Sunday, December 30, 2018

Michael Bloomberg:  Any 2020 Candidate ‘Better Darn Well’ Deal with Global Warming

“The presidency is not an entry-level job,” he said.  “We have some real problems.”

 Michael Bloomberg and moderator Chuck Todd appear in a pre-taped interview on Meet the Press in Washington on 20 December. (Photograph Credit: NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has a stern message for anyone seeking the Oval Office in 2020:  Get on board with environmentalism.

“I think that any candidate for federal office better darn well have a plan to deal with the problem that the Trump science advisers say could basically end this world,” he told Chuck Todd in an interview set to air Sunday on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.” 

Bloomberg, who has established himself as an advocate for green initiatives, donating millions to the Paris climate agreement and slamming President Donald Trump for pulling out, warned that the next commander in chief must be prepared.

“The presidency is not an entry-level job,” said Bloomberg, who has acknowledged that he is considering running for president.  “We have some real problems.  If you don’t come in with some real concrete answers ― I think the public is tired of listening to the same platitudes that they get ― ‘We’re in favor of God, mother and apple pie, and trust me, I’ll have a plan when I get there.’  No.  You have to have a plan.”

Read more at Michael Bloomberg:  Any 2020 Candidate ‘Better Darn Well’ Deal with Global Warming

Sunday 30

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Massachusetts Reboots Its EV Incentive Program

2017 Chevrolet Bolt (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Starting January 1, 2019, Massachusetts will make significant changes to its MOR-EV program, officially known as Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles.  Currently, people who purchase a plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle are eligible for a rebate of up to $2,500.

After January 1, the maximum rebate will be reduced to $1,500 and only fully battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars will be eligible — no cars with range-extending internal combustion engines allowed.  In addition, the sticker price of the car must be under $50,000 to qualify.

“We have had increasing demand — very high demand — for these rebates,” says Judith Judson, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.  “In order to sustain the program and continue to provide rebates at that high a demand level, we are making changes and targeting those vehicles that provide the greatest emission reduction.”

According to radio station WBUR, 12,000 rebates worth more than $25.7 million have been awarded since the MOR-EV program began in June of 2014.  Of that total, 56% went to fully battery electric cars and 43% went to plug-in hybrids.  It would take a determined buyer to find a fuel cell car available for sale in the Bay State, but apparently there are a few, which account for the other 1% of the rebate money.

Read more at Massachusetts Reboots Its EV Incentive Program

Volkswagen’s New Mobile EV Charging Solution

VW Mobile Charging Station (Credit: Volkswagen Design) Click to Enlarge.
At the turn of the year, Volkswagen is offering a glimpse of the company’s future mobile quick charging station. It can be set up flexibly and independent of the power supply wherever it is needed: for example, in public parking lots in the city, on company premises, or as a temporary charging point at large-scale events. The mobile charging station works according to the principle of a power bank – which is familiar to many people with smartphones – but for electric vehicles instead. The charging capacity of up to 360 kWh enables up to 15 e-vehicles, including members of Volkswagen’s new ID. family,1 to be charged in stand-alone operation. Thanks to quick charging technology, the charging process2 only takes 17 minutes on average. If the energy content of the integrated battery set is less than 20 percent, the depleted charging station is simply exchanged for a charged one. If, however, it is permanently attached to the power supply with up to 30 kW via alternating current, the battery pack perpetually recharges itself. In case the charging process is based on renewable power supply, the charging station furthermore allows the temporary storage of sustainably generated power, such as solar or wind energy – and therefore CO2-neutral mobility.

Read more at Volkswagen’s New Mobile EV Charging Solution

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday 28

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

After Back-to-Back Hurricanes, North Carolina Reconsiders Climate Change

In a state where lawmakers once rejected sea level rise warnings, polls show a growing concern among residents and a desire for better policies.

Days of rain from Hurricane Florence flooded homes across a wide area of North Carolina in September 2018. In Spring Lake, nearly 100 miles from the coast, Bob Richling carried items from a home as the Little River flooded. (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
After North Carolina was hit by two major hurricanes within two years and flooding rainfall from a third, the state that once spurned the science of sea level rise in its zoning rules is starting to take climate change more seriously.

A new governor has a different policy agenda that incorporates the risks from climate change, and polls suggest a growing number of North Carolina residents are concerned about climate change and want policies that help protect them from extreme weather.

