September 23, 2020

The Warming Climates of the Arctic and the Tropics Squeeze the Mid-latitudes, Where Most People Live

For humans, the mid-latitudes are Earth's climate sweet spots, where much of civilization, including cities and key food production areas, have developed. But those zones are increasingly being pummeled by climate change from both the north and south. Melting Arctic ice sends extreme winter storms from the north, while the expanding tropics press the mid-latitudes from the south.

China’s Pledge to Be Carbon Neutral by 2060: What it Means

Environmentalists have welcomed the pledge by China's leader, Xi Jinping, to speed up reductions in emissions in the world's top-polluting nation and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. While the ambitious goal could significantly help slow global warming, experts are expressing concern over the lack of detail coming from China so far, raising doubts over whether the goal is achievable.

Germany Plans Stricter Measures to Reach Renewables Targets

Germany, which is Europe's largest economy, is planning stricter controls to ensure it reaches targets in its expansion of renewable energy sources, Reuters reports. The latest draft of the country's targets includes annual quotas for solar, biomass and onshore and offshore wind. Those quotas are to be regularly checked in each of Germany's 16 federal states.

September 22, 2020

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches a Low, Just Missing Record

A "crazy year" in the Arctic has resulted in the second-lowest extent of sea ice in the region, scientists said Monday. Researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the minimum was most likely reached on Sept. 15, with 1.44 million square miles of ocean covered in ice. Only 2012 has had a lower minimum, with the 14 lowest ice years occurring in the past 14 years.

The Grandson of a Farmworker Now Heads the California Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture

Robert Rivas joined the California Assembly two years ago to fight for farmworkers. Now, as the new chair of the state's Agriculture Committee, where he'll lead a $54 billion industry convulsed by Covid-19, he plans to do just that. "From his youth in farmworker housing to the present, he has been prepared to be chair of this committee," said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

General Electric to Stop Producing Coal-Fired Power Plants

General Electric, one of the world's largest manufacturers of coal-fired power plants, announced Monday it would no longer build such facilities. It's a remarkable exit that will have far-reaching consequences on the coal industry as more and more utilities are increasingly shifting away from coal-fired generation.

Democratic Donors Push Biden for a Cabinet Free of Fossil Fuel Connections

Liberal activists have launched a campaign to pressure Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to reject advisers with any ties to fossil fuel companies should he win the election. Last week, more than 60 deep-pocketed donors asked Biden to commit to a moratorium on all new coal, oil and natural gas development—and to select advisers who are "free from fossil fuel influence." 

EU Aims to Cut Aviation Emissions by 10 Percent With More Direct Flights

The European Commission hopes to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation industry by up to 10 percent by making flight paths more direct and reducing delays due to congested airspace, Reuters reports. In 2019, "zig-zagging" routes and delays cost the bloc $7.1 billion and pushed out more than 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, the Commission said.

With Climate Change, Minnesotans Fight for Homes and Cabins on a Runaway Lake

Over the decades, the Kolls have watched their cabin—a sanctuary for the family that has been the site of two family weddings—on Minnesota's Lake Shamineau slowly disappear underwater. The lake is about 7 feet higher than when they moved in, the Kolls say, and has swelled about 3 feet in the past decade, swallowing the old shoreline that's now at least 20 yards out into the lake.

September 21, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Leaves a Long and Nuanced Legacy on Environmental Issues

The death this weekend of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women's rights and one of the Supreme Court's most liberal justices, could leave a lasting imprint on American environmental policy as the Trump administration scrambles to replace her. Known for her work on gender and sexual rights, her legacy also helped establish the nation's first-ever authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Young Republican Climate Activists Split Over How to Get Their Voices Heard in November’s Election

In 2016, Jacob Abel voted for Donald Trump, but he doesn't plan to this year. A determining factor in his 180-degree-turn? Climate change. Like Abel, a growing number of young Republicans are expressing frustration with the party's lackluster responses to the issue. If enough climate-concerned GOP youths don't vote for Trump, they could shift the party's environmental positions.

U.S. and European Oil Giants Go Different Ways on Climate Change

As oil prices plunge and concerns about climate change grow, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and other European energy companies are selling off oil fields, planning a sharp reduction in emissions and investing billions in renewable energy. That's not the case for American oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil, which are doubling down on oil and natural gas investments, The New York Times reports.

In Colorado, Where Climate Matters, Hickenlooper is Favored to Unseat Gardner

Colorado voters concerned about the climate are siding with Democrat John Hickenlooper over GOP incumbent Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, seeing him as a better alternative to achieving stronger climate action. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.

In Maine, Collins’ Loyalty to Trump Has Dissolved Climate Activists’ Support

Maine Sen. Susan Collins has the strongest pro-environment voting record among Senate Republicans, but lacks support from big environmental groups, which disapprove of her votes supporting President Trump. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.

Airbus Unveils Hydrogen Designs for Zero-Emission Flight

European planemaker Airbus unveiled three designs it's studying to build hydrogen-powered aircraft as it races to bring a zero-carbon passenger plane into service by 2035, Bloomberg reports. Hydrogen gas, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases when burned, is becoming an increasing area of focus for Airbus as it evaluates technologies for emission-free air travel.

September 18, 2020

As the West Faces Terrible Air Quality, Health Experts Are Again Warning About Covid-19

As wildfires leave the West with some of the worst air quality in the world, it poses a major threat to people with asthma and other underlying health conditions who face greater risk of serious Covid-19 complications, health experts say. "At the levels of air pollution we're seeing in the northwest now, it's a matter of concern for everyone," a spokesperson for the American Lung Association said.

Court Temporarily Pauses EPA Methane Emissions Rollback

A court has temporarily halted an Environmental Protection Agency rule that rescinded Obama-era standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, preventing the rollback from taking effect for the time being. Federal judges issued a procedural pause on the rule while the court decides on further action, but said the order doesn't reflect a judgement on the rule's merits.

Get to Net-Zero by Mid-Century? Even Some Global Oil and Gas Giants Think it Can Be Done

The world must get to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, and can make it happen at a price that is relatively small in global terms—$1 trillion to $2 trillion per year—according to a new report from a think tank that includes BP, Shell and other big businesses. While researchers have long called for net-zero emissions by mid-century, the message could be better received coming from oil majors.

With Record Heat, Climate is a Big Deal in Arizona, but It May Not Sway Voters

Battered by heat all summer, Arizona voters may be poised to elect Democrat Mark Kelly for the Senate, if polls hold true. Kelly has pledged to fight climate change, while GOP incumbent Sen. Martha McSally hasn't. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.

September 17, 2020

Smoke From Western Wildfires Has Reached Europe

Smoke from the wildfires in the West is spreading across the United States and has even reached Europe, according to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Satellite images show the smoke hovering above the United Kingdom and moving into Northern Europe, a nearly 5,000 mile journey. With it could come years of lasting health impacts, our reporting found.

As Wildfires Rage, California Presses Insurers to Cut Rates

Faced with the twin climate crises of historic wildfires and spiraling insurance costs, California on Wednesday laid out new rules to make insurance more affordable in fire-prone areas, The New York Times reports. But the changes could backfire, experts say—pushing insurers to stop offering insurance in those areas and further imperiling communities on the front lines of climate change.

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