Climate

Trump Lays Plans to Reverse Obama’s Climate Change Legacy

22 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

President Trump is poised in the coming days to announce his plans to dismantle the centerpiece of President Barack Obama ’s climate change legacy, while also gutting several smaller but significant policies aimed at curbing global warming. The moves are intended to send an unmistakable signal to the nation and the world that Mr. Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to rip apart every element of what the president has called Mr. Obama’s “stupid” policies to address climate change. The timing and exact form of the announcement remain unsettled, however.

Trump’s Budget: Valuing Military Over Energy

22 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

Last week President Trump unveiled his budget blueprint , which detailed savage cuts to most areas of discretionary spending while boosting defense outlays by a whopping $54 billion. Nearly all government agencies were major losers under the President’s budget, except for those dealing with defense and border security. The Department of Energy would see a 5.6 percent cut, or a reduction of $1.7 billion. But digging into those numbers, certain areas of DOE were winners while others were losers. Areas of DOE dealing with clean energy, smart grid technologies, and electric vehicles are either entirely eliminated or suffer steep cuts. Meanwhile, DOE’s nuclear weapons programs, where the bulk of the agency’s funding is allocated, would see an 11 percent increase. The blueprint also includes $120 million to restart the licensing for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada, which has been on ice for years. One item […]

Sea change needed for low-carbon economy

21 Mar 2017   Climate

Nearly 70 percent of all new cars need to be electric and $3.5 trillion in annual investments are needed to keep global warming at bay, a new report found. The International Energy Agency last week said energy-related emissions were flat for the third year in a row as world economies move away from coal to cleaner-burning resources like natural gas. A new report , however, finds more work is needed to limit the rise of the global mean temperature. A report published by the IEA and the International Renewable Energy Agency found the share of fossil fuels used to satisfy energy demand would need to be cut in half by 2050 and emissions would need to fall more than 70 percent to keep the mean […]

Clean Energy Can Bring $10 Trillion Annual Benefits By 2050

21 Mar 2017   Climate

A dramatically increased share of renewables and higher energy efficiency have the potential to create benefits of up to $10 trillion annually by 2050, compared to estimated incremental system costs of decarbonization of $1.8 trillion annually, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Global GDP could be boosted by around 0.8 percent in 2050, or $1.6 trillion, while the cumulative gain through increased GDP from now to 2050 will amount to $19 trillion, the two agencies said in their joint report ‘Perspectives for the Energy Transition – Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy System’, which was prepared at the request of the German government to provide input for the G20 presidency. However, the IEA noted that limiting the global mean temperature increase to below 2°C with a probability of 66% would “require an energy transition of exceptional scope, […]

How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps

21 Mar 2017   Climate

Americans want to restrict carbon emissions from coal power plants. The White House and Congress may do the opposite. Percentage of adults per congressional district who support strict CO2 limits on existing coal-fired power plants A majority of adults in every congressional district in the nation support limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. But many Republicans in Congress (and some Democrats) agree with President Trump, who this week may move to kill an Obama administration plan that would have scaled back the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Nationally, about seven in 10 Americans support regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – and 75 percent support regulating CO2 as a pollutant more generally. But lawmakers are unlikely to change direction soon. Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, warned that committed activists — like the Tea Party — can shape politicians’ approaches to issues like […]

IRENA, IEA study concludes meeting 2˚C scenario possible with net positive economics

20 Mar 2017   Climate

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition —a joint study by IRENA and the IEA—launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented international determination to act on […]

Sierra Club says EPA’s Pruitt flouting integrity rules

17 Mar 2017   Climate

Following a review of fuel economy standards from the White House, the Sierra Club said it filed a complaint against the EPA for violating integrity rules. President Donald Trump vowed during a visit to the American Center for Mobility near Detroit to review, or possibly revoke , guidelines submitted by his predecessor that were aimed at putting more clean vehicles on the road. Former President Barack Obama during his second term in office issued a mandate that called for an increase in fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The Obama administration said the goal of the mandate was to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, the economic sector […]