There are new efforts to get homes and hog-waste lagoons out of floodplains before the next big storm.  Gov. Roy Cooper has committed North Carolina to cut its heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025, consistent with the Paris climate accord.  He also instructed state agencies to incorporate climate science into their decision-making, a shift for a state where lawmakers just six years ago passed legislation to prevent North Carolina officials from basing coastal policies on projections of sea level rise.

Some residents hadn't yet recovered from 2016's Hurricane Matthew when Hurricane Florence stalled over the state in September and dumped more than 30 inches of rain.  The deluge turned interstates into rivers, made the port city of Wilmington almost an island, and flooded tens of thousands of homes.  A few weeks later, the remnants of Hurricane Michael brought even more rain to North Carolina, knocking out power to thousands and causing flooding.

North Carolinians are starting to think about extreme weather in new ways, said Geoff Gisler, a Chapel Hill-based attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which works on coastal protection, clean energy and other issues.

"It's something we're seeing not only from the governor's office but also on the ground," Gisler said.  "Some folks, maybe five years ago, that were saying that climate change doesn't exist are now realizing when you have several 500- or 1,000-year storms in a couple of years, that's not normal."

Read more at After Back-to-Back Hurricanes, North Carolina Reconsiders Climate Change

China Making Big Battery Storage Push in 2019

A 250kW / 1MWh flow battery module is given its final inspection by VRB Energy quality assurance staff at the Hubei site. (Credit: VRB Energy) Click to Enlarge.
China is poised to add a significant amount of battery storage to its utility grid next year.  And it’s backing two horses in the energy storage race — both lithium-ion and flow batteries are part of the plan.  China’s renewable energy portfolio now stands at 706 gigawatts according to Bloomberg but too much of that is wasted, or curtailed as they say in the utility industry.  7.7% of the electricity generated by wind turbines is curtailed as is 2.9% of electricity from solar panels.

Read more at China Making Big Battery Storage Push in 2019

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How 12 Communities Are Fighting Climate Change and What’s Standing in Their Way

They’re using renewable energy, urban planning, their voices, and the law to try to rein in climate change that’s already in their front yards.

Nicole Ballard’s home in Imperial Beach, California, has flooded several times in recent years. The city can't afford seawalls, so it's suing companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions as sea level rises. (Credit: David Hasemyer/ICN) Click to Enlarge.
As the risks of climate grow increasingly clear and the damage rises, communities around the country are fighting back in their own ways.

Tiny Imperial Beach is suing Big Oil in a David-and-Goliath legal battle.  Students at an Evangelical College are educating their generation and their elders.  Regulators in Georgia and business owners in Colorado and Michigan are finding new ways to expand clean energy, and California is committing to 100 percent renewable energy.  

It's rarely an easy batttle, though, and the fossil fuels industry and its supporters have been pushing back.  As activists try to stop fossil fuel pipelines, several states have written laws to try to silence them.  Sea level rise threatens the future of a critical military shipyard, while the Trump administration rejects climate science and ignores the risk.  The nearby city of Norfolk is scrambling to adapt to rising seas and discovering it can't save every neighborhood.  New members of Congress, meanwhile, are pushing big plans for a "Green New Deal."

These are their stories.

Read more at How 12 Communities Are Fighting Climate Change and What’s Standing in Their Way

Key Sections of U.S. Rail System Face Inundation as Climate Change Worsens

An Amtrak train passes over the Niantic River Bridge in Connecticut (Credit: Amtrak) Click to Enlarge.
Low-lying sections of the United States’ busiest rail line, which runs from Boston to Washington, will face “continual inundation” by mid-century as a result of rising seas, storm surge, and flooding, according to a study commissioned by Amtrak, which runs the nation’s passenger railroads.

The study, details of which were recently obtained by Bloomberg News, said that high waters would increasingly erode train beds, knock out electrical signals, inundate power substations, and topple poles supplying train engines with electricity.  The study took a close look at one especially vulnerable, 10-mile section of the Northeast Corridor rail line in Wilmington, Delaware, close to the Delaware River.  But study authors noted that other sections of the 457-miles of track in the Northeast Corridor — including in the New York City area and along the coast of Connecticut — face a similar threat of inundation.

