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Kerry Tells Rich and Poor to Make Climate Deal to Avoid 'Tragedy'

Dec 12, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made an impassioned plea on Thursday for all nations to work for an ambitious U.N. deal next year to fight climate change, saying time was running out to reverse a course "leading to tragedy."

He also took aim at domestic U.S. critics of President Barack Obama who question whether climate change is mainly man-made. Kerry said scientific findings were overwhelming and "screaming at us, warning us."

"Every nation, every nation has a responsibility to do its part," he said in a speech at United Nations talks in Lima that are trying to sketch out elements of a draft 190-nation deal due in Paris in late 2015 to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Group of Catholic Bishops Calls for Fossil-Fuel Phase-Out

Dec 11, 2014
(BBC News)

Catholic bishops from around the world are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty.

Catholics, they say, should engage with the process leading to a proposed new deal to be signed in Paris next year.

The statement is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have issued such a call.

With 1.2bn people worldwide calling themselves Catholic, the church has considerable potential to influence public debate on any issue.

Obama: Keystone XL Could Contribute to 'Disastrous' Climate Change

Dec 9, 2014
(The Washington Post)

President Obama spoke in dismissive terms of the Keystone XL pipeline Monday during an interview on "The Colbert Report Monday, saying its modest benefits need to be weighed against its contribution to climate change, "which could be disastrous."

During an interview taped at George Washington University, the president did not explicitly say whether he would grant or deny a permit to the controversial project that would transport heavy crude from Hardisty, Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. But he highlighted many of the pipeline's disadvantages, and downplayed its benefits.

Study Finds 'Significant' Methane Leaking From Abandoned Wells

Dec 8, 2014
(Fuel Fix)

As the Obama administration nears a decision on whether — and how — to clamp down on methane leaking from active oil and gas operations, new research suggests abandoned wells may be a significant source of the potent greenhouse gas.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on 19 representative abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, it can be extrapolated to the approximately 3 million across the country.

And while federal regulators are now concentrating on methane emitted during oil and gas production, the new study conducted by researchers with Princeton University suggests that accumulating leaks from abandoned wells over decades may be a bigger problem.

Fossil-Fuel Lobbyists, Bolstered by GOP Wins, Work to Thwart Environmental Rules

Dec 8, 2014
(The Washington Post)

Oil, gas and coal interests that spent millions to help elect Republicans this year are moving to take advantage of expanded GOP power in Washington and state capitals to thwart Obama administration environmental rules.

Industry lobbyists made their pitch in private meetings last week with dozens of state legislators at a summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed conservative state policy group.

The lobbyists and legislators consideredseveral model bills to be introduced across the country next year, designed to give states more power to block or delay new Obama administration environmental standards, including new limits on power-plant emissions.

Energy Companies in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General

Dec 7, 2014
(New York Times)

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

"Outstanding!" William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt's office. The attorney general's staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general's signature. "The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House."

Canada Sticks to Its Line on the Tar Sands at Climate Talks

Dec 6, 2014
(Globe and Mail)

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq heads to the United Nations climate summit this weekend with no new targets and no commitment to action on Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the oil sands, but with a pledge to crack down on a little-known chemical that represents a tiny portion of this country’s emissions.

On Friday, the minister announced that Ottawa will enact new regulations to control hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in air conditioning and heating. The powerful short-term greenhouse gases account for only 1 per cent of Canada’s overall emissions. But she reiterated that Ottawa will not move to regulate emissions from the oil sands until the United States is ready to address its oil industry – a decision that, according to many analysts, makes it virtually impossible for Canada to hit its 2020 target.

Church of England Files Shareholder Resolutions at BP and Shell on Climate Change

Dec 5, 2014

The Church of England said it was in the process of filing shareholder resolutions on climate change at BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

"The resolution is intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses so that they participate constructively in the transition to a low carbon economy," The Church of England wrote in a blog. (bit.ly/1tUBUlN)

The Church said it chose BP and Shell because they have the biggest carbon footprints of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

German Government Approves $98 Billion Climate Package

Dec 4, 2014

The German government passed far-reaching energy policy resolutions on Wednesday, signing off on the first Energiewende Progress Report, the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPE) and the Action Programme on Climate Protection 2020.

At the presentation of the program, German Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it is currently up to the government to integrate and connect energy and climate policy.

Much has already been achieved in the energy sector, Gabriel said: the amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) is taking hold, the debate over the electricity market has gained momentum and a plan for further steps has been tabled.

Bill McKibben Steps Down as Chair of Climate Advocacy Group 350.org

Dec 3, 2014

Bill McKibben, a chief antagonist of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is stepping down as chairman of the environmental group 350.org that he helped create.

McKibben, an author and climate advocate, said the move will give him more time to write and to organize campaigns. He'll remain as a senior adviser to the New York-based group that pushes for action to combat climate change.

"If this sounds dramatic, it's not," McKibben wrote in a letter to supporters sent from Sweden, where he is receiving the Right Livelihood Award from Parliament. "I will stay on as an active member of the board, and 90 percent of my daily work will stay the same, since it's always involved the external work of campaigning, not the internal work of budgets and flow charts."