Pulitzer winning climate news.
facebook twitter subscribe
view counter





Donate to InsideClimate News through our secure page on Network for Good.

Breaking News

Northern Gateway Pipeline Rejected By B.C. First Nation

Apr 14, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A group of First Nations with territory covering a quarter of the route for the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline met with federal representatives Friday to officially reject the project.

Officials with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans met with the four clans of the Yinka Dene in Fort St. James, and listened as dozens of elders, hereditary and elected chiefs said "No."

"We do not, we will not, allow this pipeline," Peter Erickson, a hereditary chief of the Nak'azdli First Nation, told the six federal bureaucrats.

"We're going to send the message today to the federal government and to the company itself: their pipeline is dead. Under no circumstances will that proposal be allowed.

"Their pipeline is now a pipe dream."

Senate Dems Urge Obama to Decide on Keystone XL Pipeline by May 31

Apr 10, 2014

A group of 11 Senate Democrats, including five seeking re-election this year, urged President Barack Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31.

"This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope," the Democrats wrote in a letter sent to Obama today. "It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally, Canada, a direct route to our refineries."

Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia -- all up for re-election -- signed the letter. All previously backed the Keystone project.

Divestment Activists Claim Victory as Harvard Adopts Green Investment Principles

Apr 8, 2014

Harvard has become the first American university to sign on to a United Nations-backed code of responsible investment – in a move to assuage a carbon divestment campaign.

Six months after explicitly rejecting calls to divest from fossil fuels, managers of Harvard's $33bn endowment will now be guided by a set of investment principles taking into account environmental and social factors such as water and human rights, the university announced on Monday.

The new guidelines, set by the Principles of Responsible Investment organization, do not commit Harvard to selling existing holdings in fossil fuels.

But campaigners still claimed the step as a victory for a divestment movement that has now spread to more than 500 university campuses and other institutions across America and Europe.

Nine colleges have so far divested fossil fuels, the campaign said.

“A year ago Harvard was no way no how. But science is pushing everyone in the direction of action; students should be proud they've breached the dam of resistance,” said Bill McKibben, a Harvard graduate and founder of 350.org, which has led the campus divestment movement.

Campaigning organisation Divest Harvard in its statement noted that the university still had millions invested in fossil fuels.“We need to divest from the problem as we invest in new solutions,” it said.

Under the new initiatives announced by Harvard president, Drew Gilpin Faust, the university will ask alumni and donors to help raise $20 million for climate research.

The university will also join the Carbon Disclosure Project, requiring Harvard to report on its carbon footprint.

Enbridge First to Confirm Plans to Export Canadian Oil Via United States

Apr 7, 2014

Enbridge Inc. has become the first company to confirm plans to re-export Canadian oil from the United States, a move that could fuel debate over U.S. trade policy and intensify opposition to new oil sands pipelines.

Its U.S. subsidiary Tidal Energy Marketing has received a U.S. government license to export "limited quantities" of Canadian-origin oil from a U.S. port, Enbridge said, confirming weeks of market rumors and speculation about such shipments. Market sources say they expect the first 40,000-tonne cargoes to set sail from Texas ports to Europe later in April.

Re-exports from the United States are rare but allowed as an exception to a contentious ban on exports of its own oil imposed since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s.

Draft IPCC Report Suggests 15-Year Window for Affordable Climate Action

Apr 7, 2014

Government envoys and scientists gathered under the UN banner in Berlin Monday to hammer out a list of options for curbing carbon emissions driving dangerous climate change.

Fresh from issuing its starkest-ever warning about the impacts of global warming on Earth's weather system, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will meet until Friday to vet the choices meant to inform policymakers.

A draft of the document, seen by AFP, suggests there is a 15-year window for affordable action to safely reach the UN's warming limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

The report, the product of four years' work by hundreds of experts, aims to provide governments with the latest science on climate change.

Enbridge Targets May 1 for Start-Up of Pipeline That Ruptured in 2010

Apr 4, 2014

Enbridge Inc, Canada's largest pipeline company, said on Thursday it was targeting May 1 for the start-up of its expanded Line 6B, which carries crude oil from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, Ontario.

The company's $1.6 billion Line 6B replacement program will raise the capacity of the pipe to 500,000 barrels per day from 240,000, bringing additional supplies of Canadian crude to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and eastern Canada.

The company had an initial April 1 start-up date, with the delay coming as Enbridge dealt with technical issues with the existing pipe while filling the new line with oil.

Exxon Agrees to Disclose Fracking Risks

Apr 4, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

Exxon Mobil Corp. agreed to publicly disclose more details on the risks of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, reversing a long-held opposition after negotiations with environmental groups and investors.

The Texas oil company's decision is the latest evidence of a shift by Exxon's top executives to address growing environmental worries about fracking, a contentious energy production technique in some North American communities.