“If one of the segments of track shuts down, it will shut down this segment of the Northeast Corridor,” warned members of Amtrak’s planning staff.  “There is not an alternate route that can be used as a detour.”

Costs of protecting or relocating these exposed sections of track could be astronomical, the study said.  And an Amtrak spokeswoman said the rail agency is already facing $40 billion in urgent yet unfunded repairs.  “Elevation or relocation of the infrastructure is likely to be expensive, disruptive, or impractical, and given the current levels of federal and state funding for Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor, well beyond our means,” said spokeswoman Christina Leeds.

Read original at Key Sections of U.S. Rail System Face Inundation as Climate Change Worsens

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Tuesday 25

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Investors Are Turning Their Back on Coal

Worker in coal mine (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The net zero carbon emissions movement has finally entered the mainstream for investment professionals.  Despite a U.S, delegation declaring its intention to burn more fossil fuels at an environmental conference in Poland, sounding like the energized, fossil fuel advocate and former Alaska governor Sara Palin saying, “Carbon?  You betcha!”, on December 20 a group of 93 institutional investors with $11.5 trillion under management published a letter in the Financial Times.  The letter stated strongly that “we require power companies… to plan their future in a net zero carbon economy…. We expect specific timelines and commitments…”

These institutional investors, typically a fairly conservative group, stated more or less accurately that the electric power generating sector accounts for one-quarter of global carbon emissions.  And that sector had better clean up its act, so to speak, and do it with relative haste.  For example, the investors want all coal-fired power generation owned by portfolio companies shuttered by 2030, that is, within the next decade.

Furthermore, these enviro-investors assert that action on climate change remediation delivers offsetting economic benefits.  To them, carbon reduction should not be seen at all as an economic negative.  This, however, is not the first demand for carbon reduction by investors, and probably will not be the last.

Although $11.5 trillion of investments sounds like a large number, it pales in comparison with the total world market for stock and bonds, which totals about $160 trillion, more or less.  The anti-carbon investment movement does not, at least at this point, speak for all investors.  (The market value of all US electric utility company stocks and bonds totals about $1.2 trillion, incidentally.)

But also consider the dynamics of investment management.  Managers do not like to take public positions that annoy important clients.  It’s kind of a basic rule.  Large oil companies, for example, might not retain pension fund managers who speak out aggressively about global warming.  But above all else, investment management resembles a sport.  It is all about the team’s performance on game day.  No one wants or can long afford to underperform their competitors, occurs by retaining positions in companies which, so to speak, never saw it coming.  And managers charged with acting in a fiduciary capacity seldom relish explaining why they failed to anticipate elevated risk and declining return prospects in a significant portion of the stocks comprising their portfolios.

There is an enormous amount of money currently dedicated to passive investing with portfolios that essentially mirror the existing market or relevant subset thereof.  In the US, the electric utility industry despite its importance for the economy and overall welfare of the population, comprises a rather small portion of the equity market, only 2-3%.

In other words it is possible for institutional investors to build robust portfolios that approximate the market’s composition without owning any electric utility stocks.  The electric utility industry is barely a factor with respect to broad market indices like the S&P 500.  Investment managers wishing to avoid controversy and investors expressing environmental preferences can now both jettison fossil-fueled electricity generators and suppliers from their portfolios without affecting performance.

Read more at Investors Are Turning Their Back on Coal

Biggest Mass Extinction Caused by Global Warming Leaving Ocean Animals Gasping for Breath

This illustration shows the percentage of marine animals that went extinct at the end of the Permian era by latitude, from the model (black line) and from the fossil record (blue dots). A greater percentage of marine animals survived in the tropics than at the poles. The color of the water shows the temperature change, with red being most severe warming and yellow less warming. At the top is the supercontinent Pangaea, with massive volcanic eruptions emitting carbon dioxide. The images below the line represent some of the 96 percent of marine species that died during the event. (Credit: Fossil drawings by Ernst Haeckel/Wikimedia; Blue crab photo by Wendy Kaveney/Flickr; Atlantic cod photo by Hans-Petter Fjeld/Wikimedia; Chambered nautilus photo by ©2010 John White/CalPhotos. (Credit: Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch/University of Washington) Click to Enlarge.
The largest extinction in Earth's history marked the end of the Permian period, some 252 million years ago.  Long before dinosaurs, our planet was populated with plants and animals that were mostly obliterated after a series of massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia.

