Climate

2017 Was One of the Hottest Years on Record. And That Was Without El Niño.

19 Jan 2018   Climate

The world in 2017 saw some of the highest average surface temperatures ever recorded, surprising scientists who had expected sharper retreat from recent record years. Scientists at NASA on Thursday ranked last year as the second-warmest year since reliable record-keeping began in 1880, trailing only 2016. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses a different analytical method, ranked it third, behind 2016 and 2015. What made the numbers unexpected was that last year had no El Niño, a shift in tropical Pacific weather patterns that is usually linked to record-setting heat and that contributed to record highs the previous two years. In fact, last year should have benefited from a weak version of the opposite phenomenon, La Niña, which is generally associated with lower atmospheric temperatures. “This is the new normal,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies , the NASA group that […]

The planet just had its hottest 4 years in recorded history. Trump is dismantling efforts to fight climate change.

19 Jan 2018   Climate

2017 was among the hottest years ever recorded, government scientists reported Thursday. The year was the second-hottest in recorded history, NASA said, while scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 2017 was the third-warmest they have ever recorded. The two government agencies use different methodologies to calculate global temperatures, but by either standard, the 2017 results make the past four years the hottest period in their 138-year archive. “The planet is warming remarkably uniformly,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told reporters Thursday. The renewed evidence of climate change, driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, comes as the Trump administration moves to open new areas for oil drilling and rolls back regulations that sought to reduce global warming, most prominently by moving to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The administration said it would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last […]

Without rain, South Africa’s Cape Town may run out of water by April

17 Jan 2018   Climate, South Africa

South Africa’s Cape Town, one of the world’s iconic tourist destinations, could run out of water by April as the city’s worst drought in a century risks forcing residents to join queues for emergency rations. “Day Zero” – the date taps are due to run dry – has crept forward to April 22 as city authorities race to build desalination plants and drill underground boreholes. Almost 2 million tourists flock to Cape Town every year to bathe on sandy white beaches, explore natural features like Table Mountain or to sip wine in dozens of nearby vineyards. Travel and tourism accounted for an estimated 9 percent or 412 billion rand ($33 billion) of South Africa’s economic output last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. “At the current rate the city is likely to reach Day Zero on 22 April,” said councilor Xanthea Limberg, […]

Bad Weather Is No Reason for Climate Alarm

15 Jan 2018   Climate

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump greeted the cold snap that was gripping much of the U.S. by tweeting, “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” He was criticized for confusing weather with climate. But he’s hardly alone in making this mistake, as we have seen in coverage of the most destructive weather-related events of 2017. The past year was filled with bad weather news, much of it tragic, with whole communities even now still struggling to recover. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, and Hurricane Irma struck Florida and Puerto Rico after devastating other Caribbean islands. Wildfires torched the dry expanses of Napa and Ventura counties in California, and Australia experienced severe heat waves. It has become routine for the media, politicians and activists to link such awful events […]

Cold Snap Leads To Biggest U.S. Natural Gas Draw Ever

The freezing temperatures in most of the Eastern U.S. in the week to January 5 led to the biggest ever weekly withdrawal from natural gas storage, data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Thursday. In its Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, EIA said that in the week to January 5, working gas in storage decreased by 359 billion cubic feet (Bcf) from the previous week. As of January 5, working gas in storage was 2,767 Bcf. Natural gas stocks were 415 Bcf less than at this time last year, and 382 Bcf below the five-year average of 3,149 Bcf. At 2,767 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range, EIA said. Last week’s draw was the largest weekly withdrawal ever, according to Reuters estimates of government energy data since 1994. The previous record natural gas withdrawal was 288 Bcf in January 2014 when an […]

Trump Says U.S. “Could Conceivably” Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

12 Jan 2018   Climate, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the United States “could conceivably” return to the Paris Climate Accord, which sets out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. At a press conference with visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, President Trump criticized the deal the U.S. had signed up for in the Paris Agreement. “I will say that the Paris Agreement, as drawn and as we signed, was very unfair to the United States. It put great penalties on us. It made it very difficult for us to deal in terms of business. It took away a lot of our asset values,” President Trump said. “It treated the United States very unfairly and frankly, it’s an agreement that I have no problem with, but I had a problem with the agreement that they signed,” he added. […]

Should Big Oil Pay For Climate Change?

