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Yale Endowment Takes Aim at Climate Change

Sep 8, 2014
(New York Times)

As pressure grows from students who want to see their schools use financial clout to address environmental issues, Yale University's investment office wrote to its money managers asking them to assess how investments could affect climate change and suggesting they avoid companies that do not take sensible "steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The letter, from David F. Swensen, Yale's chief investment officer, stopped short of asking managers to sell shares in companies with a "large greenhouse footprint." Instead, Yale asked them to "discuss with company managements the financial risks of climate change and the financial implications of current and prospective government policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Canada Leads the World in Forest Decline, Study Says

Sep 5, 2014
(PostMedia News)

The world's virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.

No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.

"Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000," Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.

He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

"There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests," he said. "Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests."

In Keystone XL Pipeline Debate, Nebraska High Court Will Have Sway

Sep 4, 2014
(Reuters)

Nebraska's top court will hear arguments on Friday about how the Keystone XL pipeline might cross the state - a narrow question of routing and permitting that has clouded the project's fate after more than five years of wrangling at the federal level.

At issue is a 2012 law that gave Governor Dave Heineman authority to approve a route for TransCanada Corp's proposed Canada-to-Texas project.

Siting issues are typically settled by the state's Public Services Commission (PSC). In February, a Nebraska court ruled that the governor had been wrong to interrupt that process.

The decision was a win for landowners and environmentalists who oppose the Keystone project, aimed at transporting at least 730,000 barrels per day from the oil sands region of Western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Judge Finds BP 'Reckless' in Oil Spill; May Levy $18B Fine

Sep 4, 2014
(New York Times)

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that BP was grossly negligent in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout that killed 11 workers, spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches.

"BP's conduct was reckless," United States District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier wrote in his sternly worded decision. Judge Barbier also ruled that Transocean, the owner of the rig, and Halliburton, the service company that cemented the well, were negligent in the accident.

U.N. Chief Tries to Kick-Start Sagging Enthusiasm for Climate Deal

Sep 4, 2014
(Reuters)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this month hopes to reinvigorate the years-long effort to forge a global climate deal, even as concerns grow over whether the final pact will be rigorous enough to address threats to the environment.

Ban wants heads of state at a Sept. 23 gathering in New York to outline how their countries will contribute to a mutual goal to contain rising temperatures, said Selwin Hart, the Barbadian diplomat helping to spearhead the conference. The final deal is due to be signed in Paris in 2015.

Hart said the event will avoid some of the thornier questions surrounding the ultimate outcome of the Paris summit, but should give a good indication of how serious countries are.

High-Volume Fracking to Be Banned in Nova Scotia

Sep 4, 2014
(CBC News)

Nova Scotia will introduce legislation to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas this fall, Energy Minister Andrew Younger said Wednesday. 

The decision follows an independent panel review that recommended the government proceed slowly. Younger said the ban is not permanent, but would not say how long it will last. 

Younger said the public have "overwhelmingly expressed concern" about allowing hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. "And we need to respect that. We need to respect the trust the people have put in us," he said.

Obama Administration May Force Drillers to Cut Methane Leaks, EPA Chief Says

Sep 3, 2014
(Bloomberg)

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering rules that would force oil and gas producers to cut methane emissions, its chief said, stepping up efforts to curb the most potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, told investors at a New York forum today the agency will decide this year whether to issue regulations mandating emission cuts, or to rely only on voluntary steps.

"We are looking at what are the most cost-effective regulatory and-or voluntary efforts that can take a chunk out of methane in the system," McCarthy said. "It's not just for climate, but for air quality" reasons, she said.

 

Video: UN Predicts Climate Hell in 2050 With Imagined Weather Forecasts

Sep 2, 2014
(Reuters via Guardian)

The United Nations is warning of floods, storms and searing heat from Arizona to Zambia within four decades, as part of a series of imagined weather forecasts released on Monday for a campaign publicizing a UN climate summit.

"Miami South Beach is under water," one forecaster says in a first edition of "weather reports from the future", a series set in 2050 and produced by companies including Japan's NHK, the US Weather Channel and ARD in Germany.

The UN World Meteorological Organization, which invited well-known television presenters to make videos to be issued before the summit on 23 September, said the scenarios were imaginary but realistic for a warming world.

A Zambian forecaster, for instance, describes a severe heatwave and an American presenter says: "The mega-droughtin Arizona has claimed another casualty."

Some, however, show extreme change. One Bulgarian presenter shows a red map with temperatures of 50C (122F) – far above the temperature record for the country of 45.2C (113F) recorded in 1916.

More Arsenic in Texas Water Wells Near Gas Drilling, Study Finds

Sep 2, 2014
(AP via Fuel Fix)

North Texas water wells within two miles of active gas drilling sites contain higher concentrations of arsenic and other carcinogens, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

In the study, University of Texas at Arlington biochemists measured 100 wells across the Barnett Shale, believed to hold one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., and compared the results to a similar study undertaken before hydraulic fracturing technology and higher natural gas prices opened the area to drilling.

Some 30 percent of the wells within 1.8 miles of gas drilling sites showed an increased amount of arsenic and other heavy metals, the study said, and 29 wells exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum arsenic limits of 10 parts per billion.

China's National Carbon Trading Market to Start in 2016

Sep 1, 2014
(Reuters)

China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalizing rules for what will be the world's biggest emissions trading scheme.

The world's biggest-emitting nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, plans to use the market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.