Fossils in ancient seafloor rocks display a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem, then a swath of corpses.  Some 96 percent of marine species were wiped out during the "Great Dying," followed by millions of years when life had to multiply and diversify once more.

What has been debated until now is exactly what made the oceans inhospitable to life - the high acidity of the water, metal and sulfide poisoning, a complete lack of oxygen, or simply higher temperatures.

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe.  As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.

The study is published in the Dec. 7 issue of Science.

Read more at Biggest Mass Extinction Caused by Global Warming Leaving Ocean Animals Gasping for Breath

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday 24

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

A Year of Climate Change Evidence:  Notes from a Science Reporter’s Journal

2018 was filled with new evidence and warnings of the high risks and costs of climate change that could help tip the world toward climate action.

Hurricane Florence was blamed for more than 50 deaths across the Carolinas and Virginia as the slow-moving storm dropped 30 inches of rain in places and sent rivers over their banks. A series of scientific reports this year warned of the rising risks as the planet warms. (Credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Our heat-stricken planet is orbiting through the end of a year that humanity might rather forget. But several recent climate reports tell us that 2018 may be remembered as a turning point, for better or worse, in the fight to cap global warming.

2018 Year in Review
Compelling new evidence shows we will speed past a dangerous climate-risk threshold as soon as 2030 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, potentially triggering climate change on a scale that would present grave dangers to much of the living planet.

Several reports conclude that investing in a global economic transformation now would save huge amounts of money compared to paying spiraling costs for climate disasters later.  Others outline the tremendous challenge:  We are still shoveling millions of tons of coal into furnaces every day; CO2 emissions have increased 4.7 percent since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015.

Read more at A Year of Climate Change Evidence:  Notes from a Science Reporter’s Journal

The Chilean Way:  The Road Taken Towards Electric Public Transport

Metbus electric bus terminal (Credit: Metbus, Enel X, & BYD) Click to Enlarge.
The first electric vehicle charger in Santiago, Chile, and Latin America as a whole, was installed by Enel Group in April 2011, marking the first step for electric mobility in the country.  At the time, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure was almost non-existent in South America.

For the Chilean public, it was a new idea, but for the Enel Group, which had a vision that electro mobility could accelerate rapidly in the upcoming years, it was the perfect time to start the electric vehicle revolution in Chile.

Fast forward to today and the government of Chile has now endorsed a public-private alliance that includes a collaborative partnership between Enel X, Metbus, and BYD.  As part of the partnership, the first 100 electric buses were incorporated into the public transit system of Santiago on December 15th, 2018.  The new purchase is not a pilot project, but represents a significant step forward for the electric vehicle revolution in Chile.

Beyond the investment in e-buses, in this configuration Enel X has developed a “turnkey” package that includes the engineering and construction of the project, as well as the provision of charging stations and energy to power all the electric buses of the Chilean capital’s public transport system.

Like many countries, Chile has a goal of 100% renewables by 2040 in its National Strategy for Electric Mobility.  The 100 bus purchase from BYD is just the start of a full conversion of the transit system in the country to electric transportation.

Read more at The Chilean Way:  The Road Taken Towards Electric Public Transport

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday 23

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

The Green New Deal, Explained - By David Roberts

An insurgent movement is pushing Democrats to back an ambitious climate change solution.

Sunrise Movement (Credit: Sunrise Movement) Click to Enlarge.
If the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to be believed, humanity has just over a decade to get carbon emissions under control before catastrophic climate change impacts become unavoidable.

The Republican Party generally ignores or denies that problem.  But the Democratic Party claims to accept and understand it.

It is odd, then, that Democrats do not have a plan to address climate change.
Plenty of Democratic politicians support policies that would reduce climate pollution — renewable energy tax credits, fuel economy standards, and the like — but those policies do not add up to a comprehensive solution, certainly nothing like what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is necessary.

Young activists, who will be forced to live with the ravages of climate change, find this upsetting.  So they have proposed a plan of their own.  It’s called the Green New Deal (GND) — a term purposefully reminiscent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original New Deal in the 1930s — and it has become the talk of the town.
“Even if we get the politics right, I still think that we’re going to need sustained mass protest, extended labor shutdowns, and general strikes to begin as soon as possible after Election Day 2020,” says Weber.  “That’s going to take convincing the American people that this is an absolute moral and economic necessity, and the only thing standing in the way of it happening is the political class.”