On Wednesday, New York City announced that it would sue the five oil majors—ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and BP—over their role in fueling climate change. Also, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city’s $189 billion pension fund would divest itself of fossil fuels, although such a move would need to be approved by the funds’ trustees. “This is a tragedy that was wrought by the fossil-fuel companies,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “We are going after those who have profited. And what a horrible, disgusting way to profit.” The proposal would withdraw the $5 billion it has in fossil fuel investments. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the cost that the city would incur to insulate itself from the effects of climate change, which would include a long list of actions, such as upgrading sewer and water infrastructure, coastal defenses, seawalls, and […]

Big Apple Sues Big Oil Over Climate Change

11 Jan 2018   Climate, USA

New York City’s effort to hold oil and gas producers responsible for costs related to the environmental effects of their products faces an uphill battle as it tries to stretch the current law to address climate change. The biggest city in the U.S. sued BP Plc, Chevron Corp.ConocoPhillipsExxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell Plc claiming they’re the world’s largest industrial contributors to climate change. Several California municipalities, including San Francisco and Oakland, previously brought similar cases.  The city is seeking to build on successful legal challenges against producers of asbestos, cigarettes and lead paint. New York is using the centuries-old legal concepts of “public nuisance” — an illegal threat to community welfare, such as a brothel, drug den or illegal hazardous waste dump — and “private nuisance,” an unreasonable interference with the use of someone else’s land.

Both theories have been used to attack polluters, though not on the scale of global climate change. The challenge will be to persuade a judge to apply well-worn legal standards to a 21st Century problem. “There isn’t anything you can point to and say, ‘This is exactly like that case,’” said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School in New York. “This is new.”  Representatives of the energy companies pushed back.  “This lawsuit is factually and legally meritless, and will do nothing to address the serious issue of climate change,” Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said in an email. Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Shell, said by email that climate-change policies “should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices,” and not by the courts.

New York sues fossil fuel majors, plans divestment from pension funds

11 Jan 2018   Climate, USA

New York City announced on Wednesday that it filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against five top oil companies, citing their “contributions to global warming,” as it said it would divest fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years. The lawsuit, against BP Plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, follows similar lawsuits filed last year by San Francisco and other California cities seeking billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels due to climate impacts. “Safeguarding the retirement of our city’s police officers, teachers, firefighters and city workers is our top priority, and we believe that their financial future is linked to the sustainability of the planet,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said in the statement. The lawsuits are the latest legal challenges against oil companies over climate change and come as the firms […]

To Fight Climate Change, New York City Takes On Oil Companies

Seeking to position himself as a national leader against climate change, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced a two-pronged attack against the fossil-fuel industry, including a vow that city pension funds would divest about $5 billion from companies involved in the fossil fuel business. The mayor also announced a lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking to collect billions of dollars in damages to pay for city efforts to cope with the effects of climate change. “This city is standing up and saying, ‘We’re going to take our own actions to protect our own people,’” the mayor said, wearing a green necktie and sitting in front of large green sign that said “NYC: Leading the Fight Against Climate Change.” He added, “We’re not […]

Exxon Accuses California Of Climate Change Hypocrisy

10 Jan 2018   Climate

Exxon has called out a deliberate discrepancy between statements made by several California municipalities and cities in lawsuits against it and more than a dozen other energy companies, and information the same municipalities and cities have put in their bond offerings from the last few years. The company has asked a California district court for permission to question a number of government officials and an attorney from Hagens Berman, arguing that these individuals have told the court one thing in their lawsuits against Exxon and a completely different thing to prospective bondholders about the effect of the energy industry on the local environment. For example, Exxon says, in its court filing against energy companies, San Mateo County has stated that it is very vulnerable to rising sea levels with a 93-percent risk of suffering a devastating flood before 2050. At the same time, however, two bond offerings, one from […]

Fuel price spikes add to weather misery in US north-east

9 Jan 2018   Climate, USA

Dawn broke Sunday in Sandwich, Massachusetts with the air minus 18°C. Out on Freezer Road, the Canal Generating Station was burning fuel oil to make electricity.  It was a rare moment of combustion for the 50-year-old power plant. Oil typically accounts for a tiny fraction of the fuel mix behind New England’s electricity. But in the past week, oil-fired stations such as Canal were generating more than one-third, according to the grid operator. As energy demand soared during a record-breaking cold snap, oil made sense despite being a dirtier fuel.

After spot prices for natural gas soared in the region and a winter storm knocked out a large nuclear power plant, using oil suddenly became an economical way to keep the lights on.  The shifts reveal the fragility and complexity of US energy markets, even at a time of overall abundance. And they put a spotlight on efforts to maintain reliable energy supplies while addressing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.  As the cold weather took hold, ships imported liquefied natural gas to Atlantic coast ports. The ISO New England grid operator warned late Sunday that managing the region’s power system “continues to be challenging”, noting that some of the region’s oil-fired generators were “quickly depleting their fuel supply”.

New England generates almost half its electricity from gas-fired plants, on average. But these plants were forced to compete for fuel with homeowners trying to keep warm as low temperatures crashed through records in cities such as Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. Enbridge, a pipeline company, says it had to limit volumes from its recently-expanded Algonquin Gas Transmission system for customers that did not have firm contracts.

