this week, NASA calculated that July 2017 was a tad hotter than 2016, making it essentially a tie for all-time hottest month. NASA uses a newer set of ocean measurements and includes estimates for the Arctic unlike NOAA. Record heat was reported in Africa, Australia, parts of Asia, the Middle East and the Indian ocean, Crouch said. “There […]

New Orleans Scrambling to Fix Drainage System Following Heavy Rains

12 Aug 2017   Climate

Workers in New Orleans raced Friday to repair a broken power turbine that provides electricity for the city’s troubled drainage system and slowly brought it back online—ahead of more possible rain this weekend. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a press conference that the city was also ordering 26 additional generators “out of an abundance of…

Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court

12 Aug 2017   Climate

Can the courts fix climate change?  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, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. 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.  But in the United States, lawsuits to get American courts to take on the climate fight have until now gone nowhere. In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out a case filed by eight states and New York City against electric power producers. A lawsuit brought by inhabitants of Kivalina, Alaska, against fossil fuel companies over the diminished buffer of sea ice that had protected the town was dismissed by a federal judge in 2009. A federal appeals court and the Supreme Court declined to reinstate the case.

China’s smog crackdown roils niche commodities markets

10 Aug 2017   China, Climate

China’s push for blue skies is roiling supplies and boosting prices of key raw materials from soymeal to ferroalloys as the government ramps up smog checks and forces some factories in the world’s top commodities market to close or suspend operations. With soymeal and gasoline prices surging, Shandong, China’s industrial and agricultural heartland, offered a snapshot into the impact in the market as environmental inspectors started to crisscross the eastern province. Shandong is one of eight provinces and regions now facing a fourth round of inspections by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Soymeal at Rizhao, in Shandong,, has risen almost 3 percent this week, hitting a three-week high of 2,840 yuan ($424.32) per tonne on Wednesday even as a […]

It wasn’t even a hurricane, but heavy rains flooded New Orleans as pumps faltered

10 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed his house and forced him to flee to nearby Baton Rouge, Ronald Williams spent a dozen years waiting for the right time to go home. Seven months ago, after repeated government promises that New Orleans was once again about as flood-proof as the city can get, Williams finally got up the nerve to return. But on Saturday, from the steps of his new rental home, Williams watched water again pour through the city’s streets after a thunderstorm dropped as much as nine inches of rain in just four hours. The ensuing flood overwhelmed the city’s pump system and covered much of central New Orleans in several feet of water, taking 14 hours to drain […]

This Hurricane Season May Generate as Many as 19 Atlantic Storms

10 Aug 2017   Climate

The Atlantic hurricane season will probably end with an above-average 14 to 19 named storms that can rattle energy and agriculture markets now that it is almost certain a system-deterring Pacific El Nino won’t arrive.  At least 5 to 9 will become hurricanes with 2 to 5 becoming major systems with winds of 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour or more, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Storms are named when their winds reach 39 mph. In May, the agency said 11 to 17 storms would form.  “There is a possibility now that the season will be extremely active,” said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane seasonal forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “We are now entering the historical peak months of the season. This three month period is when the bulk of hurricanes occur.

El Nino, marked by a warming in the equatorial Pacific, can have a big influence on Atlantic storms. The phenomenon increases wind shear in the smaller ocean, which can tear apart tropical systems.  See Also: ‘Erratic’ Summer Weather Pinned on Lack of El-Nino Game Changer  The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.  Florida, the world’s largest orange juice producer behind Brazil, is particularly vulnerable to hurricane strikes. And while dangerous winds can threaten life and property, heavy rains form storms can help crops, as was the case with Tropical Storm Emily last month.