Sharp drop in US emissions keeps global levels flat

17 Mar 2017   Climate

Climate-warming emissions from burning fossil fuels have remained flat for a third year in a row in a development that suggests a shift to a greener global economy is happening faster than previously thought. A striking drop in carbon pollution in the US, where emissions fell back to what they were in 1992, helped to keep global CO2 levels in 2016 virtually unchanged from the two previous years, the International Energy Agency said. “This is a very welcome development,” said Fatih Birol, IEA executive director. “It appears we now have the first signs of an established trend of flat emissions as a result of natural gas replacing coal in major markets and renewables becoming more and more affordable.” Mr Birol said it was especially significant that emissions stayed flat during a period of sustained global economic growth, currently about 3 per cent per annum.

Trump reopens review of US fuel efficiency standards

Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered the reopening of a review of future fuel economy and emissions standards for US cars, in a move that could slow down development of electric vehicles and new efficiency technologies. Regulations confirming standards for vehicle emissions in 2022-25, which were hurried through in the final fortnight of Barack Obama’s administration, will instead be reviewed next year. The Obama administration estimated that the rules would cost car manufacturers in the US $33bn. The new administration’s move, which had been sought by the large car manufacturers, coincided with a visit by the president to Michigan to meet industry executives and workers. Addressing autoworkers bussed to a disused factory outside Detroit which the President said had been used during the second world war to build B-24 bombers, Mr Trump promised to “make Detroit the car capital of the world again” adding: “we are going to restore the originally scheduled midterm review and ensure that any regulations we have protect your jobs.” Jessica Caldwell, analyst at Edmunds, said the emissions targets had forced manufacturers to shift research and development budgets from the trucks and SUVs consumers most wanted towards electric vehicles and hybrids, whose sales are shrinking. “Trump is likely scoring points with the auto executives by promising to rethink these regulations, but he’s making it clear he expects the automakers to return the favor by ramping up investments here in the US,” she said.

EPA re-opens Mid-Term Evaluation Process for light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards 2022-2025

Administrator Scott Pruitt and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that EPA intends to reconsider its final determination issued on 12 January 2017 which recommended no change to the greenhouse gas standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2022- 2025. ( Earlier post .) EPA will reconsider that determination in coordination with NHTSA as part of a renewed Mid-Term Evaluation process. This process was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025, requiring EPA to determine no later than 1 April 2018 whether the greenhouse gas standards for model years 2022-2025 established are appropriate. In coordination with EPA, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is evaluating its fuel economy standards for that period. In accord with this schedule, […]

Trump to Drop Climate Change From Environmental Reviews, Source Says

15 Mar 2017   Climate

President Donald Trump is set to sign a sweeping directive to dramatically shrink the role climate change plays in decisions across the government, ranging from appliance standards to pipeline approvals, according to a person familiar with the administration’s plan. The order, which could be signed this week, goes far beyond a targeted assault on Obama-era measures blocking coal leasing and throttling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that has been discussed for weeks. Some of the changes could happen immediately; others could take years to implement. It aims to reverse President Barack Obama’s broad approach for addressing climate change. One Obama-era policy instructed government agencies to factor climate change into formal environmental reviews, such as that for the Keystone XL pipeline. Trump’s order also will compel a reconsideration of the government’s use of a metric known as the “social cost of carbon” that reflects the potential economic damage from […]

How James Inhofe is upending the nation’s energy and environmental policies

15 Mar 2017   Climate

For more than a decade, Sen. James M. Inhofe has raged against the scientific consensus that humans are fueling climate change, calling it “the greatest hoax” ever perpetrated on Americans. The Oklahoma Republican has blasted the Environmental Protection Agency as an “activist organization” that has unfairly burdened everyone from farmers to fossil-fuel companies. Now the man critics once dismissed as a political outlier has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the nation’s energy and environmental policies. And he has helped populate the upper ranks of the agency he has derided with several of his closest confidants. At least half a dozen former aides to Inhofe — and counting — have been hired into top positions at the EPA and the White House. The chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a fellow Oklahoman and longtime friend of Inhofe, spent years working for the senator. […]