U.S. and Australia Battered by Opposing Weather Extremes

8 Jan 2018   Australia, Climate, USA

Temperature extremes across the globe spanned more than 85 degrees Celsius at the weekend as Sydney melted and parts of the U.S. froze. Western Sydney touched 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday afternoon local time, the city’s hottest day since 1939. Weekend temperatures at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire plummeted to minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 38 degrees Celsius). Roads melted, firefighters battled wildfires across New South Wales state and Sydney residents retreated to air-conditioned shopping malls as temperatures surged. English cricket captain Joe Root was hospitalized with severe dehydration after battling Australia in the cauldron of the Sydney Cricket Ground. At the same time, freezing fog and snow buffeted Mount Washington , tying the observatory for the second-coldest place on Earth. You’re Hot and You’re Cold Sydney sizzles as the U.S. freezes Difference Sydney, Australia Mount Washington, U.S. -40-200204060801002014201520162017201820132018100 degrees Celsius Source: Bloomberg, Australian Bureau […]

2017 Crushed a Major Temperature Record and Scientists are Sounding the Alarm

6 Jan 2018   Climate

It’s been very cold over North America for days, but globally, 2017 has ended up smashing the record for the hottest year on record without an El Niño. And that has scientists worried, since the warmest years usually happen when the long-term human-caused global warming trend gets a short-term boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. The fact is that without global warming, “all the natural influences should have made the year cooler than normal; not hotter than normal,” professor of thermal sciences John Abraham explained to ThinkProgress. Climatologist Michael Mann said in an email that the recent spate of annual temperature records means that not only hasn’t global warming warming slowed down, as the deniers have asserted, “If anything, it’s accelerating as we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.” The chart below shows El Niños are generally […]

Global Warming’s Toll on Coral Reefs: As if They’re ‘Ravaged by War’

5 Jan 2018   Climate

Before we call rockfish, shrimp and crab “dinner,” some of these species call coral reefs “home.” But those reefs, home to a quarter of all marine fish species, are now increasingly threatened as rising ocean temperatures accelerate a phenomenon known as coral bleaching.  Large-scale coral bleaching events, in which reefs become extremely fragile, were virtually unheard-of before the 1980s. But in the years since, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science, the frequency of coral bleaching has increased to the point that reefs no longer have sufficient recovery time between severe episodes.  Jelle Atema, a professor of biology at the Boston University Marine Program who was not involved in the study, said the effects of more frequent bleaching events were very difficult to predict because of the complex networks of dependencies within reefs. But he said they could be devastating.

‘Bomb cyclone’ hits U.S. East Coast energy, power supply

5 Jan 2018   Climate, USA

An intense winter storm froze pipes and disrupted services at refineries on the U.S. Atlantic coast on Thursday, sending fuel prices higher as heavy snowfall and high winds caused electricity outages for tens of thousands of Americans. Some 65,000 homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast are without power, and that number is expected to swell on Thursday as the storm punishes the densely populated U.S. Northeast. The storm is the product of a rapid and rare sharp drop in barometric pressure known as bombogenesis, or bomb cyclone. Heavy snow pounded the East Coast along a front stretching from Maine as far south as North Carolina early on Thursday, taking out power lines, icing over roadways and closing hundreds of schools. Prices for heating oil HO-NYH HO-DIFF-NYH and natural gas in the U.S. Northeast hit their highest levels in years on the back of […]

Climate-Change Policies Can Be Punishing for the Poor

5 Jan 2018   Climate

Freezing temperatures in the U.S. Northeast have pushed up heating costs, creating serious stress for many Americans. Although the rich world’s energy poor are largely forgotten in discussions about climate policies, they bear an unfair burden for well-meaning proposals. That reality is being laid bare this icy winter as energy and electricity prices surge. When we think about energy poverty, we imagine a lack of light in the world’s worst-off nations, where more than one billion people still lack electricity. This is a huge challenge that the world can hope to address as it reduces poverty and expands access to grid electricity, largely powered by fossil fuels. But there is a less visible form of energy poverty that affects even the world’s richest country. Economists consider households energy poor if they spend 10% of their income to cover energy costs. A recent report from the International Energy Agency shows […]

New York unveils new climate initiatives for 2018

4 Jan 2018   Climate

As part of a sweeping green mandate, New York’s governor said he’d reconvene a climate advisory panel to avoid “political interference” from the White House. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a State of the State rollout included a broad-based agenda to address climate change by building a state economy based on clean energy and through efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In June, the governor formed a climate alliance with his counterparts in California and Washington state to work on the benchmarks laid out in the global Paris climate deal. After President Donald Trump took steps to leave the agreement, Cuomo’s office said the administration took another “misguided step” by disbanding a federal advisory panel on climate assessment. In his annual initiative, Cuomo said he’d reconvene the committee to vet ways to maneuver through some of the challenges presented by a changing climate. “As a […]