Seismic events strike shale-rich Oklahoma for second day

7 Aug 2017   Earthquakes

 The U.S Geological Survey recorded a cluster of tremors early Friday in a part of Oklahoma on a watch list for activity related to shale oil and gas operations. Four tremors were reported as of 5:45 a.m. EDT by the USGS, the largest of which was a magnitude-3.3 event about three miles outside the town of Edmond. At least eight quakes were recorded Thursday , with Edmond experiencing a magnitude-4.2 event. One of the U.S. states with a significant amount of shale oil and natural gas, a study from the USGS found the disposal of oil and gas-related wastewater is the “primary reason” for an increase in seismic activity in central states like Oklahoma. That process is different […]

‘Lucifer’ Heat Wave Keeps Parts of Europe in Red Alert – Bloomberg

7 Aug 2017   Climate

No wonder it’s been dubbed “Lucifer.”

A relentless heat wave that gripped parts of Europe this week has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, causing at least two deaths and prompting authorities to issue severe weather warnings.

“It is just too much,” real estate agent Sasa Jovanovic, 52, said during an early morning walk in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, where the temperature was forecast to hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturday. “Sometimes it feels as if I cannot breathe.”  The extreme heat stifling Serbia, Romania, Croatia and parts of Spain, France and Italy has fueled wildfires, damaged crops and strained energy and water supplies. Authorities in some areas issued traffic restrictions and banned outdoor work during the hottest part of the day. Spain’s national weather service on Saturday issued an emergency warning for high temperatures in 31 of the country’s 50 provinces as forecasts predicted temperatures of up to 44 C (111.2 F).Western and northern Europe, in contrast, was experiencing colder and wetter weather.

Several earthquakes strike shale-rich Oklahoma

3 Aug 2017   Earthquakes

Eight earthquakes were recorded Thursday in Oklahoma, a state at the heart of the shale oil and natural gas industry, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The largest of the tremors recorded by the USGS was a magnitude-4.2 event shortly before 3 a.m. local time in the town of Edmond, which is designated in a state area of interest. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has ordered oil and gas operators to cut back on disposal well operations and closed some wells in response to increased seismic activity in those areas. There’s been no new well activity in the area in terms of drilling or hydraulic fracturing as of July, state regulators said after a recent outbreak. A statement from regulators, published by local KWTV News 9, said […]

Climate change isn’t the end of the world

3 Aug 2017   Climate

Yes, the costs are not evenly spread. Some places will do better and some will do worse. The American South might be a worse place to grow wheat; Southern Canada might be a better one. In a century, Miami might find itself in approximately the same situation as the Dutch city of Rotterdam today. But spread over a century, the costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem. Rotterdam’s dikes are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Most buildings are rebuilt about every 50 years. If we simply stopped building in flood-prone areas and started building on higher ground, even the costs of moving cities would be bearable. Migration is costly. But much of the world’s population moved from farms to cities in the 20th century. Allowing people to move to better climates in the 21st will be equally possible. Such investments in climate adaptation are […]

The Miami area endured an absurd flooding event Tuesday afternoon

3 Aug 2017   Climate

During the afternoon hours Tuesday, torrential rain drenched parts of Miami and Miami Beach. Four to seven inches of rain fell in a matter of a few hours before and during the evening rush, causing extensive flooding and gridlock. Cars floated on the curbs, and neighbors helped push stranded motorists down the street. Parked cars on flooded roads bobbed in the wake as larger trucks and SUVs passed. Five-hour radar loop spanning the heaviest rain during the afternoon hours. (Brian McNoldy) This region is no stranger to tropical downpours, but this amount of rain falling in a short time will create flash flooding just about anywhere. And in some ways, because it is so low-lying, this region is more vulnerable to flooding than many as it depends on storm drains being able to drain into nearby Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, in this case, the water had nowhere to go as […]

Earth to warm 3.6 degrees by end of century

1 Aug 2017   Climate

By the end of the century, the global temperature is likely to rise more than 3.6 degrees. This rise in temperature is the ominous conclusion reached by two studies using entirely different methods published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday. One study used statistical analysis to show there is a 95 percent chance that Earth will warm more than 3.6 degrees at century’s end, and a 1 percent chance that it will be at or below the 3.6-degree mark. “The likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0-4.9 [degrees Celsius] and our median forecast is 3.2 Celsius,” said Adrian Raftery, author of the first study. “Our model is based on data which already show the effect of existing emission mitigation policies. Achieving the goal of less than 1.5 Celsius warming will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.” The second study analyzed […]