EPA Administrator Pruitt says rules must give market certainty

10 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt extended a hand of friendship to the energy industry Thursday, expressing his desire to reshape the office he heads into one that cooperates with stakeholders instead of one that creates economic uncertainty through its rulemaking. During a speech to global oil, gas and power leaders at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, the former Oklahoma attorney general, who began his new job last month after a bruising confirmation process, said he wants to be a partner, not a foe, of the sectors EPA regulates. “I want the states to see the EPA as a friend, as a partner, and not an adversary,” Pruitt said. “Regulators ought not to use their authority to pick winners and losers.” Pruitt rushed out of the conference after his remarks without taking questions from reporters. Related CERAWeek story: FERC’s independent approach won’t change after Trump […]

On climate change, Scott Pruitt causes an uproar — and contradicts the EPA’s own website

10 Mar 2017   Climate

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt does a television interview in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol before President Donald Trump delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump’s first address to Congress is expected to focus on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) This story has been updated. Scott Pruitt, the nation’s top environmental official, strongly rejected the established science of climate change on Thursday, outraging scientists, environmentalists, and even his immediate predecessor at the Environmental Protection Agency. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt, the newly installed EPA […]

Trump To Undo Fuel Efficiency Standards

7 Mar 2017   Climate, USA

The Trump administration is set to undo one of former President Obama’s signature achievements. On Tuesday, the EPA and the Transportation Department are expected to jointly announce the rollback of fuel efficiency requirements for the nation’s auto fleet, a move that will not require the approval of Congress. In the wake of the financial crisis and the crumbling of top U.S. automakers, the federal government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, while other companies were severely damaged and barely survived the downturn. With their backs against the wall, the Obama administration was able to push through historic fuel efficiency requirements, known as corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, the most stringent in decades. For cars made between 2012 and 2016, car companies had to achieve an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon, up from 25 mpg previously. For model years 2017-2025, fuel efficiency had to jump to […]

Oil and gas industry notches win with EPA emissions ruling

4 Mar 2017   Climate

An oil and trade group said steps by the Trump administration to ease regulatory burdens on emissions would help ensure American leadership on the energy stage. The Environmental Protection Agency said it was abandoning measures that called for the disclosure of methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, though a handful of states argued the measure would inhibit the economic benefits of the oil and gas industry. Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton said the measures, imposed in November, would have “dubious” environmental benefits. The American Petroleum Institute, which has challenged the EPA in court, said the steps taken by President Donald Trump eased what it considered unnecessary rules that impede […]

EPA Withdraws Obama-Era Requirement for Companies to Provide Methane Data

4 Mar 2017   Climate

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it is withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and natural gas companies provide information on methane emissions at their operations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the withdrawal is effective immediately, adding he wants to assess the need for the information the agency has…

Trump to Undo Vehicle Rules That Curb Global Warming

4 Mar 2017   Climate

 The Trump administration is expected to begin rolling back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, according to people familiar with the matter, essentially marking a U-turn to efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars . The announcement — which is expected as soon as Tuesday and will be made jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, and the transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao — will immediately start to undo one of former President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental legacies.