Weather Bomb Threatens Boston With Heaviest Snow of the Season

3 Jan 2018   Climate

Powerful winter storm set to sweep up East Coast Thursday The worst of it, for now, will be in Eastern Massachusetts Boston is about to get hit with a snow bomb. A storm that’s set to race up the East Coast on Thursday could drop as much as 11 inches (28 centimeters) in Boston and eastern Massachusetts, said Greg Gallina, a forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. For a winter storm to become a bomb, short for bombogenesis, the central pressure needs to drop 24 millibars or more in 24 hours. If current computer models hold, that process will start somewhere off Cape Hatteras and continue as the storm comes north. “The real apex, the peak of the storm, will be Cape Cod to Nova Scotia,” Gallina said. On its current track, snow will scrape the East Coast and dump snow from South Carolina […]

Storm Eleanor: Travel disruption and homes without power

Enable it in your browser or download Flash Player here .Sorry, you need Flash to play this. Fire crews were called to fix scaffolding outside a building near Oxford Circus in central London Media captionFire crews were called to fix scaffolding outside a building near Oxford Circus in central London Thousands of homes are without power and travel has been disrupted after Storm Eleanor swept across the UK. The Met Office recorded gusts reaching 100mph (161km/h) overnight with a yellow warning still in place for Wales, England, most of Northern Ireland and parts of southern Scotland. A man was injured after a tree fell on a car in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. There are numerous delays on public transport, but forecasters expect the winds to ease as the day progresses. About 3,000 homes across Northern Ireland are without power , although electricity has been restored to 20,000 properties, […]

New Year’s Day cold snap to hit U.S. winter wheat, rivers

30 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

A New Year’s Day cold snap in the southern U.S. Plains poses a threat to winter wheat, particularly in Kansas, the country’s biggest producer of the grain, agricultural meteorologists said. Farmers in Kansas grow hard red winter (HRW) wheat, the largest U.S. wheat class that typically is milled into flour for bread. The impact of any crop loss could be magnified because supplies of high-protein HRW wheat already are scarce due to low protein levels in the last two harvests. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January is expected to show American farmers planted even less winter wheat than a year ago, when acreage fell to the lowest since 1909. “I think the eastern three-quarters of Kansas is at risk for some winterkill,” said David Streit, a meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group. Winter wheat is most resistant to winterkill in December and January. However, […]

It’s Been One of the Worst Years Ever for Billion-Dollar U.S. Weather Disasters

29 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

Hurricanes, floods, fires dominated coast-to-coast events ‘This is one of the worst years on record for U.S. damages’ In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the U.S. received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods. The country recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And the tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California. A flooded street following Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Florida, Sept. 12. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg In many cases, weather broke records. In others, it was just downright odd, like the February warm spell that sent temperatures to a […]

China Takes Another Green Step Forward

27 Dec 2017   China, Climate

China is adopting a new green index in a bid to pressure local governments to reduce pollution and create more-sustainable economic development—though a high pace of growth is likely to remain the Chinese leadership’s priority. In the works for more than a year—and talked about for much longer—the new “green development” index released Tuesday is based on 55 parameters, from carbon emissions to disposable income per capita. An official with one of the agencies involved in compiling the index said the indicator is meant to guide local governments on development and send a signal to focus less on rapid growth at the expense of the environment. A subindex on quality of growth looks at contributions to growth from services and innovative industries, as well as investment in research and development. Related Coverage The green index fits […]

China blasts two provinces for deception in environment fight

27 Dec 2017   China, Climate, Economy

China has criticized officials in the industrialized province of Shandong for deceiving authorities to evade capacity cuts in the polluting coal, steel, aluminum and chemical sectors, and slammed another province for lying about closing golf courses. In a statement late on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Binzhou city, China’s aluminum smelter hub, used fake certificates and false data to win approval for 2.4 million tonnes of new aluminum capacity in 2014. The environmental watchdog also said Rizhao Steel, a major producer, continued to run a mill with 5.94 million tonnes of capacity after it had been due to shut in 2015. The ministry said all the issues with Binzhou and Rizhao had been resolved by the end of October this year, but did not give details. The sharply-worded statement came after the central government dispatched teams of inspectors to Shandong, Jilin, Zhejiang, Hainan, Sichuan, […]

