Environment

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 […]

Investors expect to meet with Exxon on climate-impact report

Exxon Mobil Corp ( XOM.N ) investors will push to meet with oil company officials this summer to hash out elements of a climate-impact analysis following a shareholder vote calling for studies of technology and climate-related risks to its business. Exxon has said that it will reconsider its opposition to the request, not that it would begin discussions or initiate new studies. The shareholder proposal, filed by 54 groups including financial, religious and corporate governance activists, won the support on Wednesday of 62 percent of Exxon holders. “I anticipate we’ll be having a meeting this summer,” said Tracey Rembert, assistant director of Catholic Responsible Investing, one the 54 co-filers. The White House’s decision on Thursday to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate […]

EU planning to spend billions on climate issues

1 Jun 2017   Climate, Europe

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and first lady Melania Trump (C) speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sideline of the G7 Summit in Italy on May 26. Germany accounts for nearly 23 percent of all emissions tied to fossil fuels in the EU. Photo by Tiberio Barchielli/Chigi Palace Press Office/EPA June 1 (UPI) — The European Union is planning to spend tens of billions on climate-related issues by 2020, EU sources said ahead of the U.S. announcement Thursday on the Paris agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce his intention Thursday to start the process of pulling out of the international climate accord. Speaking from Berlin on Wednesday, European President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that leaving the treaty isn’t automatic. “The climate agreement says: It takes three, four years after the treaty took effect in November 2016 to withdraw from the agreement,” he said. “This means […]

China will continue with climate pact even if US pulls out

1 Jun 2017   China, Climate

China said Thursday that it will work with the European Union to uphold the international agreement on climate change even if the U.S. pulls out. President Donald Trump is expected to announce his decision on whether to abandon the Paris climate accord Thursday afternoon U.S. time (3 p.m. EDT; 1900 GMT). While not mentioning the U.S. by name, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that climate change is a “global challenge” that no country can ignore. “No matter whether other countries’ positions may change, we will continue to uphold” a model of sustainable development, Hua said at a regularly scheduled news conference. China is the top emitter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and the United States is second. Both were key to reaching an agreement at Paris in 2015, which came into force in November and aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees […]

Exxon Investors to Company: Make Climate Curb Fallout Public

CEO Woods sees crude oil surviving Paris-driven carbon limits Vote comes amid reports U.S. to abandon Paris Climate Pact Exxon Mobil Corp. investors, in a split with the company, urged the explorer to publish a detailed analysis on how carbon curbs could affect the value of its oil fields, refineries and pipelines. The non-binding measure, backed by shareholders including the California Public Employees ’ Retirement System and the Church of England investment fund, comes amid reports President Donald Trump may soon abandon the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. More than 60 percent of voters approved the resolution during Exxon’s annual general meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. The vote was “an unprecedented victory for investors in the fight to ensure a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a statement. “Climate change is one of the greatest long-term risks we face in our […]

Exxon Suffers Stinging Defeat On Shareholder Climate Resolution

1 Jun 2017   Climate

ExxonMobil tried to beat back a move from shareholders to press the company to disclose its vulnerabilities to climate change and climate regulation, but it failed. At its annual meeting on May 31, shareholders passed a climate resolution with a vote of 62 percent in favor. Exxon became the second major oil company in recent weeks to suffer a defeat at the hands of its own shareholders. Shareholders of Occidental Petroleum passed a climate resolution in early May, an important development in years of work for climate activists who have tried to push similar measures through, with little success. The Occidental resolution calls upon the company to review and report on the company’s exposure to climate change. In the past, these moves have been viewed through the lens of corporate social responsibility. That is, shareholders pressed their companies to clean up their act for the sake of the environment. […]

Exxon Facing Off With Shareholders in Climate Showdown

CEO Darren Woods to helm his first annual meeting this week Calpers, New York pension line up to back green resolution This week will be a public trial by fire for new Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Darren Woods. Presiding over his first annual meeting since predecessor Rex Tillerson left to become U.S. secretary of state, Woods will be tested Wednesday on everything from climate change to his own paycheck. Analysts and investors will be watching to see if he proves as adept as his mentor in striking a welcoming tone with restive activists while gently disagreeing with just about everything they say. So far, Woods has been a stabilizing presence. “He represents a continuation of what Mr. Tillerson was doing and so far we’ve seen no strategic shift,” said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. In St. Louis with a “hold” rating on Exxon’s stock. That’s […]