White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency

4 Mar 2017   Climate

The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post. The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas. NOAA is part of the Commerce Department, which would be hit by an overall 18 percent budget reduction from its current funding level. The Office of Management and Budget also asked the Commerce Department to provide information about how much it would cost to lay off employees, while saying those employees who do remain with […]

EPA Withdraws Obama-Era Requirement for Companies to Provide Methane Data

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it is withdrawing an Obama-era request that oil and natural gas companies provide information on methane emissions at their operations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the withdrawal is effective immediately, adding he wants to assess the need for the information the agency has…

UN Climate Chief’s Request to Meet Tillerson Goes Unanswered

2 Mar 2017   Climate

The top United Nations climate change official continues to wait for a response to her request to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over whether the U.S. will remain in the landmark Paris environmental accord. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, asked for a sitdown with Tillerson before leaving for a visit to the U.S. this week. In an interview Wednesday, she said she’d heard nothing from the State Department in return. Patricia Espinosa Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg “I have not heard back. It is understandable at the beginning of an administration,’’ Espinosa said after speaking at a climate change conference in Chicago “They are a very important partner to us, and I’m looking forward to working together.’’ A State Department spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment. Urging Action During her remarks in Chicago, Espinosa urged an audience of business […]

China takes climate mantle from U.S., Greenpeace says

1 Mar 2017   China, Climate, USA

A survey of data from China finds the world’s second-largest economy is advancing on efforts to cut emissions, an environmental group said. Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace said its review of data from the Chinese government shows a decline in emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, of around 1 percent, the fourth year in a row for either zero growth or a decline. In early February, Beijing Mayor Cai Qi said the city would move to improve air quality across the region by taking a dramatic step away from the use of coal. China accounts for about 50 percent of the global demand for coal and, because of the size of its economy, that translates […]

Kushner, Ivanka Trump Pushed to Remove Words Critical of Climate Deal From Executive Order

24 Feb 2017   Climate

WASHINGTON—At the request of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, language critical of a global climate deal was struck from an executive order that Mr. Trump is planning to sign soon, according to multiple people familiar with the move. Mr. Trump is expected to sign within days at least two executive orders that will begin the process of trying to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s…

Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

17 Feb 2017   Climate, Mexico

On bad days, you can smell the stench from a mile away, drifting over a nowhere sprawl of highways and office parks. When the Grand Canal was completed, at the end of the 1800s, it was Mexico City’s Brooklyn Bridge, a major feat of engineering and a symbol of civic pride: 29 miles long, with the ability to move tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater per second. It promised to solve the flooding and sewage problems that had plagued the city for centuries. Only it didn’t, pretty much from the start. The canal was based on gravity. And Mexico City, a mile and a half above sea level, was sinking, collapsing in on itself. It still is, faster and faster, and the canal is just one victim of what has become a vicious cycle. Always short of water, Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, […]

Exclusive: China mulls radical steps targeting metals, coal in war on smog – document

13 Feb 2017   China, Climate

China is considering forcing steel and aluminum producers to cut more output, banning coal in one of the country’s top ports and shutting some fertilizer and drug plants as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a draft policy document shows. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has proposed the measures in a draft policy document seen by Reuters. If implemented, they would be some of the most radical steps so far to tackle air quality in the country’s most polluted cities. The move comes after China’s northeast has battled some of the worst pollution in years as emissions from heavy industry, coal burning in winter and increased transport have left major cities including Beijing blanketed in […]

Republican grandees make case for US emissions tax

8 Feb 2017   Climate, USA

A group of former senior US officials from past Republican administrations has backed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, with revenues used to pay hundreds of dollars to every American citizen each year, as the way to make the conservative case for tackling the threat of climate change.  The group includes James Baker, who was Treasury secretary for President Ronald Reagan and secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush; George Shultz, who was secretary of state under Mr Reagan; Hank Paulson, who was Treasury secretary under George W Bush; Martin Feldstein, who was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for Mr Reagan, and Greg Mankiw, who performed the same role for the younger Mr Bush.

Some of them are meeting officials from President Donald Trump’s White House on Wednesday, to present a plan for addressing global warming that they say would “embody the principles of free markets and limited government.”  Their package includes a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, starting at $40 per ton, with all of the revenue recycled in dividends paid back to the public. The group, known as the Climate Leadership Council, argues that the tax, which could rise over time, would send “a powerful signal to businesses and consumers, while generating revenue to reward Americans for decreasing their collective carbon footprint.”