California Cities Are Suing Oil, Gas And Coal Companies Over Climate Change

22 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

The city of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz County announced Wednesday the filing of separate lawsuits in state court against 29 oil, gas and coal companies seeking damages related to the companies’ impact on global climate change. The jurisdictions will join the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, the counties of Marin and San Mateo, and San Diego County’s city of Imperial Beach in filing lawsuits to hold specific fossil fuel companies accountable for contributing to more frequent crises like wildfires, droughts and strong storms. The Santa Cruz County and city officials believe that the defendants have been aware of their role in extensive pollution for nearly 50 years. The city of Santa Cruz’s final complaint document states, “Defendants’ historical and current fossil fuel extraction and production records are publicly available in various fora. These include university and public library collections, company websites, company […]

Suing Big Oil over climate change, Santa Cruz eyes wildfire, storm costs

22 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

The city and county of Santa Cruz have joined a growing number of communities suing oil companies over climate change, alleging a plot in which the fossil fuel industry concealed the dangers of its products from consumers, much like the tobacco industry did decades ago. The two lawsuits, filed Wednesday, blame the use and combustion of oil, gas and coal for accelerating sea-level rise and threatening hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the famously serene and much visited Santa Cruz County coast. While the challenge is similar to other suits recently filed by waterfront communities in California, including San Francisco , the new cases in Santa Cruz County Superior Court go a step further. They seek to recoup not only the costs of rising seas but of other climate-related events, including big storms, wildfires and drought. “We believe enough is enough,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach […]

We’re concerned about climate change, U.S. shale company says

22 Dec 2017   Climate, Shale Oil

In its first-ever report of its kind, U.S. shale company Pioneer Natural Resources said it wanted to become an oil and gas leader, but in a sustainable way. “Climate change is an important concern for Pioneer and our stakeholders, and our strategy is to proactively manage our environmental footprint and emissions,” President and CEO Timothy Dove said in a statement . “We are committed to working with industry and communities to address our impacts to the environment while ensuring the supply of sustainable, abundant and affordable energy.” Pioneer published its inaugural sustainability report Thursday, setting a mission of becoming a leading producer that also embraces environmental stewardship. With more than 20,000 drilling sites in its portfolio, the company said it set a goal of producing 1 million barrels of […]

BHP defends climate positions and Paris support

20 Dec 2017   Australia, Climate

A day after the U.S president broke away from a climate precedent, Australian miner BHP said it may leave industry groups because of its stance on the Paris deal. In a review of its relationship with industry associations like the World Coal Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BHP Billiton, the largest mining and energy company in the world, said it was a steadfast supporter of the Paris climate agreement. “We believe the Paris agreement provides a solid long-term foundation for further progress in the global response to climate change,” it said in its report. On Australian policies, the company said it disagreed with support for a lower-emission coal, arguing that while climate and energy policies should be weighed equally, it was […]

Exxon ends restrictions on meeting shareholders

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil group, will allow shareholders to meet members of its board, as new chief executive Darren Woods moves to end restrictions that had vexed some large investors. The company said that its board had decided, “where appropriate, to engage directly with key shareholders”, adding that it understood the importance of keeping investors informed about its business. The move follows Exxon’s decision, announced last week, to bow to a shareholder vote calling for it to report on the potential impact of climate policy on its business. Exxon has until now been unusual for a leading US company in refusing to allow even its largest shareholders to meet board directors.

The company said that shareholder engagement had “always been a priority”, and last year it had “engaged with” investors holding more than 1.1bn of its shares, or about a quarter of its total equity. However, under Rex Tillerson, the previous chief executive, shareholders met investor relations executives, not board directors, and that policy continued into this year.

In May, Exxon said it had used “in-person meetings, teleconferences, group meetings and an annual webinar” to communicate with investors, but the standard practice for shareholders wanting to contact independent directors was to fill in an online form, which has a 2,000-character limit. Calpers, the California state employees’ pension fund, was one of the investors to express frustration with these arrangements.

How Global Warming Fueled Five Extreme Weather Events

16 Dec 2017   Climate

 New research has analyzed 27 extreme weather events from that year for links to climate change. Extreme weather left its mark across the planet in 2016, the hottest year in recorded history . Record heat baked Asia and the Arctic. Droughts gripped Brazil and southern Africa. The Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst bleaching event in memory, killing large swaths of coral . Now climate scientists are starting to tease out which of last year’s calamities can, and can’t, be linked to global warming. In a new collection of papers published Wednesday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, researchers around the world analyzed 27 extreme weather events from 2016 and found that human-caused climate change was a “significant driver” for 21 of them. The effort is part of the growing field of climate change attribution , which explores connections between […]

Warmer Arctic is the ‘new normal’