Vice premier urges efforts on air pollution control in north China

1 Aug 2017   China, Climate

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attends a meeting on air pollution control in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and other nearby areas in north China, in Beijing, capital of China, July 31, 2017. (Xinhua/Wang Ye) BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) — Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli Monday urged solid efforts on air pollution control in north China in the coming fall and winter seasons. China has made progress in the fight against air pollution in the first half of this year, but the situation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and other nearby areas remains grim and there are still weak links in air pollution control, especially in the fall and winter seasons, Zhang said at a meeting in Beijing. Authorities should take targeted measures to prevent air pollution and tackle key problems, Zhang said.

At EPA museum, history might be in for a change

31 Jul 2017   Climate

An Environmental Protection Agency exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Building. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post) Scott Pruitt has repeated a particular line again and again since becoming the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. “The future ain’t what it used to be at the EPA,” he’s fond of saying . As it turns out, the past may not be what it once was, either. In an obscure corner of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building, a debate is underway about how to tell the story of the EPA’s history and mission. A miniature museum that began as a pet project of former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has come under scrutiny. It features the agency’s work over 4½ decades, with exhibits topics such as regulating carbon dioxide emissions and the Paris climate accord. The Obama administration championed such efforts, but President Trump’s policies are at odds with them. Now the museum, […]

How California Plans to Go Far Beyond Any Other State on Climate

27 Jul 2017   Climate

Over the past decade, California has passed a sweeping set of climate laws to test a contentious theory: that it’s possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond what any other state has done and still enjoy robust economic growth. Now that theory faces its biggest test yet. Last August, the State Legislature set a goal of slashing emissions more than 40 percent below today’s levels by 2030, a far deeper cut than President Barack Obama proposed for the entire United States and deeper than most other countries have contemplated. So how will California pull this off? On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the state’s cap-and-trade program , which is expected to play a big role. But cutting greenhouse gases this deeply will involve more than cap and trade . The state plans to rethink every corner of its economy, from urban planning to dairy […]

EPA chief spent almost half of spring in home state of Oklahoma

24 Jul 2017   Climate, USA

 The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was in his home state of Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days of March, April and May, according to copies of his travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project watchdog group and reviewed by Reuters. Pruitt’s frequent visits to Oklahoma have raised concerns among critics that he is cultivating political relationships in the state at taxpayer expense, instead of focusing on his job as head of the environmental regulator. EPA officials contend that Pruitt works hard and pays for his trips home to Tulsa to see his wife and children. “Administrator Pruitt works long hours and is available around the clock,” said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. “He is extremely focused and disciplined, which is evident by the fact that he spearheaded over two dozen significant regulatory actions since being sworn in.” Pruitt has […]

Trump just nominated a climate change skeptic to USDA’s top science post

21 Jul 2017   Climate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture building in Washington (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post) This story has been updated. President Trump on Wednesday nominated Sam Clovis, a former college professor and talk radio host who has challenged the scientific consensus that human activity has been the primary driver of climate change, to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post. “Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement Wednesday evening. “He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing […]

California gas storage site that leaked in 2015 cleared to reopen

21 Jul 2017   Climate

A natural gas operation near Los Angeles that leaked methane for several months in 2015 is safe to reopen at a reduced capacity, California regulators said. “Following months of rigorous inspection and analysis of wells at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility – and the implementation of multiple new safety protocols – state engineering and safety enforcement experts have concluded the facility is safe to operate and can reopen at a greatly reduced capacity in order to protect public safety and prevent an energy shortage in Southern California,” a joint statement from the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the California Public Utilities Commission read. The site near Los Angeles […]

California Legislature Approves Climate-Change Measure

19 Jul 2017   Climate, USA

California Gov. Jerry Brown scored a major win for his climate-change agenda Monday night when the legislature approved an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program. Mr. Brown had struggled to get Democrats on board, with some more business-friendly members concerned about the program’s effect on jobs and some environmentalists objecting that it gives too much to industry. Under the program, California businesses…