EPA Scientists Worry Their New Boss Doesn’t Want Science

7 Feb 2017   Climate, USA

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, is probably going to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The full Senate will almost certainly vote to confirm him to the cabinet-level job this week. And that has the scientists who work for the EPA freaking out. The problem is, well, that whole protecting-the-environment thing. Advocacy groups complain Pruitt ignored scientific reports that showed oil and gas drilling have caused an epidemic of earthquakes in Oklahoma and failed to enforce pollution rules that would have stopped waste from Arkansas chicken farms from floating downriver into Oklahoma. As Oklahoma’s AG, Pruitt sued the EPA over mercury, methane, and other environmental rules, although he lost. And he doesn’t seem to think climate change is a threat worth studying , […]

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months

7 Feb 2017   Climate

A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day. The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, […]

NRDC: States should lead low-carbon economy

3 Feb 2017   Climate

It may be up to the governments of U.S. states to take the lead in the effort to advance a low-carbon economy, the Natural Resources Defense Council said. A review of federal data from the NRDC finds the U.S. renewable energy sector was one of the largest job creators in recent years. The estimated 350,000 people tied to the solar energy sector is greater than some parts of the conventional fossil fuels industry and wind energy was moving in a similar employment direction. Lara Ettenson, a California policy director for the NRDC, said President Donald Trump should look to the low-carbon sector if he aims to fulfill a campaign promise of creating more jobs for middle class Americans. “Unfortunately, President Trump […]

‘Beyond the extreme’: Scientists marvel at ‘increasingly non-natural’ Arctic warmth

2 Feb 2017   Climate

Arctic temperature difference from normal during January. (WeatherBell.com) The Arctic is so warm and has been this warm for so long that scientists are struggling to explain it and are in disbelief. The climate of the Arctic is known to oscillate wildly, but scientists say this warmth is so extreme that humans surely have their hands in it and may well be changing how it operates. Temperatures are far warmer than ever observed in modern records, and sea ice extent keeps setting record lows. Unfortunately, influxes of “warm” air from both the Pacific/Atlantic Oceans this week will likely continue preventing #Arctic sea ice growth pic.twitter.com/QU4wQPwejo 2016 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, and 2017 has picked up right where it left off. “Arctic extreme (relative) warmth continues,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics, tweeted on Wednesday , referring to January’s temperatures. Veteran Arctic climate scientists […]

EU ahead of the curve on climate fight

2 Feb 2017   Climate, Europe

The European Union is taking the lead in the transition to a low-carbon era by meeting many of its stated goals, commissioners said Wednesday. In a report on its progress toward a low-carbon economy, the European Union said it was well on its way to meeting its climate and energy targets for 2020. “Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties, Europe is forging ahead with the clean energy transition,” Climate Action and Clean Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement. “There is no alternative.” Two years ago, greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union were 22 percent below a benchmark set to 1990 levels, beating the bloc’s goal ahead of schedule. The share of renewable energy on the collective […]

A Climate Change Economist Sounds the Alarm

31 Jan 2017   Climate

Some people who study climate change believe that addressing it later — when economic growth has made humanity wealthier — would be better than taking drastic measures immediately. Now, though, one of this group’s most influential members appears to have changed his mind. In the early 1990s, Yale’s William Nordhaus was among the first to examine the economics of reducing carbon emissions. Since then, he and colleagues have mixed climate physics with economic modeling to explore how various policies might play out both for global temperatures and growth. The approach attempts to weigh, in present-value terms, the costs of preventative measures against the future benefit of avoiding disaster. Nordhaus has mostly argued for a small carbon tax, aimed at achieving a modest reduction in emissions, followed by sharper reductions in the medium and long term. Too much mitigation now, he has suggested, would damage economic growth, making us less […]

