Tag Archives: insideclimate news

Here come Tesla’s swanky solar roofs.

“There is such a thing as being too late,” he told an audience at a food summit in Milan, Italy. “When it comes to climate change, the hour is almost upon us.”

The global problems of climate change, poverty, and obesity create an imperative for agricultural innovation, Obama said. This was no small-is-beautiful, back-to-the-land, beauty-of-a-single-carrot speech. Instead, Obama argued for sweeping technological progress.

“The path to the sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists, and engineers, and entrepreneurs,” he said.

In an onstage conversation with his former food czar, Sam Kass, Obama said people in richer countries should also waste less food and eat less meat. But we can’t rely on getting people to change their habits, Obama said. “No matter what, we are going to see an increase in meat consumption, just by virtue of more Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, and others moving into middle-income territory,” he said.

The goal, then, is to produce food, including meat, more efficiently.

To put it less Obama-like: Unleash the scientists! Free the entrepreneurs!

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Here come Tesla’s swanky solar roofs.

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Obama is spending another $500 million to fight climate change before Trump can stop him.

On the first day of the state’s legislative session, nine Republican lawmakers filed legislation that would bar utilities from using electricity produced by large-scale renewable energy projects.

The bill, whose sponsors are primarily from the state’s top coal-producing counties, would require utilities to use only approved energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, and oil. While individual homeowners and small businesses could still use rooftop solar or backyard wind, utilities would face steep fines if they served up clean energy.

Wyoming is the nation’s largest producer of coal, and gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from coal, but it also has huge, largely untapped wind potential. Currently, one of the nation’s largest wind farms is under construction there, but most of the energy will be sold outside Wyoming. Under this bill, such out-of-state sales could continue, yet the measure would nonetheless have a dampening effect on the state’s nascent renewable energy industry.

Experts are skeptical that the bill will pass, even in dark-red Wyoming, InsideClimate News reports.

One of the sponsors, Rep. Scott Clem, is a flat-out climate change denier whose website showcases a video arguing that burning fossil fuels has improved the environment.

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Obama is spending another $500 million to fight climate change before Trump can stop him.

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Coal-loving Wyoming legislators are pushing a bill to outlaw wind and solar.

On the first day of the state’s legislative session, nine Republican lawmakers filed legislation that would bar utilities from using electricity produced by large-scale renewable energy projects.

The bill, whose sponsors are primarily from the state’s top coal-producing counties, would require utilities to use only approved energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, and oil. While individual homeowners and small businesses could still use rooftop solar or backyard wind, utilities would face steep fines if they served up clean energy.

Wyoming is the nation’s largest producer of coal, and gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from coal, but it also has huge, largely untapped wind potential. Currently, one of the nation’s largest wind farms is under construction there, but most of the energy will be sold outside Wyoming. Under this bill, such out-of-state sales could continue, yet the measure would nonetheless have a dampening effect on the state’s nascent renewable energy industry.

Experts are skeptical that the bill will pass, even in dark-red Wyoming, InsideClimate News reports.

One of the sponsors, Rep. Scott Clem, is a flat-out climate change denier whose website showcases a video arguing that burning fossil fuels has improved the environment.

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Coal-loving Wyoming legislators are pushing a bill to outlaw wind and solar.

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Will this massive iceberg collapse soon? Get your bets in now.

On the first day of the state’s legislative session, nine Republican lawmakers filed legislation that would bar utilities from using electricity produced by large-scale renewable energy projects.

The bill, whose sponsors are primarily from the state’s top coal-producing counties, would require utilities to use only approved energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, and oil. While individual homeowners and small businesses could still use rooftop solar or backyard wind, utilities would face steep fines if they served up clean energy.

Wyoming is the nation’s largest producer of coal, and gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from coal, but it also has huge, largely untapped wind potential. Currently, one of the nation’s largest wind farms is under construction there, but most of the energy will be sold outside Wyoming. Under this bill, such out-of-state sales could continue, yet the measure would nonetheless have a dampening effect on the state’s nascent renewable energy industry.

Experts are skeptical that the bill will pass, even in dark-red Wyoming, InsideClimate News reports.

One of the sponsors, Rep. Scott Clem, is a flat-out climate change denier whose website showcases a video arguing that burning fossil fuels has improved the environment.

Continued: 

Will this massive iceberg collapse soon? Get your bets in now.

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The weird way that Obama’s press conference was actually, sort of, about climate change.

In his final press conference of 2016, President Obama — in his usual, staid tones — fielded question after question about Russia’s alleged election interference.

But Obama also reminded us that at the heart of Russia’s economic interests and relative power is its backward status as a petrostate.

“They are a smaller country; they are a weaker country; their economy doesn’t produce anything that anyone wants to buy except oil and gas and arms,” he said. “They don’t innovate. But, they can impact us if we lose track of who we are. They can impact us if we abandon our values.”

