Climate

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…

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]