Trump adviser predicts clash with Tillerson on climate change

30 Jan 2017   Climate

Donald Trump’s vow to pull the US out of the Paris climate change accord could be thwarted by his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, according to a member of the US president’s transition team. “We’ll have to see who wins that particular debate, the president or the secretary of state,” Myron Ebell , a longstanding critic of policies to combat global warming who led the Environmental Protection Agency transition for the new administration, told the Financial Times in an interview. Mr Trump has called climate change a “hoax” devised by China to hurt US industry. He also pledged to “cancel” the Paris climate deal signed by almost every country in 2015 which aims to cut greenhouse gases enough to prevent risky global warming. However, Mr Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated by Mr Trump to be secretary of state, told senators during his confirmation hearings in […]

Trump Adviser Calling for Overhaul of ‘Junk Science’ at EPA

28 Jan 2017   Climate

A former adviser to President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team called for shrinking the regulator and overhauling the way it uses science to set policy. “They’ve really gotten away with murder in misusing science and justifying regulations on the basis of junk science,” Myron Ebell, who left the transition team he led last week, said in an interview in his Washington office. Ebell, who made clear he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the Trump administration, said he believed most of the goals of the agency created in 1970 during the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon, had been achieved, and that the number of employees should be reduced to 5,000 from the roughly 15,000 currently employed. “If the Trump administration is serious about keeping Trump’s promises, they will have to reform the use of science,” said Ebell, director of the Center for […]

U.S. EPA aims to end freeze on contracts, grants on Friday

27 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told several lawmakers it aims to end its freeze on grants and contracts late Friday, congressional aides said. The freeze had led to widespread concerns in states and cities about whether there would be delays in efforts to monitor and clean up toxic pollution, particularly lead pollution in drinking water, that would put the health of citizens at risk. President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday had asked the EPA to temporarily freeze grants, contracts and interagency agreements pending a review. The EPA allocates $4 billion worth of contracts annually on projects ranging from cleaning up polluted industrial sites, and testing of air and water quality. The […]

Trump Wants to Downplay Global Warming. Louisiana Won’t Let Him

27 Jan 2017   Climate

Sea-level rise threatens the future of homes and businesses in Plaquemines Parish and surrounding coastal areas. On a recent morning in Baton Rouge, a thousand miles from where Senate Democrats were jousting with Donald Trump’s nominee to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about whether humans are warming the planet, the future of U.S. climate policy was being crafted in a small room in the east wing of the Louisiana Capitol. The state’s 7,700-mile shoreline is disappearing at the fastest rate in the country. Officials had gathered to consider a method of deciding which communities to save—and which to abandon to the Gulf of Mexico. Bren Haase, chief of planning for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), was presenting his team’s updated Coastal Master Plan. Five years in the making and comprising 6,000 pages of text and appendices, the […]

Exxon appoints climate steward to board of directors

27 Jan 2017   Climate

As it faces pressure over its environmental legacy, Exxon Mobil announced it appointed a new member to its board with strong climate credentials. The company announced the appointment of Susan Avery to its board of directors, effective Feb. 1. Touting her resume, Exxon said Avery served in a wide-range of positions as an atmospheric scientist, serving in a national capacity as an advisor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She serves also on the advisory committee for the National Research Council Global Change Research Program. “Avery’s leadership experience in multiple academic and scientific organizations, coupled with her breadth of scientific and research expertise, reinforce the corporation’s long-standing technical and scientific foundation,” Exxon stated. Her appointment to the Exxon […]

For Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Leader, Revival of Keystone XL Upsets a Balancing Act

26 Jan 2017   Canada, Climate, Tar Sands

If there is such a thing as unwelcome good news, President Trump may have handed some to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Tuesday when he revived a cross-border oil pipeline project . The move is likely to complicate a delicate balancing act Mr. Trudeau has been trying to keep up: He has long maintained that Canada needs to develop its energy industry, but he also stands for aggressively cutting the country’s carbon emissions.