Trump’s climate stance looms over Arctic meeting

12 May 2017   Arctic, Climate

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will host foreign ministers from Arctic nations at a summit in Alaska on Thursday, where President Donald Trump’s reluctance to fight climate change will likely cast a shadow over talks. The Arctic Council, which includes the United States, Russia, Canada and five other countries, meets every two years to tackle problems in the region, which is warming at a faster pace than any other part of the world. Unlike former President Barack Obama, Trump has expressed doubts about whether human activity has a significant role in climate change, and is mulling whether to pull the United States out of a global pact to fight it. He is expected to decide whether Washington will leave the 2015 Paris […]

Natural gas has displaced coal in the Northeast’s generation mix over the past 10 years

12 May 2017   Climate, Coal, Shale Gas

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Power Plant Operations Report The generation fuel mix of electricity in the Northeast Census division of the United States has shifted dramatically over the past 10 years. In the nine Northeast states, natural gas nearly doubled its share of the region’s total generation to 41% in 2016, up from 23% in 2006. Coal-fired generation fell from 31% to 11% of generation over the same period. Nuclear-powered generation as a share of total generation remained relatively constant near 34%. Despite more than doubling over the same period, the share of nonhydro renewables remains relatively small. Overall, total generation in the region declined by 3% between 2006 and 2016. Increased access to low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other regional shale plays has driven the switch away from coal in the Northeast United States. Environmental policies at the federal and regional level, such as […]

Bid to revoke Obama-era methane rules fails in U.S. Senate

11 May 2017   Climate, USA

In a blow to administration efforts to free the oil and gas industry from Obama-era environmental rules, a Senate resolution to revoke a rule to limit leaks and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on federal lands fell short of votes 49-51 on Wednesday. The surprise vote outcome came after Republican leaders scrambled for weeks to secure the 51 votes necessary to pass the Congressional Review Act resolution, which would revoke the rule and prevent any similar regulations from being introduced. Getting the Trump administration to repeal the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management methane rule had been a top priority of the oil and gas industry, but not all Republicans supported the measure because it would make it difficult to regulate methane waste in the future. Republican Senator John McCain […]

Effort to Overturn Methane Regulation Fails in Senate

11 May 2017   Climate, USA

Republican efforts to quickly repeal an environmental regulation from the Obama administration failed Wednesday, the first vote to not pass in the new Congress. Three Republican senators and all 48 members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus blocked a procedural vote on a bill to quash a regulation issued by President Barack Obama to cut the oil-and-gas industry’s emissions of methane on federal lands. The Obama…

Paris climate deal stronger without U.S., experts say

10 May 2017   Climate

Global climate experts tell a former U.N. news agency the Paris Climate deal might be better off without the United States given the president’s stance on the issue. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI May 9 (UPI) — The Paris climate agreement may be better without the United States given the president’s skepticism on the issue, international experts said. U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to water down commitments to some of the targets in the global climate pact or pull out of it altogether later this week. As a candidate, the president expressed doubt about climate change, but has offered a fluid stance since taking office in January. Michael Traut, a researcher at the Tyndall Center for Climate Change in the United Kingdom told IRIN , a former U.N. news agency, that leaving the Paris deal might be better than lowering commitments. “There is the risk of rendering the Paris […]

World’s Dirtiest Fuel Seen Holding Out Even as Ships Clean Up

10 May 2017   Climate

IMO to cut marine fuel sulfur limit 86 percent in 2020 Meeting rules may cost shippers $60 billion a year: WoodMac Even as the owners of ships carrying everything from bananas to oil spend billions of dollars to meet tighter clean-air rules, demand to buy the dirtiest fuel will still hold out in some parts of the world. In two and a half years, the International Maritime Organization will slash by 86 percent the amount of sulfur allowed in the fuel burned by the world’s cargo ships and oil tankers as they sail around the globe. Meeting the new standards will cost the world shipping industry $60 billion a year, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. The IMO’s new standards that require ships to use fuel with 0.5 percent sulfur or less — versus the current 3.5 percent — as of Jan. 1, 2020 should reduce heavy fuel demand […]

U.S. will lose jobs if it quits Paris climate deal: U.N.

