Climate and Energy News Roundup 11/18/2016

Inside Climate News has a profile of Myron Ebell, who is heading the EPA transition team for the new Trump administration.  They also have an article about Steve Bannon.

Climate

At COP22 in Marrakech the Obama administration released a report outlining its plans for deep decarbonization of the U.S. economy by 2050.  Of course, the incoming Trump administration will determine whether any of the strategies in the plan are implemented.  Consequently, Climate Home entitled one of its articles on COP22 “With appeal to Trump, Kerry (and US) leave climate leadership.”  Meanwhile, Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, stated at Marrakech “…now is the time to remind the incoming administration that virtually every company in the Fortune 500 and over $100 trillion in investor assets has acknowledged the reality of climate change and the need to address it head on.”  In addition, in an open letter, more than 360 businesses and investors reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Finally, the Marrakech Action Proclamation reaffirmed the commitment of the world’s nations to fight climate change.

In a report released on Wednesday, the U.N. Development Programme said that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C would avoid economic losses by 2050 of $12 trillion, or around 10% of the world’s GDP, compared to staying on the current track of at least 3°C of warming.  Also, the World Bank issued a report on the impacts of natural disasters such as storms, floods, and droughts on the global economy.  The report finds that such events push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption.

A new report from the Global Carbon Project suggests that for the third straight year the global CO2 emission rate stayed almost constant.  Furthermore, the flattening occurred despite steady global economic growth above 3% per year.

A new paper in the journal Science investigated the impacts of climate change on 94 ecological processes worldwide and found that 84% were impacted, even though global average temperatures have only increased 1°C.

A study published on Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the disappearance of kelp from waters near Coffs Harbour in Australia coincided with a threefold increase in the number of tropical fish in the region.  The deforestation coincided with an 0.6°C temperature rise, which had no direct impact on the kelp, but did attract the tropical fish.

The Canadian Arctic is extremely warm right now while Siberia is extremely cold.  One impact of the warm weather is to prevent Arctic sea ice from forming as rapidly as it usually does, driving its extent to the lowest value ever recorded for mid-November.

The World Meteorological Organization has joined other scientific organizations in projecting that 2016 will set another global temperature recordRealClimate has a post discussing this record heat in the context of incoming solar radiation, which is currently quite low.  The Guardian has collected stories from people all over the world who have been impacted by this year’s record heat.

Energy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its World Energy Outlook for 2016.  In it they joined several organizations in pointing out that the national commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement are insufficient to meet the goal of keeping global warming well below 2°C.  Rather, the IEA projected that global temperatures would rise 2.7°C by 2100 if all commitments were met.  It also decreased in half its projections of future coal use, primarily due to decreases in China, where coal use peaked in 2013.  Nevertheless, the report projected that coal use in 2040 would be twice that needed for a 2°C path.

According to a new report by the Georgetown Climate Center, 19 states have developed strong policies aimed at diversifying their energy sources and cutting carbon emissions.  According to some renewable energy experts, these states have driven much of the progress on renewable energy and are unlikely to stop because of policy changes in a new administration.

Writing at Southeast Energy News Jim Pierobon states: “Large solar systems in Virginia are set to grow significantly through 2017.  But with few buyers other [than] the state’s dominant utility, the push may slow after that due to lack of sustainable demand and the policies to drive it.”  Meanwhile, a subsidiary of one dominant utility, Dominion Energy Inc., is adding 180 MW of solar energy production in five Virginia counties through a partnership with Amazon Web Services, Inc.  Nevertheless, a group of 18 major corporations has sent a letter to state lawmakers and the Virginia State Corporation Commission calling for “an explicit legal framework” to expand access to renewable energy from utilities and third-party sellers.

Virginia citizens and allies launched a Pipeline Pledge of Resistance, asking people dedicated to preserving clean soil and water and a safe climate to commit to acts of peaceful civil disobedience to stop the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.  On the other hand, a coalition of Virginia businesses, legislators, and labor organizations touted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s economic benefits on Thursday, saying the natural gas conduit is crucial to the commonwealth’s fiscal future.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technology that has been a long time coming, but which is necessary if global warming is to be held below 1.5°C, since that limit can only be met by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  Thus, many are hoping that a Trump presidency will lead to more rapid development of CCS, although if that occurs it will be to help the coal industry.  Speaking of coal, there is a new documentary, Blood on the Mountain, that opens November 18 in New York and Los Angeles.  The Atlantic has a 6 minute excerpt.

The U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that a deposit in West Texas contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the largest deposit ever discovered in the U.S.  All of it is “technically recoverable.”  On the same day, the U.S. Interior Department finalized rules aimed at preventing methane leaks from oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands.  The updated regulations could avoid wasting up to 41 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas per year.  Also, on Friday, as part of a new five-year plan for energy development in federal waters, the Obama administration banned offshore drilling in the Arctic.  It also dropped plans to allow companies to drill for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean off four southeastern states.

On Monday Alaska Airlines flew a commercial flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C., using jet fuel containing 20% alcohol derived from wood scraps by a Colorado-based company.

These news items have been compiled by Les Grady, member and former chair of the CAAV steering committee. He is a licensed professional engineer (retired) who taught environmental engineering at Purdue and Clemson Universities and engaged in private practice with CH2M Hill, the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting firm. Since his retirement in 2003 he has devoted much of his time to the study of climate science and the question of global warming and makes himself available to speak to groups about this subject. More here.

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