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Says

17 Jul 2017   Japan, Nuclear, Water

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen. Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing more than 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company […]

ADB: Asia-Pacific ‘at the heart’ of climate risks

15 Jul 2017   Asia, Climate

If left unchecked, climate change could lead to the loss of about $52 billion per year for the economies of the Asia-Pacific, the Asian Development Bank said. “The global climate crisis is arguably the biggest challenge human civilization faces in the 21st century, with the Asia and Pacific region at the heart of it all,” Bambang Susantono, the ADB’s vice president for sustainable development,” said in a statement . A report from the bank found a business-as-usual scenario would lead to an increase in rainfall by as much as 50 percent. Total regional losses from the flooding expected by 2050 could be in the range of $52 billion per year, compared with the $6 billion […]

The Latest: Earthquakes rumble in central Oklahoma

15 Jul 2017   Earthquakes

The Latest on a series of earthquakes that struck central Oklahoma on Friday (all times local): 11:05 a.m. The U.S. Geological Survey says several earthquakes have struck north-central Oklahoma, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain says there are no reports of injury or damage as a result of the Friday morning quakes near Stroud, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City. The 4.2 magnitude quake was recorded shortly before 9 a.m. and was followed by quakes of preliminary magnitude 3.8 and 3.7, in addition to smaller quakes of magnitude 2.9 and two of magnitude 2.7. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said its induced seismicity department and the Oklahoma Geological Survey are investigating the quakes. Scientists have linked some oil and gas production in Oklahoma to an uptick in earthquakes, but the frequency of such […]

Failure to address Africa’s rising population is not an option

14 Jul 2017   Africa, Population

Africa will dominate global population growth in the 21st century. Almost 1bn people, or 13 per cent of the world’s population, live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number will more than double by 2050 and 4bn people (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to a projection last month by the UN Population Division. The main reason for the rapid growth is a sharp decline in infant and child mortality, with no associated reduction in birth rates. Today, sub-Saharan women have five children on average, compared with 6.7 in 1970. Growing populations in the sub-Saharan region will influence societies, economic outcomes and geopolitics. In addition, the expected effects on food and water security (exacerbated by climate change) will be unprecedented. These trends will impact not only the region but the rest of the world. Europe appears to be particularly vulnerable as migration from sub-Saharan Africa is likely to intensify in coming decades. The good news is that African demographics appear to be commanding more international attention. The G20-Africa Partnership Conference, held in Berlin in June, focused specifically on Africa’s population boom. The G20 Summit in Hamburg this weekend will also address Africa’s population size and highlight the need for better employment opportunities. Sub-Saharan Africa is at a crossroads regarding the potential to capture a demographic dividend — an economic surplus triggered by the decline in birth rates, a decrease in the number of young dependants and an increase in the proportion of working-age adults. But the pressing policy question is whether the region can replicate the conditions that enabled several east Asian countries to prosper from their own demographic dividends from the early 1960s to the 1990s.

Trump hints at climate deal shift in Paris talks

14 Jul 2017   Climate, USA

Mr Trump hinted that he could shift his position on the Paris climate accord French President Emmanuel Macron said he “respected” Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord but that France would remain committed. “On climate we know what our differences are,” Mr Macron said in Paris on Thursday, adding that it was important to move forward. Speaking alongside Mr Macron, Mr Trump then hinted that the US could shift its position but failed to elaborate. “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord,” he said. Mr Trump added: “We’ll see what happens.” The US president withdrew from the 2015 Paris climate agreement last month, citing moves to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage US businesses. Mr Macron said it was right to put the climate issue to one side while the two leaders discussed how they could work together on […]