5 May 2017   Climate

FILE PHOTO: Erik Solheim speaks during an interview in Jakarta October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Crack Palinggi The United States will shoot itself in the foot if it quits the Paris climate accord because China, India and Europe will snap up the best power sector jobs in future, U.N. Environment chief Erik Solheim said on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce as early as next week whether he will take the United States out of the climate pact, having vowed during his campaign to “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement” within 100 days of becoming president. “There is no doubt where the future is and that is what all the private sector companies have understood,” Solheim told Reuters in Geneva. “The future is green,” he said. “Obviously if you are not a party to the Paris agreement, you will lose out. And the main losers of course will be […]

State governors call on Trump to stay in Paris climate deal

5 May 2017   Climate

U.S. could sacrifice economic edge to China if it leaves the Paris climate agreement, state governors tell the White House. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI May 4 (UPI) — There’s a competitive edge in staying in the Paris climate agreement because of the need for low-carbon developments under the accord, U.S. governors said. Twelve state governors, including those rich in shale natural resources, signed a letter to President Donald Trump requesting continued alignment with the global climate agreement. In the letter, they remind the president that, because it’s a multilateral accord, other developing economies like China and India will capitalize on the economic benefits of renewable technology if the United States leaves. John Hickenlooper , the governor of shale oil and gas state Colorado, said clean-energy jobs support more than $3.5 billion in wages, with secondary economic benefits coming from lower electric bills. “Clean energy is a win for […]

Trump’s Arctic Drill Plan Challenged by Environmental Groups

4 May 2017   Arctic, Climate

Environmental groups are challenging President Donald Trump’s attempt to restore oil and gas leasing on more than 125 million acres in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, arguing that a warming world doesn’t need the fossil fuels they contain. The League of Conservation Voters, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and seven other conservation groups sued Wednesday in federal court in Alaska, taking aim at Trump’s attempt to make the acreage available for a new generation of oil exploration. President Barack Obama had moved to put those areas off limits for new oil leases. The case joins a flurry of other lawsuits battling Trump’s recent moves to undo environmental regulations and climate policies imposed by his predecessor. It could decide how much authority presidents have to dictate when and where offshore drilling should take place, as the first test of a 64-year-old statute empowering presidents to rule out the activity “from […]

Pull out of Paris climate deal, energy group tells Trump

2 May 2017   Climate

The U.S. president needs to pull the country out of the Paris climate agreement in order to stimulate the oil and gas sector, a trade group said. The Western Energy Alliance, a trade group representing the business interests of the exploration and production sector in several western states, said President Donald Trump should pull out of the multilateral climate agreement for the sake of oil and gas industries. “With an end to the regulatory overreach that has been stifling the oil and natural gas and many other industries, we can get on with the business of helping the president create thousands of new jobs,” it said in a recent statement . By its estimate, independent oil […]

Trump advisers to discuss whether U.S. stays in Paris climate pact: official

27 Apr 2017   Climate, USA

White House advisers and Trump administration officials will meet on Thursday to discuss whether the United States should remain in the Paris climate agreement, a White House official said on Wednesday. The meeting, which will include member of the National Economic Council and cabinet officials such as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, was scheduled for 1:30 P.M. EDT (1730 GMT) after being postponed earlier this month. The administration is expected to make a decision on whether to remain a party to the deal by the time leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations meet in late May. The accord, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015, […]

Perry Says Trump Should Keep Paris Climate Deal and Renegotiate

26 Apr 2017   Climate, USA

Energy secretary says he won’t advise Trump to abandon UN deal Perry criticizes Germany for allowing emissions to rise U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the U.S. should renegotiate the Paris accord on climate change instead of abandoning it, criticizing Germany for allowing its fossil-fuel emissions to rise. “I’m not going to tell the president of the United States to walk away from Paris accord,” Perry said at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York on Tuesday. “I will say that we need to renegotiate it.” US @SecretaryPerry will recommend @POTUS renegotiate the Paris agreement; asks EU countries for fewer words, more action. #BNEFSummit pic.twitter.com/3XmDLApkwr — BloombergNEF (@BloombergNEF) April 25, 2017 The remark puts Perry among a group of advisers urging President Donald Trump to stick with the United Nations accord that he vowed to scrap during his campaign last year. The White House has said it […]

Converting Coal Would Help China’s Smog At Climate’s Expense

25 Apr 2017   China, Climate

China’s conversion of coal into natural gas could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths each year. But there’s a catch: As the country shifts its use of vast coal reserves to send less smog-inducing chemicals into the air, the move threatens to undermine efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Tuesday. The environmental trade-off points to the difficult choices confronting leaders of the world’s second largest economy as they struggle to balance public health and financial growth with international climate change commitments. Between 20,000 and 41,000 premature deaths annually could be prevented by converting low-quality coal in the country’s western provinces into synthetic natural gas for residential use, according to the findings of researchers from the United States and China published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If the gas were used for industrial purposes, fewer deaths would be averted […]