It is a long shot.  But as the IPCC has made clear, long shots are the only shots left.  It is not the elderly members of Congress who will live with the havoc forecast by climate scientists, it is the young activists who are amassing on their doorsteps and in their offices.  Those young activists are looking ahead further than the next election cycle.  Their families will suffer the consequences of these choices.

But they believe that history is on their side.  “The most powerful force known to humans is ideology,” says McElwee.  Republicans have pushed through “radically unpopular policies because of their commitment to ideology.”  But today, he says, “young people have the ideas that people want to be associated with.  We shape ideology and that’s incredibly fucking powerful.”

Climate politics is, now as ever, a choice between changes that seem impossible and a future that seems unthinkable.  For years, US politics has denied and avoided that choice.  In their own way, Democrats — the “adults” who want to reserve the power to make these decisions — have avoided it just like Republicans.

Facing it squarely means radicalism.  Now, a real response to climate change, a response on the scale of what the crisis demands, is on the table.  It is an option.  It has a name.

Whether America can work its way past polarization, paralysis, and structural barriers to change to actually grasp that option, to take a leap into a new future, very much remains to be seen.  But there can be no more ignoring the choice.

Read much more at The Green New Deal, Explained - By David Roberts

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Saturday 22

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

CBO Dismisses Costs of Global Warming, Posing Hurdle for Climate Legislation

Jogger on United States Capital lawn (Credit: Cami Schmidt / EyeEm / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
In a baffling repudiation of the federal government’s own scientists, the Congressional Budget Office last week said that climate change poses little economic risk to the United States in the next decade.

The statement, which went so far as to highlight dubiously positive effects of rising global temperatures, poses a potential hurdle for future legislation to curb surging greenhouse gas emissions, experts said, and amounts to textbook climate change denial.

Buried on page 292 of a 316-page report titled “Options for Reducing the Deficit:  2019 to 2028,” the CBO said:  “Many estimates suggest that the effect of climate change on the nation’s economic output, and hence on federal tax revenues, will probably be small over the next 30 years and larger, but still modest, in the following few decades.”

“That’s just completely false,” Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University, said by phone Wednesday.  “There are no references to these ‘many estimates,’ and the following part of the paragraph cherry-picks.”

Read more at CBO Dismisses Costs of Global Warming, Posing Hurdle for Climate Legislation

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday 21

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Americans Don’t Understand How Bad Climate Change Is or What They Can Do About It

Have scientists and advocates failed to convey the horror of climate change?

Impacts at 1.5 degrees C and 2 degrees C of warming (Credit: Carbon Brief) Click to Enlarge.
“I’m certain that most Americans would be a lot more worried about climate change if they understood even a small fraction of what has been projected by climate scientists in (recent reports).  As a public health professional (and as a human), I find the prospect of 3 or 4 degree C of global warming to be nothing short of terrifying,” Ed Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, said in an email.  “Thus, we need to do a much better job of sharing what we know about the likely impacts of global warming, because people are not nearly as worried as the situation warrants.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence that Earth is headed for a planetary catastrophe, Americans just aren’t that bothered about climate change.  Only around half have thought about it more than “a little,” according to research from Yale and George Mason University.  Only around a third say it is personally important to them, and just one in five say they are “very worried” about it.  Numbers like that suggest scientists and advocates have perhaps been too cheerful on climate change, too reluctant to speak to the catastrophe to come.

Read more at Americans Don’t Understand How Bad Climate Change Is or What They Can Do About It

Global Water Supply Shrinks in Rainier World

As the world warms, more rain may mean less useable water. (Image Credit: Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash) Click to Enlarge.
Even in a world with more intense rain, communities could begin to run short of water.  New research has confirmed that, in a warming world, extremes of drought have begun to diminish the world’s groundwater – and ever more intense rainstorms will do little to make up the loss in the global water supply.

And a second, separate study delivers support for this seeming paradox:  worldwide, there is evidence that rainfall patterns are, increasingly, being disturbed.  The number of record-dry months has increased overall.  And so has the number of record-breaking rainy months.