EPA chief wants scientists to debate climate on TV

12 Jul 2017   Climate, USA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of launching a debate about climate change that could air on television – challenging scientists to prove the widespread view that global warming is a serious threat, the head of the agency said. The move comes as the administration of President Donald Trump seeks to roll back a slew of Obama-era regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, and begins a withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement – a global pact to stem planetary warming through emissions cuts. “There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered (about climate change),” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Reuters in an interview late on Monday. “Who better to do that than a group of scientists… […]

Pakistan’s fuel oil circular debt causing power shutdowns in summer peak

11 Jul 2017   Climate, Pakistan

Disruption to Pakistan’s domestic trade flows of fuel oil due to almost $5 billion of circular debt is swelling stocks and causing severe power shutdowns during the country’s peak summer demand season. Fuel oil accounts for close to 40% of fuel consumption in Pakistan’s power sector, which is grappling with increasing load shedding and power cuts, a costly economic fallout for the industrial and manufacturing industries. Circular debt in Pakistan’s energy sector has been an ongoing issue since 2008. Debt-burdened power utilities cannot make timely payments to the country’s oil suppliers, who in turn cannot meet their international payment obligations, leading to a credit crunch and supply disruptions. Power producers are grappling with widespread electricity theft, payment delays and defaults by their customers — including government offices and state-owned companies — and high downstream subsidies that prevent them from recovering the costs of fuel purchases, power generation and distribution. […]

Sixth mass extinction already under way

11 Jul 2017   Climate

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research. Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , eschews the normally sober tone of scientific papers and calls the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” that represents a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”. Prof Gerardo Ceballos, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who led the work, said: “The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to […]

Environmental groups say G20 paying lip service to clean energy

6 Jul 2017   Climate

The world’s leading economies are skewing their financial strength toward fossil fuels even as the rhetoric shifts to renewables, environmental groups said. More than 20 heads of state and government representatives arrive Friday in Hamburg for the 12th summit for members of the G20 economic bloc. In the past, members endorsed a toolkit for renewable energy development, energy efficiency and tackling climate change. A report released by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Sierra Club and WWF European Policy Office found public financing for fossil fuels from G20 members averaged $71.8 billion per year even as most affirm their support for the international Paris climate agreement. “These countries have been talking out of both sides […]

Tropical Storm Don could form today, and one group is upping its hurricane outlook

6 Jul 2017   Climate

We’re watching a tropical disturbance in the Atlantic this week, which could become the season’s fourth tropical storm if it strengthens. If so, it would acquire the name Don. It would also be about seven weeks ahead of average for the fourth storm of the season.  On Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center was giving it a 70 percent probability of becoming a tropical depression or a tropical storm by the end of the week as it tracks west-northwest.

A trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware is about to break off Antarctica

6 Jul 2017   Climate

An enormous iceberg, more than 2,000 square miles in area — or nearly the size of Delaware — is poised to detach from one of the largest floating ice shelves in Antarctica and float off in the Weddell Sea, south of the tip of South America. Scientists have been expecting the break from the Larsen C ice shelf, monitoring the progress of a crack that extended to over 100 miles long in recent months. The latest update from scientists with NASA and the University of California found that only three remaining miles of ice continue to connect the impending iceberg to the larger shelf. Those parts of the iceberg that have already detached have begun to move rapidly seaward , widening the rift in recent days and leaving the remaining ice “strained near to breaking point,” according to […]

When scarcity strikes

5 Jul 2017   Climate

Water is a basic necessity of life. Since access to water has been recognised as a human right, the obligation to provide clean and safe drinking water across the globe has fallen on various government agencies. However, over one billion people across the globe do not have access to basic water supplies. Nearly half of the developing world’s population suffers from an assortment of diseases because water supply remains contaminated. The growing population across the world has lowered the level of ground water – particularly in the densely populated parts of the world like South Asia, Africa and China. Several policy efforts have been made at the global level to address the plight of the vulnerable sections of society. But these efforts have yet to yield the expected results. Since the mid-1990s, the privatisation of water services has been billed as the solution to providing water to people who […]