Trump’s EPA To Reconsider Oil And Gas Emissions Rule

20 Apr 2017   Climate, USA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will reconsider a rule on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations and delay its compliance date, the agency said on Wednesday in the Trump administration’s latest move to reduce regulations. Oil interest groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Texas Oil and Gas Association, had petitioned the EPA a year ago to reconsider the rule limiting emissions of methane and other pollutants from new and revamped oil and gas wells and systems. The EPA said in a statement that it would delay the rule’s June 3 compliance date by 90 days and take public comments during that period. Under Democratic President Barack Obama, the EPA released the first methane limits on the facilities in May 2016, […]

EPA moves to undo tougher pollution limits on coal plants

15 Apr 2017   Climate

The Trump administration is moving to rewrite Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power plants. Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, sent a letter announcing his decision to a coalition of energy companies that lobbied against the 2015 water pollution regulations. The rule would have required utilities by next year to cut the amounts of toxic heavy metals in the wastewater piped from their plants into rivers and lakes often used as sources of drinking water. Arsenic, lead and mercury and other potentially harmful contaminates leach from massive pits of waterlogged ash left behind after burning coal to generate electricity. The Utility Water Act Group petitioned Pruitt last month to reverse course on the regulations, which they claim would result in plant closures and job losses. Pruitt responded Wednesday, saying he would delay compliance with the rule while […]

Lawmakers Confuse Themselves on Climate Change

7 Apr 2017   Climate, USA

Last week, the day after President Trump signed an executive order to undo his predecessor’s efforts to fight climate change, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing that encapsulated everything that’s wrong with the way U.S. lawmakers handle science. Global warming is a time-sensitive threat; greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere, threatening a sharp increase in heat waves, droughts, and floods by mid-century (and eventually, the melting and collapse of the ice sheets at the Earth’s poles). But last week’s hearing, titled “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method” and chaired by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, meandered from one tangent after another. A good chunk of time was spent questioning whether Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann called a colleague who disagreed with him “a carnival barker” and “a denier pundit.” Some evidence was presented that he had. But does this diminish […]

Global Shipping Fleet Braces for Chaos of $60 Billion Fuel Shock

Little more than 2 1/2 years from now, the global fleet of merchant ships will have to reduce drastically how much sulfur their engines belch into the atmosphere. While that will do good things — like diminishing the threat of acid rain and helping asthma sufferers — there’s a $60 billion sting in the tail. That’s how much more seaborne vessels may be forced to spend each year on higher-quality fuel to comply with new emission rules that start in 2020, consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. estimates. For an industry that hauls everything from oil to steel to coal, higher operating costs will compound the financial strain on cash-strapped ship owners, whose vessels earn an average of 70 percent less than they did just before the 2008-09 recession. The consequences may reach beyond the 90,000-ship merchant fleet, which handles about 90 percent of global trade. Possible confusion over which carriers […]

Beijing issues air pollution orange alert

4 Apr 2017   China, Climate

Beijing upgraded its alert for air pollution to orange Monday afternoon, the second highest warning. The smog, affecting Beijing and adjacent Tianjin and Hebei, is forecast to last until Friday. Beijing had issued the yellow alert early Monday morning, but the density of hazardous fine particle matter PM2.5 continued to grow. “The wind is not strong enough and the air quality is likely to get worse,” said the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center forecasts that PM2.5 readings will be between 200 and 220 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday. Under the orange alert, outdoor paint and construction is suspended; trucks carrying garbage, sand and soil are taken off roads; and outdoor activities in kindergartens, middle schools and primary schools are stopped. Beijing has a four-tier color alert system for pollution, with red being the highest, followed by orange, yellow […]

New York, other states challenge Trump over energy efficiency

4 Apr 2017   Climate

A coalition of U.S. states and municipalities has begun legal action against President Donald Trump’s administration, accusing it of violating federal law by delaying energy efficiency standards for several consumer and commercial products. The legal action was announced on Monday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)