Trump Admin Orders EPA Contract Freeze And Media Blackout – Bloomberg

25 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch.  The prohibitions came to light Tuesday as the agency moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules finalized in the closing months of President Barack Obama’s term, a potential first step to seeking to kill the regulations.

A summary of the actions posted in the Federal Register includes a long list of regulations that include updated air pollution rulings for several states, renewable fuel standards and limits on the amount of formaldehyde that can leach from wood products. President Donald Trump signed a directive shortly after his inauguration on Friday ordering a “regulatory freeze pending review” for all federal agency rules that had been finalized that have not yet taken effect.  Emails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press also detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

Europe to take up climate investment mantle

25 Jan 2017   Climate, Europe

European lenders will be among the world leaders in supporting efforts to address the impact of climate change in an era of naysayers, the EIB president said. The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that global average temperatures in 2016 hit records highs for the third consecutive year. Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, told delegates in Brussels the lender was doing its part by hitting its lending targets for climate action every year since 2010. “Over the next five years we’re determined to deliver $100 billion of climate-action finance, the largest contribution to climate action of any single multilateral institution,” he said. His speech comes during the first full week in office for […]

Xinhua: U.S. wasting opportunity in clean energy

24 Jan 2017   China, Climate, USA

Decoupling the U.S. economy from the renewable energy sector might not work as designed, a column in China’s official Xinhua News Agency read. U.S. President Donald Trump put the fossil fuels industry at the forefront of his economic agenda, nominating several key oil and gas figures to top Cabinet positions. “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” a White House policy statement read. “Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next seven years.” Xinhua cited several clean-energy policy advocates and government advisors who were critical of Trump’s emphasis on fossil fuels. Julia King, a climate advisor for […]

China is shaping up to be a world leader on climate change

21 Jan 2017   China, Climate

On Tuesday in Davos, all eyes were on Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. His appearance came at an important moment for China, as it increasingly takes on a global leadership role, including, critically, on climate change. In his speech, President Xi stood up to defend the Paris climate agreement and called for stronger international co-operation to meet today’s global problems. The entire world needs to build cities in which we can move, breathe and be productive. It must also ensure better access to clean energy, use it more efficiently and protect the natural resources that are the foundation of our economy. China’s role will be key, not only as the world’s largest emitter but also as its largest investor in sustainable infrastructure. China has come so far so fast that many people are unaware of how much progress it has made, from investing in renewable energy to tackling air pollution. It still faces significant adjustment challenges, particularly around reducing coal consumption, but it is displaying the commitment and creativity needed to tackle this urgent and complex challenge. China has recognised not only the grave risks of unmanaged climate change, to which it is very vulnerable, but also the great attractions of an alternative path for growth which is cleaner, more efficient, innovative and dynamic.

What happened to the cold winter the U.S. was promised?

21 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

Last fall, the general consensus among weather forecasters was that most of the Central and Eastern United States would likely endure a colder, snowier winter than it is used to. But instead, the third week in January – climatologically the coldest week of the year – is ushering in temperatures some 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average across the eastern two-thirds of the country. For example, Chicago may hit 55 F (12.8 C) on Saturday. The recent milder temperatures have also diminished snow cover to below-average levels everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains – save the Dakotas – and any snow that is left is almost certain to melt over the next week or so. What has happened is that several of the atmospheric “ingredients” that would power the chilly season have instead opted to go rogue from what the outlooks had originally predicted. The winter started off cold and […]

California Aims for 40% Reduction in Greenhouse Gases by 2030

21 Jan 2017   Climate

California on Friday released a blueprint for meeting an aggressive climate-change goal: a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The plan, released by the California Air Resources Board, is “designed to continue to shift the California economy away from dependence on fossil fuels to a thriving sustainable future,” according to the plan’s executive summary. By extending the state’s…