Companies have to open up about climate risks: Shell CEO

5 Jul 2017   Climate

Climate change poses one of the biggest long-term risks to the global economy and companies, including big oil and gas firms such as Shell, have to be open about how the risks will affect them, its chief executive said on Tuesday. Shell, one of the biggest oil and gas producing firms in the world, is under growing pressure from some shareholders to improve its carbon footprint and sustainability credentials. Shell said it assesses climate change risks internally but it has so far not disclosed in detail what financial impact climate-related risks could have. A think-tank estimated last month that energy companies could be wasting more than $2 trillion by 2025 on projects that will not be needed if governments’ carbon-reduction targets are met. “It is right […]

Court Blocks E.P.A. Effort to Suspend Obama-Era Methane Rule

4 Jul 2017   Climate

Dealing a legal blow to the Trump administration, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot suspend an Obama-era rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The 2-to-1 decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the first major legal setback for Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, who is trying to roll back dozens of Obama-era environmental regulations. The ruling signals that President Trump’s plans to erase his predecessor’s environmental record are likely to face an uphill battle in the courts. In upholding green groups’ efforts to end the E.P.A.’s 90-day stay over parts of the regulation, the appeals court ruled that the agency’s decision was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious.” The agency, it said, did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to block the rule. “E.P.A.’s stay, in other […]

Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize

27 Jun 2017   Climate

On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world. But on a cliff above the sea, inside a low-slung government building, a bank of sophisticated machines sniffs that air day and night, revealing telltale indicators of the way human activity is altering the planet on a major scale. For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017. Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the […]

How the gas industry can help fight climate change in Siberia

27 Jun 2017   Climate

Permafrost is the layer of permanently frozen earth – over 3,000 feet thick in some places – that lies just beneath the land surface in Arctic regions. It formed over the past few million years when ice ages predominated. Now, under the influence of global warming, it is melting. And research suggests that this may have reached the point of triggering runaway climate change, unless we can find ways to intervene. The problem is that permafrost contains huge amounts of methane, a natural gas that’s being progressively released as the ice melts. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, having up to 80 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide. We can’t stop this process, but could we capture the methane as it is released? It […]

How Earthquakes Are Rattling a Dutch Province Atop One of the World’s Richest Gas Troves

For decades, the giant Groningen gas field beneath the flat, green farmland in the north of this country counted among the greatest prizes for Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Then the earthquakes started. The exploitation of Groningen—the biggest gas field in Europe—has been causing tremors for over two decades, rattling a bucolic province with no previous history of quakes and exposing two of the world’s biggest energy companies to a criminal probe and rising reconstruction bills.  Amid a public outcry, the Dutch government has imposed increasingly strict limits that have more than halved Groningen’s gas production since 2013. Now, authorities are proposing another 10% cut in hopes of further reducing earthquakes. And a Dutch public prosecutor is preparing to open a criminal investigation into responsibility for the earthquakes.

Xi Jinping Is Set for a Big Gamble With China’s Carbon Trading Market

23 Jun 2017   China, Climate

BEIJING — As other countries look to China to take the lead in fighting global warming after President Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate agreement , President Xi Jinping is pushing ahead with an ambitious plan to build the world’s largest market for carbon emissions permits. The start of a national carbon trading market in China by late this year has been years in the making, but is now shaping up as Mr. Xi’s big policy retort to Mr. Trump’s decision to quit the Paris accord. The Chinese government said in a greenhouse gas policy guide released on Wednesday that the 2017 start was on track. “Carbon trading on a national scale will send a signal to the world that China is serious about this,” said Wang Yi , a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who also belongs to the national legislature and advises the […]

Earthquake trends in Oklahoma and other states likely related to wastewater injection

23 Jun 2017   Earthquakes

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Catalog According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the number of earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains has increased dramatically since 2009. More earthquakes in these areas have coincided with the increase in oil and natural gas production from shale formations. Seismic events caused by human activity—also known as induced seismicity—are most often caused by the underground injection of wastewater produced during the oil and natural gas extraction process. Source: U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Catalog Most induced earthquakes are small, measuring in the three- to four- magnitude range on the moment magnitude scale . These earthquakes are large enough to be felt by most people, but they do not often cause damage to structures. In Oklahoma, where production is in areas with high water-to-hydrocarbon ratios (meaning there is more produced wastewater that must be disposed), the number of earthquakes has increased significantly since 2009. […]