Climate change becomes unavoidable for investors

3 Apr 2017   Climate

To Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist of the Boston asset manager GMO, the earth’s changing temperature is an investment imperative as well as a question of ethics.  “The climate is moving much faster than people think, and the responses are going to move much faster as well”, he says, arguing that measures to help polluters announced last week by the administration of Donald Trump may ultimately prove helpful.  “Doing his absolute worst will galvanise the response”, says Mr Grantham, a veteran investor whose current ideas include buying unloved copper miners for a world where cars are filled with electrical wiring, instead of combustion engines.  Such an approach might strike some as premature, and the veteran investor has form in being right, but too early, refusing to buy internet stocks long before the crash, for instance. Yet a US executive order designed to unwind efforts by the previous president to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants makes the question of timing unavoidable, even if it suggests policy may move slowly in the US highlights questions facing investors around the world: when, and how, should investors take climate change into account when deciding what to buy and sell?  For many asset managers and pension funds such long-term issues used to be shunted to teams responsible for developing policies on environmental, social and governance issues. Worthy, but perhaps peripheral for those paid according to investment profits.

Nations Renew Climate Vows, Press Trump to Do Same

30 Mar 2017   Climate

European officials issued rebukes and officials around Asia said they would continue their drive toward cleaner fuels after President Donald Trump laid the groundwork to reverse his predecessor’s climate-change policies. Mr. Trump, citing the need to revive the U.S. coal industry and ease the regulatory burden, began Tuesday​to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan of stricter carbon-dioxide limits on utilities. …

Exxon Dealt a Blow as Texas Judge Sends Climate Suit to NY

30 Mar 2017   Climate

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s attempt to derail a multistate fraud probe into whether the company fully disclosed to investors the financial risks of climate change was dealt a major blow after a Texas judge moved the case from its home turf to a federal court in Manhattan. Texas isn’t the right venue for Exxon’s lawsuit against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his Massachusetts counterpart, Maura Healey, because the claims revolve around events in Manhattan, a judge in Dallas ruled Wednesday. Exxon argues that the joint investigation into possible consumer and securities fraud was started in “bad faith.” The Exxon case involves “important issues,” U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade said in his ruling. But it belongs in New York because the alleged collusion at the center of the lawsuit took place at a “United for Clean Power” press conference on March 29, 2016, in Manhattan, he said. […]

Exxon urges Trump to keep US in Paris climate accord

29 Mar 2017   Climate

ExxonMobil, the largest American oil group, has written to the Trump administration urging it to keep the US in the Paris climate accord agreed at the end of 2015. In a letter to President Donald Trump’s special assistant for international energy and the environment, Exxon argues that the Paris accord is “an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change”.  The letter was sent last week, but has emerged as Mr Trump is preparing to announce executive orders beginning a rollback several of Barack Obama’s climate policies, while leaving the question of Paris open. Trump administration officials have said a decision on participation in Paris is still “under discussion”, and have been soliciting views from US energy companies.  Exxon argues in its letter that there are several reasons for the US to stay in the Paris accord, including the opportunity to support greater use of natural gas, which creates lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal when burnt for power generation.  Several other large international oil companies, particularly in Europe, have also backed action to address climate change that could benefit them by boosting demand for gas.

Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies

29 Mar 2017   Environment

President Trump, flanked by company executives and miners, signed a long-promised executive order on Tuesday to nullify President Barack Obama’s climate change efforts and revive the coal industry, effectively ceding American leadership in the international campaign to curb the dangerous heating of the planet. Mr. Trump made clear that the United States had no intention of meeting the commitments that his predecessor had made to curb planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution, turning denials of climate change into national policy.

Trump’s Executive Order Pushes the U.S. Climate Pledge Further Out of Reach

29 Mar 2017   Climate

During his first two months in office, President Donald J. Trump has rolled back key Obama-era greenhouse gas regulations. Without these rules in place, the United States is set to fall far short of its 2015 Paris Agreement pledge: to lower emissions by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Here is how some of President Barack Obama’s signature policies have fared so far under the Trump administration: Obama-era policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions In an executive order released Tuesday, Mr. Trump instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse course on the Obama administration’s biggest climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired power plants. If implemented to its fullest extent, the plan would have reduced carbon emissions by nearly 650 megatons by 2025 – just under halfway to the Paris pledge, according to an analysis by […]

Trump to Sign Executive Order to Roll Back Obama Climate-Change Policies

28 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday taking steps to unravel the most contentious climate-change policies of his predecessor, the White House said. The Trump administration will formally review President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which requires utilities to reduce power plant carbon-dioxide emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, a senior White House official said Monday night. Officials will…