13 Dec 2017   Arctic, Climate

Sea ice that is more than four years old has largely disappeared in the Arctic A warming, rapidly changing Arctic is the “new normal” and shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen region of the past. This is according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card . Director of the administration’s Arctic Researcher Program, Dr Jeremy Mathis, said the region did a great service to the planet – acting as a refrigerator. “We’ve now left that refrigerator door open,” he added. Dr Mathis was speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, where Noaa presented its annual summation of Arctic science. Starving polar bear: The ‘face of climate change’? This is the 12th report the administration has produced. And although it pointed to “a few anomalies” in a recent pattern of warming in the Arctic region, Dr Mathis said: “We […]

Exxon To Disclose The Real Risk Of Climate Change

13 Dec 2017   Climate

ExxonMobil finally conceded to the multi-year campaign by shareholders and activists to disclose its risk to climate change, a notable departure after years of trying to dismiss the issue. According to a new filing by Exxon to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Exxon said that its board “has reconsidered the proposal requesting a report on impacts of climate change policies” by major shareholders at its annual meeting earlier this year. The company will disclose more information regarding “energy demand sensitivities, implications of two degree Celsius scenarios, and positioning for a lower-carbon future,” the company’s filing stated. The pressure from activists and shareholders to disclose more information related to Exxon’s vulnerability to climate change are the latest in a series of headwinds over the past few years, Bloomberg writes. The oil supermajor has also had to contend with its inability to find and replace all of the oil […]

Europe moves to grow green economy at Paris meeting

13 Dec 2017   Climate, Europe

Commemorating the Paris climate agreement, European leaders said they were committed to establishing the bloc as the destination for green development. European and international delegates are in Paris this week for a series of climate-related events to mark the anniversary of the signing of the landmark agreement bearing its name. On Monday, a handful of European energy companies committed to a green bond program to help with financing. On Tuesday, European Financial Services Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said it would be Europe that leads the world as a financial center for green technological development. By his estimate, the European community needs at least $200 billion in investments to reach some of its own climate […]

Big investors press major companies to step up climate action

12 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

More than 200 institutional investors with $26 trillion in assets under management said on Tuesday they would step up pressure on the world’s biggest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to combat climate change. Two years to the day since 195 governments adopted the Paris climate agreement, investors including Pacific Investment Management Co, Amundi, Legal & General Investment Management, Northern Trust and Aegon said they aimed to work with the 100 biggest polluting companies to curb emissions under a five-year plan. That, they said, would be more effective than threatening to pull the plug on their investments in such companies, which include Coal India, Gazprom, Exxon Mobil and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. “We will be asking companies … to curb emissions and bring them down in line with the Paris goals,” said Anne Simpson, investment director of sustainability at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. That would […]

ExxonMobil bows to shareholder pressure on climate reporting

12 Dec 2017   Climate

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas group, will start publishing reports on the possible impact of climate policies on its business, bowing to investor demands for improved disclosure of the risks it faces. The decision is the biggest success so far for investors who have been pushing companies to do more to acknowledge the threat they face from climate change and from policies that curb greenhouse gas emissions. In a regulatory filing on Monday evening, Exxon said it would introduce “enhancements” to its reporting, including analysis of the impact of policies designed to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2C, an internationally agreed objective. At Exxon’s annual meeting in May, investors controlling about 62 per cent of the shares backed a proposal filed by a group of shareholders led by the New York state employees’ retirement fund calling for an annual assessment of the impact of technological change and climate policy on the company’s operations. Supporters of the proposal argued that the disclosures would help shareholders assess the long-term resilience of Exxon’s operations in a world where governments delivered on their pledges to tackle global warming. The company’s board had opposed the proposal, arguing that, while directors agreed with the need for scenario planning and risk analysis, they were already “confident that the company’s robust planning and investment processes adequately contemplate and address climate-related risks and are sufficient to ensure delivery of long-term shareholder value”. In Monday’s filing, the company said the board had “reconsidered the proposal . . . [and] sought input from a number of parties, such as the proponents and major shareholders” before deciding to accede to improved reporting on climate policy risk. Under Lee Raymond, who led Exxon during 1993-2005, the company stressed the “gaps” in climate science, and was vehemently opposed to international attempts to address the threat under the 1997 Kyoto protocol.

European energy companies issue green finance pledge

12 Dec 2017   Climate, Europe

Nine energy companies working in the European energy sector said Monday they made pledges to support a sustainable financial model for renewables. “Together the signatories draw on their experience to call upon other industrial companies to consider issuing green bonds, which will further strengthen this market and enhance its interest from the growing share of climate-minded investors,” the companies said in a joint statement. European energy companies EDF, Enel, ENGIE, Iberdrola, Icade, Paprec, SNCF Réseau, SSE and TenneT said jointly they would make the pledge to develop what they said was the “most dynamic segments of sustainable finance today, the green bond market.” The first green bond was issued a decade ago and, since then, the companies said financing for renewables has accelerated in parallel to the […]

The most accurate climate change models predict the most alarming consequences, study finds