Oil firms could waste trillions if climate targets reached: report

21 Jun 2017   Climate

An energy installation on a property leased to Devon Energy Production Company by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is seen near Guthrie, Oklahoma, September 15, 2015. Oil giants including Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell risk spending more than a third of their budgets by 2025 on oil and gas projects that will not be feasible if international climate targets are to be met, a thinktank says. More than $2 trillion of planned investments in oil and gas projects by 2025 risk becoming redundant if governments stick to targets to lower carbon emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius, according to a report by the Carbon Tracker thinktank and a group of institutional investors. The report analyzed the costs of oil and gas projects planned for approval by 69 companies into 2025. It then compared their carbon intensity to targets needed to meet the 2 degree […]

OECD: Air pollution, urbanization offsetting gains in renewables

21 Jun 2017   Climate

Air pollution remains high globally and urban areas are expanding, showing a more comprehensive effort is needed on the environmental front, the OECD said. “While there are signs of greening growth, most countries show progress on just one or two fronts and little on the others,” OECD Environment Director Simon Upton said in a statement Tuesday. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found half of its 35 member states have decoupled emissions from growth, meaning gains in carbon dioxide emissions no longer increase in tandem with gross domestic product. Few member states, however, have completely broken the link between growth, fossil fuel consumption and emissions. In a report published Tuesday, the OECD found less than 30 percent […]

Too hot to handle: Study shows Earth’s killer heat worsens

20 Jun 2017   Climate

Killer heat is getting worse, a new study shows. Deadly heat waves like the one now broiling the American West are bigger killers than previously thought and they are going to grow more frequent, according to a new comprehensive study of fatal heat conditions. Still, those stretches may be less lethal in the future, as people become accustomed to them. A team of researchers examined 1,949 deadly heat waves from around the world since 1980 to look for trends, define when heat is so severe it kills and forecast the future. They found that nearly one in three people now experience 20 days a year when the heat reaches deadly levels. But the study predicts that up to three in four people worldwide will endure that kind of heat by the end of the century, if global warming continues unabated. “The United States is going to […]

Methane Reduction Plan Could Seriously Harm Canadian Oil & Gas

20 Jun 2017   Air Quality, Canada

The old saying goes, “ The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. And so it goes for the myriad of new regulations, taxes and restrictions forced upon the oil industry to attempt to make it something it is not, which is a zero-carbon and environmentally benign source of hydrocarbon fuel. Carbon taxes. Corporate taxes. Emission caps. The premise is the upstream oil and gas industry is so shamelessly profitable that governments and regulators can pile on more rules and costs that somehow this industry can accommodate, absorb and survive. And still provide fuel, taxes and jobs. The newest elephant in the room the industry has not yet had to deal with is the commitment made by the governments of Canada, Alberta and U.S. to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025 with the major culprit being the usual suspect; the oil and gas industry. […]

Big Oil Steps Up Support for Carbon Tax

20 Jun 2017   Climate, USA

Some of the world’s largest oil companies and the country’s biggest auto maker are joining a group pushing the U.S. government to tax carbon in an effort to slow climate change. General Motors Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among almost a dozen companies joining the Climate Leadership Council, a new organization that advocates replacing many environmental regulations with a simplified tax on businesses that release carbon…

BTrump administration to delay another Obama-era methane rule

15 Jun 2017   Air Quality, Climate

The Trump administration will postpone industry compliance with an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas wells on federal lands. An effort by congressional Republicans to repeal the methane rule failed in the Senate by one vote on May 10. The methane rule, which was finalized in November by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, was challenged in court by several states and oil and gas industry groups. Related: Find more content about Trump’s administration in our news and analysis feature. In a notice to be published Thursday in the Federal Register, the BLM said certain portions of the rule will be postponed until the legal challenges are resolved. “While the BLM believes the [methane rule] was properly promulgated, the petitioners have raised serious questions concerning the validity of certain provisions of the rule,” the agency said in its notice. “Given this legal uncertainty, operators should […]