Both studies match predictions in a world of climate change driven by ever-higher ratios of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, from ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels. But, unlike many climate studies, neither of these is based on computer simulation of predicted change.

Each is instead based on the meticulous analysis of huge quantities of on-the-ground data.  Together they provide substance to a 40-year-old prediction of climate change research:  that in a warming world, those regions already wet will get ever more rain, while the drylands will tend to become increasingly more arid.

As global temperatures creep up – and they have already risen by 1°C in the past century, and could be set to reach 3°C by 2100 – so does the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb more moisture.  It follows that more rain must fall.  But at the same time more groundwater evaporates, and the risk of damaging drought increases.

Read more at Global Water Supply Shrinks in Rainier World

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday 20

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

9 States Target Transportation Emissions with New Cap-and-Trade Plan

Details have yet to be worked out, but it's likely to follow California's example, with funds going to low-carbon choices like electric vehicles and public transit.

“Climate change is no longer merely a threat to future generations; rising seas, excessive rainfall, and increasing temperatures are already impacting Delaware's infrastructure, economy and quality of life,” said Shawn M. Garvin, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. (Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Nine Eastern states have committed to cut transportation emissions in their region by designing a new cap-and-trade system.  It's the latest and perhaps most significant example of states working together to fill a void left by the federal government to address climate change.

What the plan will actually look like, and how much it is able to reduce emissions, remains to be seen.  The nine states, plus Washington, D.C., agreed to cooperate on a regional policy that would cap carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and then reduce that cap over time.  Proceeds would be reinvested in low-carbon projects, such as zero-emission vehicles and public transit, according to a statement endorsed by the group.

"It's one of the most important initiatives ever undertaken by the states on climate," said Kenneth Kimmell president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that has advocated for the initiative.  "It is a huge, transformative moment."

Read more at 9 States Target Transportation Emissions with New Cap-and-Trade Plan

What Does the Violence Against Women Act Have to Do with Climate Change?

Hurricane Harvey Impact, Houston TX (Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
As the world heats up, it’s also becoming more violent.  There’s been a lot of research linking climate change to war, violent crime, and even road rage.  But you may not have heard that climate disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Michael were accompanied by a surge in intimate partner violence, or IPV.  (The term is favored over “domestic violence” for encompassing different relationships and genders.)

Hurricanes often lead to displacement and isolation, which makes people more vulnerable to IPV.  And climate change in general disproportionately impacts those who are already more likely to experience IPV:  low-income women, women of color, and women experiencing homelessness.

To compound the problem, resources to address IPV are limited after climate disasters, when more people tend to need them.  In the year following Hurricane Harvey, the number of women who sought help at a Houston-based crisis center doubled, as Yessenia Funes writes in Earther.  Shelters are sometimes forced to close their doors in the wake of disasters.  After Hurricane Florence, a domestic violence shelter in Wilmington with 19 beds was left in shambles.

Read more at What Does the Violence Against Women Act Have to Do with Climate Change?

EU Reaches Coal Subsidy Phase-Out Deal – with Caveat for Poland

In late-night talks, negotiators agreed to end backdoor subsidies to coal generators, with some leeway for the most coal-dependent member state.

Belchatow coal plant / The EU is cracking down on a backdoor subsidy to coal power (Picture Credit: Flickr/ Kamil Porembiński) Click to Enlarge.
European Union legislators reached agreement in the early hours of Wednesday (19 December) over a proposed reform of electricity market rules that includes a 2025 cut-off date for coal subsidies, and a special clause for Poland.

After marathon talks that started at 10:30 on Tuesday, EU negotiators finally reached agreement on the reform of Europe’s electricity market shortly after 01:00 the following day.

The deal wraps up the adoption of a “clean energy package” of laws that was presented by the European Commission more than two years ago.

Read more at EU Reaches Coal Subsidy Phase-Out Deal – with Caveat for Poland

That Global Warming Hiatus?  It Never Happened.  Two New Studies Explain Why.

Missing Arctic data was part of the problem.  In the end, the idea of a pause, often cited by climate policy opponents, didn’t hold up to statistical testing.

It’s long been obvious that if there had been any blip in the trends during the 2000s, it was temporary, as the years that followed hit new temperature records. Now, new analyses show there was no statistical evidence for a pause after all. (Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
The United Nations panel of climate science experts mentioned it in a 2013 report, scientists have published more than 200 papers analyzing it, and climate deniers said it was proof that climate change didn't exist, but in reality the global warming "pause" or "hiatus" never occurred.