Trump’s Energy Pick Perry Softens Stance On Climate Change

20 Jan 2017   Climate

Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Energy Department, said during his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday that global warming caused by humans is real, but that efforts to combat it should not cost American jobs. The comment marks a shift for the former Texas governor who had previously called the science behind climate change “unsettled” and a “contrived, phony mess”. It also clashes with Trump’s statements during his campaign for the White House that global warming is a hoax meant to weaken U.S. business. “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity. The question is how do […]

Last Year Was Warmest on Record, Climate Experts Say

19 Jan 2017   Climate

Rising global temperatures in 2016 set a record for the third year in a row, as federal climate experts rated it the warmest year world-wide since modern record keeping began. In a new federal climate report, researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which independently track annual climate trends for the federal government, said Wednesday that global land and sea surface temperatures were boosted by a powerful El Niño current in the Pacific…

Global temperatures in 2016 break record for third year in a row

19 Jan 2017   Climate

The world has passed another global-warming milestone, according to new figures showing that temperatures rose to their hottest on record for the third year in a row in 2016. Global surface temperatures were nearly 1C warmer in 2016 than the mid-20th century average said scientists from Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US. Pending Senate approval, the agencies could soon be overseen by new cabinet secretaries appointed by incoming US president, Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax invented by China to hurt US industry. The hottest year on record is such a clear warning siren that even president-elect Trump cannot ignore [it]. The idea of a pause or a hiatus in global warming must now be abandoned Mark Maslin, UCL But Mr Trump’s choice to head the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, told his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that climate change was real, breaking with both the president-elect’s and his own past statements. Scientists said there was no doubt the world was warming, largely because of the greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Global sea ice is at lowest level ever recorded

18 Jan 2017   Climate

t’s a new low point. The area of the world’s oceans covered by floating sea ice is the smallest recorded since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s. That means it is also probably the lowest it has been for thousands of years.  The latest observations from the US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, show how the ice extent has fallen to a new low this year.

In the Arctic, the low in sea ice coverage is a result of both global warming and unusual weather events probably influenced by global warming.  But in the Antarctic, the current low in seasonal sea ice could just be a result of natural variability.  The extent of Arctic sea ice should be growing rapidly during the northern hemisphere winter. But not only has the Arctic been warming rapidly, this winter repeated incursions of warm air have pushed temperatures even further above average.  It has been so warm that on occasions this winter the sea ice coverage has actually temporarily shrunk, as shown by dips in the blue line in the graph below.

View full article at www.newscientist.com

EPA Locks in Tougher Fuel-Economy Rules

16 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

Environmental regulators issued a final decision Friday to hold to tougher fuel-economy standards, rushing to lock in one of President Barack Obama’s signature climate policies a week before President-elect Donald Trump assumes office. The Environmental Protection Agency affirmed targets calling for auto makers to sell light vehicles averaging 54.5 miles per gallon, or roughly 40 mpg in real-world driving, by 2025. The…

Bone-Chilling Winter From Berlin to Davos Causes Energy Scramble

14 Jan 2017   Climate

From the rivers criss-crossing eastern Europe to the Mediterranean ports of Greece and France, everyone is hunting for energy supplies. Blizzards, gale force winds, arctic temperatures and river ice thicker than a house has left the stewards of the European energy business frenzied. Prices of natural gas, primarily a heating fuel, has soared to the highest in more than two years. Blackouts across Eastern Europe caused electricity rates to spike to record levels. It’s chaotic, but yet familiar. While energy grid operators, producers and traders prepare for winter’s chill every year, they tend to rely on meteorological forecasts that sometimes turn out to be dead wrong. So when a winter that’s expected to be mild develops into an extended deep freeze, a mad dash to meet demand ensues. “Those who became sure that such a cold spell was unlikely given the overall trend in global warming are like those […]