U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate deal unlikely to impact emissions

14 Jun 2017   Climate, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves after attending an event welcoming the Clemson Tigers, the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions, at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 12, 2017. The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate pact is unlikely to have a direct impact on the expected decline in global carbon emissions, BP’s chief economist said on Tuesday. “Nearly all the improvement in (carbon reduction) comes from the developing world, it isn’t coming from OECD or America,” Spencer Dale said during a presentation of BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy. The reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in recent years has been a result of cheaper natural gas pushing out more polluting coal rather than regulations, he said. (Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by David Clarke)

Low-carbon trajectory is the only option, European leaders say

13 Jun 2017   Climate, Europe

European leaders highlight the need to pursue a low-carbon economy during an energy forum held in Vienna. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI June 12 (UPI) — There’s no alternative but to pursue an energy strategy that calls for a low-carbon trajectory for economic growth, European leaders said from Vienna. More than 100 delegates were on hand for a forum in Vienna on the transition to an energy pathway focused on renewable and alternative energy resources. “There is no other alternative for the Energy Community members than to follow the path towards a sustainable, low-carbon future,” Janez Kopac, the director of the energy community secretariat, said in a statement . “Sustainability measures are opportunities for job creation, economic growth, health improvements, and never a burden.” Turkey and Armenia are included in the community as observer states alongside their European counterparts. The forum in Vienna was to provide a platform that […]

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Is 8 Miles From Creating an Iceberg the Size of Delaware

10 Jun 2017   Climate

A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf is getting close to a full break, according to scientists. It has accelerated this year in an area already threatened by warming temperatures, and is now only about eight miles from the edge of the ice shelf. The crack in Larsen C is more than 120 miles long, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, it will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team from Swansea University and Aberystwyth University that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining eight miles of the shelf, the team expects the break to happen soon. The glaciologist Eric J. Rignot, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, […]

States Tell EPA They’ll Fight Should U.S. Relax Vehicle Emissions Rules

10 Jun 2017   Air Quality, USA

More than a dozen state attorneys general wrote to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency vowing a legal fight to block regulators from easing vehicle-emissions standards, the latest broadside in a battle over the Trump administration’s move to reopen a review of the regulations. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 12 other attorneys general sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt late Thursday, threatening to take the agency to court should U.S. officials relax the standards when the…

Tillerson: Paris not an isolationist move

7 Jun 2017   Climate, USA

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tells his counterparts in New Zealand the decision to step away from the Paris climate treaty wasn’t an isolationist move by the Trump administration. File Photo by Sergei Chirikov/EPA June 6 (UPI) — President Trump acted in the people’s best interest with his decision on the Paris climate treaty and is not an isolationist, his secretary of state said. President Donald Trump sparked international critiques with a decision to end the U.S. role in the Paris climate treaty, which would require about three years for a full withdrawal from the international accord. The president said he’d consider some sort of renegotiated role and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended the move as a decision that served the interests of the American people. “Having said that, as he made that decision, I think he made clear that he welcomes the opportunity to talk about […]

Worst Hurricane Season In A Decade Threatens Gulf Coast Production

5 Jun 2017   Climate, USA

2017 could be an “above-normal” year for large hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a potential problem for Gulf Coast oil drillers and refiners. NOAA puts the odds of an “above-normal” season for hurricanes at 45 percent, while the chances of a normal and below-normal season are at 35 and 20 percent, respectively. In fact, they said that there is a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms, which are storms that have 39 mile-per-hour winds or higher. About 5 to 9 of those could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher); 2 to 4 of which could become major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). The average season (which runs from June through November) tends to have just 12 named storms, so the potential for 17 named storms puts the 2017 hurricane season in more treacherous territory. “We’re expecting a […]