Exxon's disclosures are a response to a shareholder proposal brought by the New York City comptroller and social-responsibility advocate As You Sow, which agreed to withdraw the measure ahead of the company's annual meeting next month.

The move is hardly a surrender to environmental interests, but does indicate a greater push by executives to press their case for oil and gas development at a time when public opposition to domestic drilling has unnerved some in the industry.

TransCanada Sets Deadline for Keystone Pipeline Easement Offers

Apr 3, 2014
(Lincoln Journal Star)

Landowners along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline received letters Wednesday warning them that current easement offers will be pulled after May 14—and future offers will be significantly less lucrative.

TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based company seeking to build the pipeline, has made offers as high as $250,000, including up-front crop damage payments and land-use compensation.

After the deadline, the company said, compensation packages will be refigured to reflect actual land values and commodity prices.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said the deadline is a standard business practice, and the company has made efforts to negotiate in good faith.

Tar Sands Air Emissions Linked to Health Concerns, Alberta Report Says

Apr 1, 2014
(Globe and Mail)

In one of the first reports to link oil sands production to human health effects, a panel reporting to Alberta's energy regulator says odors from a heavy oil site in the northwestern part of the province have the potential to cause health issues.

Human health is a concern often cited by opponents of rapid oil sands development. But while other Alberta government entities have examined long-standing cancer concerns in the small First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan north of Fort McMurray, no study in that area has found a conclusive link to nearby oil-sands sites and human health. Last week, for instance, Alberta's chief medical officer of health said cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan are similar to those in the rest of the province.

Monday's panel report, which makes recommendations to the Alberta Energy Regulator, follows panel hearings in January on heavy-oil health concerns from residents of a small farming community south of Peace River.

Climate Change a Threat to Security, Food and Humankind, IPCC Report Says

Mar 31, 2014

A United Nations report raised the threat of climate change to a whole new level on Monday, warning of sweeping consequences to life and livelihood.

The report from the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters.

And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.

Monday's report was the most sobering so far from the UN climate panel and, scientists said, the most definitive. The report – a three year joint effort by more than 300 scientists – grew to 2,600 pages and 32 volumes.

The volume of scientific literature on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report, and the findings make an increasingly detailed picture of how climate change – in tandem with existing fault lines such as poverty and inequality – poses a much more direct threat to life and livelihood.

This was reflected in the language. The summary mentioned the word “risk” more than 230 times, compared to just over 40 mentions seven years ago, according to a count by the Red Cross.

At the forefront of those risks was the potential for humanitarian crisis. The report catalogued some of the disasters that have been visited around the planet since 2000: killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in Australia, and deadly floods in Pakistan.

“We are now in an era where climate change isn't some kind of future hypothetical,” said Chris Field, one of the two main authors of the report.

Those extreme weather events would take a disproportionate toll on poor, weak and elderly people. The scientists said governments did not have systems in place to protect those populations. “This would really be a severe challenge for some of the poorest communities and poorest countries in the world,” said Maggie Opondo, a geographer from the University of Nairobi and one of the authors.

The warning signs about climate change and extreme weather events have been accumulating over time. But this report struck out on relatively new ground by drawing a clear line connecting climate change to food scarcity, and conflict.

The report said climate change had already cut into the global food supply. Global crop yields were beginning to decline – especially for wheat – raising doubts as to whether production could keep up with population growth.

“It has now become evident in some parts of the world that the green revolution has reached a plateau,” Pachauri said.

The future looks even more grim. Under some scenarios, climate change could lead to dramatic drops in global wheat production as well as reductions in maize.

"Climate change is acting as a brake. We need yields to grow to meet growing demand, but already climate change is slowing those yields," said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and an author of the report.

Other food sources are also under threat. Fish catches in some areas of the tropics are projected to fall by between 40% and 60%, according to the report.

The report also connected climate change to rising food prices and political instability, for instance the riots in Asia and Africa after food price shocks in 2008.

"The impacts are already evident in many places in the world. It is not something that is [only] going to happen in the future," said David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University's centre for food security, who devised the models.

"Almost everywhere you see the warming effects have a negative affect on wheat and there is a similar story for corn as well. These are not yet enormous effects but they show clearly that the trends are big enough to be important," Lobell said.

The report acknowledged that there were a few isolated areas where a longer growing season had been good for farming. But it played down the idea that there may be advantages to climate change as far as food production is concerned.

Overall, the report said, "Negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts." Scientists and campaigners pointed to the finding as a defining feature of the report.

The report also warned for the first time that climate change, combined with poverty and economic shocks, could lead to war and drive people to leave their homes.

With the catalogue of risks, the scientists said they hoped to persuade governments and the public that it was past time to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to plan for sea walls and other infrastructure that offer some protection for climate change.

“The one message that comes out of this is the world has to adapt and the world has to mitigate,” said Pachauri.