7 Dec 2017   Climate

People pass the “Climate Planet,” an exhibition and film venue sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, near the plenary halls of the COP 23 United Nations Climate Change Conference on Nov. 6 in Bonn, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) The climate change simulations that best capture current planetary conditions are also the ones that predict the most dire levels of human-driven warming, according to a statistical study released in the journal Nature Wednesday. The study, by Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif., examined the high-powered climate change simulations, or “models,” that researchers use to project the future of the planet based on the physical equations that govern the behavior of the atmosphere and oceans. The researchers then looked at what the models that best captured current conditions high in the atmosphere predicted was coming. Those models generally […]

‘Out of control’ Southern California fire explodes as growing blazes force tens of thousands to flee

6 Dec 2017   Climate, USA

A Ferocious fires tore through Southern California on Tuesday, burning massive stretches of land in a matter of hours and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes. Firefighters in multiple locations in the region battled fires that were spurred by dry and windy conditions, officials said. In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire burned more than 50,000 acres, and on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire enveloped more than 11,000 acres north of the city’s downtown. Another fire in the county, dubbed the Rye Fire, had cut through 5,000 acres near the city of Santa Clarita by Tuesday evening. Authorities issued ominous warnings of more dangers to come during a “multiday event” across […]

Pollution stops play at Delhi Test match as bowlers struggle to breathe

5 Dec 2017   Climate, India

A cricket Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on Sunday with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels during winter months. Airborne pollution levels 15 times the World Health Organisation limits confronted players on the second day of the third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on Sunday. As the haze worsened, many Sri Lankan players returned from lunch wearing face masks before complaining to umpires, who halted play for 20 minutes to consult with team doctors and match officials. The match resumed but was interrupted twice more as bowlers Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal left the field mid-over with breathing difficulties. “We had […]

Bill McKibben: Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing

5 Dec 2017   Climate

If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced. I wrote the first book for a general audience about climate change in 1989 – back when one had to search for examples to help people understand what the “greenhouse effect” would feel like. We knew it was coming, but not how fast or how hard. And because no one wanted to overestimate – because scientists by their nature are conservative – each of the changes we’ve observed has taken us somewhat by surprise. The surreal keeps becoming the commonplace: For instance, after Hurricane Harvey set a record for American rainstorms, and Hurricane Irma set a record for sustained wind speeds, and Hurricane Maria knocked Puerto […]

The Atlantic hurricane season from hell is finally over

1 Dec 2017   Climate

Tracks of all Atlantic tropical cyclones in 2017. Their lifetime peak wind speed and minimum pressure are listed on the right. The horrible hurricane season that we desperately wanted to end in August and then September, but which callously refused, is finally over. It ranks as the most destructive and among the busiest on record. Three storms in particular, Harvey, Irma and Maria, did the lion’s share of the damage, unleashing a full-on assault on so many vulnerable shores — many of which are still recovering. In all, 17 named storms raked across the Atlantic Ocean basin. Ten of them became hurricanes, six of them major — rating Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The busiest and most painful stretch of the season spanned from late August to early October, when 10 hurricanes exploded over the abnormally warm tropical waters in 10 weeks. September marked the brunt […]

Cold Blast Headed for Europe Won’t Faze a Very Warm 2017

1 Dec 2017   Climate, Europe

December forecast to be coolest since 2010 despite warm tail Power, gas markets to be well-supplied unless cold is extreme Europe’s coldest December for seven years is unlikely to derail what will probably be one of the warmest years on record. In a last chilly blast, the first half of this month will be unusually cold before warming to near normal temperatures, according to eight meteorologists surveyed by Bloomberg. December may still be the coolest since 2010 as high pressure near Iceland and northwest Russia funnels arctic winds south, said Tyler Roys, an Accuweather Inc. meteorologist in State College, Pennsylvania. While Europe is seen well-supplied for electricity this winter and natural gas stocks are higher than average for the time of year, those buffers could be tested in extended spells of extreme cold. China forecasts it will have gas shortages this winter, which may mean competition with Europe for […]

Europe backing climate ambitions with capital

30 Nov 2017   Climate

The European Union has extended financial support for the fight against climate change through German and Indian partnerships. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI Nov. 29 (UPI) — The European Union is putting money behind its rhetoric on climate change through partnerships in Germany and in India, the commission said Wednesday. “The European Union sees global partnerships and increased cooperation as essential to advancing the union’s strategic interests and to tackle global challenges,” a statement from the European Commission read. The commission said it launched a partnership with the German International Climate Initiative, a partnership that envisions $5.9 million in financing for small-scale projects at the national level and business forums. Germany has one of the greener economies in Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered eight of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors closed by the end of 2011 following the Japanese nuclear disaster and a total shutdown by 2022. Utility company […]

