December 11, 2015

EPA's Chief McCarthy: "Coal Is No Longer Marketable"

Talking from the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, the Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy spoke of the American and Chinese commitments to reducing their reliance on coal.

"[Coal] is not necessarily the path to the future. We know in the U.S. that we're transitioning away from coal, because coal is no longer marketable,” McCarthy said in a video posted to Facebook.

December 10, 2015

Despite Optimism About Paris Deal, Major Issues Persist in Early Draft

The latest draft of a climate agreement, released Wednesday at the U.N. climate summit in Paris, drew criticism from all sides with countries still disagreeing on major issues from temperature targets to emission targets reviews.

"At least now things are now clearly on the table," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of the new 29-page draft. "We have made progress but still a lot of work remains to be done."

Will the Paris Climate Deal Save Forests from Further Deforestation?

If a climate deal is reached in Paris, the world's forests could prove to be a big winner. Nations across the globe have pledged to either sharply reducing or entirely eliminating deforestation in the coming decades.

The improper clearing of forests "is an environmental crime," the Brazilian minister of the environment, Izabella Teixeira, said. "If I have a crime, this is not acceptable."

December 9, 2015

Two Sentences in Proposed Climate Deal to Seal Fate of Trillions of Fossil Fuel Investments

The fate of trillions of dollars of fossil fuel funding in the upcoming decades hinges on two sentences in a proposed climate deal draft. 

The first sentence explains how the countries should direct finance flow towards "low emission and climate resilient" communities and has drawn fire from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The second sentence, which calls on governments to reduce support for "high emissions investments," has been criticized by China and India.

Scientists Show Support for NOAA Chief in Climate Feud

Kathryn Sullivan, chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, received a letter on Monday signed by 587 scientists asking her to hold strong in her standoff with senior House Republican Lamar Smith over a climate study.

"We urge you to continue to stand firm against these bullying tactics in order to protect NOAA scientists' ability to pursue research and publish data and results regardless of how contentious the issue may be," wrote the scientists. "Please continue to resist this dangerous abuse of congressional oversight power."

Are Oil Workers Fleeing Texas?

A new report from Wells Fargo Securities LLC suggests oil workers are fleeing Texas as the industry continues to struggle with low prices

"Nearly 150,000 Texans have left the labor force since January, most of which had been employed," Wells Fargo said.

December 8, 2015

Paris Climate Talks: Brazil Takes Lead in Resolving Rich-Poor Divide

Brazil has taken on the difficult task of balancing the needs and responsibilities of rich and poor countries alike in a proposed climate deal.

"The idea is to avoid having two sides… the presidency and the parties. It's very important to have a team that makes the bridge between the two," said Pascal Canfin, former French minister for development. "It means that Brazil will try to find a compromise… she's not there to make the point about her own position."

Alec Loses Another Member Over Climate Stance: American Electric Power

American Electric Power, a major U.S. utility, is cutting ties with the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council as it seeks to boost clean power production.

"We let (Alec) know that we won't be renewing our membership in 2016," a company spokeswomen told the Guardian. "We are reallocating our resources as we focus on our work with the states around the Clean Power Plan. There are a variety of reasons for the decision. We have long been involved in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."

Two Studies Challenge the 2°C Climate Target

Scientists challenge the assumption that keeping warming to 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels is safe for the planet in two recent studies published in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

According to one study, researchers led by Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich argue that "no scientific assessment has clearly justified or defended the 2° C target as a safe level of warming, and indeed, this is not a problem that science alone can address."

December 7, 2015

Trust, Money at Core of Paris Climate Talks

Success at the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris boils down to two issues: trust and money.

"Transparency is an enormously important part of this," said American climate negotiator Todd Stern. "One hundred and eighty-four countries have put forth targets. The transparency regime is the thing that will allow everyone to have confidence and trust that other countries are acting. It is at the core of this deal."

These 10 Democratic Senators Attended the Paris Climate Talks

While several Republican senators and representatives have vowed to block any climate deal to come out of the international negotiations in Paris, many Democrats have taken the opposite approach and pledged to support such a deal. In fact, 10 Democratic senators led by Sen. Ben Cardin of New Mexico actually traveled to Paris to attend part of the talks.

Leaky Pipe in California Releasing "Volcano of Methane Pollution"

Operator Sempra Energy says it could still take three to four months to plug a leaky natural gas pipe in Southern California that has already leaked 800,000 metric tons of gas contributing to global warming since the issue was first discovered on Oct. 23.

"You have this huge volcano of methane pollution and except for the fact that a lot of people are getting sick, it hasn't engendered a lot of attention," said Tim O'Connor, California oil and gas director for the green group Environmental Defense Fund.

December 4, 2015

New Global Climate Task Force Unveiled

A new global taskforce to be headed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg launched on Thursday that will help companies determine their climate-related financial risk and exposure.

These 11 Countries Haven't Submitted Climate Pledges

In the lead up to the climate treaty negotiations in Paris, nearly every country in the world successfully submitted national climate pledges. Here's a round-up of the 11 countries that have not made any climate pledges so far: East Timor, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, North Korea, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Syria, Tonga, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. These countries are either at war, recovering from a natural disaster, or saying it is up to the West to rein in carbon pollution.


December 3, 2015

India, Brazil Oppose Long-term Phase Out of Fossil Fuels

India and Brazil are among the most vocal opponents to a climate deal that strives to decarbonize the global economy over the next century.

"Decarbonization is something that has appeared recently. We don't even know what that means," said Indian delegate Ajay Mathur.

With Coal Industry Under Pressure, Some See Long-Term Decline

The coal industry is hurting hard, and some experts predict the industry may never recover as energy alternatives such as natural gas and renewables continue to get cheaper, activists continue to push the issue and new coal regulations go into effect.

"Nobody believes these cycles are coming back," said Tom Sanzillo, author of a recent study tracking China's reduction in coal consumption. "You'll have a smaller coal industry, in the United States and all over the world."

What Will Happen to All the Dislocated Coal Miners?

As the U.S. coal industry continues to decline, what will happen to all the thousands of coal workers that will likely lose their jobs in the coming years?

The Pacific Standard reviewed the success of conventional job re-training programs and found it uninspiring. That's bad news for dislocated coal miners.

December 2, 2015

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