The Washington Post calls Trump’s relationship with Russia “the most obscure and disturbing aspect of his coming presidency.” Trump’s choice of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State only underlines this: At Exxon, Tillerson had deals worth billions of dollars with Russia, some of which can only move forward if the U.S. lifts sanctions on the country.

These deals are only worth billions, though, if fossil fuels maintain their value. The idea that there is a “carbon bubble,” and fossil fuel companies are dangerously overvalued, is a threatening proposition to a petrostate. And, most likely, a Trump administration.

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The weird way that Obama’s press conference was actually, sort of, about climate change.

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Is Trump’s EPA pick or State nominee the riper target for Democrats?

Oregon’s largest city became the first in the nation to ban the building of major fossil fuel terminals and the expansion of existing ones after a unanimous city council vote on Wednesday.

The city council used zoning codes to enact the ban, which will go into effect in January, and will prevent the construction of any new terminals for transporting or storing coal, methanol, natural gas, and oil. Other West Coast cities made similar moves earlier this year: Vancouver, Washington, banned new oil terminals and Oakland, California, banned coal terminals.

In the wake of the Trump election, it’s clear that the federal government won’t be taking climate action, so environmentalists are increasingly looking to cities to adopt climate change–fighting policies — and those cities might want to follow Portland’s lead.

“What we’ve done in Portland is replicable now in other cities,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told InsideClimate News. “Everybody has a zoning code.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also encouraging cities to take action. “Mayors and local leaders around the country are determined to keep pushing ahead on climate change,” he wrote recently, “because it is in their interest to do so.” It’s also in all of ours.

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Is Trump’s EPA pick or State nominee the riper target for Democrats?

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Rick Perry once said he would eliminate the Department of Energy. Now he will run it.

The company recently admitted that it has invested heavily in Canada’s tar-sands oil reserves, InsideClimate News reports — and it was not a good bet.

Tar-sands oil is difficult, expensive, and energy-consuming to extract, making it especially bad for the climate. It’s only profitable when oil prices are high. Exxon acknowledged in a public financial disclosure report this fall that it could be forced to take a loss on billions of barrels of tar-sands oil unless prices rise soon.

The company made this unwise investment despite long knowing, as InsideClimate News previously reported, that burning oil causes climate change and future climate regulations could make tar-sands oil unprofitable or impossible to drill.

In 1991, Exxon’s Canadian affiliate Imperial Oil commissioned an analysis that found carbon regulation could halt tar-sands production. “Yet Exxon, Imperial, and others poured billions of dollars into the tar sands while lobbying against government actions that would curtail development,” according to InsideClimate News.

This news comes just after Donald Trump nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state. The State Department is responsible for reviewing proposed pipeline projects that cross international borders, like Keystone XL, which would have carried tar-sands oil from Canada down toward U.S. refineries.

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Rick Perry once said he would eliminate the Department of Energy. Now he will run it.

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The most accurate picture of the Dakota Access showdown might be on social media.

The New York State Supreme Court is requiring the oil giant and its accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to turn over documents subpoenaed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He’s conducting a fraud investigation into the company, spurred by a report from InsideClimate News last year that revealed Exxon knew fossil fuel burning was heating up the atmosphere back in the 1970s and deliberately misled the public about it.

Earlier this month, Exxon attempted to halt the investigation by suing Schneiderman, as well as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and arguing that their investigations are politically motivated.

Exxon has also been arguing, under a Texas statute, that documents held by PricewaterhouseCoopers are privileged. But yesterday, the New York court ruled against the company on that point. The court, as the Washington Post reports, determined that New York law, not Texas law, governs the dispute, and ordered the company to comply with Schneiderman’s subpoena.

Schneiderman was pleased with the ruling, of course. He said he looks forward to “moving full-steam ahead with our fraud investigation” and called on Exxon to “cooperate with, rather than resist,” the probe.

ExxonMobil has no such intention. The company said it will appeal the ruling.

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The most accurate picture of the Dakota Access showdown might be on social media.

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Don’t be like Exxon, says Bloomberg-led task force to Big Oil

Don’t be like Exxon, says Bloomberg-led task force to Big Oil

By on 6 Apr 2016 3:29 pmcommentsShare

Are companies making an expensive blunder by not disclosing their financial risks from climate change? A task force established by the international monitoring body Financial Stability Board is advising it’s better to be on the safe side, according to an early draft report released by the group’s task force on climate-related financial disclosures, led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to the report, existing practices vary wildly. Though companies in most of the world’s major economies already have to disclose “material” climate-related risks, it’s up to the company to determine exactly what counts as material. That lack of clarity is problematic and makes it difficult for shareholders to know how their investments will perform, said Robert Schuwerk, senior counsel at the Carbon Tracker Initiative. As his think tank analyzes the impact of climate change on markets and fossil fuel investments, we asked him to describe the risks that could need financial disclosure.