Automakers struggle with the future in Los Angeles

27 Nov 2017   Climate, USA

 Car manufacturers’ attempts to square what U.S. consumers want against the clean vehicles regulators and investors demand will be on display in Los Angeles this week at an auto show that has moved away from calling itself just an auto show.Automakers on Monday will begin previewing new models for the media at an event called AutoMobility LA, reflecting an emphasis on digital technology and new ways to get around, such as self-driving cars. On Friday, the Los Angeles Auto Show will open to the public for 10 days, attracting visitors from one of the world’s most affluent and culturally influential metropolitan markets. Sponsored, For now, self-driving cars are not ready for […]

Storm That Unleashed Deadly Floods in Greece Was a Rare ‘Medicane’

25 Nov 2017   Climate, Greece

Tropical systems don’t usually form in Mediterranean Storm developed eye wall like a hurricane, NOAA says A “rare tropical-like storm” grew in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea last week and even developed an eye wall like a hurricane, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The storm, named Numa by the Free University of Berlin’s Institute of Meteorology, had both tropical and subtropical characteristics, making it a hybrid storm. Tropical systems usually can’t get going in the Mediterranean because the sea is fairly shallow and there isn’t a lot of open water for storms to build up strength. Though these storms are often called “medicanes,” few actually reach hurricane strength, Bob Henson, a meteorologist at forecaster Weather Underground, wrote in a blog post . But their low pressure allows them to take on tropical characteristics like a symmetrical structure and a small core of warm air, Henson said. […]

How Greed, Fear, And Our Own Biases Blind Us To The Reality Of Climate Change

24 Nov 2017   Climate

The Climate Science Special Report that the Trump administration released last Friday is straightforward and relentlessly sobering. Scientists from 13 government agencies agree that the long-term global warming trend is “unambiguous” and that human activity is responsible. There is, they tell us, “no convincing alternative explanation.” Meanwhile, the president whose administration released the report maintains that climate change is a hoax and he and his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, resist efforts to address it. What’s going on? How is this possible? Short-term economic self-interest (i.e., greed) is the driver for the energy industry, its supporters and their propaganda. But it’s the psychological factors, and the biology in which they’re grounded, that sustain denial. If we’re going to mobilize Americans to address climate change, we first have to understand what they’re thinking and why, and then help them change their minds. The belief that human activity is not causing global […]

Ice Apocalypse

23 Nov 2017   Climate

Eric Holthaus at Grist has a look at Antarctica’s melting glaciers – Ice Apocalypse. In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage.Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, have marched steadily for millennia toward the Amundsen Sea, part of the vast Southern Ocean. Further inland, the glaciers widen into a two-mile-thick reserve of ice covering an area the size of Texas. There’s no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when. The glaciers of Pine Island Bay are two of the largest and fastest-melting in Antarctica. (A Rolling Stone feature earlier this year dubbed Thwaites “The Doomsday Glacier.”) Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise […]

No joke: China government warns northern cities to get serious in war on smog

23 Nov 2017   China, Climate

 Some northern Chinese cities failed to improve air quality by much last month, hitting the smog-prone region’s overall results in a drive against pollution, the government said as it warned provincial officials to comply with stringent steps to clear the skies.  “Some cities did not improve air quality by much or even experienced some volatility, and in a way, they have dragged down the regional air quality level,” Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) spokesperson, Liu Youbin, said at a regular briefing on Thursday. Sponsored He did not identify the underperforming cities, but the comment comes amid concerns about the country’s ability to reduce pollution in winter as it battles […]

Eight energy majors commit to reduce methane emissions within natural gas industry

BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, Statoil, Total and Wintershall committed to reduce further methane emissions from the natural gas assets they operate around the world. The energy companies also agreed to encourage others across the natural gas value chain—from production to the final consumer—to do the same. The commitment was made as part of wider efforts by the global energy industry to ensure that natural gas continues to play a critical role in helping meet future energy demand while addressing climate change. Since natural gas consists mainly of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, its role in the transition to a low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which methane emissions are reduced, the partners said. The eight energy companies […]

Exxon joins European oil firms in initiative to limit emissions

Exxon Mobil joined European peers including Royal Dutch Shell and Total in a new initiative to find ways to reduce potent emissions in their rapidly growing natural gas operations. BP, Italy’s Eni, Exxon, Spain’s Repsol, Shell, Norway’s Statoil, Total and Wintershall “committed to further reduce methane emissions from the natural gas assets,” they said in a joint statement. Methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, is released during the extraction, processing and transporting of natural gas. For example, around 10 percent of gas transformed into liquefied natural gas (LNG) is released into the atmosphere between production and consumption, according to Shell. The new initiative is the latest step by the world’s leading oil and gas companies to reduce carbon emissions from their operations to help meet […]