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125 Leaders Confirmed for NY Summit, Says U.N. Climate Chief

Sep 10, 2014
(RTCC)

U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres says the absence of the Chinese and Indian leaders from a U.N. climate summit on September 23 will not affect its credibility or outcomes.

The rulers of the first and third largest carbon polluters on the planet, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, recently declined to attend the meeting, hosted by secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

U.S. president Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the gathering, as is U.K. prime minister David Cameron, who told NGOs of his intention to travel on Tuesday evening. Number 10 confirmed to RTCC Cameron is expected to be there.

And despite Modi and Xi's absence, the UN's top climate official believes the meeting can forge a new consensus on what a global carbon cutting deal could look like. She expects over 125 heads of state to turn up.

Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere Hit a Record High in 2013

Sep 9, 2014
(Reuters)

Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse hit a record in 2013 as carbon dioxide concentrations grew at the fastest rate since reliable global records began, the World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday.

"We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a statement accompanying the WMO's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

"Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable," Jarraud said. "We are running out of time."

DA in Mass. Drops Charges, Says Activists Were Right About Climate Crisis

Sep 9, 2014
(Boston Globe)

Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter knew the law. He also understood the threats posed by climate change. So for days he grappled with what to do about the two environmental activists facing criminal charges for blocking a 40,000-ton coal shipment last year to the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset.

Just as the trial was about to begin Monday, Sutter decided to drop all charges.

Then, in a dramatic appearance at Fall River District Court, he said he empathized with the stance of Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, who said they were acting to reduce harm to the planet when they used the lobster boat Henry David T. to block the shipment to the coal-burning plant.

"Because of my sympathy with their position, I was in a dilemma," Sutter said afterward. "I have a duty to go forward to some extent with this case and to follow the applicable case law, but they were looking for a forum to present their very compelling case about climate change."

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.