The risks come in one of three forms, explained Schuwerk. First, the physical risk of losing money because of events like extreme weather and sea-level rise; second, the risk of taking a hit from regulatory changes or technological advances; and third, the risk of liability or litigation from public or private lawsuits.

Confusion over what to disclose doesn’t give companies an out. Fossil fuel businesses in particular can be vulnerable to all three types of risks. After InsideClimate News reported on Exxon’s dismissal of climate change as immaterial despite its own climate research suggesting otherwise, the company’s shareholders sued, arguing that climate change and the push for cleaner energy will impact the bottom line. As Secretary of State John Kerry noted last year, Exxon could now stand to lose billions over its lack of transparency to investors and the public. Exxon isn’t alone; the New York attorney general ruled after a two-year investigation that Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private sector coal company (which happens to be facing bankruptcy), must make more transparent disclosures about how a renewable energy boom and tougher regulations will impact its profits.

“Not disclosing climate risks, first and foremost, leaves investors in the dark,” said Schuwerk. “But the demand for more transparency is coming from a number of sources, from investors and asset managers, and from civil society as well.” There are currently dozens of investor resolutions pending at fossil fuel companies that ask the companies to provide information about performance risks.

The report is part of a year-long investigation, expected to be released by the end of 2016, that will set out specific recommendations for companies’ financial disclosure of climate risk. For now, the moral of the story for fossil fuel companies? Don’t follow Exxon’s lead.

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Don’t be like Exxon, says Bloomberg-led task force to Big Oil

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Mexico just shamed the rest of the world with its climate plan

Mexico just shamed the rest of the world with its climate plan

By on 30 Mar 2015commentsShare

Mexico is the first developing country to formally make its climate action pledge ahead of U.N. negotiations to be held in Paris later this year. And its plan is actually pretty ambitious, analysts say.

Mexico on Friday said it intends to have its greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2026 and then begin to decline. It will cut its “black carbon” emissions — particulate pollution generated by burning fuels like wood and diesel — in half by 2030. The net effect is that, by 2030, Mexico’s emissions will be 25 percent lower than if the country had continued without making any changes, and by 2050, emissions will be 50 percent below 2000 levels. The country is also working on reducing its “carbon intensity” — the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP.

“That would make Mexico’s announcement a bit more ambitious than what is expected from China, but not as ambitious as what the U.S. will offer,” InsideClimate News’s John Cushman notes, referring to the November 2014 agreement between the Obama administration and China. Developing countries like China and Mexico are expected to allow their emissions to keep rising for a few years while their economies grow and their people rise out of poverty, whereas rich nations like the U.S., which have done most of the polluting in the past, are expected to start cutting emissions right away.

“While the devil is in the details, Mexico’s plan to peak its emissions by 2026 is particularly encouraging and should inspire others to follow a similar course,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute, a think tank that’s tracking progress toward a 2015 climate deal.

As part of the process of working toward a climate pact, 190 countries are each submitting their own plan for how they intend to voluntarily reduce emissions (in wonk speak, the plans are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs). In the years ahead, the U.N. will monitor each country’s progress toward realizing its plan, though the international body won’t have much power to penalize countries that don’t meet their goals. Developing countries and the European Union had pushed for a binding treaty that would punish nations that don’t curb emissions as agreed, but Obama would never be able to get that sort of treaty by the current U.S. Senate, so, in order to keep the U.S. in the game, the U.N. is now working toward a nonbinding agreement.

The U.S. is expected to submit its plan by the U.N.’s deadline, the end of the first quarter of 2015 (that’s tomorrow!), but other nations are not on track to do so. Still, not everyone is dragging their feet: The E.U., Switzerland, and Norway have outlined their INDCs, representing more than 10 percent of global emissions. And once the U.S. submits its plan, a third of world emissions will be accounted for.

Analysts tracking the process say many countries’ delays are probably at least partially strategic: If a country gets its commitment in at the last minute, the world has less of a chance to ask it to commit more. China and India, the world’s first and third biggest polluters, plan to submit their INDCs this summer.

Mexico’s contribution — and China’s anticipated contribution, based on last November’s joint announcement with America — set the reductions for the developing world on a fairly ambitious path. That’s encouraging, given that differences between rich and poor nations have scuttled past attempts at a climate deal. But some developing countries (India, notably) have been difficult to pin down on their likely commitments.

It will take commitments from all of the world’s major polluters, rich and poor alike, to put us on something even resembling a sustainable path — and with so many INDCs as yet undeclared, it’s impossible to determine if 2015 will be the year that the U.N. finally pulls off the climate deal its been attempting for decades. And even under a best-case scenario, diplomats have repeatedly warned that any deal likely won’t be enough to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold scientists say we must meet to fend off the worst climate impacts.

Still, gotta start somewhere, and Mexico’s announcement is an encouraging step. Olé!

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Mexico just shamed the rest of the world with its climate plan

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