November 30, 2020

EPA’s Final Deregulatory Rush Runs Into Open Staff Resistance

With Joe Biden set to take office in two months, career scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency have become emboldened to openly stymie President Trump's last-minute rush to deregulate federal environmental protections, the New York Times reports. That includes filing "dissenting scientific opinions" and emailing one another about studies that contradict Trump-era rules.

Portuguese Youngsters Clear Major Hurdle in European Climate Lawsuit

The European Court of Human Rights on Monday said it would greenlight a lawsuit coming from six Portuguese children and young adults against 33 European countries over what the plaintiffs call a lack of government action to curb climate change. The ruling clears a major hurdle for the groundbreaking case, which will now proceed to responses from each defendant country.

UN Agency Hit With Corruption Allegations at Climate Projects

The United Nations Development Programme is facing several allegations of fraud and corruption linked to the multibillion-dollar Global Environment Facility, the Financial Times reports. Among the allegations is a document that describes "financial misstatements" worth millions of dollars across UNDP's portfolio of projects meant to address issues such as deforestation, conservation and pollution.

The New Energy Giants Are Renewable Companies

The world's latest energy supergiants aren't digging mines and drilling wells, but are rather leading the race to electrify the global economy, Bloomberg reports. Enel, Iberdrola, NextEra Energy and Orsted have the clout and financial might of the energy behemoths that relied on fossil fuels before them. But they are prioritizing the building or buying of clean power plants.

November 25, 2020

What the Janet Yellen Pick for Treasury Means for Climate Policy

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's pick to run the treasury, may play a crucial role in getting corporations to take global warming seriously, if she's confirmed by the Senate, The Washington Post reports. Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, has sounded off on the need to address climate change, and her selection is another sign of the Biden administration's intent to tackle the climate crisis.


The Swinomish Tribe Is an Ancient People With a Modern Climate Plan

For 10,000 years, the Swinomish tribe have relied on the bounty of salmon and shellfish in the waters of northwestern Washington. But those fish populations have diminished in recent years, as climate change warms the oceans and stresses ecosystems. The tribe has responded with an ambitious, multipronged climate plan, The Washington Post reports, prompting 50 other Native tribes to follow suit.


A Warming Planet Makes Northeastern Forests More Susceptible to Western-Style Wildfires

Wildfires like the ones that devastated the West Coast this year could become more common in the Northeast, as rising temperatures dry out more forested areas. Last year, 11,000 acres of the New Jersey Pine Barrens burned, after dry and windy conditions turned a seemingly innocent bonfire into an inferno. Some Northeast policymakers are already enacting new measures to mitigate future risks.


EPA Sued Over Rule Extending Life of Toxic Coal Ash Ponds

A coalition of nine environmental groups is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over a rule that extends the life of giant pits of toxic coal sludge that could leak into nearby water sources, particularly after heavy rains. The rule allows for more than 400 coal ash pits across the country—waste disposal sites where coal residue is mixed with liquid in open-air ponds—to stay open as far in the future as 2038.

EU Drafts Deal to Strengthen 2030 Climate Change Target Next Month

The European Union has drafted a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, as opposed to its current target of 40 percent, Reuters reports. If EU leaders approve the draft, it could make the bloc the first major economy to submit a new climate pledge under the Paris climate accord before a year-end deadline to do so.


November 24, 2020

Biden’s Appointment of John Kerry as Climate Envoy Sends a ‘Signal to the World,’ Advocates Say

President-elect Joe Biden affirmed climate change as a top priority on Monday, selecting former Secretary of State John Kerry to serve as a special envoy for climate, and giving him a seat on the National Security Council. Kerry's task will be not only to bring the United States back into the Paris climate accord, but push for more ambitious commitments to cut global carbon emissions.


Covid-19 and Climate Change Make Hurricanes More Devastating for Latin America

Two Category 4 hurricanes this month have left Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala in tatters, as torrential rains destroyed crops, washed away cattle and ruined whole communities. The fallout from the disasters is being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports, as hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the storms seek shelter, where they face increased risk of infection.

Another Warm Winter Set to Weaken Natural Gas Prices

A collection of government and commercial forecasts predict that Southern and Eastern states will face another warm winter, which could be bad news for natural gas prices, Bloomberg reports. Colder winters typically mean higher demand for gas. And if the forecasts hold true, the 2020-2021 season will be the latest in a series of abnormally mild winters across the Northern Hemisphere.


These Days, the Smart Money Is Staying Away From Arctic Drilling

The Trump administration is racing against legal deadlines and a merciless regulatory calendar in its last-ditch effort to sell drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. But the White House still faces the reality of the market, which shows that funding for Arctic drilling is becoming harder and harder to find, Bloomberg reports.


As More Countries Pledge Zero Emissions, Coal Finance Evaporates

Financing for coal projects is drying up at ever increasing rates as more countries target zero carbon emissions amid an energy transition sweeping the world, Reuters reports. The exit from coal by big international banks and government-backed agencies, which has accelerated this year, is likely to push coal companies to rely on things like carbon offset credits to obtain funding.


More Countries Are Turning to Carbon Pricing in Their Fight Against the Climate Crisis

Some of the worlds biggest economies are putting a price on pollution as they wrestle with how to make good on ambitious pledges to reduce their planet-warming emissions, Reuters reports. China, Japan and South Korea have all followed the European Union in pledging to cut emissions to "net-zero" in recent weeks. And U.S. President-elect Joe Biden made a similar promise during his election campaign.


November 23, 2020

The Last Big Environmental Fight of the Trump Era Is Over Drilling in Alaska's Arctic

Conservation advocates and Trump officials are fighting what looks to be the last major environmental battle of this administration over oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite mounting public pressure to prevent Arctic drilling, the Trump administration is rushing possible lease sales in the region and finalized a rule aimed at stopping banks from refusing to fund such projects.


Warm Arctic, Cold Continents? It Sounds Counterintuitive, but Research Suggests it’s a Thing

By any measure, the Arctic has changed profoundly in the last 40 years, warming three times as fast as the global average, and losing billions of tons of summer sea ice and land-based glacier ice. Now scientists suspect that rapid warming in the Arctic is causing more climate extremes farther south, including bouts of severe cold and snow, which researchers call "warm Arctic, cold continents."


G20 Summit Closes With Little Progress and Big Gaps Between Trump and Allies

The Group of 20 summit closed on Sunday, offering a stark reminder of the growing gap between internationally coordinated efforts and the United States to tackle the coronavirus and climate change. As President Trump continued to openly rail against global pacts such as the Paris Agreement, many world leaders responded by releasing a statement that emphasized the importance of such efforts.


November 20, 2020

Trump Administration Moves to Loosen Safety Rules for Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed to loosen Obama-era safety regulations for the oil industry in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, to ease the way for petroleum extraction in the region, an effort that President-elect Joe Biden will likely throw out once in office. The Obama-era rules were made to improve safety after a Shell drilling rig ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012. 

Climate Activists Want Biden To Bar Appointees With Fossil Fuel Ties

Climate activists have set a high bar for President-elect Joe Biden's staff picks, asking that he exclude anyone with ties to fossil fuel industries, NPR reports. Biden faced backlash this week after naming Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond to lead the Office of Public Engagement. Disappointed activists called the move "a betrayal," pointing out Richmond's financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.

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