That is the conclusion of a pair of studies, published Tuesday in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters, based on statistical reassessments of a recent 10-year period that appeared at the time to evince a flattened warming curve.

These are the latest of several assessments to caution that the hiatus theory has no real significance either for climate science or for science-based policy.  Even so, they seem unlikely to stamp out the discussion, which has become a deeply embedded meme in some circles.

Read more at That Global Warming Hiatus?  It Never Happened.  Two New Studies Explain Why.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday 19

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Exxon Mobil Opposes Weakening Obama-Era Emissions Rules:  Letter to EPA

The logo of Exxon Mobil Corporation is shown on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 30, 2015. (Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/File Photo) Click to Enlarge.
Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of methane gas emission rules put in place under the Obama administration, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

The administration of President Donald Trump in September proposed weakening requirements for repairing leaks of the greenhouse gas in drilling operations in a step toward rolling back an Obama-era policy that was intended to combat climate change.

“We support maintaining the key elements of the underlying regulation, such as leak detection and repair programs,” Exxon Vice President Gantt Walton said in the letter dated on Monday.

The company believes “reasonable regulations help reduce emissions” and support the use of cleaner-burning natural gas, the letter said.

Read more at Exxon Mobil Opposes Weakening Obama-Era Emissions Rules:  Letter to EPA

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tuesday 18

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Why China’s Electric-Car Industry Is Leaving Detroit, Japan, and Germany in the Dust

China was no good at cars.  Then EVs came along.

[Sources: (Battery Plans) Bloomberg ; (Top EV Companies) Inside EVs ; (Moving Parts) UBS] Click to Enlarge.
After the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s crippled China’s economy, the country began to open its markets to the outside world. The aim was to bring in technological know-how from abroad that domestic firms could then assimilate.  By the early ’80s, foreign automakers were allowed in on the condition that they form a joint venture with a Chinese partner.  These Chinese firms, by working with foreign companies, would eventually gain enough knowledge to function independently.

Or so the theory went.  Chinese-produced cars subsequently flooded the market, but they were largely cheap copycats—they looked like foreign-made cars, but the engines weren’t as good.  Car makers in the US and Europe had too much of a head start for China to catch up.

The only way to outdo the rest of the world, then, was to bet on a whole new technology.  Enter electric vehicles, which require less mechanical complexity and rely more on electronic prowess.  A Chevrolet Bolt’s electric engine contains just 24 moving segments, according to a teardown performed by consulting company UBS.  In comparison, a Volkswagen Golf’s combustion engine has 149.  Meanwhile, China already had an electronic manufacturing supply chain in place from its years of producing the world’s batteries, phones, and gadgets.

Now the Chinese government is embracing the shift from combustion to electric engines in a way no other country can match.  It’s made electric vehicles one of the 10 pillars of Made in China 2025—a state-led plan for the country to become a global leader in high-tech industries—and enacted policies to generate demand.  Since 2013 almost 500 electric-vehicle companies have launched in China to meet the government’s mandate and to cash in on subsidies designed to generate supply.

Read more at Why China’s Electric-Car Industry Is Leaving Detroit, Japan, and Germany in the Dust

IEA:  China and India to Fuel Further Rise in Global Coal Demand in 2018

 China coal plant (Credit: Alamy Stock Photo) Click to Enlarge.
Global coal demand is expected to grow again in 2018, driven by “strong” fuel burning in China and India, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

The IEA’s Coal 2018 report finds that global coal demand grew by 1% in 2017 after two years of decline. 2 The rise was chiefly driven by global economic growth, it says.  Despite recent growth, demand is still below “peak” levels seen in 2014.

Demand is likely to “remain stable” until 2023, the report authors say.  This is because falling demand in western Europe and North America is likely to be offset by increased demand in a host of Asian countries, including India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Read more at IEA:  China and India to Fuel Further Rise in Global Coal Demand in 2018

Toon of the Week - As for pollution ... It's going to be America First!

Toon of the Week - As for pollution ... It's going to be America First!

Poster of the Week - Still powering your holiday lights with dirty fossil fuels?