Trump poised to undo Obama actions on climate change

28 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

Donald Trump is to launch a far-reaching effort to undo Barack Obama’s environmental legacy by signing an executive order to roll back the former president’s action against climate change and boost fossil fuel power. By seeking to abolish Mr Obama’s effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — an executive order known as the Clean Power Plan — Mr Trump’s order strikes at the heart of the US commitments made in the landmark 2015 Paris climate deal. The order has limited immediate effects but it shows that Mr Trump is not backing down from the climate change scepticism of his campaign and sets out a blueprint for dismantling a central part of Mr Obama’s legacy. Mr Trump’s directive will reverse half a dozen Obama executive orders on climate change, including lifting a moratorium of new coal mining on US federal land.  “When it comes to climate change we want to take our own course,” a senior White House official told reporters on Monday evening. The official called the executive order “the beginning framework” for the administration’s “new strategy” on energy policy.  “The policy is in keeping with the president’s desire to make the United States energy-independent,” the official said.

Planned Rollback of Climate Rules Unlikely to Achieve All Trump’s Goals

28 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to roll back most of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, celebrating the move as a way to increase the nation’s “energy independence” and to restore thousands of lost coal mining jobs. But energy economists say the expected order falls short of both of those goals — in part because the United States already largely relies on domestic sources for the coal and natural gas that fires most of the nation’s power plants. “We don’t import coal,” said Robert Stavins, an energy economist at Harvard University. “So in terms of the Clean Power Plan, this has nothing to do with so-called energy independence whatsoever.” Administration officials said the new order would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Obama’s climate change policy . Scott Pruitt, the […]

How Do We Know That Humans Are Causing Climate Change? These Nine Lines of Evidence

28 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

While most Americans acknowledge that climate change is happening, some are still unsure about the causes. They are often labeled “climate skeptics,” but that label can cause confusion or even anger. Isn’t the nature of science to be skeptical? Isn’t it good to question everything? Yes, but — Here’s what is getting lost in the conversation: Scientists have been asking these questions for nearly 200 years . The scientific community has been studying these questions for so long that collectively they have amassed an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to a clear conclusion. A similar situation is smoking and cancer. Nowadays, no one questions the link between smoking and cancer, because the science was settled in the 1960s after more than 50 years of research. The questions have been asked and answered with indisputable evidence. We can think of the state of human activities and climate change as no […]

California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump

25 Mar 2017   Air Quality

California’s clean-air agency voted on Friday to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, setting up a potential legal battle with the Trump administration over the state’s plan to reduce planet-warming gases. The vote, by the California Air Resources Board, is the boldest indication yet of California’s plan to stand up to President Trump’s agenda. Leading politicians in the state, from the governor down to many mayors, have promised to lead the resistance to Mr. Trump’s policies. Mr. Trump, backing industry over environmental concerns, said easing emissions rules would help stimulate auto manufacturing. He vowed last week to loosen the regulations. Automakers are aggressively pursuing those changes after years of supporting stricter standards. But California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act , giving the state — the country’s biggest auto market — major sway over the […]

ExxonMobil Just Got Hit By This Fast-Rising New Energy Problem

25 Mar 2017   Climate

Big developments this week on a new challenge quickly rising for the energy industry… and beyond. Climate change reporting. ExxonMobil lost a key decision in an ongoing climate change battle Wednesday. When a New York judge ordered the oil giant to turn over correspondence from its executives on potential impacts of changing temperatures on the company’s business. That all comes out of an investigation launched by New York ‘s Attorney General. To determine if oil companies like Exxon have been misleading investors with regards to material business risks posed by climate change. If the courts find Exxon has been reticent in reporting climate risks, it opens the firm to significant regulatory fines and investor lawsuits. It would also allow regulators and prosecutors to go after other companies across the energy space. And it isn’t just in the U.S. where climate change reporting is becoming a big issue. Canadian securities […]

Climate Change May Be Intensifying China’s Smog Crisis

24 Mar 2017   China, Climate

Chinese leaders, grappling with some of the world’s worst air pollution, have long assumed the answer to their woes was gradually reducing the level of smog-forming chemicals emitted from power plants, steel factories and cars. But new research suggests another factor may be hindering China ’s efforts to take control of its devastating smog crisis: climate change . Changing weather patterns linked to rising global temperatures have resulted in a dearth of wind across northern China, according to several recent studies, exacerbating a wave of severe pollution that has been blamed for millions of premature deaths. Wind usually helps blow away smog, but changes in weather patterns in recent decades have left many of China’s most populous cities poorly ventilated, scientists say. The findings, some of the first to link climate change to smog, may escalate pressure on Chinese leaders to move more swiftly to shutter steel […]