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EU Proposal Scraps Mandatory 'Dirty' Fuel Label for Tar Sands

Jun 6, 2014
(The Globe and Mail)

The European Union appears to be backing away from a contentious fuel regulation that would hit oil sands producers, as governments there worry increasingly about their dependence on Russian energy imports.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper – in Europe this week – has won backing from key allies, including Britain, Poland and Italy, to deepen the Canada-EU energy relationship in order to enhance security of supply.

"There obviously has been some discussion here about energy security," Mr. Harper told reporters after G7 talks in Brussels Thursday. "Our energy ministers, Natural Resources Minister [Greg] Rickford among them, met within the last month to have a very in-depth discussion of how we can move forward to enhance our energy security for the Western world generally."

U.S. Hottest Spots of Global Warming: Northeast, Southwest

Jun 4, 2014

The United States is warming fastest at two of its corners, in the Northeast and the Southwest, an analysis of federal temperature records shows.

Northeastern states — led by Maine and Vermont — have gotten the hottest in the last 30 years in annual temperature, gaining 2.5 degrees on average. But Southwestern states have heated up the most in the hottest months: The average New Mexico summer is 3.4 degrees warmer now than in 1984; in Texas, the dog days are 2.8 degrees hotter.

The contiguous United States' annual average temperature has warmed by 1.2 degrees since 1984, with summers getting 1.6 degrees hotter. But that doesn't really tell you how hot it's gotten for most Americans. While man-made greenhouse gases warm the world as a whole, weather is supremely local. Some areas have gotten hotter than others because of atmospheric factors and randomness, climate scientists say.

China, World's Biggest Carbon Polluter, Plans Absolute CO2 Cap

Jun 3, 2014

China, the world's biggest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases, will set an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions from 2016, a top government adviser said on Tuesday.

The target will be written into China's next five-year plan, which comes into force in 2016, He Jiankun, chairman of China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference in Beijing.

"The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap," he said.

The move will be the first time China puts absolute limits on its CO2 emissions, which have soared 50 percent since 2005.

IEA: $50T Investment in Low-Carbon Energy Needed to Stave Off Dangerous Warming

Jun 3, 2014

Investment in low carbon sources of energy will fall well short of what is needed to stave off climate change unless a breakthrough is reached in stalled UN climate talks, the IEA said in a report on Tuesday.

In a major report highlighting trends in energy spending, the Paris-based agency said $53 trillion will need to be funnelled towards lower carbon energy and efficiency over the next two decades in order to limit a rise in global temperatures to below 2C.

A total of $1.6 trillion a year was spent on all types of energy last year, but just $250 billion, or 16%, of this was directed towards renewables and energy efficiency, the IEA said.

EPA to Propose Cutting Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Coal Plants 30% by 2030

Jun 1, 2014
(Washington Post)

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.

Under the draft rule, the EPA would analyze four options that states and utilities would have to meet the new standard, with different approaches to energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades, according to those who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it has not been formally announced. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours.

The rule represents one of the most significant steps the federal government has ever taken to curb the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to climate change, and the draft is sure to spark a major political and legal battle. Conscious of that, President Obama called a group of Senate and House Democrats on Sunday afternoon to thank them for their support in advance of the proposed rule, according to a White House official who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations with lawmakers

Plan Calls for Letting Some LNG Export Projects Cut in Line

May 30, 2014
(Houston Chronicle)

The Obama administration on Thursday proposed dramatically changing the way it reviews applications to expand natural gas exports, with a plan that gives priority to more commercially advanced projects.

The move responds to complaints from energy companies and their congressional allies that the process the government has used for two years is akin to a "deli counter" approach that rewards export projects for getting in line quickly at the expense of facilities more likely to break ground.

Many of the proposed liquefied natural gas export facilities that might have benefited by the new approach already have received conditional export approvals from the Energy Department.

But the proposal could give a boost to other planned facilities that have cleared a separate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review or are in the midst of it.

California Joins 7 Other States to Put 3.3M Zero-Emission Vehicles on Road

May 29, 2014
(Mercury News)

California leads the nation in electric vehicle sales, and now is joining forces with Oregon and several Northeastern states to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

Gov. Jerry Brown and his counterparts in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a set of agreements Thursday that includes adding zero-emission vehicles to public fleets and harmonizing building codes to make it easier to install electric-vehicle charging stations.

"This is not just an agreement but a serious and profoundly important commitment," Brown, long a champion of electric vehicles, said in a statement. "From coast to coast, we're charging ahead to get millions of the world's cleanest vehicles on our roads."

Pipeline Defects Lead to New Safety Requirements for Keystone XL

May 28, 2014

Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous construction defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project.

The defects — high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating — have been fixed. But the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wants to make sure similar problems don’t occur during construction of the pipeline’s controversial northern segment, which is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.

One condition requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor chosen by the pipeline safety agency to monitor the construction and make reports to the safety administration on whether the work is sound.

Koch Bros. Company Files to Develop Oil Sands Project

May 26, 2014
(The Globe and Mail)

The Canadian oil arm of the conglomerate owned by the U.S. billionaire Koch brothers has begun initial regulatory work on a multibillion-dollar oil sands project after an asset-sales effort two years ago left it holding a number of leases.

Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC, the Calgary-based unit of Koch Industries Inc., has made an initial filing with Alberta regulators and has been in consultation with the nearby Fort McKay First Nation regarding the proposed development.

"We intend to develop a bitumen recovery project identified as the Dunkirk In Situ Project and have submitted the proposed Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development," Paul Baltzer, spokesman for the Wichita, Kan.-based company, said in an e-mail.

Billionaire Climate Activist to Spend $100M on Races From Florida to Colorado

May 22, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

Billionaire Tom Steyer's environmental group, NextGen, revealed the seven major races it is targeting this fall, drawing on the $100 million that Mr. Steyer has pledged to raise to tip midterm elections toward environmental-friendly candidates.

The races include the gubernatorial election in Florida and Senate contest in Colorado.

In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, NextGen political strategists said the organization will campaign on "household-level" climate-change issues to persuade voters to support Democrats.