Poster of the Week - Still powering your holiday lights with dirty fossil fuels?  That's highly illogical. (Credit: Stop Climate Science Denial)

2014 SkS Weekly Digest #50

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday 17

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

John Kerry:  Forget Trump.  We All Must Act on Climate Change.

If we fail, it won’t be just the president’s fault.

Flooded Houses (Credit: Sally Deng) Click to Enlarge.
This week is the third anniversary of the Paris climate agreement.  The Trump administration marked it by working with Russia and Gulf oil nations to sideline science and undermine the accord at climate talks underway in Katowice, Poland.

While I was in New Delhi this week, where I met with solar energy advocates, a comment made thousands of miles away by the journalist Bob Woodward almost jumped off my iPad:  The president, he said, “makes decisions often without a factual basis.”  This isn’t a mere personality quirk of the leader of the free world.  It is profoundly dangerous for the entire planet.

Scientists tell us we must act now to avoid the ravages of climate change.  The collision of facts and alternative facts has hurt America’s efforts to confront this existential crisis.  Ever since Mr. Trump announced that he would pull America out of the Paris accord, those of us in the fight have worked to demonstrate that the American people are still in.

But the test is not whether the nation’s cities and states can make up for Mr. Trump’s rejection of reality.  They can.  The test is whether the nations of the world will pull out of the mutual suicide pact that we’ve all passively joined through an inadequate response to this crisis.

Read more at John Kerry:  Forget Trump.  We All Must Act on Climate Change.

Climate Change:  Five Things We've Learnt from COP24

Youth: 12 Years Left / #CLIMATE STRIKE (Credit: Kiara Worth/IISD/ENB) Click to Enlarge.
Delegates to the UN climate conference in Poland have reached agreement on how to implement the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, which comes into force in 2020.
Climate change chimes with young people in a way that is sometimes missing with older people, who make up the bulk of negotiators here.

The sense that perhaps this UN process doesn't quite connect with the modern world was summed up best by Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives and now their lead climate negotiator.

"Almost 10 years since I was last at these climate negotiations, I must say, nothing much seems to have changed.

"We are still using the same old, dinosaur language.  Still saying the same old words.

"Still making the same tedious points."

It would be hard to argue with this view given the shenanigans that played out at the end, when one country, Brazil, held up progress at the talks on one issue for a couple of days.
Greta Thunberg (Credit: Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
Perhaps the most memorable image of this meeting was that of 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

This teenager who has organised school strikes in Sweden held daily press conferences here to drive home her message that platitudes and warm words just aren't enough anymore.

Her message was sharp and succinct.

"We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis."

Read more at Climate Change:  Five Things We've Learnt from COP24

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Saturday 15

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

More than 300 Local Officials from 40 States Call for Green New Deal, End of Fossil Fuels

The open letter includes a signature from a former high-level Mobil Oil executive.

Workers install solar panels. (Credit: Associated Press) Click to Enlarge.
In a little over a month, the so-called Green New Deal has won endorsements from more than three dozen sitting or incoming federal lawmakers as Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) makes a high-profile bid to shift debate over climate change toward policy on the scale of the crisis. 

On Friday, the effort got a boost from 311 state and local officials.

Forty-four mayors, 63 county and state legislators and 116 city council members were among the officials from 40 states ― including some top oil and gas producers ― who signed an open letter issuing a sweeping, full-throated call for the phaseout of fossil fuels and adoption of Green New Deal-style climate policies.

One signatory, L.W. Allstadt, a trustee of the Upstate New York village of Cooperstown, is a former executive vice president of Mobil Oil, the giant that merged with Exxon in 1998 to form the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.

“The existence of climate change and its potential disastrous impacts have been known for decades,” Allstadt said in a statement.  “The solutions, primary among which is elimination of the use of fossil fuels, have also been known.” 

The letter ― published Friday online and shared in advance with HuffPost ― was organized by Elected Officials to Protect America, a nonprofit formed in 2015 to rally support for local climate action.  It lays out three demands.  It calls for 100 percent renewable energy, though does not specify a timeline.  To buttress that, it proposes ending “public subsidization of fossil fuels,” and divesting from fossil fuel companies to “shift public investments to accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean energy and pay for the harm fossil fuels cause our states and municipalities.”

Read more at More than 300 Local Officials from 40 States Call for Green New Deal, End of Fossil Fuels